Online Business Management Associate Degree Programs

The Most Affordable Paths & Career Potential in Business Management

With the economy projected to add 8.4 million jobs between 2018 and 2028, a business management associate degree can prepare graduates for exciting and lucrative careers. This guide outlines what students can expect when pursuing a business management associate degree online, including common coursework and the length of a typical program. Additionally, this guide reviews possible career paths, available scholarships for business management majors, opportunities for further education, and professional organizations in the field.

Quiz: Is An Online Business Management Associate Program Right for Me?

If you are considering an online associate degree in business management, the following Q&A can help you decide whether this program matches your education and career goals.

Q: Are you interested in developing skills in accounting, human resources, sales, and project management?

A: With an online associate degree in business management, students develop business skills they can use in a variety of industries. The program prepares graduates to face common business challenges related to both operational management and people management.

For students who are excited to use their entrepreneurial skills and start a business, an associate degree in entrepreneurship -- or a broader associate degree in small business management -- may be a better fit.

Q: Does a two-year degree feel like the right timeline?

A: The majority of online associate degree programs in business management require a minimum of 60 credits. Full-time students take about two years to graduate.

However, if you want to work at your own pace, online programs can be a great fit for part-time students, as well as students interested in graduating quickly. Accelerated programs may allow you to finish ahead of that two-year timeline, and part-time programs allow you to balance school with work or family life.

Q: Do you have prior credits to transfer?

A: If you haven't taken AP courses in high school or classes at another college, you still may be eligible to apply credits towards your associate degree in business management. If you've worked in the industry, the lessons you've learned during your time may help you receive credits in certain areas. Check with the college admissions office to learn more about transfer credits.

Q: Are you interested in eventually earning a bachelor's degree?

A: An online associate degree in business management builds a foundation in business operations and leadership, as well as critical thinking. To climb the corporate ladder, many students opt to get their bachelor's degree in business management online. Although qualifications vary by employer, if you plan to become a manager or executive, having a bachelor's degree is typically a minimum educational requirement.

What Will You Learn in an Online Associate Business Management Program?

Online associate business management programs prepare graduates for entry-level roles in the business management field. Depending on the college or university, students may focus on topics such as microeconomics, managerial accounting, business systems analysis and design, human resource management, or business law. Coursework helps students expand their communication, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills. Overall, the program prepares learners to be effective leaders.

Common Classes and Coursework

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    Macroeconomics: Students learn how economic systems allocate resources to each person in a society. Learners also examine American capitalism, consumer behavior, and models for various market structures.
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    Managerial Accounting: Degree-seekers review the financial impacts of specific business decisions and the financial benefits of new business practices. Students examine how accounting and productivity information can be used to improve business performance, as well as how to provide managers with the information they need to make informed business decisions.
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    Business Systems Analysis and Design: This course introduces students to the role of information systems in a business organization. Students learn how to use technology, including software and hardware, to solve common business problems.
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    Human Resource Management: Human resource management courses explore the policies and fundamental aspects of administration, including clerical and administrative tasks. Students learn how to maintain an effective team and examine various issues related to international human resource management.
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    Business Law: The course outlines the ethical aspects of the United States' legal system, including criminal law, torts law, product liability, sales, contracts, business organizations, and cyber law.

Skills You Will Gain

An associate degree in business management prepares learners for a variety of entry-level positions in the field, as well as advanced degree opportunities. Students complete a rigorous curriculum that includes coursework in ethics, business law, human resources, economics, finance, and accounting. Business management is an expansive field, and the curriculum ensures that students develop a varied skill set to prepare them for numerous career paths.

Students can expect to develop their leadership skills through their associate degree in business management. Students hone the communication skills necessary to become effective team members and leaders. Students also develop their problem-solving and critical thinking skills in order to identify and solve a variety of issues they may encounter in their daily tasks.

Average Degree Length

The length of earning a business management associate degree online can vary, and depends largely on course structure and enrollment status. For instance, full-time learners can typically earn their associate degree within two years, and most programs offer asynchronous courses that give students the flexibility to complete their coursework from any location at any time of day.

Conversely, part-time learners can take less credits each term while balancing personal or professional commitments. These learners usually earn their degree within three years. Students can also consider accelerated opportunities, in which they take more credits each semester and sometimes graduate within a year.

Career Opportunities with an Associate Degree in Business Management

The following section reviews possible career opportunities for those with an associate degree in business management. Graduates can obtain a variety of entry-level career opportunities across the business management spectrum, in a variety of workplace settings and industries. Additionally, associate degree-holders possess the communication and leadership skills for roles such as management or customer service.

Potential Careers and Salaries

Earning a business management associate degree online prepares graduates to pursue a variety of entry-level positions across the business management industry. Professionals interested in working closely with customers can consider careers as customer service representatives or retail sales workers. Individuals focused more on the clerical and administrative aspects of business management can pursue opportunities as administrative assistants or sales support specialists. The field also boasts opportunities for professionals interested in leadership roles such as assistant manager.

Customer Service Representative

Customer service representatives work closely with customers to process orders, resolve any complaints or issues, and provide detailed information about the products and services their company offers.

Median Annual Salary: $33,750

Retail Sales Worker

Retail sales workers greet customers as they enter their place of business and help them with anything they need. These workers also add up a customer's total purchases and collect payment from them.

Median Annual Salary: $24,340

Administrative Assistant

In charge of clerical and administrative tasks for their company or organization, administrative assistants answer phone calls and route them to the appropriate person, schedule and plan meetings, and order office supplies.

