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Business Education

College And Graduate Study

More than 4,000 educational institutions in the United States offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in business. These institutions include two-year private and public colleges, four-year colleges, and graduate schools. A business school may be set up as a college or school within a university; in other cases, it may be a department within a two-year or a four-year educational institution such as a polytechnic. A degree in business is very popular in the United States because it gives the holder a specialized skill highly valued by the commercial, business, and industrial world. The types of degrees offered by business schools in the United States include associate, bachelors, certificate, diploma, masters, and doctoral degrees.


A diploma degree usually is awarded after completion of a short-term course, lasting anywhere from eight to twelve months, and is designed for students who need basic or advanced skills for employment in business administration, management, or accounting. A diploma degree may also be an essential step for students who may later choose advanced studies in business. Business schools award diplomat degrees in areas such as marketing, accounting, management, finance, or office practice.

The associate in science (A.S.) or associate in arts (A.A.) in business administration degrees are generally two-year programs offered by for-profit schools or two-year community colleges in the United States. Most students who plan to enter the business job market soon after their studies enroll in associate degree programs. These programs also prepare students for their bachelor's degree in business. In many cases, the only requirement for a student who holds the associate degree in business studies and wishes to obtain the baccalaureate or bachelor's degree is to complete two years of further studies in a preferred area in business such as accounting, finance, or marketing. Many institutions such as Kaplan College, Hickey College, Allentown Business School, and Gibbs College also offer associate, certificate, or diploma degrees in business.

In the United States, as elsewhere in the world, business schools offer programs leading to the award of a bachelor of science (B.S.) and bachelor of arts (B.A.) degrees. A student working on the baccalaureate degree in business may obtain a B.S. degree in several areas including accounting, economics, finance and investments, management, and marketing. A student pursuing the B.A. degree in business may complete concentrated courses in business administration such as marketing, management, or accounting and study several areas in the social sciences. The baccalaureate program in business prepares students to work in several areas in business. It also prepares students for further studies in business at the graduate level.

Business schools in the United States also offer degrees in graduate studies. These degrees include master of science (M.S.) or master of accountancy (M.Acc.), executive master of business administration (E.M.B.A.), doctoral (Ph.D.) programs, and other professional certificate programs such as certified public accountant (C.P.A.). The master of accountancy (M.Acc.) is a program that attracts students who want to be corporate accountants. The M.S. degree is conferred on students who focus their studies on a particular subject area in business such as accounting, marketing, finance, banking, international business, or taxation.

The master of business administration (M.B.A.) is generally a two-year program, although it may be shorter in some business schools. Part-time students may take as many as six years to complete it. Students pursuing the M.B.A. degree may specialize in one of several specialized business areas: accounting, economics, finance, banking, computer information systems, marketing, management information systems, international business, health care administration, taxation, and e-commerce.

The master of business administration degree is very popular and in high demand all over the United States and the rest of the world because of the high prestige it confers on people who successfully complete it. It is often perceived as an avenue toward achieving an executive position in business, industry, education, and government. The financial rewards are in most cases very lucrative. These, and other factors like job satisfaction, make the M.B.A. a terminal or the highest degree required for a top position in the field of business for many people.

Several business schools in the United States offer joint degree programs. These degrees are offered in conjunction with other departments within the college or university system or a different educational institution elsewhere. Students pursue these degrees by simultaneously enrolling in the two programs that are of interest to them. A student may pursue a joint graduate degree in one of the following combinations: law and business (J.D./M.B.A.), medicine and business (M.D./M.B.A.), public policy studies and business (M.P.P./M.B.A.), social services administration and business (A.M./M.B.A.), master of science in accounting and business administration (M.S/M.B.A.), master of engineering management and business administration (M.Eng. Mgt./M.B.A.).

