Top Online Colleges for Business

Business is a broad discipline that encompasses buying and selling, management of organizations at all levels, financial transactions, marketing goods and services to the public, and more. It's a good fit for individuals who are undecided about their career choice and want a field of study that could open to the door to a wide variety of employment options. Others major in business to pursue a specific career in finance, management, marketing, accounting, or human resources.

The growth of online learning technology has made it possible for students to pursue business at accredited online colleges for business. Top online colleges for business share a few traits in common, including specialized accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), ample internship opportunities, and faculty members who have terminal degrees in their field as well as extensive business experience.

Business Course Work Basics

The top accredited online colleges offer business degrees at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Since a bachelor's degree is often the gateway to entry-level business careers, many students enroll in such programs at the best online colleges for business. Bachelor's-level course work consists of general education classes, general business courses, and major-specific courses related to the student's chosen concentration. While required courses can differ greatly based on your specialization, a few courses that are common to all undergraduate business majors include:

  • Business Law: This course introduces students to the U.S. legal system, legal contracts, and major areas of business law pertaining to topics like property, warranties, insurance, and employment law.
  • Accounting Principles: In this course, students learn the purpose and fundamentals of accounting, including accounts payable and receivable, and preparation of financial statements.
  • Macroeconomics: This course gives students an overview of economic principles as they apply to an entire economic system, rather than how they apply on a small scale.
  • Business Information Systems: In this course, students learn some of the most common computer applications used in business environments.
  • Principles of Management: This course introduces students to effective strategies for management, leadership, and organization of a business.

While some master's programs are available in general business specialties, most graduate programs allow students to specialize in a specific concentration, such as healthcare administration, supply chain management, or non-profit management. Course work is centered on this specialization. Students are introduced to graduate research and learn how to make decisions based on research. Management and leadership principles are also emphasized in graduate-level course work.

Group projects are commonly incorporated into both undergraduate and graduate curriculums as faculty recognize the importance of teamwork and collaboration in real business environments. One example of a group project is students working together on a marketing plan to increase visibility or sales at a mock organization. Business degree programs offered by top rated online colleges typically conclude with a capstone project, which is an independent research project in which a student identifies a real-world problem at a business organization and draws from what he or she has learned throughout the business program to address the problem. At the end of the capstone project a student typically turns in a scholarly paper and makes a formal presentation to faculty. In addition, both undergraduate and graduate programs in business may incorporate or encourage internships for college credit.

Careers for the Business Graduate

Since business is such a broad discipline it encompasses a broad range of potential careers. A small sampling of those careers includes budget analysts, financial analysts, human resources specialists, and management analysts, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). These positions all typically require a minimum of a bachelor's degree, but master's degrees may be preferred. Median salaries as of May 2010 for the above-mentioned careers were $68,200, $74,350, $52,690, and $78,160, respectively, according to the BLS.

Employment growth between 2010 and 2020 is projected at 10% for budget analysts, 23% for financial analysts, 21% for human resources specialists, and 22% for management analysts. Salaries vary based on location, the size and type of employer, years of experience, educational attainment, and other factors.

Those who go on to earn graduate degrees in business may also choose to become business professors, teaching and conducting research in a university setting. The Ph.D. is the most common requirement for college-level teaching careers. The median yearly salary for postsecondary teachers was $62,050 in May 2010. Average employment growth of 17% is projected between 2010 and 2020 for postsecondary teachers, with the highest employment growth expected in for-profit higher education institutions. Salaries in the field vary depending on the type of educational institution, faculty rank, years of experience, and subject taught.

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