Is a Business Degree a Waste?

Is a Business Degree a Waste?  Is a business management degree worth it? I keep hearing people/news outlets arguing at opposite ends of what seems to be a common question. Short answer – NO! I don’t think a business degree is anywhere near being a waste. A business degree is worth it in many cases. EDIT: Please read…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: May 31, 2023

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Is a business degree a waste? Is a business degree worth it? Is a business degree good? Is a business management degree worth it? I'm sure these are all things that you are wondering!Is a Business Degree a Waste?  Is a business management degree worth it? I keep hearing people/news outlets arguing at opposite ends of what seems to be a common question. Short answer – NO! I don’t think a business degree is anywhere near being a waste. A business degree is worth it in many cases.

EDIT: Please read my post about how I paid off $40,000 worth of student loans shortly after I turned 24.

Recently, I read an interesting article about whether a business degree is a waste or a good decision.

I read the article multiple times (and unless I missed it), I’m pretty sure it means business schools as a whole (and the various degrees that are offered), and not just specifically a “business degree.

So when they say business degree, I’m assuming this includes Finance, Economics, Accounting, etc.


Personally I think a business degree is a great choice.

It can open many doors and in some instances make you well rounded because of the wide range of classes which are usually available.

There are also many jobs and careers out there that involve a business degree. And as I said in the paragraph above, there are so many majors: finance, economics, accounting, management, health administration, marketing, operations, strategy, international business and so on.

As long as you are realistic about getting your degree and what you plan on doing with it, I don’t think there are many instances in which a degree can be a bad choice or a waste. Read my post How To Pay for Graduate School if you haven’t yet. Today’s post somewhat relates to that.

If you know what you want to do and also see value in it, then go for it. If you are unsure and question every move you make, then you might want to stop and think about what you truly want.

Also, most of my friends who graduated with business degrees have found jobs, whereas some of my friends who have other majors are having a much harder time.

Now, I’m not saying it’s easier to find a job for everyone, but with my friends and the area we live in, it has worked out well. And many of my friends who have degrees in other areas (such as anthropology) have even told me “I wish I went to school for business instead.”

I would never say that getting a business degree is a complete waste.

Of course I am biased when it comes to this post, as my undergraduate degrees are a B.S. in Business Administration and a B.A. in Management. And then I also have a Finance MBA.

So yes, I have THREE business degrees. I do like/enjoy the life I live, so that is probably another reason why I am biased. I am sure that if I couldn’t find a job, that I would question whether having a business degree is truly worthwhile to me.


Here’s the main statement of the article:

The biggest complaint: The undergraduate degrees focus too much on the nuts and bolts of finance and accounting and don’t develop enough critical thinking and problem-solving skills through long essays, in-class debates and other hallmarks of liberal-arts courses.

However, I think most majors are similar to this. I started off as a Psychology major in the beginning, and I definitely wouldn’t say it was that much different. Everything is mainly there for you to break into the subject, and then I think you should pursue some sort of emphasis or focus for yourself. This can include getting a job internship or focusing on a particular study within your degree.

According to the article, business majors account for around 20%, social sciences and history account for 11%, health professions at 8%, education at 6%, and the list goes on and on. For information about a masters of business administration, click here.


There are multiple ways to analyze whether or not your degree is worth it:

1. Do the professors have “real” experience?

I think this is extremely important. In classes where my professors had no actual business experience (there were very few of these professors at the schools I attended), I found the classes were just boring.

It’s hard to listen to someone when you have more experience than them in the subject that they are trying to “teach.” I like to know how I can apply what I learn to REAL situations and how a professor has applied it in the past.


2. Does the student work?

This can include volunteering, a part-time or full-time job, etc. I think real world experience is important. If you work while you go to school, you are most likely applying what you learn as you learn it.

I am more able to remember things if I  can apply it as I learn. Or if you worked in the past, then you will be able to analyze your past behaviors. I worked full-time all throughout undergraduate, and had a full-time career during my MBA program (same job I have today). You have a lot more to contribute to your classes when you have some experience.


