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About Business Administration


This work is written within the context of the project ‘Measuring and Comparing the Achievement of Learning Outcomes in Higher Education in Europe - Extension (CALOHEX), an EU funded project aimed to continue the work done in the original Calohee project and develop an infrastructure for additional subject areas that was not part of the first Calohee project. 

In the start of the project each expert member of the SAG Business answered surveys about key responsibilities and elements for a graduate profile for bachelor and master level, and the different programs and degrees offered in Business Administration. 

The subject area Business Administration

The subject of business, business studies, or business administration is subject to the practical application of the different disciplines that constitute the subject area of “business administration”. The typical disciplines within business administration include accounting, entrepreneurship, finance, management/organisation, and marketing but can also include closely related disciplines such as logistics/supply chain management, human resource management, procurement/sales etcetera. Hence, the discipline is distinguished by its interdisciplinary aspect, as it incorporates principles from other fields to cultivate individuals with comprehensive expertise.

The academic discipline of Business Administration is primarily concerned with equipping professionals with the necessary skills and knowledge to proficiently oversee and guide various types of organisations, including for-profit enterprises, non-profit corporations, government agencies, and other similar institutions. Business Administration is a field of study that encompasses various aspects of managing and operating a business organisation. It involves the use of principles and techniques to effectively plan, organise, direct, and control the resources and activities of a business entity. 


The field of Business Administration includes also other sub-disciplines, such as international business, lean business practices, and organisational studies. In recent years, these areas have all been significantly influenced by the pervasive impact of digitalization. The Business Administration sector is continuously evolving, compelled to adapt to the changing dynamics of the business environment and society at large. Factors such as new technology, globalisation, sustainability and environmental shifts are reshaping the way business is conducted and managed. As such, the curriculum places a strong emphasis on fostering entrepreneurial abilities, enabling students to engage in innovative thinking, recognise potential opportunities, and establish novel companies. It also places significant emphasis on business ethics and corporate social responsibility, recognising their essential role in fostering ethical decision-making and societal impact.

Business Administration stands as a substantial subject area within the European Higher Education Area and Bologna Process (EHEA), marked by several distinctive features. Firstly, the subject area Business Administration attracts a considerable number of students, resulting in large class sizes in many institutions. Secondly, it typically features internationally oriented curricula, reflecting the globalised nature of modern business. Additionally, Business Administration is widely offered by numerous schools and universities across Europe, making it one of the most accessible fields of study. Furthermore, it holds a prominent position within the Erasmus program, contributing to its reputation as one of the largest and most dynamic subjects in European higher education.

In conclusion, the field of Business Administration holds significant importance in influencing the way organisations function and engage with the broader society. Business Administration is a discipline characterised by its dynamic nature and interdisciplinary approach, providing graduates with the necessary knowledge and skills to proficiently oversee organisations, contribute to economic progress, and tackle pertinent societal challenges.

Typical Degrees Offered in the Subject Area of Business Administration: Bachelor’s level

The degree programmes in Business Administration are commonly referred to in English as follows:

a) Bachelor's degree, which typically requires a total of ECTS credits ranging from 180 to 240 ECTS. Also (vocational) short-cycle tertiary education of 120 ECTS exist corresponding to level 5 in the EQF. 

b) Master's degree, which typically requires a total of ECTS credits ranging from 60 to 120 ECTS.

c) Doctoral/PhD, which typically requires a total of ECTS credits ranging from 180 to 240 ECTS.


Typical bachelor degrees offered in Business Administration

The duration of first cycle (bachelor) degrees varies according to the country, ranging from three to four years. A typical curriculum will include supporting subjects depending on the country and the institution's profile. Examples of such supporting subjects are economics, statistics and/or mathematics, law, economic history, languages. With regards to the Bologna Process, it is expected that graduates of the first cycle either enter a professional field or to continue their studies in a Master's programme. Some countries offer dual paths for first-cycle degrees. The purpose of one educational programme is to equip students with the necessary skills and knowledge for practical professions. However, these students may not possess sufficient readiness to pursue advanced educational programmes in business administration at the second cycle level without further preparation. The subsequent track places greater emphasis on theoretical and abstract cognition, as well as creative analysis in the context of problem-solving. It establishes a foundation for pursuing further education in the field of business administration at an advanced level. 


The bachelor’s general specialisation can encompass a range of activities, including the development of a comprehensive training course or the selection of a specific area of focus in the later stages of the programme. The degree to which this specialisation is present differs throughout Europe. 

