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Business management is one of the most versatile degrees a person can earn. Whether a person's interest lies in an existing company, or in starting up a new business as an entrepreneur, the wide-ranging education an online business management degree program is designed to provide can make it a valuable place to start. Data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) suggests that many high-paying business careers require at least a bachelor's degree, with some requiring advanced degrees. The benefit of online degree programs in business management is their flexibility, which can be crucial to those who are interested in advancing their careers while working full time or raising families.
Best Online Colleges for Business Management in 2018-19
To help guide the search for programs best suited to students' needs and interests, we've collected data on online colleges for business management, including graduation rate, number of programs offered, tuition costs and more. Our methodology, which is detailed at the bottom of this page, utilizes data from the National Center for Education Statistics' Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Using this data, here is our list of the 10 best online colleges for business management in the country.
Saint Leo University
University of Phoenix-Arizona
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
Kaplan University-Omaha Campus
Bay Path University
University of the Incarnate Word
Interview with an Expert
teach the same courses in the classroom.
James W. Bronson, Ph.D.
Chair of the Management Department
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
James W. Bronson, Ph.D.
Chair of the Management Department
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
Q: What are the qualities that make the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater's online business management major an outstanding program?
A: There are several qualities that make our program outstanding:
Quality: All instructors in the program have to go through training before they can teach. All new courses are subject to an outside review by Quality Matters. Instructors whose course evaluations fall into the bottom 25 percent every semester have their courses reviewed by a committee and receive instructions for improvement.
Support: The College of Business and Economics (CoBE) maintains a technical support office (CoBE Tech) overseen by an Assistant Dean. This office supports both students and faculty. Faculty support is provided by a learning management system expert, web course designer, media specialist and other IT specialists. This office also maintains a high-end recording studio and a rapid turnaround computer repair facility.
Expertise: Courses are taught by faculty and staff that teach the same courses in the classroom. The UW-Whitewater College of Business and Economics is large, with over 4,000 students in undergraduate and graduate programs including a DBA, doctorate in business administration program. Many of us teach in a specialized field and we simply have the size to permit relatively narrow areas of specialization.
Programs: At this time, the online business programs consist of a general business major BBA and an MBA. We will have online marketing and finance majors in the BBA program in the near future. Our programs are offered by a state university that is accredited by the HLC and AACSB and should not be confused with programs offered by private for profit colleges and universities.
Q: What support does the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater offer their online student body?
A: ICoBE Tech offers in call-in support for technical issues related to course access and navigation. Walk-in support is available for both technical and hardware issues. Walk-in support might appear to be non-relevant for online students, but we find that a lot of students are trying to balance work and child care issues. These students take a mix of classroom and online classes. Having walk-in hardware support can be important for these students.
Q: How does the online business management program differ from the on-campus program?
A: From a subject content experience, I don't believe that the online program differs materially from the campus program. The required courses are the same. At the margin, the elective courses are more limited for the online degrees. Many courses simply aren't offered online. A course may be offered in the classroom once a year to 30 to 35 students. That same course will not be offered online as the enrollment doesn't warrant the resource commitment. That certainly may change as the online program continues to grow.
I'm going to conclude with a few general observations. Online programs are not for every student. It takes self-discipline and motivation to stick with the coursework. It can be very rewarding for the instructor when you realize that you are helping a stay-at-home mom, or someone in a dead-end job, improve their life. It is also common to find that a student accepted a job before they finished their coursework and that you are helping them finish up their degree. Not every faculty or staff member makes a good online instructor. Anyone who tends to put things off to the last minute has no business teaching an online course. Online courses need to be 100 percent complete before the class even starts and many instructors just can't seem to achieve that timeline.
Why Pursue an Online Business Management Degree?
Business management is a diverse field, providing many different career opportunities in many different companies across many different industries. In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau reports there are more than 7.4 million businesses in existence in the United States. Online business management degrees are available from the certificate to doctoral level, enabling graduates to build skills to seek employment in businesses as different as health care, telecommunications, information technology and others.
What Online Business Management Courses Can I Take?
The types of courses students are required to take during online programs for business management varies greatly depending on the program level and type. Most undergraduate business management programs are broad in scope, offering students the chance to build essential business skills. As students progress upward in their education, they usually begin to address more advanced and concentrated subjects as they decide upon and begin working towards their career goals. Below are details about some of the courses students may take in online colleges for business management.
- A certificate in business management is one of the shortest educational routes in business management and helps students to begin building college credit. Students typically take only a handful of courses specific to business management for a certificate, the credits from which may later be transferable to another undergraduate program. Business ethics, finance, marketing principles and organizational behavior are all topics that may be covered in a certificate program.
