What can you do with a business and management degree?

Why study business and management? Find out all you need to know about getting on a degree course, and what you might learn if you opt to study business and management

September 28 2016
Why study business and management?

What is business and management?

Business can be defined as all forms of trade, the exchange of goods and services with the intention of making a profit. Since Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations in 1776, modern forms of capitalism have come to define global interactions, and it could be argued that all economic theory since has in some way or another been an acceptance of or an attempt to move away from Smith’s ideals of the free market. 

Find out which top universities offer a business and management degree

Business is a study closely intertwined with ethics. Individuals, companies and governments are in a constant state of flux regarding what is best for an economy and the movement of capital, and how to stop events such as the the 2008 financial crash, destroying livelihoods and wiping out savings. The role of management is defined by these ideals of what is best for people and what is best for the company, and requires the skills of understanding human behaviour and establishing an effective style of leadership, as well as the need to ensure continuing financial health for the business. 

What do you learn on a business and management degree?

What you may find in a business degree covers a broad range of subjects, such as economics, accounting and entrepreneurial training. A management undergraduate degree may start with teaching a student core concepts in all of these fields, so as to ensure there will be no significant gaps when starting a career. In later years compulsory modules can be combined with specialised areas of study, for example Company Law or Consumer Behaviour.

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In a globalised world, the ability to speak a second language and appreciate the cultural differences in an approach to business is becoming increasingly important, and more and more universities worldwide are offering year abroad opportunities to business students. 

Three-year undergraduate degrees can also be adapted into a four year course with a one year work placement at some higher learning institutions, who will usually offer the opportunity at the third year of study. This opportunity to work inside a company can provide a student with personable and pragmatic skills, and will provide a useful addition to a résumé, proving experience in a professional environment upon graduation from college. Furthermore, many companies who take students on placements will employ them full time after graduating if they are impressed by their contribution.

What should I study at high school if I want to study business and management? 

Many high schools will give students the opportunity to take subjects that specialise in business and economics prior to applying for university (for instance, the UK offers an A level in Business Studies for students between the ages of 16 and 18). If you are able to take advantage of these opportunities you should consider doing so, but it is by no means the only preparation for a degree in business.

Traditional subjects such as maths and physics can be hugely advantageous towards to a study in business and universities will recognise this (Carlos Slim credits his success as a businessman to his mathematical prowess allowing him to fully scrutinise financial statements). Another key area of study is language, and the ability to debate and construct a commanding professional persona - another first step to a life in management. If you are attending a university in which you can select your major at a later point in time, ensure not only that you attend introductory business and economic courses, but are keeping a close eye on current developments in the business world.

What do people who study business and management do after graduation? 

With money and trade making the world go around, the possibilities for a business graduate are almost endless. Positions as a stock market analyst or trader may be appealing, though a student must be aware not only of the likely need for further training but that the reality of the position may differ from perceptions of Gordon Gekko in the film Wall Street,or Jordan Belfort (The Wolf of Wall Street), and achieving personal financial prosperity can take many years. 

A job in retail management is a popular position for those leaving university, and larger companies can present regular opportunities for advancement. Retail is also a wide field, allowing those with experience in one particular sector to pursue job opportunities elsewhere with relative ease. 

The relationship between business and information technology is a strong one, and if the student also has experience in computer science then a position in a software firm can be a possibility. 

The more entrepreneurial of students can make a go of building their business from scratch, although there is a steep learning curve, a need for investment, and the whims of the market to contend with, which all means many budding businesspersons will see companies go bankrupt on numerous occasions before creating a model that flourishes. 

Which famous people studied business and management?

Real estate mogul and politician Donald Trump was studying real estate business at Wharton College, University of Pennsylvania while working for his father’s company, while businesswoman Wendi Deng is a graduate from Yale School of Management - as is the CEO of the PepsiCo organisation, Indra Nooyi. 

Some celebrities who have business degrees are actor and former governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger (international business, University of Wisconsin-Superior) and Sir Mick Jagger, who dropped out of a business degree at the London School of Economics to focus on a burgeoning music career as lead singer of the Rolling Stones.

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