3. What school are you attending?

Of course some schools are harder than others, and this might make it more “worth it.” There are different tier levels for school. Are you going to the best value? Or are you just going to the cheapest or the most expensive?


4. What do you see yourself doing in the future? 

Is this degree worth it to you and what you envisioned for your life? If you want to be a veterinarian but go to school for social work, well, that’s just a tad confusing. Make sure it lines up with what you want to do.


One commenter below the article referenced above said:

“When relatively few went to college, a college degree was a sign of accomplishment. Majors were limited, so you had to conform to the college’s needs. Then colleges started catering to everyone, backed by Federal loans to students. Degrees became watered down or meaningless, as students would keep changing majors (engineering – communications, math – psychology) just to get any degree.”

I somewhat agree with this. If getting a degree is now becoming the “norm,” then what’s next? Obviously individuals are going to have to up the ante somehow. I do think that a business degree is mainly a stepping stone, and college degrees are becoming the norm. Many things need to be done to differentiate yourself from the tons of other individuals out there.


What I’m doing (and did) to differentiate myself:

  1. Worked full-time and earned great experience all throughout undergrad as a retail manager.
  2. I now have a great career in the financial services industry.
  3. Have my Finance MBA.
  4. Finishing up with my financial certification this year (it’s a process that takes a couple of years to earn and I’ve been working on it since the Summer of 2010).

What is/was your major? Do you think it was worthwhile?


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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. Amy

    I've got a Bachelor in Business Admin and completely agree with your stance in the article. I was able to find a job (using my degree) within 6 months of graduation. I have friends, who 6 years later, are still working in call centres or retail stores. Almost all of the people I know have gone back to university, or college, to supplement their degree (myself included). In this economy its almost necessary to continue to expand your knowledgebase to make yourself more attractive to potential employers.

    The main statement regarding undergraduate degrees not focusing on analytical thinking, I'm not sure what undergraduate degrees are like in the US but in Canada you take a fair amount of liberal arts courses. I've written many long-essay type assignments, as well as, class discussions. You are also required to take language courses, they want you to be a well-rounded individual when your through.

    1. I agree Amy! I'm not sure what they're talking about either. When I went to school, we were required to take all types of classes such as psychology, philosophy, science, etc.
      My recent post Is a Business Degree a Waste?

  2. I definitely agree with you that getting a business degree is NOT a waste! I am very happy with my finance undergrad and I know many others who are gainfully employed upon graduation. I should say there are many who are not employed, though, but that's more the economy as a whole to blame.

    Ironically I am reconsidering getting my MBA, though, as I write in my post today.
    My recent post Why I am reconsidering getting my MBA

    1. Haha I say get your MBA! 🙂
      My recent post Is a Business Degree a Waste?

  3. Man, I really don't get the US system – how can you have a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (or even Journalism as I've seen) or a Bachelor of Arts in Management? Here we actually have a Bachelor in Commerce or Business which makes a lot more sense.

    I wouldn't say my business degree friends have been any more or less successful in particular than the rest of us. Finance and accounting seem to be pretty solid bets, though maybe not so much with other majors.

    I'm completely happy with my comms/journalism degree (something that also gets slammed as a waste of money, which I rebut here… though I'm not sure what I want to do long term with media changing so quickly. Who knows – in five years I might be doing a job that doesn't even exist now.
    My recent post Family and money, obligation and guilt

    1. Sorry, I guess I'm confused with your question. Isn't a B.S. in Business Admin pretty much the same as a Bachelor in Commerce or Business? Or do you just mean the terminology? Maybe I'm commenting too early because I'm confused? haha
      My recent post Is a Business Degree a Waste?

