Which Business Degree is Right for You?

Whether you're interested in marketing, math, or making connections, the business field has a lot of opportunity.

Whether you're interested in marketing, math, or making connections, the business field has a lot of opportunity.

Business is still one of the most popular subjects students choose to study in college. And within the business field there is a large choice of potential majors. You can go into marketing, hospitality management, finance, accounting or a number of other majors related to running and managing a business.

Which majors are hot? What are the highest paid business degrees and what are some of the best schools?

Field Outlook

The number of positions in the business and financial fields are expected to continue growing at an average rate from 2014-2024 by about 8% according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This constitutes the addition of about 624,000 new positions over this time period.

While there are a lot of different subjects to choose as your concentration, below we explore the six most popular majors within business.

Finance and Accounting

Finance and accounting are related to how various assets are tracked within an organization. Whereas finance focuses on the organization’s assets and how to best distribute them, accounting is focused on real numbers by recording and reporting on transactions within the organization. Both majors have some level of growth associated with them – the BLS reports each to have 10-15% growth over the next several years.

Approximately 100k students graduate with either an accounting or finance major each year. The Average starting salary for either major is in the mid-$40ks with an average mid-career salary between $75-80k.

Business Administration & Management

Business administration and management deals with organizing, planning and directing work for a business. As this is more of a general major, you will learn about many areas of business including purchasing, logistics, marketing, accounting and human resource management. Business administration and management is an extremely popular major with about 180k graduates per year.

The average starting salary is in the low $40k range with an average mid-career salary of just over $70k.

Hospitality Management

A major in hospitality management will prepare you for a managerial role within the hospitality industry. If you like making people happy, are a great “people” person and love the logistics managing your guests this may be a good fit for you. About 14,000 students graduate with hospitality management degrees each year. While the average starting salary is a bit lower than other majors – $34k – the average mid-career salary is just over $62,000.

Human Resource Management

Human resource management is a critical role within any business. Without talented, hardworking people, a business has no hope of survival. Graduates of human resource management programs will be prepared to help businesses with their staffing needs and offer additional services such as employee benefit programs and employee retention.

About 13,000 students graduate with human resource management degrees each year. The average starting salary is about $38k while mid-career salary is over $64k.

Management of Information Systems

You may hear Management of Information Systems (MIS) and instantly think of an IT guy helping install software, but MIS deals more with the systems themselves and how to best operate them to help the business. For example, a business may have a complex system that tracks sales orders. As an analyst, your job may be to know how to best create reports to report status back to the business. MIS can also include careers in managerial roles related to IT and network and database systems.

About 8,900 people graduate with MIS degrees. The average starting salary of a MIS graduate is just under $50k with an impressive mid-career salary of $86k.


Is your goal to make sure the business you work for is known for their high-quality services or products? Do you like advertising and promotions? A degree in marketing may be a good role for you. Graduates with a marketing degree will help businesses plan for promotions and create strategic plans for earning more business. Innovation and creativeness are critical traits.

About 36,000 students graduate with marketing degrees each year. Their average starting salary is just under $40k with an average mid-career salary of $75k.

The Best Pay

Careers in the business field tend to pay significantly more than the median national salary across all occupations. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for business and financial careers is just over $66,000 whereas the national median annual wage across all occupations is just above $37,000.

The highest paying careers in this field of study are finance related – including financial advisors and financial analysts. Other high-paying majors include management of information systems (MIS) and construction management. Careers in the financial, MIS and construction management areas have starting salaries in the mid to high $40k range and average mid-career salaries in the low to mid $80k range. 

Where to Get Your Degree

The table to the right shows the highest ranked business schools across all business related majors offering bachelor’s degrees. Note that this is a ranking of schools for business, management, and marketing as a field of study. Each individual major within the field may have a different ranking.  To learn more about the individual majors offered within this field, see this resource.

Read more about the methodology behind this ranking here.

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