Many academic degrees sometimes include aspects such as job experience, internships or study abroad opportunities, typically lasting for one or two semesters. 

Examples of the most typical BA degree programmes: 

Degree programmes in Business Administration are specifically structured to offer students a comprehensive and balanced education in diverse facets of business administration, equipping them with the necessary skills and knowledge to pursue a broad spectrum of professional pathways. These programmes incorporate both academic knowledge and practical skills in their orientation and implementation. Students possess the capacity to effectively employ business concepts and principles in practical situations, hence cultivating their critical thinking and  problem-solving skills. Examples of typical bachelor level degree programs:

Bachelor of Science in Business Administration:

Often a general bachelor degree with an optional specialisation within a discipline.

Bachelor of Science in Business and Economics: 

Some institutions offer a programme that combines business administration and economics.

Bachelor of International Business: 

Focuses on aspects of international business, globalisation, international marketing and related subjects.

Bachelor of Marketing - focus on a specific discipline:

A bachelor programme that in addition to general business subject specifically focuses on a certain discipline within business administration. (e.g. Marketing/Finance/Accounting/Retail/Management/Supply Chain Management, etcetera)

Typical Degrees Offered in the Subject Area of Business Administration: Master’s level

The duration of the second cycle (master) degrees varies between country and institution ranging from one to two years (60-120 ECTS). Master's programmes typically incorporate a specialised focus area or discipline, examples of this include traditional disciplines such as accounting, finance, general management, marketing, supply chain management etcetera. Certain academic programmes provide specialised tracks in sustainability and environmental management, with a focus on promoting ethical corporate practices and ensuring environmental sustainability. Societal impact, sustainability, and business analytics are also increasingly introduced into business program curricula.

The specialised areas of study provide students the opportunity to customise their educational experience according to their own career aspirations and objectives within the realm of Business Administration. Upon completion of their studies, graduates are equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively assume various positions within the realms of business, government, non-profit organisations, and entrepreneurship/self-employment.

The form of delivery typically observed in Master’s courses entails a greater emphasis on interaction and seminar-style discussions. These courses often take place in smaller classroom settings, allowing for more intimate student engagement. Furthermore, the instructional approach in Master’s courses may involve students taking a more active role in discussions.

Examples of the most typical MA degree programmes: 

Master of Science in Business Administration: 

Typically a more research-oriented degree, often awarded with a specialisation in a discipline within business administration.  

Master of Marketing - focus on a specific discipline:

A master programme focussing specifically on a certain discipline within business administration (e.g. Marketing/Finance/Accounting/Retail/Management/Supply Chain Management, Business Analytics, etcetera)

Master of Science in… discipline:

A master programme focussing specifically on a certain discipline within business administration (e.g. Marketing/Finance/Accounting/Retail/Management/Supply Chain Management, Business Analytics, etcetera)

Master of Business Administration (MBA):

Often a degree for professionals and/or non-business majors. Commonly focussing on general management and strategy or a specific discipline. 

Typical Occupations of Graduates and Typical Tasks Applied in the Work Field

Graduates from the various business programmes end up in all sectors and many different types of organisations. With the broad competence base that a business degree provides, graduates can find employment working with a very diverse set of tasks and occupations, even if more in private enterprises than in state-owned/local government-owned, or non-profit ones. A substantial number of graduates will choose self-employment. In the CALOHEE project, the SAG experts collected information on what sector most graduates find employment (see below)

In which type of sectors do (most of) your Bachelor & Master graduates find employment

A bachelor’s degree and, above all, a master’s degree in business administration should allow adequate preparation for professional appointments and certification exams (i.e., chartered accountants). 

It is also the case that the field of Business Administration is experiencing major changes in jobs and professions due to the rapid progress of new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), automation, and digitalization. One of the most prominent effects is the implementation of automation for tasks that are routine and repetitive in nature. 

In summary, the advent of artificial intelligence, automation, and digitalization is reshaping the duties and obligations of individuals who have obtained a degree in Business Administration. Although it introduces novel obstacles, it also promises captivating prospects for individuals who can effectively integrate their business acumen with technology proficiency. Individuals who can adapt to these transformations and consistently improve their abilities are in a favourable position to succeed in the ever-evolving environment of contemporary commerce.


For Bachelor graduates, the most common jobs identified in the context of the CALOHEE have been Business and Management; Marketing, Advertising and Public Relations; Banking, Finance, and Insurance; Retail and Sales; Recruitment and Human Resources; Hospitality, Tourism, and Sport; IT, Information Services and Telecommunication; Further or higher education or research; Government and public administration. A significant number of individuals who have completed their first cycle degree opt to pursue further academic qualifications, frequently resulting in the attainment of second-cycle degrees.


