Studying business as a general degree

Many universities offer general and more specialised business degrees. University of Galway offers commerce, which is three years, and global commerce, which is similar in course content but offers an additional year for a study abroad or placement option. There are also international commerce courses, which allow you to study a general commerce degree with a language – French, Spanish, German or Gaeilge. International commerce is a four year course and includes a compulsory Erasmus year in the country of the language. ATU Athlone also offers a BA in business which has an equally varied choice of subjects including digital marketing. ATU Athlone also offers languages and work placements as well.

In these courses, you will study a wide variety of business subjects including accounting, economics, marketing, human resources, business information systems, organizational behaviour as well as entrepreneurship modules. The aim of the first and second year is to provide students with a broad foundational knowledge of business before students go on to specialise in their final year. Like most general degrees such as arts and science, you would then in most cases be expected to go on and complete a masters to specialise in human resources, marketing, business information systems and in some cases accounting. However with accounting it is also possible to secure a training contract with many firms including Deloitte, PWC, EY and KPMG, and a masters would not be necessary. Many other companies such as BDO and Grant Thornton hire graduates, training them to become accountants.

Other specialties which are available to students in final year include business law, and many commerce graduates do go on to complete the LLB and practice law. Marketing and human resources are very popular specialities, and the University of Galway offers masters in both. Economics and public policy, and business analytics modules are also available for students to study and specialise in. While it is important to carefully consider what you want to specialise in, these commerce courses provide students with a lot of skills such as teamwork, project management, communication, negotiation and strategy making. Students are very employable upon completion of this degree.

While general degrees are a brilliant starting point for students who don’t know what they want to do, it is important they research the course and the course modules before they commence. Commerce offers a wide range of options, and while a masters is required for some professions another way to specialise in an area without completing a masters is through completing a graduate programme.

Graduate programmes

A graduate programme is a fixed term (usually 16 to 24 months ) entry level position offered to university graduates. Many companies, particularly American multinationals, offer graduates the chance to explore various aspects of their business and then specialise in a particular area. Companies that offer graduate programmes include Accenture, Jameson’s, SAP, Medtronic, Fidelity Investments, ESB, An Post, AIB, Abbott, Bank of Ireland, Diageo, Ericsson and many more. While graduate programmes are very competitive and have a rigorous application process which requires a lot of work and effort, many students are offered a permanent job on completion of their graduate programme.

Graduate programmes are usually advertised in September to October, that is almost a year before the graduate would start the programme. Graduate programmes can sometimes close their application process quite early, even as early as October, but depending on the industry and graduate programme, the date may vary. It is important that the student checks with the careers office in their university and gets a list of graduate programmes to allow them to plan their applications and not miss the closing date.

Claire Murphy obtained her Masters in Career Guidance and Counseling in Trinity and has over 10 years of experience working as a teacher and a career guidance counsellor at both second and third level. She is currently working as a consultant career guidance counsellor in Psychmed. To get in touch with Claire, email her at [email protected].


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