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The Easiest and Hardest Business Majors

The great thing about undergraduate business majors is that, in most colleges, you can take the major in any direction you want. “Business” as a field encompasses a lot of lucrative concentrations like finance, marketing, Human Resources, and more. So if you pursue a business major, you will not only learn general strategies of enterprise management, but you may also have the opportunity to specialize in a certain aspect of business that appeals to you. 


You may be asking yourself, “Which business concentration should I pursue? Are some harder than others?” These are all valid questions, but they aren’t ones that we at CollegeVine can decide for you. 


To determine what route you want to take in the Business field, you’ll need to do some self-exploration and research to figure out the right path for you. Luckily, we’ve made the research process a little bit easier. Here are some important factors to consider when choosing a business major, along with our expert advice on which majors are the easiest and hardest. 


Factors to Consider When Choosing a Business Major 


Not all business majors are created equal. When deciding what specialty you want to dedicate the next four years, you need to think about your life and ambitions to figure out what major is going to help you achieve your goals. Here are some questions to get you started in this introspective process: 


1. What are your interests/strengths? 


Let’s start with an easy one: what are you interested in? What activities and subjects bring you joy? Finally, what are you good at? You can use your interests and strengths to figure out what business major you would not only be good at but be fascinated with throughout college and beyond. 


For example, if your interests involve solving logical and numerical problems, you might consider an Accounting major. If you love activities that involve working with people, Human Resources Management may be the route for you. Start with the things you already know you like, and you’ll get an idea of what you might be interested in as a major and career. 


2. What are the requirements for each major?


Any business major is likely to have the same basic class requirements regardless of the university you are looking at. So, if you look at a few sample course schedules at different colleges for a business major you’re interested in, you’re likely to get a decent idea of what you’ll be studying to fulfill the requirements for any business major. 


While the various business majors all fall under the umbrella of “business,” they sometimes have very different course requirements. For example, Accounting Majors are required to take extra courses in math and statistics that Marketing majors are not. Take a look at what classes you’ll have to take in the various business majors, and you’ll likely find a major whose classes appeal to your interests and skill set more than others. 


3. What kind of faculty are in each major? 


If you decide to study business, you will not only need to fulfill the major requirements to graduate, but you will also need to network and grow connections that will help you to recruit for jobs and fulfill your business pursuits. The faculty at business schools are crucial to both. Not only will they teach you what you need to know to graduate, but they are often well-connected businesspeople themselves who can help you find the people and resources to jumpstart your career in business. 


So when you’re considering which business major to pursue, take a look at the faculty in the various majors. You can even look them up on LinkedIn, or find their CV on the department website. Have they worked in companies and fields that are of interest to you? Do you think their experience offers something of value to you? Could you see yourself befriending them and adding them to your network? These are all factors to consider when evaluating the faculty at a business school. 


4. What is each major’s Return on Investment (ROI)?


It is a well-known fact that some fields of business pay more than others. For example, a Management Consultant is unlikely to make the same amount as an entry-level Human Resources Analyst. At the end of the day, you will pay the same tuition for your business degree regardless of what you specialize in, so you should consider how much each degree will benefit you in terms of salary in the future. 


5. What type of work-life balance do you want to have? 


As a general rule, the higher paying business careers also tend to take more of your time. If you’re the kind of person who needs your downtime in the evenings, you likely shouldn’t pursue a Finance degree. However, if you’re the kind of person who wants to travel a lot for their job, Management Consulting might be the path for you. If you’re not sure what kind of hours you’d need to work in each field, a quick Google search could give you a decent idea. You can also consider talking to a family friend or relative that you know in a specific field to get an idea of what their work-life balance is like. 


How We Made This List


While you’re considering many different factors when choosing your business major, we’ve also considered various factors to determine which business majors are the hardest and easiest. 


When ranking the different business majors, we took the following factors into consideration: 


General Reputation: Some business majors have a reputation for being “easier” or “harder” than others.


Course Requirements: We’ve taken into consideration how much math and other advanced coursework is generally required in each business major.


Study Time: All business majors will require you to work hard and study, but some require some more time because you need to master difficult concepts and practice their application. On the other hand, some majors require more rote memorization than practical application. 


This being said, we recognize that these three factors will differ college to college. So if you want a more realistic idea of how hard each business major will be at your school, we recommend getting in touch with some faculty and students at your school of choice who can give you a more detailed perspective.

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Hardest Business Majors 


1. Accounting 


The accounting major has been around at most colleges since the beginning, and it is designed to teach students how to manage a business’s finances so they can solve various business problems. Specifically, this major helps to prepare students to take several accounting certification exams to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), and more. Accountants are needed in every business, so a major in accounting will set you up for multiple job opportunities in various industries. 


Unlike other business majors, the Accounting major’s required classes don’t tend to stray too far out of the realm of accounting-specific classes. So if you decide to study accounting, you’re in for multiple accounting classes at once throughout your college career, such as Accounting Principles, Cost Accounting, and Intermediate Accounting. In addition, you’ll be expected to have advanced statistical analysis skills to understand accounting concepts and pass the certification exams. 


