Comparing Business Administration vs. Business Management

A group of people in a business meeting

If you would like to pursue a career at a for-profit company or perhaps start your own business selling products or services, you can build a foundation for your future by earning a degree in business. Two degrees you might consider are the Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and the Bachelor of Science in Business Management.

The terms business administration and business management are often used interchangeably. Although there are areas of considerable overlap, these two specializations are actually quite different.

Let's further explore the questions of, What’s the difference between business administration vs. business management? And Should you pursue a job in administration or management?

In order to choose the major that’s right for you, consider talking to an academic advisor to ensure you fully understand what the curriculum involves and what jobs you might consider after graduating.

In This Article:

Business Administration Overview

Every company has multiple layers of responsibility. For example, a business might have a team dedicated solely to managing its operational budget and a department that manages its marketing campaigns. These are different areas of functionality. A business administration professional will focus on one particular area of the business’ day-to-day operations.

It is the goal of a business administration professional to make the company operate more efficiently and effectively. 

  • They consider the company’s mission, values and long-term growth objectives.
  • They ensure that the day-to-day operations of the business are also aligned with those priorities.

GCU’s business administration degree offers a broader range of options in reference to possible career paths. This bachelor's degree is designed to prepare students for opportunities in small business development and management, entrepreneurship and project management. Students in this field are able to explore business operations, accounting, statistics, economics, marketing and finance.

Business Management Overview

Business management is similar to business administration. However, this specialization tends to take a broader view of the company, with an emphasis on the human element. This specialization focuses on the structure of the organization. Business management professionals manage personnel matters and are responsible for managing teams.

The primary difference between business management and business administration is that:

  • Administration focuses on the day-to-day operations of the organization.
  • Management focuses on the bigger picture.

The business management degree offered by Grand Canyon University focuses on a more personal level of management for those who are interested in a business career that can be centered on communication and people skills in a business environment. This business degree also examines servant leadership in business, human resource management, networking, strategic and logical thinking in management and marketing, among others.

Business Administration vs. Business Management Fields

One similarity between business administration and management is that both are broad subfields that encompass a wide range of competencies, many of which overlap. The subfield of business administration focuses on the responsibilities that are necessary to run a business efficiently and effectively. It may encompass everything from motivating employees to working toward a common goal to making decisions regarding the company’s vendor agreements.

In contrast, the field of business management takes a “big picture” approach to running a business. It examines how a company can optimize productivity and efficiency, develop strategies for growth, move into new markets and make decisions for the future.

Business Administration Coursework

Students who are pursuing a business administration degree will explore leadership and management topics. However, the focus is on the daily operations of an organization.

This degree introduces the fundamentals of business planning and development, production systems and conscious capitalism, and provides students a chance to gain insight into the governance and ethics of business. This degree could be an excellent segue into a Master of Science in Leadership or an MBA.

If you decide to major in this field, you can expect to spend a great deal of time examining financial topics, including:

  • Management accounting
  • Financial accounting
  • Microeconomics and macroeconomics
  • Financial statement analysis

In addition, business administration students are expected to develop a firm understanding of legal and ethical issues that relate to businesses.

Business Management Coursework

If you decide to pursue a BS in Business Management, you can expect to survey business finance issues. For instance, you will be guided to take a look at economics, business statistics and the fundamentals of business finance. However, the focus will be on the human element of business and organizational management.

For example, you may explore how managers in diverse, global organizations can apply effective interpersonal skills and communication techniques. You may evaluate different styles of leadership, including the concept of servant leadership and how it supports accountability in management.

Additionally, you will have opportunities to figure out how to formulate a plan for a company’s long-term growth objectives. Organizational design, change and development are also key topics for aspiring business managers.

Business Administration vs. Management Skills

Business administrators and managers often share a similar skill set. However, there are some differences. As you reflect upon your own career choices, consider the differences between business management and business administration skills:

Business Administration Skills

In the field of business administration, professionals commonly share certain skills and practices. Here is a list of some of the skills seen in this role:1

  • Communication
  • Digital literacy
  • Time management
  • Organization
  • Multitasking
  • Teamwork
  • Budget management

Business Management Skills

In the world of business management, there are certain skills and practices that are commonly shared among professionals in this field. Take a look at the list to review some of the skills seen within this role:2

  • Leadership 
  • Analytical reasoning
  • Ability to inspire and motivate others
  • Organization
  • Strategic thinking
  • Communication

Business Management vs. Business Administration Careers

Regardless of whether you choose to pursue a career in administration or management, you’ll likely have opportunities to play an integral role in the future and success of your organization. If you see yourself as more of a leader who makes big-picture decisions, you may find more personal fulfillment choosing a career in management. On the other hand, if you prefer to pay attention to detail and keep everything organized, then a career in administration may be ideal for you.

Jobs in Business Administration

If you decide that a business administration degree is the best choice for you, you’ll have plenty of options to consider after graduation. All types of industries and niches require skilled employees with administration competencies. There is a diverse spectrum of possibilities, including the following:3

  • Accountant: Accountants may work for one company or for multiple clients within a financial services firm. They prepare financial statements and tax returns. Their work can provide insights to business managers, helping them make more informed decisions for the company.
  • Marketer: Marketing can be a good fit for business administration graduates who enjoy creative thinking. Marketers are responsible for planning and implementing marketing campaigns to promote a company’s products or services.
  • Human resources (HR) specialist: HR specialists recruit, interview and hire employees in a way that is aligned with the organization’s needs and goals. They may also contribute to fostering a positive company culture, and they handle employee benefits and payroll.

Note that some career choices may require additional training or certification. To become a certified public accountant (CPA), for example, you will need to pass the licensure exam.4

Jobs in Business Management

Graduates with a BS in Business Management can also choose from a diverse range of opportunities to pursue. Some possibilities include the following:5

  • Human resources manager: An HR manager is responsible for overseeing the HR department. They oversee areas such as employee governance and development, as well as recruitment and training.
  • Account executive: Account managers act as liaisons between a company and its clients. They are responsible for building client relationships, delivering presentations and ensuring all work handled for the client is performed to the established standards.
  • Marketing manager: Marketing managers oversee the operations of the marketing department. They develop marketing campaign goals and strategies and ensure their smooth implementation.

Pursue Your Business Degree at GCU

You can earn your Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree or Bachelor of Science in Business Management degree, both offered by the Colangelo College of Business at GCU. Once you’ve earned your bachelor’s degree, you may decide to further enhance your career qualifications by earning a graduate degree. You can earn your MBA online at GCU, with multiple specializations available. To learn more and get started today, fill out the form on this page to connect with a university counselor.

1 Indeed. (2023, Nov. 10). 10 essential business administration skills (with tips). Retrieved March 18, 2024. 

2 Indeed. (2023, June 9). 8 crucial business management skills for a leadership career. Retrieved March 18, 2024. 

3 Munsey, B. A. (2023, June 29). Business administration vs. business management: A guide. Indeed. Retrieved March 18, 2024. 

4 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2023, Sept. 6). How to become an accountant or auditor. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Retrieved March 18, 2024. 

5 Teodorescu, D. (2024, Feb. 29). 21 jobs you can get with a business management degree. Indeed. Retrieved March 18, 2024. 

Approved by the senior associate dean of the Colangelo College of Business on April 9, 2024.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.