The job transitions that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic have made it more clear that durable skills endure workplace disruptions. Among business administration graduates, the “cross-cutting” skills developed during training are traits that make them more desirable in multiple emerging professions (WEF, 2020). An Online Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration equips graduates with skills that will make them effective in management, analysis, and administration, among others.
From 2019 to 2029, the demand for business administration degree holders is projected to see an average growth of 5% based on reports from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, 2021). In the U.S. alone, business degrees are among the most conferred in postsecondary institutions, with a total of 390,600 graduates in 2018-2019 (BLS, 2021).
A degree in business administration equips an individual with the skills to manage and navigate complex business issues, while at the same time understanding the broader context of business practices. Among the jobs that cannot be performed by AI is management, which is closely related to business administration (Tasaka, 2020).
Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration teaches durable skills—strategic thinking, goal setting, practical marketplace knowledge, relationship building, communication, and time management. These skills that are inbuilt to a business administration degree never get obsolete and outlast any technical skill.
This article provides a guide to students looking into an online Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. The most important concerns in getting a fully online bachelor’s degree in business administration will be addressed, including the value of online degree programs to employers, what to look for in choosing an online school that offers a bachelor’s degree in business administration, the difference between online and traditional on-campus degrees, how much an online bachelor’s degree in business administration would cost, and admission requirements.
A fully online Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration is offered by most universities and colleges. In fact, one of the top five online degrees of 2021 is bachelor’s in business administration. Colleges and universities have long been offering fully online four-year bachelor’s degree in business administration. Online completion programs for business administration degrees are also offered by institutions.
Data from the National Center for Education Statistics show that in 2016 there was a total of 7,437 fully online business degree programs being offered by degree-granting institutions in the U.S. (NCES, 2021). These business programs are duly accredited by the recognized agencies of the U.S. Department of Education and can be validated through the National Student Clearinghouse Verification Services. While an online bachelor’s degree in business administration has been available for more than 10 years now, school closures brought about by the pandemic highlighted the accessibility of online degrees.
American Enterprise Institute (2019)
Gone are the days when online degree courses and credentials carried a stigma. The gatekeepers, also known as employers and hiring managers, have shifted their perceptions overnight. Because of COVID-19, employers are quickly changing their views on online degrees. The hybrid and remote work arrangements that organizations have adopted have given graduates of online degrees a significant advantage. Employers now think that online learning is more rigorous than the traditional type because in an online setup you have to be an active, engaged learner, which actually mirrors what is required in the post-pandemic workplace.
Employers also put a premium on qualification rather than the manner in which credentials are earned—traditional or online (Jones, 2020). Recruiters prefer those who have demonstrated great self-drive and improvement, traits that are often manifested in the pursuit of higher education. An increasing number of CEOs believe that the pandemic will blur the line, and eventually erase, the distinction between online degrees and “brick-and-mortar” degrees.
A 2018 survey conducted by Northeastern University found that 61% of HR leaders believe that compared to traditional methods, online learning is of equal or greater quality. The same survey revealed that 58% of U.S. employers identify the institution’s brand and reputation as a main driver of a credential’s value, not whether the degree was earned the traditional way or online Gallagher, 2018).
Online colleges can be regionally accredited, just as on-campus programs are accredited. Online universities and colleges also undergo the same rigorous accreditation process. The U.S. Department of Education website provides all the accreditation information of postsecondary institutions offering online Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. The Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs contains the list of accredited online schools.
To ensure that higher education institutions offer a globally acceptable quality of education is the main goal of accreditation. These regulatory mechanisms are put in place to protect your interest. Online students also receive the same diploma as on-campus learners. An accredited online Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration program will be recognized in all parts of the world.
As traditional learning is designed for optimum instruction process, online learning is also a byproduct of cautious design and planning of instruction with the application of an organized model for the design and development of instruction (Branch & Dousay, 2015). The curriculum of the traditional and online bachelor’s degree in business administration programs are essentially the same. Most of the subjects covered can be independently studied, and are ideal for an online course.
A comparative analysis of several distance learning platforms to determine their role in modern education entitled “Online Learning Platforms: Reconstructing Modern Higher Education” by Liu et al.(2020) consulted 40 higher education teachers in Russia and China. The results of their study, as published in the International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning, identified as among the advantages of distance learning platforms “greater freedom of access, lower education prices, the possibility of dividing the content of the e-course into modules, flexibility of education, the ability to keep up with the modern pace of life, and the ability to define criteria for assessing knowledge.”
Liu et al.(2020) also conducted tests on 300 post-secondary students and found that “after working with the Moodle platform, students with different academic performances have improved their results. The most significant improvement has occurred among students with unsatisfactory grades—more than 50% have improved their results. According to the results of repeated testing (before learning with the online platform and after), it turned out that the use of a remote platform had a positive effect on academic performance. The quality of knowledge increased by 7%, the level of competence by 4%, and the grade point average by 0.15 points.” These results generally suggest that online courses are comparable to classroom-based courses in achieving desired learning outcomes.
