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Study business and management courses in Australia

Field of Study: Business and management Course Information

'Business and management’ is the biggest of our 30 fields of study. There are one or more business courses at every university (and often at each campus), at TAFE institutes and at many private colleges. You can study business units at almost all institutions and within thousands of courses.

Business specialisations cover everything from business administration and project management to entrepreneurship and international trade. Some focus on the main business functions that are central to organisations in and out of the corporate sector. Others offer professional preparation in related sectors, such as finance. Another growing group of specialisations focuses on specific industries.

If you're interested in business, you might also consider the following fields of study:

  • Accounting

  • Economics

  • Law

You might also look at sport and leisure studies if your interests are in the sport management side of the discipline, communications for areas such as public relations, environmental studies or agriculture and paralegal studies.

Browse business and management courses by state

VET study in business and management

Courses, majors and specialisations in business and management

Business and management is a huge field at VET level, with courses available at certificate, diploma and advanced diploma level. These courses fall into two main groups. Some will have a very general ‘business’ or 'business administration' title and will allow you to explore broad business principles, perhaps with some room for specialisation. Others — and perhaps the larger group — have a specific focus on a single set of business skills or a single industry. Expect to find courses in areas such as asset and facility management, community sector management, frontline management, international business, local government administration, logistics, marketing, property services, purchasing, retail services and warehousing operations. There are also some courses that combine business with another study area (music business, for example).

The course you choose will depend on your interests, the skills you would like to gain and where you see your career heading. You may also consider studying in the higher education sector if your intended specialisation is more academic than practical (finance, for example), as VET qualifications are typically more practical than those in the higher education sector.

Choosing a course in this field can be difficult, so you will need to be plenty of research.

Where to study business and management

As the biggest field of study, business and management can be studied just about anywhere. VET qualifications are available at TAFE institutes around the country, various private education providers and universities that operate a TAFE division. In fact, almost all institutions offer at least a few business courses.

It is common for VET graduates in this field to progress to higher education qualifications, such as moving from a diploma in business to a bachelor degree, or to more advanced qualifications within the VET sector (a certificate III to a certificate IV, for example). If you are interested in pathways, be sure to enquire with institutions to see if you will be awarded credit for your studies and if there are preferred pathways into your course.

Career opportunities in business and management field

Business and management graduates from the VET sector are likely to have a similar range of career options as graduates from the higher education sector. The main difference is that VET graduates are usually employed at paraprofessional level. In other words, VET graduates will work in roles that support the various types of business professionals.

The skills gained from a VET course in business and management can be applied in all types of organisations and roles, such as accounts, business administration, marketing, occupational health and safety, public relations, sales and small business management. That being said, many gain skills that can be applied in very specific industries and fields — legal practice, local government, transport and distribution, retail and property included.

See the Career Search for more information about your career options.

Undergraduate study in business and management

Courses, majors and specialisations in business and management

The following are just some of the majors you can study in this field:

  • Actuarial studies

  • Banking

  • Business administration

  • Business information systems

  • Business logistics

  • E-business

  • Finance

  • Human resource management

  • International business

  • Marketing

Most people who consider studying business think they will end up working in a corporate office, especially those who opt for the Bachelor of Commerce or the Bachelor of Business — the field’s two flagship qualifications. But not every course in this field will lead you to the corporate world. What’s more, this is not what all businesses are like.

Business specialisations cover everything from business administration and project management to entrepreneurship and international trade. Some focus on the main business functions that are central to organisations in and out of the corporate sector. Others offer professional preparation in related sectors, such as finance. Another growing group of specialisations focuses on specific industries — maritime management, for instance.

So, where do you start? As usual, you start by working out what really appeals to you and in what area you excel. To get you thinking, we’ll describe the four classic types of business student.

The first group, and perhaps the largest, has already been mentioned. These are the students who want to work in corporate business and maybe eventually run or start one. When people in this group say they want to study business, they really do mean ‘business’ — pardon the pun! They generally wish to learn core corporate business functions such as business administration, management, marketing, business strategy and human resources management. They will gravitate towards specialisations that correspond with these functions or that focus on emerging areas such as entrepreneurship or e-business.

A second, smaller group of students opt to specialise in one area (usually management) within (or combined with) a non-business degree to add to the skill base they are developing in another field — for example, a health sciences student who wants to work in health services management or a creative arts student wanting to improve their career prospects in arts management. It’s worth noting that undergraduate ‘management’ courses cover — and are sometimes specifically designed for — a range of different industries and sectors, as opposed to the corporate focus and comprehensive course content of their postgraduate equivalents, such as the Master of Business Administration (MBA).

The third and fourth types of students more closely resemble the first in size, yet differ in that they are not strictly focused on corporate business and its standard functions. Group three is made up of students working towards related professional roles, such as stockbroking, financial planning or asset management. Banking and finance specialisations are the most popular for this group, but there are also courses catering specifically for other niche occupations, such as actuarial studies (for risk assessment) and taxation. Group four consists of students whose main focus is on specific industries or sectors, including real estate, property, logistics, retail and trade. There are many specialisations and an increasing number of full-degree courses designed for these students.

