A lot of people who come into the Education Center to start on the road to a college degree tell me they want to major in business. When I ask why, they usually say something like, “Because I can use it anywhere” or “Because it’s the most general major.” When I ask what makes them think that, the most frequent answer is, “I don’t know; that’s what I’ve heard.”
Before you get your mind set on a business degree, you should first ask yourself, “What kind of work do I want to do when I leave the Coast Guard?” A business major may well be the right one for you. But it also might not.
If you want to start and run your own business, believe it or not a business degree may not be what you're looking for.
Read "Why an MBA Is a Waste of Time and Money" for seven concrete reasons "why you should take a bad job instead of getting an MBA."
If you’re not interested in getting one of the traditional degrees generalists obtained (BA degrees such as history, anthropology, English, etc.), there are the new generalist degrees (general or liberal studies). Or you can major in one of literally hundreds of different subjects such as biology, geology, physics, international relations, philosophy, civil engineering, sociology, space studies, criminal justice, electrical engineering, sports and health sciences, and on and on.
Don’t pick a major out of the air just because you’ve heard it’s the easiest or can be used anywhere or that most employers want people to have one. Do some research.
Do the types of employers you want to work for really want someone with a business degree?
What do the jobs which interest you actually require you to do all day?
A typical bachelor’s degree in business administration (BBA) involves taking (and passing) many courses unrelated to business. The curriculum for American Military University’s program is typical.
Even an associate's degree in business administration will require you to take many such courses. Check out the course requirements for an Associate of Science in Business Administration from Thomas Edison State College.
The CollegeBoard has a web page which describes, in detail, what kind of education business students can expect, what career fields they're setting themselves up for, and the pluses and minuses of a business degree.
If you're thinking about getting a business degree because you want to start and run your own business, you might want to think again. Look at the courses listed above for American Military University's BBA program. While some of the courses you'd take would be applicable to starting a small business, many likely would not.
If you're main goal is to start and run your own business, the first question you should ask yourself is: do I need a degree?
In today's labor market, employers use a degree as screening a device. They've determined that to do the work certain jobs entail they want only people who have degrees, and they won't even consider those who don't.
But if you're planning to work for yourself, you're looking for knowledge helpful in small business management and entrepreneurship, right? So does it matter to you if you have the degree? You can learn what you need to learn from many different sources. For example, the federal government's Small Business Administration has a huge amount of information available for free on its web site. Or you can take individual college courses applicable to small businesses (e.g., bookkeeping, business communications, labor-management relations, business theory, marketing, etc.).
And you can find other resources here.
But if you really want the degree, consider a degree program that includes a lot of courses related to the skills you'll need as an entrepreneur.
Don't jump into an associate's or bachelor's program in business administration until you've determined (a) you need a degree and (b) that that degree meets your needs.
A college's or university's inclusion in or exclusion from a particular search engine's database in no way implies that the Coast Guard endorses or does not endorse that college or university. The links below are provided merely as a courtesy.
If you're dead-set on getting a business-related degree or certificate, many of the schools you'll find listed elsewhere on this web site have business degree programs (both associate's and bachelor's level). Also, you may find the following search engine of use to you: