As you consider your options for a college major, business is a popular choice. A business degree provides the skills to launch a successful career, whether your goal is to be a business owner, an executive, or an entrepreneur.
You may be unsure about choosing business as your major, given all the different courses you'll need to take and the time commitment required for success.
So, is business a hard major? Let's find out if majoring in business is right for you.
What Is a Business Major?
A business major is for students seeking an interdisciplinary approach to learning the different areas of business. You will learn business operations and fundamental skills, including marketing, finance, accounting, finance, etc.
Students can also select different concentrations, such as human resources, international business, management, or transportation and logistics.
Business is multi-faceted and essential for all companies and organizations to thrive. Therefore, it's a popular choice for students without a specific career choice in mind.
Is a Major in Business Hard?
A Business Major typically refers to a “General” Business degree, which provides broad exposure to various business-related subjects. However, there are also specific Business Majors you can take that some students will find more challenging.
In general, a business degree is not hard. However, your course load may be heavy, which I'll discuss further in a moment. And some courses will be harder for some than others.
But the depth of study in each area is not as great as it would be for a specialized Business Major.
Types of Business Majors
Whichever major you choose, you are required to take standard courses, whether it's a specific business degree you're getting or one in general business. The specific degrees, however, focus on the following areas:
- Business Administration and Management
- Health Services Administration
- Human Resources
- International Business
- Management Information Systems
- Master of Business Administration
- Mathematical Business
- Public Relations
- Operations and Supply Chain Management
- Organizational Management
Is a “General” Business Major Hard?
A “general” business major falls in the middle of the road when it comes to difficulty. Of course, any college degree is difficult relative to doing nothing, but it's fair to say business would be less intense compared to majors like engineering or molecular biology.
However, a challenging aspect of a business is the multiple fields you'll be expected to cover. Many concepts tend to overlap, and it can be hard to manage numerous courses and assignments simultaneously.
Also, depending on your current situation, a business major can be more complicated…
For example, suppose you are juggling other responsibilities like a part-time job or a challenging relationship. In either case, it can be hard to devote the time needed to be successful.
Also, your course selection can make the major more difficult, especially if math is not your forte. You'll likely take courses such as statistics, finance, and accounting which cover more challenging concepts and require a more significant time commitment to be successful.
Finally, professors and schools also come with their own unique challenges and difficulties. Talk with other students who have had the same teachers or who have attended the same school. Ask for recommendations and advice.
Course loads and curriculums will vary by school and country. A typical Business Major, however, will include the following courses spread out over four years and 120 credits (or about 40 courses):
- Accounting – Cost
- Accounting – Financial
- Accounting – Managerial
- Business Administration
- Business Analytics
- Business Computing
- Business Ethics
- Business Information Systems
- Business Law
- Business Policy and Strategy
- Business Writing and Editing
- Consumer Behaviour
- Cross-Culture Business
- e-Business Analysis and Administration
- Human Resource Management
- International Business
- Investment Fundamentals
- Macroeconomic Theory
- Microeconomic Theory
- Business Management
- Operations Management
- Organizational Behavior
- Product Development
- Project Management
- Quantitative Methods
- Retail Marketing
- Supply Chain and Logistics
Is a “Specific” Business Major Hard?
Having chosen business as your major, you'll also have the option to specify your path of study. Options can include majors such as accounting, finance, marketing, sales, and international business.
The difficulty of these specific majors is often the same as a general business degree. However, it depends on your selection and your skill level for each of the courses.
Despite the difficulty level, though, you'll enjoy it more if you are passionate about a particular study path. As a result, you will invest more time in it and have better success.
In general though, a “specific” business degree is not as hard as some other advanced degrees such as law. Of course, that will vary from person to person.
What Are The Hardest Business Majors?
All business degrees are not created the same. The difficulty of a business major depends on the school you attend, the program's reliance on business math, and your analytical skills. However, there is generally a consensus that the following business majors are the most difficult:
Finance is constantly changing, and it covers many complex concepts such as budgeting, financial planning, stocks, and bonds. As a result, you'll need strong analytical and reasoning skills to work through challenging courses and apply them in real-world settings.
