Did you know that individuals with a bachelor's degree earned $468 more per week on average than those with only a high school diploma in 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)? And if you're considering earning a business degree online, in 2019 the National Association of Colleges and Employers reported that three of its top 10 most in-demand majors fall under the category of business — mainly finance, accounting and business administration.
But how do you know which online business degree programs can offer the best return on your investment? That's where we come in. Using data from the BLS and the National Center for Education Statistics' Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (NCES IPEDS), we've ranked 30 online bachelor's degrees in business to determine the 15 best online business degrees. Our methodology considers such factors as salary, number of schools offering the major online, job growth and more. Note that not all programs or specializations may be available in your area or offered 100 percent online.
The following 15 online business degree programs topped our list. Keep reading to discover what you can expect from these majors.
With a potent combination of high salaries, the highest number of schools offering this major and the highest projected employment numbers, this major tops our list.
Online business administration programs typically cover traditional business subjects such as sales, marketing, management, project management, human resource management, finance and accounting as well as modern topics such as organizational behavior and the social environment of business. Many schools offer optional concentrations, such as supply chain management, operations management or marketing. Graduates can expect to be equipped with a broad understanding of business operations that can be applied in most industries.
The second major on our list ties with No. 1 in every factor except its number of programs. Typically offered as a bachelor of science, this major focuses on the nuts and bolts of operating a business, as opposed to its more theoretical or philosophical concepts. Courses taken in this program are similar to those taken in an online business administration degree program. However, the curricula typically has a stronger focus on commerce related topics like accounting, economics, finance and marketing.
Some programs may offer students a glimpse into specific industries, such as agribusiness, healthcare administration or running a small business.
Today's global economy has created a demand for professionals who are well-versed in international trade and finance, global markets, and the influence of culture on business practices. A degree in international business can prepare graduates to meet that need. With one of the highest salaries on our list and roughly two-thirds of industries employing professionals with this major, a bachelor's degree in international business rightfully maintains its place on our list of top online business degrees for the second year in a row.
Although grounded in traditional business coursework, this degree program focuses on international trade, import/export, foreign business practices, international banking and finance, and the link between international relations and business. The College Board advises prospective students of online international business degree programs to be prepared to travel and learn new languages to better their job prospects.
Online marketing and marketing management degrees have climbed up one step to number four on our list this year with an increase in associated wages, schools offering the degree online and the percentage of industries employing grads.
Students who pursue a marketing degree online typically learn about new product development, design and pricing, market research, consumer behavior, marketing strategy, data collection and analysis, sales, advertising, promotion, brand management, public relations, and marketing communications (including digital and social media). All of this is typically grounded with a foundation in general business principles. After all, great marketing teams can be crucial to the success of a business.
There are entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs. Entrepreneurs are the business gurus behind start-ups and small businesses while intrapreneurs are the wizards behind innovative new products or services within larger companies. Both roles require good communication skills and the ability to lead people, according to the College Board. Online entrepreneurship degree programs can help you gain the business know-how and leadership skills to run your own (or someone else's) business.
The BLS states that self-employment is on the rise in our country with the number of self-employed people expected to reach 10.3 million by 2026 and one in every four millennial reports wanting to own a business or work as an entrepreneur. This degree program can lay the groundwork for achieving those dreams. Entrepreneur-focused coursework may include new venture finance, strategic entrepreneurship, innovation, idea generation, opportunity analysis, new product development, and business plan development. Some schools offer this degree program as a specialization within in a business administration degree.
How many times has a manager made the difference for you between loving a job and hating it? The importance of good management to a business cannot be overstated. Good managers are vital to most industries, and good managers command high salaries, which is why this major has moved up our list from number seven last year.
Management science encompasses the knowledge, insights, and tools successful managers use to organize, lead, and control organizations. This degree may be appropriate for anyone who wants to both understand and practice organizational management skills. Students pursuing this degree can expect to learn about management decision-making at all levels of an organization, from high-level strategy to human resources matters to daily operations.
This major makes our list for its high salaries, high rate of employment growth and high projected number of jobs for the 2018-28 decade. Finance majors learn about various concepts like the time value of money, including budgets, stocks and bonds, and interest rates that allow them to advise individuals and businesses on how to make sound financial decisions.
