As technology continues to advance and the global marketplace expands, how business is conducted constantly changes. Whether you're just entering the business world or you're looking to embark on a new career path, earning an online business degree can help you keep pace with the competition.
Which Business Degrees Can You Earn Online?
You can find online business degrees at every level, from basic diplomas and certificates to a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Your previous education as well as your career goals will dictate which online business degree program you choose.
A diploma, certificate or online business associate's degree will provide you with the entry-level skills needed to enter into a specific area of business like accounting or bookkeeping. A bachelor of science program will help prepare you for higher-ranking positions in management as well pave the way for pursuing an advanced business degree. The most-well known advanced business degree is the MBA, which is designed to give you the leadership skills needed to succeed in areas like corporate organizational management.
If you're looking for additional training, but not necessarily in need of a full degree, consider earning a specialized certificate. Many online degree programs offer specialized training in areas like project management or mentoring and coaching.
What You Can Study
Earning your business degree online doesn't mean you're limited to general areas of study. Many online business degree programs give you the option to focus on a single area of business, like management, marketing and communication, accounting, finance or administration. Additionally, you'll find online business degree programs that focus coursework within a field or industry, including:
- E-commerce. Online business degrees in e-commerce are often a combination of traditional business studies (accounting, finance, etc.) and specialized studies in electronic commerce law and operations, security and privacy, and management information systems.
- Entrepreneurship. Millions of people aspire to go into business for themselves and be their own boss. Online business degrees in entrepreneurship are structured to reflect the various skills entrepreneurs need and typically cover accounting, communication, ethics, finance, human resources and sales and marketing. Real-world case studies are often used as teaching tools.
- Health Care Management. With Baby Boomers getting closer to retirement age, the health care field is growing. There's a need for practitioners, but there's also a need for individuals who can manage the administration of the services and care provided, whether those originate at hospitals, government agencies, insurance or pharmaceutical companies or private-care facilities.
- Information Technology Management. Information technology management is broadly defined as computer hardware, software and network design, including Internet applications. Essentially, how computers process and manage data and information. Online business degrees in information technology management focus heavily on programming, operations, and data management, along with finance, personnel, project management, and communications.
- International Business. Online business degrees in international business helps managers, and thus companies, break through barriers to doing business outside their native country. Traditional business areas of study like accounting and finance show up in a curriculum that includes course work in international laws and trade and other aspects of international business like joint ventures.
Once you know what degree level you wish to pursue and the area of study you'd like to focus your online business degree, you'll need to do some research to locate online business degree programs that offer what you need at a price you can afford.
The most important thing to consider before you commit to any program is determining first, if the school that provides the online business degree is accredited and then, if the accrediting agency for that school is reputable. Accreditation isn't formally regulated and guidelines vary from state to state. Be sure the online business degree program you want to pursue is offered by a school whose accreditation agency is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education.
Financing Your Degree
The cost for an online business degree varies from program to program, however, on average the cost per individual credit of coursework is between $300 and $400. Just because a school is online however, that doesn't mean financial aid isn't available.
If you're working already, be sure to check whether your company offers tuition reimbursement as a benefit and if online business degrees are included in the tuitions covered.
You'll also want to see if the online business degree program you've chosen is offered by a school approved for federal student loans or offers other financial assistance packages to students. Most do, but some don't. Online schools aren't considered by banks to be any different than on-campus schools, so don't rule out a traditional student loan if other sources of financing don't pan out.
Planning for Success
Even the best online business degree programs won't further your education or career unless you're committed to doing the work. Online business degrees are flexible by nature, but that doesn't mean you can forget about time management. Making and sticking to a schedule to complete your course work is essential to succeeding in your online business degree program.
Other tools and tactics that will help you succeed in your online business degree program include establishing communication with your instructors and classmates over e-mail or using chat rooms and discussion boards.
Strong Internet and library research skills are also essential. Finally, if you live in a remote area where high-speed Internet service isn't available, limit your online business degree program options to those with an Internet connection minimum of dial up to ensure you'll always have access to the materials you need to download and can submit your course work on time.