What Do You Learn in Business Administration?

Business administration is a general field of study that helps you be more productive in an office environment or while working to run a business. It literally covers everything from ordering office supplies through to leading a private equity takeover.

Students of a business administration course learn how to do the activities that enable businesses and other organizations to operate successfully. Key subjects often include accounting, financial management, human resource management, marketing, planning, and team management.

I am writing this after examining various types of business administration courses. They ranged from short training programs to MBAs. It became obvious that this is a big field, though also an important one that can and should be defined properly.

With the help of subject examples, let’s explore what it means to study business administration and how a course could boost your career.

The Term Business Administration is Not Well Understood

If you’re thinking about studying business administration and don’t know exactly what the term means, you’re in good company. This field of study has blurred boundaries. Most people probably have their own, slightly vague interpretation of what business administration refers to. So, let’s start with a definition.

Simple Definition of “Business Administration” Studies

To study business administration is to learn skills for working in an office or business setting.

The one common element in every type of business administration program is that you learn skills to help you be productive in an office or business environment. Whether you examine how to schedule a meeting or lead organizational change, you gain skills that could be useful to almost any business with staff.

The various skills can easily be adapted to different workplaces, which may explain why business administration is considered a general course of study and relevant to many career paths. Students are not trained to do one particular line of work. They instead develop a selection of skills that are valuable to most organizations.

Business Administration Covers Tasks, Systems and People

Business planning meeting

Something else you should be aware of is that business administration is doing office-related tasks as well as managing systems and people. A business administrator might be responsible for keeping financial records or purchasing good and services. But they could also have the roles of managing payroll and human resources or developing team communication strategies.

Every degree in business administration is somewhere on the spectrum from 100% technical training through to 100% teaching of soft skills and people management. This reflects that, for a business to run effectively, operational systems need to be managed as well as the people who do the work.

Understanding that business administration consists of both technical and human elements is important when choosing a course of study. Very different types of courses come under the business administration umbrella.

You should be clear in your own mind about what kind of course would best advantage you. Do you want to study business administration to learn technical skills, soft skills or a combination of both?

Business Administration Subjects

With such a vast scope of activities that could be considered business administration, the range of subjects that might be included in a course is almost endless. To give you an idea of the kinds of skills you can learn, let’s look at the subjects available in both basic training and MBA courses.

Example subjects in a training course

Here are actual examples of units available for a Certificate III in Business Administration. As you can see, the subjects generally aim to build practical office administration skills.

  1. Write simple documents
  2. Design and produce spreadsheets
  3. Organize schedules
  4. Deliver and monitor a service to customers
  5. Maintain financial records
  6. Purchase goods and services online
  7. Process customer complaints
  8. Use business technology
  9. Process accounts payable and receivable
  10. Organize workplace information
  11. Produce texts from notes
  12. Organize personal work priorities and development


Example subjects in an MBA program

The following courses are examples from the Master of Business Administration (MBA) program at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. As you can see, the emphasis is on leadership skills, communication, and making decisions based on analytics.

  1. Leadership: Foundations of Teamwork and Leadership
  2. Marketing: Marketing Management
  3. Microeconomics: Microeconomics for Managers
  4. Statistics: Regression Analysis for Managers
  5. Management Communication: Speaking and Writing
  6. Operations Strategy
  7. Dynamic Marketing Strategy
  8. Impromptu Speaking and Elements of Story for Business
  9. Financial and Managerial Accounting
  10. Corporate Finance
  11. Managing the Established Enterprise
  12. Legal Studies and Business Ethics


Why Choose Business Administration as a Major?

University or college business student

The core reason to choose a business administration major is to increase your general value as a worker. The major gives you a lasting uplift in your worth to employers. Whatever direction your career may take, you will always carry skills that can be productively applied.

From the subject lists, we can see how the discipline could help you land your first office job. For entry-level positions, someone with a business administration qualification has a demonstrated skills edge over someone without this kind of training.

For every step up the office hierarchy, there’s a business administration program that can give you a competitive advantage. An associate degree or bachelor’s degree provides access to at least entry-level professional positions. For supervisory, directing and leadership roles, you could do a graduate degree such as an MBA that imparts business management skills.

Right Time to Study Business Administration

You should consider studying business administration if the next step in your career doesn’t require a specialized skill set that you don’t have yet.

  • For example, if you want to be an accountant, you need an accounting qualification.
  • To be an engineer, getting an engineering degree is probably a good idea.
  • If a high level of specialization is not essential however, business administration might well be the best choice for your next course.

Any office worker or professional – including qualified accountants, engineers and many other professionals – can benefit from a business administration course. You gain knowledge and a qualification to boost your career prospects all round.

Business administration graduates possess highly transferable competencies. Communication skills, human resources management training, critical thinking, project management and business skills can be useful to almost any organization. So, the time for study is when you want a general uplift and expansion of your skillset.

Jobs You Learn How to Do

Business professionals

Business administration skills are valuable for almost any office job and you’ll see business administration graduates employed in countless different roles. Nonetheless, certain occupational groups are a natural fit for the sorts of skills you acquire from a business administration program. Here are examples.

General office duties and record keeping

If you complete a business administration course below degree-level, you’ll qualify for all-purpose roles in settings such as medical or legal receptions, retail stores, schools, HR departments, and government offices. Job titles include administrative assistant, executive assistant, legal administrative assistant, medical records administrator, business office coordinator, and HR administrative assistant.

Business management

With an associate degree or higher, career opportunities extend to professional roles where you’re in charge of a team or certain business operations. Job titles include business manager, business development officer, assistant director, human resources manager, and sales manager.

Related: Is Business Management a Good Degree?

Business leadership

Learning leadership skills is synonymous with Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs. MBA graduates gain a competitive advantage in going for leadership positions such as business consultant, business development manager, entrepreneur, general manager, operations manager, and chief executive officer (CEO).

Follow Andrew Lancaster:
The director of Lerna Courses, Andrew Lancaster, is experienced in analytics, technology, and business development. He has a PhD in Economics from the Australian National University. His writing helps people make informed choices about education and careers. He covers a range of topics, including university education, psychology, and professional growth.

3 Responses

  1. Nick
    | Reply

    I worked as an accountant in my prior state. My family and I had moved and I am looking for work again but most accountant positions require that you have taken a business administration course – something I never did. I already know most of the things listed. How long does obtaining something like this typically take?

  2. Axel
    | Reply

    Choosing a good school would be a very crucial factor to this. Business administration is a practical course that could give you more opportunities in your future. I am working on my application for my MBA.

  3. Greg Wright
    | Reply

    Would pairing a Business Administration degree with an AMT be a good idea or no? I am not sure if there will be any overlap there but I have had my mindset on gaining an Administrative Management Technology degree but it seems like a BA would be more useful right away.

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