Business education

Business education involves teaching students the fundamentals, theories, and processes of business. Education in this field occurs at several levels, including secondary education and higher education or university education. Approximately 38% of students enroll in one or more business courses during their high school tenure.

Secondary education

Business is taught as an academic subject at secondary level in many countries, including Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Lesotho, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, Nigeria, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, Argentina, Sweden, Tanzania, Malaysia and the United Kingdom. At pre-tertiary level, it is often called Business Studies, and usually combines elements of accountancy, finance, marketing, organizational studies, human resource management and economics.[1]

Undergraduate education

At the university level, students have the opportunity to take undergraduate degrees, usually a bachelor's degree, in business and management. Specific curricula and degree-granting procedures differ by program and by region. In general though, the program will comprise either preparation for management and general business, or a detailed - more academic - focus on a specific area. Regardless, all will typically include basic selections such as Accounting, Marketing, Finance, and Operations Management.

Management-directed programs[2] are designed to give a broad knowledge of the functional areas of a company, and their interconnection, and also to develop the student's practical managerial skills, communication skills and business decision-making capability. These programs thus incorporate training and practical experience, in the form of case projects, presentations, internships, industrial visits, and interaction with experts from the industry.

Subject specific programs, on the other hand, focus on a particular area, and are often more weighted towards theory. Even in these cases, however, additional to their major, students are exposed to general business principles, taking initial courses in accounting/finance, human resources, statistics, marketing, economics, and information systems.

Degrees offered here include:

  • The Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree is awarded to students who complete three to four years of full-time study in business administration. The degree often, though not always, requires a major in a specific field such as accounting, finance, HRM/personnel, marketing, management, management information systems, real estate, strategic management, or others. Similar programs include the Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA), a quantitative variant on the BBA, Bachelor of Science in Business and Bachelor of Administrative Studies degrees. The Bachelor of Public Administration (BPA) is an undergraduate degree in public administration. The Bachelor of Business Management/Bachelor of Management Studies are similar to the BBA, but with a stronger emphasis on leadership and management skills.
  • The Bachelor of International Business economics (BIBE) degree is awarded to students who complete four years of full-time study in business administration. In the last 2 years students must choose a specific field (such as the ones mentioned in the BBA). This degree is taught only in English and its aim is to enable students to work abroad and be prepared to manage large, multinational firms. It is compulsory to study abroad for at least 6 months. This degree appeared with the Bologna Process in Europe and is taught in universities like the Pompeu Fabra University.
  • The Bachelor of Commerce (B.Com, or B.Comm; Bachelor of Commerce and Administration (BCA) is an alternate title) is, likewise, an undergraduate degree in general business management, although it is more theory-based and usually incorporates an academic major. The distinction between the B.Comm and the BBA, then, is often that the latter specifically applies theories to real-life business situations, while the former concentrates more broadly on a wide range of ideas and concepts in commerce and related subjects.[3]
  • The Bachelor of Business (B.Bus or B.Bus (Major)) degree is an undergraduate degree in general business management offered by universities in Australia, Ireland and New Zealand. Similar in nature to the Bachelor of Commerce degree, Bachelor of Business degrees are often awarded at technology-focused universities in accordance with the Dawkins review (1986) of the Australian higher education sector. At many Australian universities, a Bachelor of Business degree enables graduates to undertake greater specialty in their chosen academic major as compared to a general BBA degree.
  • The Bachelor of Management and Organizational Studies degree (BMOS in Canada) is a four-year undergraduate degree in business management. However, this degree teaches knowledge-based business and is as much theoretical as it is case-based. The BMOS degree especially emphasizes social sciences such as psychology, sociology, economics, etc.
  • The Bachelor of Business Science (B.Bus.Sc) degree is similar to the BCom. However, it is a four-year honors-level course with an increased focus on the major and covers management theory in further depth. Also, students taking this approach are able to major in various quantitative disciplines not (typically) available in the B.Comm or BBA; related to this—and similarly in distinction—all B.Bus.Sc students require a full first-year mathematics course, and in addition to this, courses in statistics.
  • The Bachelor of Accountancy (B.Acy or B.Acc or B. Accty) degree is a specialized degree in accountancy; it is often the principal (or only) undergraduate degree recognized for later professional practice. It is distinct from a BBA or B.Comm with a major in accountancy in that the entire program is focused on accountancy, while other topics are supplementary. It is also known as Bachelor of Accounting, Bachelor of Accounting Science, or Bachelor of Comptrolling (B.Acc.Sci or B.Compt).
  • The Bachelor of Economics (B.Ec, B.Econ.Sc; sometimes BA (Econ), B.Sc (Econ), B.S.Sc (Econ) or BBA (Econ)) degree is similarly a specialized degree in the field of economics. Courses may last anywhere from three years to six years and are typically more theoretical and mathematical than the BBA or B.Comm with a major in economics (often substantially so). Economics is not a business discipline per se but a social science, and economics degrees are therefore often offered through liberal arts colleges.
  • There are various other specialized business degrees such as the Bachelor of Finance and Banking. A further example is the Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Management (BAOM) degree, which is awarded to students who complete a four-year course of study in the field. The core functions of this program are the teaching of organizational functions, communication, group behavior, decision-making, human resources management, ethics, and to develop and deploy in the students effective skills in management and leadership. Also offered are the Bachelor of Science in Business Education (BSBE), an undergraduate degree in the teaching of business and the Bachelor of Business Teacher Education (BBTE), a variant on the BSBE.

