Business has long been one of the most common and popular undergraduate fields of study. That's not surprising when you consider the job and income potential available to those with a business degree. In fact, a quarter of all workers who majored in business earn more than $100,000 a year, according to a 2018 study from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.
A bachelor's degree in business administration, whether earned online or on-campus, can prepare you for most entry-level positions in the business world. A Master of Business Administration (MBA) or other graduate degree, along with several years of workforce experience, may be necessary to advance to positions of greater pay and responsibility.
If your family and work responsibilities make it difficult to attend a traditional college program, an online business administration program may be right for you. In recent years, distance learning has become a mainstream option at public and private schools across the nation. There are hundreds of schools offering both on-campus and online programs for business administration students, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Whether you're looking into campus-based or online business administration degree programs, it can be helpful to know what to expect from the career market and which schools give you the best value for your college dollar. Keep reading for more about top business programs and what to expect should you enroll.
Best Colleges for Business Administration Degree Programs
We put together a ten-point methodology to score nearly two thousand schools offering business administration degree programs. Using data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), we looked at an institution's retention rate, graduation rate, tuition and more. Take a look below for our list of the best schools and colleges for business administration.
Considered by some to be one of the best public universities in the nation, the University of Florida attracts top-tier students. The school is responsible for more than $700 million in research each year and has contributed more than $8 billion to the Florida economy. Its comprehensive catalog of education programs includes both traditional and online degrees.
Business administration programs at UF: The Warrington College of Business at UF offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees in business administration, and these can be earned either on-campus or online. The school's bachelor's degrees in business administration can be specialized in fields such as finance, economics and management. Meanwhile, the top-ranked UF MBA is offered with full-time, online, executive and professional weekend options to accommodate the scheduling needs of diverse learners.
Claiming the title of the nation's first public university, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has a long history of academic excellence. The school enrolls more than 30,000 students at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Despite its size, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill maintains a 13:1 student-faculty ratio which fosters a personalized learning experience.
Business administration programs at UNC-Chapel Hill: Students can earn both traditional and online degrees in business administration through the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. Its undergraduate business program focuses on action-based learning, and students typically apply for admission to the business school during their sophomore year at UNC. The university's MBA program can be completed online, in the evenings or on the weekends. A traditional, full-time option is also available.
Brigham Young University-Idaho is a good choice for students seeking an affordable education. Affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, students at the university agree to abide by an honor code that includes modest dress and participation in church services. In return, they receive a high-quality education that makes use of a unique and engaging instruction method known as the Learning Model.
Business administration programs at BYU-Idaho: At the Rexburg campus, students can choose from business majors in departments such as economics, finance and management. For online students, there is BYU-Pathway Worldwide which offers distance learning degrees that are awarded by BYU-Idaho. These include a certificate in business administration which is an advanced certificate requiring 15 credits.
Founded in 1908, James Madison University has a reputation for academic excellence and innovation. It enrolls nearly 20,000 students, and 80% of them participate in hands-on learning through research, internships, practicums or student teaching during their time at the university. James Madison University notes it has a 90% freshmen retention rate and 95% of its graduates are employed, in graduate school or involved in other career endeavors within six months of graduation.
Business administration programs at JMU: The undergraduate business program at JMU encompasses ten majors and six minors. At the graduate level, there is a Master of Business Administration which is offered with three different concentrations. Students earning an MBA may be able to study primarily online although there are some on-campus requirements.
With more than 190 degree programs, Florida International University meets the needs of diverse students. It has on-campus, online and overseas learning options and is a top-ranked public research university. What's more, the school maintains three museums and 18 sports teams making this a well-rounded institution.
Business administration programs at FIU: A Bachelor of Business Administration is among the undergraduate business offerings at FIU. The degree has nine specializations, including business analytics, international business and real estate. Six of these specializations can be earned online. For graduate students, there are seven options for earning a Master of Business Administration. Within the online MBA, there are eight specializations. The program runs on an accelerated schedule with 8-week courses and five start dates throughout the year.
Specializing in online education, the American Public University System includes both American Military University and American Public University. It was founded with the mission of providing quality education to military members, and servicemembers may be entitled to reduced tuition and waived fees. However, anyone can apply for admission.
Business administration programs at APUS: Both the American Military University and the American Public University have Schools of Business that offer business administration degrees at the associate, bachelor's and master's levels. These programs are offered online and are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs. The Bachelor of Business Administration is available in eight concentrations while the APUS MBA has 15 specializations. These include sports management, cybersecurity and entrepreneurship, among others.
