If you ask someone what he or she is majoring in, and they respond “business,” you might make the general assumption that they are heading into a career centered on making a lot of money.
Not that there’s anything wrong with making a lot of money!
But, actually, the realm of business is quite a bit wider—and deeper—than that.
Traditionally, we associate the term “business” with other words like “banking,” “insurance,” “finance,” “management,” “administration,” and “accounting.” And those are indeed some of the major disciplines within the general field of “business.”
However, in reality, the business sector includes a huge range of occupations. For example, non-profit organizations, human resources, and public relations also play major roles in business. In fact, almost any operation that handles people, the transaction of goods or services, and money can fall under the wide umbrella of “business.”
What is necessary for success in business? Ah, there’s the rub! If we only knew the answer to that question, we’d be like Scrooge McDuck, swimming through a pile of 24-karat gold coins every day.
While the answer seems elusive, we have a host of good examples to draw from—all of which begin with education.
Learning certainly takes place in many forms, yet the traditional and most popular setting is in the classroom, virtual or otherwise.
There are a few different types of associate’s degrees available in business administration: the Associate of Science (A.S.) and Associate of Arts (A.A.) are the standard programs that prepare students for both the workplace and continued study.
Then, there is the Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.), which disregards typical general education coursework, and replaces those classes with additional business classes. This may be the ideal degree for a student who plans to plunge into the workforce immediately, and has no interest in pursuing education beyond the associate level.
What kind of work can you find with an associate’s degree in business?
- Any jobs that require administrative assistance or support
- Marketing Manager
- Human Resources Specialist
- Business Analyst
- Sales Manager
- Office Manager
- Accounting Clerk
- Assistant Manager
In the business world, an associate’s degree might sometimes be all that is necessary for students to gain the skill set required to open up doors in the world of work. Employers find value in workers who have proven that they understand the basic ideas of business, especially management and accounting.
What is the difference between Business Management and Business Administration? At the associate’s level, not much. The terms are pretty much interchangeable in this day and age, but it used to be that the Management major focused on the technical goings-on of running a business, whereas the Administration major concentrated on broader (but related) themes.
Generally speaking, entrance into one of these programs requires a high school diploma or its equivalent, the GED . . . and that’s it. Of course, you must fill out an application and furnish transcripts, but tests like the SAT or ACT are not necessary.
The degree can be more than just a step on the ladder to future degrees (such as a bachelor’s program). In fact, many students who obtain their “two-year degree,” as we commonly call it, are content with this level of education, and might wait for some time before going on to the “four-year degree,” if they ever do.
It is quite common for students seeking a degree at the associate level to enroll in a local community college; however, more colleges and universities are beginning to offer the associate’s degree. And more and more of these are even presenting their programs online.
Online classes and degree programs provide the flexibility necessary for students to maintain their regular jobs and work schedules while taking classes simultaneously. That is one reason why this may be the ideal situation for both young adults and seasoned employees seeking a career change or additional education.
Readers Also Like: The 20 Best Online Bachelor of Business Administration Degree Programs
The Best Online Associate of Business Administration Degree Programs
Benedictine University was founded in 1887 as a Roman Catholic school. The institution is guided by its Catholic roots in both administration and curriculum.
In 2012, the Chronicle of Higher Education named Benedictine as the top school on their list of the most-dynamic, private, non-research universities in the country. In the same year, Forbes named the school one of America’s Top Colleges.
Benedictine offers the Associate of Arts in Business Administration completely online. Students take two courses per eight-week session, and are able to complete the degree in less than two years. Only 20 credits are necessary to enroll in the Benedictine B.A. in Management or Organizational Leadership.
Benedictine is accredited through the Higher Learning Commission.
The New England College of Business and Finance boasts a rich history in the world of business education. Originally founded as the American Banking Institute in 1909, the school is the only bank-sponsored institution of higher learning in the U.S. to receive accreditation as a degree-granting college.