There's no doubt accounting is complex. It requires exceptional attention to detail, learning multiple rules and concepts, and working with numbers constantly.
Economics is complicated, polarizing, and covers a lot of math and statistics. Also, concepts of economics can be abstract and difficult to grasp quickly, creating longer study times.
The difficulty of this path lies in the challenge of becoming an entrepreneur. Some even argue that entrepreneurs are born, not made. You'll need to develop a cross-functional set of skills and perform them at a high level. More importantly, you'll need to develop an entrepreneurial mindset which is hard for students who want certainty.
This new field involves a heavy emphasis on statistics, math, and possibly computers. In addition, it consists of solving the strategic and logistical problems of a company.
How To Know What The Best Business Degree is For YOU?
The best way to find out if a particular degree is for you is to get involved. Research, job shadow, and talk to other people who work in careers and jobs you're interested in.
Pick their brain to understand what they like and dislike and what is the most rewarding.
There are also many online assessments to match career majors to your personality. Go outside of your comfort zone, and be prepared to understand it's lots of trial and error to find the right match.
Also, as you begin introductory business courses, listen to yourself and read the signs. These courses are a good indicator of whether you will be a good fit for a particular business major or if you should change direction.
Is Business a Useless Major?
No, a Business Major is not useless. However, whether it's useful to you depends on what you do with it and why you want it.
If you spend four years getting a business degree and take a laborer job in the oil patch because it pays more, then it might be useless. At least while you're in that position.
It may give you the knowledge and leadership qualities that help you get promoted faster and move up through the company. But you cannot ignore the lost wages and tuition you paid for school.
On the other hand, if you start a business and use everything you've learned about accounting, marketing, economics, management, etc., then it's extremely useful.
Having said that… an argument can be made that a major in “general” business is useless for getting a job in a competitive market. Not because it doesn't teach you anything valuable, but because you're up against candidates who have completed specific business majors in that particular discipline.
For example, someone with a degree in human resources will have the edge over someone with a general business degree when applying for human resource positions.
That doesn't mean a specific business major is the better option though. An individual with a human resources degree has fewer job options and fewer opportunities than someone with a general business major.
Also, your broader education may be more valuable and give you an edge “during” your entire career.
So the question isn't whether a business major is useless. It's not. The question is whether it's aligned with your goals, and valuable enough to spend four years getting, relative to any other opportunity or plan you have.
What Is The Most Useful Major in Business?
The biggest advantage that previous generations had is knowing that what they were learning in school would be useful when they finished. Unfortunately, that's not true for today's students.
Throughout ninety-nine percent of human history, the skills and knowledge shared between generations was relevant to both eras. What people learned from their parents was helpful in their world, and what they taught their children was helpful in theirs.
In the 1900s, however, the world sped up and what was true for one generation was not necessarily true for the next. The world your parents grew up in was not the same world your grandparents grew up in.
And, your world is definitely not the same one your parents grew up in.
Today, change is no longer measured in generations. It's measured in decades or less.
So, the most useful business major today might not be the most useful business major tomorrow. And because we can't be certain what the future of work will look like, knowing which major will be useful is not easy to predict.
To know what the best business degrees to get are, we must use what we know and make some guesses. For example…
Advances in Technology and Societal Changes
Technology will significantly impact algorithmic subjects like accounting, finance, math, and supply chain management. These areas might one day be outsourced to artificial intelligence systems or decentralized through consumer software accessible to everyone.
But we can only speculate. It's difficult to anticipate how emerging technologies will disrupt our economy.
For example, 3D printing “could” upend two of today's fastest-growing industries, which are cardboard box/container manufacturing and cargo airlines.
In other words, 3D printed goods that are printed locally on-demand can eliminate entire supply chain sectors. And that's just one example.
That's not to say these disruptions are just around the corner or that some business majors will become obsolete. But they may change and evolve in unexpected ways that other business majors won't.
