Online Business Colleges
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports that the most popular undergraduate major at American colleges is business. This makes sense, given the huge scope of business in this country: a 2010 report issued by the Center for Education and the Workforce (CEW) predicts that the business and professional services sector will account for economic output of about $3.5 billion and add 3.4 million new jobs by 2018. CEW also predicts that by 2018 a full 59% of workers in this sector will have a bachelor's degree or better.
Whether you're working toward an associate's, bachelor's or master's degree in business, you'll take courses in basic aspects of business, such as marketing, operations and finance. You might specialize in one of these business functions, or you might pursue a degree geared to a particular industry. For example, a degree in healthcare management will position you to lead a hospital or other healthcare facility. An online business degree program can be a great option, since attending college online allows you to work while going to school. This enables you to advance your career by immediately applying in the office what you learn in the virtual classroom. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists over two dozen occupations, from financial manager and top executive to funeral director and insurance underwriter, that fall under the business management and business/financial operations categories. So business degrees are versatile credentials, but in choosing a degree program, it's wise to think about what your career goals are and what areas of specialization are in demand.
- Business Degree Programs and Careers
- Why Get a Business Degree Online?
- Top Online Colleges for Business
- Best States for Business Students
- How to Find Online Business Colleges
Trying to obtain a business degree while juggling life and family obligations can be very stressful. Online classes can offer more flexible deadlines for lectures, tests, and project deadlines that can alleviate some of that stress. Below is the story of how one person has used online classes to obtain her business degree while taking care of her family.
I am the mother of four handsome young men, a full-time employee, a military veteran, and a full-time student. I attend online classes while in pursuit of my Doctorate of Business Administration degree. After I completed my master's degree, I was offered the opportunity to teach a couple of college classes as an adjunct professor, I enjoyed the experience so much, that I decided to pursue my doctorate degree so I can increase my professional opportunities by teaching in a full-time capacity.
This career move will allow me to spend more time with my boys, as I currently work at least 50 hours a week in order to support the family. When researching doctoral programs, I realized that many on-site programs require students to attend on a full-time basis, which essentially means I would be unable to work. Since that is not part of my everyday reality, I decided to explore online-based programs. More than a year into the online program, I found that the program is definitely demanding and requires much of my time; however, the virtual presence of the classroom affords me the flexibility to complete all of my mandatory daily tasks then attend to my classwork at my own pace."
- Alicia (Florida)
One in five graduates earning a bachelor's degree in 2012 walked away with a business degree, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, and that means business is the most popular undergraduate course of study in the nation.
Of course, it's not just undergrads who are studying business. A master's degree in Business Administration has long been considered the gold standard of graduate degrees, opening doors to employment and increasing income potential. (See: 10 In-Demand MBA Concentrations for more info.)
If you would like to go to business school but don't have the time or money to head to campus, it may be time to start exploring online colleges and degree options. A number of business schools, including some of the most prominent ones in the nation, have started placing their programs online.
Students with families or work obligations may find an online degree is perfect for the following reasons:
- Many schools offer the same coursework and instructors online as they do on-campus.
- Students can avoid paying for room and board, commuting or child care.
- Programs may be available fully online with no in-person or on-campus requirements.
- Classes may be arranged so students can log in to view course material 24/7, at times convenient for them.
While business school may boost your earning potential, a degree doesn't come cheap. Business Insider reported in 2013 that the average cost of a business school is $60,000, with some institutions nearing six figures once you factor in room and board, books, supplies and other fees.
However, there are plenty of online colleges offering business degrees for less. To find these schools, we went to the NCES database to looked for business schools with in-state tuition that was no more than $10,000 per year. Then, we narrowed the list to the schools with the highest graduation rates.
A college's graduation rate can be an important factor in selecting a school. It reflects how many first-time, full-time undergraduate students earn their bachelor's degree within six years. A high graduation rate may indicate a school does a good job of keeping students on track to finishing their studies. According to the NCES, the average 2012 graduation rate across all undergraduate institutions nationwide was 59 percent.
Based on this criteria, here are the ten institutions we think are the top online business colleges, in order from the highest to the lowest graduation rates. Note: The tuition rates reported by the NCES aren't just for a school's online degrees, but represent the overall average of all degrees offered by a college or university. All tuition and graduate rates reflect 2013-2014 data from the NCES database. See our Methodology section for more details on the ranking methodology.
#1 - Morrison University
- Graduation Rate: 91%
- In-state Tuition: $6,549
More than nine in ten students graduate on time from Morrison University. The Nevada institution's 91 percent graduation rate may be a result of its more than 110 year history providing business-related education and training. Today, the school is part of Anthem College Online and offers three of its business programs online. Students can select from associate degrees in Accounting Technology; Business Management; or Healthcare Management which may allow them to pursue entry-level jobs upon graduation. In addition, the school offers online bachelor's degrees in Business Management and Healthcare Management, which may lead to more advanced positions.
