Since business is one of the most popular and widespread majors in the US, a lot of undergraduate business programs might look fairly similar upon first glance- especially when it comes to the standard business courses. Business course titles, let’s face it, seem overly vague, broad, and uninformative on the surface. And oftentimes business course descriptions don’t make it much better. What is accounting, anyway? Don’t let the monotony of these courses deter you, though, because they are essential for grounding yourself in the basics of modern business. Below we will discuss common courses when studying business so potential students have a better idea of what to expect in those fundamental first and second year classes.
Often appearing as “Principles of Accounting” in business course descriptions, the study of accounting provides a broad technical knowledge of bookkeeping. In these classes students will learn how to work with financial statements, both in terms of producing them from scratch and evaluating them when they’re produced by others. Accounting skills are necessary for essential business practices like profit analysis, tax accounting, and the numerous forms of auditing. Though not all students seeking an undergraduate degree in business will eventually become an accountant, knowledge of the basics will help them to streamline their inevitable engagement with accounting issues at all levels of the business world.
In terms of demystifying business courses, it would seem that management speaks for itself. But management is about more than being the boss. Management courses focus on leadership but also on the nuts and bolts of what it means to be a good, effective, and unique leader. Topics essentially break down into two categories: improving yourself and improving your business relationships with others. In the first category, skills such as problem solving and critical thinking are key. In the second category, skills including organization, conflict resolution, and negotiating are taught to help potential managers and other business people excel in numerous situations with colleagues, clients, bosses, and staff.
Among the standard business course descriptions, none are quite as ambiguous as the ones describing courses in finance. Isn’t finance just another word for business? Yes and no. Yes, finance is at the core of any business, but it also covers some particular aspects. General finance courses will break down rational decision making and cost/benefit analysis in terms of practical concerns for big and small businesses, usually with relevant real-world examples. Related courses in personal finance will cover many of the same topics on a family-sized scale, discussing family budgeting, insurance, ownership, and other personal concerns. In all finance courses, the focus is on that central feature of business: exchanging money.
Marketing courses cover a wide range of concerns dealing with advertising and other forms of presenting a business. Often the foundational marketing courses will teach students how to research and how to apply that research to strategy and planning. Incorporated into these lessons are the fundamentals of distribution and competition. How should new products be advertised? How are competitors presenting themselves? Stepping back from these localized concerns, marketing courses present the idea of branding. Branding includes raising awareness of a brand, affirming its identity, and establishing its reputation. Thus, in many ways marketing is the field that ties together simple advertising with actual on-the-ground sales.
Every business student will see these courses in their program guide. By demystifying business courses here, you should see the importance behind these fundamental courses. They may seem uninteresting or overly general on the surface, but they are essential to building up your business education. When you eventually specialize in human resources, tax accounting, or any of the other dozens of business careers, you will be well-rounded and versatile.