Types of Business Bachelor's Degrees
Students enrolled in an online business bachelor's program complete 120-124 credits in general education, electives, and core coursework. Most business programs cover topics in accounting, finance, and marketing, to name a few areas. However, students also have the option to choose between three different degree types, each of which varies in terms of the core coursework they require. Therefore, the student's choice of program will likely influence the skills they develop and the career paths open to them.
Bachelor of Arts in Business
A Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Business is designed for students to take classes in the humanities and social sciences. With the freedom to complete coursework requirements in multiple subjects, students can complement their understanding of business with a well-rounded education in other areas, such as history, literature, and political science. Given that this degree type can help foster widely applicable communication, writing, and civic skills, it is suited for individuals who hope to explore opportunities in business as well as other sectors — such as government, non-profit, and education — once they graduate. A business BA may also be a useful option for those considering graduate study in the humanities and social science disciplines.
Bachelor's of Science in Business
A Bachelor of Science (BS) in Business has a more focused curriculum than a BA track, as students are required to complete coursework in math, statistics, and science. Overall, a business BS can help develop a strong set of in-demand business skills, including quantitative reasoning, data analysis, and computing. Given the more STEM-focused nature of their education, students with a BS may be better prepared for technical business roles — including financial analysts or IT technicians — than BA holders. They are also more likely to meet some of the admission prerequisites for graduate programs in technical disciplines, such as finance or accounting.
A BS in Business can help develop a strong set of in-demand business skills, including quantitative reasoning, data analysis, and computing.
Bachelor's of Business Administration
Unlike a BA or BS program, a bachelor's of business administration (BBA) is specifically designed to train graduates for a career in the field. Students gain a holistic understanding of management, marketing, human resources, and economics, to name a few areas. Although it may include some general coursework in other subjects, a BBA curriculum primarily focuses on teaching business knowledge and developing expertise in leadership, negotiation, and entrepreneurship. Upon graduating, students may qualify for entry-level management positions or apply for a master of business administration program (MBA).
What Will You Learn in a Business Degree Program?
An online business education can prepare students to evaluate profit opportunities, analyze market trends, manage a team, and use data to solve real-world management problems. Aside from introducing them to topics in various areas of business, many programs also encourage students to complete internships at the end of their junior year so that they may gain practical experience of working in a business environment. Before graduating, online students complete a capstone project where they are expected to draw on their knowledge of core coursework, such as the classes listed below.
In this core class, students study the role of ethics in business management. They focus on understanding how to resolve ethical challenges and conduct business in a way that benefits society.
Individuals enrolled in this class learn how to effectively communicate business ideas in written form. They practice by writing memos, reports, formal letters, and other forms of internal and external communication documents.
Data Analytics for Business Decision-Making
This core course covers how to use data in a business setting. Students gain experience with business analytics, including how to interpret data from different sources, gather insights, and make recommendations based on findings.
Human Resource Management
Sometimes listed as an elective, HR management teaches students how to best manage a company's talent. Topics include recruiting and compensating employees, federal and state labor laws, and conflict mitigation.
Principles of Microeconomics
Students taking this core class learn about the factors that influence household and individual spending. Faculty covers a wide range of topics, including price, demand, and supply. Their goal is to help students understand how producers and consumers interact in the economy.
Business Degree Concentrations
Business programs typically provide students the chance to concentrate coursework in a particular subdiscipline. Specializations may be beneficial for students who want to complement their general business training with specific knowledge and prepare for entry-level positions in a given business area. Those looking to continue their online studies in a certain business discipline may also consider focusing their coursework at the undergraduate level. While degree concentrations vary by program, below is a list of common options for business majors:
With a finance concentration, students explore math, statistics, auditing practices, and other related concepts. They study how to improve a firm or company's profit margins through new investments while reducing costs. A finance concentration is typically designed to lead to a career in banking or financial management. Like many businesses, hospitals and other healthcare facilities need competent managers in order to run effectively. This concentration infuses business concepts with specialized knowledge of the healthcare industry, preparing graduates to meet the unique managerial challenges of delivering care.
An HR concentration is ideal for individuals who want to help create welcoming working environments for employees. Given that nearly all businesses, governments, and non-profit organizations have an HR department, this concentration provides students with skills and expertise that are relevant across several sectors. Graduates are typically prepared to work as HR analysts in many settings and can even end up in a managerial role after a few years of work experience. Management is an interdisciplinary concentration that is designed to train future business leaders. Students learn about the importance of organizational theory while gaining experience in negotiation, communication, and international business. Like HR, a management concentration can lead to entry-level positions in a range of industries and occupations, such as supply chain management or the management of information systems. One of the most common concentrations, marketing helps students better understand consumers. Students in this subdiscipline explore concepts in psychology and communication, learning how to leverage marketing strategies in order to benefit a company. Graduates often take on positions as market researchers.
Is an Online Business Degree Worth It?
Higher education is an investment of time and money, so it's important to determine whether it will pay off in the long run. As with other programs, the value of an online bachelor's in business will ultimately depend on a student's particular situation — including their personal commitments, familial responsibilities, and financial resources. In addition to these considerations, individuals may also want to consider the following potential advantages and drawbacks when deciding whether a bachelor's in business is right for them:
Individuals in business and financial occupations are often well compensated. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), these professionals earn a median annual salary of $72,250, which is significantly more than the U.S. median of $41,950 for all occupations.
A business degree is a versatile credential. Individuals typically graduate with a transferable skill set, which prepares them to land an entry-level position in different industries and/or pursue a graduate degree in various disciplines.
This degree is not always necessary to begin a career in business. For instance, students with degrees in STEM, the humanities, and social sciences may qualify for the same positions as business graduates. STEM graduates may even have an advantage over business majors when it comes to attaining jobs in finance.
Business professionals have higher rates of burnout. Business executives report being overworked, which can lead to fatigue, demotivation, and high turnover.
Additionally, individuals should determine whether pursuing a business degree through distance learning is the best option for them. Distance-learning programs can be challenging, as students are expected to take the initiative and complete courses and assignments without the support of a structured timeline. Alternatively, this flexibility may suit nontraditional students, who may work or have other commitments and need to fit classes around their busy schedules.
Business Degree Scholarships
Online learners can apply for various forms of financial aid — including federal and state grants, university scholarships, and private funding — to help pay for their business degrees. They may also apply for federal student loans, but it's important to first explore free sources of funding as these don't have to be repaid.
Students who want to apply for assistance should first fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This form collects an individual's personal and financial information to establish what kind of grants and scholarships they may be eligible for. Distance learners should also check with the finance departments of their prospective schools to determine whether they need to meet specific eligibility criteria in order to apply for institutional aid. Business majors may consider applying for the following scholarships.
This award is available to students enrolled or planning to enroll in an undergraduate business program. U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents are eligible to apply. AfterCollege provides financial assistance to students pursuing a degree in a variety of business-related fields. Applicants must have a minimum 3.0 GPA to meet the academic requirements of this award. This program administered by the Foundation for Financial Service Professionals is for undergraduate students studying toward a degree in finance, accounting, or related field. Applicants must complete one year of study, demonstrate financial need, and be U.S. Citizens or Legal Permanent Residents. SHRM members studying for a bachelor's in an HR-related field can apply for this award. Applicants must have completed at least one semester of their undergraduate degree and have a minimum 3.0 GPA. This award encourages female students to pursue a career in finance. Applicants must be graduating high school as seniors with a minimum 3.0 GPA. They must also demonstrate leadership and an interest in finance.