The school assumed its current name in 1998, emphasizing a focus on banking, insurance, and investment management.
The New England College of Business and Finance offers the Associate of Science in Business Administration, which is designed to take 160 weeks for completion and to transition smoothly into the school’s B.S. in Business Administration program.
Students choose from the following concentrations:
- General Business
In 2011, the U.S. Department of Education declared the New England School of Business and Finance to be the most affordable private college in the nation.
NECB is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) was founded in 1932 in Manchester, New Hampshire. With satellite campuses throughout the state and New England, it is only fitting that SNHU’s online degree programs are expanding, too.
In fact, the online business programs have garnered several awards from the New Hampshire Business Review, including Best MBA Program and Best Online Degree Program.
SNHU offers the Associate of Science in Business Administration, a 60-credit hour program that features classes such as:
- Financial Accounting
- Managerial Accounting
- Business Law
- Information Technology
- Human Relations in Administration
- Applied Statistics
- Human Resource Management
Southern New Hampshire University is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc. (NEASC), through its Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (CIHE).
(State College, PA)
Pennsylvania State University is the flagship school of the Pennsylvania state university system. The university’s online courses are grouped together in a division known as Penn State World Campus. Both Penn State and Penn State World Campus continue to bring in accolades for their programs.
The Associate of Science in Business Administration, a 60-credit program, is offered entirely online. While the degree can absolutely stand alone, all credits earned toward the degree can be applied toward the Bachelor in Science in Business at Penn State.
The program was designed with entry-level business professionals in mind, as well as those working in the business field who need a degree for career advancement. Anyone looking to switch careers and enter the business world is also welcome into the program.
Thirty credits—both prescribed and student-chosen—are necessary for the major. Nine of the prescribed credits also count towards the general education requirement.
Students also have the option of tailoring their program by electing a General Business option, which consists of 18 credits. Some courses on this track include:
- Labor and Industrial Relations
Penn State’s undergraduate program in Business tied for the 20th place in U.S. News & World Report’s review of Best Undergraduate Business Programs.
The university is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
(Saint Leo, FL)
Founded as a Catholic school in 1889, Saint Leo University is a private, coeducational college with its main campus located just outside of Tampa, Florida.
The school has expanded into 17 centers across the country, in addition to its virtual classroom. The institution has garnered praise for its warm reception to military students.
Saint Leo offers the Associate of Arts degree program in Business Administration. Sixty credits are required for program completion.
Classes explore the basic essentials for success in business, including appropriate computer skills for the modern workplace.
- Business Law
- Finite Mathematics
Saint Leo was recently named as one of the Best Regional Universities in the South by U.S. News & World Report. The same magazine declared the online programs at Saint Leo to be among the best in the country.
Saint Leo’s online program is accredited by the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE), a professional accreditor for business programs in student-centered colleges and universities throughout the world.
Initially established as Dr. John Draughon’s Practical Business College back in 1899, South University has strong roots in business education. At present, the university has expanded into 11 campuses located in nine states, as well as online programs.
South University presents the Associate of Science in Business Administration, which can be completed entirely online. The degree was designed with adult students in mind. Classes are asynchronous, allowing for students to learn and master material at their own individual pace.
It takes roughly two years to complete the A.S. Topics covered in major classes include:
- Business Communication
Students may choose a specialization in Hospitality, which includes coursework in tourism. Upon graduation, students are prepared for entry-level work in the business sector or in the hospitality industry.
South University was ranked as one of the Best Regional Universities in the South, according to the 2013 U.S. News & World Report.
The university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and School’s Commission on Colleges.
7Bay State College
Bay State College began offering classes solely to airline industry employees back in 1946. As a private, coeducational college, it now offers associate’s and bachelor’s degrees to students regardless of employment status.
Bay State College presents the Associate of Science degree in Business Administration.
The general business curriculum requires the usual courses in management and economics, but it also incorporates additional valuable classes such as:
- Writing for Business
- Public Speaking
- Organizational Behavior
- Financial Accounting
Bay State College was recently recognized as one of the Best Regional Universities in the North by U.S. News and World Report.