Students pursuing this online degree typically study corporate finance, investment risk analysis, banking, insurance, business development, financial markets, portfolio management, financial planning and management, international finance and the basics of accounting and economics. Students of online finance degrees may be able to choose a concentration in topics like investment analysis, corporate finance, or real estate.
This degree has stayed resolutely at the eighth position for the second year in a row with the highest job growth in our rankings and the second highest number of industries employing graduates of this major. Students pursuing online accounting and business degree programs usually study financial and managerial accounting, auditing, taxation, and accounting law. To give additional context to the accounting role, these programs also teach business concepts like business law, marketing, and supply chain management. They also give students a chance to develop essential practical skills like working with ledgers, financial statements, budgets, accruals, and reporting.
Some programs may prepare you to take the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and/or the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) exams and become a licensed accounting professionals.
Online accounting and finance degrees are another type of accounting degree that have maintained their position in this year's rankings. Unlike an accounting and business degree which can focus on business and management topics, this online degree program focuses on the relationship between accounting and financial markets.
This degree combines the strategic investment and budgeting of finance with the recordkeeping and compliance involved in the details of accounting. Students would learn how to apply the principles of budgeting and forecasting to the work of accounting. Graduates may work in auditing, tax preparation or planning, cost analysis or financial advisory services.
Online hospitality administration and management degrees make a new entrance at number 10. It's no surprise as this degree has the highest number of industries employing graduates of this major and the fifth highest annual median wages on our list. Students enrolled in this degree programs can learn about the hospitality industry as a whole and then choose specializations in areas like event management, tourism or lodging administration. Coursework usually covers topics like staffing, finance, food and beverage management, and hotel management among others.
As people travel all over the world for business and leisure, adventurous individuals in this field may be able to find work abroad and get a chance to explore new cultures.
While online hospitality degrees may have knocked this one down a rank, this degree remains on our list with its winning combination of high salaries and high number of industries employing degree holders. A relatively small number of professionals are projected to hold these positions, which accounts for its small rate of job growth, but the skills these graduates possess are invaluable to many industries. MIS majors learn how to implement information systems into businesses' operations, which involves the use of computerized databases, computer security and computer networks.
Students enrolled in this crossover degree program between business and technology typically study topics like database design, ecommerce, emerging technologies, and project management.
Operations management is the study of the development, production and distribution of goods and services. People with this degree understand how to make operational decisions to save money, improve efficiency and manage people in order to achieve the best results for a company and its products. Whereas managers primarily oversee people, operations managers oversee the quality and sustainability of materials, equipment and labor.
Students can expect to study some combination of the following subjects: production control, product development, inventory management, process management, marketing and logistics, systems analysis, total quality management, transportation and managerial accounting. Operations management may also be offered as a specialization within online business administration degree programs.
Accounting degrees also make it to our rankings of top business degrees in 2020 along with accounting and business, and accounting and finance degrees. The BLS credits the faster-than-average job growth for accountants to increasing globalization among companies and an increasingly complex tax and regulatory environment. The BLS also reports that the demand for accountants is likely to remain the same amid arising fears of technology stealing jobs. In fact, tech is expected to take many of the mundane tasks off their shoulders allowing them to become more efficient.
Students of online accounting degree programs generally take courses in accounting (from beginning to advanced), tax and cost accounting, auditing, accounting information systems, taxation and accounting for nonprofit organizations.
Project management is a broad concept that is critical to smooth business operations. It can involve the management of people, data, processes, budgets, and systems during the supervision of temporary projects in business from start to finish, which may include conception, planning, budgeting, procuring materials and talent, managing personnel, communicating internally and externally, ensuring quality and completing the project on time and within budget. According to the Project Management Institute, the lack of skilled project managers across the world is creating a huge skills gap. In fact, it has the second highest predicted job growth on our list.
Every business is comprised of people. Human resource managers play a key role in many aspects of the workforce management. They are the managers in charge of overseeing the hiring, training, evaluating and firing of employees, as well administering benefits and pay and ensuring their health, safety and overall well-being.
To prepare students for that all-important role, a human resources management degree program typically blends traditional business subjects with HR-specific courses in labor relations, employment law, recruitment, training and administration, compensation, benefits, policy development, diversity management, resource planning, and human behavior. In some programs, students also take specialized management and psychology courses.
