Guide To An Online Business Degree is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Ready to start your journey?

By Staff Writer

Published on November 24, 2020

Share on Social

Online business programs are some of the most in-demand educational pathways available. Students who earn an online business degree develop a broad skill set that can lead to upward career mobility and movement between fields. More students choose business than any other field. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), many business and financial careers have strong projected growth rates, along with median annual salaries more than $30,000 higher than the typical job in the U.S. 

Business is a diverse field that attracts individuals from many walks of life. To succeed, business professionals should have strong analytical, problem-solving, and communication skills. Read on to learn more about business degrees, including the best programs, different types of degrees, and available careers.

What Are the Best Online Bachelor's in Business Degree Programs? Here Are Our Top 10:

#1 University of Florida Gainesville, FL
#2 Florida International University Miami, FL
#3 California State University - Fullerton Fullerton, CA
#4 San Diego State University San Diego, CA
#5 University of Illinois at Springfield Springfield, IL
#6 University of Hawaii - West Oahu Kapolei, HI
#7 Florida Atlantic University Boca Raton, FL
#8 Appalachian State University Boone, NC
#9 Wesleyan College Macon, GA
#10 LeTourneau University Longview, TX

Why Earn Your Business Degree Online?

Earning a business management degree online provides working professionals with the flexibility to complete their program without leaving the comfort of their home. Many of the nation's top universities offer online or hybrid options.

Students pursuing an online business management degree can often access lectures asynchronously. Additionally, some online business programs may deliver a term's worth of materials upfront, letting students complete the work at their own pace and as their schedule allows.

While many traditional business schools use a semester-based, cohort model, students pursuing an online business degree may be able to enroll on one of multiple start dates throughout the year.

Online learning allows students to find a program that fits their interests and skills, regardless of where they live. While a local college or university may not offer the MBA concentration that you are interested in, online learning makes universities across the country more accessible.

Business depends on networking, and online business programs enroll students from around the world with diverse backgrounds. This expansive network can give online students an edge over their on-campus peers.

With advances in technology, online learners can easily connect with classmates and faculty through live lectures, online discussion groups, and video conferences.

Types of Online Business Degrees

Online business graduates typically increase their job opportunities and salary potential as they earn higher-level business degrees. However, while earning a graduate degree often leads to a higher salary, it also requires a substantial commitment of time and resources. Most MBA programs require two years of full-time coursework, and a doctoral program can take five years or longer.

Looking into educational requirements for positions like human resources manager and financial analyst can help prospective business students decide which degree level matches their career aspirations.

Average Salaries for Business Majors by Degree Level
Associate Degree (ABA) $55,050
Bachelor's Degree (BBA) $66,310
Master's Degree (MBA) $88,770
Doctoral Degree (Ph.D.) $102,320

Source: PayScale

Associate Degree in Business

An associate degree in business provides students with foundational knowledge in the field. Learners study fundamentals in finance, human resources management, and customer service. After finishing their degree, graduates can pursue entry-level business roles like administrative assistant, customer service representative, and sales professional. Although some of these roles may not require a postsecondary education, earning an associate degree can set applicants apart from their peers.

Students can also pursue more advanced degrees after graduation. An associate degree typically requires two years and 60 credits to complete. Students who attend an accredited institution can ofte transfer the vast majority of their credits to a four-year program. 

The following section provides information about common courses in associate programs.

Common Courses:

Principles of Business Management

In this class, students learn the basics of managing a business, including developing an organizational mission and culture. Covered topics include employee performance, training, motivational tactics, and human resources management. Learners also examine businesses of various sizes to see what unique challenges they each present.


This course covers the fundamentals of financial reporting. Students learn to prepare financial statements and help business managers and individuals make decisions. This course also examines common laws and regulations governing the field.

Marketing Basics

Students in this class explore the components involved in the sale of goods and services. Participants learn how to spot opportunities by identifying consumer and market needs. They also learn to target those markets through the promotion of goods and services.

Economics Foundations

This course covers micro and macroeconomics. At the micro level, students examine the movement of goods and services from organizations to individuals, learning what factors influence this activity. At the macro level, they look at policies that affect the economy.

