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Business school – definition and meaning

A Business School or School of Business is a bachelor’s degree or postgraduate-level institution that teaches business administration or management. We also call it a School of Management or School of Business Administration.

In a business school, students study such topics as economics, administration, strategy, finance, and entrepreneurship. They also study marketing, public relations, leadership, and accounting.

Put simply; business schools teach people how to manage a business. Many business managers have studied at such schools. However, some CEOs of major corporations never went to business school. In fact, some of them do not even have a degree.

Sir Richard Branson founded the Virgin Group. Virgin today controls more than 400 different companies. Sir Richard left school at sixteen. So, not only does he have no degree, but no A-levels either. A-levels are the British equivalent of senior high school.

BBA (Bachelor of Business Administration) programs are for undergraduates. Graduate programs may include master’s degrees, MBA (Master of Business Administration) programs, and Executive MBA programs. Doctoral studies are also for graduates.

According to The Princeton Review:

“[Business schools) take academic theories and apply them to real-world problems. They craft students into astute decision makers and professionals who can readily navigate uncertainty, risk, and change.”

Business schools date back to the beginning of the 19th century. ESCP (Ecole Supérieure de Commerce de Paris), which started teaching in 1819, is the world’s oldest business school.

Business school - debts and more debts
Writing in Fortune magazine; John A. Byrne quotes MBA graduate Marianna Zanetti who said: “There is an education bubble around these kinds of degrees. I don’t think they have much impact on people’s careers.”

Today ESCP has campuses in Paris, Berlin, London, Madrid, and Turin. Two years ago, the Financial Times ranked its Master in Management program second in the world.

Business school types

There are many kinds of business schools. While some are stand-alone institutions, others are faculties or departments within a university. There are also some that belong to institutions that teach only business topics.

In the United States and Canada, a business school refers to a university program. The programs offer either an undergraduate bachelor’s degree or a graduate master’s qualification.

Some universities in Asia and Europe teach only business.

Many private business schools have no university affiliation.

Business school - open doors
Writing in Forbes, Sangeeth Varghese quotes Tom Mayo, a teacher at Harvard Business School. Mayo said that a top-tier business school degree is by no means a requirement for success. However, it provides a pathway to access and opportunities that otherwise may not be open.

According to the FT Lexicon, a business school is:

“A college or part of a college where students can study economic and financial subjects and learn about managing a business.”

So many business schools

There are thousands of business schools across the world. In fact, there are more than 600 in the USA alone, writes Exeter Jones in M&I.

Jones adds “but not all of these are officially accredited in business by the AACSB – and even fewer are entered into the composite rankings for US News, The Economist, Financial Times, and Bloomberg Businessweek.”

Choosing the right business school is hard enough. However, then you have to find the right program.

According to the Financial Times, the world’s top-5 business schools in 2016 were:

1. INSEAD (France/Singapore)
2. Harvard Business School (USA)
3. London Business School (UK)
4. University of Pennsylvania: Wartonn (USA)
5. Sanford Graduate School of Business (USA)

While INSEAD jumped from fourth in 2015 to first, Harvard Business School slipped from first to second. In fact, all the top five had different positions in 2015.

Business journals rank business schools according to either the career progress of graduates or student satisfaction and recruiter feedback. In other words, according to their long-term or short-term benefits respectively.