PSA: Applied Management is NOT Business Management

The differences might seem subtle, but not when it comes to perspective and experience.

Business Management vs. Applied Management

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There are many bachelor’s degrees in business, and it can be hard to determine which one is right for you. This blog post will compare a Bachelor of Business Management (BBM) with a Bachelor of Science in Applied Management (BSAM). We’ll examine their respective scopes, industries, and skill sets.

The goal here is threefold:

  1. Define applied management — it’s not a generalized degree.
  2. To help recruiters decipher which path might pair better based on the position title, we will drill down to sector, skillset, and experience.
  3. To help prospective students decide which path might be better — goal and experience-dependent.

Yes, they’re both parts of the broad field of Business Management, and they might look similar, but they are different. Sort of like the difference between project and program management.


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As a side note, this is the 3rd blog post in my 7-part “AI Series!” What’s that, you may ask? I’m testing an AI tool in this series to generate new ideas, combat writer’s block, find additional perspectives, and more. Spoiler: it still requires A LOT of editing. If interested, You.com is who created the tool (YouWrite). Also, here’s an article about different types/uses of artificial intelligence. For more posts, visit my blog.


How Applied Management and Business Management Differ (from an AI perspective)

First, it is essential to note that each major offers a unique perspective and skillset for your career. For example, a BSAM typically provides a more industry-specific focus, while a BBM offers a more general overview. However, both degrees usually cover accounting, marketing, finance, operations management, and human resources.

Speaking of curriculum, it varies widely for each degree path. For example, a BSAM might include courses in specific industries like data science analytics or technical report writing. On the other hand, a BBM has more generalized courses like global business strategies or finance. Nonetheless, both degrees will give you the basic skills to succeed in almost any business setting.

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So which is right for you?

It depends on your career goals, prior education experience, and what type of industry you want to work in. A BBM might work better if you don’t have a preferred sector and want flexibility. However, if you wish to specialize in a particular area within business management, then go with the BSAM degree.

How they are similar yet different (my perspective)

The scope of a Business Management degree is broader than that of an Applied Management degree.

For example, a BBM can cover all aspects of “business.” However, a BSAM focuses on applied management theory combined with a real-world application (based on previous experience — I’ll explain below).

In general, BBM graduates are better equipped for roles that aren’t super specific. But, then, graduates with a BSAM are more specialized and intentionally look to work in particular industries or positions (including remote and/or hybrid options).

How do I know this?

Many Applied Management degrees teach the SCRUM framework
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I took the BSAM route! Typically, students who choose applied management degrees need an associate’s degree from an accredited college or university. In addition, some programs require that the student didn’t major in a business-focused degree beforehand.

In other words, that rationale is to fuse your past work experience with program learning. After all, perhaps that approach could help structure strategies better in those more “ambiguous” business problems (think startups, project management, or business analysis).

Industry know-how

For example, imagine how difficult it would be without any experience (in your current role) to learn new concepts, methodologies, and techniques and simultaneously figure out how to eventually best apply them to a final Capstone simulation. The goal = bridge the (experience +) knowledge-application gap!

Hence, why it’s called applied management! A BSAM aims to improve your working knowledge and overall perspective through learning and understanding. Specifically, synthesize well-known standardized business courses with your acquired real-world business knowledge!

In short, not having prior experience and pursuing a BSAM would prove challenging for someone without working knowledge. Hence, some consider the BBM more “generalized” and BSAM more “specialized.”

How they compare based on sector

Applied Management and Business Management prepare you for different sectors
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According to the AI tool (and based upon the above differences), the sectors for these two degrees are different. For example, a BBM degree prepares students for careers in the private sector, while a BSAM could prepare you for employment in the public sector.

(Read this post to familiarize yourself with the differences between the public and private sectors.)

More specifically (from my point of view), a BS in business management typically prepares students for careers in marketing, finance, and human resources. On the other hand, a BS in applied management is generally more technical and prepares us for project management (not to be confused with program management), people operations, and consulting jobs.

More key differences between Applied Management & Business Management

One of the main differences between these two degrees is that a BBM provides a more general overview of the business world. In contrast, a BSAM offers specific training for managing projects and teams (in-person, hybrid, or digital). This makes the BSAM ideal for those who want to work specifically within project teams or strategy and operations (like me!).

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Ultimately, both degrees can lead to successful careers, but choosing one that aligns with your interests and career goals is essential. For example, if you want a job within the business world that isn’t research or focused on change management or strategy, go with Business Management. Alternatively, if you like hands-on problem-solving digital transformation and want to demonstrate leadership qualities on complex projects from experience, Applied Management might be right up your alley!

Skillset note for recruiters

Finally, the skills required for these two degrees vary.

For example, BBM graduates have learned critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills that focus on setting management and financial strategies to ensure a business (continues to) run smoothly.

Graduates with a BSAM have learned technical writing, project management, business analysis, and systems thinking and have real-world experience analyzing existing business structures and processes to help companies navigate change and toward business goal fulfillment because they have more real-world experience. For example, I am a project manager specializing in citizen development and focus on projects that use tech for good.

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See the difference?

Summing up

Overall, both degrees can be helpful! The difference is based on experience, how each specialty applies its know-how in a business setting, and which problems they solve. Ultimately, if you want to mitigate project failure better, enable change management, and more, you need both ways of thinking vs. a single perspective. Knowing whether or not you require a PMO to implement a Talent Strategy may also be helpful.

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