Master graduates were found to be represented in similar industries as bachelor graduates, since Business and management, and Banking, Finance and insurance attract all or almost all graduates. Marketing, Advertising and Public Relations, Government and public administration, and Retail and Sales are strongly attractive, as well as Health and social care, Hospitality, Tourism and Sport, IT, Information Services and Telecommunication, Further or higher education or research. Graduates who have completed a master’s degree are more likely than bachelor graduates to enter senior management positions with greater responsibilities. For access to third cycle (doctoral/PhD) programmes a master degree is often required. 

Click here for a detailed overview of the most common jobs in Business Administration, by European level of university education.

Overview of typical field related Generic and Subject-specific Competences

In the previous study on the benchmarks for the design and delivery of undergraduate programmes in business (2009), the empirical analysis using questionnaires identified the following generic skills, listed in decreasing order of importance, that students enrolled in a degree in Business must possess (Reference Points for the Design and Delivery of Degree Programmes in Business):

  1. Capacity: Analysis & Synthesis

  2. Capacity to learn

  3. Capacity: Applying Knowledge in practice

  4. Adapt to new situations

  5. Creativity

  6. Basic Knowledge of the study field

  7. Critical & self-critical abilities

  8. Decision making

  9. Work in interdisciplinary teams

  10. Oral and written communication

  11. Interpersonal skills

  12. Basic Knowledge of the profession

  13. Second language

  14. Ethical commitment

  15. Appreciation of diversity & multicultural

  16. Elementary computer skills

  17. Research skills

There is no reason to believe that the generic skills required by students in Business Administration are significantly different now. In this project the SAG have aligned the generic competencies with the job profiles collected in the beginning of the project. At the initial SAG meeting in Pisa a first step was made in formulating competences and level descriptors for level 6 (bachelor) and 7 (master). Later in the project the SAG decided to also develop corresponding level descriptors and qualifications frameworks also for level 5 (tertiary education) and level 8 (PhD).

Business Administration Qualifications Reference Framework (QRF) introduced

The SAG Business group developed the Qualifications Reference Frameworks for Bachelor (L6) and Master (L7) together as a group during and between the physical meetings. The starting point for the work was a survey to all SAG members collecting information about current educational structures, typical jobs and tasks performed by graduates. With this information and the work done in the previous Tuning project the SAG set out to identify competencies needed by graduates and formulate key dimensions with the EHEA qualifications framework as the basis. 

As the qualifications frameworks cover Knowledge, Skills, Autonomy and Responsibility the SAG had extensive discussions on what to include and how to write suitable statements. Even though differences often existed in interpretation, practice and tradition for what is taught and how and at what level the SAG could come to agreement on the final qualifications frameworks. 


Incorporated in the frameworks are also topical issues (Societies and cultures: Interculturalism; Processes of information and communication; Processes of governance and decision making; Ethics, norms, values and professional standards; Sustainable development) identified by the EU.The topical issues are addressed in different ways in the frameworks albeit not always explicit. 


The frameworks developed by our SAG should be seen as inspirational and aspirational rather than instrumental. If seen as such, it is the SAG’s belief that the frameworks can be very useful in restructuring current or developing new programs in business administration. In our project we did an exercise where an earlier version of the framework for L6/Bachelor was matched against SAG members’ current programs. The result of this exercise can be seen here (click to view). The matching exercise shows that even though most of the dimensions in the framework are covered, the main issue to pay closer attention to may be related to Autonomy and Responsibility. It can be a feasible exercise for interested institutions to conduct a similar matching exercise.

Tables of Qualifications Reference Frameworks (QRF):


The SAG group unanimously agreed that in the first instance, the Business Administration discipline groups would work together to develop and write generic descriptors for all three cycles that they could all work with, and then add the discipline-specific descriptors at a second stage. In the work developing the qualifications frameworks (SAQRF) the SAG ensured that also the “topical issues” were addressed. After developing the SAQRF’s for level 6 and level 7 the SAG developed SAQRF’s also for the tertiary education (L5) as well as the doctorate/PhD (level 8). 


The following tables are the outcome of this exercise.

