Why Study Business Online?
There is perhaps no degree both as broad and as career-focused as a business degree. If you’re less concerned with what you study as you are with what opportunities it will unlock, where it will take you, and your ultimate financial security, an online business degree is perhaps the ideal college program for you. “Business” is a wide tent, encompassing every skill necessary to keep a company running whose ultimate goal is to manufacture products of services that transform time and expertise into profits.
Business comprises the arteries and veins of our culture. It is the lifeblood of society. With an online business degree, you will be well-equipped to take part in the heart and soul of the Western world. Whether you want to start your own business, or whether you want to add your efforts to an already-existing one, a business degree is an invaluable asset toward growing your career.
Online business degrees differ slightly from offline degrees in that all coursework is done from one’s computer. This can be useful for working professionals or students who can’t get to a school’s physical location for whatever reason. Some degrees require a week of on-campus learning each semester or year, while others are one hundred percent distance learning environments.
Course styles may vary, from fully-automated to fully-directed by a teacher. You may learn lessons from pre-recorded videos, you may be given readings, you may have to engage with other students on a message board, and you may have to email your teacher regularly. Homework for courses is generally due every week, to be sent via email or a school’s online program. Many online business degrees require you to work with other students via Skype, email, or phone conversations, and most demand that you take timed tests online.
Online business degree programs tend to be more suited to final papers than final tests, simply because the potential for cheating on test questions is too great. As a result, people who go through online business degrees tend to understand the concepts much more deeply and personally, as is the case with writing a paper, than offline business degree holders whose primary final exams may have involved more multiple choice or fill-in-the-blank exams. Nevertheless, whether you seek an offline or an online business degree, the overall focus is going to remain the same.
Online Business Degree Course Details
At the conclusion of your online business degree, you will know have all the skills necessary to work in a modern office environment. You will know all the roles that need to be filled in order to make a business work, and you will be able to fill one of those roles. Depending on the scope of your degree and how much experience you’ve had in the business world, you will be eligible for an entry-level or higher position in any company.
Unlike certain types of engineering, science or arts degrees, business degrees can be used in a wide array of fields as diverse as technology, manufacturing, real estate, food service, hospitality, and many more. All other degrees focus on the details of how specific things are made or done – business degrees focus on how to make any product or service profitable.
Online business degree seekers must be willing to learn anything, first and foremost. Both math and English skills are necessary to make it through the courses demanded from a business degree. A standard B.A. in Business demands that students take economics, communications, accounting, management, marketing, team-building, ethics, and computing courses. Because every business wants to be on the cutting edge, students must be willing to learn the latest skills in the business world; this can make it difficult to predict what an online business degree is going to look like. Curricula change every year. Nevertheless, a solid grounding in English and math are always going to be essential no matter what an online business degree entails.
In addition, most business degree programs are set up to mirror a business environment. Homework assignments are treated as to-do items, and classmates are treated as co-workers. The teacher takes on the role of manager, and all communication follows professional standards. In the case of many online business degrees, emails and forum posts (where applicable) are required to adhere to strict rules of engagement that include use of proper grammar, concise wording, and impersonal respect designed to teach students how to communicate in an office environment.
Some criticisms of online business degrees involve the fact that it’s much harder to teach actual business skills in an environment where it’s just the student and his or her computer. For that reason, many online business degree students are required to submit homework and papers as part of a team. This prepares students for working with other people to solve problems, which is just as important a skill as anything taught in the courses themselves. Team members rotate the role of team leader, who is responsible for making sure that the finished assignment is turned in to the teacher by the deadline.
Because teamwork is so important, it is a requirement that online business degree seekers maintain certain necessities for professional engagement. These include a reliable internet connection, enough free time to schedule team meetings, and a webcam with microphone to communicate with team members over VoIP programs like Skype. Each degree is different, so contact Admissions at the particular college you’re looking at to determine their unique requirements.