In a traditional business administration degree, classes are held on a defined schedule for the duration of the grading period. You have to be present in designated classrooms. An online business administration degree program takes place over the internet and can be structured either as synchronous or asynchronous. Similar to the on-campus structure, synchronous learning convenes the students plus, the instructor in an online platform at a designated time. These sessions, however, can be recorded and accessed at your convenience. The asynchronous option allows you to tailor your school schedule to both your personal and professional life. Fully online programs offer greater flexibility compared to on-campus programs. However, self-regulation is still important since there would still be submission dates for every coursework, and you will be managing your own time.
Bachelor’s in Business Administration is a degree conferred after completing approximately 120 credit units for both the traditional and online formats. While the usual time of completion is four years, there are online institutions that give you the option to complete an online bachelor’s degree in business administration in just 18 months or less. Most schools base completion on credit hours, but there are also institutions that invite enrollees to go through a series of assessments to determine the level of competency and therefore shorten the length of the online business administration degree program. Other options offered are the accelerated eight-week format, the accelerated 15-week format, and the two-semester intensive program designed for working professionals.
Securing a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration online would cost less than on-campus. This is because taking programs on-campus would entail additional costs, such as room and board plus, the use of other facilities. Colleges are charging lower prices for online coursework. Aside from eliminating commute, meal plans, and housing, getting your degree online significantly reduces the overall cost of college attendance because of the hidden costs associated with being a resident student.
Education leaders at Stanford, UC Berkeley, and Hong Kong University, three of the world’s leading business schools, agreed that institutions need to leverage the flexibility of virtual learning in delivering their curriculum to online learners. This means that an online degree in business administration has exactly the same level of quality as the one delivered on-campus. They also emphasized that the flexibility that an online format provides is effective in bringing learners from all parts of the world, which leads to interactions with meaningful insights. This means that while the pandemic has brought profound changes to how institutions operate, it has also paved the way for online degrees to be finally viewed as equal in content and design as that of a traditional degree.
Source: NU Center for the Future of Higher Education and Talent Strategy
By enrolling in an online degree program, you can bend the overall cost of attending college. The cost of attendance for an online Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration can vary due to different reasons. You would most likely pay less if you enroll as an in-state compared to an out-of-state student. Tuition costs range from $100 per credit to $500 per credit.
Note that universities differ when it comes to weighing credit hours—with some programs requiring 60 credit hours while others require 120 credit hours to qualify for a degree. The overall cost of your Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration can be reduced by checking with the school if you can transfer your previous college credits to count toward your degree. State residents typically pay between $15,000 and $30,000 for their four-year program. For non-residents the cost is roughly $60,000 to $85,000.
It is important to note that according to research 78% of students believe their online education was worth the overall cost. A 2021 survey presented strong evidence that fully online courses stacked up better than traditional programs, with full-time employment rates surpassing the national average by 20 percentage points (Gallup, 2021). The opportunity cost of earning an online degree has never been more appealing than it is right now. Opportunity cost is defined as what you give up to acquire something. A Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration can add $2,000 to $5,000 or more per year in earning potential (BLS, 2020). The potential earnings that you could make in the job market once you earn a degree in business administration is your opportunity cost. Earning your degree online gives you flexibility, allowing you to keep your job as you complete your degree.
To qualify for admission, online Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration applicants have to submit an official transcript from a regionally accredited institution and hold a minimum 2.0 GPA. For those who just graduated from high school and have no previous college experience, submission of official high school transcripts, including ACT or SAT scores is required. Some schools also require incoming freshmen to participate in a college preparatory program. Transfer students with an associate degree or 60 semester credit hours from a regionally accredited institution, with a minimum of 2.0 GPA, may also apply.
Online learning requires commitment on the student’s part. While the schedule is flexible in an online format, completing an online degree program would require self-discipline and time management skills. Since nearly all communication is written in an online setting, you must be comfortable in expressing yourself through writing. The synchronous and asynchronous formats also need patience on the part of the student as not all communications take place in real-time. To be able to participate effectively, you have to be self-motivated, and disciplined in thinking ideas through before sending feedback.
A reliable internet, a desktop or laptop computer with camera and headset or microphone is recommended. These are the basic device requirements for your online study setup. Your chosen school would usually provide a list of minimum technology requirements, including the required hardware and software. The system requirements for your device would depend on the classroom management software and video conferencing platform being used by the institution.
Degree candidates have the option to have a major in marketing, human resource management, information system management, or small business and entrepreneurship. The student must complete at least 18 credit units of the elected course concentration. Practical capstone projects and internships may also be required to complete most business administration degree programs. The following courses in online Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration are designed to equip the student to make sound business decisions in real business environment scenarios.
