Online Small Business Management Associate Degree Programs

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The Most Affordable Paths & Career Potential in Small Business Management

Professionals who work in small business management oversee and monitor the daily operations of privately owned partnerships, corporations, and sole proprietorships. Graduates with a degree in the field can also launch their own ventures. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nearly 15 million U.S. professionals are self-employed. Earning a small business management associate degree online prepares learners to manage a business in any industry.

This guide explores skills and knowledge learners typically gain while studying small business management. The following sections also examine small business management jobs, salary prospects, and field-specific resources and professional organizations.

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

This quiz can help learners understand whether an online associate degree in small business management can help them achieve their goals. The following quiz illustrates the elements that distinguish small business management from related fields. Take the quiz to learn whether this associate degree matches your academic and career goals.


  • Q: Are you interested in small business management -- including marketing and sales, financial and legal aspects, computer applications, communications strategies, and managing staff -- rather than launching a new idea as an entrepreneur?

    A: Earning a small business management associate degree online prepares students to pursue positions within small businesses and organizations. Learners gain foundational business knowledge in areas including administration, management, and marketing.

    While small business management programs include coursework relevant to launching your own business, learners intending to do so may prefer to pursue a degree in entrepreneurship.


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

    A: Most small business associate programs require 60 credits, which full-time students typically complete in two years. However, online programs may offer the flexibility to earn the degree more quickly or to extend the graduation timeline.

    Many online learners study part time to accommodate professional and personal commitments. Students can also choose accelerated programs, which allow learners to graduate more quickly. Students interested in earning a small business management associate degree online in less than two years can look for programs that offer courses year round.


  • Q: Do you have prior credits to transfer?

    A: Learners can reduce degree completion time by transferring credits from previous institutions. Additionally, many schools offer credit for work experience or military service. Some colleges allow students to earn credit by passing exams. You can contact your school’s admissions office to learn about opportunities to transfer credits or earn credit for life experience.


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

    A: Earning an associate degree in small business management can provide the foundational skills necessary to enter the workforce. An associate degree in the field also prepares learners to pursue a bachelor’s degree, which can lead to a wider variety of career opportunities. Students can typically transfer their associate degree to a four-year program to reduce the time necessary to earn their bachelor’s degree.

    The following sections explore the career market for associate degree-holders in small business management. Learners should ensure that their intended career is accessible with an associate degree in the field.


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

While specific curricula and course offerings vary by school, most small business management programs share similar objectives and learning outcomes. Students develop hard managerial skills and core business knowledge. Degree-seekers learn basic leadership tactics, resource management strategies, and conflict resolution techniques. They also hone their communication, risk assessment, and analytical problem-solving skills.

Coursework generally covers management fundamentals and the history of the field, as well as modern applications of these concepts. Although course requirements vary by school, the list below includes classes that students commonly encounter while earning their small business management associate degree online.

Common Classes and Coursework

  • Principles of Management and Entrepreneurship: 
    This introductory course provides an overview of basic principles and concepts related to business management and entrepreneurship. Degree-seekers examine prominent case studies and simulations, focusing on the marks of successful entrepreneurship. Additional topics include formal organization, long-term planning, decision-making, and cost-analysis modules.
  • Small Business Management: 
    This class builds on introductory prerequisites. Learners explore macro-level management techniques in small business contexts. The course also examines logistical concerns specific to small-business owners, including location selection, procuring capital, budgeting, and credit concerns.
  • Business Planning: 
    This class explores the development and implementation of long-term business plans. Coursework covers topics including plan presentations, research sources, executive summaries, company descriptions, and management structures. Learners examine and critique existing business plans and collaborate with peers to develop original business plans.
  • E-commerce for Small Businesses: 
    Learners explore e-commerce for small businesses, including its impact on business practices. Topics include internet marketing planning, ethical issues, information security, and cost-risk analyses. Degree-seekers critique existing e-commerce models and develop proposals for implementing new e-commerce strategies.
  • Business Law:
    This course helps students gain a working overview of business law. Degree-seekers learn about bankruptcy, government regulation, and tax liability. Learners apply this knowledge to evaluate prominent legal issues and case studies related to small businesses.

Skills You Will Gain

Learners pursuing a small business management associate degree online acquire skills necessary for both entry-level employment and further education. Most programs in the field emphasize interpersonal and communication skills, operational acumen, and strategic problem-solving. Students gain foundational business knowledge and develop the creativity necessary to thrive in small business management and entrepreneurial positions.

Small business management programs typically prepare learners to lead, manage, and collaborate in diverse environments. Students learn how to responsibly allocate financial and human resources. Degree-seekers also develop essential competencies in leadership, conflict management, financial and statistical analysis, and small business management technology. Learners develop skills in long-term budget planning, sales forecasting, and organizational performance assessment.

These skills help graduates become effective leaders in small business and entrepreneurship. Employers typically prefer candidates who possess these skills, and those interested in starting their own business often apply these skills to future training, education, and entrepreneurial endeavors.

Average Degree Length

Most learners earn a small business management associate degree online in about two years. Degree completion time depends on factors including enrollment and employment status. Most associate programs in the field comprise 60 credits, including general education and major requirements.

Online programs generally offer flexible scheduling options, which can be ideal for busy learners and working professionals. Online students can often access content and complete assignments at their convenience, without interrupting social obligations or work responsibilities.

In addition to full and part-time options, many schools offer intensive and accelerated degree paths. Often available only to distance learners, these paths expedite graduation time but may be more expensive. Students should contact their school to learn about accelerated options.

Career Opportunities with an Associate Degree in Small Business Management

After earning a small business management degree online, many graduates immediately enter the workforce. This section explores career opportunities available to individuals with an associate degree in the field. The table below lists some popular occupations for graduates, along with each position’s median annual salary. While each occupation includes unique responsibilities, each career listed draws on the core skills and business knowledge students gain in small business management programs.

