Your Guide to Online Business Degrees (2024)


Professional Development

Your Guide to Online Business Degrees

Written by Coursera • Updated on

You can earn your business degree online at almost every stage: associate, bachelor’s, and master’s.

Your Guide to Online Business Degrees (1)

Business is a popular degree choice. Of the 2 million bachelor’s degrees conferred in the United States during the 2019-2020 school year, the highest percentage were in business [1]. Likewise, business remains the most popular field of study at the master's degree level [2].

Earning your degree online comes with several potential benefits: you don’t need to relocate, you can continue working, you may have greater scheduling flexibility, and your overall program costs may be lower. In this article, we’ll go over the types of online business degrees you can earn and discuss what you can expect from an online business program so you can decide whether it’s the best choice for your education.

Types of business degrees you can earn online

You can earn your business degree online at almost every stage: associate, bachelor’s, and master’s. While you can earn a terminal degree in business, such as a PhD in Business or a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA), there are far fewer of these advanced programs available online. With that in mind, we’ll focus on the three more common online business degrees you can pursue.

Associate degree

You can earn your Associate of Science (AS) in Business Administration online in order to pursue entry-level jobs in business or transfer into a bachelor’s degree program.

Typical coursework

At the associate level, you will need to work through your general education requirements before you can concentrate or specialize in business administration. It typically takes a minimum of 60 credits to earn your associate degree, with a portion of those (a minimum of 12 credits) going toward your concentration or focus.

In your business concentration, you can expect to take introductory-level courses on:

  • Principles of business

  • Marketing

  • Accounting

  • Human resources

  • Business technology

Degree cost + time commitment

An associate degree takes around two years to complete when you attend full-time. The average one-year cost for tuition and fees at an in-person institution was $3,800 in 2021, according to College Board [3]. However, the total online cost can range between $6,000 and $26,000, according to US News [4].

An online associate business degree may be a good option if you want an academic degree to list on your resume and the topic knowledge you’ll gain from your business courses, but don’t necessarily have the time it takes to earn a bachelor’s degree—or need a break before pursuing one.

Bachelor’s degree

You can either earn a Bachelor of Science (BS) or a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in business administration online, and opt to major or concentrate in one of several related business subjects, such as business studies, marketing, finance, human resources, or accounting.

With your bachelor's degree, you can pursue several entry-level jobs with your degree or begin a business master's degree program, though it’s worth noting that many MBA applicants spend time acquiring professional experience before returning to school.

Typical coursework

After you complete your general education requirements, which tend to make up the first two years of study, you can expect to spend one-third to one-half of your college credits working toward your major.

In your business major, expect to learn about foundational business subjects, such as:

  • Micro- and macroeconomics

  • Organizational leadership

  • Principles of marketing

  • Business ethics

  • Introduction to statistics

  • Strategic thinking

Degree cost + time commitment

A bachelor’s degree takes between four and five years to complete when you attend full-time. The total cost of an online bachelor’s is between $38,496 and $60,593, according to US News & World Report [5]. Compare that to the average cost for just one year of tuition and fees alone—$10,740 at a public school and $38,070 at a private school—which doesn’t include additional costs like transportation, housing, or books [3].

An online bachelor’s degree may be a good option if you want to qualify for more entry-level business jobs or advance in your business career. Most roles in the business and finance sector require a bachelor’s degree in order to get started on that career track.

You are Currently on slide 1

Master’s degree

You can earn your Master of Science (MS) in business online, but by and large, the most popular business master’s degree is the Master of Business Administration (MBA). Many online MBA programs, including the iMBA from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, provide access to the same faculty, courses, and materials as in-person MBA programs.

Typical coursework

In your master’s program, expect to take more advanced business courses that deepen your knowledge of topics like international markets or corporate finance. You can also expect an emphasis on leadership, since many people use the degree to pursue managerial and senior-level roles.

Beyond your core coursework, many MBA programs offer concentrations or specializations, which are similar to a college major. Some common MBA concentrations are:

  • Consulting

  • Management

  • Marketing

  • Finance

  • Operations

Degree cost + time commitment

An MBA takes around two years to complete when you attend full-time. The costs can also be lower than studying in person. The top 10 online business school programs of 2021 in the US cost anywhere from $35,375 to $141,320 for the entirety of the program, according to the business school publication Poets&Quants [6]. Some in-person MBAs can exceed a total cost of $200,000.

