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Why Study Business?

Business and related subjects (such as the FAME group – finance, accounting, management and economics) are among the most popular fields of study at universities worldwide, particularly at graduate level.

You might have some ideas about why this is the case – business graduates are in high demand worldwide, business touches on pretty much every aspect of modern human society, careers with a business degree are diverse and often highly paid – and these assumptions are likely to be largely true.

In this article we will explore the different types of business degrees and the types of careers these degrees could lead to.

Types of business degrees

Business degrees typically encompass a wide group of programmes, some highly specialised and others more interdisciplinary; some more academic and others primarily focused on practical professional development.

You can categorise types of business degrees by level (i.e. undergraduate, graduate, professional), and also by subject focus. Some of the areas of study likely to be covered by different types of business degrees, either directly or as supplementary elements, include:

Accounting Management sciences Computer sciences
Finance Sociology Entrepreneurship
Marketing Law Business engineering
Strategic management Quantitative techniques (mathematics) Sports management
Data Science Economics Fashion management

At undergraduate level, and on some graduate-level business degrees, students are able to gain a foundation in many of these aspects of the business world, before choosing a specialisation.

From master’s level onwards, it’s more usual for business degrees to be focused on a particular aspect of business, though there may still be a lot of flexibility for students to shape the course to match their own interests.

An example of this is a business engineering degree, combining innovation and business economics. This master’s degree gives you the skills needed to thrive in fast-changing digital environments and helps you come up with innovative solutions to complex problems.

The University of Antwerp in Belgium offers a range of business-related degrees, including two business engineering master’s: one specialising in financial engineering and the other in management information systems.

Meanwhile MBA (Master of Business Administration) and Executive MBA programs are targeted at those who have already gained significant professional experience, and typically have more of a focus on professional development.

Whichever level you study business at, and whatever field of specialisation you choose, you can expect all types of business degrees to have a strong emphasis on the practical application of theory, through the use of case studies, problem-solving tasks, project and team work, and often also internships and placement schemes.

Careers with a business degree

The combination of academic challenge and practical focus makes the prospect of studying a business degree highly appealing for those attracted to the competitive, yet collaborative learning environment offered by many business schools and departments.

Business graduates go on to work in myriad different sectors, and not all of them are those you would typically associate with business.

Typical careers with a business degree include roles in accounting and finance departments, which take in large numbers of business degree graduates. For example, business engineering graduates from the University of Antwerp have gone on to take up key roles in the shaping of digital innovation and the managing of business transformation, working as consultants, managers, analysts and controllers, amongst other roles.

Other sectors with high demand for business graduates include marketing and advertising, as well as retail, sales, human resources and business consultancy. The diversity and plenitude of careers with a business degree underlies the subject’s appeal for many students.

If you’re unsure of how to start developing your career after graduation, you may consider looking into the career development programmes that are offered by universities or business schools. Or you can join one of the many graduate schemes which many large and international companies run. These often allow graduates to spend time completing traineeships in different parts of the business, and often different regions of the world, before opting for a particular career track to pursue.

You could also use your business degree to pursue roles within SMEs (small- to medium-sized enterprises), innovative new start-ups, charities, non-profit organizations and NGOs. If you have a bright idea and the knowledge to back it up, you may even consider launching your own business.

Depending on your area of interest and the specialization of your business degree, possible careers with a business degree include:

Management consultancy Teaching/training Marketing
Trading Chartered accountancy Market research
Advertising Retail buying Personnel officer
Investment banking Retail management Public relations officer
Bank management Sales

Academic research (PhD)

Distribution and logistics management
Insurance underwriting Consumer products Financial analyst

Business degree salary expectations

As mentioned earlier, earnings potential plays an important role in the job-hunting process of many business students. While you shouldn’t expect a huge business degree salary as soon as you graduate, the skills and knowledge gained from a business degree should facilitate your career progression, making it easier to climb into management-level positions with higher salaries.

However, a business degree itself does not automatically mean a high salary – though graduating from a highly reputed business school with strong grades is certainly likely to open up some interesting opportunities and perhaps a large business degree salary. You’ll still need to prove yourself, and be ready to work hard, if you want to reach your career and salary goals – and be prepared for plenty of competition.

If a top salary is important to you, it may be worth researching the latest salary trends and forecasts for different business specialisations, as well as looking into the regions of the world which are reporting the highest demand for business graduates.

Transferable skills gained from a business degree

During your business degree, you’ll develop a broad knowledge of business operations as well as gaining targeted skills in your specific field, such as customers, markets, finance, operations, strategy, business policy, communications and IT.

You’ll typically also be challenged to explore these fields within an international context, though in some cases it will be advantageous to specialise in their application within a particular country or world region.

You can also expect to gain many valuable transferable skills, which can be put to use in both everyday life or if you decide to take a completely different career path. The skills gained from a business degree are likely to include:

  • An understanding of how organizations operate
  • Strong communication skills (oral and written)
  • Analytical and critical thinking
  • Problem solving
  • Decision making
  • Logical thinking
  • Presentation and report writing skills
  • Numeracy and an understanding of how to interpret and use financial data
  • Self-motivation, initiative and effective time management
  • Project and resource management
  • A close understanding of economic fluctuations and other external changes affecting business

Thanks to their unique combination of skills, business graduates are highly sought after by graduate employers and in many cases, final year students have already signed a job contract before graduating.

In fact, over the past ten years, more than 96 percent of UAntwerp’s business engineering students have found a job within six months after graduation. Others go on to start their own company or start a career in research.

Where to study a business degree

If, after reading this article, a business degree sounds appealing to you, the University of Antwerp has a variety of business degrees on offer, at both undergraduate and postgraduate level.

The university’s Faculty of Business and Economics is AACBS and EQUIS-programme accredited, and is appreciated for its high value for money. As a student, you’ll be studying in one of the most innovative business cities in Europe. Plus, you’re only 45 minutes away from Brussels (the headquarters of the European Union, NATO, etc.), and two hours away from cities like London, Paris or Rome.

As you might expect, the university is extremely diverse, with 20 percent of students coming from outside of Belgium and representing more than 130 nationalities. Studying at the University of Antwerp will prepare you to work in an internationally focused business environment.

This article was originally published in January 2014. It was last updated in August 2022. 

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