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Is a Business Degree Still Worth It?

By Charlene Lattea, WVU Online | Wednesday, April 5, 2023

In today’s world where so much information is available online, is a business degree worth it?

Learn how to answer that question based on your career goals.

Now that we are in the middle of a new "information revolution," made possible by the internet, there are more opportunities than ever before for people to learn business skills online, for free.

Is earning a business degree still a worthwhile investment?

In this article, we’ll explore whether it still makes sense to pursue a degree in business, and how you can determine whether a business degree may be worth it for you.

There are many things to consider when deciding this important question, such as: your professional goals, the amount of time it will take, and the cost.

Types of Business Degrees Available

What do we mean by a "business degree?" When people refer to a business degree, they are usually talking about the Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, which provides a foundation of knowledge and skills that can lead to career paths in a wide variety of fields.

Other degrees, such as the Master of Business Administration (MBA) or the Doctorate in Business Administration, are more specialized, and allow students to explore a single area of business in greater depth.

Other advanced degrees may provide focused study in areas such as economics, marketing, human resources, or even cybersecurity and business data analytics.

Business Degree Salary and Career Outlook

Getting a bachelor’s degree can help you earn a higher salary than someone with a high school diploma or an associate degree.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for business and financial occupations is $76,570. This is more than $30,000 higher than the median annual wage for all occupations of $45,760.

Overall, employment in the business and financial sector is projected to grow 7% from 2021 to 2031, resulting in about 715,100 new jobs over the decade.

The majority of these careers require at least a bachelor’s degree and include: accountants and auditors, purchasing managers, budget analysts, tax examiners, financial analysts, human resource specialists, claims adjusters and appraisers, to name a few.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics also lists several business degrees among the 20 occupations with the highest projected percent change of employment between 2021 and 2031, including:

  • data scientists - growth rate 36%;
  • statisticians - growth rate 33%; and
  • medical and health service managers - growth rate 28%

Let’s take a closer look at these occupations and the qualifications required for each.

Data Scientists
Data scientists develop and implement applications to transform raw data into meaningful information, using programming languages and visualization software. This job typically requires at least a bachelor’s degree and sometimes a master’s degree or a doctorate. The median annual wage is $100,910.

Statisticians organize, interpret, and summarize numerical data to provide usable information for organizations. This job typically requires a master’s degree, although some positions are available with a bachelor’s degree. The median annual wage is $95,570.

Medical and Health Service Managers
Medical and health services managers plan, direct, and coordinate the business activities of healthcare providers, such as hospitals, nursing homes, and group medical practices. Most medical and health services managers have at least a bachelor’s degree before entering the field. The median annual wage is $101,340.

The bottom line is that earning at least a bachelor’s degree has a positive impact on your job outlook, and earning a master’s degree or a doctorate can put you in an even better position to earn a much higher salary.

Benefits of Earning a Business Degree

A higher salary is one advantage of a business degree, but there are many other benefits. One of the most important is that it gives you the foundational skills you will need to manage business matters that are part of any field you go into.

There are several high-profile celebrities who became very wealthy at a young age and then went back to school to learn business skills so that they could learn to manage their wealth.

Basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal is one example of a celebrity who became a successful businessman. He developed an interest in business during his basketball days and continued it after retirement, launching several companies.

Shaq earned his online MBA after getting to know lawyers and accountants who were managing his business deals. He wanted to understand everything there was to know about his investments. As a result, he increased his net worth and portfolio substantially through getting an advanced degree in business.

Another example is Grammy Award-winning musician Megan Thee Stallion, who earned a bachelor’s degree in health administration online in 2021. As a nursing student, Megan dreamed of opening assisted living facilities and now she is making that a reality. She switched her degree to health administration about the same time she started her musical career and she continued her studies while touring the world as a rap artist.

A business degree provides the flexibility to become successful in many different kinds of careers and those who complete the degree will have the skills to apply it to their own unique career situation.

Can't I Just Learn Everything About Business on the Internet?

Why can’t you just get a job and then learn by doing? Why not earn some certificates? Aren’t they about the same as a bachelor’s degree?

