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If you want to know how businesses operate, learn about management or develop your skills in a specialised area such as finance, you may be interested in pursuing studies in business and management. This is a well-developed field at Australian institutions, and offers overseas students many advantages, such as work experience opportunities and global qualification recognition.

The business and management field is a very popular choice among students, both domestic and international. There are currently more than 85,000 international students enrolled in undergraduate business courses and almost 40,000 in postgraduate studies (The Good Universities Guide 2015).

The courses and employment opportunities available will depend on the level of qualification you complete.

If you are interested in studying business and management, you might also be interested in studying Accounting and Computing and information technology.

There are three qualification levels in business and management:

VET study in Business and Management

Courses and specialization

Business and management is a very broad field in the Vocational Educational and Training (VET) sector, with certificates, diplomas and advanced diplomas available in a variety of fields. General courses in business, business administration and management allow students to explore basic business principles. These courses provide a set of skills that graduates can use in many different business and management roles across a range of industries.

VET qualifications are also offered in more specific areas related to business and management, such as marketing and human resources, as well as in specific industries. For example, a certificate in business administration (medical) prepares students to perform administrative duties in the health sector, while an advanced diploma of community sector management trains students for management roles in the community services sector. Other specialised courses include frontline management, international trade, leadership development, local government administration, micro business operations, music business, project management, property services, retail services and small business management.

Generally, VET qualifications are more practical than degrees in the higher education sector. If you are looking for a course with an academic focus or want to enter a more senior management role, you may consider studying in the higher education sector. VET qualifications can provide a good pathway into undergraduate business and management degrees.

Applicants must meet academic and English language requirements, which vary between courses, institutions and qualification levels. For more information about VET courses and entry requirements, see Vocational Education.

Where to study

VET qualifications in business and management are widely offered throughout Australia. These courses can be studied at TAFE institutes, private colleges and some universities. If you are considering progressing to an undergraduate degree after completing a VET qualification, enquire with institutions about their pathway schemes to see whether you will be awarded credit for your studies.

The course you choose will depend on whether you want to gain a general set of skills (through a diploma of business, for example) or skills that are related to a particular type of work (such as those taught in a diploma of music business). You may also be interested in moving into the higher education sector once you finish your VET studies.

Undergraduate study in accounting

Courses and specialization

With such a large number of students studying in the business and management field, there are many different undergraduate degrees available. Like in the VET sector, there are courses that teach students about basic business functions and how they contribute to the successful running of a business. Other courses are not as strictly focused on how businesses work, instead preparing students for professional roles in areas such as stockbroking and financial management.

The two most common bachelor degrees are the bachelor of business and bachelor of commerce. These courses are quite broad and allow students to explore a number of specialisations, including management, marketing, human resources management, finance, accounting, actuarial studies, sustainable business and international business. These general courses allow you to enter many different careers in your chosen discipline, but may require further study at the postgraduate level in order to specialise and qualify for specific positions.

Students can also integrate a business focus into a non-business degree through elective studies. For example, a design student could complement their studies with a set of marketing subjects.

For students who have a specific career in mind, there are also a number of specialised courses (a bachelor of marketing or a bachelor of health management, for example). You could also pair business and management with courses like accounting, communications, computing and information technology, engineering or law through a double degree.

Finally, there are a number of courses that prepare students for related professions (such as financial planning and banking), as well as courses that focus on applying management principles in specific industries (such as property and logistics).

Applicants must meet academic and English language requirements, which vary between courses, institutions and qualification levels. For more information about undergraduate degrees and entry requirements, see Higher Education — Undergraduate.

Where to study

Undergraduate degrees in business and management, as well as the various specialisations and related areas, are offered at a large number of institutions around the country, including universities, private colleges and some TAFE institutes. In fact, many private colleges specifically focus on business education.

Your choice of course will depend on your area of interest and your career goals. If you are unsure about which area of business and management you are interested in, you might consider a general business and management course (a bachelor of business, for example) that will allow you to sample a range of fields. If you know the area that interests you, you may wish to select one of the more specific courses (a bachelor of property management, for example). Read through course outlines carefully to ensure that your course meets your requirements.

Practical experience is an important part of many business and management courses, so you may wish to check that the courses and institutions you are considering incorporate plenty of practical experience through industry placements and industry projects. The best courses should also have good contacts with employers. In some study areas, including accounting, marketing and human resource management, it also helps to look for courses that are accredited by the relevant professional associations.

Postgraduate study in accounting

Courses and specialization

Business and management is a large field at postgraduate level, offering a diverse range of course options to students from just about any academic background. First, there are students who studied business at undergraduate level who want to expand upon their studies or specialise in a specific area (studying a master of marketing after a bachelor of business, for example). The second group of students includes those from other disciplines who want to gain skills in business (such as a science graduate entering a master of business). The third group includes those who are returning to study after several years in the workforce looking to expand their career prospects with a postgraduate qualification (a master of business administration, for example).

Most postgraduate students complete coursework degrees, including graduate certificates, graduate diplomas and coursework masters degrees. The field has a diverse range of course options, from general courses in business or management to those that focus on specialisations such as human resource management, project management and marketing. At masters level, the master of business administration (MBA) is a popular choice among both practising and aspiring managers. See MBA and management education for more information about the MBA and its benefits. There are also courses that focus on specific industries (such as a master of education leadership) or related professions (a graduate diploma of banking and finance, for example).

Double degrees are popular with students who want to broaden their study experience, providing the option to combine two disciplines from the business and management fields (such as international business and commerce) or two different study areas (through a master of business/master of engineering, for example).

Postgraduate research degrees in business and management are also widely available, including masters degrees by research, research doctorates and professional doctorates.

Applicants must meet academic and English language requirements, which vary between courses, institutions and qualification levels. Entry into some courses may require work experience or previous study in the field. For more information about postgraduate degrees and entry requirements, see Higher Education — Postgraduate.

Where to study

Students considering postgraduate study in business and management can study almost anywhere in Australia, with courses available at universities and many private colleges across metropolitan and regional Australia.

The course you choose will depend on your prior qualifications and career aspirations. For example, you may want to expand on a bachelor of business with a specialised masters degree in a field such as marketing, gain knowledge in a new area or refresh your skills through a shorter graduate certificate or facilitate career progression through a prestigious master of business administration. If required, look for courses that are accredited by the professional associations and those that offer work experience opportunities.

If you are considering a research degree, you should look for university departments and schools with an established research program in your area of interest. You should also investigate the support offered to postgraduate research students and possible supervisors.

Business and Management jobs in Australia

Business and management is a very broad field in terms of career opportunities. Most graduates find work in the various branches of business, such as finance, human resource management and marketing. They are employed in many different workplaces — from government departments and banks to professional services firms, book publishers, fashion houses and the headquarters of fast-food chains. Some graduates even go on to start their own businesses.

The career options available to graduates do not vary much across the qualification levels, although graduates of VET courses often find work in ‘paraprofessional’ support roles, instead of the professional roles available to higher education graduates. In some professional fields, such as finance, a degree may be required. Advancement to more senior roles may require additional qualifications, which can be gained through undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.