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Choosing a Business Degree

Research your options before you begin choosing a business degree. Learn which is best for your life and goals.


Your degree is one of the most important factors in determining the starting point of your career path. When choosing a business degree, therefore, it is very important to take into account your current educational position and to measure the potential rewards of each type of degree against the time and monetary sacrifices you are willing to make. The first step in deciding which business degree is right for you is familiarizing yourself with the different options and understanding what each degree means.

Business Degree Types

  • Associate's Degree: This two-year degree qualifies people for many entry-level business jobs. It is the least costly degree to obtain, and can often stand in for the first two years of a bachelor's degree program if the recipient chooses to pursue a full bachelor's degree. Many associates are very specialized—an associate's in bookkeeping, for example—which prepare students for specific jobs, but may not be enough of an educational background to guarantee broader advancement within an organization.
  • Bachelor's Degree: This degree generally requires four years of course work. It qualifies graduates for entry level job placement, with a greater expectation of fast advancement and high pay than for those with an associate's degree.
  • Master's Degree: A masters in business is much rarer and thus more valuable in the workplace than a bachelor's. Master's degree holders often have a deeper level of specific expertise in certain areas and are highly valued in more complex and thus higher-paying business positions. Additionally, graduates with MBAs typically start careers at the management level and can advance quickly.
  • Doctorate: This advanced degree is the most theoretical and conceptual of the business graduate degrees. Like a master's, this degree is attained after a bachelor's but lasts between three and seven years and consists almost entirely of independent research. When not working in academia or publishing their material, those with business doctorate degrees often work as consultants for a variety of companies.

Money and Other Considerations When Choosing a Business Degree

When deciding which business degree to pursue, you'll need to think about some of the practical considerations. Education can consume both time and money, and it's important to determine how much of each you can devote to your business degree program. In addition to government assistance and student loans, many scholarships are available from professional organizations, private sponsors and companies interested in helping qualified students.

One increasingly main-stream and well-respected option that can help cut back the time-commitments associated with conventional business degree programs is an online business degree program. Online degrees allow working professionals to schedule their own hours and complete course work at home, though they often take longer to complete.