Business schools in the United States have designed several executive educational programs for people who do not want to quit their job for full-time studies in business. These programs are designed to be equivalent to a master's degree. These degrees are awarded in several areas after several credit hours of college work in business. The executive programs may lead to the award of the executive master of science in finance (E.M.S.F.), executive master of business administration (E.M.B.A.), international executive of master of business administration (I.E.M.B.A.), global executive master of business administration (G.E.M.B.A), and executive master of international business (E.M.I.B). Students who enroll in these programs usually work intensively on weekends to complete the program within two years.

A certificate of advanced graduate studies (C.A.G.S.) or post–master's certificate (P.M.C.) in business administration is designed for graduate students who want to acquire special skills or update their business skills. A student may obtain a business certificate in financial planning, business management, business administration, business microcomputing, accounting, or marketing.

The Chicago School of Business within the University of Chicago in 1920 set up the first doctoral program (Ph.D.) in business administration in the United States. The doctor of business administration (D.B.A.) is the highest degree in business studies. Because a master's degree in business is often the only degree needed for gainful employment, few business schools offer doctoral programs in business studies. These include Baruch College, City University of New York; The Carroll School of Management, Boston College; Graduate School of Business and Behavioral Science, Clemson University; Columbia Business School, Columbia University; and John Molson School of Business, Concordia University. Other educational institutions that have doctoral programs in business include Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell University; College of Business, Florida State University; Fisher College of Business, Ohio State University; DuPree School of Management, Georgia Institute of Technology; Pamplin College of Business, Virginia Tech University; and Stanford Graduate School of Business, Stanford University.

Students pursuing the Ph.D. in business generally study for about five years after a master's degree program. Areas of specialization for the Ph.D. program in business include finance, marketing, accounting, business economics, organizational behavior, and human management, or business administration. Many people who hold Ph.D.s in business become college or university professors, business consultants, or research fellows.

Admission To Business School

Admission requirements for business studies vary from program to program and from institution to institution. Students seeking a certificate, diploma, or associate degree have few requirements to meet. The requirements may include a high school transcript, General Educational Development (G.E.D.) test scores, ability to speak and write English, completion of self-assessment form, and a personal interview. For a certificate of advanced graduate studies (C.A.G.S), a graduate degree in the area of interest or a closely related area is required. Many of the two-year community colleges have an open door policy for admission, which makes it possible for a student who is eighteen years old or older to gain an admission. Under this policy, college and university students who have good academic records but decide to enroll in a community college for business education may have not find their A.A. degree a complement to their education.

Students who want to get an undergraduate degree in business have to meet the same admission requirements as other students enrolling for a baccalaureate degree. However, students who desire a B.S. or B.A. degree in business may apply to the business school after completing twenty or more credit hours of college work. In some cases, such students would be expected to have successfully completed several business courses at this time of their college work.

Generally, graduate schools and colleges have higher admission requirements. For the master of business administration (M.B.A.) program, business schools require students to have a baccalaureate degree, and an acceptable score on the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). Indeed, very few business schools do not require a GMAT score. Other admission requirements include college transcripts showing acceptable grade point average (GPA), recommendation letters, resume, essays, and interview. Students applying for the executive master's degree in business such as executive master of business administration (E.M.B.A.) must also have seven or more years of professional work experience. Students applying for admission to complete a joint degree program must meet the admission requirements of all the departments or schools concerned. For instance, a student who wants a joint degree in law (J.D.) and business (M.B.A.) must meet the admission requirements of both the law school and business school. This means the student must obtain appropriate test scores on both the GMAT and the Law School Admission Test (LSAT).

The admission requirements for doctoral studies in business are similar to the requirements for a graduate degree. Emphasis is however, placed on essays written by the student, academic background and performance, research interest and potential, prior exposure to academic research, and the strength of recommendation letters.


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GILBERT, NIDDA. 2001. Complete Book of Business Schools. New York: Random House.

MERRIT, JENNIFER. 2001. "MBAs for Executives: The Top 25 Schools." Business Week October 15: 77–81.

PETERSON'S GUIDE INC. 2001. Graduate Programs in Business, Education, Health, Information Studies, Law, and Social Work. Princeton, NJ: Peterson's Guide Inc.

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