Online Business Degree Concentrations and Levels
Depending on your particular focus of interest, as well as your level of prior business training and expertise, you can choose one of many different online business degrees. What follows is a list of different degree levels, along with their concentrations and example offerings. There are literally hundreds of online business degree programs; these represent just a few significant, well known, well-respected ones.
Certificate programs are among the most diverse and varied online business degrees out there. Often highly-focused on a specific aspect of business, they are primarily used to augment an already successful career in order to show commitment to learning, keep up with new technology, or position oneself for a particular job offering. Particular methodologies, important concepts, and specific computer program training are also common topics for certificate programs. Read on for some examples of popular business certificate programs that can be completed online.
- Benedictine University - Online Certificate in Internet Marketing
- Strayer University - Certificate in Accounting
Online associate’s degrees in business tend to be two-year programs with the same sorts of concentrations as typical four-year bachelor’s degrees. If anything, associate’s programs tend to be more concentrated, as they’re focused on preparing individuals for specific careers rather than on providing a broad understanding of business skills and methodologies as the bachelor’s programs tend to do. For this reason, there are as many associate’s degrees as there are positions. If you tend to focus on the job you want before you focus on the degree you want, an associate’s degree in your desired field might be just right. Once you acquire your job, you can go back to school and specialize further.
- American InterContinental University Online - AABA in Business Admin.
- Ashford University - AA in Business, in Organizational Management
- Colorado Technical University Online - AA in Business Admin.
- DeVry University - AAA in Business Admin.
- Herzing University Online - AS in Business Admin.
- Kaplan University Online - AAS in Business Admin.
- Liberty University - A.A. in Business, in Accounting
- Penn Foster College – AS in Accounting
- Post University Online - Associate of Science in Marketing, in Management, and in Accounting
- University of Phoenix Online – AS in Business
- Rasmussen Online - AS in Business
- San Joaquin Valley College Online – AS in Business Admin.
- South University - AA in Business Administration, in Accounting, Hospitality Specialization
- Strayer University - AA in Business Admin.
- Virginia College – Associate's in Business Admin.
One of the most common degrees students seek immediately following high school, a bachelor’s degree in business is absolutely necessary for anyone seeking a high-paying job in the business world. While associate’s degrees show that you have mastery in a single business field or job, a bachelor’s degree shows that you have an understanding of the bigger picture. Many best bachelor’s degrees prepare students for any role within business, while others specialize within a general area or career path. A bachelor’s degree in business also, more than any other, prepares you to start your own business, a rewarding path no matter whether the economy is up or down.
- Virginia College - BS in Business Administration
- American InterContinental University - BBA in Accounting
- Ashford University - BA in Business Admin. - No Concentration
- Capella University – BS in Business Admin.
- Colorado Technical University Online - BS in Healthcare Mgmt.
- DeVry University Online – Bachelor's in Business Admin.
- Grand Canyon University – BS in Business Admin.
- Kaplan University Online – BS in Business Admin.
- Liberty University – BBS in Business Admin.
- University of Phoenix – BS in Business Admin.
- Post University – BS in Business Admin.
- Walden University – BS in Business Admin.
- Western Governors University – BS in Business Mgmt.
For individuals for whom a B.A. simply isn’t enough, a master’s degree offers further concentration options to prepare you for higher-level positions on your chosen career path. Most master’s programs require that degree seekers have a certain amount of work experience in a business environment, and all require you to submit your resume in addition to a school application. An online master’s degree program is treated as a supplement to an already-established career rather than a springboard to begin one, so if you don’t already have a solid business grounding, consider an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree and get some years under your belt before taking on the Master’s.
- Virginia College - MBA
- American InterContinental University – MS in Project Management
- Benedictine University – General MBA
- Capella University – MS in Leadership
- Gonzaga University – Master of Organizational Leadership
- Grand Canyon University Online – Master of Science in Leadership
- Jones International University – MBA in General Studies
- Kaplan University – MS in Accounting
- Liberty University – MS in Accounting
- University of Phoenix – Master of Business Admin.