#2 - South Texas College
- Graduation Rate: 86%
- In-state Tuition: $3,530
South Texas College is another business school with an impressive graduation rate. The NCES reports 86 percent of the college's student body graduates on time. The South Texas College virtual campus offers both online associate degrees and certificate programs. Within the field of business, students can choose from certificates for accounting clerk, human resources assistant, management or marketing. Two-year degrees are available in Business Administration and Human Resources Specialist.
#3 - Florida Atlantic University
- Graduation Rate: 77%
- In-state Tuition: $4,790
Florida Atlantic University offers an online Bachelor of Business Administration that features the same curriculum and is taught by the same faculty as the school's on-campus program. Individuals enrolling in the online BBA can select from an accounting, marketing or management major. Those choosing management will have a leadership option.
#4 - Amridge University
- Graduation Rate: 67%
- Tuition: $6,870
At Amridge University, students can select from online programs from all educational levels, from associate degrees to doctoral degrees. Business students can enroll in the bachelor's degree in Business Administration and choose from concentrations in general business, information communication or information systems management. Other business options are a bachelor's degree in Human Resource Leadership and a master's degree in Leadership and Management.
#5 - Virginia University of Lynchburg
- Graduation Rate: 64%
- Tuition: $7,880
The distance learning program at Virginia University of Lynchburg allows students to choose from nine fields of study. These include a certificate, associate degree, five bachelor's degrees and two master's degrees. Business students have the option of bachelor's degrees in Business Administration or Organizational Management. A master's degree in Organizational Management is also available. Virginia University of Lynchburg may offer students credit based upon work experience, prior training or professional credentials.
#6 - University of Nebraska at Kearney
- Graduation Rate: 53%
- In-state Tuition: $6,542
On the eCampus for the University of Nebraska at Kearney, 30 accredited programs are offered, including a bachelor's degree in Business Administration. However, before enrolling in the online program, UNK expects students will have completed their general studies classes independently. Once enrolled in the UNK program, students can select from marketing/management or accounting minors.
#7 - Northern State University
- Graduation Rate: 49%
- In-state Tuition: $7,563
Located in South Dakota, Northern State University has 15 online courses of study, including degrees at the associate, bachelor's and master's levels. Individuals interested in a two-year program can enroll in the school's online associate degree in Banking and Financial Services. Those looking for a four-year degree can choose from bachelor's degrees in Marketing; Management; Business Administration, Banking and Financial Services; or International Business Administration. Students ready for an advanced degree can earn a master's degree in Banking and Financial Services from the school.
#8 - Bemidji State University
- Graduation Rate: 48%
- Tuition: $8,124
At Bemidji State University, there are seven undergraduate online degree programs. For business students, there is a bachelor's degree in Accounting as well as a bachelor's degree in Business Administration. Business administration students can earn a degree with an emphasis in management, marketing and small business/entrepreneurship. These are offered entirely online with no on-campus requirements. The school is part of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system.
#9 - American Public University
- Graduation Rate: 42%
- Tuition: $6,400
At the American Public University, the school has more than 180 online certificate and degree programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. In addition to a bachelor's degree in Business Administration, American Public University offers undergraduate degrees in Entrepreneurship; Management; Marketing; Accounting; Retail Management and Reverse Logistics Management. Classes start monthly so students are able to begin their studies at any time during the year.
#10 - Columbia College
- Graduation Rate: 41%
- Tuition: $7,115
Rounding out our list of top online colleges for business is Columbia College. Founded in 1851, the school has expanded to offer online degrees in ten academic areas. In the field of business, finance, marketing and management, there are 18 certificate, associate, bachelor's and master's degree options. These include bachelor's degrees in Business Administration, an MBA and certificates in marketing and management.
Business students can learn more about these programs by requesting additional information from the schools. In addition, head to our Top Online Colleges Tool to find more schools ranked by affordability, quality and flexibility.
A business education is consistently a pathway into a prosperous career. Even better, if you choose a program of study in a state that happens to offer a multitude of job prospects upon graduation, it's more likely that you'll generate a return on your business education investment.
Take a look at four places that are wise choice for business students, based off of 2013-2014 data by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Note: The BLS reports that the annual mean wage for Business and Financial Operations occupations across the nation as of May 2014 is $72,410. The national figures for employment per thousand jobs for this industry is 50.537. For more information on our ranking methodology, see our Methodology section.
The following map uses 2014 Occupational Employment and Wages data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to show the concentration of business jobs by state. The states with the highest concentrations of these types of jobs, in dark green in the map, are featured in more detail below.
#1 - Washington D.C.
- Employment in the business field, per thousand jobs: 153.06
- Annual mean wage for business and financial operations occupations: $91,780
Besides the fact that it's our nation's capital, Washington D.C. is also a mecca for highly educated and well compensated professionals. In fact, according to BusinessInsider, D.C. had the highest median worker earnings in the nation, as per the Census Bureau's 2012 statistics. What's more is that the capital is also home to top-notch colleges and universities including Georgetown University (ranked 24th top business school by Bloomberg), American University, George Washington University, and Howard University, among others.