Postgraduate education

At the graduate school level, students seek a variety of master's degrees, either in general management–very commonly the MBA–or in a specific area, such as marketing or finance. A further distinction is that students pursuing postgraduate degrees often have some business experience, although this is not always a program requirement.

Corresponding to both of these, graduate degrees in business and management are generally of two sorts.

On the one hand, programs such as the Master of Science (M.Sc) or Arts (MA) or Commerce (M.Com) in General Management (sometimes also called Master in Management, or MIM) usually do not require professional experience. (Often the M.Sc in Management is for graduates with a first academic degree in a social science, while the MA in Management is for other backgrounds. The Master of Engineering Management, MEM, is aimed at graduates with an engineering background.)

On the other hand, the Master of Business Administration (MBA) requires a minimum of two to three years of professional experience and is open for graduates from any field. A related distinction: the M.Sc in Management is more specialized than an MBA, and is more suited for academic research, while the MBA is more industry- and management-focused.

As regards degree structure, postgraduate business programs are, in general, designed such that students gain exposure to theory and practice alike;[4] the mix, though, will differ by degree and by school,[5] as discussed. Learning is then through lectures, case studies, and often team projects (“syndicate” work). The theory is covered in the classroom setting by academic faculty. Particularly in the MBA, the theory is then reinforced, and revisited, also in the classroom setting, through the case method, placing the student in the role of the decision maker, "complete with the constraints and incomplete information found in real business issues." Practical learning often comprises consulting projects with real clients, or at least addressing an actual case, and is often undertaken in teams. The practical elements (as well as the case studies) may involve external practitioners, and sometimes executives, supporting the teaching from academic faculty. One of the challenges for business academics is demonstrating that their curriculum is relevant to those who want to become managers.[6]

Degrees offered here include:


At the doctoral level, all degrees offered are research focused, although they do differ as regards their relative weightings of theory versus practice. Typically, the DBA, DPA, DHA and D.Mgt emphasize managerial practice alongside research; relatedly, the theses for these degrees will often focus on applied research. The other doctorates here are (exclusively) theory and research based. Entrance is usually on the basis of a relevant master's degree, and for practice-weighted degrees, relevant managerial experience. For the topic areas applicable to the thesis component see: List of fields of doctoral studies in the United States #Business Management/Administrative Services. Degrees offered here include:

See also


  1. "Business studies".
  2. See for example BBA program outlines at:; Institute of International Trade
  3. "BBA and BCom: What's the difference?". University of Toronto – News@UofT. 10 June 2008. Archived from the original on 28 June 2010. Retrieved 8 July 2010.
  4. See for example: "The HBS case-method",; "The Chicago Approach",; "Practical Learning",; "Academic Experience",
  5. Is the MBA Case Method Passé?
  6. MacIntosh, Robert; Beech, Nic; Bartunek, Jean; Mason, Katy; Cooke, Bill; Denyer, David (2017-01-01). "Impact and Management Research: Exploring Relationships between Temporality, Dialogue, Reflexivity and Praxis". British Journal of Management. 28 (1): 3–13. doi:10.1111/1467-8551.12207. ISSN 1467-8551.
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