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Online Colleges for Human Resources

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The human resources field is considerably versatile when it comes to employment outcomes. Those who want to get into the workplace quickly will find it doesn't take a four-year degree to get their foot in the door as a human resources assistant. Meanwhile, those who are interested in advancing their career will discover that with the right mix of education and experience, they may become managers or serve as top talent acquisition for leading businesses.

Regardless of which option appeals to job seekers, online human resources degrees can make it convenient to get the necessary education. Keep reading to learn more about which institutions make the cut as the best online colleges for human resources. Also included are details about degree options and typical careers for workers in the field.

Best Online Colleges for Human Resources

Students interested in online human resources degrees may be overwhelmed by all their options. Certainly, there are dozens of schools across the country offering these programs at all levels to distance learners. OnlineColleges.com applied its methodology to 103 schools and found the following ten to be the best online colleges for human resources.

1

University of Oklahoma-Norman Campus

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$4,261
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
14
Accredited
School Type
4-year
Taking the top spot in the OnlineColleges.com analysis is The University of Oklahoma, which has its main campus in Norman. However, OU Sooners can study from anywhere through one of the school's online degree programs. The university offers a bachelor’s and master’s program for administrative leadership. These programs have courses focused on leadership, conflict resolution and the culture of an organization.

The University of Oklahoma's Norman campus not only topped the overall OnlineColleges.com rankings, but it also had the highest graduation rate of the 103 schools reviewed. In 2014, the university had a 67 percent graduation rate. It also earned fifth place for accessibility and second place for prominence.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
  • Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business

Location:

660 Parrington Oval
Norman, Oklahoma 73019
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2

Webster University

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$18,235
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
27
Accredited
School Type
4-year

The campus for Webster University is in St. Louis, Missouri, but its online programs enroll students from across the country. Through the George Herbert Walker School of Business and Technology, distance learners can earn an online master's in human resource development or an online master's in human resources management.

Webster University ranked second for its graduation rate, which was 64 percent in 2014. It also nabbed the top spot in prominence thanks to the fact that 13 percent of graduates in 2014 walked away from the school with a degree or certificate in human resources.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
  • Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs

Location:

470 East Lockwood Ave.
St. Louis, Missouri 63119
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3

Indiana State University

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$7,528
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
44
Accredited
School Type
4-year
At Indiana State University, the College of Technology houses the school's human resources program. Students can study at the John T. Myers Technology Center at the campus in Terre Haute, or they can choose to earn either an online bachelor's in human resource development or an online master's degree in human resource development. An online human resources minor is also available.

Indiana State University ranked high in three of the main metrics measured by OnlineColleges.com: graduation rates, accessibility and prominence. In 2014, the university admitted 83 percent of its applicants, which makes this a good institution for students who want to feel confident they can get into their school of choice.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission

Location:

200 N 7th St.
Terre Haute, Indiana 47809
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4

Davenport University

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$13,113
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
50
Accredited
School Type
4-year
Davenport University has ten campuses across the state of Michigan, but its main location is in the City of Grand Rapids. Within the university, the Donald W. Maine College of Business offers a number of online human resources degree programs. There is an online bachelor's of human resource management program as well as a post-baccalaureate and graduate certificate options in the field.

Of the 103 schools reviewed, Davenport University came in second for accessibility. This is because the university admitted 93 percent of applicants in 2014. In terms of prominence and graduation rates, the university ranked 7th in both metrics.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission

Location:

6191 Kraft Ave. SE
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49503
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5

Central Michigan University

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$11,248
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
28
Accredited
School Type
4-year
Another Michigan university making the list of best online colleges for human resources is Central Michigan University. Its main campus is in Mount Pleasant, but its global campus enrolls students from around the country and maintains 50 centers to serve distance learners. The College of Business Administration offers degrees at all levels. Central Michigan University offers an online program for an MBA in human resource management as well as an online program for a graduate certificate in human resources administration.

Central Michigan University is more competitive than some of the other online colleges for human resources. It only admitted 69 percent of applicants in 2014. However, it ranked third for its graduation rate and fifth for prominence.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission

Location:

1200 S Franklin St.
Mount Pleasant, Michigan 48859
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6

Pennsylvania State University-World Campus

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$17,694
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
53
Accredited
School Type
4-year
With 24 campus locations in Pennsylvania as well as a world campus for online students, Pennsylvania State University is known for its convenient degree options. The School of Labor & Employment Relations offers several graduate degree programs online. These include a master of professional studies in human resources and employment relations as well as a graduate certificate in international human resources and employment relations.

