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Business administration vs business management – what’s the difference? 

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Female leader sitting in a meeting, group of four looking at her with laptops in front of them

Our course advisors often receive questions like ‘what’s business administration?’ and ‘what do you do in business management?’ When it comes to business courses, the terms ‘business administration’ and ‘business management’ are often used interchangeably. However, there are significant differences between these two study pathways.

In this article, we’ll explain the difference between business administration and business management courses, and provide guidance for anyone who wants to gain a business qualification.

What’s business administration and how is it different to business management?

Courses in business administration and business management have similar components – they’re both, designed to help you succeed in a business career. But while both fields are related, they ultimately serve different functions.

Business administration courses tend to focus on teaching you about the operational side of running a business. Those in business admin roles are responsible for keeping the business running smoothly, which can include anything from analysing finances to facilitating training programs.

On the other hand, courses in business management tend to focus more on leadership, decision making and managing people. Studying a business management course will give you many transferable skills by sharpening your ability to think analytically, and helping you to lead small and large teams.

What is business administration? What is business management?

A course in business administration will give you sought-after generalist business skills. Here are some of the things you’ll learn in Swinburne Online’s business admin courses:

  • Leadership and management
  • Organisational behaviour
  • Sustainable innovation
  • Data management
  • Commercial law
  • Strategic planning and project management

Swinburne’s business management courses will help you to become an expert at making effective, well-informed business decisions. You should study management if you want to learn:

  • Organisational behaviour
  • Strategic planning and project management
  • Leadership
  • Critical thinking

What jobs can you do in business administration and management?

One way to decide whether you’re more suited to admin or management is to have a look at the kinds of jobs you can apply for once you graduate.

What is a business administration degree suitable for, in terms of employment opportunities? There are many things you can do with this kind of qualification, since it teaches you how to be a good leader, and solve complex problems. Business administration graduates are particularly suited to corporate governance, consulting, financial analytics and general leadership roles.

If you have your sights set on a high-level role in a large corporation, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) can also give you the skills needed to achieve your career goals. The MBA at Swinburne Online allows you to specialise in one of three areas – business, project management or cybersecurity – so you can focus on what interests you the most.

Business management degrees equip you with similar skills, but with more of a managerial focus. What is a business management degree most useful for, with regards to career pathways? Project management is a big area, as is human resources. It all comes down to your own interests and passions – with a management degree, you will be well-equipped to lead in all sorts of different industries.

If you already have a degree and want to upskill, or you have several years of relevant professional experience, you might like to consider a Graduate Certificate of Management. You’ll learn from industry experts, and also gain credit that could ultimately go towards an MBA.

What jobs can you do with a business administration degree? What jobs can you do with a business management degree?

These are just a few examples of careers you could pursue after completing a course in business administration:

  • Financial controller
  • Procurement officer
  • Tax manager
  • Compliance officer
  • Risk manager
  • Company secretary

There are a wide variety of roles you might like to consider after completing a management degree, including:

  • Logistics manager
  • Management consultant
  • Project manager
  • Human resources manager
  • General manager
  • Business analyst

What do you study in business administration and business management degrees?

For those wondering “what do you do in business administration degree,” you’ll learn about various aspects of business operations, including planning, directing and controlling resources, and strategies to achieve organisational objectives.

If you undertake a Bachelor of Business – Business Administration at Swinburne Online, you’ll study a total of 24 units, including five foundational core business units. We offer flexible study options for those studying business administration, meaning you can continue to work full time while completing your studies.

Once you’ve completed your undergraduate studies, you can continue on to study a Graduate Certificate of Business Administration. This course consists of four units, providing a broad overview of the many facets of contemporary business.

Alternatively, the Bachelor of Business – Management (which consists of 24 units) is a great choice if you want to develop your communication, collaboration and creative thinking skills. From here, the Graduate Certificate of Management will give you an even better advantage when looking for well-paid corporate jobs, plus it provides a pathway into the MBA.

What do you study in business administration? What do you study in business management?

In our business administration undergraduate program, you’ll study these major units:

  • Managing Workplace Relations
  • Big Data Management
  • Knowledge Management and Analytics
  • Law of Commerce
  • Organisational Behaviour
  • Strategic Planning
  • Project Management Essentials
  • Business for Sustainability, Social Change and Impact

Our undergraduate program for business management includes these major units:

  • Digital Management and the Future of Work
  • Ethics of Innovation
  • Organisational Behaviour
  • Business, Society and Sustainability
  • Strategic Planning
  • Leadership Practice and Skills
  • Project Management Essentials
  • Business for Sustainability, Social Change and Impact

Should you do business administration or business management?

So, is business administration a good course for people who want to make an impact in the corporate world? If you have an interest in business operations and strategy, then yes, business administration is the right pathway. However, if you’re more passionate about the human and organisational elements of business, you should choose a course that focuses on business management.

Who should study business administration? Who should study business management?
If you’d prefer to be involved “behind the scenes” in a high-level administrative role, business administration is for you. These types of courses will teach you how to make sure everything runs smoothly within a business, while adhering to compliance requirements. Those who would prefer to be directly involved in how a business is run are better suited to business management courses. If you’re interested in helping employees to perform at their best, you’d be well suited to a managerial role.

Learn more about our business management and business administration courses, or contact our friendly Course Consultants for further information.


  • Business administration and business management are related fields, but they have distinct focuses. Business administration often deals with the operational side of running a business, while business management emphasises leadership, decision-making, and people management.
Management often involves leading and guiding individuals or teams towards achieving organisational goals. Administration, on the other hand, focuses on overseeing day-to-day operations, ensuring efficiency, and implementing strategies to keep the business running smoothly.
A Business Administrator is responsible for maintaining the operational aspects of a business. This can include tasks such as analysing finances, coordinating training programs, and ensuring smooth workflow.
An example of business administration is managing financial records, coordinating office operations, and organising resources to ensure the company’s overall efficiency.
A degree in business administration equips you with a comprehensive understanding of how businesses function. It covers topics such as leadership, organisational behaviour, strategic planning, and more.
Business administration covers a wide range of topics, including leadership, organisational behaviour, sustainable innovation, data management, commercial law, and strategic planning.
Business management involves leading and directing teams, making strategic decisions, and ensuring that a business’s goals are met. It emphasises effective leadership and problem-solving skills.
Examples of business management roles include project manager, human resources manager, logistics manager, and general manager. These roles involve overseeing various aspects of business operations.
A business management degree equips you with the skills to lead and manage teams effectively. It focuses on decision-making, communication, strategic planning, and fostering a productive work environment.
In a business management degree program, you’ll learn about leadership, organisational behaviour, strategic planning, project management, and more. You’ll develop skills to manage people and make informed business decisions.