What Degrees Should I Get to Become a CEO?

Become a CEOThough the role of a CEO is central to the success of a company, there are actually no required degrees to become a CEO in a business of any size. Though there might not be an official requirement that CEO applicants and hires have a degree from a college or university, the truth is that there are several college degrees that give aspiring corporate executives the skills, background, and acumen needed to successfully manage an organization, drive it toward success, and handle the competitive nature of the corporate world. These degrees are offered at both the undergraduate and graduate level, and those looking seriously at becoming a chief executive would be well advised to obtain the necessary degrees both at both levels.

Aspiring CEOs as Undergraduates: A Look at the Best Degree Programs

Undergraduate students who aspire to the highest corporate job in the command structure will want to make sure that they pursue a degree where things like finance, economics, leadership, and dispute resolution are highly emphasized and skillfully taught. This generally means choosing one of several majors, most of which are contained within the typical College of Business at a major university:

– Business administration
– Business management
– International business
– Organizational leadership
– Public administration
– Marketing
– Economics
– Accounting
– Finance

These degrees are important because they focus primarily on the skills needed to keep a business profitable, to keep employees communicating well, and to attract both new customers and top corporate talent. Without these foundational skills learned in the classroom, CEOs who lack a business degree could find themselves suffering from a lack of leadership or managerial capacity. As a result, the company could also suffer.

Graduate Work is Practically a Must-Have for Today’s CEOs

The vast majority of today’s CEOs attended graduate school and earned a graduate-level business degree. The MBA is the most common of these, though it’s certainly not the only degree that can help aspiring CEOs make their case when applying for the job. In addition to a rather typical MBA, today’s CEOs might also want to consider the following graduate programs:

– Master’s in Accounting
– Master’s in International Business
– Executive MBA
– Master’s of Science in Management
– Master’s in Organizational Leadership

Generally, the degrees considered most useful to aspiring executives are those that focus on leadership, management styles, corporate oversight, and sound accounting. These are business skills that can virtually make or break a company of any size, and additional education in these areas can only help aspiring executives land the job of their dreams.

Related Resource: Average Salary of a CEO

Other Requirements: Business Acumen, Experience, and Leadership Capacity

A business degree is a great start, but those who successfully land a job atop the corporate ladder also tend to have skills that can’t necessarily be taught in the classroom. According to an article in the online magazine Investopedia, the capacity to make smart, sound business decisions, lead groups of people toward a common purpose, and guide a company through messy corporate transactions and deals, are all hallmarks of a great CEO. There will be numerous challenges in corporate leadership, and those who last the longest are those who can lead, respond, and innovative as needed.

Even so, the path to corporate leadership and executive responsibility all begins with an education. It’s time to start perusing the best degrees to become a CEO, choosing one that provides a great amount of promise over the long-term in the corporate world.