Skilled managers are vital to any organization’s success, which makes them exceedingly valuable across a wide range of industries. Online management degrees are a solid first step toward tackling these leadership roles, but finding the right program takes research. This guide offers future business students an inside look at common management degrees, specialty tracks, courses and career options.
Management Schools & Degrees
Business administration and management degrees help current and future managers in virtually any field build advanced expertise and experience. Programs range from entry-level certificates to advanced doctoral degrees, each level progressively building upon the skills and knowledge honed in the last. At the associate degree level, students complete their core general education requirements in topics such as business, organizational structure and bookkeeping. Bachelor’s degree programs go deeper into management curriculum and allow students to explore targeted specialties like finance, operations or marketing.
Master’s degrees in management–including ever-popular Master of Business Administration, or MBA–carry students’ skills to the next level. Concentrations in verticals like health care, technology, financial planning, project management and marketing communications are common. Many master’s-level management programs require internships, but online students can typically complete them within their own communities. A PhD in management is the most advanced credential available. These programs are designed for business leaders seeking professional degrees or university-level teaching and research positions.
Online Management Degrees
Online management schools offer students the same training they would receive in the classroom, but in a much more convenient format. Students can usually review lectures and complete exams, homework and other projects entirely online through streaming multimedia, email, class chats, interactive conference calls and communication software like Adobe Connect or Skype. Online management degree coursework is often self-paced courses to accommodate students’ busy schedules, which makes them particularly attractive to students who want to advance their educations while working full time or tending to family obligations.
Online management degrees are available at all levels, from certificates and associate degrees to MBAs and PhDs. Some programs are tailored for specific types of students, like first-time college students or experienced professionals. Online undergraduate programs help students establish a fundamental understanding of business and management theories and practices; MBAs and PhD programs usually incorporate real-world business case studies and research opportunities. Accredited online management schools that require internships typically allow class members to arrange them at businesses or organizations convenient to their homes or workplaces.
Online Bachelor’s Degree in Management
Online management degrees at the bachelor’s level teach students the business knowledge and skills necessary to compete in today’s job force. Full-time students can complete the 120-credit degree program in about four to five years. A management degree is very broad or specialized. Popular concentrations include business, human resources, accounting, technical communication, finance, sales/marketing and sustainability.
Online management degree specializations and courses vary by institution, but most offer training business systems analysis, Internet marketing, business law and salesmanship. In most cases, courses are conducted completely online, giving students the flexibility to continue meeting personal and professional obligations while furthering their educations. Tools like the Blackboard course management platform, email, online textbooks, chat programs and other collaborative resources keep students connected and help them succeed. Programs are often part of a cohort that allows students to build professional relationships with their instructors.
Name: Shelley C.
Degree: Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resources
What is the biggest benefit of online learning at your college?
I am a full-time mom and I work full-time, so the last thing I wanted to do was go to school at night and take away from my family time. Being able to take online classes and earn education credits while still seeing my children is a wonderful experience.
How has technology affected your online program and courses?
Technology has played a huge role for me as I have gone back to school. I have been able to complete courses entirely online rather than attending a classroom. I still feel connected with the professors through email and webinars. Being a mother and working full-time does not leave a whole lot of room for school, and technology has made it possible for me to remain a presence at home while still maintaining coursework, studying and completing assignments online.
How has your online program prepared you for a career after graduation?
My online program will not only allow me to move up in my field, it will also fulfill a dream I’ve had for a long time: to finish my degree. I have been out of school for over 20 years and always regretted not graduating. By taking classes online, I am not only proving to myself that I can set my mind to something and finish, it also provides my children with a valuable lesson to finish school at a younger age.
Online Management Degrees: Associate
Online associate degrees in business administration and management have two key objectives: helping students fulfill general education requirements, and exposing them to fundamental business concepts and skills. Students balance liberal arts and science courses with core training in fields such as accounting, management, finance and organizational structure. The following table features examples of the kind of general education and major courses online management schools offer at the associate level.
Common Associate’s Management Coursework:
Online Management Degrees: Master’s
Online bachelor’s degrees in management usually require four to five years of full-time study, but students who transfer in with associate degrees may be able to cut that time in half, depending on their schools’ policies. Curriculum is divided between general education core courses (for four-year students) and business-centric studies in leadership and management fields. Students also choose management-targeted electives in areas that complement their goals and interests, like finance, health care and technology, to name a few. Some online management schools require students to complete senior projects or externships to graduate, though they can typically satisfy these requirements in their local communities. The following table highlights classes students may take in the course of earning online management degrees at the baccalaureate level.
Common Master’s Management Coursework:
Economics for Managers
Covers key economic issues impacting managerial jobs, such as supply/demand, revenue and operating costs, system-wide analysis and understanding the competitive landscape.
Human Resources Leadership
Conveys a practical and strategic understanding of the needs assessment, recruitment, and training and retention aspects in HR planning and employee motivation.
The Operational Environment
Focuses on the regulatory, economic, cultural and political forces shaping the performance of business enterprises. Students assess risks and create responses to external factors that affect the bottom line.
Advance Studies in Finance
Delves into financial risk, investments, valuations, budget forecasting and other topics facing executive-level business professionals responsible for evaluating financial planning and resolving organizational challenges.
Project Management Seminar
Discusses how to define business strategies and campaigns, monitor implementations and assess progress to ensure the success of business strategies and campaigns.
Doing International Business
Examines international strategies, communications, investments, and cultural barriers to success to help students excel in a global marketplace.
Financial Analysis and Planning
Evaluates theory and practical implementation of management techniques for decision-making, pricing, incentive systems and controls, all essential tools in establishing key performance measures.
Digital Marketing Strategies
Explores strategies digital social media campaigns, behavioral marketing, and web-based channels such as email, search, mobile and display banner advertising.
Online Doctorate Degrees in Management
Doctoral-level online management degrees, usually PhDs, offer students the opportunity to hone an advanced, interdisciplinary understanding of the management disciplines that appeal to them most. Specializations can include the areas of entrepreneurship, multinational organizational management, human resources, technology, social sciences (organizational behavior) and economic theory.
Online PhDs in management are ideal for students interested in scholarly research and publication, university-level teaching, or careers in business associations and foundations. It is common for PhD students to enter their doctoral programs directly after earning master’s degrees in management or MBAs. Curricula varies with school, specialty and other academic factors. Students should examine course descriptions and dissertation requirements before committing to specific online management schools.
What Can You Do With an Online Management Degree?
There are many major fields that hire management professionals, including marketing and advertising, finance, education, health care, technology, engineering, human resources and more. Some students earning online associate or bachelor’s degrees in management to qualify for entry-level management positions, but even experienced business leaders may return to school to improve their career and salary prospects.