L5 Business (SAQRF)

L6 Business First Cycle


L7 Business Second Cycle


L8 Business Third Cycle


Typical Business Administration Teaching, Learning, and Assessment methods and techniques, including examples of good practice

Learning, Teaching & Assessment

The field of Business Administration is experiencing significant transformations in the landscape of teaching, learning, and assessment (TLA) due to various factors. These include class size, resource limitations, technological advancements, and the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic. The effectiveness of TLA in Business Administration can be greatly affected by large class sizes and limited resources. Consequently, traditional teaching methods are being supplemented with more student-centred approaches that incorporate active participation and utilise new technologies.

To address issues such as grade inflation and ensure transparency in grading practices, it is advisable to employ explicit rubrics and grading criteria. Furthermore, providing constructive formative feedback plays a crucial role in enabling students to learn from their mistakes while cultivating lifelong learning skills and attitudes. In addition to these considerations surrounding TLA efficacy within Business Administration education programs, several critical aspects shape its overall landscape.

One key aspect involves understanding how large classes impact TLA outcomes when faced with resource constraints. It becomes essential for educational institutions offering business administration courses to align desired learning outcomes with appropriate teaching strategies and assessment methodologies effectively. Moreover, paying attention towards reducing grade inflation through rigorous evaluation practices also contributes significantly towards maintaining academic standards.

Moreover, the dynamic nature of the business administration domain necessitates an adaptable approach that fosters innovation while prioritising student needs. A student-centred pedagogy prepares future business leaders for navigating complex modern challenges successfully. Additionally, it has become imperative for business schools to prioritise social responsibility by incorporating social, ethical and environmental principles into their TLA practice. The focus should extend beyond mere profit-making, to encompass broader societal implications associated with businesses' operational decisions.

Business schools have recognized this need, and consequently, strategies outlining effective TLA and planning techniques are increasingly emerging. These strategies emphasise enhancing transparency while ensuring accountability. Also, widening the scope of interdisciplinary collaboration across university-wide modules on teaching practice facilitates holistic approach to TLA implementation. Moreover, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a growing pressure to transition toward hybrid or fully online TLA models. Consequently, business educators are investing in digital infrastructure and preparing engaging online content that facilitates seamless transitions between-person and virtual learning experiences.

Furthermore, the incorporation of emerging technologies such as virtual reality, artificial intelligence (AI), and data analytics have the potential to revolutionise TLA practices within Business Administration. These technological advancements can provide students with immersive learning experiences, paving the way for their preparedness in an increasingly digitally oriented business landscape. The age of AI also highlights the importance of teaching students critical thinking skills, capacitating them to evaluate source credibility and reliability effectively.


Lastly, it is imperative for business schools to recognize that effective TLA plays a vital role in shaping future business leaders. As a result, schools must prioritise faculty development initiatives, to ensure high-quality pedagogical approaches throughout their programs. Businesses are increasingly acknowledging the power of continuous learning throughout one's career, and thus, TLA remains a critical component reflecting this broader trend.


The following frameworks for L6/Bachelor and L7/Master programs for Teaching, Learning, and Assessment can be seen as examples and inspiration for how to develop an institution’s TLA practices.

Examples of good practice:

Teaching International Relations can be a very challenging task, especially when it comes to convincing students that political theories and concepts are concrete tools, crucial to understand current international events and dynamics. Active learning tools, like games, role playing, and films are more and more used by professors to involve students in expanding their knowledge and make them understand that war, peace and other international political phenomena are daily problems for individuals around the world and that they have to be trained and able to help solve them.

Members of the SAG shared some examples of good teaching practices at their home universities. We consider these good illustrations of interactive and student-centred teaching strategies that may be inspirational for colleagues working in the field. Click the titles below each competence for examples.

Young Diplomats @ the British Embassy (University of Macedonia, Greece, BA-level)

Discourse wars. Case study of discourse wars surrounding the NATO Kosovo Air Campaign (March-June 1999) (Vilnius University, Lithuania, MA-level)

Photo assignment (University of Groningen, The Netherlands, MA-level)


Game of Peace - A conflict resolution simulation (University of Catania, Italy, MA-level)


Practices of Peace, Development and Humanitarianism (University of Coimbra, Portugal, MA-level)

Student academic conference (University of Helsinki, Finland, MA-level)


Critical infrastructure analysis and risk assessment (Jagiellonian University Krakow, Poland, BA-level)

L6 Teaching, Learning &

Assessment cycle

L7 Teaching, Learning &

Assessment cycle

Student workload & ECTS

The European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) plays a crucial role in enhancing transparency, recognition, and quality in academic programs within the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). ECTS allocations align with student workload, aiming for 25-30 hours per credit. These allocations consider various factors such as cycle level, prior learning, literature complexity, teaching methods, and assessment forms.