Upon graduation, students with business chops can seek employment with major corporations, including Fannie Mae, Danaher Corporation, and The Carlyle Group, L.P.
#2 - Virginia
- Employment in the business field, per thousand jobs: 68.33
- Annual mean wage for business and financial operations occupations: $80,390
Virginia offers some of the most innovative business education in the nation. For example, Virginia Tech's recently launched Apex Systems Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship offers students a unique, hands-on business learning experience. According to USAToday, business graduates in Virginia go on to do quite well for themselves. Washington and Lee College business grads make average starting salaries of $51,000 and midcareer salaries of $104,000, while business majors at William & Mary report average starting salaries of $43,000 and midcareer salaries of $107,000. (See: Online Colleges in Virginia)
Beyond college, there are many well known Fortune 500 companies that call Virginia home including Freddie Mac, Capital One, Altria Group, and CarMax, to name a few.
#3 - Colorado
- Employment in the business field, per thousand jobs: 67.70
- Annual mean wage for business and financial operations occupations: $73,790
While you might not automatically associate Colorado with business, two of its business schools are ranked by Bloomberg to be among the top 100 programs in the nation: University of Colorado Leeds School of Business and the University of Denver. In fact, Leeds is one of the oldest business schools in the nation. (See: Online Colleges in Colorado)
In addition to prestigious business education, the "Centennial State" is also home to Fortune 500 companies including Dish Network, Molson Coors Brewing Company, and Western Union. Apartments.com also lists Denver first in the "Top 10 Best Cities for Recent College Graduates."
#4 - Maryland
- Employment in the business field, per thousand jobs: 63.05
- Annual mean wage for business and financial operations occupations: $78,450
With Maryland Fortune 500 corporations including Lockheed Martin Corporation, Marriott International, T. Rowe Price Group Inc., it's no wonder that the state is a big player when it comes to business career opportunities. Luckily, Maryland business students have strong programs of study to prepare them for the corporate world, including the University of Maryland Smith School of Business, which ranks 17 on Bloomberg's top business school rankings, and Loyola University Maryland. (See: Online Colleges in Maryland)
Downtown Baltimore is consistently chosen as a top-pick city for Millennials to live and work in, making it a hot choice for business grads.
Below our sources is a list of colleges that offer online degrees and programs in business. You can also filter by a specific concentration by clicking on one of the subjects in the right rail. If you see a program you are interested, then please choose one of the options to get more information. After filling out a form we will put you in contact with a representative who will answer any questions you may have.
- "The 10 colleges with the highest paid business graduates," http://college.usatoday.com/2014/08/15/the-10-colleges-with-the-highest-paid-business-graduates/
- "The 13 Best Cities for Brand-New College Grads," http://www.businessinsider.com/best-cities-for-college-grads-2014-5?op=1
- Bachelor's Programs, American Public University, http://www.apu.apus.edu/academic/programs/bachelors
- Business Administration, University of Nebraska at Kearney, http://www.unk.edu/academics/ecampus/degrees-programs/business-administration.php
- College of Business and Leadership, Amridge University, http://amridgeuniversity.edu/academics/college-of-business-leadership/
- College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator
- Degrees and Majors, Columbia College, https://www.ccis.edu/degrees/all.asp?interest=all&location=DE
- Fast Facts: Graduation Rates, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=40
- Fortune 500 2014, http://fortune.com/fortune500/
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- "The Most Expensive Business Schools in America," Business Insider, July 26, 2013 http://www.businessinsider.com/most-expensive-business-schools-2013-7?op=1
- Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes130000.htm
- Online BBA, Florida Atlantic University, http://www.business.fau.edu/undergraduate/online-bba/index.aspx#.U_yUzGPZodw
- Online Degrees, Virginia University of Lynchburg, http://www.vul.edu/vul-offers-online-degrees/
- Online Programs at Northern, Northern State University, http://www.northern.edu/online/pages/programs.aspx
- Online Programs & Degrees, South Texas College, http://vc.southtexascollege.edu/online-programs/
- Programs, Anthem College Online, http://www.anthemcollege.edu/programs/
- Top 10 Best Cities for Recent College Graduates, http://renters.apartments.com/top-10-best-cities-for-recent-college-graduates
- Top Maryland employers, http://www.baltimoresun.com/bal-rg-mdbusiness21-story.html#page=2
- "Virginia Tech ramps up student entrepreneurship opportunities," http://www.roanoke.com/business/news/blacksburg/virginia-tech-ramps-up-student-entrepreneurship-opportunities/article_75a82ed6-2c4a-5b70-8005-01a45b082704.html
- Washington, DC Profile, http://www.forbes.com/places/dc/washington/
- Undergraduate Degree Fields, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_cta.asp
- Undergraduate Programs, Bemidji State University, http://www.bemidjistate.edu/academics/distance/undergraduate/