What Is the Difference Between Business Management and Business Administration?

If you’re a prospective college student who’s looking to pursue a degree in business, then you may already be wondering what the difference is between business management and business administration.

As the two most popular degree options in this area, they’re both sought-after fields of study for undergraduate students and many universities offer both types of degree programs.

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First, you need to understand the difference between these two common terms. As we’ll explain below, the differences are mostly hinted at in the name. 

What Is Business Administration? 

A common misconception is that business administration refers to the low-level tasks performed by those in entry-level administrative positions, which do not require a degree. However, while these entry-level professionals may work in the same area, business administration refers to tasks that take place at every level of an organization and provide support to all areas of a business. 

Those working in the field of business administration are involved in the day-to-day operations within an organization, whether that’s completing tasks that feed into sales, marketing, and development workstreams, or looking for ways in which to improve operational efficiency. As a result, students who study the area of business administration will focus on tasks such as strategic planning, forecasting, entrepreneurship, marketing, and budgeting

Some of the responsibilities that may fall under your remit as a business administration professional include: 

  • Creating marketing campaigns or materials 
  • Analyzing data to determine the performance and success of a campaign 
  • Creating budgets or financial forecasts to support business decisions 
  • Performing a split or AB testing of a new product or website domain 
  • Creating technical documentation for users, products, or services 
  • Communicating with other businesses to collaborate or sell a service 

What Is Business Management?

In business management, you could easily find yourself crossing over into similar areas, including budgeting, forecasting, and looking for ways to improve efficiency and output. However, this area is more focused on the coordination of an organization and its employees. Professionals working in business management can find themselves managing a team of employees or other managers or dealing with personal issues in the workplace. For example, you might find yourself working as a human resources manager. 

While business management is not very different from business administration in many areas, business management calls for a range of other personal skills that are key to success. For example, you’ll ideally be a strong communicator and have conflict resolution skills for handling sensitive issues in the workplace. You’ll also need to be a strong leader, which is why many business management degree programs include leadership courses. 

Some of the responsibilities that may fall under your remit as a business administration professional include: 

  • Holding daily or weekly ‘stand up’ progress meetings 
  • Creating team or employee documentation, such as ‘ways of working’ 
  • Writing job specifications for new openings within your team 
  • Communicating with other team managers for interdepartmental projects 
  • Conducting performance reviews with team members under your management 
  • Presenting sales reports or project roadmaps for board meetings 
  • Working with human resources in the hiring of new employees for the company 

What Are the Differences Between Business Management and Business Administration Degree Programs?

With most of the progression and higher earning potential requiring a college education in these fields, enrolling in a business management or business administration program is a common choice for those interested in a career in one of these areas. Each type of program offers a range of courses that share some similarities but differ in other areas. 

For example, in either program, you’ll typically gain a broad foundation in areas including economics, finance, and marketing. However, business administration programs are more likely to focus on courses that prepare you for working with the various day-to-day strategic operations of a company or organization, such as budgeting, research and planning, creating marketing campaigns, and analyzing operational data. 

On the opposite side of the fence, business management programs will normally equip you with leadership, communication, and team management skills. Your courses might include IT systems, human resource management, corporate communications, and logistics. 

What Kinds of Careers Are There in Business Management and Business Administration? 

As you’d expect from the overview of both fields, there’s a lot of crossover in potential careers for graduates of each program, in addition to careers best-suited to each separate area. Business administration graduates commonly seek roles in areas including sales and sales management, finance, marketing, and health care or government administration. In addition to some of these areas, business management graduates find work as financial and management analysts, logistics management, public relations, and information systems management. 


These fields are closely related but do have their differences. Particularly if you’re a student about to attend college and you have a specific field of business in mind, you should choose your program carefully. Think about the responsibilities associated with your desired career and choose the area that most closely aligns with them.