- A diploma is an option for students considering online education for business management programs. This short-term program can help students to build basic knowledge about budgeting, finance, capital management and investment and securities.
- Associate degree programs in the subject endeavor to introduce students to various business concepts, such as law, financial management and marketing. Students should also be able to hone their skills in related areas, such as business and technical writing, speech, and managerial accounting. Some associate degree credits may be transferable to a bachelor's degree.
- Students in online bachelor's degree programs in business management may find a four-year degree helpful for creating improved career opportunities. In addition to completing general education requirements for a bachelor's degree, students may be able to learn about accounting and business, leadership and management, spreadsheets, quantitative analysis and more.
- Most online master's degrees in business management are offered through an MBA (Master of Business Administration) degree program. These degrees help students to build practical, real-world skills in areas like accounting, communications and financial management. Specializations may be offered through a master's program in fields such as healthcare management, information and technology, or leadership. Students may be expected to complete a capstone project.
- A variety of doctoral programs in business management are offered online. Students are more likely able to choose a concentration as a focus of their research and learning, and generally perform an in-depth look at business theory and practices as a part of their PhD. A dissertation may be required.
What Skills Are Necessary to Become a Business Manager?
Online colleges for business management can help students to build numerous skill sets. As students work their way through a business management program, they may want to think about whether they are improving in the following skills.
- Leadership: Employees look to their higher-ups for insight and direction when tough issues or new scenarios arise. Business managers should know how to lead with confidence and be able to chart a course for the way business is carried out in the office.
- Verbal communication: Whether they are making a presentation to their bosses or giving a speech to their employees, the way that a business manager interacts with others is vital to their success in the role. Projects, papers and presentations in a business management program can give an aspiring manager the practice they need to communicate properly when it matters most.
- Decision-making: It goes without saying that business managers need to know how to make decisions. While data helps to drive many decisions in the business environment, the answers to tough questions may not always be clear to business managers. Regardless, in some cases, they may still need to act. The more you know about the business world and similar situations, the better your decisions are likely to be, making a solid grounding in the subject from a business management program an invaluable resource in such a situation.
- Delegation: Let's face it, business managers cannot do it all. Knowing how to delegate responsibility to team members and being able to develop trustworthy relationships can make the job of a business manager easier. This in turn can free up their time to focus on other priorities.
Business Management Career Opportunities
Online business management degree programs can provide a solid foundation for students who want to pursue a variety of leadership positions. These programs also aim to provide a business education that can be applied to many different fields. The following are examples of professions that business management graduates can purse, as well as an explanation of how an in-depth managerial education may be helpful in these jobs.
These professionals may help managers with employee disputes and discipline. Another common responsibility of a human resource manager is creating employee benefit programs. In order to do this job, workers must have a strong understanding of organizational communication.
- ensure that materials and supplies are allocated properly
- work closely with suppliers and clients to understand stakeholders' needs
- collaborate with different departments in the organization to ensure that each team is working together to meet customer needs
If business management wasn't quite what you were looking for, maybe one of these other programs can be more aligned to your goals:
Using the National Center for Education Statistics’ Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), we generated a list of colleges and universities that met the following four criteria for the specific subject being ranked:
- Offer a degree or certificate program in that subject, either in an online or hybrid format
- Have at least 1% of students attending some form of distance education
- Have awarded at least one degree or certificate in that subject in 2016-17
- Have reported data for all 11 ranking variables listed below
We ranked 1,813 colleges and universities in the United States on 11 criteria, using 2016-17 data from IPEDS:
- Program prominence, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded via distance education in 2016-2017 were in this particular subject
- Related subjects, based on the number of similar topics for programs in relevant CIP codes that are offered via distance education at any level
- Ratio of students participating fully or partially in DE to Total Enrollment
- Average in-state tuition for undergraduates
- Graduation rate
- Retention rate
- The availability of any tuition plans (Payment, Prepaid, Guaranteed, Other)
- Services (Academic/Career, Placement for Completers)
- Credit offerings (Dual, Life, AP, Military)
- Percent of undergraduate students awarded federal, state, local, institutional or other sources of grant aid
- Average amount of federal, state, local, institutional, or other sources of grant aid awarded to undergraduate students
All schools were scored on a 10-point scale for each of the points listed above. Individual data point scores were then multiplied by their respective weights, and the scores were added together, for a maximum possible score of 10 points.
NOTE: Schools' tuition amounts are based on 2016-17 undergraduate and graduate data reported to the National Center for Education Statistics. The actual cost of tuition may vary.
- Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/