Skip to main content

What is Business Administration? A Comprehensive Guide.

By Charlene Lattea, WVU Online | Wednesday, June 14, 2023

The success of any business relies heavily on the skills of an administrator who oversees the day-to-day processes, while keeping the company in line with its goals.

A degree in business administration can give you the skills you need to become this key professional, along with specialization in areas such as finance, management, human resources, marketing, and more.

In this article, we’ll discuss all the different aspects of the business administration degree and help you decide if it is the right degree for you.

What is Business Administration?

Business administration is a broad field of study that provides foundation knowledge in business processes for students who would like to learn the day-to-day operations of running a business efficiently.

When studying business administration, you’ll learn theory, but also a wide variety of practical skills, including leadership, communication, analytical thinking, strategic planning, problem-solving, entrepreneurship, accounting, finance, human resources, and marketing.

Business administration students also have the opportunity to specialize in order to tailor their education to fit more closely with their career goals.

Benefits of a Business Administration Degree

Businesses in every sector, large or small, need leaders with management skills, as well as technical skills, to solve complex issues.

As a business administration graduate, your degree will be more marketable than those of many other students. This is one of the reasons it is one of the most in-demand majors.

Business is also one of the highest-paid occupations today. Even in an entry-level position, you can expect to make $50,000 or more.

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.

Overall, the outlook for business administration graduates is very positive, but it also requires staying up to date with the latest industry trends, such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, and big data analytics.

With a career in this field, you will be constantly learning new and more valuable skills.

One of the reasons the business administration degree is so popular is that it is a versatile degree and provides the flexibility to become successful in many different kinds of careers. Those who complete the degree will be able to apply their skills to their own unique career situation.

As a business administration student, you will also develop and expand your professional network through life-long connections with fellow students. You will get real-world experience through internships, as well as through experiential learning projects and courses.

Types of Business Administration Degrees

There are educational opportunities in business administration at all levels, including associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and doctoral degrees.

If you want to get started on a business career as quickly as possible, without spending four years in school, an associate degree might be right for you.

But if you want a solid foundation in business skills, along with an area of specialization, the bachelor of science in business administration would be your best bet.

Once you have a bachelor’s degree, you may want to spend another two years adding to your knowledge and skills by obtaining a master’s degree and possibly qualifying for a position in top management.

Finally, a doctorate may take as long as five years to complete and is for those looking for career success as researchers, in both academia and industry.

If you need to complete something a lot faster than one to four years, certificates are another option. They are generally only about 12 to 15 hours of coursework in a specific area, over the course of one year or less.

Now, let’s look at these types of business degrees in greater depth, so you’ll be able to compare one to another and decide what type of business degree you should get, based on your goals for the future.

Associate Degree in Business Administration

An associate degree can give you the business skills you need to succeed in your chosen career field, without the time and financial commitment of a four-year degree.

You’ll gain a broad knowledge of business fundamentals, as well as skills in accounting, statistics, advanced math, and computers.

You will be qualified to fill many entry-level positions in administration, sales, and management in public, private, and non-profit organizations. If you decide you would like further study, you can always transfer your credits into a four-year bachelor’s degree program.

Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration

The bachelor of science degree in business administration is a full undergraduate degree and requires four years. You will complete GEF requirements, electives, basic courses in business administration, and courses for your major.

The BSBA offers a solid foundation of business knowledge and focuses on the nuts and bolts of running a business. You will be able to specialize in an area to learn skills specific to your career interest.

For example, if you take the BSBA in Marketing, you will gain basic business knowledge, and then learn how to conduct and interpret marketing research, create and implement marketing plans, and become proficient in strategic marketing management.

Master's Degree in Business Administration

The Master of Business Administration usually takes two years to complete and is ideal for students who want to take that next step in their career and work in top management or as a business owner.

Students learn cutting-edge skills such as managerial thinking, business research, marketing strategy, and advanced economics, while building experience in leadership and team management.

One of the main attractions of an MBA degree is that it is a very flexible degree that provides a lot of opportunities. Today, MBAs are going into many different fields, as the professional landscape changes and new opportunities become available.

For example, MBAs are finding careers in the relatively new field of data analytics as business intelligence analysts, data and analytics managers, and business systems analysts.

They are also entering the healthcare field, working in healthcare services, insurance, hospital administration, and finance, among other specializations.

Doctoral Degree in Business Administration

If you are a business professional looking for a pathway into academia, consulting, executive leadership, or government and non-profit organizations, the doctorate in business administration may be for you.

It requires a great deal of time and commitment to complete, but the career outlook is strong, with a wide range of job opportunities. Graduates are highly sought after by employers due to their advanced knowledge, research skills, and expertise.

In addition to research methods and statistics, you’ll study philosophy, leadership, organizational behaviors, strategic management theory, and structural equation modeling. This is a great degree for people who can work independently at a high level, communicating with audiences worldwide.

Professional Certificates in Business Administration

Certificates are much faster to complete than business degrees and give you a broad overview of a particular topic while focusing on the most important aspects that you will need to apply to your current career.