Potential Careers and Salaries

After earning a small business management associate degree online, graduates can apply their skills and knowledge to entry-level positions in nearly any industry. However, the highest concentration of employment for graduates is in the management, sales, and administration sectors.

The small business management jobs below require an associate degree and offer modest career advancement opportunities. Many learners pursue additional education to expand their career options. Depending on the employer, some occupations may require certifications and on-the-job training.

CAREERMEDIAN ANNUAL SALARYDESCRIPTION
Retail Sales Worker$24,340Retail sales workers help customers find goods and products. They also facilitate smooth transactions and process customer payments. These individuals often work nights and weekends in stores and other retail outlets.
Bank Teller$29,450These financial professionals work in major bank branches. They process routine transactions, and their responsibilities include completing deposits, cashing checks, and collecting payments.
Administrative Assistant$38,880Also known as secretaries and executive assistants, these workers perform clerical and administrative tasks in collaborative office settings. They generally work full time and can work in nearly any industry.
Customer Service Representative$33,750Customer service representatives assist and interact with consumers. They handle product complaints, process orders, and answer questions pertaining to their employer’s goods and services. These positions are available in most industries.
Insurance Sales Agent$50,600These professionals contact and assist potential customers. These agents sell one or more types of insurance, explaining policy details and identifying policies that are suitable for each client.
Source: BLS

5 Small Business Management Scholarships to Apply For

Students pursuing a small business management associate degree online can apply for scholarships and grants to help finance their education. Scholarships and grants are ideal forms of funding, since they do not require repayment. Learners can also research aid programs available through their institution and department.


  • INKAS Rising Star Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: This scholarship is available to full-time students enrolled in a business-related program at an accredited North American institution. Applicants must submit official transcripts and a 750-word essay discussing their professional goals.

    Amount: $1,500

    APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIP


  • Online Associate Degree Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: Learn.org awards this scholarship to learners pursuing an online associate degree from an accredited college or university. Applicants must demonstrate financial need.

    Amount: $500

    APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIP


  • NPA Future Business Leaders Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: Applicants must be the child, grandchild, employee, or customer of an NPA member in good standing. Applicants may also be sponsored by a member. Students must complete an online application and submit required materials.

    Amount: Varies

    APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIP


  • TLMI Two-Year Degree Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: This scholarship program supports learners who intend to pursue a career in the tag, label, and package printing industry. Applicants must submit official transcripts and have a minimum 3.0 GPA.

    Amount: $1,000

    APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIP


Educational Advancement in Small Business Management

Earning a small business management associate degree online can lead to opportunities for professional and educational advancement. This section explores common paths for graduates, including advanced courses of study.

Should You Transfer to a Four-Year Degree Program?

Many students pursue a small business management associate degree online with the intention of continuing to a four-year program after graduation. Most two-year schools offer associate programs designed to transfer easily to four-year institutions.

Learners intending to transfer to a bachelor’s program should consider credit equivalences, transfer agreements, and learning outcomes. These components vary by state and school, so students should conduct a thorough inquiry prior to enrolling.

What Degree Paths Should You Consider?

The list below includes a sampling of potential degree paths for individuals who have earned a small business management associate degree online. Learners should consider their career aspirations when choosing a degree program.

BACHELOR OF ARTS IN BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION
After earning an associate degree, graduates can immediately transfer to a bachelor’s program. A four-year degree in business administration builds on associate-level coursework in small business management.

MASTER OF BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION
Learners with a bachelor’s degree can continue to a master’s program. A master of business administration prepares students for management and executive-level positions. Most programs also offer unique areas of specialization.

DOCTOR OF BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION
Some master’s degree-holders pursue a doctorate, a research-focused terminal degree. Doctoral programs are ideal for individuals who aspire to positions in academia or roles as independent consultants.

Professional Organizations and Resources

Both students and professionals can benefit from joining field-specific professional associations, many of which offer resources and host events. Learners pursuing a small business management associate degree online can access career services and professional networking opportunities through the organizations and resources below.

  • American Management Association: Founded nearly 100 years ago, AMA provides training programs and offers corporate solutions for executives. The association maintains a comprehensive resource library.
  • Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship: Founded in 1955, this association supports small businesses and entrepreneurship. The organization sponsors regional events, disseminates relevant research, and provides career services.
  • Local Chambers of Commerce: These regional organizations offer resources and provide support for growing businesses within their communities. Local chambers facilitate interaction between small businesses and customers.
  • National Association for the Self-Employed: This organization has provided benefits to small-business owners since 1981. The association delivers publications, establishes and maintains media relations, and connects business leaders with innovative consultants.
  • National Small Business Environmental Assistance Program: This program helps small businesses comply with air quality regulations. The organization conducts annual training programs, provides a comprehensive directory of state contacts, and maintains a national steering committee.
  • SCORE: The nation’s largest network of volunteer business mentors, SCORE helps small-business owners achieve their goals. Established in 1964, SCORE connects mentors with local businesses, hosts workshops, and offers an expansive media library.
  • Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center: This resource provides small-business owners and entrepreneurs with vital resources related to tax law and liability. Professionals can access information on preparing and filing tax returns.
  • SmallBusinesses.org: This website offers resources for small-business owners, covering topics including startup, marketing strategies, insurance plans, and management blueprints. The organization also helps business owners locate capital.
  • U.S. Small Business Administration: This portal connects users with resources essential to small business operations. Professionals can access funding programs, federal contracting opportunities, and local resources.
  • USA.gov | Small Business: Sponsored by the federal government, this website provides information for small-business owners. Resources cover topics including financing, nonprofit connections, and tax liability. Entrepreneurs can also access a searchable help center.

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