      1. Daniel Weller

        The BBA doesn’t have quantitative fields like linear algebra, calculus, statistics and finite mathematics. The bachelors of science requires it for decision science which is math based decision making methods developed by the US military. Its why those with a bsba are prime candidates for business intelligence and analytics. You’ll also find if you choose it as an area of focus for your graduate degree you’ll meet many many of the core requirements. In comparison the highest math requirement for BBA is College Algebra.

  4. John S @ Frugal Rules

    Great points Michelle! I got my MBA in Finance a few years ago. Though it was not the road to riches that was communicated to me it has been an immense help to me. I could not agree more on #1. The professors who had actual experience would generally make the experience much better and you could pick the mind of someone doing what you wanted. Otherwise, it's just textbook learning which can be very limiting.

    1. Thanks John! Yeah I'm not a fan of textbook learning.
      My recent post Is a Business Degree a Waste?

  5. Brian

    I got my undergrad degree in Aero/Astro Engineering and then went and got a MBA in Finance. I don't regret either decision and even though I don't practice engineering anymore, the skills I learned can be applied to many situations and are still high in demand. I even get head hunters trying to convince me to go back to engineering.

    My MBA program was very well done and many professors had come over from the working world. I really enjoyed that we did a lot of case study work where you could apply the theories to real world situations. It was great!

    1. I agree with you. The skills are great to have.

  6. I have a business degree with concentration in marketing. I don't think it was a waste, but I do think that I went above and beyond and gained experience before I was out of college. I don't have multiple degrees, but I do have a lot of experience and that seems to sell these days. I would never think a business degree is a waste. I would think one in Liberal Arts might be close to that line.

    1. I agree. I personally think experience is best, which is why I made sure to work full-time throughout college.

  7. Rachel

    I added a business minor to my communications degree- although it stressed me out and made my course load so full in college, I'm glad I have it. It makes me more well-rounded I say!
    My recent post Facebook Pages

    1. Yes I would definitely do that! That's a good idea.

  8. I think it all depends on what school you went to and if you learned anything from it. My undergraduate school only hired business professors if they had current experience in the field, which I thought was great. With my business degree, we had to take several economics, accounting, finance and international business courses, and I enjoyed them a lot. Also, nearly all of my business classes focused on writing and critical thinking 🙂

    I do think experience is better than schooling though. I always worked full-time throughout school and learned a lot from it. It looked great on my resume too since not many people work full-time in school.

  9. I hate to say this but the reason why it is good have a business degree, math degree or a computer science degree is because employers see this and it it's like an automatic okay this person is a potential candidate. When they don't see any form of a degree then well it's going to be harder to get that job I feel. Recently I found out that because I have a math degree I am making 10 grand more than an another employee. I was floored, but it's motivating me to even get more of a degree…maybe a Graduate degree or something to push myself higher in the running as well.
    My recent post 52 Lists: Week Nine // List The Places You Want To Go…

    1. I agree, that is how many employers feel.

  10. therandompath

    I think if a degree with help you in your chosen field, as long as it is specific to it, I say go for it! There are things that they teach you in college that you need to know that you won't learn anywhere else.
    My recent post Movin’ On Up

  11. Happy_Homeowner

    If you aren't satisfied with one, you could always do what I did and keep getting degrees…haha! Of course I only advocate this if it's free or nearly free as mine were. Now I have a BS in International Business & Marketing, an MA in Psych and an MEd in Education. The varied collection has helped me stand out from the crowd as they're all applicable to most jobs in one way or another. But then again, I love school and like to challenge myself to go back for free as a personal growth endeavor so maybe my story/situation isn't the norm.

    1. If I could go back for free, then I definitely think I would!

  12. johnnyofb

    I graduated in Communications: Advertising with Graphic Design and Spanish minors. Was it worth it? Yes. But the further I trudge down my career path, I realize how little people look care about where you graduated from or what your GPA was.

    I think the biggest ROI on college is networking. Every job since college has come as a result of someone I knew or a fellow alumnus from my school.

    1. I agree. In the beginning it can help you get a job, but of course eventually you have to actually be GOOD at what you do.