Business Communications

During this course, students develop interpersonal skills that can help them in business settings. They examine the techniques used in business, such as writing, reading, and speech, learning how to use each technique in different contexts.

Bachelor's Degree in Business

At the bachelor's level, students receive comprehensive business training that covers most of the major disciplines in the field, such as marketing, finance, and accounting. Online business programs at the bachelor's level require approximately 120 credits and take full-time students four years to complete, although accelerated options may be available. 

After graduation, bachelor's degree-holders can pursue many business and finance careers, including human resources specialist and budget analyst. With experience and/or a graduate degree, professionals may qualify for management positions. 

Common Courses:

Business Analytics

Business analytics teaches students to use data to make informed decisions. Learners examine how analytics can help identify opportunities, evaluate performance, and provide predictive information. Students learn a variety of problem-solving techniques and data collection methods.

Strategic Management

This course explores how businesses develop and use strategies in a variety of contexts. Students look at how these strategies can influence the decision-making process and how they get implemented. Learners also evaluate and assess strategies, identifying weaknesses, vulnerabilities, and missed opportunities.

Business Information Systems

This course examines a variety of business technologies, focusing on how these systems improve and influence operations. Students learn to implement these systems and think about how these changes can impact businesses. Learners also look at security issues and the potential next stages of technological development.

Organizational Behavior

In this course, students learn how organizational behavior impacts business performance and operations. They also learn how individuals and events can influence group behavior and how individual interactions contribute to organizational culture.

International Business

Students in this course learn about international businesses, global markets, and how business customs differ between countries. Learners examine differences in international business environments, legal systems, and organizational strategies.

Master's Degree in Business

At the master's level, most business students pursue an MBA, although some enroll in business programs in a specialized discipline. Most MBA programs require 36-45 credits and take two years to complete. The top online MBA programs emphasize management, decision-making, and analysis. 

With an MBA, graduates qualify for most business careers, including well-paying management positions across various industries. Additionally, for students wishing to continue their studies, MBA degrees usually meet admission requirements for doctoral programs.

Common Courses:

Managerial Accounting

This course teaches students how to use financial information to make informed business decisions. Learners explore how to analyze activities, plans, and budgets to improve operations and revenues for organizations. They also learn various methods for collecting information and evaluating performance.

Managerial Finance

Students in this course learn how to maintain the financial health of an organization. They explore various methods and strategies for improving investments, revenues, and shareholder values. Additional topics may include capital budgeting, managing long-term debt, and decision-making when buying assets.

Operations Management

In this course, learners examine ways of improving operations for organizations, including strategy building, process design, scheduling, and forecasting. Many courses also explore topics in inventory and quality control, along with project management technologies.

Leadership Skills

This course delves into leading management theories, techniques, and strategies. Students examine different leadership styles and situations. They also look at training programs, assessment methods, and communication models that contribute to quality leadership.

Business Statistics

In this course, students learn the primary statistical techniques used to solve problems in a business environment. They also learn to conduct market research, measure tendencies, and analyze findings. Learners also work with major statistical tools and technologies.

Doctoral Degree in Business

A doctoral degree in business provides students with a more research-focused approach to business management than an MBA. Students enrolled in the top business doctoral programs may also learn about management practices and standards in greater detail. A doctorate typically requires at least 60 credits and takes 4-7 years to complete. 

As the terminal degree in the field, a doctorate represents the final level of formal education that learners can pursue. Graduates may qualify careers like top executive, professor, and research scientist

Common Courses:

Organizational Research

In this course, students examine various aspects of organizational research, including business behaviors, strategies, and leading theories. Learners assess and critique this research, looking for strengths and weaknesses. They also explore practical applications of research in contemporary business environments.

Marketing Strategy

Students in this course delve into research related to marketing strategies. They examine theories and practices regarding target market identification, positioning, and budgeting. Learners then critique and challenge contemporary models and look for improved methods based on their findings.

Management Research

This course requires students to conduct research into management techniques, theories, and strategies used in the industry. Learners review current methods and combine and integrate useful theories from other disciplines. By exploring external fields and research, degree-seekers can challenge the status quo and formulate new management practices.

Research Analysis

Research analysis courses can focus on many topics, including accounting, marketing, and human resources. This class may require in-depth reviews and critiques of business-related research. Students review their findings and identify alternative applications and critical flaws.