- Walden University – Master of Science in Accounting
MBAs are separate from standard master’s degrees in business-related topics simply because the MBA has an allure all its own. Standing for Master of Business Administration, an MBA is essential if you want to obtain a high-level executive position in a company. MBAs are often focused on high-level business issues, and leadership study figures prominently in these programs. Most online MBAs offer specific concentrations, but all teach their students how to be global leaders in a high-powered business environment.
- American Intercontinental University Online – MBA - Accounting
- Ashford University – MBA - No Concentration
- Benedictine University – General MBA
- Capella University – MBA - General Business
- Grand Canyon University – MBA
- Jones International University – MBA in General Studies
- Kaplan University – MBA in Finance
- Liberty University – MBA in Healthcare Management
- Post University – Master of Business Admin.
- Saint Leo University – Master of Business Admin.
- University of Phoenix – MBA
- Walden University – Master of Business Admin.
- Western Governors University – Master of Business Admin.
Business PhDs, also known as DBAs, provide degree holders with a unique hiring position. A PhD necessarily implies a penchant for research, so a DBA holder is especially suited to understanding and researching the way markets work and how a business might best place itself for maximum profit. DBA holders are suited to advise top level executives as well as to provide education to up-and-coming business leaders. Online DBAs are not quite as numerous as other online business degrees, but there are some gems out there if you work full-time but still want to pursue an advanced doctoral degree.
- Capella University – DBA - Business Intelligence
- University of Phoenix Online – Doctor of Business Admin.
- Walden University – Doctor of Business Admin.
Business Degree Growth Paths
There are, of course, many different skillsets necessary for the business world. Before you embark on a business degree, you should give some thought to where you want it to take you. What role do you want to play in your career? There are hundreds of different positions, but generally they can be subdivided into five distinct “growth paths.” These growth paths often correspond to concentrations offered by various Bachelor’s Degrees in Business and MBAs.
The “jack-of-all-trades” path, managers need to have a big picture understanding of how everything that they manage works. Good managers are able to present this view in an understanding that inspires workers to work together toward a common goal. The career path for individuals interested in management tends to move up through a company chain, potentially all the way up to senior executive or CEO. Students on the management path tend to take a few courses in every business discipline, with special focus on presentation and interpersonal skills.
People who get a business degree with a concentration in finance are in charge of making sure that all the money coming in and going out adds up. Accounting, investment, and cash management skills are necessary for people on the finance growth path in business. Data analysis and computer skills are also essential in today’s high-tech business world. A career path might start you out as an assistant financial manager, sending you up the ranks to manage more and more money until you reach the level of Chief Financial Officer, or occupy some other advisory role to the head managers of the business. Courses tend to demand a lot of math, accounting, and technical knowledge.
The marketing growth path is all about making sure the product or service provided by a business sells. Marketers are in charge of advertising, promotional activities, dealing with competitors, pricing, and trend monitoring. A career path through marketing might begin as a creative assistant with advertising campaigns, and then require more and more responsibility involving keeping track of what’s “hot” in the market. This knowledge is shared with the lead executives in a company in order to determine the most profitable way to move forward. Course concentrations for marketers include communications, applied sociology, and market research.
While marketers lay out the groundwork for how to sell products and services, people on the sales growth path have to actually sell them. For this reason, communication and presentation skills are absolutely crucial. People on the sales path typically start as sales associates at the front-end of a business or traveling salespersons in a certain area, dealing with customers directly and convincing them to purchase the goods provided by the company. As they gain experience, sales associates can expect to be put in charge of making larger and larger sales. Course concentrations demand heavy English, public speaking and presentation skills.
Every communication with customers that isn’t sales-related falls under the purview of the public relations growth path. Similar skills are required, though public relations professionals are less focused on giving presentations and more concerned with interpersonal relations. The career path is slightly different too, often starting out answering phones and dealing with complaints, and working your way up to explaining the company’s position to stockholder, community, or public interest groups. Course concentrations are similar to sales professions, and include communications, ethics and interpersonal relations.
