Study Business: The Ultimate Student Guide (2023)

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Have you considered studying a business degree? From giant corporations to non-profit businesses, the business world reaches every corner of modern society. The endless possibilities of business attracts many students around the world.

Without business, the world would cease to function as we know it. Every transaction we make, every company we deal with, and every advertisement we see has roots in the discipline of business. Maybe you're wondering how to get a business degree, or asking yourself, what can I do with a business degree? In this business degree guide, we will cover what a business degree entails, what kind of careers it could lead you to, and if it is the right choice for you.

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What is a business degree?

There might be many things that pop into your mind when you think of business. The supermarket around the corner, online shopping sites you've recently browsed, or the business people running around your nearest city’s central business district. At the base of it all, a business can be generally be defined as an organization engaged in producing and/or selling goods and services.

Those who choose to study business programs abroad have a big advantage in today's world. The business world is more international than ever before, and any study abroad experience will give students the opportunity to learn crucial soft skills needed to navigate an intercultural workplace. Consider the world-wide nature of the businesses you interact with daily - maybe you’ve bought clothes from Zara, a Spanish clothing retailer, or listen to music on Spotify, a Swedish music app. You might not even realize how many businesses operate across borders.

What's the difference between business administration and business management?

A common question that students might have when looking at business degrees is the difference between business administration and business management. Despite the similarities, there are some key differences that might help distinguish one from the other.

First of all, business administration is often more focused on specific industries or roles and emphasizes operations and leadership skills. You will likely gain a broad foundation of business skills to then be able to choose a specialization in areas such as finance or entrepreneurship.

On the other hand, a business management degree focuses more on the supervision, organization, and management of resources, which might include places, information, ideas, staff, or revenue. Your career might involve organizing and managing teams, monitoring processes, planning projects, and understanding how business areas such as accounting and finance effect day-to-day business operations. Business management places a huge emphasis on leadership skills, a necessity for the success of any business.

While both business administration and business management adequately prepare you for a variety of careers in the business world, business administration will usually be more specialized towards a particular field or industry.

Which areas of business can you study?

Whether you’re thinking about studying business abroad or at home, you’ll have tons of options. The answer to the question 'What can I do with a business degree?', is 'Almost anything!' Yet, first things first. What kind of business degree do you want to study?


If you would like a degree that leads you to a global career:

Explore foundational business practices through an international perspective

Understand how marketing strategy is heavily influenced by digitalization and globalization.

Learn about international supply chains, international trade agreements, risk assessment, and international management. 


A degree with a more general focus is also a popular choice among students:

Explore a broad range of business knowledge such as finance, marketing, and management.

Marketing 📸

Get a solid foundation in pricing strategy, distribution channels, and product promotion.

Build your leadership skills and learn to coordinate and organize business activities.


If you’re interested in the fusion of business and tech, you could study:

Digital Business 🖥️

Apply business knowledge to the growing world of online markets.

e-Commerce 📈

Learn about the foundations of accounting, management, and marketing for online businesses.

Shape how customers behave in the ever-changing digital media landscape.

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How long does it take to get a business degree?

There are several options for hopeful business graduates, and a diploma or certificate in business is perfect for those who want to build foundational skills and prepare themselves for a higher degree. Otherwise, a bachelor's or a master's degree might be a good choice!


Bachelor's degree in business

Studying a bachelor’s degree in business typically takes around three or four years. At the bachelor’s level, students are introduced to the business world from the basics to the specifics of their chosen degree. Any career will be benefited by a bachelor’s degree in business, which signals to employers that you’re not only skilled, but also capable of hard work and dedication.  

Master's degree in business

A master's degree in business takes around one or two years. There’s a huge variety of options available for a masters degree in business, including in marketing, business management, and international business. The most popular type is an MBA, or a master's degree in business administration. 

Though many MBA programs require that students already have a few years of experience before applying, completing an MBA could take as little as one year. An MBA gives students more earning potential and access to professional upward mobility than bachelor's graduates. Read our MBA guide to learn more about MBA degrees, and if you should get one!


Why study business abroad?

We can think of many reasons why studying abroad is a great decision. So why study business abroad? Here are some reasons why a business degree abroad might enhance both your education and your future career:

1. Grow your career

While a business degree can open doors for graduates in general, it is especially ideal for students who want to move up the ladder in a specific field or industry. A higher degree may lead to a higher salary and leadership or management roles, which are not always possible without a degree.

