Associate degree in business administration
Business is among the most popular fields of study. Students who major in subjects such as finance, marketing management, and business administration account for nearly a quarter of all employees with a degree. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, business graduates receive an average salary of $65,000, which is significantly higher than the average median wage.
An associate in business administration is the gateway to this popular and rewarding field. While many jobs in sales and retail require only a high school diploma or equivalent, virtually all better-paying management positions, and jobs with the highest projected growth (7–14%, 2020-30) require a degree.
What is an associate degree in business administration?
An associate degree in business administration is a 2-year program that offers a general introduction to the business field. The curriculum may include courses in accounting, finance, business law, information systems, economics, marketing strategies, and management.
An associate in business administration can serve as a pathway to entry-level business management jobs, or as a career advancement credential for those already working in the field. For working professionals, it can create new career opportunities and access to better-paying positions.
An associate can also lead to a bachelor’s degree in business or a related field, as students can transfer associate credits to a bachelor’s degree.
Business administration vs business management
There are slight but discernible differences between business administration and business management.
A business manager is the overall decision-maker who puts in place the necessary structure, while a business administrator ensures the smooth day-to-day running of the company along that path. In a small company, both roles may be filled by the same person, but larger companies often have various specialized managers and administrators.
Associate degrees in business management and administration require the same foundational courses in accounting, finance, economics, business law, and ethics. An associate’s in business management is less technical and specialized than an administration degree, with more of a focus on general management and communication skills.
Both associate programs offer similar career prospects, leading to comparable entry-level positions.
Associate in business administration
More focused on business operations and processes
More specialized coursework in the technical aspects of business
Potential careers include accounting, IT, or building administrator
Associate in business management
More focused on leadership and people-management
More generalized coursework in communications, leadership, and project management
Potential careers include sales, office, or purchasing manager
What’s the difference between an A.A. and A.S. in business administration?
The main difference between an Associate of Arts in Business Administration (A.A.) and an Associate of Science in Business Administration (A.S.) is the focus of study.
An A.A. typically offers core business courses combined with liberal arts (English, History) and general studies coursework. While an A.S. is more narrowly focused on business-related subjects, especially those based in mathematics and science, such as accounting.
An A.A. may also offer more choice in terms of elective courses, whereas an A.A. will have more required courses based on your chosen specialization.
Is an associate degree in business administration worth it?
When deciding whether to pursue this program it is helpful to consider earnings and career stability. The table below offers a short-term earnings comparison between the entire associate degree market and the associate in business administration.
Associate’s in business adminitration
The above table provides a snapshot of earnings 3 years after graduation. We compare the earnings of all bachelor degree recipients to those who graduated from this specific program.
The statistics show that an associate degree in business administration salary is lower than the average for all associate degree holders. This could be because most high-paying business positions require a bachelor’s degree – and many students continue to a bachelor’s after their associate’s anyway. Note that bachelor’s in business administration graduates earn higher salaries than the bachelor-wide average.
Why pursue an online associates degree in business administration?
The flexibility of an online associate degree in business administration may appeal to students who are employed full time or have other commitments, such as childcare. The online program is no less rigorous than its on-campus equivalent, leading to similar job and advancement opportunities for graduates.
The business administration curriculum lends itself well to online study. Therefore, a larger percentage of online programs are available in comparison with the average for all associate degrees.
The above table shows the percentage of programs available either completely in person or fully online. Figures that do not add up to 100% indicate the existence of hybrid programs.
What to expect from an associate’s in business administration program?
An associate in business administration provides a foundation in business principles, including the basics of economics, management, marketing, and business technology.
Business associate programs are also designed to develop communication, critical thinking, administrative, and leadership abilities. These skills are crucial in business environments, as well as other fields.
During the admissions process, most associate of business administration degree programs require only a high school diploma. However, some schools have a minimum GPA requirement, the number varies between schools but is usually 2.0 upwards.
A minimum of 60 credits are required to complete a business administration associate degree.
Coursework typically includes general education courses in the liberal arts or sciences (depending on whether it is an A.A. or A.S. program), in addition to foundational business courses.
Examples of required or elective business courses include:
- Introduction to macroeconomics/microeconomics
- Principles of accounting
- Principles of marketing
- Principles of management
- Management of human resources
- Management of information systems
- Business law
- Business ethics
Cost of an associate degree in business administration
The table below shows the cost of an associate’s in business administration at different institution types.
See above how cost and earnings vary depending on the type of institution. Payback refers to how many years it takes students to cover the median costs while earning the median salary. Payback is calculated by subtracting the median earnings of a high school graduate from the median earnings related to this degree.
Graduates earn similar salaries regardless of the type of institution attended. The cost of an associate’s in business administration is generally higher at private institutions, where the degree takes longer to pay for itself than for-profit and public programs.
Financial aid and scholarship opportunities
For tips on how to pay for your associate’s in business administration, visit our financial aid section.
Associate degree in business administration careers
An associate degree in business opens the door to a range of entry-level positions in the field of business and beyond. With further qualifications and training, possible career paths include:
- Administrative assistant
- Human resources manager
- Marketing coordinator
- Project manager
- Sales manager
Typically, a bachelor’s in business administration is the next educational step. Most associate in business administration graduates are already half-way there, having earned 60 of the 120 required bachelor credits. With 2 more years of study, students can graduate with a bachelor’s and apply for a range of business positions.
This is an international non-profit student organization with more than 177,000 members. It has been dedicated to developing the business skills of college and high school students since 1946.
IAAP is a non-profit organization dedicated to the career advancement of office and administrative professionals. It provides opportunities for networking and professional development.
The AMA provides training and resources for business professionals.