Penn State ranked in the top ten for graduation and admission rates, but it's prominence in the field of human resources boosted its ranking in the OnlineColleges.com analysis. It came in third in that metric among 103 institutions. This is because nearly 7 percent of its conferred degrees and certifications in 2014 were in the field of human resources.

Accreditation:

  • Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools

Location:

201 Old Main
University Park, Pennsylvania 16802
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7

SUNY Empire State College

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$8,270
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
38
Accredited
School Type
4-year
As part of the State University of New York system, SUNY Empire State College maintains 35 locations throughout the state with a main campus in Sarasota Springs. Through its School of Graduate Studies, the college offers an online program for an advanced certificate in human resource management. This program requires 12 credits for completion.

SUNY Empire State College is most notable for its accessibility. It admitted 81 percent of applicants in 2014, which is good news for those hoping to limit the number of applications they need to submit before starting their education.

Accreditation:

  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Location:

Two Union Ave.
Saratoga Springs, New York 12866
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8

University of Texas at Tyler

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$5,016
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
16
Accredited
School Type
4-year
As its name suggests, the University of Texas at Tyler maintains a campus in the Tyler community. There are also campuses in Palestine and Longview. The College of Engineering maintains a center in Houston. The College of Business and Technology houses the university's Department of Human Resource Development. Students who don't live near campus or who simply prefer to study at home can earn an online master's degree in human resource development from the university.

The University of Texas at Tyler is another accessible school, admitting 81 percent of applicants in 2014. It also gets high marks for its graduation rate. Its 45 percent rate in 2014 was good enough for the university to rank fifth out of 103 schools for this metric.

Accreditation:

  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Location:

3900 University Blvd.
Tyler, Texas 75799
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9

Harrison College-Indianapolis

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$14,400
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
24
Accredited
School Type
4-year
Harrison College is a private institution in Indiana with 11 campuses, including three in Indianapolis. Online programs include associate and bachelor's degrees as well as certificate programs. Through the College of Business, students can earn an online bachelor's degree in business management with a specialization in human resources.

For students who want to be assured they'll be accepted into an online human resources program, Harrison College is a good bet. The school admitted 100 percent of their applicants in 2014, giving it the top spot in the OnlineColleges.com review when it comes to accessibility. The college is also ranked fourth for its graduation rate and eighth for its prominence at the school.

Accreditation:

  • Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools

Location:

550 E. Washington St.
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204
Go to School Website 
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10

Cleary University

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$18,000
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
15
Accredited
School Type
4-year
In Michigan, Cleary University has three campuses, which are in the cities of Howell, Ann Arbor and Flint. Cleary University is a business school that provides online and on-campus programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The university offers a bachelor of business administration degree in human resource management.

Among the main metrics measured by OnlineColleges.com, Cleary University ranked highest for prominence. It landed in fourth place. This is because nearly 6 percent of the degrees and certificates it awarded in 2014 were for human resources.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission

Location:

2793 Plymouth Road
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48105
Go to School Website 
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Want to see additional online colleges for human resources?
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Interview with an Expert
Our staff members are always willing to help students out
via phone, e-mail or the online student commons.

Dr. Barrett Baebler

Chair of the Management Department

Webster University

Interview with an Expert
Barrett Baebler

Dr. Barrett Baebler

Chair of the Management Department

Webster University

Q: What qualities make Webster University's online human resources degree an outstanding program?

A: Our instructors are largely working within the industry. Because of this, Webster University's HR graduate courses involve practical and theoretical considerations in the professional development of men and women in the field of human resources. To help us ensure we continually offer and deliver a quality program, the MA in Human Resources Management program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs. Additionally, our MA in Human Resources fully aligns with the SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) curriculum guidelines.

Q: What support does Webster University offer their online student body?

A: Webster offers a number of initial online trainings to new online students. One training is geared towards students who are new to Webster University and to online learning while another training is geared towards students who might have taken an on-campus class before and is aware of Webster's resources but is not used to the online environment.

We have an "online student commons" message board where student volunteers and staff are able to answer questions as they come in. A student success coach is on staff to ensure that everyone is having an easy path through the process. Also, our staff members are always willing to help students out via phone, e-mail or the online student commons.

Q: How does the online human resources program differ from the on-campus program?

A: We know that our students are busy adults, and we value being able to offer them flexibility throughout their education. If someone lives in St. Louis or near a domestic or international metropolitan campus that offers an HR master's degree, they would be able to seamlessly jump between on-campus or online course offerings.

The learning outcomes and program requirements are the same regardless of the delivery method. The online learning option allows students to do their coursework when it is most convenient for them, but the quality of the education is the same whether you're in a classroom for one evening a week or on your computer at a coffee shop on a Saturday afternoon.

