Study to get ahead: how to get a business degree

Whether you aspire to become a corporate leader, entrepreneur or industry innovator, obtaining a business degree provides a solid foundation of knowledge and skills essential for success in today’s competitive marketplace. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the essential steps and considerations for pursuing a business degree, from choosing the right program to navigating the application process, financing your education, thriving in business school and leveraging opportunities beyond graduation.

Choosing the right business degree program

There are plenty of business programs to choose from, including business administration programs at top universities, specialist courses and online business degree programs. Picking the right one is a crucial step in shaping your academic progress and future career path. Let’s look at how to select the right degree in business.

Types of business degrees

The main types of business programs to consider are:

  • Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA): a general business degree covering a broad range of business topics, including management, marketing, finance, accounting and operations
  • Bachelor of Science (BS) in business management: a specialized degree focusing on the principles and practices of business management, leadership and organizational behavior
  • Industry-specific programs: specialized business degrees tailored to specific industries, such as hospitality management, tourism management or healthcare administration. These programs provide in-depth knowledge and skills relevant to the chosen industry

Factors to consider

As well as picking the right type of course, you should consider factors such as:

  • Accreditation: ensure the business school and program you choose are accredited by recognized accrediting bodies, such as AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business), NECHE (the New England Commission of Higher Education, which accredits Les Roches hospitality school) or ACBSP (Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs)
  • Specialization options: if you have a specific area of interest in business, such as marketing, finance, entrepreneurship or hospitality management, consider programs that offer specialized modules that suit your career goals
  • Curriculum and course offerings: review these to ensure they cover relevant topics and provide opportunities for hands-on learning, internships and experiential learning
  • Faculty and resources: research the faculty expertise, industry connections and resources available at the business school, such as career services, networking opportunities and research centers. 
  • Reputation and rankings: consider the school’s and the program’s reputation and rankings within the industry and among employers, alumni and peers. These will often be different for a private university and public universities, so make sure you are considering how your chosen institution compares to other available options
  • Flexibility and convenience: if you have work or personal commitments, explore options for online business degrees or part-time programs that offer flexibility in scheduling and course delivery

If you’re looking for a degree to help you get a career in the hospitality and tourism industry, there are lots of specialist programs that can help you get experience in your chosen field.

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Applying to business schools

A significant step toward advancing your education and career in the dynamic field of business is applying. Thorough research, strategic planning and meticulous preparation are essential to ensure a competitive application and gain admission to your desired program.

Researching and shortlisting potential schools

A crucial first step in the application process is to fully research the schools you are considering. Consider the factors listed above when evaluating schools. You can also use online resources, rankings, school websites and alumni networks to gather information and create a list of schools that align with your academic and career goals.

Understanding the application process and requirements

Each business school may have its unique application process and requirements, so it’s essential to carefully review and understand the application guidelines for each school you’re considering. Common requirements may include submitting transcripts, standardized test scores, letters of recommendation, a personal statement or essay and a resumé. Pay close attention to deadlines and submission instructions to ensure you meet all requirements and submit your application on time.

Crafting a compelling application

A strong application is key to standing out in the competitive business school admissions process. Below are some tips for creating an impressive application:

  • Personal statement or essay: write a thoughtful and well-crafted personal statement or essay that highlights your academic background, professional experiences, career goals and reasons for pursuing a business degree. Tailor your essay to each school and program, demonstrating your genuine interest and fit with the program’s values and culture
  • Resumé: prepare a comprehensive and polished resumé that highlights your academic achievements, work experience, leadership roles, extracurricular activities and relevant skills. Emphasize quantifiable achievements and experiences that showcase your potential as a future business leader
  • Letters of recommendation: choose people who know you well and can speak to your academic abilities, professional accomplishments, leadership potential and character. Provide them with clear guidelines and information about the program and your goals to help them write personalized and compelling letters of recommendation

Financing your business degree

While pursuing a course can be a significant investment, there are various financial aid options and strategies available to help make your education more affordable. Below, we discuss some key considerations for financing a degree in business administration.