For example, the WVU Online Integrated Marketing Communications Graduate Certificate is a shorter version of the full degree that gives you the basics of IMC in one year

Or, if you are ready to advance your career and want to improve your data analysis skills, you can pursue one of WVU Online’s Business Data Analysis Graduate Certificate to spruce up your resume.

Core Curriculum of Business Administration Programs

A degree in business administration gives you a well-rounded education with skills that are in demand in today’s fast-paced business world.

It will give you the “soft skills” you will need, such as communication, teamwork, organization, and self-discipline, as well as the basic foundation of business knowledge that includes accounting, economics, statistics, finance, marketing, human resources, sociology and psychology, and information technology. As the program progresses, the curricula will grow more specialized.

The following are some of the courses you will encounter with the BSBA degree, and how they will prepare you for a career in the business world.

Accounting and Finance Courses

In accounting and finance courses, you learn new technologies, methods of doing business, and how to solve problems related to financial and tax accounting.

You'll learn how to write business plans, make investment decisions, do long-range financial planning, and evaluate and control assets and risks to maximize the value to owners or beneficiaries.

You will be prepared to work with clients, examine complex issues and solve problems while dealing with stocks, dividends, insurance, and financial instruments.

Management and Leadership Courses

These courses will give you a broad understanding of management and leadership, as well as skills in communication, critical and analytical thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making.

You will learn to analyze information and solve problems in order to work as financial managers, first-line supervisors of office and administrative support workers, sales managers, and operations managers.

Marketing and Communications Courses

Marketing courses provide you with an understanding of the foundations of marketing strategy, including how to conduct, analyze and interpret marketing research, and how to adapt marketing strategies to the globalized economy.

You will be able to create and implement marketing plans and become proficient in strategic marketing management.

You will develop analytical and problem-solving skills, as well as the creative and strategic thinking abilities you need to work in any area of marketing.

Human Resources Management Course

Human Resources Management courses teach you how to recruit, assess and select employees, as well as how to develop and implement policies and programs.

You will learn how to create and maintain a positive work environment and find workable solutions to problems you will encounter human resources directors, labor relations specialists, training and development managers, and compensation and benefits managers.

Career Paths for Those With a Business Administration Degree

Some of the careers that people with a business administration background can pursue, include:

  • Financial Manager - monitor a company's budget and decide where to invest financially.
  • Marketing Manager - coordinates marketing policies and programs, determining the demand for products and services offered by a firm and its competitors.
  • Human Resources Manager - coordinates the human resources activities of an organization, including the recruitment, hiring, and retention of new employees.
  • Project Manager - oversees the completion of company projects, such as introducing a new product.
  • Sales Manager- find and recommend ways to improve sales.

Career Outlook for Business Administration

Whether you prefer working with customers, crunching numbers, or solving problems, a degree in business administration qualifies you for roles in various industries and settings. It can also be a path to starting your own company.

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

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.

BLS also estimates business administrators make approximately $100,000 a year with a bachelor’s degree.

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.

Is Business Administration Right For You?

So, the big question: Is business administration right for you?

You would do well in this field if you are organized, analytical, detail-oriented, a strategic planner, and enjoy working in a fast-paced environment.

In addition, you should be empathetic, a good listener, and good at resolving problems.

If you are considering a career in business administration, but don’t know if it is the right field for you, ask yourself these questions:

  • Would I like to have a management position, with the ability to oversee other employees?
  • Do I want to know about every aspect of business?
  • Am I interested in a specialized business role?
  • Would I like to enjoy variety in my day-to-day job responsibilities?
  • Would I like flexibility in choosing a career?
  • Do I enjoy making decisions?
  • Am I interested in establishing my own business?
  • Do I enjoy learning computer and technical skills?
  • Am I constantly looking for new ideas and new ways of doing things?

If you answered “yes” to most of these questions, you may have the abilities and traits necessary to be a good business administrator.

Explore Business Administration Degrees at WVU Online

Contact the Coaches at Our Learning Engagement Center

After reading this article, if you are unsure about your goals, or how to identify your interests and skills, be sure to reach out to one of our WVU Online admissions coaches. They are trained to help you look at your individual situation and make the right choice for your future.

Request Information about Programs of Interest

Complete this form, and we'll send you program information. If you want, give us your phone number, and we'll call and answer any questions you have. 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.

We're here for you.

Call us, write us, or fill out the request information form. Whichever communication style you prefer, there will be someone from WVU Online on the other end waiting to help.

(800) 253-2762 Email Us Submit a Contact Request Form

WVU Online

Be a decision maker. First, your degree. World-class academics at an exceptional value.

Occasionally a student will encounter an issue with an online course that he or she doesn’t know how to resolve. Should this occur, please visit the link below.

Internal Student Complaint Process

Contact Us

WVU Online
West Virginia University
PO Box 6800
Morgantown, WV 26506-6800

Phone: (800) 253-2762

Connect with WVU Online

Facebook Twitter Instagram LinkedIn YouTube TicToc Icon