  13. Well Heeled Blog

    I got my undergraduate degree in liberal arts and am getting my MBA right now. I am learning a lot, yes, but the MBA is also a vehicle for me to make a career switch into a field that NEEDS an MBA. I wouldn't say that a business degree or MBA is a categorical "good" or "bad" idea, a person needs to be very sure of the financial and time commitment before they dive in, and understand how that degree will help them get to where they want to go.

    1. I agree! And I'm in the same situation. An MBA is needed for my job and that's why I got one.

  14. krantcents

    I have a BS in Business with almost a concentration in accounting. I used my degree to learn about how businesses work and eventaully went out on my own (at 38 y.o.). That was 28 years ago!

  15. Erika

    Agreed wholeheartedly. After college, I was able to find a job right away. I can't compare it to other majors but the different types of jobs I was able to apply to and interview for were wide-ranging. Now being in law school, the B.S. in Business is essential. A ton of lawyers that work in every type of field that I've talked to or have presented at my school always stress that any type of business background is great for law. Business is everywhere, and having that understanding of business helps…it can help with intellectual property, criminal law, family law, etc. because you're always involved in splitting up assets, understanding bankruptcy, just anything. Great post!

  16. The Norwegian Girl

    I`m finishing up my major in English Literature, and my minor in general linguistics. And I think it`s worth it. Because this fall I`m applying for a one-year teacher education, and then I`ll be a qualified English teacher with a really good background in both language and literature. And here in Norway, there is a demand for good language teachers, and the salary is very good. per 2012 the entry level pay is $70k. I have to say though, I`m exhausted by being verbally attacked for choosing this path. Countless of times, strangers, yes strangers, have been extremely critical of my choice, and I think that`s so rude. It happened during a wedding I attended once!!

    1. Don't listen to people! Like I said, if you see value in it (which I see value in it as well), then how could it be a bad idea?

  17. Pauline @ Reach Financial Independence

    I have a master in business and haven't learned much but the networking potential is huge. If you have a knack for business chances are you won't learn a lot more but a degree makes you hirable.
    My recent post Financial goals update, March 1st 2013

  18. I agree. W has done really well and makes more money than I do (that's with including my extra income too) and he didn't go to college.

  19. pilotsandpugs

    I used to think business degrees were a joke (because all the online schools were offering a bachelors in business in two years), until I met some friends with the degree. Most of them are doing pretty well for themselves, and I have actually been thinking about getting a MBA. I think in this case the school you go to really does matter. A lot of degrees – it doesn't matter what school you go to, but this one I think it does.

    1. I agree, the school is really important when it comes to a business degree.
      My recent post Is a Business Degree a Waste?

  20. My business degree in accounting definitely was not a waste. I got an awesome job and decent pay compared to a lot of my liberal arts friends that work as servers still to this day because they can't find a job in their field. Be smart about your degree and investigate for yourself. Don't let the media influence your decisions.

  21. I agree with everything you said! As long as you know what to expect from it and are realistic, then I feel as though it can never be a bad idea.
    My recent post Is a Business Degree a Waste?

  22. mytoughgirl

    My husband is working on MBA right now and I know his salary isn't going to double after he graduates. But we're looking at the long term affect. Hopefully all his hard work and our student loans will be worth it in the end.

  23. I don't consider a business degree (or any degree for that matter) to be a waste. I do think some people can have an unrealistic expectation what an MBA is going to do for them. I've seen it tremendously help some people and others not so much. In fairness, it sometimes has more to do with the individual than the degree. 🙂
    My recent post Meet Shannon Ryan: Financial Literacy Advocate

  24. Jim

    I dont consider any degree a waste, unless you get a MD or a JD and you become a trash collector. A business degree exposes you to a lot of great topics, but I do believe having instructors who have real world experience is the key!

