What’s the difference between business and commerce?

If you’re keen to learn more about the world of enterprise at university, you might already be looking into your future degree. And you also might have run into this conundrum – should I study business or commerce? You might even be wondering, are these two degrees even different? We’re here to answer your questions, and the first is, yes, there is a difference (we promise). Read on to find out more about the finer details of the difference between business and commerce.

Business: broad knowledge

A business degree is usually the first thing that comes to mind when you think about studying business at university. This is a common course that you can study at pretty much any university, and for a good reason.

A business degree equips you with the foundation skills you need to work in almost any industry and role. If you’re not quite sure which area you’d like to specialise in, or you just want to be an all-round pro, business is an ideal choice.

As a general rule, you’ll also learn more “people-centered” skills in a business degree; think things like communication, sales, leadership, marketing, and so on. These are core skills you can take into any role, setting you up for future success.

But if you do want to specialise, you can do that too. You can always take a major (or two) and really expand your horizons. For example, you could study the Entrepreneurship and Innovation major at Murdoch University, or Human Resource Management at the University of Bedfordshire.

Business courses also tend to have slightly lower entry requirements. They’re also incredibly popular, so you won’t have to go far to find a university that offers this course.

Commerce: specialised knowledge

A commerce degree is for those who really want to get into the nitty-gritty of a particular business area. These courses tend to be much more thorough and in-depth, while focusing on a particular area.

A commerce degree gives you specialist skills and knowledge in your chosen area. These degrees are more analytical, and commonly involve a bigger emphasis on mathematics. If you have a particular career path in mind, a commerce degree can be a great way to learn the specific skills you need to get there.

Some common majors for commerce degrees include things like Business Analytics from Carleton University, or Economics from the University of Auckland.

Commerce courses can have slightly higher entry requirements, and also sometimes include mathematics as a prerequisite.

The similarities?

Although they have their differences, the business and commerce degrees share a lot of similarities as well.

Both are great at equipping you with the skills and knowledge you need for your future career. One isn’t inherently “better” than the other, and what you learn in each will differ from university to university.

You might also see some universities offer the same major in both degrees – in this case, the content is usually largely the same and both degrees would be considered equally by employers. For example, the Accounting major is offered in both of La Trobe’s business and commerce degrees – the only things that might differ between the two are other core subjects, and which electives you can choose to study.

The final decision

When making a decision about which course to study, the best course of action is to always do your research. Read the course information and handbook for each course carefully, and see if there is anything about a particular degree or university you do (or don’t) like.

Want to know more about your university options? Make sure to take a look at our other blogs and resources here.


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