The college is accredited by The New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
(Colorado Springs, CO)
Colorado Technical University (CTU) came into existence in 1965 to fulfill the changing educational needs of the aerospace and military industries.
CTU presents the Associate of Science in Business Administration. Students who would like to eventually obtain the Bachelor of Science in Business Administration will be glad to know that the A.S. fulfills the first two years’ worth of requirements for the B.S.
Program courses include:
- Algebra for Business
- Principles of Professional Writing
- Professional Speech Communications
- Management of Human Resources
- Spreadsheet Applications
- Business Law
- International Business Communications
- Career Planning and Management
Military Times ranks CTU as the top school for military families. Additionally, the university was among the top 10 degree-granting schools for minorities, according to Diverse Issues in Higher Education.
Colorado Technical University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.
Belhaven University, founded in 1883 and formerly known as Belhaven College, is a private Christian liberal arts college located near Jackson, Mississippi.
The university presents the Associate of Arts in Business degree entirely online. Students need to enroll and register prior to the start of the eight-week courses. It takes two years to complete the 62-credit-hour degree program, which features business classes such as:
- Financial Accounting
- Comparative Economic Systems
- Introduction to Marketing
- Principles of Management
In addition to standard business courses, students are required to complete one class in Old Testament History and one class in New Testament History as part of the general education requirement.
U.S. News & World Report gave Belhaven the #32 spot for Best Online Undergraduate Programs, and calls the school one of the Best Regional Universities in the South.
Belhaven is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Liberty University, an evangelical Christian university founded by Jerry Falwell, has been training Champions for Christ since 1971, and pioneering distance education since 1985. Today, Liberty University Online enrolls over 90,000 students from around the world.
Liberty presents the Associate of Arts in Business, a program that consists of 60 credit hours. The program maintains a Christian worldview in its courses.
While all classes may be taken online, at least 15 credits must be taken through Liberty University.
Students enroll in classes such as:
U.S. News & World Report has repeatedly given Liberty University accolades for its online programs—calling them “among the best the country”—as well as naming the institution among the Best Regional Universities in the South.
Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Florida Institute of Technology, familiarly known as Florida Tech, offers the Associate of Arts in Business Administration degree, which takes roughly eighteen months to complete.
Students take 61 credit hours.
Florida Tech was recently named one of the top 200 colleges in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, which also declared the school to be the #2 best private college in Florida. Additionally, Barron’s listed Florida Tech as a Best Buy college.
The school is regionally accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Kaplan University has been offering education services since its founding in 1937. The military-friendly, for-profit institution is a pioneer in distance learning.
Kaplan offers the Associate of Applied Science in Business Administration. The program requires 90 credits, 15 of which are basic core credits.
Students emerge from the program with a highly specialized background that they select from among the following:
- General Business
- Customer Service
- Health Club Operations
- Hospitality Management
- Information Processing
- Retail Management
- Small Business Management
Kaplan is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.
13Notre Dame College
(South Euclid, OH)
Founded in 1922 outside Cleveland as a Catholic institution, Notre Dame College should not be confused with Notre Dame University in Indiana (think Fighting Irish). This small, private, coeducational college has been named the third most diverse college in the Midwest, according to U.S. News & World Report.
The college presents the Associate of Arts degree in Business Management, delivered entirely online. Sixty-four credits are necessary to complete the program.
Notre Dame College is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Campbellsville University, located south of Louisville, was founded in 1906 by the Russell Creek Baptist Association.
This private Christian institution presents the Associate of Science in Business Administration.
Students complete 30 hours of general education coursework, along with 30 hours of business classes, for a total of 60 credit hours for the degree, which will take about two years to finish.
While the classes are available entirely online, there are definite start dates for each eight-week semester.