2. Innovation

Are you an aspiring entrepreneur? When you study business abroad, you step into an entirely new world. Being exposed to new things will spark your creativity and widen the horizon of what you believe is possible. So, if you're looking to spearhead the next big thing in business, get your creative gears rolling while studying business abroad. Take advantage of your professors office hours to get expert advice on how to blaze your own path in business.

3. Become comfortable in multicultural business environments

Studying business abroad will give you intercultural communication skills that are crucial in navigating the landscape of businesses both at home and abroad. Interacting with people from different backgrounds is expected in any business career. As a colleague, it's important to be able to accommodate for different perspectives when working with people from cultures and backgrounds different from your own. A business degree abroad is the perfect preparation that will hone your skills in intercultural communication in the workplace.

4. Understand global markets

By taking a business degree abroad, you will be studying an international subject on an international scale. On top of becoming great at problem solving, critical thinking, and leadership, you will also be able to observe the universal influence of business, and discover first-hand how different countries conduct business in their own unique manner. Whether its language, communication styles, or social behavior, engage in class discussions and with other international students to understand how you might tailor business strategies to consumers in various regions.

5. Create a global network

One of the best parts about studying abroad is the social life. The truth is, you'll not only be making friends and going on new adventures together, but you'll also be networking with other future business professionals or even future employers at the same. The long-term relationships you make with your classmates, professors, and program alumni will benefit your personal and professional development. So, make sure to attend office hours, networking events, and alumni panels.

6. Language skills

Studying abroad in a country with a new language is a perfect opportunity to widen your skillset. Don't brush off the opportunity to gain proficiency in another language during studies abroad. As mentioned before, the business world in the 21st century is global, and additional language proficiencies can be a huge asset to your resume. Take extra classes and attend language exchanges to make the most of an international education

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Careers in business

Some students might be wondering, what can I do with a business degree? Here are some potential job titles for business degree graduates:

• Administrative Assistant

• Account Manager

• Branch Manager

• Business Analyst

• Business Manager

• Consultant

• Executive Assistant

• Human Resource Manager

• Operations Manager

• Marketing Assistant

• Salesperson

• Service Representative

There's a large amount of freedom and flexibility to explore your options and grow in the areas you're most interested in. Roles will vary depending on company type, industry, company size, or the specific business degree you wish to pursue.


What are salaries for graduates of a business degree?

Expected salaries for careers stemming from a degree in business vary widely. We’ll provide some expected salaries of a few of the most popular career choices and the average salary for bachelor’s and master’s degree.

Business Administration graduates

👩‍💼

UK (GBP)    BBA: £36k/year    MBA: £56k/year
USA (USD) BBA: $70k/year   MBA: $92k/year
Germany (EUR)  BBA: €49k/year MBA: €65k/year
Australia (AUD) BBA: $74k/year MBA: $104K/year

International Business graduates

🌎

UK (GBP)    BB: £24k/year    MA: £26k/year
USA (USD) BB: $83k/year   MS: $84k/year
Germany (EUR) BB: €44k/year MS: €48k/year
Australia (AUD) BB: $62k/year MS: $102k/year

Marketing graduates

🏙️

UK (GBP)    BA: £30k/year    MBA: £57k/year
USA (USD)  BA: $67k/year   MS: $71k/year
Germany (EUR) BA: €42k/year MBA: €65k/year
Canada (CAD) BA: $58k/year MS: $72k/year

 

Real Estate graduates

🏘️

UK (GBP)    BA: £36k/year    MS: £43k/year
USA (USD) BBA: $72k/year   MS: $81k/year
Singapore (SGD) BS: $59k/year MBA: $90k/year
Canada (CAD) BS: $53k/year MBA: $82k/year

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Tips for choosing a business degree

It's true that the competition is fierce when it comes to getting into a good business program. While each degree program may have its merits, there are some key aspects to consider when deciding which to apply for. Here are some questions to ask yourself beforehand to make the most of your time:

  • How much time and money can I devote to a program?

  • Do I need to travel or relocate to study a program?

  • What are the prerequisites for admission to a business program?

  • Do I want to build skills in a specific industry or focus on a larger foundation of business knowledge? How might a specialization help you?

