Online Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration

Online Degrees in Bachelor's

Online Business Administration Degree: An Overview

Business administration is a multidisciplinary academic field that prepares students for management positions in corporations, nonprofit organizations and government agencies.

Business has been the most popular undergraduate major since the early 1980s, according to the National Center for Education Statistics; an average of 346,706 bachelor's degrees in business were conferred from 2005 to 2015. In addition to their popularity, business degrees are also viewed as highly practical by most employers. Forbes places business administration and management fourth on a list of Top Degrees for Getting Hired in 2016.

During a four-year program, business administration students acquire foundational knowledge, skills and insights that are valued in nearly every career field. High salary potential is another reason why business administration bachelor's degrees are so popular. The average college graduate with a bachelor’s in business makes about $2.6 million over the course of a career, roughly $200,000 more than the average for all workers with a bachelor’s degree, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

In recent years, business administration has also become a popular major choice for online bachelor's students. A 2016 survey from The Learning House found that business majors represented 26 percent of online undergraduate students, 10 points higher than the second-ranked major field, health and medicine.

Many colleges and universities allow students earning online business degrees to focus their studies in fields like accounting, human resources and marketing. Business degrees online are also a suitable alternative for students with jobs, child care duties and other responsibilities that may interfere with attending on-campus classes.

How long does it take to earn an online bachelor's in business administration?

The length of a business administration degree online varies by institution, but most options are 120 to 124 credits for semester-based programs and 180 credits for quarter-based programs. Both of these pathways can usually be completed after four years of full-time study.

Additionally, some accelerated programs allow students who meet certain criteria to earn their business degrees online in as little as 18 months.

How much does an online business management bachelor’s degree cost?

The overall cost of an online business management degree program may depend on the student's home address, since state residents typically pay lower tuition than nonresidents. Residents should expect to pay between $15,000 and $30,000 for their four-year program, while nonresidents will pay roughly $60,000 to $85,000 for their business degree online.

Some schools offer flat tuition rates for all students, regardless of their state residency; these options typically range from $40,000 to $60,000, making them a good bargain for nonresidents but a costlier alternative for residents.

Online business degree admissions requirements

Since a bachelor's degree is considered the minimum educational requirement for most business management careers, background work experience is not usually required of applicants. SAT/ACT scores are often – but not always – required; minimum scores vary from school to school.

Choosing an accredited online business administration degree program

Accreditation status is one of the most important considerations for prospective students. Colleges and universities in the U.S. receive accreditation from agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education; the accreditation process involves an extensive review of a school's educational programs and student services.

A school's accreditation impacts course credit transferability, as well as student eligibility for federal financial aid, so students should ensure the school offering the business degree online has earned national or regional accreditation.

Online Coursework

Example courses

  • Financial accounting
  • Organizational behavior
  • Business law and ethics
  • Management policy and strategy
  • Business writing and communication
  • Human resources
Online business degree programs follow broad curricula that incorporate different areas of management and administration. Students take courses in business law and ethics, accounting and finance, marketing, office administration and human resources, as well as economics, philosophy, social sciences and mathematics. In addition, the virtual learning environment prepares students for the globally connected business markets found in today's corporate sector.

A large number of online business management degrees culminate in a capstone experience, which may take the form of a research project, a comprehensive portfolio or an internship course; the format of a capstone experience often depends on the student's specific major and concentration/minor.

Online business administration bachelor’s degree specializations

Potential specializations
Human resources management
Supply chain management
Information technology management
Health services management
Degree concentrations in online business degrees are fairly common, and most students may select from multiple concentration pathways.

Accounting is a popular business concentration for U.S. undergraduates. This universally applicable field revolves around financial calculations, reporting and compliance. Roughly 1.3 million accountants are employed nationwide, and jobs in the occupation are expected to grow by 11 percent in the coming years, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.

Marketing concentrations combine business, sociology, philosophy and public relations. Students in these pathways learn how to advertise, promote and sell products to different consumer demographics. Courses include market research and activity, product strategy and e-commerce.

Human resources refers to the administrative functions of an organization. HR personnel handle a wide range of tasks, including recruitment and screening of job candidates; new-employee orientations; compensation and benefits for everyone on the payroll; and conflict mediation of workplace disputes. Human resources concentrations cover the fundamentals of office administration, employee services, communication and management.