Campbellsville’s business classes include:
- Principles of Accounting (two parts)
- Microcomputer Applications
- Human Resource Management
Campbellsville University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
15Santa Barbara Business College
(Santa Barbara, CA)
In 1888, J.E. Metzger opened up Santa Barbara Business College, making it one of the oldest colleges in California.
In the beginning, clientele was mainly composed of teachers and students seeking to obtain basic clerical skills, such as typing and shorthand. Fast-forward to the present day—and the college operates on five physical campuses and one virtual campus.
Santa Barbara Business College offers students the Associate of Science degree in Business Administration, available entirely online.
Course highlights include:
- Payroll Accounting
- Financial Accounting
- Introduction to Business
- Consumer Behavior and Economics
- Professional Resource Development
Students are also expected to learn to integrate business software into their business administration education, ensuring facility with the latest computer technology, as well as an array of other essential contemporary business skills, upon graduation.
Santa Barbara College is accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools.
Virginia College is a for-profit institution that was founded in 1983. While the school has a campus in Richmond, Virginia, it operates campuses in over 20 locations, in addition to its virtual campus. Today, the college’s main campus is located in Birmingham, Alabama.
Virginia College offers the Associate of Science in Business Administration, which can be completed in less than two years, assuming continuous, full-time enrollment. This can be done feasibly, as evidenced by the three-quarters of alumni who can boast that rate of completion.
- Fundamentals of Business
- Project Planning and Implementation
Virginia College is accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools.
Independence University has roots in education dating back to 1891. From 1978 until recently, the school operated as California College for Health Sciences. The name changed in 2005 as a reflection of the non-profit institution’s commitment to a broad range of programs—and its belief that learning should lead to independence.
The university offers the Associate of Applied Science in Business Management. Students must complete 24 courses and may receive a highly specialized course of study by selecting from one of the following tracks:
- Property Management
- Retail Sales Management
- Event Planning
Students should expect to complete the A.A.S. within 15 to 20 months.
Independence University is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges.
One of the earliest pioneers in distance learning for adults, the University of Phoenix has catered to the educational needs of grown-ups since its founding by Dr. John Sperling in 1976.
Since then, more than 100 locations have been opened to meet the growing demands of the adult education market, including the online virtual campus.
The University of Phoenix presents the Associate of Arts degree in Business and Management.
Students choose from one of the following track specializations:
- Accounting and Bookkeeping
- Accounting Foundations
- Business Foundations
- Foundations of Business
- Hospitality, Travel, and Tourism
Although some of the program titles appear to be identical twins, there are slight variations in curriculum and course design from program to program. Potential students would be best served by visiting the website, or calling the admissions office, to get clarification on the nuances of the programs they are interested in.
The Bookkeeping track allows for a certificate once a certain number of track-specific classes have been completed successfully.
The University of Phoenix is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
19Thomas Edison State College
Located in New Jersey, Thomas Edison State College has a solid history of catering to the academic needs of adult students. The school has been providing educational services exclusively to adults since 1971, making it one of the oldest accredited institutions for adult learning in the nation.
Thomas Edison State College offers the Associate of Science in Business Administration degree, a 60-credit program available completely online.
Students seeking to further their pursuit of education beyond the A.S. will be able to make a smooth transition into the school’s Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. In addition to the standard core classes, students can choose six credits of business electives in their individual fields of interest.
A unique feature to this degree: Students may earn college credit from corporate or military training or from the Prior Learning Assessment, which measures demonstrated knowledge.
Thomas Edison State College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Founded in 1987 as Professional Career Development Institute, Ashworth College quickly became a national provider of distance learning and vocational education courses.
Ashworth offers the Associate of Science in General Business, which can be completed entirely online.
Classes are offered asynchronously, which means that students can work at their own pace. Ashworth students also have the convenience of starting the program at any time.
Those who complete the program successfully are welcome to participate in the annual graduation ceremony.
All credits can be applied toward any of Ashworth’s bachelor’s degree programs.
Ashworth College is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of the Distance Education and Training Council.