Choosing between business and commerce? Here's what you need to know

If you're looking for a degree that will open doors in the business world, you might be considering both the Bachelor of Business and the Bachelor of Commerce. So what's the difference between a commerce and a business degree, and how can you work out which one is right for you?

Dr Ahmed Ferdous, Course Director of Bachelor of Business in Deakin Business School, explains that at Deakin, these two degrees do have some shared outcomes and common areas of study. 'The fundamental acumen of business is covered within both the Bachelor of Business and Bachelor of Commerce.

‘In both degrees you study foundational business units, and some common units are shared,' Dr Ferdous explains. This will give you a well-rounded understanding of business and the skills needed to navigate the jobs of today and the careers of the future. 'You’ll have soft skill development in both degrees but it will be pitched in different ways,' he says.

Dr Ferdous adds that choosing between these two degrees requires you to be clear on your interests and aspirations: 'Graduates of both degrees will have the business acumen to not only serve the Australian market but the global market too. The key differences come down to the majors and your personal needs and wants – who you are as a student.'

What should you know about the Bachelor of Commerce?

The Bachelor of Commerce is a degree that fits the needs of those looking for professional excellence in the more mainstream majors. One of the key features of the Bachelor of Commerce is that it offers a pathway to be recognised by professional organisations.

Dr Ferdous says, 'You get the opportunities to excel in the professions that are reflected through the different majors. It's tailored towards recognition and accreditation so there are prescribed standards of performance.'

The Bachelor of Commerce also offers graduates a pathway to be recognised by professional organisations such as: Certified Practising Accountants (CPA), Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI) and Australian Marketing Institute (AMI).

Dr Ferdous uses the example of some popular commerce majors: 'If someone undertakes a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in human resource management they are eligible to seek professional accreditation from the Australian Human Resource Institute (AHRI). If they undertake a major in marketing they can pursue professional accreditation from the Australian Marketing Institute (AMI).'

The Bachelor of Commerce requires strong problem solving and analytical skills and provides graduates with specialised knowledge in key organisational functions of business. It offers majors in accounting, economics, finance, financial planning, food and agribusiness, human resource management, marketing, management and management information systems. 'There is always a market and need for these professions,' Dr Ferdous says.

And what is the Bachelor of Business?

Dr Ferdous explains that the Bachelor of Business steps in to fill some of the newer needs in the market. 'There are a substantial number of areas in business outside of the mainstream commerce majors that still require greater understanding and skill development. The Bachelor of Business offers a suite of unique majors to meet these emerging needs.'

The Bachelor of Business has a stronger focus on a range of skills and knowledge that aren’t siloed within the traditional analytical organisational functions of business structures. You can choose to specialise in emerging and innovative fields such as event management, project management and business and digital communications. The Bachelor of Business is also the degree of choice for those with an entrepreneurial spirit and an eye to becoming a business owner.

The other majors in the Bachelor of Business include organisational psychology, people management, retail and supply chain management as well as entrepreneurship and innovation.

The course takes a novel approach when focusing on these areas of business. 'When we talk about retail, for example, we often think of working at customer counters or stocking shelves but it’s much broader than that,’ Dr Ferdous explains. 'It's not just about the functional activities. It’s about customer engagement, maximising socially responsible economic gain, the environmental goals around running a retail operation and understanding the value chain which supports the promises of retail businesses. It's a highly innovative area.'

One particularly popular major in the Bachelor of Business is event management. 'Event management is an area that is really evolving into a stand-alone discipline,' Dr Ferdous says. 'All organisations have events and even large government organisations need event managers.'

The Bachelor of Business looks to the future

If you're looking for a new career or hoping to build on your industry experience, the Bachelor of Business may be perfect for you. 'You might already be doing a project and want to upgrade your skills by undertaking this degree,' Dr Ferdous says. 'In the Bachelor of Business we focus on an entrepreneurial mindset. We ensure that the students are thinking in terms of innovation.'

The seven majors on offer have been determined by looking at emerging growth areas in industry. 'These majors focus on untapped areas that need greater understanding and entrepreneurial thinking and resilience and more innovative way in which to apply their work,’ Dr Ferdous says. 'We also teach three specialised "personal edge" units which give you development in the area of soft skills.'

There is a lot of talk in industry about how emerging technology, such as artificial intelligence, will impact business. This has been taken into consideration when developing the Bachelor of Business. 'We believe that while artificial intelligence might take over some of the more functional activities, soft skills are less likely to be replaced,' Dr Ferdous explains. This means that the communication, networking, global citizenship and interpersonal skills that are focused on in the Bachelor of Business will serve you well in your future career.

Taking a close look at the majors offered in both degrees will help you to hone in on the program that is right for you. If innovation and soft skill development are of interest, the Bachelor of Business is worth exploring.

Dr Ferdous says, 'The complex problems will always need a human touch and the Bachelor of Business is a really relevant degree in terms of what the industry is looking for.'

Ready for an innovative career in business? Take a closer look at Deakin's Bachelor of Business and Bachelor of Commerce.