Median Annual Salary: $38,880

Sales Support Specialist

These professionals provide clerical support and conduct follow-up phone calls to provide potential clients with expansive information about the company's products or services. These professionals also act as the point of contact between outside sales representatives and customers.

Median Annual Salary: $46,500

Assistant Manager

Tasked with organizing employees' schedules and preparing training materials, assistant managers supervise team members and work with general managers to conduct trainings and performance reviews.

Median Annual Salary: $43,531

Five Business Management Scholarships to Apply For

Degree-seekers can access a variety of funding opportunities to help pay for tuition and other educational costs. Tuition rates depend on the college or university, though in general, out-of-state institutions often charge more than schools within a student's home state. Regardless of the type of school you select -- public or private, in-state or out-of-state -- scholarships are a great way to pay for your education. The following list outlines just a few of the scholarships available to students earning their business management associate degree.

Marc Beaumont Scholarship Fund

Who Can Apply: Open to students interested in blending their business management education with the entertainment and arts industries, the Marc Beaumont scholarship fund requires applicants to hold a 3.3 GPA and enroll full time.

Amount: $2,500

Apply for Scholarship

Cappex Business Majors Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The Cappex Business Majors scholarship provides financial assistance to students enrolled in business programs, including business administration, business law, legal studies, finance, and accounting. Applicants must demonstrate extracurricular activities and leadership potential, but do not need to meet a minimum GPA requirement.

Amount: $1,000

Apply for Scholarship

John L. Carey Scholarship Program

Who Can Apply: Available to students planning to pursue business management or accounting in college, the John L. Carey scholarship program benefits students who plan on sitting for the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Exam after graduation.

Amount: $5,000

Apply for Scholarship

Women in Public Finance Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The Women in Public Finance scholarship provides financial assistance to female high school seniors interested in pursuing a business management degree focused on accounting, finance, or law. Applicants must be high school seniors not yet enrolled at a college or university.

Amount: Varies

Apply for Scholarship

Golden Key Undergraduate Achievement Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The Golden Key Undergraduate Achievement scholarship accepts applications from students in disciplines focused on business management and leadership. Applicants must submit a personal statement, a professional reference, and official transcripts.

Amount: $5,000

Apply for Scholarship

Educational Advancement in Business Management

In the following section, degree-seekers can review opportunities to advance their business management education. Many students apply their associate degree to a bachelor's program, and graduates who complete a baccalaureate degree may further their education with a master's or a doctoral degree. Below, we review options for transferring to a four-year program from an associate degree, as well as the kinds of degrees available in the field of business.

Should You Transfer to a Four-Year Degree Program?

Earning an associate degree in business management exposes graduates to a variety of entry-level career opportunities across several fields. The associate program also prepares learners to move into a bachelor's program to continue their education. Some colleges and universities offer transfer programs that allow associate students to apply the credits they earned during their program to a bachelor's degree in the same field. Students can review these opportunities and the corresponding requirements with their academic advisor.

What Degree Paths Should You Consider?

Once they earn their business management associate degree, learners can consider advancing their education by pursuing other degree opportunities, including a bachelor's degree, master's degree, or doctoral degree. With each advanced degree they earn, students can explore a broader range of career opportunities and take advantage of higher earning potential.

Bachelor's Degree in Business Management A bachelor's degree in business builds on an associate in the same field. The program introduces more complex concepts in business management. A bachelor's degree can dramatically expand graduates' career opportunities.
Master's Degree in Business Management : Master's degrees in business management allow students to focus on specialized areas of business, such as marketing or retail management. This can lead to more specialized career opportunities after graduation.
Doctoral Degree in Business Management For learners interested in a research-based career, a doctoral program can prepare students to take advantage of the most prestigious careers and highest salary opportunities in the field.

Professional Organizations and Resources

Students pursuing a business management associate degree online should consider joining a professional organization. Serving students and graduates alike, professional organizations offer opportunities for networking, professional development, and resources for increasing knowledge and skills in the field.

  • American Business Women's Association: ABWA brings together business women across a variety of occupations to provide opportunities for them to network, develop professionally and personally, and gain skills such as leadership.
  • American Management Association: Based in New York City, this nonprofit educational membership organization is dedicated to promoting management across fields. The association maintains offices around the world.
  • American Marketing Association: A professional association of more than 30,000 marketing professionals, AMA features 76 professional chapters and 250 collegiate chapters at higher learning institutions around the country.
  • American Production and Inventory Control Society: APICS develops supply chain management professionals through certification and education opportunities. The organization works to improve the supply chain management process and helps members function as effective parts of a successful business.
  • Association for Talent Development: A nonprofit association for professionals dedicated to developing talent in the workplace, ATD offers its members educational programming, certificate programs, and workshops.
  • DECA: Formerly known as the Distributive Education Clubs of America, DECA is a nonprofit technical and career student organization. DECA serves more than 215,000 members across all 50 states, as well as Canada, China, Guam, Germany, Mexico, Spain, and Puerto Rico.
  • Entrepreneurs' Organization: This global business network of more than 14,000 top entrepreneurs features 193 chapters across 60 countries. The organization hosts professional development and networking opportunities.
  • Society for Human Resource Management: This professional human resources membership association seeks to create better workplaces by training thoughtful HR leaders. The society offers certification, education, and networking opportunities for members.
  • The International Association of Administrative Professionals: IAAP is a nonprofit professional organization that advocates for administrative professionals. The association ensures that those who work in administrative and office roles have access to the tools and materials they need to thrive in their careers.
  • The National Association of Sales Professionals: Meant for sales professionals who want to grow their skills and knowledge in the field, NASP provides members with online training and certification opportunities.