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Business Administration vs. Business Management: A Full Guide

Sep 5, 2023

Are you considering a degree in business administration or business management? If so, you're certainly not alone. Both are popular fields of study for those interested in pursuing a business career. But how do they differ, and which is right for you? Read on to learn the key differences between these two pathways to help you decide which is better suited to your educational goals. 

What Is Business Administration and Business Management?

Business administration is a field of study that focuses on managing and running businesses efficiently and effectively. This field encompasses a range of subjects, including accounting, finance, marketing, and management. It emphasizes the importance of creating and implementing strategies, setting goals, making decisions, allocating resources, analyzing data, and improving processes. Business administration graduates possess valuable skills that can be applied across different industries and sectors.

Business management, on the other hand, is the art of overseeing and organizing business operations to ensure the company runs efficiently and effectively. It involves managing the different aspects of the business such as finance, human resources, marketing, and supply chain management. In simpler terms, business managers coordinate resources to achieve their company’s goals and objectives. With the right team and management strategies, businesses can thrive and grow, making business management a crucial aspect of any successful enterprise.

Definition of Business Administrator

The role of a business administrator is multifaceted and involves a variety of responsibilities that ensure the smooth operation of a company. One of the main tasks of a business administrator is managing personnel, which includes hiring, training, and supervising staff. In addition, they oversee the company's finances, ensuring that funds are appropriately allocated and budgets are adhered to. A business administrator is also responsible for implementing company policies, developing strategies to improve productivity and profitability, and coordinating with other departments within the organization. They must possess strong leadership, communication, and organizational skills to carry out their responsibilities effectively. After all, a company's success depends on a skilled business administrator's competent management and guidance. 

Definition of Business Manager

Business managers have a vital role in the success of an organization. They are responsible for executing strategies, overseeing operations, and ensuring that resources are appropriately allocated. Their duties range from supervising employee performance to developing growth plans to managing budgets. In addition, business managers must stay abreast of market trends and maintain strong relationships with clients and stakeholders. They are crucial in creating a positive work environment and promoting teamwork. Successful business managers can balance multiple tasks while motivating their teams to achieve common goals. Overall, their responsibilities are varied and extensive, requiring a combination of leadership, analytical, and communication skills.

The Overlap and Differences

Business administration and business management are two essential functions in any organization. Although they share some similarities, key distinctions exist between the two roles. The areas where these functions overlap include:

  • Resource allocation
  • Strategic planning
  • Decision-making
  • Overseeing daily operations

However, business administration primarily focuses on the organization's internal operations and processes, while business management is responsible for the company's overall direction and success. 

Additionally, one of the critical distinctions between these roles is that business administrators typically handle administrative tasks such as managing budgets and personnel, while business managers make high-level decisions about the company's operations such as mergers and acquisitions. Understanding the differences between these two functions is crucial in determining the appropriate path for you. 

Comparing Career Paths: Business Administration vs. Business Management

Both business administration and business management require strong leadership skills and business acumen. In the end, the right choice depends on your interests and career goals.

Career Paths in Business Administration

With a degree in business administration, graduates have a wide variety of career paths to choose from. The fundamental skills gained in a bachelor’s or master’s program can translate into industries such as healthcare, finance, technology, and consulting. Graduates can work in various roles, including finance and accounting, human resources, marketing, operations, and management. For example, a graduate with a finance focus could pursue roles such as financial analyst or advisor, while one with a marketing focus might consider working in advertising or public relations. The adaptability of a business administration degree allows for a wide range of career options. 

Career Paths in Business Management

A degree in business management can be highly versatile, paving the way for various potential career paths. Those who hold this degree may find themselves well suited for roles ranging from management positions in traditional business settings to entrepreneurial ventures in a variety of industries. Some possible industries that those with a degree in business management may work in include finance, marketing, human resources, and consulting. Additionally, individuals may find that their skills are in demand across an array of fields such as technology, healthcare, government, and nonprofit organizations. Some potential roles that those with a degree in business management may hold include sales manager, operations analyst, project manager, or marketing manager. Overall, the possibilities are plentiful for those who choose to pursue a degree in business management.

Key Differences in Career Opportunities

Regarding career opportunities, business administration focuses more on the operations and functions of a company, while business management looks more closely at how to achieve the company's goals and objectives. Some key differences in career opportunities include a greater emphasis on financial management and accounting in business administration and a focus on leadership and strategic planning in business management.