Subjects involving human relations, such as administration, human resources, marketing, public relations, and sales, are less likely to be disrupted by technology. The channels of communication may change, but good people skills will always be valuable.
With entrepreneurship on the rise and the gig economy growing, business degrees in marketing and economics are two other majors that will likely become increasingly useful.
Occupations on The Rise
We can speculate about disruptive technology, but let's not ignore specific occupations on the rise.
The popularity of a business degree is its ability to apply it to several industries. Therefore, as a new graduate, you can expect to see an increase in demand for the following positions.
- Market Research Analyst – A marketing business degree can help you study a company's position against competitors. The work involves attracting and engaging new customers, and it is a good fit if you describe yourself as creative.
- Financial Manager -A degree in finance equips you to oversee the financial well-being of an organization. Duties include analyzing market trends, producing financial reports, and developing short and long-term goals.
- Human Resource Specialist – Business human resources are a vital piece of the operations of a company. Human resources entail recruiting employees, training, handling compensation and benefits. Human Resource Specialists also address employee issues and allegations.
- Accountant – Business accounting will always be needed to keep records accurate and in compliance. Software will likely continue to make this career simpler. But tasks such as preparing tax returns, analyzing documents, and making financial recommendations are not likely to disappear any time soon.
- Management Analyst – In this role, you'll assess the entire organizational structure of a company or a department. Typical job duties include improving efficiency or assessing strengths and weaknesses.
Jobs You Can Get With a Business Degree
A business degree opens many opportunities, such as:
- Accountant – An accountant gathers and interprets financial records for a company. Accountants can work for large companies or manage individual clients.
- College Admissions – Admissions officers use assertive communication and presentation skills to recruit new students for colleges and universities.
- Teacher – Many high schools employ teachers for non-traditional subjects such as business or economics.
- Healthcare Administrator – You can use business skills to begin a career in healthcare, such as managing a hospital or department.
- Store Manager – Oversee significant retail or mom-and-pop stores to ensure smooth and effective operations such as scheduling and ordering inventory.
- Sales Consultant – As a consultant, you present products or services to potential clients and evaluate their needs. You also keep track of all purchases and payments.
- Project Manager – As a project manager, you are responsible for the daily execution of specific projects of an organization. Key competencies include initiation, planning, and implementation.
- Sales Representative – You will work on the front line of a business selling a product or service. If you have excellent communication skills and thrive in a fast-paced work environment, a sales rep role is for you.
- Relationship Banker – In this role, you'll inform potential and current clients about a bank's products and services. In addition, you will evaluate each individual or family's needs to point them in the right financial direction.
- Recruiter – As a recruiter, you will be in charge of talent acquisition from start to finish. Job duties include reviewing resumes, interviewing, and coordinating with hiring managers to find a good fit for the organization.
Is a Business Major Good For Entrepreneurs?
Aspiring entrepreneurs will find value in majoring in business. They will learn the fundamental skills and theories of what it takes to become their own boss.
These skills include how to communicate more effectively and think critically, as well as how to coordinate and seek new opportunities. However, a business degree may not be the best fit for a person determined to become an entrepreneur. A college degree more centralized on entrepreneurship along with a minor in business and on-the-job training could be more beneficial. Entrepreneurship is a lot of trial and error. You'll need to have a lot of patience to overcome challenges and a stomach for uncertainty and failure.
A business degree is beneficial, though, if only to provide a temporary fallback when entrepreneurial endeavors do not pan out.
Business Degree Requirements
Completing a business degree requires four years of full-time study. In addition, most colleges require completing the ACT or SAT and accompanying documents such as an application and personal statement.
Entrance into a business degree program often requires little or no prerequisite courses other than what is necessary for your high school diploma. Letters of recommendation, voluntary service, or job experience can be helpful though.
Some colleges and universities also offer an associate's degree as a stepping stone into the field. Advanced business positions usually require a two-year Master of Business Administration (MBA).