The 6 Best Online Bachelor’s in Retail Sales Management Programs

| TBS Staff

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According to PayScale, the average income of a retail store manager is $54,000, more than double the earnings of retail employees without formal education. Earning a retail management degree online increases your salary potential, whether you aspire to be a store manager, a merchandiser, or a purchasing manager.

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As the retail industry develops, and companies look for new ways to engage with customers, the demand for management positions will grow. Consider your education options when determining if retail management bachelor’s degree programs are right for your future.

Online Bachelor’s in Retail Sales Management Degree Program Ranking Guidelines

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We selected the degree programs based on the quality of program and range of courses provided, as well as school awards, rankings, and reputation.

The motto of TheBestSchools.org is Finding the best school for you. Here is how we do it:

The value of any ranking list of schools and/or degree programs depends on having a methodologically sound assessment of each school’s/program’s characteristics, especially insofar as these can be objectively measured. A college or university is a complex entity, with numerous factors to consider, and distilling these down to the place where meaningful comparisons can be made to form a defensible ranking list becomes part science and part art.

To meet this challenge—and thereby provide you with the most useful and insightful educational rankings on the Internet — TheBestSchools.org formulates our rankings based on five informational categories (six, when considering online schools). The major metrics and qualities for which we rank are these (with expanded, detailed considerations and weights listed):

1. Academic excellence based on a school’s curriculum generally or within the selected discipline [weight = 25%]

  • Weighs school against known leading schools in that discipline
  • Weighs number of core curricula listed as advanced courses within that discipline and compares against introductory courses
  • Weighs school’s curriculum against known knowledge needs of major employers in that discipline
  • Considers number and types of specializations offered within that discipline
  • Considers faculty expertise in that discipline
  • Considers range of electives within that discipline
  • Considers quality of online environment offered to students (if applicable), particularly within that discipline

2. Strength of faculty scholarship [weight = 25%]

  • Considers education background of the faculty
  • Considers years of faculty experience both inside and outside of academia.
  • Considers faculty membership and leadership within relevant, prominent associations
  • Considers academic papers published by faculty in relevant, prominent periodicals
  • Considers awards and recognitions given to faculty members from prominent organizations and from other sources

3. Reputation [weight = 20%]

  • Considers a school’s reputation among academic peers and employers regarding the following:
    • Faculty
    • Curriculum
    • “Freshness” of academic knowledge
    • Adaptability to changes in employment sectors
    • Suitability of graduates for the workplace

4. Financial aid [weight = 10%]

  • Mandatory: Requires full accreditation from an agency endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education and listed on the federal register to accept student federal financial aid
  • Considers range of school-sponsored financial aid such as scholarships and grants

5. Range of degree programs [weight = 20%]

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6. Strength of online instruction methodology (if applicable) [weight = 25%; subtract 5% from each of the above for online schools/programs]

  • Considers the following of the online classes:
    • Types of online technology used to deliver content
    • Pedagogy style: asynchronous, synchronous, or both (depending on the degree)
    • Extent and quality of the online, community learning environment, including options for communication, interactivity, and collaboration between students and also between students and instructors
    • Variety, breadth, and depth of coursework, and its support, including project options and online tutoring
  • Considers the following of instructors:
    • Extent of training for teaching within an online learning environment
    • Amount of timely, consistent feedback to students
    • Extent of collaboration with prospective employers to ensure suitability of instructional materials for achieving desired skills
    • Ratio to number of students in a class
  • Number and quality of internships in a student’s geographical area for applicable degrees

Because students tend to review a variety of information when choosing a school, the weight a student gives any one criterion will vary. For instance, it’s not enough to offer a carefully constructed ranking of great schools if many are too expensive or too difficult to get into.

To better serve the needs of prospective students, we are therefore increasingly offering filters that help you better use our rankings to find the schools that match your specific needs. These supplement our ranking criteria and include:

  • Accreditation
  • Public or private status
  • Acceptance rate
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  • ACT/SAT requirements
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  • Undergrad, grad, or both offered
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  • State
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Get the best rankings here AND get them to suit your personal needs. That’s TheBestSchools.org advantage!

If you have any questions about our ranking methodology, please contact us.

