Why This Matters

  • THERE ARE 550K BUSINESS GRADUATES EACH YEAR

    Business is popular. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 19.4% of all bachelor degrees and 23.8% of all master’s degrees awarded in 2016 were in business fields.

  • JOB MARKET GROWTH VARIES FROM -1% to 33%

    While many business job markets are growing at least as fast as average, choosing the right degree can mean entering a booming market (IT at 20%) or a declining one (industry management at -1%).

  • YOU CAN BOOST YOUR INCOME BY $10,000+

    Specific incomes depend on your chosen degree specialty, but business graduates tend to earn more than peers. Having a MBA means earning on average $10k more than other master degrees.

Our Research

The best business degree for you depends both on your area of interest and the specific degree you’d like to pursue. Our list focuses on programs that offer degrees in Accounting, Business Administration, Economics, Finance, Information Technology, Management, and Marketing ― fields that have expanding job markets and tend to pay well.

To find the best online business degree programs, we had three initial criteria. Each university needed to be nonprofit, accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), and offer at least two fully online degrees in in-demand business fields. This ensured that each university on our list would have rigorous programs in a variety of subjects.

Then we rated each university based on its program strength, the variety and kind of degrees offered to business students at the undergraduate and graduate level, and its relative cost. These three scores allowed us to calculate an Intelligent Score for each program, ranking each university on a scale of 0-100. (For a closer look at how we calculated our Intelligent Score, see Our Ranking Methodology.)

  • 44 Hours of Research
  • 114 Universities
  • 176 Degrees

The Top 22 Online Business Degrees

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Our Ranking Methodology

To find the best online business degree programs, we only looked at nonprofit and accredited universities. While every university on our starting list was regionally accredited, we took it one step further and required Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) accreditation.

The AACSB evaluates accounting and business administration degrees. If you’re pursuing a career in either of those fields, AACSB-accreditation is the gold standard, ensuring that each program has met high standards for its teaching methods. Even if you’re pursing another degree, earning it through an AACSB-accredited school is a sign of excellence beyond regional accreditors.

Once we had our list of AACSB-accredited universities, we evaluated each based on three criteria:

Department Strength

AACSB-accreditation certifies that a program has met or exceeded for teaching business and accounting. It’s especially important if you’re planning on pursuing postgraduate studies, since many business schools require your bachelor’s degree to be from an AACSB-accredited institution. That said, AACSB-accreditation also is important for ensuring that your business degree ― no matter its subject ― is respected by employers.

In addition to making sure the AACSB signed-off on each school’s accounting and business administration programs, we analyzed how well each university ranked in leading college evaluators. These organizations, like U.S. News, have the resources to dig deep and evaluate each school. We then used an algorithm to compile and compare rankings and scored whether a department is highly-regarded by analysts.

Programs Available

Next we compared the number of undergraduate and graduate business degrees available online at each university. While we gave some points when a school offered multiple concentrations of a single degree, we wanted to find the most well-rounded programs – those which offered the most degrees online. We honed in on particular degree subjects that the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates as growing faster than average: Accounting, Business Administration, Economics, Finance, Information Technology, Management, and Marketing.

Each of the schools on our list has degrees in at least two of these categories, and schools with more degrees scored higher here.

Comparative Cost

Finally, we evaluated how much it would cost to attend each university. The number of credits required to complete each degree depends both on subject and whether you’re pursuing a bachelor’s or a master’s degree. To make sure we compared universities fairly, we looked at how much it would cost per credit hour at the undergraduate and graduate degree levels.

Schools that scored higher than the average cost earned fewer points in this category, while universities that were relatively economical earned more.

This Gave Us Our Intelligent Score

Together, these three criteria were used to calculate the Intelligent Score for each university. To get the highest score, a university had to be well-regarded for the rigorousness of its programs, be relatively cost-effective, and offer multiple degrees in needed business fields.

There were a few schools which didn’t quite reach the mark for having enough degrees to make it onto our list. That said, these universities are well-regarded, and our shortlist might be worth examining to see if they offer the specific degree you want.

  • Cleveland State University
  • Nicholls State University
  • San Diego State University
  • Texas A&M University Corpus Christi
  • University of Arizona
  • University of Arkansas
  • University of Delaware
  • University of Illinois at Chicago
  • University of Iowa
  • University of Kansas
  • University of South Florida St. Petersburg
  • Villanova University

This Degree Isn’t For Everyone

Networking is important no matter your degree, but it’s even more important for business students. All of the degrees listed in our top 22 best online business degree programs are fully online. That’s good news: you won’t need to find a plane ticket and lodging for on-campus requirements. It’s also bad news if you’re planning on using your school as your primary networking resource.

Universities will sometimes list their networking resources available for online students ― and can have optional on-campus events purely for networking. But depending on how much networking you want your school to coordinate, you might be better off looking for a hybrid or offline degree.

What’s Next?

As you hone in on your chosen degree, you’ll want to keep an eye on the state authorizations of each university. All of the universities on our list are authorized to teach and award degrees students living in most states – but there are a few exceptions. If you live in a different state than the university, you’ll need to verify that your home state has authorized your chosen school to teach online.

Most universities have a state authorization page to help students find out whether it’s worth their time applying to the program. That said, if you have any questions about your eligibility, you’ll want to contact the program’s admissions director to make sure that your diploma will be recognized by your home state.