There are commonly two sought-after degrees in Commerce: The Bachelor of Business Science (BBusSc) and the more common choice, the Bachelor of Commerce (BCom). Most universities also offer a range of Doctoral, Masters, Honours and Postgraduate Diploma programmes.
3-year degree, Bachelor’s-level degree
Common available majors include:
- General Accounting Stream, Chartered Accountant Stream, Accounting and Law Stream
- Information Systems Programme
- Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) Stream; Economics and Finance Stream, Economics and Statistics Stream, Economics and Law Stream, Investment Management, Finance
The Bachelor of Commerce degree (BCom) aims to provide students with a broad understanding of commerce in a management context. Mandatory courses impart understanding in areas such as accounting, economics and business administration, with allowance made for specialisation in a chosen major/s.
All BCom programs are identical in first-year, making it easy to change or add majors. Multiple majors are more common in BCom’s than in the Bachelor of Business Science degree, conceivably because BCom’s are 3-years, not 4-years like a BBusSc. The material covered in the Bachelor of Commerce varies from major to major, but generally centers on business administration, strategy and commercial conceptual understanding.
The specific material covered in a Bachelor of Commerce varies from major to major, but generally centers on business administration, strategy and commercial conceptual understanding. Courses like Micro and Macroeconomics give background to strategy and a broad understanding of the corporate world. Applied Mathematics and Statistics courses forge paths into the modern necessity that is ‘number-crunching’. Accounting and Law courses provide deep understanding of the systems in business, and equip students with the ability to read and understand corporate documentation. Naturally, material in the field of the chosen major will be more in-depth, equipping the student with greater understanding and ability in the major subject by delving into many more intricacies and details than would otherwise be practical.
EduConnect’s two cents
If you are looking to become a Chartered Accountant (CA), the Bachelor of Commerce route is a full year quicker than the BBusSci route, as you begin specializing in Accountancy from the very start of the degree. While the BBusSci allows for more courses in varying fields (due to the 4-year nature of the degree as opposed to the 3-year BCom), the ‘extra’ knowledge the BBusSci may equip you with is perhaps not worthwhile when pursuing a CA qualification, as employers are seldom concerned with anything beyond the fact that you have the qualification! By doing the BCom option, you free up a full year of your studies to become a CA.
Not to be overlooked too is the fact that a 3-year degree such as the Bachelor of Commerce allows for some flexibility. There may be nothing worse than reaching the 3rd year of your BBusSci and realising that you do not want to continue studying, for any number of reasons, as you cannot simply leave now and claim some form of qualification for the 3 years you have completed! The BBusSci is a 4 year degree, if you do not finish it, you have wasted your time. If, however you wish to leave at the end of your 3rd year of a BCom, you can. You can even come back and study to Honours level after many years if you wish. The bottom line is that many unsuspecting people find themselves in the position where they want to leave after 3 years of study. BCom students can afford to, BBusSci students cannot.
All in all, it is our belief that the 3-year BCom degree (in any major) grounds the student studying it in the fundamentals and core concepts of business and the corporate world. What it does not do is equip one in totality for a career path that is specific. Upon completion of a BCom, you will almost indefinitely be left with decision to make as to which arena in commerce you wish to enter (eg. consulting, financial reporting, sales, etc). It is one of just two things that can lead you in a specific direction- experience and/or specialisation. Experience will of course assist you in narrowing your scope of intrigue. Specialisation through study will solve this too. Specialising in Accountancy will of course lead you into Accounting & Auditing. Specialising in Finance will lead you to Investment banks & Financial Analysis, and so on. Ultimately, our belief is that a BCom is a good base, but needs to be accompanied by something else to ensure success in a fast-paced world.
Simone Kyle, 2nd Year BCom (Accounting, CA)
“Challenging degree, reasonably well-run and well positioned for post-studying work.”
Joel, 3rd Year BCom (Investment Management)
“At the close of my Grade 12 year, it was tough deciding what field of study I would get into. After deciding on Commerce however, two main options remained- BCom or BBusSci. It is no secret that a BBusSci degree is a well -respected degree among employers, and perhaps has ‘the edge’ over a BCom in the working world. So I applied for Business Science at UKZN. However, I did not enjoy my varsity life at UKZN in my first year, and opted to transfer to the University of Pretoria (TUKS), a prestigious institution with a solid commerce faculty, but with a notable drawback for me- no BBusSci option! So I had to decide on a specific BCom degree. UP is one of the few universities with a BCom (Investment Management) degree. Provided you do the honours year, a BCom in a major such as Investment Management garners similar prestige in the employer’s eyes a BBusSci. The advantage with BCom is that you start to specialise in your field of commerce right from year one of your studies, whereas a Business Science degree is more broad in first year but very detailed later when you choose your majors. This can also be a good thing if you’re undecided on what field you’d like to end up in. I personally feel that the BCom (Investment Management) degree is a great option, as you graduate with FOUR majors – Investment Management, Financial Management, Accounting and Economics, which will still give you that option of going into multiple fields if you’re still a bit undecided. And if it’s earnings you’re concerned about, put your fears to rest, as a BCom (Honours) graduate in any major will rarely have trouble finding a well-paying job, setting aside technical know-how regarding investment vehicles and money management! By my 3rd year of BCom (Investment Management), I have developed the belief that studying something of this sort is far more interesting than becoming a CA for example, and may well lead to a more exciting and fulfilling career than perhaps a CA can offer.”