Business Management vs. Business Administration Certificate

12 December, 2023

Business management professionals discussing program outcomesThe world of work is changing, and upskilling is the way to adapt. In looking at the jobs that will be lost to and created by AI, robotics, and automation, McKinsey & Company determined that developing certain foundational skills can improve a person’s chance of employment, high income, and job satisfaction. The company’s findings suggest professionals can make themselves invaluable to a business by:

  • Bringing value that automation and AI can’t provide.
  • Working effectively within a digital environment.
  • Continuously adapting to the myriad technological, societal, and environmental forces having an increased impact on business operations.

Today’s workers must acquire these skills quickly. The COVID-19 pandemic showed just how fast the business landscape can shift, highlighting the importance of rapid adaptation. Fortunately, there are now ways to upskill that are cost effective, time efficient, and targeted to your specific professional goals. Two options available to professionals include a certificate in business management and a certificate in business administration.

In this article, we will cover the differences between the two certificate programs, outlining how a certificate in business management can more efficiently prepare you to lead the future of business.

Business Management Certificates vs. Business Administration Certificates: What Are They?

Cost Less than $5,000 $5,000 to $10,000
Completion Time Less than one year Less than one year
Requirements Often accepts applicants regardless of prior education or experience* A bachelor’s degree or relevant work experience
Curriculum and Learning Outcomes
  • Prepares students to take on managerial or leadership roles
  • Prioritizes leadership and soft skill development
  • Prepares students for an MBA program
  • Prioritizes business strategy and analytics

*An associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, or prior work experience may be helpful but are not always required

While these certificate programs may seem similar, there are clear differences in terms of program cost, curriculum focus, and career outcomes.

About Business Administration Certificates

A business administration certificate focuses on fundamentals like accounting, finance, and business analytics. Such certificate programs, when compared to business management certificate programs, often lack the strong emphasis on management, leadership, and soft skill development. They also differ in terms of application requirements; business management certificate programs are generally open to anyone regardless of prior work experience, whereas business administration certificate programs often ask applicants to have spent at least a year in a business setting.

About Business Management Certificates

You need soft skills to grow from a talented technical professional to an impactful leader. Business management certificates are an attractive career development option that allow you to focus on specific skills that you want to build. This education is evergreen and has a wide variety of applications, including as a means of promotion to management or leadership positions.

A good program will help you develop a distinctive leadership style appropriate for your profession and career aspirations. You’ll evaluate your communication and listening skills, and consider what techniques will help your teams feel valued. An honest assessment of your current strengths and weaknesses will allow you to meaningfully refine your approach to leadership.

A business management certificate program can also help you master practical business concepts, such as risk management, financial performance evaluation, and strategic decision-making. By simultaneously honing soft skills and expanding your business knowledge, you’ll emerge as a decisive leader who is adept at managing a wide range of organizational needs

Careers With a Certificate in Business Management

A business management certificate is a great option for professionals who want to advance to a management-level position but may not have the requisite experience. With an emphasis on developing the soft skills that are essential for leadership, the business management certificate curriculum is highly beneficial for engineers, architects, marketers, software developers, and other professionals looking to boost their resumes, navigate a changing business landscape, and gain higher salaries.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, management occupations are expected to grow at a faster-than-average rate between 2022 and 2032, as established businesses rapidly expand and new ones form each year. The median salary for all management occupations was $107,360 in May 2022— the highest wage of all major occupational groups.

The table below outlines categories in which a business management certificate can improve your employment prospects.

Median Salaries for Management Professionals
Type of Management Occupation Median Salary
Advertising, promotions, and marketing management $138,730
Architectural and engineering management $159,920
Computer and information systems management $164,070

Source: BLS, 2023

Additionally, the streamlined nature of a business management certificate program allows you to quickly advance your career in a specialized field without a heavy financial cost. Many programs are competitively priced, and some provide opportunities for hidden savings. For instance, the Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management offers a discount for students who register for the full suite of business management certificate courses at once.

Although the programs are shorter and more cost-efficient, a business management certificate brings the same prestige as pricier, lengthier alternatives. At Vanderbilt, participants benefit from an official certificate and continuing education credits from a respected and accredited institution,. This can boost your resume and fulfill requirements for acceptance to other postsecondary programs.

About Vanderbilt’s Online Business Management Certificates

Our online business management certificate program has been designed to equip current and aspiring leaders with practical management skills that can be immediately used on the job. Additionally, the program offers a framework for refining one’s personal leadership style.

By completing the program, you will build a foundation in operations, marketing, finance, accounting, analysis, leadership, and more. You’ll hone your soft skills and learn best practices for managing teams, your supervisors, and yourself.

We also work with you to identify your existing strengths, cultivate them, and pitch them—allowing you to gain confidence in your skills and become a stronger advocate for your ideas.


To learn more about the Vanderbilt Business Management Certificate, contact a career advisor at 844-825-9663 or fill out the form below to download a free brochure.

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