  • What can I do with different business certifications or degrees after I graduate?

  • Should I choose a university with business programs or a business school?

  • What is trending in the industry right now, and how is my chosen field relevant to this?

  • Will a certificate or bachelor's degree be enough for career advancement, or will I need an MBA to grow beyond an entry-level career?

It would be ideal to talk to a current business student at the school you're interested in to get a feel for what it's really like. You can start by chatting with current students here. You might also talk with small business owners or businesspeople in the field you're interested in to learn more about the qualifications you need. 

Reflect on your own goals and priorities before you start looking for a program. Once you have a better idea of what kind of program to study and where, you’ll be able to choose a degree more easily, whether that be an online program, an undergraduate abroad, or a graduate program at home. If you want to join the growing number of international students who study business programs abroad, you can find more country-specific study abroad information in our country guides.

A bachelor’s degree in business will be less specialized than a master’s degree in business, but that doesn’t mean you can’t specialize in a particular area. Check out our degree guides to learn more about the requirements and benefits of different degrees, and consider your career goals in the process. Hunt down some job ads that sound interesting and match different programs to what your dream job may require.

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Helpful advice from business degree graduates

We talked with some graduate students who had recently completed their programs in business or are currently undertaking it to see what they thought about their program and if they have any advice to share with you.

"Be open to face diversity, challenges and creativity in all forms! It was challenging, yet inspiring to present a hypothetical brand strategy for a company through a final project"

-  Maria, Certificate in Brand Strategy from Berghs School of Communication

"Try to look for study abroad programs and internships, and focus on universities' exchange courses during the study"

-  Xianwei, BA in Marketing and Economics Management from Shanghai Institute of Technology


What questions should you ask a university to find the right business program?

We also asked the same students above if there were any questions they asked or wished they had asked during the research and application process to determine which program was right for them. Here were the most common and helpful questions they think you should be asking universities before you apply.

  • Is the business program flexible with extracurricular activities, internships, and jobs?
  • Do your future professors have real business experience to bring to the classroom?
  • Does the school provide career counselling or job placement for business graduates? What additional support and services does the school provide?
  • Which schools have the curricula and specializations that you're most interested in?
  • What is the study format for potential business programs?
  • Are there hand-on and experiential opportunities? What about group work and case method projects?


What should I look for in a university for studying business?

The right location

The location of your school will become important as you start searching for internships and jobs during your studies. If you're aiming to work in a specific industry, find out where the hot-spots are and research schools in those areas. For example, an aspiring businessperson in the car industry might look in Germany, and those hoping for a career in the tech industry might focus on Northern California.

Connections in the business industry

Your future professors and program alumni could be key to landing positions after you graduate. Find out what connections your professors have to local industries, and search to find the top employers for graduates from your program. Reach out to alumni to ask them questions about the program. 

Practical curriculum

Ideally, your professors will have extensive business experience alongside academic expertise. While traditional business theory is important to know and understand, practical projects, group work, and internships are important indicators of hard skills for your CV.

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Types of accreditation for business degrees

It’s crucial to verify that a school is accredited before you apply. Accreditation ensures the highest quality of education, makes it easier to determine the value of college credits, allows students to apply for federal loans or grants, is considered by potential employers, and pushes schools to continually improve.

There are three primary accreditation bodies for business education, known as the triple crown accreditors:

The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) is a US-based organization that awards over 950 global business schools with accreditation.

The Association of MBAs (AMBA) is a UK-based organization that accredits postgraduate management education at business schools in 54 countries.

The EFMD Quality Improvement System (EQUIS) is a Europe-based organization that accredits management and business administration programs at 189 schools in 45 countries.

You should be able to find information about accreditation on the website of any business program. Ensure that the program or institutional credibility of the school is there so that employers take your degree seriously!


Popular universities to study business

HULT INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS SCHOOL

Location: Cambridge, United States

Courses available in: Business Administration, Entrepreneurship, International Business, Marketing

IPAG Business School

Location: Paris & Nice, France

Courses available in: Business Administration, Digital Business, Entrepreneurship, International Business, Marketing

WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management

Location: Vallendar, Germany

Courses available in: Entrepreneurship, International Business, Business Administration

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Last update: 29 Dec 2022

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