Guide to Online Business Management Degrees

Michael McCarthy

Written By: Michael McCarthy

Published: 4/11/2022

An online bachelor's degree in business management may help prepare students to lead teams in business, government, or the non-profit sector. Enrollees typically study human motivation, financial analysis, performance management, and business communication. Business management degree holders work in a variety of roles, many of which pay well compared to the U.S. median salary for bachelor's graduates. In addition, most of these jobs require only a bachelor's degree at the entry level. Although a master's degree may be useful at higher levels, bachelor's graduates can usually begin their careers after graduation.

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What Will I Learn in a Business Management Degree Program?

Management degrees typically offer a wide-ranging curriculum that focuses on leading people and projects. Some bachelor's programs are general business degrees with a concentration in management, whereas others are purely management programs. The former type usually contains more general courses in business operations and the latter is heavily focused on how to motivate teams and track performance. Some degree programs provide optional specializations such as financial services management, human resource management, and supply chain management.

Below, we've detailed a few common business courses that you might encounter during a bachelor's degree in management.

Behavior and Motivation

Faculty discuss lessons drawn from behavioral psychology to try to help students understand what motivates people, particularly in the workplace. They may lecture on intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation, social influences on behavior, positive and negative reinforcement, and goal-setting.

Crises and Business Continuity

This course covers operational flow in the event of disasters, incapacity in leadership, or sudden resignations or terminations. Professors generally cover contingency planning, organizational charts, emergency response training, and lines of communication within and outside the institution.

Legal Topics for Managers

Students in this course learn the fundamentals of business law that may affect their work as managers. Topics might include liability, contracts, torts, government regulation, and human resources policies.

Marketing Management

You may find value in a marketing management course even if you're not a marketing major because this function is crucial to the success of most enterprises. The class often culminates in a project allowing students to design a comprehensive marketing campaign, either alone or in groups.

Organizational Behavior

Professors in this course survey psychological and sociological theories to explain how organizations function. They cover structure, policy, group diversity, communication, and leadership across different entities.

Still unsure whether you want to study management? You might consider a bachelor's degree in business, marketing, or organizational leadership instead.

Program Requirements

You'll typically need to submit several items for a college to consider you for admission to a management degree program. These include:

  • Official high school or GED transcripts, usually showing a minimum GPA of 2.5
  • Official ACT or SAT scores — though this is increasingly less common
  • One or two letters of recommendation from teachers or guidance counselors
  • A personal essay written from a designated prompt

Online bachelor's programs in management usually feature 120 credit hours of classes — about 80 hours of general education and elective courses and 40 hours in the major. Faculty design most bachelor's degrees to last four years with a full-time schedule, though most students take longer to finish. Some colleges also offer part-time paths, which may help you strike a more even balance between school and other responsibilities. If you already hold an associate degree, then you might consider a degree-completion option that lets you concentrate on management courses without needing to retake certain prerequisites.

Some business management programs culminate in a practicum course in which you can apply everything you've learned to a comprehensive research project. This practicum may be in addition to an internship or other field placement, which lets you gain real-world experience even before you've graduated.

Careers with a Business Management Degree

Even if your degree has "business" in the name, the skills that faculty teach can also apply to the government and non-profit sectors. Employers everywhere need leaders who can hire and train new talent, develop budgets and performance strategies, shepherd projects from conception through implementation, and communicate their business decisions to other teams.

We've listed a few potential careers for management graduates below, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) details many more possibilities.

Job title Description Median Annual Salary Projected Job Outlook Through 2030
Financial manager Finance professionals in all industries monitor the money flowing into and out of their organizations. Managers plan budgets, research relevant market activity, and report findings to executives. You might take electives in accounting and finance to make yourself more competitive for this role. $134,180 17% growth
Human resources manager People in these roles oversee teams who recruit and pay employees as well as implement company policies. To stand out in a hiring process, you may want to take business administration or HR electives. $121,220 9% growth
Marketing manager Marketers research customer or client needs for their employer, then design campaigns to reach those audiences. Marketing is a popular major, so you might pair your management studies with a marketing minor or double major to seek a competitive advantage. $142,170 10% growth
Medical and health services manager Healthcare facilities hire managers to seek and retain talent and supervise special projects. Because healthcare is a specialized business, you may need a master’s degree to rise to a management role. However, it can also be useful to gain entry-level experience in healthcare operations after finishing your bachelor’t’s. $104,280 32% growth
Sales manager These managers oversee frontline teams of sales representatives. They work closely with marketing managers to identify prospective clients. In addition to their base salaries, sales managers often earn commissions or bonuses based on their team’s performance. $132,290 7% growth

Is a Business Management Degree Program Worth It?

Your personal goals and circumstances differ from everyone else's, so there's no way to answer this question definitively. However, a management bachelor's has provided a ticket to a variety of well-paying, fast-growing career fields for many graduates, and it might do the same for you. Think through the following pros and cons as you weigh your decision.

Potential Benefits

Management occupations tend to pay well. The BLS notes that management is the highest paying major occupational group that it tracks.

These degrees emphasize transferable skills that can be useful to employers in most industries. A 2021 article in HR Magazine notes the importance of soft skills such as communication, leadership, collaboration, confident decision-making, and problem-solving, all of which HR professionals seek in new hires.

Potential Drawbacks

Managers often deal with long hours and unclear expectations. Research by consulting and polling firm Gallup reveals some of the difficulties that frustrate managers, including competing priorities in ambiguous environments and stress from high levels of responsibility. Overall, managers report that they're overburdened with work at a 50% higher rate than nonmanagers.

