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Is a General Business Degree a Better Value than One that Focuses on a Particular Field of Study?

Students and parents trying to assess the value of a business degree often wonder whether their best option is a general degree in this field or a specialized program with a strong concentration in a given area. In the end, this calculation is less about overall value and more about the student’s unique interests within the business community. Business degrees, generally speaking, all carry roughly the same starting salary. There are only two exceptions to the rule: accounting and finance. Both these specialized programs tend to pay just a bit more to undergraduate students who have received a degree, but it’s worth noting that most jobs in these industries will require their employees to eventually receive a graduate degree in order to become fully, permanently licensed in each respective field.

The Many Benefits of a General Business Degree

The recent economic slump forced students and parents to think not only about their field of study while in college, but also of the practical applications of that field of study in a future career. For this reason, business has become a popular major. The health and strong hiring of the business community doesn’t hurt, either. When choosing this major, students are often permitted to choose specialized degrees in accounting, finance, or marketing. Concentrations within a general business major include marketing, finance, management, business law, ethics, human resources, and many others. What should a student choose? What are the benefits of going “general,” with a broad business administration degree and paired with a concentration?

Versatility in the Job Market

The key to landing a job in the modern economy is to be both highly skilled and versatile. While specialized accounting, marketing, and finance degree programs allow students to be specialists in their fields, they also limit graduates to a single career path. This might be fine in today’s economy when it comes to getting hired in these fields, but it may not work very well if there is industry contraction in the future. A highly specialized accountant will not be able to transition into a general management, marketing, or human resources job, for example. The versatility of a general business degree, which teaches a wide range of applicable skills, will allow students to alter their career path to meet the economy’s needs well into the future. This makes their degree a great value for many years after graduation.

Cross-Promotion and Upward Mobility

Much like switching career paths to meet the economy’s future twists and turns, a general degree also gives students the educational background they need in order to advance into new roles. While a specialized degree would allow an accountant to advance only into roles like that of an account manager, a general business degree might allow a student to find an entry-level accounting job, qualify for a promotion to the operations department, and end up as a CEO by the time their career is finished. The broad background contained in a general business degree will give students the foundations they need to be “cross-promoted” into different roles, departments, and office environments. As a result, they have higher long-term earning potential and enjoy a higher overall ROI for their tuition expenses.

More Educational Options at the Graduate Level

Finally, general business degrees at the undergraduate level allow students to pursue an MBA, a Master of Accountancy, an M.S. in Finance, and numerous other business-related programs. A varied list of educational credentials can help these students advance into new management roles over the long course of their professional careers.

A Great Way to Maximize ROI and Add Value

A general business degree is a better value than a specialized degree for students who want to work in many departments, oversee various aspects of the business environment, and maximize their potential for advancement to the highest level of management in large organizations. Specialized programs have value as well, but a general degree will give students more options. That’s certainly a top consideration in today’s economy.


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