Business Administration Diploma vs Degree: What’s the Difference?

Updated December 2023

Business administration is a popular choice among students who want to learn how companies are organized and run.

It’s an extremely broad field that leads to a wide range of career options. Whether you want to run an office, keep the books, direct a marketing campaign, or take care of basic clerical functions, studying business administration can help you reach your goal.

But there are so many programs to choose from at both the university and college levels.

So what’s the difference between a business administration diploma and a degree? How do they stack up in terms of length, content, career outcomes, and other factors?

At Herzing College, we've been training people in business administration for many years. Keep reading to find out how these two types of programs compare and see which one is right for you.



At first glance, this is the most obvious difference between a business administration diploma and a degree.

You can earn a diploma from a business college relatively quickly. Programs generally take between six months and two years of study.

A bachelor’s degree takes more time, typically three to four years.

The bottom line: If you’re hoping to finish your training and get into the job market sooner, a business administration diploma may be the way to go.

However, a shorter program obviously can’t cover everything that a longer one can. More on that next.



A business administration diploma is typically designed to teach students the fundamental skills required to keep a company functioning. You’ll likely get an introduction to several different areas, including accounting, marketing, sales, and customer service.

In a standard business admin diploma program, you can expect to learn how to:

☑️ Use standard office software like Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint

☑️ Follow accounting procedures and use related software

☑️ Write, edit, and give reports and presentations

☑️ Conduct market research and develop a promotional plan

☑️ Apply effective sales techniques

☑️ Start a new business


A business administration degree covers the same basic areas, but delves deeper into each one. For instance, in addition to accounting, you might also study economics and finance.

Degree programs also include business-related elective classes like:

☑️ The history of capitalism

☑️ Business and society

☑️ Global issues in business

And since business degree programs are designed to provide a more well-rounded education, you will also take courses in areas like science and literature.


The bottom line: A business diploma provides an overview of many aspects of business operations and focuses on practical skills. A degree goes more in-depth into each topic and allows you to explore areas outside of business, too.



There are also some differences in where each type of program will lead you.

Business administration diploma programs are designed to give you a quick path to employment. They prepare you for entry-level roles like administration officer, marketing rep, sales associate, and accounting assistant. The idea is to get your foot in the door so you can gain office experience and work your way up to more senior roles.

A business administration degree will help you qualify faster for management positions in sales, marketing, human resources, and other areas. (However, you will probably still need some entry-level work experience first.)

With a degree, you can also continue on to graduate school to earn an MBA. That can give you even more advancement opportunities.

The bottom line: A business diploma will prepare you for entry-level employment, while a degree will help you land higher-level positions or qualify for graduate studies.



The criteria for admission also differ between diplomas and degrees.

Typically, completing high school is enough to get you into a college-level business administration diploma program. Some colleges also require applicants to take an entrance test.

Universities usually have stricter requirements. Entrance is competitive, and applicants have to meet certain academic standards to be admitted. For instance, you may need to have a minimum score in specific high school courses, such as English or math.

The bottom line: Business administration diploma programs tend to have fewer entrance requirements than degree programs.



Generally speaking, since business administration diploma programs take roughly half as much time as degrees, they also tend to cost less. Plus, they allow you to begin your career and start earning money sooner.

Tuition varies widely from school to school, so it’s important to do your research. And remember that financial aid may also be available.

The bottom line: A business admin diploma typically costs less than a degree and gets you into the paid workforce quicker. But costs can vary, so be sure to look around.



Think the diploma option is right for you? Your next step is to find a quality program.

Have a look at the business administration training offered online by Herzing College. Click below to explore the program and chat live with an admissions advisor. We’re here to help!

Explore the Online Business Administration Program

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