With a 32% increase in graduation rates for bachelor’s degrees in business* between the 2004-2005 and 2014-2015 school years, it’s no wonder there is so much continued interest in this field of study. But as more and more students start exploring opportunities in business, the question arises: “Which business degree is right for me?” 

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports** that bachelor’s degrees in the field of business were the most awarded in 2015—by a large margin—with over 363,000 students. However, this number takes into account related degrees such as business administration, management, and marketing. To help you determine which area of study you may want to pursue, we will focus on the similarities and differences between a marketing and business administration degree—two popular subjects that are offered by many colleges.

What is a Business Administration Degree?

A bachelor’s degree in business administration is the more comprehensive of the two degrees, focusing on building a set of professional skills that students will be able to use throughout their career in a variety of industries and situations. Key areas of study include project management, critical thinking, and leadership.

Students working toward a business administration degree will learn skills that will allow them to:

  • Evaluate the business environment in which a company operates
  • Conduct competitive analysis 
  • Analyze the financial health of a company
  • Create strategic business plans 

Due to the broader focus of a general business administration degree, graduates have the working knowledge to enter a variety of business environments. However, business administration degrees often also allow for students to choose a specialization, giving them additional insights into a particular field of business, and potentially a competitive edge based on their career goals. Typical specializations include finance, marketing, entrepreneurship, and project management. 

Business Administration Careers

With a broad foundation of business knowledge and expertise in analyzing a market, a business administration degree can lead to career opportunities in both the private and public business sector, government positions, or the option to start a personal business. In a survey of NACE members, 59.7% indicated they would be willing to hire a candidate with a business administration degree. 

Additional job options may be found in investment banking, small business management, or by completing a master’s degree

What is a Marketing Degree? 

Since it is often categorized within the business department of colleges, understanding how a degree in marketing differs from a business administration degree can feel confusing. Basically, a marketing degree focuses on one area of business study throughout the course load, allowing those students who know the particular field they want to enter the opportunity to hone in on skills that interest them. 

In addition to learning some of the basic business topics like accounting, economics, and management, a marketing degree will extend a student’s understanding of how to close the gap between a business and its potential customers. Beyond focusing on just the internal operations of a business, a marketing degree aims to provide students with the skills needed to help build and maintain relationships with clients.

Marketing Careers 

Since marketing degrees are often considered a part of the overall study of business, graduates with a bachelor’s in marketing often also have career opportunities in a variety of different public and private sector businesses, including, but not limited to, positions such as:

  • Communications Specialist
  • Account Manager
  • Advertising Manager
  • Marketing Manager
  • Brand Manager
  • Market Research Analyst

BA in Business Administration or BA in Marketing? 

If you’re still not sure which degree is right for you, try conducting a SWOT analysis of your options. A strategic analysis tool, a SWOT analysis is a common way companies and businesses review a business situation. An acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats, a SWOT analysis can help you clearly lay out the pros and cons of a situation, leading to a more informed decision.

Internal Origin Inputs

These are inputs that are directly related to the degree you are analyzing and your personal traits. Items listed may relate to the potential alignment with your personal interests or ability to apply for a job you desire. 

  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses

External Origin Inputs

Opportunities and threats are items that will come from sources you cannot directly control. These may relate to incidents in an industry or changes in the economic outlook.

  • Opportunities
  • Threats

If you’re ready to give it a try, click the image below to download and print our SWOT worksheet.

ba marketing vs ba business administration swot analysis

*Source: https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_cta.asp

**Source: https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d16/tables/dt16_322.10.asp?current=yes

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