Business Administration vs. Business Management: What’s the Difference?

By eansley

Business Administration vs Business Management

At first glance, business administration and business management appear to cover similar ground, and you might easily confuse one for the other when trying to determine which undergraduate degree is right for you. The two degrees, however, are not interchangeable. To recognize and understand the real differences – beyond just the names – you have to read the fine print. 

What’s the Difference Between Business Administration and Business Management?

When comparing business administration and business management, the first thing you need to understand is one degree is not better than the other. It can be confusing when you consider that, in an office environment with organizational charts, a manager may rank above an administrator.

Those are just titles. In academics, a business administration degree and a business management degree represent different paths – and often, different career goals – for the learner.

“Business Administration is very broad by nature because it can be applied to all industries and you’re able to use your degree across whatever direction you end up going in,” explains Dr. Ronald Beach, the program chair for the Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration* at Forbes School of Business and Technology® at Ashford University. “Business Management is more the people side and managing people in a business.” 

Organizations, he adds, need both leaders and managers. When considering business administration vs. business management, you must think about how you want to be involved in your future company. Business administration graduates are responsible for working with people to execute the organizational strategy and vision for the long- and short-term. 

Business management** graduates often specialize in team management, conflict resolution, and communications, and it may be your preferred path if you want to focus on interpersonal office dynamics and goal-setting. 

What Do I Learn in a Business Administration Program? 

Business administration graduates are found in nearly every industry, from law to fashion and finance to investments, according to Dr. Beach. 

“The reason they have such career versatility is because their education covers so much ground,” he explains.

A business administration degree program, like the one offered at the Forbes School of Business and Technology® at Ashford University, will help you build a foundation of knowledge across multiple areas, with courses that include: 

Additionally, Ashford’s BA in Business Administration  program allows you to broaden your education with emphases courses that will give you a greater understanding of areas relevant to your career aspirations. These include:

  • Cognitive Studies
  • Environmental Management & Sustainability
  • Public Administration
  • Public Relations
  • Web & Mobile App Technology 

These courses, which immerse you in business functions and strategy, are vastly different than the aforementioned “people side” of business, Dr. Beach says.

“When you’re talking about business administration, think of acquiring the skills to manage your own business, whether you’re talking about hair salons or landscaping or nonprofit organizations,” he explains.

How is a Master of Business Administration Different?
The Master of Business Administration, or MBA, is considered the highest achievement for many business students. An MBA will allow you to master eight core competencies for career readiness and success:

  • Critical thinking and problem-solving
  • Oral and written communication
  • Teamwork and collaboration
  • Digital technology
  • Leadership
  • Professionalism and work ethic
  • Career management
  • Global and intercultural fluency 

Unlike a business management graduate program, which is not offered at Ashford University, Ashford’s International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE)-accredited Master of Business Administration goes far beyond teaching everyday management principles; focusing on relevant skills and forward-thinking concepts that are used to drive success within an organization. 

It is the MBA program that challenges you to think bigger and tap into your entrepreneurial and innovative instincts, with courses that include: 

Why Business Degrees are Booming
According to Dr. Beach, Ashford’s business administration program is comprised of the University’s largest student cohort, reflecting nationwide trends that show business administration ranked among the top college majors. The reason, he explains, is because BA in Business Administration graduates leave school with a comprehensive understanding of business and a mindset that can get things done.

Those graduates are in demand, because business is booming. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, business and financial operations occupations are expected to grow at a faster than average pace through 2028. The vast majority of those jobs require a bachelor’s degree. 

The hiring surge, according to the agency, is driven by multiple factors, including globalization and “increasing usage of data and market research in order to understand customers and product demand, and to evaluate marketing strategies.”

For those who see a business administration education as a stepping stone to a sustainable career, Dr. Beach adds that it’s never too late. 

“For many students, and even myself, you don’t realize, until you’re 40, what you want to do when you grow up,” he says. 

If you’re considering an education that will position you for success in a growth industry, contact an Ashford University advisor about your business administration degree today. 

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Written by Ashford University staff

*Certain degree programs may not be available in all states.

**This program is not offered by Ashford University. 


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