  25. Nick @

    My degree is Information Systems with an emphasis in Business Intelligence. Information Systems is pretty much a combination of a Business degree and a Computer Science degree. I think a Business degree is one of the best degrees you can get. That being said, you really do have to go above and beyond to make yourself stand out from the crowd. In my opinion, business degrees are great complimentary degrees to be paired with either experience or other degrees.
    My recent post The Financial Six-Pack for the Young Professional

  26. SavvyFinancialLatina

    I got my BS in Global Business, MS in Supply Chain, and I'm about to have my MBA.

    Business has been good, but I think I would have really enjoyed majoring in petroleum engineering or civil engineering. Plus, they are in demand! That or computer science 🙂
    But oh well.

  27. kimateyesonthedollar

    Great perspective. I have a similar post on this topic next week! I think lots depends on the person. If you expect that you'll graduate and someone will just walk up and offer your dream job, you might be disappointed. It's the ones, like you, who work their tail off and go above and beyond who end up using the degree as just one of many reasons why an employer would want to hire you. A degree by itself without being proactive will not get very far in my opinion.

  28. I definitely agree as well, and am biased since I am taking a Bachelor of Commerce and have almost completed my degree. I've written a post before on degree's in general and I think graduates focus too much on the degree itself and instead should be focusing on the work experiences that they can gain during that time as well. Those are the additional things that set you apart from the standard diploma you receive, since universities/colleges are churning them out in the thousands. Personally I think business is quite practical and applicable and doesn't necessarily require additional schooling compared to other degree programs like a Bachelor of Arts or even Science.

  29. Susan

    Choosing a career can be a very tough decision. Im Bias, as I have been a BA for about 15 years and it has treated me well.A career as A Business Analyst is never a bad idea. There are lots of resources online for researching the field.But this site has more info on


  30. Brandon McBride

    I think a business degree is a great choice and can be useful even in fields other than business. Most of my classes were very hands-on and less “you read about it so now you know it”.

  31. Brian

    I am struggling with the thought of going back to school to get my MBA. My undergrad is from a very good business school, but I realize the value of an MBA when it comes to my goals of being a C-Level executive. Plus, it’s expensive! @cerilene

  32. Chad@Stockmarketandi

    I have friend who have gone back and forth on this as well. The aspect is the ones who have more of a specialized area of minor tend to have better luck finding a job.

  33. Brian

    I’ve scrapped the MBA plan for this year because I haven’t found it necessary quite yet. My business undergrad is getting me where I need to be career wise.

    Brian recently posted..Top 7 Reasons To Get an MBA Degree

  34. Jing

    Business is required to hand-on experience. Accounting requires a lot of technique knowledge, a reason that people who do accounting are required to learn regulations and accounting rules in school. Business is complex and has many varieties and business schools usually give students business cases from big corporations. Yet only handful business students are able to go to work in big corporations and most will be stuck in small businesses. Each business has its own way of surviving in business world. Therefore, it is not practical for students to study business practices in business school. Therefore, business degrees are not so valuable. the reason those who study business major to get a good job is not because they have a business degree but their working experience in real business world. I hope that my point is clear!

  35. jenny

    I am getting my bachelors online, but agree that actually being in a classroom setting is beneficial for some classes, but not all. I would say for an MBA, classroom is a must. Sometimes I feel like getting my bachelor’s is just checking classes off a list, but I’m assuming there’s a lot more that goes on in an MBA class than reading and being tested on a business textbook like my operations 101 class..

  36. Mathew Strukel

    I see people commenting about the difference between the BBA and the BSBA. Alot are saying its the same thing. I work in education and often get the same question. The difference between the BSBA and BBA is that the BSBA is a STEM degree. The BBA only requires college algebra where as the BSBA dabbles in calculus, finite and linear algebra. With the science degree you easily transition into any graduate program and are more likely to qualify for the GRE and GMAT entrance waivers as result of your extensive quantitative background. I’ve seen many students take the BBA route because they are afraid of the extensive Math required for the program. I often advise against it because those students are severely hindering their future in todays workforce where quantitative is the new entrance standard to high paying careers.