From testing 5G wireless technology to fostering more than 125 start-ups and spin-offs, North Carolina State University is a leader in business and technology innovation. It has respected academic programs, impressive research credentials and highly experienced staff. The university is able to offer all that at an affordable tuition rate while also maintaining a 14:1 student-faculty ratio.
Business administration programs at NC State: Within the Poole College of Management, there are both undergraduate degrees as well as a Master of Business Administration. Undergraduate students can earn a bachelor's degree in business administration in one of six concentrations. Those enrolled in the Jenkins MBA can select from six areas of emphasis. Business professionals can complete the MBA program entirely online or through a blended format.
Harvard is a school that needs no introduction. Established in 1636, it is the oldest institution of higher learning in the nation. Its name is synonymous with the highest levels of academic excellence, and only the best of the best students are accepted here. Those who do get admitted often receive generous financial aid packages to make their top-tier education more affordable.
Business administration programs at Harvard: Harvard Business School focuses on graduate and executive education. The school has a two-year, full-time MBA which emphasizes learning through real-world scenarios. Harvard University also has a PhD in business administration for those who want to pursue the highest level of education in the field. Online learners can earn more than 12 business certificates through Harvard Business School Online.
The University of South Florida has been rising in prominence in recent years. It has become a top university for research expenditure, has a nationally ranked Center for Entrepreneurship and was the number one producer of Fulbright Scholars in the nation in 2018. Founded in 1956, the University of South Florida is still considered a young university which makes its achievements all the more impressive.
Business administration programs at USF: The Muma College of Business offers eight majors and six minors at the undergraduate level although none of these are in business administration. If you want to study business administration specifically, you'll need to be a graduate student. USF offers a Master of Business Administration that can be earned online as well as a PhD in business administration and a Doctor of Business Administration.
Don't let the name of this school fool you. While the Georgia Institute of Technology has a focus on science and technology, it offers more than 130 majors and minors across diverse fields of study. Its nationally ranked programs attract more than 25,000 undergraduate and graduate students annually. Georgia Tech, as the school is often known, has a reputation for providing an excellent return on investment.
Business administration programs at Georgia Tech: The Scheller College of Business at Georgia Tech was founded in 1912 and uses a curriculum that emphasizes the use of technology to solve business problems. The Bachelor of Science in Business Administration covers seven core areas of study. For graduate students, there are full-time, executive and evening MBA options.
Business Administration Degree Programs and Common Career Paths
Business administration degrees are available at all levels of higher education. Here's what to expect for each type of degree and what jobs you could land after graduation.
- Business law
- Financial accounting
- Introduction to marketing
- Federal taxation
- Commercial strategy
- Corporate finance
- International business
- Information systems
Business Administration Program Accreditation
Earning accreditation is one way colleges and universities can demonstrate the quality of their academics. There are two main organizations that provide business administration program accreditation.
- Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business: Founded in 1916, the AACSB has a rigorous accreditation process that requires business programs to align with 15 accreditation standards.
- Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs: The ACBSP is a younger organization and has been accrediting schools since 1988.
Business Administration Certification and Licensure
Business professionals don't have to worry about state licensure unless they plan to teach at the elementary or secondary school levels. In that case, a teaching certificate may be required. However, a certificate isn't needed for business administration professors.
Employers might look for workers who are certified though. Business administration certification is available through a number of industry groups. Here are just a few examples of what is available:
- Professional Certified Marketer in Sales Management from the American Marketing Association
- Project Management Professional from the Project Management Institute
- Certified Business Analysis Professional from the International Institute of Business Analysis
Career Outlook for Business Administration
Certain career paths have brighter employment outlooks than others for graduates of business administration programs with a business degree, whether it's an online degree or a campus-based one. Check out this brief exploration of employment projections for various occupations in the business world and see how they match up to your educational and career ambitions.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
Whether you are working toward an online bachelor degree program or other online programs or traditional business degrees, you've got options for financial help. Most scholarships for business administration students have specific eligibility criteria, like the Hawaii residency required for programs under the umbrella of the Fukunaga Scholarship Fund and the economically disadvantaged minority status required for the GE/LNESC National Scholarship. Others are more widely available. Here's a short list of financial aid opportunities for business administration students working on their business degree.
Q&A with an Expert
What are some especially helpful subjects of minor study for students interested in business administration as a career?
