Is a Business Degree Worth It, and What Are the Highest-Paying Business Specializations?

FT Contributor
A young potential businesswoman wearing a gown holds her graduation cap in one hand and her business degree in the other.
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Out of the two million bachelor’s degrees conferred in the U.S. from 2016 to 2017, 381,000 degree-earners majored in business. Despite its popularity with undergraduates, it’s often argued that a business degree isn’t worth the investment. Before you choose a major for your college education, it’s important to understand the benefits and drawbacks of earning a business degree so you can determine if it’s right for you.

Benefits of a Business Degree

New Employment Opportunities

While critics may undermine the value of earning a business degree, there are many career paths that are simply unattainable without postsecondary education. A business degree can open doors to new industries and positions you may not have qualified for if you didn’t graduate from a college or university. Some of the most lucrative, stable, and attractive job opportunities that require a degree include the following:

  • Accountant.
  • Management consultant.
  • Social media manager.
  • Actuary.
  • Financial analyst.
  • Business teacher.
  • Marketing manager.
  • Attorney.
  • Healthcare administrator.

Not only do these careers require a college education, you may also benefit from the coursework a business degree encourages you to focus on, such as economics, marketing, and management.

Career Advancement

Even if you do snag a job without a college degree, you may find it hard to advance into a higher role without a college education on your resume. Some companies set specific standards for job candidates and even if you prove you’re a hard worker within your current position, you may be skipped over for a higher-paying role if you don’t have a degree.

When you have a business degree, it can be easier to talk with your boss about being promoted to a role with more responsibility. If you want to stay in your current role but feel you deserve a raise, having a degree on your resume can give you more negotiating power to discuss a pay raise.

Creating a Professional Network

Networking is an important part of business and you can create an extensive professional network while you earn your business degree. By majoring in business, you’ll meet like-minded students who are also looking to enter the business field. By sharpening your interpersonal skills and creating a professional network during your college career, you can:

  • Become more noticeable to potential employers.
  • Improve your conversational skills.
  • Master the way you sell yourself and your experience.
  • Gain support from professionals already in your target industry.
  • Increase your self-confidence.
  • Create lifelong relationships.
  • Develop connections to people who can help you advance professionally.

How Much Does It Cost to Get a Business Degree?

Average Cost

The average cost to earn a bachelor’s degree with a major in business is about the same as most other bachelor’s degrees focused on other majors. According to the College Board, in-state students who attend public four-year colleges pay an average of $9,410 in tuition and fees per year. Out-of-state students who go to public four-year colleges spend an average of $23,890 for tuition and fees each year.

By attending an in-state college, you’ll save money on tuition. If you need to take out student loans to pay for tuition, a high-paying business job with room for growth can allow you to pay off student loans fast.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Business Degree?

It generally takes four years to complete a business degree. You can also earn a Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA) if you dedicate an additional one to two years to your education. When you major in business, the courses you must take depend on your specific school requirements, but may include:

  • Financial management.
  • Economics.
  • Marketing.
  • Leadership.
  • Business administration.
  • Human resources.
  • Entrepreneurship studies.
  • Computer administration.

The courses you take when earning your degree provide you with an array of knowledge in the business realm, touching on finances, managerial skills, and technology.

Highest-Paying Business Specializations

When you earn your degree, you can choose to major in general business or you can choose a specialization within the field of business. If you know the career path you want to take, a specialized major is usually more desired and valued in the job market. While a bachelor’s degree may be sufficient for your career goals, keep in mind that a master’s degree is necessary for more advanced roles in some industries.


When you major in entrepreneurship, you learn how to create, run, and sustain your own business. Entrepreneurs must be driven self-starters with a high level of motivation. Before pursuing a career as an entrepreneur, you should evaluate your personality traits to make sure this career path is right for you. According to Indeed, the average salary for an entrepreneur in the U.S. is $67,386.


With a business degree that specializes in marketing, you could get a job as a market research analyst or marketing specialist. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), people with these roles earned median salaries of $63,120 in 2018. However, the specific salary you earn depends on your location, experience, and the industry you work in.


Specializing in finance when earning your business degree provides you with many job opportunities in the financial realm. You could strive for a job as a financial analyst, advisor, or examiner. You could also become an accountant or budget analyst. The BLS calculated that financial analysts earned a median salary of $85,660 in 2018 while advisors earned an average salary of $88,890. Accountants earned an average salary of $70,500 while budget analysts earned a median salary of $76,220.

If your life plan and financial goals don’t involve a career in business or in the corporate world, you may not find earning a business degree worth the time and investment. However, if you have hefty career goals within the realm of business, you should consider earning your business degree. With a degree in hand, you may find it easier to obtain a job in your target industry and advance into a leadership role. A business degree will also help you negotiate promotions and raises in your current position.

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