The Beginner's Guide to Different Types of Business Degrees

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You’ve decided you want to major in business, which is certainly a solid choice. In fact, business majors are consistently among the most popular college degrees. But your decision isn’t quite done just yet.

Business is such a vast field that there are several different educational options to choose from. Whether you're introverted, creative, precise or a planner, there's likely a business degree field that fits you. Your next step is choosing between the many different types of business degrees available to you.

With so many specializations within business degree programs, it can be a bit daunting to decide which path to choose. To help you decipher the diversity, we're breaking down the most popular business majors so you can decide which best aligns with your interests and career aspirations.

10 Types of business degrees to consider

When evaluating the best business degrees for you, it’s helpful to have an idea of the courses and outcomes associated with each. Familiarizing yourself with these common business degrees will help you narrow your options.

1. Accounting

Love numbers? Have an eye for detail? When studying accounting you will develop your understanding of generally accepted accounting principles, tax law, the process of managing financial documents and how it impacts business operations. The accounting field has several potential career paths and this degree will equip you to pursue different types of accounting, audit or tax-related positions within a variety of organizations.

Common accounting courses

  • Cost accounting
  • Financial analysis
  • Taxation

Potential accounting job titles

  • Accountant
  • Auditor
  • Payroll manager

2. Advertising

Think you have the creativity to develop an ad that cuts through the clutter and sticks in the mind of a potential customer? With an advertising degree you’ll learn how to make a message stand out from the crowd by learning about what makes an audience tick and how to best reach them. This is a great choice if you’re looking for a way to leverage your creative abilities in the world business.

Common advertising courses

  • Market research
  • Consumer behavior
  • Brand management

Potential advertising job titles

  • Account manager
  • Copywriter
  • Media planner

3. Business management / administration

There’s a lot to learn about managing a business or department. A Business Management degree will give you a solid comprehensive foundation in important business components like accounting, sales, operations and organizational leadership. You’ll also be better equipped to manage and lead a team of people, which is beneficial if you have hopes of advancing your career into leadership positions. At the graduate level, a Master of Business Administration program will continue to build and refine upper-level management skills.

Common business management courses

  • Business ethics
  • Operations management
  • Organizational leadership

Potential business management job titles

  • Sales manager
  • Account manager
  • Project manager

4. Economics

If economics is your business major of choice, you can expect to learn about economic principles and theory, including the use of math and data analysis. An economics degree can help prepare you for analyzing and forecasting economic trends in order to improve business operations and performance.

Common economics courses

  • Macroeconomics
  • Microeconomics
  • Business statistics

Potential economics job titles

  • Budget analyst
  • Contract specialist
  • Economist

5. Finance

If you choose to study finance, you’ll learn a broad range of concepts and skills including financial analysis, economics, statistics and portfolio management. Majoring in finance will help you pursue opportunities in finance sectors as well as accounting or investment areas.

Common finance courses

  • Financial modeling
  • Portfolio management
  • Business law

Potential finance job titles

  • Financial analyst
  • Personal financial advisor
  • Financial manager

6. Healthcare management

It takes a lot of business acumen to keep a healthcare facility running smoothly and profitably. This business major prepares you for providing business management leadership strategies designed to address the unique challenges and intricacies within the growing healthcare industry. You will learn about many of the proven management techniques with a focus on the nuances found within the healthcare industry.

Common healthcare management courses

  • Healthcare operations
  • Healthcare law and ethics
  • Healthcare financial management

Potential healthcare management job titles

  • Health services manager
  • Patient care associate
  • Clinic director

7. Human resources

This field is all about people. Whether it’s helping employees with navigating benefits enrollment or helping secure the top talent needed for business growth, this field relies on impeccable interpersonal skills. With a Human Resources (HR) degree, you will learn the skills necessary for managing business and labor practices in addition to learning about organizational development, resources planning and training. At the graduate level, a Master of Human Resources Management degree can help prepare you for senior-level HR management roles.

Common human resources courses

  • Human resource management
  • Organizational development
  • Human resource recruitment

Potential human resources job titles

  • HR generalist
  • Recruiter
  • Benefits specialist

8. Marketing

Want to help grow and maintain a business by attracting and retaining customers? Then majoring in marketing is a great option. You’ll be focused on learning the fundamentals of areas such as market research, communication and marketing strategies. The marketing department of a business helps accomplish tasks such as product promotion or consumer research in order to achieve business goals like increasing sales, building brand awareness and improving customer retention.

Common marketing courses

  • Digital marketing
  • Consumer behavior
  • Marketing communications

Potential marketing job titles

  • Marketing specialist
  • Marketing research analyst
  • Digital content manager

9. Public relations

Public relations (PR) professionals interact with the public on behalf of the organization they represent. To do this, you must be an excellent communicator and business strategist. Majoring in PR will teach you the principles of strategic communication, community event planning and how to manage relationships with news media.

Common public relations courses

  • Public relations writing
  • Mass media law
  • Social media strategy

Potential public relations job titles

  • PR manager
  • Event coordinator
  • Social media supervisor

10. Supply chain management

Ever wonder how the products you order online end up on your doorstep within days? To steal a line from UPS: That’s logistics! A supply chain management degree will prepare you to handle the intricacies of managing a global supply chain (and all of the moving parts that come with it) to ensure a business’ operations are running efficiently.

Common supply chain management courses

  • Inventory management
  • Supply chain risk
  • International business

Potential supply chain management job titles

  • Logistician
  • Logistics analyst
  • Operations manager

Find the best business degree for you

Now that you have a better understanding of the different types of business degrees and the career opportunities associated with each, it’s time for you to do some self-evaluation. Do any of the specializations above match your skills and interests? Going forward, your best bet is to find a few areas that appeal to you and dig deeper to learn more about the ins and outs of each focus-area.

Visit the Rasmussen University Business Degrees page to learn more about your educational options.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published in 2013. It has since been updated to include information relevant to 2020.

About the author

Callie Malvik

Callie is the Content Manager at Collegis Education, overseeing blog content on behalf of Rasmussen University. She is passionate about creating quality resources that empower others to improve their lives through education.

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