Corporate Finance

This course explores the major pillars that contribute to shareholder value, including managing investments, risk, and finances. Students learn to tackle each of these components at the highest level. Covered topics include portfolio management, mergers and acquisitions, capital structure, hedging tools, and foreign exchanges.

Business Concentrations and Specialities

Business students can often choose a subfield and pursue a concentration. These concentrations allow learners to strengthen their skills and knowledge in a specific area and improve their chances of finding employment in that field.


In this concentration, learners study financial statements, preparing to make projections and forecasts based on financial data. With business and finance training, students can pursue careers in financial analysis and management.

Median Annual Salary: $81,590


This concentration teaches students to analyze market conditions and target groups and then create effective marketing strategies and campaigns. Graduates may qualify for marketing positions in advertising and marketing management.

Median Annual Salary: $135,900


Sales specializations may focus on the general skills and techniques used by sales professionals or delve into a specific type of sales. In most cases, students learn to assess the needs of a consumer base and create sales strategies to match those needs. A sales specialization and experience can lead to management careers in many fields.

Median Annual Salary: $126,640


Management specializations teach students how to lead effectively. Participants engage in leadership training, practice using various management information systems, and learn how each facet of an organization runs. Graduates can pursue many management, analyst, and consulting positions.

Median Annual Salary: $85,260

Human Resources

This concentration teaches learners to support and optimize an organization's staff. Coursework focuses on labor relations, laws and regulations, and professional development. Graduates qualify for many human resources roles, such as compensation and benefits specialist.

Median Annual Salary: $64,560

Business Licensure and Certification

Depending on their role and field, business professionals may need to hold a business license. These credentials are typically awarded by a local and/or state government. For example, small business owners typically need to be licensed, although exact requirements vary by state.

Earning a certification can lead to increased job opportunities and higher salaries. These credentials may demonstrate expertise in a field like accounting, project management, or business analytics. Additionally, some roles may require a certification. Accountants, for example, must earn the certified public accountant (CPA) designation to qualify for certain kinds of positions.

The following list covers a few certifications that can help you excel in your business career.

Certified Public Accountant

CPAs must meet rigorous professional standards. To earn this certification, accountants must complete 150 credits of postsecondary coursework, pass the four-part CPA examination, and pay a fee. Exact requirements vary by state. On average, CPAs earn 10-15% more than accountants without this credential.

Project Management Professional

Project management professionals must meet education and work experience requirements and pass the PMP examination. This certification is open to associate degree-holders. The process costs $400-$550, and certified PMPs report earning up to 25% more than noncertified project managers.

Six Sigma Certification

The Six Sigma Certification program offers three levels of certification: yellow belt, green belt, and black belt. Business professionals earn this designation by completing a web-based exam on Six Sigma principles. Certifications cost $200-$400.

Society for Human Resource Management Certified Professional

The SHRM-CP designation recognizes human resources professionals who meet high levels of excellence. This certification requires a postsecondary degree and/or professional experience. Candidates must also pass a four-hour examination. The process costs $300-$400.

APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional

Supply chain professionals can earn a certification through APICS by passing an exam and meeting continuing education requirements. Applicants must have three years of supply chain experience or a bachelor's degree.

Entry Certificate in Business Analytics

This certification recognizes the abilities of entry-level business analytics professionals. Candidates must have completed at least 21 credits of professional development within the last four years. They must also pass a one-hour examination.

Career and Salary Outlook for Business Graduates

Business graduates can look forward to promising career prospects. According to the BLS, business and financial careers are projected to grow by 5% between 2019 and 2029. 

There is great diversity among business careers, including occupations with some of the largest workforces in the country. Depending on their degree, graduates may qualify for entry-level administrative support positions or upper-level management roles. The following section covers several popular business careers and their median salaries.

Business Careers

Administrative Assistant

Administrative assistants perform support duties within an organization to help keep operations running smoothly. They often take calls, set meetings, and perform basic bookkeeping. Individuals with a postsecondary degree can set themselves apart from the competition when applying for these jobs.