2. Management Science


Management Science is a relatively new field in business that gives students the tools to analyze and solve a business’ strategic and logistical problems. With a focus on statistical analysis and computing, students who major in management science will be well-poised to start a career in management consulting, logistics, or analytics at several companies. 


If you decide that management science is the major for you, expect to engage in coursework heavy in calculus, statistics, and maybe even computer programming. This coursework will require a very logical and analytical mindset, but you will graduate with the chance to make an above-average salary for a business major.


3. Finance


Any major involving finance or financial management will put you on the path to a lucrative career in corporate finance, banking, investments, and more! While these careers are likely to pay a salary higher than the average business major’s salary, you’re in for a very math-heavy four years of college as well as some long hours in the office after you graduate. 


If you decide on a career in finance, expect to take some challenging courses in statistics, calculus, and corporate finance. However, through this major, you’ll learn how to evaluate and report on the profitability and financial health of all types of companies, a skill that will be very valuable to future employers. 


4. Entrepreneurial Studies


If you have a bright idea that you think could change the world or you think you have what it takes to take a startup to the next level, a major in entrepreneurial studies is right for you. You’ll learn analytical skills, problem-solving, and leadership skills so that you can be the go-to person for running a small-to-medium sized business. Some of the courses that will help you in your entrepreneurial efforts include project management, business ethics, and product innovation. 


This major involves quite a bit of cross-functional learning and experience, with a decent amount of specialization in each, so it’s considered one of the more difficult business majors. With a major in Entrepreneurial Studies, you can not only go on to start your own business but also pursue a lucrative career in many companies in a variety of fields.


Easiest Business Majors 


1. Human Resources


Human Resources Management (also known as People Management) is a very well-known major in the business world that deals with training, recruiting, and developing employees, as well as ensuring employee health and safety. This broad major is all about people relations, so you’ll be expected to take courses in psychology and office management in order to fulfill your degree requirements. 


While the Human Resources major isn’t considered a very technical major, those who graduate with this major will have the skills to work as an entry-level employee in almost all companies with a Human Resources Department. As a bonus, Human Resources careers tend to have a very favorable work-life balance. 


2. Marketing


When people think of marketing, they likely think of advertisements, product placement, and endorsements. That falls under the category of advertising, and it is only a subset of Marketing. Those who study marketing learn crucial decision-making skills for the company like which products to design, where to sell them, how much to sell them for, and more! It’s a multi-faceted field that is both creative and non-technical. 


Those who major in marketing will take courses such as sales management, public relations, and market research. With a marketing degree, you can go on to pursue careers in advertising, a marketing agency, or an in-house marketing department. You can also further specialize in digital marketing, social media, lead generation, and more. 


3. Organizational Leadership


Organizational Leadership is a relatively new, specialized major in some business schools. Those who study Organizational Leadership gain a thorough understanding of the leadership practices that can lead to successful organizations, whether that be group dynamics and facilitation, organizational change, and decision making. 


Organizational Leadership majors will graduate with the qualifications to work in business consulting, employee training, employee management, and project management, to name a few. Expect to take classes heavy in people management skills such as Human Resource Management, Research Design, and Leadership. 


4. International Business


An International Business degree focuses on how to sell products to diverse markets all across the globe. You will learn how to navigate international trade agreements, different environmental regulations, cross-cultural collaboration, and more. So if you’re interested in expanding a company to become an international powerhouse, this is certainly a major you should consider. 


International Business majors take several classes involving international relations and policies. While that often does not involve a large technical skillset, it does involve a lot of memorization of foreign principles and strategies. You may also have the opportunity to learn a foreign language as part of your degree! These skills will be very helpful in a variety of jobs such as logistician, management analyst, or even a business development analyst. 


5. Business Administration and Management


The Business Administration and Management degree is the catch-all, generalist degree for business majors. In some colleges, all undergraduates are required to graduate with this degree and are not able to specialize, whereas other colleges provide this major as one of many options. With this major, you won’t specialize in any particular field of business. Rather, you will get a basic understanding of all fields of business that you can apply to several different career paths. 


This major does not allow you to specialize, so you shouldn’t expect to go into the weeds on any complex problems or topics. However, you can expect to take a broad array of courses such as economics, business statistics, marketing, etc. 


While you’re considering which route you want to take in your business career, you may also be wondering about your chances of getting into the best colleges for business. To help you answer these difficult questions, CollegeVine offers a free Chancing Engine that will tell you your chances of acceptance at the colleges of your choice based on your profile. It’ll also give you some expert advice on how to improve your profile and make it more competitive for college admissions. Sign up for a free CollegeVine account to get started today!

Sadhvi Mathur
Senior Blogger

Short Bio
Sadhvi is a recent graduate from the University of California, Berkeley, where she double majored in Economics and Media Studies. Having applied to over 8 universities, each with different application platforms and requirements, she is eager to share her knowledge now that her application process is over. Other than writing, Sadhvi's interests include dancing, playing the piano, and trying not to burn her apartment down when she cooks!