Communication. Breakdown in communications and the inability to communicate can be the very thing that limits the growth of many businesses, so having this skill set would make you a more valuable asset to a company.
What's some advice you would have for a business degree student just beginning to consider business administration as an educational and career path?
My best advice would be to evaluate the reason you would like to get into business administration or general business and then go find someone who is doing it and ask them about their experience to see if it matches up with what you perceived it to be. That's something you might want to know before enrolling in a business administration degree program
If you are interested in enrolling in a business administration degree program, you can start with the options on this page. It can also be a good idea to familiarize yourself with these general business resources to get a clearer idea of things like the differences between studying information systems, marketing, human resource management, business law, or other fields within.
To be included in these rankings, all schools must meet the following initial criteria for the specific subject being ranked.
- Offer an undergraduate degree (either associate or bachelor's) in that subject.
- Have awarded at least one degree or certificate in that subject in the most recent year of IPEDS data available.
Based on those criteria, we ranked all 2-year and 4-year schools in IPEDS that reported data for all of the following points. Ratings are calculated on a 10-point scale:
- In-state undergraduate tuition & fees
- Median debt
- 3 year loan repayment rate
- Graduation rate
- Retention rate
- Institutional spending
- Instructional and academic support expenses per full-time enrolled student
- Instructional and academic support spending as a percentage of all expenses
- Percent of students enrolled in DE
- Evening and weekend programs
- Academic and career counseling
- Total number of degrees conferred for particular CIP codes
- Five Rules of the College and Career Game, Anthony P. Carnevale and Ban Cheah, 2018, Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, Accessed September 2019, https://cew.georgetown.edu/wp-content/uploads/Fiverules.pdf
- We are an unstoppable force for the Gator good, University of Florida, Accessed September 2019, http://www.ufl.edu/about/
- Carolina by the Numbers, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Accessed September 2019, https://www.unc.edu/about/by-the-numbers/
- CES Honor Code, Brigham Young University-Idaho, Accessed September 2019, https://www.byui.edu/student-honor-office/ces-honor-code
- About JMU, James Madison University, Accessed September 2019, https://www.jmu.edu/about/index.shtml
- Florida International University, Accessed September 2019, https://www.fiu.edu/
- Mission & Values, American Public University System, Accessed September 2019, https://www.apus.edu/about/mission/
- Rankings and Honors, North Carolina State University, Accessed September 2019, https://www.ncsu.edu/about/rankings/
- Harvard at a Glance, Harvard University, Accessed September 2019, https://www.harvard.edu/about-harvard/harvard-glance
- About USF, University of South Florida, Accessed September 2019, https://www.usf.edu/about-usf/index.aspx
- Rankings, Georgia Institute of Technology, Accessed September 2019, https://www.gatech.edu/about/rankings
- AS in Business Administration, Southern New Hampshire University, Accessed September 2019, https://www.snhu.edu/online-degrees/associate/as-in-business-administration
- Choosing a B.A. or a B.S. in Business Administration, Concordia University, Accessed September 2019, https://online.csp.edu/program-resources/ba-or-bs-in-business
- What Can You Do With an Associate Degree in Business Management? Callie Malvik, May 31, 2019, Rasmussen College, Accessed September 2019, https://www.rasmussen.edu/degrees/business/blog/associates-degree-in-business-management/
- 5 Most Popular MBA Concentrations, The Princeton Review, Accessed September 2019, https://www.princetonreview.com/business-school-advice/popular-mba-concentrations
- DBA Degree 101, Walden University, Accessed September 2019, https://www.waldenu.edu/online-doctoral-programs/doctor-of-business-administration/resource/what-is-a-dba-degree
- Business Administration, Harvard University, Accessed September 2019, https://gsas.harvard.edu/programs-of-study/all/business-administration
- What Types of Careers can You Pursue with a Doctorate of Business Administration?, Northcentral University, Accessed September 2019, https://www.ncu.edu/blog/what-types-careers-can-you-pursue-doctorate-business-administration-dba#gref
- Standards Overview, Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, Accessed September 2019, https://www.aacsb.edu/accreditation/standards
- Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs, Accessed September 2019, https://www.acbsp.org/
- Sales Management Certification, American Marketing Association, Accessed September 2019, https://www.ama.org/sales-management-certification/
- Best Business Certifications of 2019, Kim Lindros, August 14, 2019, Business.com, Accessed September 2019, https://www.business.com/articles/best-business-certifications/