Online Business Degree

Business is by definition an expansive field that encompasses a broad range of enterprises, organizations, companies, and institutions throughout the private, public, and non-profit sectors. Managing businesses involves the coordinated activities of professionals who serve a number of discrete organizational functions and who have clearly differentiated, complementary skills in critical areas of finance and accounting; resource and personnel management; sales and marketing; operations and facilities oversight; corporate governance; law and ethics; analytics and IT systems; and more.

In order to cover the knowledge and training associated with the array of business management specializations, there are dozens of different degree programs in the field, offering instruction in areas like accounting, finance, communications, marketing, human resources, and organizational leadership. These programs are inherently multi-disciplinary. They may include coursework in mathematics and statistics; behavioral and organizational psychology; theories of economics and management; modes of communication; and media technologies. These programs may also target particular areas of business and management – for example, sports management, hospitality administration, and/or international business.


Types of Online Business Degree Programs

Weighing the options among various types of online business degree programs can be a complex and confusing process. Programs with similar curricula may have different names, and programs with similar names may have different curricula. In addition, there are masters in business administration (MBA) programs, which are offered through business schools, as well as non-MBA master’s programs that may be offered by business schools, schools of professional studies, or by other schools within a university. Understanding the distinctions between these different types of programs is an important part of finding an appropriate program. conducts independent research into online business degree programs and classifies them based on clear criteria. Programs are sorted and categorized by degree level (bachelor’s and master’s programs), and by subject matter or area of focus, which is based on a program’s curriculum rather than its name. In addition, programs are evaluated and categorized as online, hybrid, or campus-based, depending on the number of campus-visits they require. Programs that require more than two campus visits per year are considered hybrid or campus programs and are not currently included on the site.

Currently, groups online business degree programs in the following categories:

Online Bachelor’s in Business Degree Programs

  • Bachelor’s in Accounting Programs: A bachelor’s in accounting program offers undergraduates the opportunity to major in accounting, and includes courses in financial accounting and reporting, auditing principles, and federal taxation policy.
  • Bachelor’s in Business Administration (BBA) Programs: BBA programs offer a general business curriculum the covers subjects like accounting, business law, finance, organizational behavior, marketing, and quantitative financial analysis.
  • Bachelor’s in Finance Programs: These programs covers topic in banking, capital investment, management theories, and financial accounting, as well as investment portfolio management, and the principles of personal and corporate finance.
  • Bachelor’s in Forensic Accounting and Fraud Programs: An undergraduate major in forensic accounting and fraud builds on a foundational understanding of accounting principles, and teaches students how to apply this knowledge to fraud cases and other financial crimes investigations.
  • Bachelor’s in Management Programs: A bachelor’s degree in management offers coursework in accounting and business statistics, as well as in areas like organizational behavior, decision-making, knowledge management, and business ethics.
  • Bachelor’s in Marketing Programs: Bachelor’s in marketing programs feature a curriculum that offers coursework in consumer behavior, market research, strategic brand management, social media and digital marketing, and principles of advertising.

Online Master’s in Business Degree Programs

  • Master’s in Accounting Programs: Master’s in accounting or accountancy programs provide training in financial reporting, auditing, and taxation. These programs are designed to prepare students for the Uniform CPA exam, which is required for licensure as a certified public accountant (CPA) in all 50 states.
  • Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) Programs: MBA programs offer core business theories and proficiencies, including financial accounting, law and ethics, leadership, organizational science, and strategic marketing. There are numerous specializations within MBA programs, including: business analytics; criminal justice; cybersecurity; entrepreneurship; finance; healthcare; hospitality; and human resource management.
  • Dual MBA Degree Programs: These programs offer students the opportunity to complete a traditional MBA and an advanced degree in a complementary discipline in less time that it would take to earn the two degrees separately. Typical dual MBA programs include pairing an MBA degree with the following: JD (Juris Doctor); MA in Education; Master of Public Policy; MS in Computer Science; MS in Engineering; MS in Environmental Studies and Policy; MD (Doctor of Medicine).
  • Master’s in Economics Programs: Theories of macroeconomics, microeconomics, and econometrics are core areas of study in a master’s in economics program. Students in these programs learn how to apply these theories in various business contexts.
  • Master’s in Finance Programs: Capital investment and management, financial modeling, and investment strategies are core areas of emphasis in a master’s in finance degree program. These programs focus on the quantitative science of business, offering coursework in financial strategies, investments, and banking.
  • Master’s in Forensic Accounting & Financial Fraud Programs: These programs offer training in accounting practices and their use to resolve disputes, investigate financial crimes, and assist in other legal matters related financial management.
  • Master’s in Human Resource Management (HRM) Programs: HRM programs focus on personnel management, communication skills, conflict resolution strategies, theories of organizational behavior, workforce-planning techniques, and how these relate to recruiting, training, and retaining key personnel.
  • Master’s in International Business Programs: International banking, finance, and business law are central to a master’s in international business curriculum, which also provides students with instruction in the dynamics of the global economy.
  • Master’s in Marketing Programs: The science of marketing, including brand development and management, market analytics and research, and strategies for integrated marketing communications are core areas of study in a master’ s in marketing program.
  • Master’s in Organizational Leadership Programs: Master’s in organizational leadership programs offer a multi-disciplinary curriculum of coursework in organizational psychology, professional communications, negotiations and conflict resolution, and theories of management structures.
  • Master’s in Real Estate Programs: These programs provide in-depth training and instruction in the complexities of the real estate business and include coursework in financial, legal, and managerial aspects of owning, developing, and transferring residential, commercial, and industrial properties.
  • Master’s in Sports Management Programs: Master’s in sports management programs offer targeted instruction in the skills and knowledge needed to manage sports franchises and other sports and sports entertainment enterprises, including marketing and financial planning for sports organizations.
  • Master’s in Taxation Programs: The complexities of local, federal, and international tax law and policy are central to the curriculum in master’s in taxation programs. These programs provide instruction in tax planning for public and private businesses, theories of taxation, and corporate and multi-jurisdictional tax strategies.

Accreditation for Online Business Programs

Accreditation is the process by which colleges, universities, and individual schools within those institutions receive independent approval for the programs they offer, and it is an important benchmark for online degree programs. only includes programs offered by accredited institutions. However, there are different accrediting bodies and different types of accreditation that can be important considerations when researching online business programs.

Regional accreditation is provided by seven organizations that form the Council of Regional Accrediting Commissions:

  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Higher Learning Commission
  • Northwest Accreditation Commission
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Western Association of Schools and College
  • Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges

In addition, many schools of business and business administration may voluntarily seek accreditation from one of three organizations: the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International), and the International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE). Non-MBA business programs may be offered through schools of professional studies, schools of education, or other schools within a college or university that would not typically seek or receive ACBSP, AACSB International, or IACBE accreditation. Prospective students should be aware of these accrediting bodies when researching online programs, and may want to take accreditation into account when weighing various programs.

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