According to WVU Online professor Christopher Ramezan, certifications and virtual training are great for developing and validating an individual’s basic knowledge in a particular area, but a university degree goes much further than that.

"The experiences you get at a university will last you a lifetime," he says.  "In a degree program, students not only develop their knowledge and skills, but they also have the opportunity to work, research, and learn alongside faculty experts."

"They develop and expand their professional network through life-long connections with fellow students, participate in real-world service activities, and have the opportunity to learn by doing through experiential learning projects and courses."

"You just can’t get that unique experience through certifications or a virtual training course," he says.

"Take it from me, I have 20 industry certifications myself, and while they’re valuable, I wouldn’t be where I am today without my college education. I always tell my students that certifications can help you go far in the field, but having certifications along with a degree can make you truly formidable."

Is A Business Degree Right for Me?

It’s true that a business degree is not necessarily for everyone. Whether or not to obtain a business degree is a question that you must answer for yourself. But there are also many things you need to consider when weighing your options.

Here are some other questions to consider, if you are not sure if you need a bachelor’s degree program:

  • Can you learn on your own without a formal structure? Can you do it quickly and efficiently?
  • Will you be able to prove to a potential employer that you have the skills to do the job, if you don’t have a diploma or transcript to show them?
  • Will you be able to identify, meet, and network with key business contacts on your own?
  • Do you have access to resources, such as a good library, career services, and tutoring?

If you can’t answer "yes" to one or more of these statements, a business degree may be right for you.

The demand for highly skilled business professionals continues to grow. How do you know if you need a specialized degree, such as the Master of Business Administration?

  • Would you like to specialize in a particular area?
  • Do you want to attain advanced knowledge and expertise in administration?
  • Are you interested in consulting for businesses, advising in areas such as strategy, operations, and finance?
  • Would you like to work for a government agency or a non-profit organization, using your expertise to drive policy and social change?

If you can answer "yes" to one or more of these statements, an MBA might be right for you.

There is currently a shortage of doctorate-qualified faculty in the business administration field who can bridge the gap between academia and industry. With the Business Administration Doctorate, you can become one of these high-demand faculty researchers. Is a doctorate in Business Administration right for you?

  • Are you already an experienced professional who would like to enter academia, or consulting?
  • Are you interested in becoming a professor or researcher in a business school or at a university?
  • Would you like to be able to develop and apply theory-based research to address unique business problems?
  • Would you like to create and communicate original scholarship addressing solutions to business problems?

If you can answer "yes" to one or more of these statements, a Doctorate in Business Administration might be right for you.

Calculating the ROI of a Business Degree

One way of deciding if pursuing a business degree is worth it is to calculate the "return on investment" or ROI.

Measuring ROI is a method of determining whether or not your investment (in this case, your business degree) will have positive financial returns, and justify what you plan to spend on it. It is a ratio of investment costs versus gains. The better your ROI turns out, the more profitable your investment will be.

Now, let’s do some math!

First, take future earnings (potential gains) over a set period of time, such as 20 years. Then, subtract your cost of attending school to earn your degree.

Let’s say you spend your career as a marketing specialist, making $63,920 per year. Multiply that by 20 years and you find that you would make $1,278,400 during that time.

The cost to earn a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration at WVU Online is currently $376 per credit hour. Multiply this by the 120 hours it takes to earn the degree and the total cost of the degree is $45,120.

Using the ROI formula:

ROI = Net profit / Cost of investment x 100 (to get the percentage) and the ROI is 283%.

Of course, the economy in general will have a great impact on earnings and spending during those 20 years. Other factors that will also make a difference include your prior experience, your age, the geographical area in which you work, and your degree field – all of these will affect your lifetime earnings and career outcome.

Explore Business Degrees at WVU Online

There’s no doubt that a business degree is worth it. It provides both immediate and long-term value that is unmatched by any other programs. If you put the effort in, it can open many doors for you.

However, the degree is only worth getting if having it aligns with your personal goals. You have to find the degree program that is right for you.

If you are ready, be sure to explore everything our WVU Online business programs have to offer, to determine if they will help you reach your goals.

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