What type of business degree should you study? | Top Universities

What type of business degree should you study?

By Aisha Khan

Updated July 6, 2023 Updated July 6, 2023

Often described as a versatile discipline, studying business will teach you in-demand skills that can be applied to almost any industry.  

Whether you want to start your own company or use your analytical skills to make smart investment decisions, a business degree can provide you with the foundation to pursue your career aspirations.  

As one of the most popular subjects offered at higher education institutions, it’s unsurprising that there are many different types of business degrees you can choose – but which one is right for you?  

Consider using the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2023 to compare top institutions based on their ranking indicators. If you want to study business at master’s level, the QS Business Master’s Rankings 2023 provides a comprehensive list of the best business schools to study a specialised master’s programme.  

To help you decide, here are six types of business degrees. 


Accounting image

  • Ideal if you enjoy working with numbers and data 

  • Requires an ability to analyse information carefully and be detail-oriented 

  • Communication skills also essential as your work must be understood clearly by others 

If you enjoy crunching numbers, accounting could be the right business degree for you.  

However, it’s not just number crunching on your own all day - accountants also need solid communication and critical thinking skills to talk about what the numbers mean and suggest areas of improvement in the business.  

Earning a bachelor’s degree in accounting is one way to become a certified chartered accountant. Examples of modules you may study include principles of taxation, financial reporting and microeconomics.  

Once you’ve graduated you can choose to specialise in roles that interest you such as bookkeeping, taxes, payroll services or you can start your own accounting business once you’ve gained enough experience. 

Business management/administration 

  • Less narrow in focus, more general curriculum 

  • Looks at all areas of business operations rather than one specific area 

  • Suitable for students seeking flexibility or unsure on their specialisation 

Rather than focusing on one particular area of business such as accounting or finance, studying business management will cover all fundamentals of how businesses operate.   

For example, at London Business School (ranked third for management in the QS Business Master’s ranking), the master’s in management includes core modules in data analytics for management, the global macroeconomy, financial accounting, and many more.  

If you’re not entirely sure on what you want to specialise in or simply prefer a broader curriculum, business management is one of the most flexible degrees on this list.  

Some schools allow you to tailor the degree to suit your interests so it’s worth considering if you want to have more control over your learning.  


Finance lead image

  • Suitable for students who enjoy maths and statistics and have strong analytical skills 

  • You enjoy coming up with innovative solutions to complex problems 

  • You’re interested in helping companies grow their revenue 

Although there are some similarities to accounting, finance may be more suitable for those of you who are analytically minded and proactive problem-solvers. 

A finance degree will cover the basics of business principles and you can expect to study modules like financial markets, investments and financial management. However, it’s not always necessary to have studied finance beforehand, especially if you have strong quantitative skills.  

The MSc in International Finance at HEC Paris (ranked first for finance) offers two different tracks depending on your educational background.  

The business track is designed for students who have previously studied finance and helps them build on what they’ve already learned. In comparison, the accelerated track is for students from other quantitative backgrounds, such as physics or maths, who are wishing to switch to finance.  

In addition, a study trip to London consisting of visits to financial institutions and networking events helps students to bridge the gap between academic study and exposure to real-life business cases.  

So, if you love working with numbers and want to join a growing industry with in-demand jobs and strong earning potential, studying finance could be the right option for you.  


Marketing lead image

  • A good fit for students who are business minded and have strong creative skills 

  • A strong interest in consumer behaviour is required 

  • You consider yourself to have strong interpersonal skills and enjoy working with others  

Interested in combining your business thinking with your creative skillset? A degree in marketing will help you do just that.  

At postgraduate level you’ll learn how to conduct market research, develop strategies to improve a brand’s visibility, and use data analytics to make smart business decisions.  

For example, the master's in marketing science at Columbia University (ranked fifth for marketing) focuses on the quantitative and theoretical tools needed for a successful career in marketing analytics.  

You can expect to study the following modules: social and economic networks, winning strategic capabilities, and Python programming for data science.  

For more information on the different types of careers you can pursue with a degree in marketing, read our guide here.  

Supply chain management  

Supply chain management image

  • Rewarding career paths with the opportunity to make a real impact 

  • Capable of building and maintaining professional relationships 

  • You’re interested in international markets 

If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s the importance of logistics and supply chain management in keeping critical industries running, ranging from medicines to microchips.  

Studying supply chain management means you’ll develop the analytical and technical skills for important decision making. You’ll learn about procurement, risk management, and sustainability considerations in global supply chains.  

You may also learn how to use professional software systems and tools, as well as soft skills such as persuading and influencing, to solve complex problems.  

There’s increasing demand for supply chain professionals, especially in the US and the UK, so if you’re hoping to pursue a rewarding career with a variety of challenges, consider studying supply chain management.  

Business analytics 

Business analytics image

  • A background in maths and computer science is normally required 

  • A natural curiosity in solving problems and identifying patterns 

  • You’re looking for a challenging and varied career path  

Business analytics programmes are designed for students who are interested in both business and technology. A passion for working with data to spot interesting patterns and trends is a must.  

A career in business analytics will also involve significant cross-collaboration in any company so it’s worth asking yourself whether you’ll enjoy spending a large amount of your time working with others.  

No two days are the same in the role of a business analyst, meaning it could be an ideal career for someone who enjoys a dynamic and stimulating work environment.  

Depending on which school you choose to attend, many business analytics programmes will include a consulting project or work placement to supplement your theoretical learning.  

Core modules may also be primarily focused on maths, statistics, and data science topics, with further options to choose your specialisation in your elective courses. 

Apply with QS to find the right business degree for you 

You can apply to study abroad with a QS counsellor in one simple application.   

Get support to choose and apply to top-ranked business schools. Our QS counsellors will help you understand the various application processes in different countries, provide guidance on visas and scholarships, and sometimes they can even apply on your behalf. It’s free to apply with us. Apply now.  

This article was originally published in June 2023 . It was last updated in July 2023

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