As you can see, the number of different occupations associated with online business degrees can mean high ROIs on your education while still allowing you to pursue your passion - whether it lies in managing people or working with some of the latest tech. Do check out our individual degree pages for more information on each of the degrees listed above.
For this analysis, we ranked 30 online bachelor’s degrees in business. To be included in the ranking, each major had to:
- Match to a corresponding code in the Classification of Instructional Programs
- Be offered online at the bachelor’s level at five or more institutions
We scored each major on the following data points, using a 10-point scale and the weights specified:
- Annual median wage of each occupation matched to the major, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018
- Annual 75th percentile wage of each occupation matched to the major, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018
- of schools offering this degree online at the bachelor’s level, National Center for Education Statistics, 2018-19
- Average projected growth rate of all jobs matched to each major, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018-28
- Total number of jobs projected in 10 years of all occupations matched to the major, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018-28
- Percentage of industries employing the occupations matched to the major, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018-28
- 2018 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2018-28 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; 2018-28 State Occupational Projections, Projections Central, projectionscentral.com
- Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2018-19, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
2017 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2016-26 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; 2016-26 State Occupational Projections, Projections Central, projectionscentral.com
Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
- Accountants and Auditors, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/accountants-and-auditors.htm, accessed February 2020
- Are Millennials the New Entrepreneurs? Inc.com, November 2018, https://www.inc.com/jason-albanese/are-millennials-new-entrepreneurs.html
- B.S. Entrepreneurship, Franklin University, https://www.franklin.edu/degrees/bachelors/entrepreneurship, accessed February 2020
- Bachelor of Arts in Operations Management and Analysis, Ashford University, https://www.ashford.edu/online-degrees/business/bachelor-of-arts-operations-management-analysis, accessed February 2020
- Bachelor's Grads Expected to Account For 83 Percent of Hires, National Association of Colleges and Employers, November 2019, https://www.naceweb.org/job-market/trends-and-predictions/bachelors-grads-expected-to-account-for-83-percent-of-hires/
- Bachelor's Degree Specialization in Hospitality Management, DeVry University, https://www.devry.edu/online-programs/bachelors-degrees/business/hospitality-management-specialization.html, accessed February 2020
- Elka Torpey and Brian Roberts, Small-business options: Occupational outlook for self-employed workers, Career Outlook, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2018, https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2018/article/self-employment.htm
- Elka Torpey, Education pays, Career Outlook, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, February 2019, https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2019/data-on-display/education_pays.htm
- Elka Torpey, High-wage occupations by typical entry-level education, 2017, Career Outlook, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 2019, https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2019/article/high-wage-occupations.htm#bachelor-s-degree
- Finance and Accounting Management, Northeastern University, https://cps.northeastern.edu/academics/program/bachelor-science-finance-and-accounting-management-online, accessed February 2020
- Job Growth and Talent Gap 2017 - 2027, The Project Management Institute, 2017, https://www.pmi.org/-/media/pmi/documents/public/pdf/learning/job-growth-report.pdf
- Major: Entrepreneurial Studies, Big Future, The College Board, https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/majors/business-entrepreneurial-studies, accessed February 2020
- Major: Finance, Big Future, The College Board, https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/majors/business-accounting-finance-finance, accessed February 2020
- Major: Hospitality Administration and Management, Big Future, The College Board, https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/majors/business-hospitality-administration-management-hospitality-administration-management, accessed February 2020
- Major: Human Resources Management, BigFuture, The College Board, https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/majors/business-human-resources-human-resources-management, accessed February 2020
- Major: International Business, Big Future, The College Board, https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/majors/business-international-business, accessed February 2020
- Major: Management Information Systems, Big Future, The College Board, https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/majors/business-management-information-systems, accessed February 2020
- Major: Management Science, Big Future, The College Board, https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/majors/business-management-science, accessed February 2020
- Major: Operations Management, Big Future, The College Board, https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/majors/business-business-management-administration-operations-management, accessed February 2020
- Online Project Management Bachelor's Degree, Colorado Technical University, https://www.coloradotech.edu/degrees/bachelors/project-management, accessed February 2020
- The Industries Most Interested in Top Majors, National Association of Colleges and Employers, March 2019, https://www.naceweb.org/job-market/trends-and-predictions/the-industries-most-interested-in-top-majors/