ONLINE BUSINESS Degree Programs & Majors

Students seeking a college degree in business face many questions and decisions. Which schools offer cost-effective degree options? Can online business degree programs be customized to fit busy schedules? What kind of classes are required for specific degrees or potential careers? This guide provides essential information for prospective students as they search for a business program to meet their personal and professional needs.

Online Business Colleges

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Introduction to Business Schools

A business degree offers expanded opportunities for students to build thriving careers in the corporate, private or even public sector. An associate degree gives students familiarity with management, marketing, communication and finance. A bachelor’s degree rounds out this basic knowledge with more specific topics such as information technology, human resources and private enterprise. A master’s degree, including the MBA, prepares students to make strategic business decisions, manage and motivate personnel, use technology effectively and leverage an organization’s strengths in the global economy. For students or current professionals who are looking to advance into managerial or executive-level roles, or into academic professorships, earning traditional or online business degrees can create a promising foundation for success.

Learning Made Flexible: Online Business Degrees

With distance learning, students are frequently able to continue working while pursuing a higher education. Balancing studies and employment makes financial sense: money is coming in to help cover tuition and other learning-related expenses. Also, working professionals get greater opportunities to build their on-the-job experience, which is valued by potential employers.

Thanks to online business schools, students can tackle coursework on their schedule from anywhere with an Internet connection, sometimes from smartphones. Many web-based classes are asynchronous, which means students can view lectures and complete assignments whenever it’s convenient for them.

Students working toward their online business degrees can communicate and share information via email, discussion forums and platforms such as Blackboard and Adobe Connect. In addition to beefing up teamwork and remote collaboration skills, learning online also helps strengthen time management and technology expertise.

Program Highlight:
Online Bachelor of Business Administration

Some online business degrees can be completed entirely through distance learning, while others blend virtual and classroom training. Online bachelor’s degrees in business administration typically require 120 semester units to graduate. Core business courses consist of anywhere from 21 to 42 credit hours, covering topics such as organizational behavior, communication, college algebra with applications, business and society, strategic management, marketing and key concepts of financial management. In addition to core business courses, possible electives include principles of accounting, introduction to investment and economics of managerial decisions.

Online BBA degrees are designed to offer a broad-based overview of business fundamentals accessible to busy learners. Much like their campus-based peers, graduates of online business administration programs are generally prepared for career paths in human resources, operations management, project management, sales and marketing, or other roles in a range of industries.


Name: Oscar T.

Degree: Bachelor’s Degree in Business


What has been the main benefit of distance education at your college?

The biggest benefit of distance learning is being able to work at my own pace. I am able to keep a regular work schedule while completing my degree. I find this way of learning to be beneficial in regards to not having to physically attend a class at a particular time. I can complete assignments in advance, and not have to worry about procrastination.

What part has technology played in your online program and courses?

Technology has played a major role in my courses. I can do class assignments on my laptops and tablets. I especially like the fact that I can be in the comfort of my own home while completing any assignments.

How does your online program help prepare you for life after graduation?

First, I am able to enhance my computer skills. Second, it teaches me how to stay organized by keeping track of my assignments, which is critical. Finally, I am able to communicate with other students who live in different regions, states and countries. This gives me a diverse exposure to different beliefs, values and cultures.

Undergraduate Online Business Degrees: Associate

A two-year associate degree in this field provides a fundamental background for those interested in a business career. Core coursework gives students an understanding of accounting and management principles, best practices for decision making, related legal and ethical concerns, and how to respond to a variety of employee issues. Online business schools require a variety of courses, such as English, mathematics, social sciences and humanities, which can reinforce the communicative and quantitative skills that are vital in the workforce. The table below includes a sampling of required courses for an associate in business program.

COURSE NAME overview
Principles of Public Speaking Teaches students the basics of public speaking and communication.
Principles of Management Provides an introduction to management, including planning, staffing, directing and organizing in a business environment.
Introduction to Accounting Focuses on bookkeeping and the preparation of financial statements.
Business Ethics Examines current ethical issues in business, including employee rights, organizational culture, workplace discrimination, professional responsibilities and more.
Business Communication Explores business documents and other modes of professional communication. Also covers how to plan, research, organize and write various reports.

