Online Degrees in Business

Online degree programs in business are a popular choice for college students. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports that business was the most popular undergraduate major in the 2008-2009 academic year, and the second most popular degree at the master's level that same year. What's more, the subject has been in this position for at least a decade, showcasing the staying power and versatility of this degree.

A business degree develops a wide variety of skill sets that can provide broad career options after graduation. Whether a student aims to work as an attorney, accountant, engineer or manager in any variety of professions, a business degree can be a building block for success.

Business degree programs generally include foundational courses in topics such as mathematics, English, economics and computers. These courses set the stage for more specialized business courses in management, marketing, finance, organizational behavior and operations.

Students earning either campus-based or online degrees in business learn to be effective communicators with an ability to lead others, grasp the big picture and make strategic decisions in marketing or budgeting.

Successful students in a business degree program employ their good communication and organizational skills as well as the ability to work well in a team. According to The College Board, students who pay close attention to detail, enjoy problem-solving, are skilled at working with computers and are capable of multi-tasking are good candidates for business degrees.

There are a wide variety of degree programs in the business field. A few of the more prominent specializations include accounting and finance, business support and assistant services, hospitality management, sales and marketing, human resources and management.

According to the NCES, there were 347,985 bachelor's degrees awarded in 2009 in the fields of business, management, marketing and related support services. Some of the most popular business degree programs, along with number of bachelor's degrees awarded in 2009, include:

  • Business administration, 130,312
  • Accounting, 44,514
  • General finance, 34,067
  • Marketing, 32,638
  • Commerce, 22,237

The Master's of Business Administration degree (MBA) is a popular advanced degree for individuals who want to further their business education or students from other academic backgrounds who want to gain skills in management or other business specialties. Popular areas of specialization within the MBA mirrored those at the bachelor's degree level.

A 2000 study from the NCES found that two-thirds of MBA students waited at least three years after finishing their bachelor's degree to enroll in an MBA program. Three quarters of these students worked full time while in graduate school and 87 percent worked at least part time. For working students, online degrees in business offer the needed flexibility to stay at their current positions while also completing a degree.

Today's student is taking full advantage of online learning. According to the Sloan Consortium, 5.6 million students were enrolled in at least one online course in the fall semester of 2009. That's nearly 30 percent of all college students, and online education continues to grow. In fact, the overall growth rate of the higher education student population was 2 percent while the growth rate of those who enrolled in online courses was 21 percent.

Online degrees in business require many of the same skills for success that are needed in the business world. Taking courses online is perfect for a self-starter who is disciplined enough to create his or her own schedule and stick to it in order to reach his or her goals. Being able to work independently--and produce good results--is a trait that can also lead to success in a number of business careers.

The business degree can open the door to a wide variety of professions. Options available to those who graduate with business degrees include working as a consultant, market analyst, financial advisor, advertising or promotions manager, public relations expert or sales manager.

Many business degree graduates move into some form of management. According to PayScale.com, the most common jobs held by those who earned a business management degree include office manager, human resources manager, staff accountant, retail store manager and general operations manager. Jobs in financial analysis, human resources and marketing help round out the top ten.

Business majors generally can earn comfortable salaries, although wages depend on the job market, area of specialization, employer and geographic region, among other factors. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, accountants and auditors made a mean annual wage of $67,430 in 2009. Financial advisors made $94,180, management analysts made $84,650, and insurance appraisers made $56,180. Marketing managers made $120,070, while lodging managers made $53,500 in 2009.

Online degrees in business are both versatile and flexible, helping students gain valuable skills and achieve their career goals.

Business at a glance

  • Business was the most popular college major in 2008-2009
  • Popular programs include business administration, accounting, marketing, commerce, general finance and hospitality
  • The average starting salary for students with a bachelor's degree in business in 2010 was $38,000, according to the Wall Street Journal
If I was home, I would work all day and complete my studies in the evening. When I was traveling, which was most of the time; I would complete my homework on the airplane, check into class from a wi-fi spot on the road, and complete the bulk of my studies late at night or before sunrise. - Alicia Sable-Hunt 
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