For instance, management roles such as CEO or COO often require a strong background in business management, while positions such as chief financial officer (CFO) or controller require more experience in business administration. Ultimately, both fields offer dynamic career paths with plenty of opportunities for growth and advancement.

Education for Business Administration vs. Business Management

Education plays a vital role in preparing individuals for a successful career in business. A business administration degree emphasizes applying management principles and focuses on developing and implementing strategies to achieve business objectives. Alternatively, business management emphasizes leadership and people skills, focusing on managing employees and delegating tasks efficiently. Conclusively, both degrees can lead to lucrative career opportunities, and it is important to weigh the differences and benefits of each program to make the best decision for your career goals.

Educational Requirements for Business Administration

Getting the right education is key if you're considering a career in business administration. Most entry-level positions require at least a bachelor's degree in business administration, management, accounting, or finance. However, depending on your specific career goals, you may need to pursue a more specialized degree or certification program. For example, if you want to work in finance, a degree in economics or finance may be required, while a certification in project management may be beneficial for those interested in managing teams and projects. It's also worth noting that some executive-level positions in business administration require a master's degree in business administration (MBA) or a related field. Overall, a solid education in business administration is essential for success in this competitive field.

Educational Requirements for Business Management

If you're interested in pursuing a career in business management, you'll find a variety of educational pathways you can take to get started. Many entry-level positions require a bachelor's degree in business administration, management, or a related field, although some employers may also accept degrees in fields like economics, accounting, or finance. If you want to advance your career into higher-level management or executive positions, you may also want to consider pursuing an MBA. Specific certifications, such as the Project Management Professional (PMP) or Certified Management Accountant (CMA), may also be valuable assets for those looking to demonstrate their skills and experience to employers. All things considered, the educational requirements for a career in business management will vary depending on the specific job and industry you're interested in, so it's important to do your research and tailor your educational goals accordingly.

Choosing the Right Degree

When pursuing a degree in business, it can be challenging to decide between a degree in business administration or business management. There are several factors to consider when making this important decision. First, you should consider your career goals and aspirations. If you are interested in a career in leadership, management, or operations, a degree in business management may be the right choice. On the other hand, if your interests include marketing, finance, or human resources, a degree in business administration may be more suitable. 

Secondly, it is essential to consider your interests and passions. If you enjoy analyzing data and making strategic decisions, then business administration may be your best fit, whereas if you enjoy leading teams and playing an active role in day-to-day operations, then business management may be a better fit. Finally, your skills should be considered. If you are skilled at organizing and planning, then a degree in business administration may be an excellent option. For those with strong leadership skills, a degree in business management may provide a better path to success.

For students looking to pursue a degree in business administration or business management, WGU offers a unique and flexible approach to higher education. Students can accelerate their progress through coursework by demonstrating mastery of the material at their own pace. Additionally, WGU's curriculum is designed in collaboration with industry professionals, ensuring that graduates have the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in business. 

Key Takeaways


While both fields share a common goal of running a successful business, business administration and business management are distinctive in the following ways:


  • Business administration aims to provide the necessary skills and knowledge to manage a business's day-to-day operations. This includes financial management, marketing, human resources, and customer service tasks. 
  • Business management focuses on long-term strategies and goals for the business. This involves tasks such as planning, organizing, leading, and controlling the activities of an organization.


  • Business administration is designed to give students a broad understanding of the various aspects of running a business.
  • Business management degrees require specialized knowledge and may include finance, accounting, economics, law, and organizational behavior courses.

Skill set

  • Business administration focuses on developing practical skills that can be applied in various settings. These skills include problem-solving, communication, decision-making, and time management.
  • Business management focuses more on developing strategic thinking skills such as critical analysis and creative problem-solving.

Career paths

  • Those with a degree in business administration may pursue careers in areas such as banking or accounting.
  • Those with a degree in business management may pursue careers in areas such as consulting or executive leadership roles within organizations.


The job outlook for both professions is positive due to the increasing demand for skilled professionals who understand how businesses operate in today's economy. Those with degrees in either field can expect employment opportunities across all industry sectors, including finance, technology, healthcare, hospitality, and sales.

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