The administrative growth path is for individuals who like to fill in the holes of a company that everyone else fails to take care of. These include making sure a business’ bills are paid on time, the refrigerators are stocked, the employees are given their paychecks, phone calls are routed, and everything runs smoothly. There are so many little necessities involved with this growth path that there are degree concentrations specifically in “business administration.” Secretaries and file clerks are often the entry level positions in this path, and course requirements involve a little bit of everything.
Jobs and Employment Available with an Online Business Degree
Keep in mind that most of these figures were taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Entry-level jobs in these fields are likely to make a salary slightly on the low end of the average pay scale, with prospects for pay raise coming with experience.
Most companies provide on-the-job training as long as you’ve shown a commitment to the basic principles of business by getting an associate’s degree. With an online Certificate or an Associate’s Degree in Business, you are eligible for entry-level jobs like:
- Administrative Assistant – Median salary of $29,050. Average range of $23,160 to $36,020.
- Administrative Support Manager – Median salary of $45,790. Further data not available.
- Advertising Sales Agent – Median salary of $43,480. Average range of $30,750 to $64,320
- Bookkeeper or Accounting Clerk – Median salary of $32,510. Average range of $26,350 to $40,130.
- Customer Service Representative – Median hourly wage of $14.36. Average range of $11.34/hr to $18.17/hr.
- Executive Secretary – Median salary of $40,030. Average range of $32,410 to $50,280.
- Human Resources Assistant – Median salary of $35,750. Further data not available.
If you go on to get your bachelor’s degree in a business field, a slew of other options open up for your career path. These include promotions from above jobs, or completely new fields whose entry level positions themselves require a B.A. These are just a few of the jobs that open up with a B.A. in business-related topics.
- Accountants and Auditors – Median salary of $59,430. Average range of $45,900 to $78,210.
- Employment, Recruitment, or Placement Specialist – Median salary of $45,470. Average range of $35,020 to $63,110.
- Financial Analyst – Median salary of $73,150. Average range of $54,930 to $99,100.
- Management Consultant – Median salary of $73,570. Average range of $54,890 to $99,700.
- Office Manager (low-level) – Median salary of $42,200. Average range of $33,165 to $49,745.
- Public Relations Specialist – Median salary of $51,280. Average range of $38,400 to $71,670.
- Retail Store Manager – Median Salary of $49,800. Further information not available.
When you get an MBA or other business-related Master’s degree, many high-level executive and management positions open up in the business world. Highly specialized positions that require a lot of training are also available to you if you focus your degree concentrations toward those positions. In today’s world, saturated as it is with Bachelor’s degree holders, often a Master’s degree or an MBA is just the thing you need to stand out from the rest.
- Advertising and Promotions Manager – Median salary of $80,220. Wages vary widely.
- Chief Executive – Median salary of $158,560. Average range of $110,333 to $212,606.
- Financial Manager – Median salary of $99,330. Average range of $72,030 to $135,070.
- Human Resources Manager – Median salary of $96,130. Average range of $73,480 to $126,050.
- Marketing Director – Median salary of $108,580. Average range of $86,264 to $140,915.
- Operations Manager – Median salary of $78,200. Average range of $44,168 to $82,220.
- Public Relations Manager – Median salary of $89,430. Wages vary widely.
- Sales Manager – Median salary of $97,260. Wages vary widely.
Students can opt to seek an online DBA rather than the traditional MBA route. If a job demands an academic approach or complex methodology, employers are much more likely to hire a candidate with a DBA than an MBA. While DBA positions are somewhat less lucrative than MBA positions, they’re perfect for people with a mind for research, analysis or teaching.
- Business Teachers, Postsecondary – Median salary of $73,320. Average range of $49,380 to $105,470.
- Economist – Median salary of $83,590. Average range of $59,390 to $113,590.
- Management Analyst – Median salary of $73,570. Average range of $54,890 to $99,700.
- Market Research Analyst – Median salary of $61,070. Average range of $43,990 to $85,510.
An online business degree opens up literally hundreds of employment opportunities for anyone willing to put in the effort to learn basic, advanced and concentrated business skills. It is perhaps the most worthwhile investment you can make in your career.