Online Human Resource Degrees

One factor students should consider when selecting a school is what levels of education it offers. Some online colleges for human resources only offer graduate degrees while others may focus on undergraduate programs. Here's a look at the most common online human resources degrees and who might benefit most from each one.

Human Resources Associate Degree Online

This is an entry-level program for those who want to learn the basics of the human resources field or who want to get a taste of it without having to commit to a bachelor’s program. Students who earn a human resources associate degree online often study through a business school or a community college. These programs take, on average, two years to complete.

Coursework may review employment laws, compensation practices, basic accounting principles and computer technology. Graduates can use their degree for entry-level positions such as a human resources assistant. Credits from an associate degree can also be transferred to a bachelor's degree program for those who decide to continue their education.

Online Bachelor's in Human Resources

An online bachelor's degree in human resources dives deeper into the field of human resources than an associate degree. The human resources major is typically offered within a bachelor of business administration (BBA) program. These degrees may include general business education courses alongside instruction in topics such as recruiting, retention, training and ethics. A bachelor’s degree can typically be completed in four years.

Graduates with an online bachelor's in human resources may most commonly go on to work as human resources specialists. Some may become recruiters and even go into business for themselves as headhunters. With enough experience, human resources specialists may advance to managerial roles.

Online Master's Degree in Human Resources

Those who already have a bachelor's degree and want to expand their knowledge and skills may want to consider pursing an online master's degree in human resources. Available in accelerated programs that can usually be completed in as little as 15 months, a graduate degree can provide a depth and breadth of knowledge not found at the undergraduate levels.

Coursework is usually designed to develop high-level skills such as problem solving, critical thinking and strategic development. Graduates may work as human resources managers or compensation and benefits managers. They may also be included as part of the executive team at a business and be responsible for creating a program of talent acquisition and development.

Online Degrees in Human Resource Management

While many schools offer degrees in human resources, a smaller number offer programs in the specialized field of human resource management. Although all online human resources degrees share similar attributes, students need to be aware of the differences between programs that are focused on development and those designed around management.

Human resources development refers to the practice of cultivating an efficient and productive workforce. Those working in development may be responsible for creating training programs, offering career counseling and consulting on how human resources fit into the overall goals and strategy of a business or organization.

The field of human resource management, also known as personnel administration, is concerned more with the nuts and bolts of overseeing a workforce. Those working in management ensure state and federal labor laws are followed, assess potential employees and may recruit top talent. In some respects human resource managers may put into practice the strategies and recommendations of human resources developers. Since managers need to have a slightly different skillset than other professionals in the field, some schools have degrees specifically in HR management.

OnlineColleges.com reviewed data from 89 institutions that offer online degrees in human resource management. Based upon that information, here are five online colleges that ranked well for this specialized field.

  • Dickinson State University
    This university offers a fully online bachelor’s program in human resources management. In 2014, more than 4.5 percent of all the degrees and certificates Dickinson State University conferred were in the field of human resource management.

  • Geneva College
    This college is based in Pennsylvania and is a prominent provider of human resource management degrees. In fact, nearly 9 percent of the degrees and certificates awarded by Geneva College in 2014 were in that field. The Christian-based college offers an online program for a bachelor’s in human resource management.

  • Lindenwood College 
    Missouri-based Lindenwood College offers online programs for a master’s in business administration and a master’s in leadership. Both of these programs include courses on human resources management. In 2014, the school had a 53 percent acceptance rate.

  • Fontbonne College 
    Another school in Missouri is Fontbonne College. This Catholic college is most notable for its accessibility. The school admitted 91 percent of its applicants in 2014. Fontbonne College offers management concentrations for its bachelor’s in business administration program as well as for its graduate programs. These concentrations in management include courses in human resources management.

  • Colorado Christian University
    Colorado Christian University in Colorado is another school with a high degree of accessibility. Students wishing to enroll can take comfort in knowing the school accepted 94 percent of applicants in 2014. The university offers both an associate and a bachelor’s program online for human resource management. It also offers a certificate program in the subject.

Human Resources Career Outlook

There are a number of human resources occupations available to graduates. Some of these jobs focus on a particular aspect of the field while others are typically filled by people with advanced education and experience. Here's a look at four common choices for graduates of online colleges for human resources.

Compensation and Benefits Manger
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2015 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$121,630
Projected Job Openings Projected job openings refers to the estimated number of job openings from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
6,000
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015
Bachelor's degree
Another specialized occupation within the field of human resources is that of compensation and benefits managers. As their name suggests, these professionals may set up the pay structure of an organization, choose benefits partners and ensure their program of wages and benefits falls within an allotted budget.