Salary: $39,850

Budget Analyst

Budget analysts help organizations manage their finances. These professionals review budgets and goals, assess expenditures, and evaluate efficiencies. They then identify opportunities for improvement and provide management with a revised budgeting strategy. Graduates with a bachelor's degree in business can qualify for this career.

Salary: $76,540


Accountants oversee financial documentation for organizations, tracking transactions, reviewing revenues and expenses, and completing taxes. They also analyze records, looking for money-saving or investment opportunities. Accountants need a bachelor's degree in a business-related discipline.

Salary: $71,550

Human Resources Manager

Human resources managers oversee staffing and employee support services for an organization. They often act as the bridge between employees and management, ensuring the organization gets the most out of employees and that staff members receive fair and legal treatment. Human resources managers usually need at least a bachelor's degree and ample experience.

Salary: $116,720

Top Executive

Top executives manage an organization's operational goals and policies. They may also oversee finances, primary developments, and major departments. These professionals report to the board of directors and shareholders. Top executives typically need a bachelor's degree, although some employers may require a master's degree.

Salary: $104,690

Business Careers by Location

According to the BLS, states on the East Coast and West Coast tend to employ larger workforces and pay higher salaries. For example, California employs the most business professionals, while workers in the District of Columbia earn the highest average salaries.

Paul Burke is the co-founder & CEO of RentHoop and RntX. Apps that find roommates. Publications USA Today, MTVu, Geekwire, and NBCNews covered the apps.
How has earning a business degree helped you advance your career?

In business school, I was introduced to like-minded people, business literature, and an alumni network. Those three things can help you get that first job, idea for a business, or a co-founder.

What makes business an exciting career opportunity right now?

There are a lot of fields in business — mostly marketing and data analytics — that are moving extremely fast. It plays to your advantage if you are open to adopting new technology and platforms before anybody else.

Is it important to choose a business specialty right away? What tips do you have for students who aren't sure which focus they would like best?

Don't rush choosing a specialty. Your brain and interests are still developing, and it will take exposure to at least a few different classes to know which is going to be the focus of your collegiate career.

Weighing a more practical degree against a more passion-driven degree isn't something I had to decide between, as I knew I wanted to do marketing. For someone struggling on a decision like that, I would really think about minoring in one of those specialties.

What are some practical tips to prepare for an interview?

Come in prepared, having read up on the interview. Be present and smile. It's always good to keep in mind that interviewing is a two-way street. They're interviewing you of course, but you're also interviewing them. You want to gauge whether this is a company where you can flourish and contribute, as well. That should calm your nerves if you think about it like that.

What advice would you give to someone who is afraid to fail in their endeavor to start their own business?

The worst thing that usually happens is that you immerse yourself in an idea or product, learn about how to structure and run a company, wear multiple hats, learn a bunch of new things, and end up not making a lot of money. Everything you learn along the way will help you in your next endeavor or make for a great story when you interview for jobs.

How important is networking and what are some easy ways to stay connected to other entrepreneurs in your community?

Be curious and helpful. Learn as much as you can from other entrepreneurs — many of them will be willing to share stories and advice with people who ask. If you feel attached to a project, see how you can help them. It's a sure way to get connected and possibly even get you a job.

How do you stay current on the latest advancements and technology in the business world?

Twitter is an amazing tool for learning new things. The top innovators are always looking to promote their ideas and things they're working on. It can be a huge benefit if you follow the right people on the forefront of technology and business.

What does continuing education for an entrepreneur look like for you?

I do a lot of reading now — more than I did in college. Most of my education comes through reading, writing, and learning from others. I continue to go to events and ask people about what they do and listen to what their work and industry is like.

Scholarships for Business Majors

Since scholarships do not require repayment, they are the best form of financial aid. For business majors, scholarships may come from many sources, including state and local governments, schools, and organizations. The following page highlights various scholarships available to business students.

Coding bootcamp outcomes data can be confusing. Learn how you can use this info to pick the best coding bootcamp for you. Explore the top software engineering bootcamps offered online and in person, and learn more about software engineer career paths. Learn about Coding Dojo bootcamp programs and explore frequently asked questions about this top coding bootcamp. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Compare your school options.

View the most relevant school for your interests and compare them by tuition, programs, acceptance rate, and other factors important to find your college home.