Student workload studies contribute to quality assurance, alignment with learning outcomes, program comparability, and a student-oriented paradigm shift. For effective academic planning and management, students should understand and leverage the ECTS system. In Business Administration, where independent study is vital, this understanding is particularly crucial.

Amid the growing emphasis on lifelong learning, there's ongoing discourse on how micro-credentials, expressed in ECTS, can aid learners in accumulating study units. While the SAG Business lacks specific examples, there's recognition of micro-credentials' potential, especially in lifelong learning. Proposed qualifications frameworks by SAG Business can guide the design of learning units expressed as micro-credentials, aligning with the goal of contributing to UN SDG 4 (quality education).

With an increased focus on lifelong learning (LLL) there is a current discussion in most European countries about how micro-credentials expressed as ECTS can support learners in accumulating units of study. An increase in courses expressed as micro-credential can also be seen as a way to contribute to the UN SDG goal number 4 (quality education). Even though the SAG Business do not have any examples of micro-credentials as a way towards a full degree the potential in micro-credentials is recognised and especially so for lifelong learning. The proposed SAG Business’ qualifications frameworks can be of assistance also in designing learning units expressed as micro-credentials.

For further information see the ECTS users’ guide (2015) and “A European approach to micro-credentials”.

Quality Enhancement

Quality enhancement should be seen as an ongoing process of improvement that is essential in the Business Administration subject area in order to remain competitive and meet the demands of the business world. In the work with quality enhancement, students as well as other stakeholders, should be seen as important participants. A higher education institution should adhere to national and international standards and ensure that supporting policies and procedures are in place. Typical tools available in quality enhancement include the systematic use of feedback and evaluation. Students should be encouraged to provide feedback on their learning experience, including the quality of teaching, resources, and support. This feedback can be used to identify areas for improvement and to develop strategies for enhancing the overall quality of the educational experience. Follow-up surveys of graduates can provide valuable information and contribute to curricula development and overall program quality. 

Another way to enhance the quality of education in Business Administration is through the use of innovative teaching methods and technologies. This includes the use of appropriate learning management systems, simulation tools, and case studies. As AI technology continues to develop, continuous assessment needs to be transformed to become more applied to a context and related to particular skills such as problem-solving, rather than summarising knowledge. Professional bodies and academies need to engage in dialogue to agree on a framework for assessments and quality frameworks. This would also facilitate the alignment both vertically and horizontally across different business programs.

Quality standards in higher education are guided by several principles and frameworks, including the EUA (European University Association), EURASHE (European Association of Institutions in Higher Education), ENQA (European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education), and ESU (European Students' Union). An important contribution to quality assurance is the European Ministers of Education’s Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG).  Furthermore, relationships with global accreditation bodies such as AMBA, EQUIS, and AACSB, as well as other frameworks such as competences for UN SDG, are necessary to ensure quality enhancement in Business Administration programs.

To integrate the CALOHEE approach with these principles and frameworks, it is important to consider the importance of an outcome-oriented approach to learning and quality assurance in higher education. For example, the EU Framework for Quality Assurance for Higher Education (EQAF) promotes quality assurance as a means of improving the quality of higher education. Additionally, EURASHE has developed a framework for quality assurance in professional higher education.

Integrating the CALOHEE approach with these frameworks requires greater attention to student competencies, their application in practice, and the evaluation of learning outcomes. Furthermore, ESU promotes the importance of student participation in quality assurance and their voice in the design and evaluation of study programs.

In summary, the CALOHEE approach and its frameworks can be integrated with the principles of EUA, EURASHE, ENQA, and ESU through greater attention to learning outcomes, quality assurance, and student participation. In this way, higher education institutions can ensure a high level of student competency and meet the needs of employers and society in general.

The Business Administration Subject Area Group (SAG)

Dan Frost


Umeå University


Inger Mørch Hauge

Aarhus University


Dr. Sarah Bennett
Co- Chair CPAD , Head of TU Dublin School of Creative Arts and Senior Research Fellow ,TU Dublin School of Art and Design
Thomas O'Toole
South East Technological University
Giuseppina Iacoviello 
University of Pisa
Iacopo Cavallini
University of Pisa

Richard Puyt
Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences
Andreas Schittenhelm
Nürtingen-Geislingen University
Patricia Moura Sá
University of Coimbra
Lucia Vilcekova
Comenius University
Huseyìn Öcal
Istanbul Gelisim University
Ana Beatriz Hernández Lara

Universitat Rovira i Virgili


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