Exploring financial aid options

The cost of tuition can be significant, but luckily there are a number of financial aid options that might help you afford business school, including:

  • Scholarships: These are financial awards that do not require repayment, often awarded for academic excellence. Many business schools and external organizations offer scholarships specifically for business students based on academic achievement, leadership qualities, financial need and other criteria. Research scholarship opportunities and apply to as many as possible to maximize your chances of receiving financial aid
  • Grants: While similar to scholarships, grants are financial awards typically based on financial need and do not require repayment. Federal, state and institutional grants may be available to eligible students based on factors such as income, family size and other demographic criteria
  • Loans: Student loans are a common option for financing education, but it’s essential to borrow responsibly and understand the terms and conditions of the loans. Federal student loans typically offer lower interest rates and more flexible repayment options than private loans
  • Work-study programs: these provide part-time employment opportunities for students with financial needs, allowing them to earn money to help pay for educational expenses. Work-study positions may be available on campus or with approved off-campus employers, providing valuable work experience while helping cover tuition and living costs

Budgeting for fees and living expenses

It’s also important to have a good idea of your budgeting when you are studying. When managing your finances, it’s helpful to:

  • Estimate total costs: calculate the total cost of attendance, including tuition, fees, books, supplies, housing, meals, transportation and personal expenses. Consider direct costs billed by the school and indirect costs associated with living as a student
  • Create a budget: develop a realistic budget that outlines your anticipated income and expenses during your time in school. Consider sources of income such as scholarships, grants, loans, savings, part-time work and family contributions. Allocate funds for essential expenses such as tuition, fees, housing and meals and discretionary spending for entertainment, travel and other non-essential items
  • Minimize expenses: look for opportunities to minimize expenses and save money where possible. Consider living off-campus, sharing housing with roommates, buying used textbooks, cooking meals at home and using public transportation to reduce costs. Looking at online degree programs might also cut the costs
  • Speak to a financial advisor: Many schools offer financial advice as well as resources to help students find financial aid, understand loan options and develop budgeting strategies. Take advantage of these resources to make informed decisions and manage your finances effectively

What to do with a business degree

Gaining a business degree opens up a wide array of career paths and opportunities across various industries. Whether you specialize in general business administration, finance, marketing or hospitality management, your business degree equips you with valuable skills and knowledge that are highly sought after in today’s job market. Among the career options and paths you can pursue with a business degree are:

  • Business management and leadership: with a business degree, you can pursue careers in management and leadership roles across diverse industries. Whether you’re managing teams, departments or entire organizations, your business acumen and leadership skills will be essential for driving business success and achieving strategic objectives
  • Hospitality management: for those with a passion for hospitality and service-oriented industries, a business degree with a focus on hospitality management opens doors to careers in hotel management, restaurant management, event planning, tourism management and hospitality consulting. Business graduates in hospitality management roles oversee operations, guest services, marketing and strategic planning to ensure exceptional guest experiences and business success
  • Marketing and advertising: business graduates with a focus on marketing can pursue marketing management careers in advertising, brand management, digital marketing, market research and public relations. You can work for advertising agencies, marketing firms, corporate marketing departments or media companies
  • Finance and investment banking: if you have a strong aptitude for numbers and finance, you can pursue careers in banking, investment management, financial analysis or corporate finance. Business graduates often work as financial analysts, investment bankers, financial planners or risk managers
  • Entrepreneurship and startups: many business graduates choose to start their businesses or work for startups, leveraging their entrepreneurial spirit, creativity and business skills to launch and grow successful ventures. Whether you’re launching a tech startup, a consulting firm or a hospitality business, your business degree provides a solid foundation for entrepreneurship
  • Consulting and management consulting: business graduates with strong analytical, problem-solving and other soft skills often pursue careers in consulting, advising businesses on strategic planning, operations, organizational development and process improvement
  • Human resource management: HR professionals are responsible for recruiting, hiring, training and managing employees, as well as developing and implementing HR policies and programs to support organizational goals
  • Further study: after your first business degree, you can always look at a master’s degree, doctoral degree or other graduate programs. This allows you to specialize further in your chosen field and boost your career prospects. It’s worth remembering a lot of graduate degree programs can be done as online courses so you can work while you study.
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A business degree opens doors to a wide range of career opportunities and paths. By choosing the right business degree program, conducting thorough research and understanding the application process, you can set yourself up for success in business school and beyond. Whether you aspire to lead teams, launch your own business or make a difference in your chosen industry, a business degree provides a solid foundation for achieving your academic and professional goals. If you’re looking to get a business degree for a career in hospitality management, try a well-renowned school such as Les Roches.