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What Are the Different Types of Business Degrees?

Bethany Garner

Bethany Garner - BusinessBecause

Bethany Garner is a writer at BusinessBecause.com

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With so many different types of business degrees to choose from, how do you figure out the right option for you?

You might be an early career professional looking to get your foot on the corporate ladder, or an executive looking to change the way we look at a specific business issue. Either way, there is a master’s degree in business for you.

Here are the most popular types of business degrees.

MBA programs

Of all the different types of business degrees, an MBA—which stands for Master of Business Administration—is the world’s most popular.

It’s a generalist degree, designed to give you a holistic view of how a business operates. Core modules cover things like marketing, finance, accounting, and strategy, and most programs offer electives in several different areas so you can fine tune the program to your needs and specialize if you wish.

Most MBA programs require candidates to have a few years’ work experience before they enroll, which ensures everyone can share their expertise with the rest of the cohort.

An MBA can take your career in many different directions, but some of the most popular industries for grads are consulting, finance, and tech. Many MBA alumni also use the broad overview of business they’ve developed to start a company of their own.

Whatever route you choose, you can expect to be well-compensated. According to data from the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), the median base starting salary for MBA grads is US$115,000—an impressive US$50,000 boost compared with the median salary for bachelor’s grads.

You can study an MBA in a few different formats.

Quiz: Which Type of MBA Is Right for Me?

When it comes to MBA programs, you have a lot of options. Which type of MBA is right for you? Take our quiz to help you choose.

Business master’s

Business masters come in the form of pre-experience degrees, aimed at recent bachelor’s graduates, or post-experience degrees, for candidates with a few years’ work experience.

By studying a master’s degree in business, you can kick-start your career and access a broader range of opportunities than you could with a bachelor’s degree. Most master’s programs are one year in length, and delivered full-time.

Here are some of the most popular master’s degree in business types, so you can choose the best master’s program for you.

Quiz: Which Business Master's Degree is Right for Me?

In just a few short questions get expert advice on which pre-experience business master's degree is the right fit for you and your goals.

Research based business degrees

Whereas most MBA and master’s degree in business programs are typically for early-to-mid career professionals looking to launch, pivot, or accelerate their careers—with Executive MBA programs being the exception—there are a couple of more research-intensive options that might pique your interest in pursuing business education.

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)

The DBA is a professional doctorate, advanced research degree that involves conducting original research, analyzing data, and producing findings.

The DBA focuses on real-world organizational and business problems, and requires you to produce original and secondary research to examine and solve those problems.

The DBA is typically for those who want a career focused on business and consulting, although many DBA candidates also go on to teach in universities and colleges.

Business PhD degrees

A business PhD is an academic doctorate that, similar to a DBA, requires you to conduct in depth, original research.

Your PhD research will be focused more on developing theories, addressing a gap between theories, or filling a gap in the general body of business knowledge. Your goal with your research might be to change the way people think about business and policy.

Business PhD candidates are typically focused on pursuing a faculty career in higher education or as a researcher in a research center. 

Non-degree options

If you’re thinking about pursuing graduate management education, you don’t have to commit to a full degree.

There are several non-degree options that you might consider. The first of these are certificates.

Certificates offered by business schools allow you to gain highly specific knowledge in a niche area of business that can help you advance your career and be noticed as an expert in your field. That might be in supply chain logistics, analytics, or healthcare management.

There are also Executive Education programs that offer teaching in specific areas of business. London Business School offers executive programs in leadership, strategy, and finance, for example.

Whether you’re just starting out in your career, have experience under your belt and want to accelerate your progression, or want to influence business thinking and policy, graduate management education should be on your radar. 

Wherever you are in your career, there’s a business degree that’ll help you achieve your goals.

Bethany Garner

Bethany Garner - BusinessBecause

Bethany Garner is an experienced writer at BusinessBecause.com, where she's credited with more than 200 articles covering everything from entrepreneurial stories to mental health at work.

She also oversees the BusinessBecause Applicant Question, which poses important admission questions to experts in the field, and regularly hosts webinars on various aspects of the business school experience.

Prior to joining BusinessBecause, Bethany honed her skills as a freelance writer, tackling a wide array of topics from petcare to car maintenance.

Bethany holds a Master’s degree in English Literature from the University of Glasgow, Scotland.