Supply chain management is a relatively new academic field that focuses on maximizing efficiency, reducing costs and streamlining operations for businesses and organizations. Students in this concentration take courses in fields like accounting and finance, economics, logistics and communication.

Some business administration concentrations are designed to prepare students for niche work environments. Information technology management, for instance, is aimed at students with career plans in the computing sector. Likewise, health services management focuses on leading clinics, hospitals and other health care facilities.

Professional Associations in Business Administration

Students and graduates looking for entry-level jobs can get a much-needed career boost by joining a business-oriented professional organization. These groups offer a wide range of perks and services, including networking opportunities, job leads and continuing education courses. Some of the most prominent professional organizations in the business world include the following.

  • Association for Financial Professionals: Every year, the AFP hosts more than 6,500 professionals and students at the world's largest networking conference in the corporate finance field. The organization also offers professional certification in treasury and financial planning/analysis.
  • National Human Resources Association: The NHRA was founded in 1951 and maintains a level of 70 percent practitioners, ensuring that young professionals benefit from membership. Other perks for members include invitations to networking events and discounts on professional development courses.
  • American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management: AAHAM is among the country's largest professional organizations for students and professionals with a background in business management and health care administration. The association maintains 32 regional chapters nationwide, as well as an international chapter.

  • Example courses

    • Financial accounting
    • Organizational behavior
    • Business law and ethics
    • Management policy and strategy
    • Business writing and communication
    • Human resources

    Job Outlook and Salary for Graduates

    More than 9 million Americans hold a bachelor’s degree in business and work full time, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. Popular industries include consulting, finance, health care, hospitality, manufacturing and technology.

    The business sector has long been characterized by medium-to-strong industry growth and relatively low unemployment rates for job seekers.

    Salaries for business administration bachelor's degree graduates

    The salary expectations are much more favorable for graduates with a bachelor's in business administration than those of students who complete their postsecondary education with an associate degree.

    DegreeMedian annual salary for entry-level employees (0-5 years)Median annual salary for midcareer employees (10+ years)
    Associate degree in business administration$33,900$49,600
    Bachelor's degree in business administration$46,100$72,400
    Source: 2016-17 PayScale College Salary Report

    Graduates with a bachelor's in business administration outearn their associate degree-holding counterparts by a considerable margin: roughly 36 percent during the first five years on the job, and roughly 46 percent after 10 years in the workforce.

    What can you do with an online business management degree?

    Students who earn a business management degree online graduate qualified for a wide range of jobs across the public, private and nonprofit sectors – although individual suitability depends on the candidate's area of academic concentration. Four of the most popular career pathways for business administration bachelor's recipients are outlined below.

  • Advertising, promotions and marketing managers: These managers develop and coordinate programs designed to introduce, promote and ultimately sell various products and services. They often lead teams of marketing and creative professionals during product campaigns and also monitor and evaluate various steps of these to ensure launches are successful and well-publicized.
  • Human resources managers: HR managers lead the human resources divisions of their organizations. This title requires a comprehensive understanding of essential administrative functions, needs and challenges. In smaller companies, HR managers often play a direct role in recruitment, screening, hiring and providing orientation for job applicants. They may also coordinate training and development programs, assist with compensation and benefits, and mediate disputes between workers.
  • Financial analysts: Financial analysts offer consultations about investments and money management; some analysts provide services to companies and organizations, while others work directly with individual clients. This career often involves long working hours; according to the BLS, one in three financial analysts works more than 40 hours per week.
  • Accountants and auditors: Accountants are responsible for monitoring, evaluating and balancing the financial records of businesses, organizations and/or individual clients. Auditors are specialized accountants trained to spot errors and discrepancies in financial records. All accountants who work with the Securities and Exchange Commission are required to become certified public accountants, which typically includes additional undergraduate coursework.

  • Median salaries

    Source: BLS

    Job title Salary
    Advertising, promotions and marketing managers
    Human resources managers
    Financial analysts
    Accountants and auditors
    $0 $31,890 $63,780 $95,670 $127,560