Students considering a business degree may not give much thought to the differences between business administration and business management, but it is worth doing so. Some schools offer a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA), and others offer a Bachelor of Science in Business Management (BSBM). Which is the best fit for you? Both degree programs are excellent backgrounds for a successful business career, but your choice hinges upon your career goals.
There are differences between administration and management, but the differences are quite subtle. Generally, a business management degree is centered on planning and organizing, and a business administration degree offers a broad background in the field and allows you to focus on a concentration area.
The Houston Chronicle recently noted that a key difference with the management degree is the larger economic picture the curriculum usually offers. Students getting a business management degree want to have a good understanding of business trends, but usually do not focus on the specifics of one market.
On the other hand, business administration students tend to be focused on specialized business roles in their schooling and careers; many high-level accountants, chief technology officers, and chief operations officers have a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, with a focus on a specific discipline.
Some experts say that these business degrees are different in a way that is similar to public policy and public administration programs. Management focuses on vision, communication, and planning. Administration is focused on making sure the nuts and bolts operations of the business are running properly.
Business management and business administration degrees often have many of the same courses: marketing, finance, economics, and accounting. These background courses give students a solid foundation in how businesses operate – from how products are produced, sourced and manufactured, to how they are sold. Also, both degrees provide important knowledge about how money is managed and used to grow a company.
A student in a business management degree program will also likely take courses in related subjects, such as logistics, communications, decision making, information systems, and HR. These additional classes can help a student of business management to prepare for employment supervising or managing other workers.
An example of a Bachelor of Science in Business Management curriculum is this course list from Western Governor University Texas. There is a focus on more macro level business management coursework:
- Principles of Management
- Organizational Behavior
- Business Ethics
- Business Communication
- Business Strategy
- Fundamentals for Success in Business
- Introduction to HR Management
- Training and Development
- Workforce Planning – Recruitment and Selection
- Global Business
An example of a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration curriculum is the following from the University of California Marshall. There is a core curriculum requirement, including administration-focused courses in operations and data analysis, followed by a series of electives on a concentration area of business administration:
- Microeconomics for Business
- Marketing Fundamentals
- Strategic Management
- Operations Management
- Data Analysis for Decision Making
- Applied Business Statistics
- Business Finance
- Communication Strategy in Business
- Organizational Behavior and Leadership
- Writing and Critical Reasoning
Some of the available electives for this business administration degree include:
- Auditing and Assurance Services
- Internal Audit
- Venture Management
- Nonprofit Business Communication Management
- Investment Management
- Management Consulting
- New Product Development and Branding
- Advertising and Promotion Design
Whether you earn your degree in business management or business administration, it may be desirable in the future to earn your Master of Business Administration (MBA). Both bachelor’s programs provide a good foundation for your graduate degree studies in business. A typical MBA curriculum includes these types of courses at the University of Texas San Antonio:
- Financial Accounting
- Strategic Management
- Operations Management
- Strategic Management
- Marketing Management
Just as with a bachelor’s in business administration, an MBA allows students to focus on a concentration area if they like. Common concentrations are:
- International business
- General management
- Operations management
- Healthcare management
In the Employment World
Minor Differences in Small Organizations
In a smaller organization with only a few employees, the differences between a business administration and business management degree may not matter a great deal. But in a larger organization with a high number of managers or administrators. There can be substantial differences in how your career progresses with the different degrees.
Differences Emerge In Larger Organizations
The job of a business administrator in a larger organization is to keep the business or an area of the business running efficiently day to day. For example, an accounting administrator is responsible for keeping the accounting books balanced. An IT administrator is charged with keeping the IT systems and computers running smoothly and free of viruses and hackers. A building administrator keeps the building and grounds of the organization in good working order so that business goals can be fulfilled.
Business managers in larger companies often work at a higher, macro level than administrators. Managers deal with larger strategic issues, such as business expansion, mergers, and acquisitions and using new channels of distribution, as well as diversifying into other products and services. They also establish benchmarks and goals for business projects and departments. On the other hand, a business administrator for the same organization would be in charge of putting the defined goals into daily action.
Choosing Your Business Path
Both the BSBA and BSBM degrees can give you a strong, multidisciplinary foundation in business that can serve you well in many roles after graduation. Those who are in either program will develop good skills and knowledge of vital business principles: finance, accounting, ethics, marketing, and marketing. Those skills are transferable to many industries.
As the different degree programs move into the second and third years, the curricula will become more specialized in management or administration, respectively. If you are interested more in the management side of things, you may want to study subjects such as communications, business strategy, and HR management because these are higher-level business management courses.
Conversely, students who find business administration more appeal may enjoy courses in business law, project management, accounting administration, operations management, and project management. Some business administration programs offer highly specialized subcategories in broader specializations. A common example is a business administration degree that focuses on not just accounting, but on tax accounting and auditing principles.
BSBA graduates often choose business management careers in such areas as sales administration, healthcare administration, operations management, purchasing, and marketing management.
BSBM graduates may pursue opportunities in financial analysis, executive leadership, management analysis, real estate sales, supply chain management, and public relations.
In the end, there are subtle but substantial differences between earning a degree in business administration and business management. Hopefully, this article provides you with a solid overview of each discipline.
Now you have more information at your disposal to choose the best business education path for you.
- What’s The Difference Between Business Administration and Business Management? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.aiuniv.edu/degrees/business/articles/whats-the-difference-between-business-administration-and-business-management
- What Is the Difference Between Business Administration and Business Management? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://smallbusiness.chron.com/difference-between-business-administration-business-management-31390.html
- Business Administration vs. Business Management. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.floridatechonline.com/blog/business/business-administration-vs-business-management/
- BSBA vs. Management. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://online.maryville.edu/online-bachelors-degrees/business-administration/bsba-vs-management/