Studying management online can reduce your opportunities to build a network. Distance learning typically comes with fewer informal interactions with classmates and faculty, which can limit your chances to make professional contacts. You may be able to mitigate this disadvantage by staying active in your college's alumni group and building relationships during any internships you secure.

Is a Management Degree a Good Fit for Me?

You might be suited for a bachelor's degree in management if you find yourself taking charge in stressful situations or handing out assignments during group projects. In these cases, you're exhibiting some of the traits that the Center for Creative Leadership recognizes as essential for people in authority. These include effective communication, a talent for delegating tasks, the ability to influence people, self-awareness, and learning agility, which means an aptitude for picking up new ideas quickly.

It's important to understand that as you advance through many organizations, an increasing percentage of the colleagues at your level will be white and male, a trend that continues all the way to the C-suite and boardroom. This may be an important consideration if diversity, equity, and inclusion are important to you. In short, you may be a good candidate for a management degree if you feel confident in your leadership qualities, enjoy working hard, and aren't deterred by the potential challenges.

Scholarships for Business Management Students

Financial aid can be a helpful way to pay for a degree, and you should apply for all available funding to save on future student debt. Scholarships, grants, and work-study programs provide aid that you don't need to repay, which can reduce the total cost of your degree upfront. Depending on how much financial aid you receive, you may still need to secure student loans to pay for the remainder of college expenses. Federal and state governments usually offer better terms and interest rates than private lenders, so you might consider these options first.

Most colleges will ask you to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at the beginning of the financial aid process. This form determines how much federal funding you qualify for. Colleges and state governments typically use it for the same purpose.

As a management major, you might be eligible for a host of scholarships geared toward business students.

This organization provides several awards to business students who focus their studies on government financial management with amounts ranging from $5,000 to $20,000. Among the awards is the Minorities in Government Finance Scholarship for applicants from underrepresented backgrounds.

This $5,000 award is open to women in at least their second year of enrollment in a business program. Zonta International offers up to 37 scholarships each year to applicants around the world.

As a business management undergrad, you can apply for this $1,000 award. You must demonstrate a minimum GPA of 3.0 and provide a letter of recommendation along with your resume or a bio.

Can I Get a Management Degree Online?

As part of the increasing popularity of online degrees, many colleges offer bachelor's degrees in management to distance learners. See our rankings of the best online bachelor's degrees and best online master's degrees in management to find colleges with online programs.

Most online programs have asynchronous courses, meaning they don't have live meetings. Instead, you can watch lectures and submit coursework on your own schedule as long as you respect due dates. However, some distance learning degrees have synchronous or hybrid elements that require live online or in-person meetings, so make sure you understand the program's structure before committing. Any internships will also take place on-site.

Choosing a Management Degree

There are many considerations when applying to a degree program, so it's helpful to focus on the factors you consider most important. Ask yourself the questions below to see whether they spark any ideas about what matters in your education.

Is this school regionally accredited?

Accreditation should be a top consideration: It means that an independent agency attests to the quality of a college's faculty, curricula, and services. This allows the college to accept federal financial aid. Institutional accreditation can be either national or regional, with regional accreditors holding schools to higher academic standards. Most regionally accredited schools don't accept transfer credits from nationally accredited schools, so attending a regionally accredited college is often a safer bet.

Is the school's management program accredited?

Academic programs can also earn programmatic accreditation from agencies that focus on specific majors. For management, the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) accredits both traditional and online degrees. Schools without ACBSP's stamp don't necessarily offer a subpar education, but it is an additional credential testifying to a program's quality.

What's the true cost of this degree?

Colleges all charge different rates for tuition, mandatory fees, and room and board for in-person learners. To calculate total cost, add these expenses together for each school you're considering, then top it off with another $1,100-$1,300, which is the Department of Education's estimate for yearly textbook costs. Keep in mind that cost doesn't equal quality and that more affordable programs may lead to better returns on your investment.

Would I prefer online or on-campus study?

Some colleges only offer one option, so committing to study either online or in-person may limit your list of possible schools.

Does this program have an internship requirement?

Internships can provide an opportunity to use your knowledge and management skills in the real world. This experience may give you practical situations to reference when you interview for jobs, which most hiring managers find helpful.

FAQs About Management Degrees

How Long Does It Take to Earn a Bachelor's Degree in Management?

Faculty usually design bachelor's programs to take four years at a full-time pace. It may take you longer for any number of reasons, including the following:

  • Studying part-time
  • Adding a minor or second major
  • Take time off to attend to personal matters

What's more, you may not need to spend three more years in graduate school to land a management job. According to data analytics company Burning Glass Technologies, more than three-quarters of all sales, marketing, and HR managers hold a bachelor's as their highest degree.

What Can I Do with a Business Management Degree?

Good news: A management curriculum covers a variety of competencies that are useful in many industries. Bachelor's graduates in this major might also secure work as managers in government agencies, charity organizations, or corporations, working in fields as varied as finance, entrepreneurship, poverty reduction, international business, and transportation infrastructure.

Is a Business Management Degree a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science?

Management degrees come in several varieties, including both BA and BS programs. Although the curricula are largely similar, BA degrees tend to focus more on liberal arts and social science classes, whereas a BS may require additional math or science courses.

Additional Resources

We've collected some information below that may help you better understand management as an academic and career discipline. We also link to details on degree programs in subjects related to management.

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