Undergraduate Online Business Degree: Bachelor’s

Students seeking more in-depth background and experience in business may choose to pursue a bachelor’s degree in the field. A typical four-year program provides a solid foundation in management theory and practice, as well as case studies to simulate real-world business challenges. Students of online business schools can learn how to set up an organization to compete in today’s global business market. Coursework focuses on finance, information technology, management, employee relations and more. Below is a sampling of courses that a bachelor’s program in business might entail.

COURSE NAME overview
Introduction to Business Gives students a broader foundation of business operations and major business functions.
Principles of Finance Provides a framework for financial decision-making processes, including financial markets and controls, long-range budgeting and cost of capital.
Management Concepts Highlights the development of management principles and presents managerial roles, environment and functions.
Business Ethics Examines the ethical principles and perspectives of business decision-making and policy development.
Business and Society Investigates primary and secondary stakeholders in business and touches on social responsibility within an organization.
Principles of Economics Investigates primary and secondary stakeholders in business and touches on social responsibility within an organization.
Business Law Inspects the sources of U.S. business law and how the government regulates industry and commerce.
Business Administration Capstone This capstone course helps students apply learned analytic, integrative and decision-making skills.

Graduate-Level Online Business Degrees: MBA

The most familiar business-related graduate degree is the Master of Business Administration, or MBA. This degree is primarily chosen by students planning to become organizational leaders or move forward in their careers. Programs may emphasize a particular specialty or concentration, from logistics to finance to health services. Students considering enrolling in graduate studies through online business schools should consult advisors to help them design programs that fit their personal and professional needs.

An MBA is a major commitment, especially for students who continue to work while taking classes. Full-time students can generally complete the program in two to three years, which could be longer for part-time students. Specific timeframes depend on the requirements of each traditional or online business degree program. The master’s-level curriculum can also vary. The table below presents just one possible program scenario.

Management Using various tools, students become more aware of their own perceptions and values in the business environment.
Human Capital Management Prepares students to make personnel decisions as managers, including job analysis, staffing selections, appraisal systems, employee rights and human resource policies.
Business Law Teaches students how to evaluate legal risks associated with business and to manage a company’s legal exposure.
Organizational Leadership Studies organizational culture, group behavior, workplace conflict and politics while examining the connection between the organization and the individual.
Accounting Examines organizational performance using accounting data and principles.
Economics Demonstrates how to perform economic analyses to make more informed management decisions.
Quantitative Reasoning for Business Analyzes data using various tools and techniques and applies the findings to business problems.
Applied Business Research & Statistics Explores statistics and probability concepts and applies the data to business decisions.
Corporate Finance Applies financial concepts in making corporate management decisions.
Marketing Teaches students to utilize marketing theories while researching consumer behavior and market value.

Graduate-Level Online Business Degrees: Doctorate

As the capstone degree in the field, a doctorate in business is a big undertaking. Options range from traditional research-based programs that prepare graduates for careers in academia to more executive-driven programs for those interested in senior management. A PhD in business generally takes about three years to complete, depending on the student’s time commitments. Online business schools offer different choices for degrees, including the Doctor in Business Administration, or DBA.

Students may take master’s level classes during the doctoral program, but with an emphasis on research and writing. Graduate studies often allow for personalized degree programs focusing on a particular area of business. For example, a PhD program in management science could offer concentrations in information systems, operations management or accounting.

Options Open after Online Business School

As a multidisciplinary field, business knowledge can be applied in virtually countless environments, from small companies to global corporations to non-profits, government, education and health care. Business professionals can choose from myriad specialties, from high-profile management and leadership to behind-the-scenes finance and operations. After gaining work experience and the necessary qualifications, some graduates of online business schools go on to audit organizations, while others assist with training new hires.

Featured Careers

  • Cost Estimators

    Cost estimators could be called financial project managers or budgetary forecasters, as they evaluate all the materials and expenses required to manufacture an item or complete the construction of buildings or infrastructure. Cost estimators consider many data points, including the time, money and staff needed to carry out a project. To collect all this information, these professionals work with engineers, architects, contractors and clients, both in the office and on-site. Estimators may help sales teams prepare bids, and they also report to managers and investors with predictions on the scope and schedule of projects.

