Online Business Degrees & Programs

There are 76 accredited online colleges and universities that offer online business degrees.  Of those, 34 are non-profit institutions and 14 have annual tuition less than $10,000 for a typical bachelors degree program.

Types of Online Business Degree Programs

Undergraduate Business Certificates

Undergraduate certificates in business are available as both standalone programs and programs that can be added to other undergraduate majors. Standalone programs are usually available through community and junior colleges, and cover an introduction to business skills. Add-on certificates are generally earned by students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in a related area, such as economics or political science. Certificates usually include 3-8 courses.

Undergraduate certificates may be general or specialized in nature. For example, an international business certificate might include courses in international business, international relations, foreign languages, and cultural studies. A financial economics certificate would discuss the market system and quantitative financial reasoning skills. General business certificates usually include courses in accounting, principles of finance, economics, management, and marketing. Some certificates have established course requirements, while others allow students to select courses that are pertinent to their career goals.

Graduate Certificate in Business

Graduate certificates in business are aimed at individuals who already possess a bachelor’s degree. They are available for current business professionals looking to learn advanced skills, and for non-professionals who need a basic understanding of business topics for their profession. They are most often offered through graduate schools of business.

Current professionals interested in advancing in their workplace or learning higher-level skills have many certificate options available. These tend to be specialized, and are available in areas such as human resources, marketing, management, public relations, information technology, and leadership. In a human resources certificate, for example, students might study HR management, compensation and benefits, benefits planning, and rewards metrics. A higher credential, such as a graduate certificate, can often open up career advancement opportunities.

Online Bachelor’s Degree Program

The bachelor’s degree is perhaps the most well-known degree. In business and many other vocations, this four-year degree is often the standard entry-level requirement for hiring. The business bachelor’s degree is set up to give students the attributes that employers want: an understanding of communications, culture, and human interaction, and well as hard-nosed business savvy.

The bulk of bachelor’s programs are set up with two distinct course categories: general education classes and major classes. General education courses are designed to teach students about the world and human history, and are set-up to cover cultural competencies. Ethics, verbal communication, writing, a sense of history, and geopolitical understanding are some of the foundations covered in general education courses. Social science, humanities, fine art, music, natural science, and math are some of the subject areas covered in general education classes.

Along with these general education courses are the business major core of classes. This curriculum is generally taken in the student’s junior and senior year in the degree. The business core requires classes in accounting, economics, finance and insurance, information systems, and marketing. Along with the required business core, students choose several business electives to round out their business education and to tailor the degree to their ambitions.

Some undergraduate programs allow students to tailor their degrees even further, through specialized business majors or concentrations. These programs usually require students to use their electives to take a coherent set of business classes. International business, information systems, human resources management, marketing, sales, insurance, financial planning, and mathematical economics are examples of specialized bachelor’s business programs.

Business, as you can imagine, is a career area focused on concrete skills and results. Because of this, many business bachelor’s programs offer students the chance to work or intern in a business setting while they pursue their degree. In fact, international business students may have the opportunity to work overseas during the summer or a semester abroad.

A bachelor’s degree in business is an excellent foundation for many business jobs, such as positions in administrative services, accounting, and human resources. The job outlook and earnings vary by business occupation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, administrative services managers can expect job growth of about 15% in the coming years; this is on par with the national average. Median pay for professionals in this career area is $78,000 a year. Accountants and auditors are also expected to have average job growth, while human resources professionals will see better-than-average opportunities.

Online Master’s Degree Program

If you already have a bachelor’s degree, a master’s program can be a great option to secure your professional future. Master’s programs in business can be appropriate for individuals with or without business undergraduate degrees. There are several types of master’s degrees in business available. Here are the details of these degrees.


The Master in Business Administration is by far the most common and well-known type of business master’s degree. The MBA usually takes 2-3 years to complete, depending on the course load the student takes. MBAs may be general or specialized towards particular business areas. The basic gist of the MBA is that the program is designed around practical business skills that graduates can use to improve their business. Applicants are usually required to have completed basic undergraduate business courses, such as economics and business management.

The curriculum in an MBA will depend on the business school offering the degree. Many MBAs are structured to provide management principles during the first year of the program, while in the second year students complete electives of their choice. Example courses for a first-year curriculum include Finance, Financial Reporting, Marketing, and Leadership and Organizational Behavior.

Some MBAs are specialized for particular business professionals or business areas. Executive MBAs are for middle career business professionals looking to take their skills to the next level. Other MBAs cover nonprofit management, energy management, and global business.


The master’s of science in business is the lesser-known sibling to the MBA. The differences between an MBA and an MS vary by school. In general, MS programs can be completed in shorter time frames, such as 1 to 1.5 years.  MS in business programs tend to be more focused, and they are less likely to cover the entire breadth of business topics included in an MBA program. Specialized MS programs include degrees in finance, information technology, accounting, and supply chain management.

Some MS programs are research-based which makes them significantly different from MBA degrees. In research-based master’s degrees, students complete a large research project in order to graduate. They pursue their project under the guidance of their advisor, and write up their methods and findings in their thesis.  A research-based degree is a good option for students considering careers in consulting, research, or academia.

The Importance of Accreditation for an Online Business Degree

AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) is the main accreditation body for business programs in the U.S.  When looking for an online business degree, be sure to look for a college that is accredited by AACSB.


BLS-Accountants (2012)
BLS-Administrative Services (2012)
BLS-Human Resources (2012) (2012)
BLS-Administrative Services Managers (2012)