If you can identify with one or more of these student types this should give you an idea of the specialisations that would be suitable for you. Then it’s just a matter of looking for the right degree. Business specialisations are available in all kinds of degrees, including arts, social science and science, although you would only choose one of these if your primary interests ranged well outside the field. Assuming that they don’t, you’ll still have plenty of options to choose from. There are both general and specialised business degrees. At the general end, very broadly, there are two types: the Bachelor of Commerce and the Bachelor of Business. Courses in business administration, business management and business studies are usually equivalent. So, what’s the difference? Some say that the newer business studies courses are more ‘applied’ and focus more on how business actually operates than the older commerce degrees, but this is a huge generalisation. The beauty of these general degrees is that you can choose your specialisation and subjects yourself. Since both degree types will generally cover a range of different specialisations, you can usually make your studies as practical or as theoretical as you like through a choice of specialisations and electives.

There are also many specialist business degrees on offer, which may be called any of the specialisations discussed previously. In addition, there are general business degrees with a ‘tag’ in brackets indicating the major area of study, whether it’s marketing, management or finance. In some cases, you’ll get much the same whether you do the specialisation within a general degree or in one with a specific title. With others though, the course content in the latter might be more detailed in areas of particular interest and will prepare you better for the career you want.

Of course, that’s if you know what you want. If you haven't yet decided on a specialisation, there’s no need to worry. Many general business degrees will give you some room to test out a few areas before deciding on your specialisation. Courses with specific titles and tags, on the other hand, will usually make you specialise from the start and leave less room for elective subjects. Think about whether or not you want to narrow your focus straight away or give yourself some more time to figure out your direction. And for those of you who want to stay general in your focus, remember that you can always pick up specialised knowledge later through a postgraduate course (see the Postgraduate section). There are also many double degrees (business combined with law or engineering, for example) that you can consider. You might find that adding another professional degree and staying with a general business degree is the way to go.

Providers of business education are continuously expanding courses and providing increased opportunities for students to develop skills in their field of specialisation. This may include work placements, international language and study tours, and final-year capstone units that bring together the skills and knowledge gained during the program.

Where to study business and management

Business and management can be studied at most universities, as well as at many private education providers and TAFE institutes that operate a higher education division.

We recommend that you think hard about what kind of education you want as well as where your career is going when choosing a business course. As for what one faculty or institution might do better than another, there are so many variables that it’s difficult to provide good advice. Some will take a very academic approach, while others will have more working professionals as lecturers. Some will offer work experience and have close relationships with industry, while others will have strong honours and research programs. Again, it all depends on your needs and career aspirations. Have a good look at graduate ratings and detailed course brochures to ensure that the course is what you expect.

Business and management is one of the most user-friendly fields of study. Part-time and distance education courses are widely available. There is a large number of mature age students, some having entered through special admissions schemes for adults. Getting in can be very tough, very easy or in between, depending on the institution and the specialisation you choose. This is also a field where it is possible to progress up the qualifications ladder, starting out with a VET qualification before entering a degree.

See Degree costs and loans for more information about paying for your degree.

To find out how each institution performs in your field of study, see our Ratings section.

Career opportunities in business and management field

Starting salaries were below average in 2014, at $50,426, according to the national Course Experience Questionnaire survey. Perhaps more important is the proportion of graduates who were unable to find full-time work. While graduates once boasted strong employment rates of around 90 per cent, the 35 per cent unemployment rate in 2014 tells a different story. Again, there are likely to be big variations according to the course, institution and specialisation, so shop with care. The skills and experience you gain through internships and co-curricular activities are other important determinants — and they’re often upto you. Around 23 per cent of graduates pursue further study, which can also improve job prospects.

See the Career Search for more information about your career options.

Postgraduate study in business and management

Courses, majors and specialisations in business and management

Business and management continues to thrive as one of the most popular fields at all qualification levels. There has been little demand for research programs among postgraduates, with coursework programs proving to be a more popular way to improve skills or increase career prospects.

Qualification ladders allow students to gradually build up from a short graduate certificate to a masters degree. Graduate certificates generally run for about six months. If completed successfully, they may offer credit towards more advanced study in a graduate diploma, which can then be credited towards a masters, cutting down the course length by about half. The most well known of the masters degrees in this field is the master of business administration (MBA). In management, the doctor of business administration (DBA) has emerged as the fourth rung on the ladder. See MBA and management education for more information.

The business and management field continues to lead in developing new study options for students. In the last few years a number of universities have introduced postgraduate double degrees that combine the ever-popular MBA with masters programs in disciplines such as law or engineering. ‘Professional’ or ‘executive’ programs that allow students to base assessments on work projects are also becoming more popular in this field. While many of the programs are focused on general management or particular aspects of business (such as human resources or marketing), entrepreneurship and innovation is an emerging specialisation for those who want to channel some of their creativity into their business lives.

Where to study business and management

For postgraduate students, this field is something of a shopper’s paradise, with a huge variety of program titles and specialisations available at a very large number of universities and private higher education providers. Many are available by distance education and are therefore accessible almost anywhere.

Entry requirements are not too demanding overall, although some programs (especially the MBA) can be more competitive. Only a small number of postgraduates undertake research degrees. If you are contemplating a research degree in this area, you might like to consider the range of professional doctorates on offer, which combine coursework with research and usually focus on applied project-based work.

To find out how each institution performs in your field of study, see our Ratings section.

Career opportunities in business and management field

According to the national Course Experience Questionnaire survey, graduates of postgraduate business and management programs are satisfied with their overall experience and very happy with the skills they gained. Job prospects are slightly below average, with 24 per cent of graduates still seeking work four months after completing their course, although salaries are right up there in the five-star range, at an average of $101,565 per year. In such a large field, variation between course outcomes is more pronounced, so it is a good idea to check out the details for each campus.

See the Career Search for more information about your career options.

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