Many people use the terms “business administration” and “business management” interchangeably, particularly when referring to higher education degree programs. Although the two degree programs are different, they share a similar core curriculum with courses covering a broad range of business-related topics. This core curriculum provides students with a well-rounded education and a wide range of skills, regardless of the student’s intended area of specialization.
Both degrees will teach students how to plan business activities, organize departments and employees, run departments and generally manage an organization. Students also learn about the various important elements of running a business, such as logistics, business communications and leadership skills.
Despite these similarities, there are key distinctions between the two degrees. At a high level, a degree in business management typically focuses on the more authoritative aspects of business while business administration degree programs are usually broader in scope than business management degree programs and may encompass management functions.
A degree in business administration typically exposes students to a selection of courses that cover core business subjects, such as business law and ethics, marketing, management, finance, economics and accounting. Other subjects may include strategic management, management information or decision support systems, organizational behavior and operations research.
Students often complete core courses across these various subject areas and then choose a particular subject as a focal point or area of specialization, such as accounting, finance, entrepreneurship, management, marketing, business computer applications or business economics. Students then go on to complete additional coursework in this area of study, developing a high level of expertise in the subject.
In contrast, business management degree programs have more of a focus on human resource management and personnel operations. Students in business management programs often take many of the same core business courses as business administration students, but they may also take courses in other subjects such as communications, logistics, purchasing and administrative practices. In addition, they may take additional coursework focused on topics like conflict resolution, personnel development, recruiting and retention strategies, organizational behavior and performance management.
A degree in business management prepares students to take on a management role in developing an organization's goals and aligning personnel and other resources to achieve those goals. Students who earn a business management degree are usually qualified for entry-level management positions in virtually any business enterprise or functional area, including accounting, finance, human resources, marketing or benefits administration. Students can choose to pursue a particular area of interest or a general management career. Entry-level job titles might include supervisor, office manager, project manager or assistant manager.
A solid business education can open up an array of career prospects for students, regardless of whether they pursue a degree in administration or management. By fully understanding the differences and similarities between business administration and business management, individuals can better be able to select the educational path that best matches their skills, interests and career goals.