Accredited Online Associate Degree in Small Business Management

Compare Degrees, Coursework and Career Potential

Earning an online small business management associate degree offers students valuable training, skills, and career opportunities. Due to the widely applicable nature of the program, students can apply their training to a variety of careers and educational pursuits after graduation. The program's online delivery allows busy students and working professionals to earn a postsecondary education while enabling learners to study from a distance and explore more programs than they could otherwise.

The following information outlines the details of a small business management degree, available pathways, and the career opportunities it may present.

What is a Small Business Management Associate Degree?

Much like standard business management programs, small business management degrees cover various business disciplines and training. Small business management programs, however, typically delve into more detail, like policy building, legalities, and administration. These elements prepare graduates to run small businesses and oversee daily operations. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that business and financial occupations will experience faster-than-average growth, which points to the popularity of the business discipline.

While the positive job outlook is the result of a combination of factors, small businesses contribute significantly to job growth across the country, as per the Small Business Association. The broad nature of the program equips students with leadership abilities, plus the skills and flexibility to enter more focused business professions of their choosing. Learners looking for specialized training may find it available through internships, electives, additional training, or professional experience.

Through online learning, working professionals and distance learners can now pursue degrees without sacrificing employment or adding substantial travel and costs. While online learning can expand the pool of accessible programs, students should note that some online programs feature on-campus components. Furthermore, some in-person elements, like internships, may require additional travel. Read on for more information about the degree and available careers.

Why Earn an Online Small Business Management Degree?

Each student has their own reasons for pursuing a small business management degree, but there are some common benefits that most degree-seekers can enjoy.

Job Growth

According to the BLS, business professions should experience growth at rates faster than the average occupation. This projected growth bodes well for small business management graduates looking for employment and entrepreneurs.

Career Development

In many business disciplines, experience provides some of the best advancement opportunities for professionals. Graduates can gain entry-level positions and then develop their careers on the job.

Career Flexibility

With a small business management degree, graduates can pursue careers in many industries. The broad training provides them with flexibility and accessibility.

Educational Advancement

This degree provides students with a solid educational foundation to build on after graduation. Applicants can choose degrees that complement business training, or they can further develop their business education.

Professional Freedom

Due to the nature of the degree, a small business management graduate can walk their own professional path by becoming an entrepreneur and creating a business.

Career and Salary Potential with an Associate Degree in Small Business Management

Small business management degrees offer graduates access to many different careers. While their individual choices and interests will largely dictate the professions they pursue, the following list outlines some of the most common opportunities. Students should note that this degree does not guarantee employment or a certain salary. The list below only highlights some possible career options and the median annual salaries associated with them.

Administrative Service Managers

Median Annual Salary: $96,180

Projected Growth Rate (2018-2028): 7%

Administrative managers oversee and coordinate the administrative services of an organization. They may take care of purchasing, training, and budgeting. The educational requirements of this profession vary considerably, though candidates often need college-level training — often times a bachelor's degree — and experience.
Sales Representatives

Median Annual Salary: $61,660

Projected Growth Rate (2018-2028): 2%

Sales representatives sell their organization's goods or services. They work with clients and businesses to negotiate prices and meet their client's needs. Job requirements vary depending on the specific goods and services. Typically, however, sales representatives need a minimum of a high school diploma, with some college-level training preferred.
Insurance Sales Agents

Median Annual Salary: $50,600

Projected Growth Rate (2018-2028): 10%

Insurance sales agents sell insurance to clients. They work with clients to determine the best policies, analyze and maintain accounts, and process any claims or renewals. In addition to the minimum requirement of a high school diploma, many insurance sales agents need college-level training and state licensure.
Sales Manager

Median Annual Salary: $124,220

Projected Growth Rate (2018-2028): 5%

Sales managers oversee sales teams, set goals, train, and evaluate performances. These managers may work with management and marketing to ensure their staff performs to the best of their abilities. Sales managers often need bachelor's degrees, but some employers hire candidates with high school diplomas or college training.
Customer Service Representatives

Median Annual Salary: $33,750

Projected Growth Rate (2018-2028): -2%

Customer service representatives manage customer accounts, process orders, and handle complaints. These representatives may problem-solve, perform sales actions, and work with management to provide better customer experiences. Each candidate needs a high school diploma as a minimum, but some employers seek professionals with some college training.

Source: BLS

Earning an Associate in Business Management Degree Online

Online small business management associate degrees vary depending on the school and the student's choices, but many programs feature similar formats, curricula, and outcomes. The following information outlines what learners can expect from the application process and the program.

Application Process

The application requirements for an associate degree can vary considerably from program to program, but most require that each candidate possesses a high school diploma or GED. Additionally, some programs list specific grade requirements or request that applicants submit SAT or ACT scores to demonstrate the ability to thrive in college-level programs.

The process of securing transcripts can differ considerably. Many high schools provide transcripts at no cost, though students should expect at least a small fee. Learners can contact their guidance offices for more information on how to receive and send these records. When it comes to college transcripts, most schools require a fee to print official records, and students typically need to send these out on their own. The SAT and ACT standardized tests typically include several free submissions to schools, but sending to additional schools requires extra fees.

Some other additional application requirements include letters of recommendation and personal essays. While the essays may address several topics, such as the applicant's study interests or a business-related topic, letters of recommendation come from the candidate's former teachers and employers to address the applicant's capability of success. Most applications also require a processing fee. The prices for this can range from $15-$100 or more.

Common Courses


In this course, students can learn about the entire marketing process, including marketing research, product development, customer behavior, and promotion. This course sharpens sales skills, marketing abilities, and an understanding of business processes, which are all helpful for small business managers or professionals entering the business field.

