Updated on Wednesday 27 February 2013
In many ways business is as old as civilization itself and it has become the centerpiece of our modern society. It's no surprise, then, that the business major is one of the most popular courses of study in the US. An undergraduate degree in business can be a springboard for a wide variety of business careers, and just being literate in the world of business can lead to advancement in many fields.
International students who want to major in business will get many of the same experiences as other undergraduates studying in other fields. The undergraduate experience is fun, freeing, and educational in and out of the classroom. You also wouldn't be alone; around 20% of undergraduates in the US have declared as a business major...one of the largest groups by far! Part of the appeal of the undergraduate degree in business is the wide range of options both in school and in the working world. From taxes to economics, and from marketing to management, there's something for just about every kind of student in business.
Undergraduate business degrees are typically broken down into the two usual groups: bachelor of arts (BA) and bachelor of science (BS). International students looking for broader degree programs should look into a BA in some business field. BA programs and similar programs that offer the bachelor of business administration (BBA) tend to be wide in their scope. Though they do often have familiar concentrations like accounting or human resources, BA programs grant a lot of room for electives and interdisciplinary coursework. Students in these programs will get a healthy dose of humanities and social science classes along with the math and other business classes.
International students who already have a specific business field in mind should take a look at BS degree programs in business. The specializations are similar to those offered in BA programs, but the overall focus is more technical and in-depth. Often BS programs will also be technology and math heavy, emphasizing mathematical analysis and information systems (Students interested in IT business, here's your spot!).
Because an undergraduate degree in business is so popular and applicable to a variety of careers, there are relatively few, if any, prerequisites for being admitted into a business program, though having a knack for basic mathematics certainly helps.
The first few years of an undergraduate business program are relatively similar, though every school is unique in some way. For example, some schools require students to declare their major immediately, while some require that students wait until their sophomore or junior year. It's also worth noting that some business schools are more selective than the larger university or college, and so there are additional steps to take with no guarantee of admission.
Regardless of how a particular business school is structured, students should embrace the wide range of opportunities available during their first few years. Take advantage of general education requirements and make the most out of the liberal arts aspect of most business programs. With a field as dynamic and competitive as business, you never know where you might pick up outside insights that will give you an edge later down the line. Also keep in mind during your first few years that networking begins immediately. Connections you make with colleagues inside and outside of your program will have lasting importance in a number of ways.
As students enter their final years as a business major, their focus will shift to advanced coursework and some sort of senior project. Advanced coursework often includes higher level classes within a student's specialization. A senior project can take on many forms, but the most common form is an internship, which is becoming more and more of an absolute necessity in the contemporary business world.
An undergraduate degree in business can come from a variety of schools, so it's important to keep your eyes open to all possibilities. International students who want to train at the top should look at schools like the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. Consistently ranked at the top of just about all business school listings, the Wharton School carries an intense focus on state-of-the-art business technology to keep up with the fast-paced business world. Students who desire a more custom course of study should look at places like the Mason School of Business at the College of William and Mary. Their unique “Your Individual Program of Study” option allows students to choose a focus, whether it be global business or the intellectual side of economics. Finally, students who want a smaller school with a more direct hands-on approach should consider schools like Felician College in New Jersey. Its Business and Management Science program is enhanced by its geographical and professional ties to large New York City businesses.
What can international students do with a business degree? The sky is the limit. The general education available in most business programs coupled with easily transferable business skills makes a degree in business a smart investment.