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Business management vs. administration - 3 major differences

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At a glance

  • Business administration involves organizing and using resources in a specific department or division such as accounting or inventory.
  • Business management involves overseeing overall operations within a company.
  • Choosing between business management and business administration as a career means deciding whether you prefer big-picture strategy planning and management or day-to-day implementation.
  • University of Phoenix offers business administration programs through a Bachelor of Science in Management degree and a Bachelor of Science in Business degree.

Business administration and business management are two of the most common career paths for people who want to enter the business world or are interested in entrepreneurship. These terms sound similar, and in some ways, they are. However, you need to understand a few important differences, especially if you are choosing the degree that will help you become a business manager or an administrative professional.

In broad terms, a Bachelor of Science in Management focuses on general operations or administration for a company or an organization. A Bachelor of Science in Business, on the other hand, allows you to focus more on a specific area. For example, you can specialize in marketing, accounting or human resources.

There are other similarities and differences to understand. These details might affect your area of specialization, entry-level job opportunities and the overall direction of your career. Here is a closer look at the similarities and differences between business administration and business management. 

What is business administration?

Business administration involves organizing and using resources in a specific department or division. In an administrative position, you typically have very focused goals related to one aspect of a company’s overall operations. For example, someone with a business administration degree may work in accounting or bookkeeping, manage logistics or inventory ordering, or serve as a staff member in a customer service department.

A business administration program may qualify you for an entry-level position and provide opportunities for advancement within your chosen department or area of expertise.

Careers in business administration

Individuals who pursue a career in business administration can choose from a wide range of specialties. The catch is that they often need to specialize early in their education and career if they plan to apply for promotions and ascend to decision-making positions within the company. For example, you could pursue a position in accounting or specialize in business operations management.

Here are some other business-related jobs that you might be able to get with a business administration degree:

  • General manager
  • Operations manager
  • Plant superintendent
  • Store manager
  • Administrative services manager
  • Operations director

If you want to enhance your education with the aim of pursuing senior positions within your chosen department, you can consider a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree

Ready to start your career in business administration? Explore our Bachelor of Science in Business degree program!

What is business management?

Business management involves overseeing operations within a company. Although you may help run one specific department, you can also manage overall operations or supervise several aspects of a business.

In addition to learning the fundamental concepts of a business, students studying for a degree in business management focus on the supervision of operations. This educational background provides the necessary knowledge to oversee other employees. Since decision-makers and managers need broad knowledge, the degree program usually includes employment law, IT, business relations and leadership courses.

On a business management career path, you may have leadership responsibilities early in your career. You may assist senior managers or oversee one aspect of day-to-day operations. Business management professionals are also in charge of solving problems and making decisions without input from other managers. In this career, you also have to address any employee issues or concerns. 

Careers in business management

Business management degree programs provide a broad knowledge base. Courses on ethics, employment law, finance, decision-making, organization and analysis prepare you for overseeing operations within a company.

Here are some positions you may wish to pursue with a business management degree:

  • Marketing manager
  • Human resources manager
  • Sales manager
  • Operations manager
  • Business analyst
  • Financial analyst

You may qualify for entry-level management positions with a bachelor’s degree, but having a master’s degree in business management could enhance your prospects.

You could also consider an online master’s degree, which you can usually complete while already working in a position. 

Is business management for you? Discover University of Phoenix’s Bachelor of Science in Management degree!

How business administration and business management are similar

Despite the overall difference in focus, business administration and business management have some important similarities. You will learn some of the same concepts and skills in both degree programs so that you will be well prepared for a career in business.

Here is a closer look at the connections between the two fields of study.

  • Business administration and management share a similar core curriculum that involves overlapping courses on business-related topics. For example, students learn practical subjects in both degree programs, such as finance, business communication and leadership.
  • Both subjects provide a solid knowledge base that you can build upon throughout your career.
  • Administration and management curricula provide students with a well-rounded education that allows them to specialize in their chosen areas or apply for positions with a broader focus.
  • Both degrees teach students how to organize and oversee basic business operations. They provide the same insights into how a business operates. 

Key differences between business administration and business management

While there are similarities, the differences between business administration and management will ultimately help you decide which option is best for your career goals.

  • Business administration focuses on a specific aspect of a business, such as finances, marketing or accounting. However, business management has a more holistic approach and focuses on overseeing all aspects of a department or company.
  • Business administration often involves day-to-day operations, such as bookkeeping, the upkeep of computer and communication networks and handling correspondence and documents for an executive. Conversely, business management involves strategy planning, assessing overall company performance and coming up with ways to improve or change daily operations.
  • Business managers are also responsible for formulating goals and benchmarking and adopting new strategies for business operations. Administrators are then responsible for putting these plans into action and handling the daily details of implementation.

The best degree option for you depends on which aspects of business you prefer to focus on in your career.

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Which one is right for you?

Finding the right career path involves deciding what steps you want to take and where you prefer to focus your efforts. While both business administration and management give you a base from which to launch a successful career, they require you to focus on different aspects of a business.

If you prefer to focus on a specific area without managing other people’s performance, a business administration degree will serve you well. However, if you have a passion for the strategic aspects of business and want to be in a decision-making position, a business management degree will be a better option.

You will want to be methodical while choosing a college program to meet your career goals. You can take personality and career assessment tests to try to define your exact areas of interest and take advantage of informational sessions and interview opportunities to learn more about your college options.

Finally, you should make an honest assessment of what you would enjoy doing on a daily basis. Understanding that may just be the key to choosing between business management and administration. 

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