Business Plan Writing

A business plan writing course explores what professionals need for creating a captivating business plan. They look at the creation process — as well as the governing bodies who evaluate them — along with their rules and guidelines. Graduates can use these skills in management and marketing or as entrepreneurs.

Customer Service

Customer service courses examine what it takes to provide quality service. Students look at customer behaviors, negotiations, and managing customer complaints and conflicts. These skills can be employed in nearly every business profession, including sales, management, and marketing.


Entrepreneurship courses delve into what makes a successful entrepreneur and business owner. Degree-seekers can learn about the processes involved with starting and running their own business. They can examine the financial, legal, and marketing needs of start-ups. With these skills, graduates can strengthen their careers in management, marketing, and sales.


This course explores the latest in e-commerce technologies and best practices. Students can examine how e-commerce works at different levels, like business-to-business and business-to-consumer sales. These skills can come in handy for marketing and sales professionals, as well as for business managers.

Average Online Degree Length

Depending on the student and the program, small business management degrees can run for several different lengths. Course loads, transfer credits, prerequisites, and curriculum can all impact the overall time a student spends in a program. Online study increases the variables, with accelerated delivery options and heavier course loads available.

Typically, an associate degree features 60-75 credits, but an enrollee can complete them at several different speeds. In addition to allowing distance learning, online study often enables learners to take accelerated courses, completing a full-time course load in shorter times than those available on campus. This can also lead to cost savings. Conversely, working professionals can usually study part time to suit their schedules.

Skills, Traits, and Knowledge Gained

Like many business degrees, an associate program in small business management offers graduates a skill set that they can apply to many careers and industries. Some of the most common acquired abilities include analytical, communication, and leadership skills. These skills, and the widely applicable knowledge in business processes and applications, allow a small business management graduate to expand their career search.

With this degree, students often possess training in several business disciplines, including accounting, marketing, sales, and administrative functions. Graduates can use this knowledge and skill set to pursue careers in any of these individual professions or combine their skills to pursue leadership positions. Knowing how the different facets of a business can operate may help professionals interact in the workplace and better understand their coworkers' positions in an overall organization.

Above and beyond the core curriculum, students can gain additional skills and knowledge in other ways. For instance, learners can build on their training through practical educational experiences, like internships. Learners can influence their future careers with internships by obtaining experience in a specific industry.

Another way for students to gain additional skills while in school is through specializations, electives, or advanced education. While the desired associate degree may not offer a true specialization, students can create their own by choosing electives focused in one discipline or those that will aid their career search in a specific industry. Furthermore, graduates may redirect their career paths with further education in complementary programs or advanced versions of their small business management degrees.

Accreditation for Small Business Management Associate Programs

Accreditation provides students and employers with the assurance that schools and programs meet the standards of the industry and the region. In business education, accreditation comes at the institutional and programmatic level. At the institutional level, regional accreditation is one of the most important considerations. Students can verify that their desired school possesses the appropriate accreditation status via the accredited postsecondary database.

At the programmatic level, accreditation may come from one of several organizations. Students can look for accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the Accreditation Council for Collegiate Business Schools and Programs, and the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education. These organizations uphold the highest industry standards for business programs. While accreditation does not guarantee employment, many employers seek candidates from accredited programs.

Professional Organizations and Resources

Professional organizations provide students, graduates, and experienced professionals with assistance throughout their studies and careers. These organizations give students access to industry information and scholarships. New graduates may use these organizations for mentorship, career development opportunities, or information about certifications or licensure. Even veterans of the industry can use professional organizations for access to industry events and continuing education. Below are some of the best available for business professionals.

Small Business Administration

This organization acts as a resource and advocate for small business owners. The SBA offers visitors supportive resources in business management and for those starting their own businesses. Business professionals can gain assistance, access to funding, and educational opportunities.

Business Professionals of America

The BPA seeks to empower business professionals and future leaders in the profession by developing standards and supporting programs. Students and educators can access helpful resources, and business professionals enjoy access to industry events.

National Business Association

The NBA supports the owners and members of small businesses across the country. The association runs support programs, provides access to helpful resources, and develops cost-saving services for its members. Members also enjoy access to educational opportunities.

Next Steps: Continuing Your Education

While a small business management associate degree provides a strong career foundation, the degree also serves as a solid stepping stone for more advanced education. Students looking to develop their training in a related or complementary field can do so in several ways, and the following information can help with that process.

Transferring to a Four-Year Degree Program

Many students move from associate degrees to four-year programs after graduation, but the process can begin much earlier than that. While the broad training delivered in a small business management associate degree typically transfers into bachelor's programs, students may need to meet specific grade requirements or complete certain prerequisites. Therefore, learners should work with an academic advisor to ensure they follow the optimal path. Some bachelor's programs even offer pathway programs to allow for easy transferring.

Additional Degree Paths to Consider

Small business management graduates can benefit from the advanced study options available to them, but certain programs complement their education better than others. The following list covers some of the best bachelor's degrees for students looking to further develop their training.

  • Business Administration/Management: Business management and administration degrees both serve as strong companions to an associate degree in small business management. These advanced degrees delve into business operations and processes in more detail and may allow graduates to gain access to more career options.
  • Computer Information Systems: Computer information systems degrees provide a complementary education to small business management training by teaching students to use technology in solving business problems. This may lead graduates to technology-aided roles in business or careers in IT with an inside knowledge of business operations.
  • Entrepreneurship: Entrepreneurship degrees allow small business management graduates to go more in-depth into the process of starting their own businesses. This degree provides students with a better understanding of the policies and procedures that govern and impact small businesses.