What you need to know before getting a business degree
Getting a business degree can be a great career move. But what is going to business school really like? And can you get a degree while holding down a full-time job?
We spoke with Dr. Kenneth C. Sherman to get some answers. Dr. Sherman has more than 25 years of management experience as both a chief marketing officer and chief information officer. He teaches in the Doctorate of Business and Master of Business Administration program for the University of Phoenix Online and is the Area Chair. He holds a Bachelor of Arts, Master of Science, Master of Business Administration and Doctorate of Philosophy in Business Administration from Touro University International.
Trust us when we tell you Dr. Sherman knows his stuff.
What is a typical day like for a business school student?
Every day is different. Most of our students are working adult professionals; they are balancing a mix of responsibilities and priorities – career, family, school, and other happenings. The same is true for our faculty, many of whom are scholar practitioners. That’s one of the great things about the University of Phoenix: it allows for flexibility. You can take classes at a school location, online, or a mixture of both.
What subjects are typically studied in business school?
For your general education classes you’ll learn mostly skill-building courses that will prepare you for success. Classes like writing, math, communications, and so on.
Once you decide what you’re majoring in you’ll take classes specific to that major. Those attending a graduate program, like the MBA program, take classes like management training, human capital management, business law organization, leadership training, economics, accounting, corporate finance, marketing, strategic planning, operations management, business research and statistics. You’ll get a good mix of soft skills and hard skills. Most students have some professional experience and tend to be entry-level managers or supervisors looking to move up at the company they work for.
What surprises students most about business school?
Most are very surprised and pleased that they’re able to take what they’re learning in the academic classroom and be able to relate it in the real workplace. Our courses deliver relevant, cutting-edge content that helps our students with decision-making and fine-tunes their leadership skills. The University of Phoenix also has learning teams – so students are required to work together in teams and learn from the relevant experience of their peers.
What do you suggest for someone interested in starting their own business?
Most schools offer entrepreneurship tracks. You can also take concentrations and specializations outside of your degree or even take extra credits after you complete your business degree. You’ll need to learn about marketing, small business management, global management, energy management, and project management.
What is the most popular business degree?
It varies. Technology management, healthcare management, marketing, accounting and human resource management are all very popular business degrees.
How would someone know what kind of business degree would be right for them?
Think about how the content of the program you’re considering will make you a better problem solver. Check out the content of the courses – look for classes that teach you critical thinking, decision making and leadership. Make sure the courses in the major you’re interested in focus on real-world applied content. You need to carefully read the class descriptions – look for an emphasis on critical thinking and leadership skills.
What are some typical career paths after business school?
Our younger students usually end up at entry-level jobs within a company looking for their talents. Most employers today are looking for skills that translate from the classroom to the workplace and want people who are problem solvers. They also look for people with excellent communications skills that will fit in well in a team environment.
Graduate students are usually working adults and are getting their business degree to leverage within their current position. So a promotion in the company they already work for is likely a next step.
What are some common traits of a great business school?
Look for a school that allows students to demonstrate knowledge and skills to solve organizational problems. You’ll want a business school that teaches students to manage others, helps them apply critical analysis, and equips them with a toolbox to analyze different alternatives to problems. A good business school helps an individual hone and fine-tune their ethics and values. The school should make you a better leader and manager. Application and demonstration of business knowledge is the difference between a good business school and a great business school.
What advice do you have for people interested in attending business school?
Many educational institutions have some descriptions of their courses, but you should go in and dig deeper to find out how the content is structured. Look for real-world application opportunities. Look at the credentials of the faculty you’ll be interacting with. Most have all the right initials after their names – the difference is look for those who have relevant real-world professional experience.
MBA students should look for faculty who have contemporary workplace experience and can speak to things that will happen to the student once they’re in the workplace.
Ask yourself – how are the demands of this business degree going to fit in with your current family and work obligations? Some business degree programs require that you do stuff during the day and weekend. Will you be able to do that?
How is your school perceived by the business community? Be sure to check the school’s accreditations. How often is the faculty available to you? Look at the support resources the college or university will supply you with. Are there tutors, counselors, or coaches available to you? The University of Phoenix has learning centers and sometimes even offers daycare.
Most importantly remember this: Nobody ever makes a decision on their own. Talk with your family, your employer, and your peers, and ask for their support. Having a good support network is the key to your success.
Want to know more about business degree programs? The University of Phoenix and other accredited universities offer on-campus and online business degree programs with flexible class schedules for working adults. Find a business degree program near you.