Employers may hire those with a bachelor's degree, but a master's degree may be preferred by some companies, particularly those with a large payroll to manage. Rather than a general human resources degree, compensation and benefits managers may have a master's degree in human resource management.
Human Resources Manager
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2015 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$117,080
Projected Job Openings Projected job openings refers to the estimated number of job openings from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
46,600
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015
Bachelor's degree
Once they have gained a sufficient level of experience, human resources specialists may be promoted to manager positions. Human resources managers oversee the work of specialists, plan benefits packages and mediate staffing issues. At some companies, these professionals serve as part of the executive team and are called in to be part of high level decisions.

While a bachelor's degree may be the minimum education required for some positions, other employers may prefer to hire candidates who have an advanced degree. Online degrees in human resources management are often tailored specifically for those hoping to work at the managerial level.
Human Resources Specialist
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2015 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$63,710
Projected Job Openings Projected job openings refers to the estimated number of job openings from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
139,300
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015
Bachelor's degree
Human resources specialists may wear many hats, but their main duties involve interviewing job applicants, checking references and performing new worker orientations. Some employers may also have these specialists perform additional tasks such as processing payroll or assisting with strategic planning.

A bachelor's degree in human resources is the standard education for these workers. Human resources specialists are employed by businesses in all industries, but the largest percentage work in the employment services sector. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 16 percent of jobs were in that field in 2014. Specialists may work full-time in an office, but some may also travel to job fairs and college campuses for recruitment purposes.
Training and Development Specialist
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2015 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$62,460
Projected Job Openings Projected job openings refers to the estimated number of job openings from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
80,400
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015
Bachelor's degree
Training and development specialists focus specifically on the training needs of employees. They may be responsible for identifying areas of weakness within a workforce and creating solutions for improvement. Beyond that, these specialists create training programs and implement them.

Since many organizations use online or technology-based learning programs, companies may look for training and development specialists who not only have a background in human resources but who are also familiar with information technology tools.
Salary
Number of Jobs
Job Growth
*This data is sourced from the 2013 BLS employment report (BLS.gov)

Methodology and Sources

Methodology

To be included in these rankings, all colleges had to meet the following criteria for the specific subject being ranked:

  1. Offer at least one degree or certificate in that subject online
  2. Have awarded at least one degree or certificate in that subject in 2014-15

Once we had our list of schools for each subject, we ranked them on six criteria, using the weights specified:

  1. In-state tuition, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014: 20%
  2. Graduation rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014: 10%
  3. Accessibility, based on the admissions rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014: 10%
  4. Program prominence, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded by the school in 2014-15 were in this particular subject, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014: 30%
  5.  Related subjects, based on the number of similar programs that the school offers at any level, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014: 15%
  6. Variety of degree levels, based on the number of degree and certificate levels out of a possible nine that the school offers in this particular subject, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014: 15%

Methodology Sources

  • Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2014-15, National Center for Education Statistics, Accessed January 2016, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/

Sources

  1. Central Michigan University, https://www.cmich.edu/global/cmuonline/Pages/programs.aspx
  2. Cleary University, http://www.cleary.edu/programs/
  3. Compensation and Benefits Managers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/compensation-and-benefits-managers.htm
  4. Davenport University, http://www.davenport.edu/global-campus/getting-started/online-programs
  5. Harrison College, http://harrison.edu/about/academic-affairs/accreditations-and-memberships
  6. Human Resources Development, https://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/cipcode/cipdetail.aspx?y=55&cipid=87715
  7. Human Resources Management, https://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/cipcode/cipdetail.aspx?y=55&cipid=88916
  8. Human Resources Managers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/human-resources-managers.htm
  9. Human Resources Specialists, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/human-resources-specialists.htm
  10. Indiana State University, https://www.indstate.edu/technology/online
  11. Jobs You Can Get with a Human Resources Degree, Bryant & Stratton College, http://www.bryantstratton.edu/global/bryantstratton/online/insights/jobs-you-can-get-with-a-human-resources-degree
  12. Master's Degree in Human Resources Management, http://www.snhu.edu/online-degrees/masters/ms-in-human-resources-management
  13. Penn State, http://www.worldcampus.psu.edu/degrees-and-certificates/directory/topic/human-resources%2C-labor%2C-and-employment-relations
  14. SUNY Empire State College, http://www.esc.edu/graduate-studies/advanced-certificates/
  15. The University of Oklahoma, http://www.ou.edu/content/admissions/academics/business/human-resources.html
  16. Training and Development Specialists, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/training-and-development-specialists.htm
  17. University of Texas at Tyler, http://www.uttyler.edu/academics/online-programs/index.php
  18. Webster University, http://www.webster.edu/business-and-technology/academics/online-business-programs.html