A business degree is very versatile and can open the door to many fulfilling careers. However, depending on your personal circumstances, you might not be able to attend a traditional on-campus program.
Online business degree programs allow you to complete your education and start your new career without attending in-person classes. Instead, you can complete coursework on your schedule without sacrificing the quality of your education.
There has been an increase in the popularity of distance education programs as they become more widely available and offer unmatched flexibility and convenient access.
If you’re interested in earning a business degree online, here’s what you should know before enrolling.
How Do Online Business Degrees Work?
Online business degrees work similarly to traditional on-campus programs. The main difference is that coursework is completed entirely online, with students accessing course materials, submitting assignments, and interacting with professors and classmates through a virtual platform like Blackboard.
Online business degree programs can be synchronous or asynchronous, meaning students can attend classes in real-time or complete coursework on their own schedule. Synchronous courses provide a more traditional experience, while asynchronous courses offer more flexibility and independence.
Some online programs require students to take certain courses in person, attend on-campus events, or complete residencies, so be sure to review your program’s information to learn more about whether or not you can earn your degree entirely online.
Types of Online Business Degrees
Depending on your education level, you can pursue either an undergraduate or graduate business degree online.
Online undergraduate business degrees
Online undergraduate business degrees typically require students to complete 120 credit hours of coursework, which usually takes about four years. These programs provide students with a foundation in business fundamentals, including accounting, finance, marketing, and management.
Common undergraduate business degrees include a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, a Bachelor of Business Administration, and a Bachelor of Arts in Business.
Online graduate business degrees
Online graduate business degrees are designed for students who already have an undergraduate degree and want to further their education in a specific business discipline.
Common degrees include a Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Science in Accounting, Master of Science in Finance, and Master of Science in Marketing. These programs usually require between 30 and 60 credit hours and can take one to three years to complete.
A graduate business degree may qualify you for high-level leadership positions in organizations.
How to Apply to an Online Business Degree Program
The application process for online business degree programs is similar to that of traditional on-campus programs. You’ll need to submit an online application and several materials that demonstrate your academic readiness.
While the application process is often similar for most schools, specific requirements vary between institutions, so check your program’s application requirements for more details.
Most online business degree programs require students to submit an application online. The application usually includes personal information, academic history, and a list of extracurricular activities.
Depending on the school you choose, you can use a standardized application like the Common App, which allows you to fill out one application and submit it to multiple online colleges.
Many distance education programs require students to submit test scores, such as the SAT or ACT for undergraduate programs and the GRE or GMAT for graduate programs.
Some online business degree programs require students to write essays explaining their academic and career goals and why they want to attend that program.
Students must also submit official transcripts from any high schools, colleges, or universities they have attended. You’ll typically need to meet certain GPA requirements to be admitted to specific programs.
Letters of recommendation
In many cases, you’ll also need to submit letters of recommendation to increase your chances of getting in. Letters of recommendation can come from teachers, professors, and employers.
How to Choose an Online Business Degree Program
Choosing the right online college can be challenging, but it’s important to take your time to find a program that suits your needs and goals.
Here are some factors to consider:
Consider whether the program is entirely online or requires some on-campus attendance. A fully-online course might be a better fit if you work full-time or have other time-consuming obligations.
Also, consider whether the program is synchronous or asynchronous and which format best suits your schedule and learning style.
There are two types of accreditation you should look for when choosing an online business program. Institutional accreditation means the school itself offers quality programs that are eligible for federal financial aid. Most schools publish their accreditation status on their website, but you can also check whether a school’s accredited by visiting the U.S. Department of Education’s website.
There are also several agencies, such as the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), that provide accreditation specifically for business programs. This means that these programs meet specific quality standards for business education.
Student support services
Consider the level of support the online business degree program offers. Look for programs that provide academic advising, career counseling, and tutoring services.
In distance learning programs, you may not have the opportunity to interact as frequently with your peers and professors as you would on campus. Therefore, it is important that your program offers additional support services to help you succeed.
Financial Aid for Online Business Degrees
A degree can be expensive, but financial aid options can help alleviate the costs.
Here are two ways to obtain financial aid for an online business degree.
Applying for federal financial aid
Federal financial aid is available to students who meet certain eligibility requirements.
Students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to be eligible for aid. Student financial need is calculated using the FAFSA, which is then used to determine their eligibility for financial assistance.
After completing this application, you’ll find out if you’re eligible for federal loans, grants, or work-study programs.
Keep in mind that you need to renew your application each school year to remain eligible for aid.
How to find online scholarships
Scholarships are another way to obtain financial aid for an online business degree. Scholarships are awards that do not need to be paid back and can be based on merit, financial need, or other criteria. Some schools even offer scholarships specifically for distance learners.
There are many online resources available to help students find scholarships. Some options include:
- Scholarship search engines, such as Scholarships.com
- Online databases, such as the College Board’s BigFuture Scholarship Search
- Professional organizations, nonprofits, and local organizations
Start your scholarship search early, as they often have application deadlines and limited awards.
Is an Online Business Degree Right for Me?
Before committing to an online business degree program, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons to determine if it’s the right choice for you.
Pros and cons of online programs
One of the biggest advantages of online business degree programs is that they offer flexibility. Students can complete coursework on their own schedule, which is especially beneficial for those with work or family obligations.
Online programs are often less expensive than traditional on-campus programs. Students can save money on housing and transportation costs, and many online programs offer lower tuition rates.
Online programs make it possible for students to earn a degree from anywhere in the world. This can be especially helpful for those who live in rural areas or who are unable to commute to campus.
Limited social interaction
Online programs lack the in-person interaction that traditional on-campus programs offer. This can be a disadvantage for students who thrive on face-to-face interaction and collaboration.
Online programs require significant self-discipline and time management skills. Students who struggle with time management may find it challenging to keep up with coursework.
Online programs require reliable internet access and technology, such as a computer and webcam. Students who do not have access to these resources may struggle with online coursework.
Earning a business degree online is a viable option for those who cannot attend traditional on-campus programs or need the flexibility offered by online programs.
However, if you’re more interested in networking opportunities, social interaction, and having access to experiential learning opportunities, a traditional in-person program might be a better fit.