Business management vs. business administration: What should I study?

Should I run the business or perform administrative tasks? Learn the difference between a business management and a business administration degree.
Written by Tanika Johnson, Contributor

Are you curious about a business management or business administration program? Perhaps, you've wondered about the best option for your undergraduate studies

On this page, you'll find information about business management and business administration programs as well as the similarities and differences, people skills and technical knowledge, and professional responsibilities. 

What is a business management degree?

Elevate your career with an associate's, bachelor's, or master's business management degree. Become a researcher or teacher with a Ph.D. or doctor of business administration in management. 

Business management is the coordination of business activities and achievement of productivity levels. With a flexible business management degree online, you can pursue a specialization in international business, human resource management, or operations management. 

A business management degree can land you a business analyst, account manager, or marketing manager position. Your responsibilities may include supervising a marketing department, improving products and services, or boosting sales and client relationships.

What is a business administration degree?

Business administration comprises all the elements of operating a business and achieving its goals. While enrolled in your program, you'll learn the theories and practices for managing a company's resources, time, and employees.  

You may pursue an associate's, bachelor's, or master's business administration degree. For mid-management and executive roles, consider a DBA or Ph.D. in business administration. As you progress in your coursework, you may specialize in accounting, finance, or information systems. 

A traditional or online business administration degree can open doors for financial analyst, training and development specialist, or market research analyst positions. Your responsibilities could include managing financial data, marketing and advertising products and services, and designing professional development programs.

Business management vs. administration: Courses

Business management

Early on in the program, expect to complete business analytics, personal branding and career management, and operations management coursework as well as other theory-based courses. 

While very similar programs, business management has varied course offerings in business analytics and business communications. Both programs concentrate on financial management and modern approaches. 

Business administration

While pursuing your business administration degree, your core courses may include applied managerial economics, leadership and ethical decision-making, and applied managerial decision-making along with other program specific topics. 

You may discover that both business degrees overlap in managerial accounting and marketing management. Business administration offers slightly different courses in strategic human capital management and strategic management in dynamic environments.

Business management vs. administration: Skills you'll learn

Business management

Business management degree programs prepare students with specialized skills such as administration, conflict management, and project management. You will learn to interpret business legal statutes and financial data as well create financial reports.

Soft skillsHard skills
  • Delegation
  • Time management
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Problem-solving 
  • Financial intelligence
  • Budget management 
  • Information technology
  • Process improvements

Business administration

Business administrators should possess both people skills and quantitative skill sets. This includes expressing ideas, persuading teams, and providing constructive feedback as well as  calculating numbers. Industry professionals are effective collaborators and team members for business projects. 

Soft skills

Hard skills

  • Delegation
  • Time management  
  • Organization 
  • Communication 
  • Accounting
  • Human resources
  • Financial management
  • Sales and marketing

Business management vs. administration: Careers after graduation

Business management

A business management degree can lead towards managing teams, maximizing profits, and overseeing budgets as well as analyzing financial data, generating revenue, and monitoring investments. Careers after graduation include:

  • Business analyst
  • Corporate investment banker 
  • Business development manager

Business administration

A business administration degree can lead towards managing employee benefits and compensation, evaluating the performance of stock and bonds, and overseeing purchase requests. Post-graduation careers include:

  • Financial analyst
  • Procurement officer
  • Human resources manager

Business management vs. business administration: Which degree is right for me?

If you're driven by performing accounting, finance, and marketing managerial tasks, consider a business administration program. Shadow a business analyst, finance officer, or accountant and learn more about these roles. 

If you're motivated by managing employees and organizations, consider a business management degree. Interview a management analyst, operations manager, or business manager for insights into their career.

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