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What's Your Major? The Most Common Degree Program Disciplines Offered

January 2013

By Jessica Brown, Senior Manager, Knowledge Services, AACSB International

Business education encompasses a broad range of disciplines that focus on a wide variety of skill sets. By taking a look at the degree programs reported on the 2011–2012 AACSB Business School Questionnaire (BSQ), it is possible to see which disciplines are most commonly offered by business schools. Data for 29 business disciplines, including an "other" category, is collected each year by education level and degree title. For the purposes of this article, the focus is on program offerings by education level. Here, the data is listed by discipline and program level, thus; it is important to note that institutions may report multiple programs per education level if those programs are currently available at their schools.

Regardless of education level, the same disciplines are not always at the top of the list. At the undergraduate level, for example, the discipline of general business leads with 14.7% of 6,215 reported undergraduate programs categorized as "general business." In fact, general business was the most common discipline reported for undergraduate, masters-generalist, and doctoral levels. Only the masters-specialist programs did not include general business in the top five disciplines offered overall. As for all four education levels, more than 50% of all programs offered can be found in the top five disciplines, with masters-generalist programs having the highest number with 73.8% of 3,608 programs represented by five disciplines. At the masters-specialist level, 59.2% of 2,464 programs can be accounted for by five discipline categories, while at the doctoral level, 54.9% of 1,032 programs are covered.

The Top Five Most Common Degree Program Disciplines



Undergraduate

Masters-Generalist

Masters-Specialist

Doctoral

General Business, 14.7%

General Business, 35.8%

Accounting, 17.1%

Management, 15.0%

Management, 12.1%

Management, 17.6%

Other, 14.7%

General Business, 11.9%

Accounting, 11.6%

Other, 9.2%

Finance-Including Banking, 12.4%

Finance-Including Banking, 10.3%

Marketing, 10.3%

Finance-Including Banking, 5.7%

Management, 9.0%

Other, 9.3%

Finance, 10.2%

International Business, 5.5%

CIS/MIS, 6.0%

Accounting, 8.4%

Top 5 Disciplines Combined, 58.9%

Top 5 Disciplines Combined, 73.8%

Top 5 Disciplines Combined, 59.2%

Top 5 Disciplines Combined, 54.9%

It is clear to see that business schools have a strong focus on general business, management, accounting, marketing, finance, and CIS/MIS, however; the "other" category also is in the top five for all three graduate levels. The "other" category is used for any degree program that does not fit into the general list of 28 disciplines. For example, these disciplines can include anything from sports or entertainment management to specialized degrees in environmentalism. Some of these programs focus on traditional business topics, such as actuarial science, and others are tailored toward specific industries or interests, for instance, aviation logistics or space systems operations management. The "other" category displays the number of programs at each of these levels that range outside of the standard disciplines, as well as the flexibility and customization options that can be seen within business degree programs.

The following charts display the top 10 disciplines reported for degree programs at the various levels.

Figure 1. Undergraduate—Top 10 Disciplines Offered

Figure 2. Masters-Generalist

Figure 3. Masters-Specialist

Figure 4. Doctoral

For more information on this data, email datadirect@aacsb.edu.

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