An online master’s degree may be a good option if you’re seeking career advancement beyond entry- and associate-level roles, or if you’d like the intense skills development and networking opportunities that many MBA programs foster.

Benefits of studying business online

Although many recruiters still view in-person bachelor’s or master’s degrees more favorably than an online degree because it’s been the most typical way to earn that credential, as more education moves online—and more colleges and universities offer online programs—that perception has started to shift. A 2018 survey found that 71 percent of employers had hired a candidate with an online degree [7].

As such, earning your business degree online can qualify you for the same salary and in-demand jobs as an in-person degree would. The median annual wage for roles in business and finance was $76,570, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which is $30,000 more than the median annual wage for all occupations [8].

Here are some more benefits unique to online learning:

  • Flexibility: Unlike the rigid structure of in-person classes or the demands of relocating, an online business degree may offer more flexibility. For those who have other responsibilities, such as work or family, it can be a useful means of learning. In fact, 91 percent of online MBA students continue to work full-time while earning their degree [9].

  • Social networking: Many students earn their degree from an in-person college or university because of the social opportunities they gain from that experience. But a growing number of online degree programs foster interaction through discussion forums, virtual meetings, and more. ​​

  • Begin applying what you know in real-time: If you plan to work while earning your degree, you can begin applying what you learn in real-time. Rather than waiting to graduate to implement what you’ve studied in your coursework, you can practice in a way that could inform and even strengthen your education.

  • Develop important skills unique to online learning: Whether online or in-person, earning your degree helps you develop valuable workplace skills. But online learning can help you hone specific skills, such as time management, an ability to work independently, and self-discipline.

Learn more: Is a Business Degree Worth It?

Finding the best online business degree for you

Before you think about which type of online business degree you’d like to earn, it’s important to consider why you want to earn one in the first place. What do you want to achieve with a business degree? How might attending an online program help you reach your career goals?

Many programs publish annual employment reports, sharing data like the companies and industries that have hired past graduates, the percentage of graduates who received full-time job offers, and the type of work graduates go on to do. For each program you consider applying to, take time to review their recent employment reports and see how well their outcomes align with your desired results.

Here are some additional factors to consider as you compare online business degree programs.

Concentrations + coursework

What about business would you like to study, and what type of coursework will best prepare you to achieve your goals? As you research online business degree programs, look at the concentrations they offer,the required coursework you’d need to complete, and the tentative timeline you’d have to follow. Make sure those parameters align with your resources and larger professional goals.


However social you want to be in your potential degree program, it’s worth inquiring about how courses are taught and the opportunities you’ll have to network—with your classmates, alumni, and even professional speakers who may be hired for webinars, workshops, or other supplementary events. Your education is more than what you learn from a course. The chance to build and expand your network can also be an important factor.

Career support

Many online colleges and universities offer career support services similar to what you’d experience at an in-person institution. These kinds of resources can be helpful as you transition out of your program and seek new opportunities to apply your education. Many institutions provide career placement information so prospective students can see what former students have done with their degree. Look into what each program offers.

Explore further

Earning your business degree online can add a valuable credential to your resume and more specialized subject knowledge to your wheelhouse. Browse online business degrees on Coursera, available at both the bachelor’s and master’s level in several concentrations, to find an affordable option that fits your life.

You are Currently on slide 1

Written by Coursera • Updated on

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

Your Guide to Online Business Degrees (2024)


Your Guide to Online Business Degrees? ›

It provides both immediate and long-term value that is unmatched by any other programs. If you put the effort in, it can open many doors for you. However, the degree is only worth getting if having it aligns with your personal goals. You have to find the degree program that is right for you.

Is getting a business degree online worth it? ›

It provides both immediate and long-term value that is unmatched by any other programs. If you put the effort in, it can open many doors for you. However, the degree is only worth getting if having it aligns with your personal goals. You have to find the degree program that is right for you.

Is an online business degree hard? ›

Curriculum. Nearly all reputable online programs require the same amount of work as traditional programs. Courses are of equal difficulty, making online degrees no easier - or harder - to earn than traditional degrees.

What is the best degree for owning a business? ›

A Bachelor's in Business Administration gives you a solid foundation, along with real-life examples and experience that you can use to nurture your own business idea. Business Administration degree programs teach you the fundamentals of how big and small companies run and where they fit into the global marketplace.

Are there any online degrees that are worth it? ›

Business Administration is ranked as the best online degree to get because of the many specialization options and the highest salary potential with only a bachelor's degree. A Bachelor's of Business Administration (BBA), or a Master's in Business Administration (MBA) may prepare graduates for many career options.

