BBA vs. MBA: Which Business Degree Is Right for Me?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published August 11, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Many jobs require or prefer that you have a certain type of degree. For business-related positions, two commonly listed degrees are a BBA and an MBA. Knowing more about these two degrees can help you decide if pursuing one may help you achieve your career goals. In this article, we discuss BBAs and MBAs and explore the similarities and differences between the two degrees.

What is a BBA?

A BBA is a bachelor's degree in business administration. This degree provides students with a foundational knowledge of businesses fundamentals and how it applies to real-world environments. Students typically choose this degree if they wish to pursue a business administration role after graduation. Obtaining this degree usually takes four years, although some universities offer three-year programs.

Related: How To Create a Resume for a College Application

What is an MBA?

An MBA is a Master of Business Administration degree. It's an advanced graduate-level degree pursued by those who wish to gain expert knowledge and skills in business administration, typically for the purpose of career advancement. When taken full time, a traditional MBA takes two years to complete, though many students pursue it part time while working.

Related: How To Get an MBA: A Step-by-Step Guide

BBA vs. MBA

There are several areas in which a BBA and an MMA differ, such as:

Entry requirements

A bachelor's degree in business administration and an MBA have different requirements for enrollment. Because the first is a bachelor-level degree, it typically has the same requirements as any other bachelor's program. You must meet an educational institution's requirements in order to be accepted and then choose to study in its business administration program. Colleges and universities typically look at high school transcripts, SAT scores and your personal resume to determine eligibility into their bachelor's degree programs.

To enroll in an MBA program, students must first receive a bachelor's degree and then meet the other requirements of the particular institution. Common requirements include excellent standardized test scores, such as the GRE, recommendation letters, a positive academic record in college, previous business-related work experience and an essay. In addition, the program may desire students to currently have business-related employment.

Degree requirements

Most bachelor's programs in business administration last for four years, although some schools allow you to complete them in three. In either case, the student finishes 120 credits to obtain their degree. During this program, students typically also take liberal arts courses in addition to their business-related courses.

MBA programs are typically shorter than a bachelor's program, only requiring 30 to 60 credits. Full-time students usually complete an MBA in two years. During an MBA program, students focus solely on advanced business-related courses.

Course formats

During a bachelor's program in business administration, students regularly take courses taught through lectures, in which a professor presents information to the class. These courses often require student participation, but this involvement is only part of the course materials.

This is different from MBA programs, in which there's a much stronger focus on collaboration and discussion. In an MBA program, professors serve to guide discussions and provide insight rather than simply lecture. The benefit of focusing more on group discussions at the MBA level is that it allows students to take advantage of the professional experience of their fellow students.

Degree specializations

In most bachelor's programs, students learn basic business topics and then choose a specialization in which they receive more advanced instructions. This allows students to pick a path that's more aligned with their interests and career goals. Popular specialization areas include:

  • Accounting: Covers topics such as accounting principles and regulatory laws

  • Entrepreneurship: Focuses on starting a new business, including how to create a business plan and secure funding

  • Finance: Explores topics such as investing and financial analysis

  • Human resource management: Covers topics like employee development, benefits programs and labor relations

  • Management: Helps students develop leadership abilities and how to make critical decisions

  • Marketing: Provides instruction on topics such as advertising, social media and how to create an effective marketing plan

  • Project management: Teaches students about the project life cycle and how to take a project from inception to completion

  • Technology management: Covers the different technologies commonly used by businesses and how to assess the technological needs of a business

Students in MBA programs are often either pre-qualifying their career, currently employed and seeking to advance their career or established professionally yet seeking advanced skills. Knowing what area of business you plan to work in or currently work in can ensure you attain the most applicable expertise from your MBA. The specialization, or concentration, you choose should meet your career goals. Concentrations may include marketing, finance, HR, operations management and international business.

Related: Business Degree Guide: 10 Types of Business Majors and the Differences Between Them

Benefits

Getting a BBA can help recent graduates obtain their first business-related position. It also provides them with foundational knowledge that can help them succeed at these entry-level positions. While not all positions require a bachelor's degree in business administration, having one demonstrates your knowledge level to prospective employers.

Many high-level business roles require or strongly prefer someone with an MBA. Besides aiding recipients in their current position, having an MBA also presents new career opportunities. For example, MBA recipients can teach business classes at local colleges. Finally, earning an MBA can lead to an increase in income, as MBA holders earn more on average than those with just a bachelor's degree.

Related: What Can You Do With an MBA? With Example Careers

Tips for choosing between a BBA and an MBA

If you're trying to decide between a BBA and an MBA, here are a few tips you can use:

Consider your desired career path

Think about where you want to be in 10 years. Ask yourself what position you ultimately want to hold and what path you need to follow to achieve it. For some upper-level positions, you may need to earn an MBA. Other positions, however, focus more on the candidate's previous work experience. Research your desired career goal and learn if those in that position commonly hold an MBA.

Think about your available time

Completing any degree program takes time. Think about how much time you have in your day-to-day life, along with how quickly you want to achieve your career goals. If you already work a lot of hours and have other commitments, finding time to complete an MBA program may prove difficult. In addition, if you need to earn an income immediately after graduating from high school, you may not have time to complete a bachelor's program.

Consider the costs

Besides taking time, enrolling in degree programs also costs money. Consider the cost of things like tuition and books to help you decide if either program is right for you. Weigh these costs against your potential rise in earnings if you obtain the degree. Completing one of these degree programs is an investment in your future, but it's important to ensure you can afford the venture.

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