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Business Degrees

Students who are looking for an education with many potential applications and workers who are interested in new career opportunities may choose to study business. There are many types of business degrees offered by traditional and online schools. This field of study encompasses everything from banking and tourism to fashion merchandising and sports management. Graduates may find opportunities in local small businesses or multinational corporations. Programs for those interested in business may take less than a year to complete or may represent many years of in-depth study. Prospective students who wish to enter the field of business and professionals looking to advance their careers should research programs carefully to determine which is right for them.

Types of Business Degrees

There are several types of business degrees and programs. They vary in length and in the depth and breadth of information covered. The cost will be determined by the type and length of the program and the institution where it is offered. Some are more general while others focus on specific business concentrations. Each can qualify participants for new career opportunities.

Certificate or Diploma

Some schools offer a short, specialized program for students who are just embarking on their study of business. The length of the program can vary but is generally between 12 weeks and 12 months. Upon completion of the program participants are awarded a certificate or diploma. Because these programs are brief they are often tailored to a specific discipline within business education and do not require students to complete general education courses. Popular options for a certificate or diploma include business management, hospitality management, bookkeeping, accounting, marketing and tourism. A certificate or diploma may qualify participants for entry-level work in the business world or for advancement in their current department.

Associate’s Degree

Students and workers who are interested in a managerial role may work towards an associate’s degree in business management or business administration. This type of program typically takes two years to complete and can give participants a broader base of understanding than a certificate or diploma, but is less in-depth than a bachelor’s degree and can be completed much more quickly.

Bachelor’s Degree

This type of degree is offered by many colleges and universities, and is a popular option for students who are serious about a career in business management. It typically takes four years of full-time study to complete a bachelor’s degree. During that time students may take general education courses as well as targeted business classes. They may choose a specific business concentration, including hospitality, marketing, finance, tourism or administration. Students may pursue a bachelor’s degree with or without first completing an associate’s degree.

Master’s Degree

Once a student has completed a bachelor’s degree they may choose to continue their education by working towards a master’s degree. This is a two-year program that can prepare a participant for a career as an upper-level manager, supervisor, administrator or executive. Concentrations may include business administration, accounting or finance. Professionals who are currently working in the business field often seek this degree. Because many participants in this type of degree are currently employed, many programs are offered part-time and online.

Accreditation and Reputation

When choosing a program it is important to research the school’s reputation and accreditation. Many traditional universities now offer business degrees that combine online and traditional schooling. Other institutions offer online business degrees. The cost can vary widely and students who choose to study at a traditional brick-and-mortar school should also factor in the cost of living at their chosen university. While it important to choose a quality program, prestigious institutions can be more costly. Prospective students can consult school rankings and current tuition prices to choose a high-quality program that suits their goals and finances.

Prospective students should also consult the U.S. Department of Education’s list of accredited schools to ensure that their chosen program is listed. An accredited program may carry more weight with future employers. In addition, a program must be accredited for a student to be eligible for federal financial aid.

Career Options and Goals

Business is a broad field with many potential job opportunities. Depending on the type of education completed, graduates may be prepared for work in accounting, office administration, consulting, marketing, human resources, customer service or international development. Prospective students should consider their career goals carefully and select the program that will best prepare them for professional success.

In general, the more education an employee acquires the higher their potential salary will be. Experience also influences salary, as does the company’s profile. According to 2008 statistics, workers with associate’s degrees earned between $32,000 and $52,000. Graduates with a bachelor’s degree could earn as much as $90,000, and those with a master’s degree averaged anywhere from $73,000 to $168,000.

Traditional and online business degrees can open the doors to higher salaries and new career opportunities. For workers looking to make a big career change, a bachelor’s or master’s degree can launch them on a new course. An associate’s degree can introduce new students to the world of business, and even a short certificate program can help employees to move up in their current department.

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