    Median Salary: $58,860

    Median Hourly: $28.3

    Est. Growth: 26.2%

    No. Employed: 195,230

    Minimum Education: Bachelor’s

  • Credit Counselors

    Also known as personal finance counselors and financial coaches, credit counselors provide education and consulting on debt management for individuals and organizations. Some counselors advise clients who are considering loans about the different types of requirements, while others focus on existing budget concerns and help consumers develop payment or spending plans. Counselors evaluate clients’ financial status and estimate their monthly income based on credit reports, earnings and expenses. Credit counselors can offer financial strategies as well as guidance on mortgages, foreclosures, bankruptcy and loan repayment programs.

    Median Salary: $39,420

    Median Hourly: $18.95

    Est. Growth: 20.7%

    No. Employed: 27,640

    Minimum Education: Bachelor’s

  • Economists

    Economists analyze the complex balance of factors contributing to the overall financial status of geographic regions, nations, states and cities. Based on the available data, economists evaluate the supply and demand for resources, products and services, including employment statistics, price trends, earnings and productivity. Some economists focus on economic models and testing, while others conduct surveys and data collection. Economists may concentrate on a specific field such as global trade, industrial competition or labor relations. Often, economists act as advisors for government policy makers and public officials.

    Median Salary: $91,860

    Median Hourly: $44.16

    Est. Growth: 13.9%

    No. Employed: 15,760

    Minimum Education: Master’s

  • Financial Analysts

    Based on their assessment of investment opportunities, financial analysts help clients make appropriate investing strategies. Financial analysts track trends and developments in business and the economy to create investment plans that meet the financial needs of their clients. Analysts often collect extensive information to understand an organization’s goals and prospects. Professionals working with individuals rather than corporate investors are generally called personal financial advisors.

    Median Salary: $76,950

    Median Hourly: $37

    Est. Growth: 15.5%

    No. Employed: 239,810

    Minimum Education: Bachelor’s

  • Loan Officers

    Different types of officers work with consumer loans, property mortgages or commercial lending. Loan officers may look for potential business prospects and also educate clients about various types of financing. Before approving loan applications, these specialists assess the applicants’ finances and their ability to repay the lender. Loan officers collect financial data and use underwriting software applications to help them make decisions about lending money. Loan officers offer customer support and also market their companies’ products and services.

    Median Salary: $59,820

    Median Hourly: $28.76

    Est. Growth: 7.7%

    No. Employed: 286,670

    Minimum Education: Bachelor’s

  • Market Research Analysts

    Specializing in market research, these analysts collect and study data in order to advise companies on product development and marketing strategies. Market research analysts leverage their knowledge of statistics and metrics to create surveys, questionnaires and polls for consumers and business competitors. These analysts may focus on a specific type of data, for example, market share or pricing trends. Analysts synthesize their research into reports and presentations, often supported with graphs and tables to illustrate numerical information and data to their clients and potential investors.

    Median Salary: $60,300

    Median Hourly: $28.99

    Est. Growth: 31.6%

    No. Employed: 392,740

    Minimum Education: Bachelor’s

  • Personal Financial Advisors

    Most personal financial advisors counsel clients on investment strategies and wealth management. They may seek out new clients and educate individuals regarding the potential risks and rewards of investing. Those employed by large-scale, wealthy investors can be known as private bankers or portfolio managers. Personal financial advisors interview clients about their immediate and long-term financial goals and make recommendations accordingly. Some advisors concentrate on a specific area such as retirement planning or risk management. Financial advisors also report on the status of investments, revise financial plans as needed, and in some cases, sell financial products such as stocks, bonds or insurance.

    Median Salary: $67,520

    Median Hourly: $32.46

    Est. Growth: 27%

    No. Employed: 175,470

    Minimum Education: Bachelor’s

  • Tax Preparers

    Within the general field of accounting, tax professionals focus on accurate, complete preparation of tax returns. Tax preparers advise customers on federal and state government regulations, such as policies on deductions. Tax consultants calculate earnings, allowances and other items to determine taxable income and the amount to be paid. Income tax preparers usually work with individuals and small businesses, as larger organizations tend to employ their own accounting staff.

    Median Salary: $33,730

    Median Hourly: $16.22

    Est. Growth: 9.9%

    No. Employed: 61,140

    Minimum Education: High School Diploma