Business Majors and Majors Similar to Business

So you’re interested in business! Good choice. Deciding that you want to study business probably sounded very straightforward … until you studied UIUC’s course catalog. 

“Hang on,” you might think. “Aren’t all business majors in UIUC’s business school?” Surprisingly, no. We offer a variety of business-related programs in a number of academic communities across campus. There’s Gies College of Business, of course, but there’s also Agriculture and Consumer Economics (ACE), which sounds pretty business-y. And the advertising major, which is run through the College of Media, is different from taking marketing classes through the business college. And the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has an economics major, which everyone knows is a core principle of good business. And so on. Suddenly, studying business seems a little more confusing. 

So what’s the difference between these areas of study, and what’s the best choice for you? You’ve come to the right place to find out.


Advertising Major

Advertising is an evolving industry. In the advertising major in the College of Media, you’ll develop new skills in production, design, and more. You’ll learn the theory behind successful advertising, gain an understanding of how people make decisions, and learn how to reshape the field itself. Do you have strong feelings about the advertisements you see on websites, TV, or social media? Think you could improve them with your artistic flair or concise prose? This could be a great major for you.

Advertising is a good choice for students who want to work in …

Advertising! Okay, this one was a little too easy. But if you want to enhance your communication, digital, and team-building skills and use your creativity and your ability to read the room in your future career, the exciting field of advertising is a great opportunity for you to specialize in your interests. An advertising degree can also transfer into careers in marketing, public relations, social media, sales, and more.


Agriculture & Consumer Economics (ACE) Major

ACE is a business-focused major within the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) that provides its graduates the opportunity to make decisions about global issues related to food, economics, and environmental sustainability. While many ACE courses can be found in a traditional business or economics program, this major also gives you the chance to focus on the industries and issues that truly matter to you.

Core ACE classes introduce you to economics, accounting, finance, marketing, quantitative methods, and laws and policies, with a focus on agricultural and environmental-sector examples. ACE students can choose from nine concentrations, or areas of specialization:

ACE is a good choice for students who want to work in …

Business or policy-related careers, ranging from how producers, consumers, and agribusinesses manage risk and adapt to climate change to the impacts of new technologies, environmental regulations, and federal laws on profitability and human well-being. 

ACE is also a great major for students interested in careers outside of agriculture. ACE graduates are excellent candidates for careers as certified financial planners, bankers, attorneys, policy analysts, and so much more. They can be found working with Fortune 500 companies, international firms, non-governmental organizations, and local businesses. 


Business Undeclared 

Gies College of Business is, unsurprisingly, a great choice if you want a comprehensive business education. An added bonus? You don’t have to know exactly what you want to study when you first arrive. All first-year students at Gies apply to and enter as Business Undeclared students, which means they can explore options, select a specific major (or two), and still graduate on time. Starting your first semester, you’ll take courses that tap into each of the Gies Business majors so you can find where your strengths and interests align. The college has academic advisors and career counselors who provide guidance on course selection, major options, and potential career paths as well.

Business undeclared is a good choice for students who want to work in …

The answer, of course, is business! A few more specific answers would be:

Gies offers majors in all of the areas listed above, so you can learn the ins and outs of specific areas of the business world. You’ll be ready for a career in a startup, a Fortune 500 company, or anything in between! 


Economics Major

UIUC’s economics major is a single program run through the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and is a great asset to any business. That said, the field itself does not emphasize the inner workings of specific businesses. Instead, you’ll study the theory of what makes businesses work. You might not learn how to negotiate with shareholders, but you will definitely graduate with an understanding of supply and demand, how to interpret complex markets, and more business- and market-based theory. 

Economics is a good choice for students who want to work in …

Business (are you surprised?), especially in positions that require a broader perspective, like market forecasting or data interpretation and analysis. Economists are valuable in government positions, where they can help guide government spending and investments. Economists are also common in academic positions, and anywhere else a good economic policy might be needed!


More Business-y Majors

Although we’ve covered a handful of business-related options at UIUC in this blog, more majors than this can set you on the path to a business career! These include (but are by no means limited to) the following:


In conclusion …

Study what interests you most! Business is a very diverse field, with room for all kinds of majors and specializations. Whether you want to be working face-to-face with customers, making soil recommendations to the government, or analyzing the economic stability of a tech company, there’s something for you to study here. 

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