Is a 2 year business degree worth it? ›

An associate degree in Business Administration lays a solid foundation for a business career. By earning this degree, you will be able to enter the workforce sooner, and if you decide to pursue more courses, you will likely be able to pick and choose ones that will advance and further your career.

What are the cons of a business degree? ›

Take a look at the disadvantages below to know what you should expect:
  • Competition is pretty stiff, and it doesn't stop once you graduate. ...
  • Pursuing a business degree is a very difficult financial commitment.
  • Graduates often have to attend grad school to boost their employability.

What is the hardest business major? ›

Hardest Business Majors
  1. Accounting. The accounting major has been around at most colleges since the beginning, and it is designed to teach students how to manage a business's finances so they can solve various business problems. ...
  2. Management Science. ...
  3. Finance. ...
  4. Entrepreneurial Studies.
Sep 8, 2020

What is the easiest college degree to get? ›

What Are the Easiest College Majors of 2023?
  • Journalism.
  • Liberal Arts.
  • Linguistics.
  • Music.
  • Religious Studies.
  • Social Work.
  • Sociology.
  • Visual and Performing Arts.

How long does online business school take? ›

Average MBA Duration

Online programs are centered on working individuals, and they typically appeal to nontraditional students. Many require about 30 credit hours, so depending on the school that you choose and its course layout, you should expect to spend about two years completing an online program.

What pays the most with a business degree? ›

15 highest-paying business majors
  • E-commerce. ...
  • Industrial production. ...
  • Entrepreneurship. ...
  • Construction management. ...
  • Organizational leadership. ...
  • Project management. ...
  • Health care management. ...
  • Economics.
Mar 10, 2023

What college degrees does Elon Musk have? ›

Elon Musk went to Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, and then transferred to the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, where he received bachelor's degrees in physics and economics in 1997.

What majors make the most money in business? ›

Business schools offer general business administration degrees and concentrations in areas like leadership, entrepreneurship, and accounting. The highest-paying business majors include marketing, finance, and international business.

What degrees can be earned 100% online? ›

Best Online College Degrees
  • Computer Science. Virtually every industry relies on computer scientists in some form or another. ...
  • Business Administration. Business administration is a broad field that enables students to work in a variety of roles. ...
  • Nursing. ...
  • Marketing. ...
  • Finance. ...
  • Engineering. ...
  • Human Resources. ...
  • Education.

Do employers care where your degree is from? ›

There's a reason you're required to put the name of the college you attended on your resume and job application. Despite what you may read to the contrary, most employers do care about where you went to school for your degree. Fortunately for many, that's not all they're concerned with, though.

What is the easiest online bachelor's degree? ›

Read on as we highlight the easiest online degrees.
  • Health Sciences. ...
  • History. ...
  • Humanities. ...
  • Liberal Arts. ...
  • Linguistics. ...
  • Music. ...
  • Psychology. ...
  • Religious Studies. Another one of the easiest online degrees, a bachelors in theology or religious studies can open up careers both inside and outside religious institutions.

Is an online degree as good as a regular degree? ›

Numerous studies have found that even though online degrees vs traditional degrees are different, they are comparable in terms of quality.

Is an online degree worth the same as a regular degree? ›

Many students worry whether an online degree holds the same prestige as a traditional degree. The truth is, they're equal in terms of academic quality, job preparation and career opportunity. Online degrees and traditional degrees only differ in the format they're delivered.

Is a business degree actually worth it? ›

A business degree can increase job prospects, create advancement opportunities, and increase your salary and lifetime income. It's a worthwhile investment in your career—now and into the future. You just have to find the right business degree program for you.

Do business majors make a lot of money? ›

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), business and financial professionals earned a median annual salary of $76,570 as of May 2021. Business is one of the most popular degrees in the United States because business majors across the board make a higher salary than workers in any other occupation.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Virgilio Hermann JD

Last Updated:

Views: 5921

Rating: 4 / 5 (61 voted)

Reviews: 92% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Virgilio Hermann JD

Birthday: 1997-12-21

Address: 6946 Schoen Cove, Sipesshire, MO 55944

Phone: +3763365785260

Job: Accounting Engineer

Hobby: Web surfing, Rafting, Dowsing, Stand-up comedy, Ghost hunting, Swimming, Amateur radio

Introduction: My name is Virgilio Hermann JD, I am a fine, gifted, beautiful, encouraging, kind, talented, zealous person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.