Online business degrees

For those who want to work in the private sector, a degree in business may provide a stepping stone to myriad job opportunities. While specialized degrees in marketing, accounting and management exist, a general business degree offers a comprehensive overview of all aspects of private enterprise. If you are interested in climbing the corporate ladder, read on to learn about your degree options and whether online business schools might be right for you.

Business degree choices

The type of degree you choose may depend upon your career goals and preferred specialization. Contacting business colleges and speaking to an admissions counselor can be a good way to determine the right degree for your expected career path, based on how much time you want to spend in school and what your long-term goals are. Here is a brief overview of what to expect at the different degree levels.

Associate degree

Typically completed in two years of full-time study, an associate degree in business can lead to entry-level positions and may also offer students the opportunity to explore a variety of business topics.

Schools may offer associate degrees in business administration, general business or a specialized field such as accounting or management. Specialized degree programs may prepare students for a specific career while those enrolled in a general business program should graduate with broad knowledge on all facets of business operation.

Bachelor's degree

What subjects do you study for a business degree?

The coursework may vary slightly from program to program, but in general, business degrees will cover a lot of the same material. Here are some subjects you're likely to study while pursuing a business degree:

  • Accounting
  • Business Law
  • Economics
  • Finance
  • Leadership & Management
  • Marketing

While an associate degree can prepare students for entry-level jobs, employers may prefer to hire those with a bachelor's degree in business. According to Rasmussen College, there are 20 times more job opportunities for someone with a bachelor's degree compared to someone with an associate degree.

As with associate degrees, students may be able to select from general or specialized degree options. Examples of specialized degrees include economics, finance, advertising and project management. Another option is a bachelor's degree in business with a concentration in a specific field. This degree path may provide a broader foundation for those who are interested in a particular area but aren't sure whether they want to limit their career to that field.

After graduation, those with a bachelor's degree in business may go on to work as accountants, business managers, consultants, operations analysts or any of dozens of other business-related occupations.

Master's degree

A master's degree in business administration is often considered the gold standard for business professionals. Individuals with this degree may find they are at the front of the line for upper management and executive positions.

Although a rigorous degree program, MBAs can now be earned fully online as well as through traditional, on-campus programs. The fully online options can be a great fit for working professionals who want to advance their careers without taking time off from work to go to school, and some of the programs available are highly rated. For example, U.S. News and World Report ranked the following schools as having the best online college business degree for graduate students.

  • Indiana University - Bloomington
  • Arizona State University
  • University of Florida
  • University of Texas
  • University of West Georgia

Choosing the right business school

In the past, going to business school meant putting your life on hold for years to attend campus classes. While traditional business programs are still offered by colleges and universities across the country, online degrees are no longer a fringe option.

Some of the most prominent business schools in the nation, including the WP Carey School of Business at Arizona State University and the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, have put their business degrees online. Plus, there are plenty of less expensive, high-quality options available from other online business colleges.

Online business degrees typically have the same credibility as any other business degree offered by an institution, and degrees do not indicate whether they were earned online or on-campus. In addition, some online degrees may be earned on an accelerated schedule, and others offer the opportunity for flexible class times that can be perfect for those with family and work obligations.

However, not all online degree programs are created equal, and students should inquire into what support services are available. Prospective students should check out business degree programs in their area, and ask the following questions before they decide to enroll.

  • Do I need to be online at specific times for lectures or class discussions?
  • Can I study on a part-time schedule?
  • How do online students communicate with their instructors and classmates?
  • Are there networking opportunities for online students?
  • Does the school help arrange internships? Are those paid? If not, is credit earned?
  • What career support services are available to alumni?

Improving job prospects after graduation

After graduation, students may want to pursue certification which can demonstrate competency in certain area of business practice. With the exception of the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) designation which is required by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for certain transactions, these certifications are voluntary.

The following are some examples of business certifications.

  • Certified Management Consultant
  • Certified Financial Planner
  • Certified Manager
  • Professional in Human Resources
  • Chartered Financial Analyst

These credentials are conferred by several different organizations including the Society for Human Resource Management, Institute of Management Consultants and the CFA Institute among others.

In addition to certification, new graduates may want to consider joining a business organization that could offer ongoing professional development and access to networking opportunities. Some industry groups include the American Business Women's Association, American Marketing Association, the American Finance Association and local Chambers of Commerce.

Sources:

American Business Women's Association,
http://www.abwa.org/pages/abwa-home-page

Certifications for Business Professionals, Loyola University,
http://www.loyola.edu/~/media/department/thecareercenter/documents/jobsearch/businessfinance/certificationsforbusinessprofessionals.ashx

How to Build a Top Business Career from the Bottom Up, Rasmussen College,
http://www.rasmussen.edu/degrees/business/blog/how-to-build-top-business-career-from-bottom-up/

Top Professional Associations for Business Students, Rasmussen College,
http://www.rasmussen.edu/degrees/business/blog/top-professional-associations-for-business-students/

Best Online Graduate Business Programs, U.S. News and World Report,
http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/mba/rankings?int=a2b309