Principles of Accounting. This introductory course to contemporary financial accounting provides the student with fundamental knowledge on the important accounting principles used to analyze business transactions, prepare financial statements, and extract and communicate information as needed.
Business Finance. This course provides the student with an overview of the principles, theory, and practices of how to manage finances in the context of business. To be able to analyze financial information, highlight issues, and find solutions to business problems are among the learning objectives of this course.
Organizational Leadership. As a critical skill in the 21st-century workplace, this course prepares the student for a leadership role in organizations through the use of leadership theories and assessment tools. The objective is to equip the student with the leadership skills required for building high-performing organizations.
Management and Organization Theory. Using management concepts and theories, this course welds the four functions of management—planning, organizing, leading, and controlling—towards aligning organizational goals. The aim is to enable the student to design goals and objectives that point to a common goal: enhancing organizational performance and promoting sustainability.
Human Resource Management. This course gives the student a deeper understanding of human behavior and how it impacts the organization. The goal is for the student to have the capability to strategically manage human resources in the organization through understanding labor relations, including existing laws and regulations in the business environment.
Marketing Management. This foundational course teaches the important marketing principles that are crucial in building and managing profitable relationships with customers. The aim is for the student to appreciate the pivotal role of marketing in the success of the organization, and understand the strategic role of the marketing process in the overall performance of the firm.
Business Law. This course provides the legal principles and concepts that are relevant to the conduct of business, both domestic and global. Through the use of conceptual and functional analysis, the student gains the necessary skills needed in evaluating and analyzing legal processes and procedures. This course also includes the evaluation of criminal and contractual rights, liabilities, obligations, and remedies in the context of business.
Business Ethics. Since the conduct of business is not devoid of ethical and moral considerations, this course equips the student with a deep understanding of corporate conduct and social responsibility. The aim is to understand the relationship between policies and strategies that affect the community in which the business operates. The focus is on ethical values, and how business decisions lead to consequences in both domestic and global environments.
Strategic Management. This capstone course integrates the core subjects—marketing, management, finance and accounting, production operations, and research and development, including information systems—towards the formulation of a sound business strategy. Through integrative analysis, the student learns how to use the different functions of business, as well as critical thinking, in order to have the necessary conceptual foundation in strategically managing organizations.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2020
Foremost, validate the institution’s accreditation. look for an online Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration program that is accredited by agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. They are responsible for ensuring that programs meet the required academic quality. In particular, choose an institution that has both institutional accreditation and programmatic accreditation. Programmatic accreditation is a quality stamp of the online degree program, which means that it has passed global education standards. Employers also verify the online school’s accreditation, thus this should be on top of your checklist.
The school’s reputation is also important because as recruiters expressed in surveys, the reputation of the school, including the quality of faculty, weighs more than the type of degree—whether it was acquired the traditional way or online. It would also be helpful to check the best colleges that have a good track record in providing online education—those who have been offering online programs for a longer period of time should have an efficient system in place as compared to those who have just migrated to the online platform during the pandemic. Graduation and retention rates as well as job placement rates are also important to note.
If you are planning to pursue an online Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, you also need to check out the student services being provided by the institution. Studying in a remote setup can be challenging in terms of communication. The best online institutions have dedicated 24/7 support centers that are ready to assist online students. There are even online schools that provide each student with a member of the faculty that would serve as their academic adviser throughout the program. No matter what the setup, having channels that would enable you to connect to the school for your concerns is an important factor that you have to consider in choosing an online degree program.
Occupation transitions could increase by as much as 25% by 2030, and 100 million workers may need to switch occupations by 2030 (Lund et al., 2021). Recent McKinsey research concluded that those with higher levels of education are better prepared for changes in the workplace (Dondi et al., 2021). Now that the pandemic has blurred the longtime distinction between traditional and online degree credentials, your next step is to choose the best online Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration using the guidelines provided in this article.
Employers nowadays treat a degree earned on-campus and a degree earned online as of equal value. Some employers would even give additional credit to degrees earned online because of the self-efficacy and self-regulation qualities that it adds to the overall profile of the applicant. It has been established that academic self-efficacy is present among online students that are able to thrive and complete their degree online (Yokoyama, 2019). Employers view online graduates as possessing amazing time management skills, initiative, motivation, high-level of self-discipline, and being very knowledgeable and comfortable with technology—skills that are needed in the post-pandemic world of work.
Investments in education are never wasted, lifelong learning is crucial if you are to survive and thrive in the future workplace. The new online education landscape is beginning to emerge. Increasing levels of enrollment in fully online programs are forcing schools to be creative by offering highly curated degree programs designed to complement the fourth industrial revolution workplace, and online students stand to benefit.