Citations: For a broader account of our ranking methodology, especially as it relates to TheBestSchools.org's underlying educational philosophy and, in other ranking articles, looks beyond academic excellence (as here) to such factors as return on investment or incidental benefit, see our article "Ranking Methodology: How We Rank Schools at TBS." Reputation of schools and degree programs can at least in part be gauged through the school or department's publishing activity, citations, and desirability. At TheBestSchools.org, we keep track of such social and peer validation: "Making Sense of College Rankings." For nuts-and-bolts information about colleges and universities, we look to the National Center for Education Statistics and especially its College Navigator. Insofar as salary and inflation data are relevant to a ranking, we look to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Finally, nothing beats contacting schools and degree programs directly, which our researchers often do, with the result that all the entries in this article should be considered as belonging to this citation!

The Best Online Bachelor’s in Retail Sales Management Degree Programs

Oregon State University View School Profile $$$ Corvallis, OR 61% Oregon State University is regionally accredited by Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

Located in Corvallis, OSU offers a fully online degree in business administration, with an exclusively online retail management concentration. OSU’s online retail management degree requires coursework human resources management, supply chain strategy, consumer behavior, and retail management.

The program requires 180 quarter credits, including 60 credits in upper–division coursework, and students complete the degree in as few as four years. OSU’s academic year follows a quarter–term system, which allows new students to begin at multiple start dates throughout the year, and the university offers accelerated summer courses. Distance learners pay in–state tuition rates, and online students have access to resources such as 24/7 librarian assistance and online tutoring services.

Applicants should have at least a 3.0 GPA, and OSU considers each applicant’s standardized test scores and class rank. Applicants must demonstrate leadership experience and personal achievements. Transfer students may bring credits earned from regionally accredited institutions.

Liberty University View School Profile $$$$ Lynchburg, VA 46% Liberty University Online is regionally accredited by Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Liberty is a private, nonprofit university located in Lynchburg, Virginia. The school offers a bachelor’s of science in business administration with a specialization in marketing. The curriculum is similar to that of other retail management bachelor’s degree programs; coursework covers sales strategies, consumer behavior, market research, and business management. Full–time students complete the 120 required credit hours in four years, and the per–credit tuition is lower for online courses than for their on–campus counterparts.

This fully online program requires no campus visits. However, accelerated courses, known as intensives, are available on campus. Liberty’s core curriculum requires religion courses, in addition to general education courses. The retail management concentration includes specialized courses in marketing research, consumer behavior, sales management and professional selling, and retailing and category management.

Admissions requirements at Liberty are relatively relaxed. First–time freshman applicants must submit a self–certification affirming they have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. Transfer applicants must provide college transcripts and should have a GPA of 2.0 or better. Military credits often transfer.

Arizona State University View School Profile $$$ Skysong, AZ 51% Arizona State University – ASU Online is regionally accredited by Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

ASU in Skysong, Arizona, offers a bachelor’s of arts in business with a concentration in retail management. The online retail management degree consists of 120 credit hours, which most students complete in four years, and includes coursework in food retailing, leading organizations, essentials of services marketing, and quality management. Classes last seven and a half weeks, with two class cycles per semester, and the divided–semester schedule provides six start dates per year.

Students earning their retail management degree online are not required to visit campus and have access to online resources such as tutoring services, faculty advising, ASU libraries, success coaches, and career services. Online students even have opportunities to study abroad.

Freshman applicants must be high school graduates with a 3.0 GPA and must rank in the top 25% of their graduating class or meet SAT score thresholds. Transfer students must have a college GPA of 3.0 or better. Online students pay in–state tuition rates, regardless of residency.

Central Washington University View School Profile $$ Ellensburg, WA 53% Central Washington University is regionally accredited by Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

Located in Ellensburg, CWU offers an online BS in information technology and administrative management with a specialization in retail management and technology. Unlike other retail management bachelor’s degree programs, the curriculum focuses on the technological side of retail. This degree completion program requires applicants to have earned a transferable associate degree or a bachelor’s degree in any field.

The program requires 97 to 101 credits. The core curriculum emphasizes general IT management knowledge, and the specialization courses cover topics such as principles of retailing, retail IT, and retail management. Graduates pursue careers in e–commerce, store operations and management, sales, customer database management, merchandise buying and planning, and distribution and logistics. Students complete an internship planning class prior to undertaking a required summer internship.

The online program is available in most U.S. states, and internship requirements vary by state. Online students pay the same tuition rates as on–campus students; in–state and out–of–state tuition rates apply to online students.

Saint Joseph's College View School Profile $$$$ Standish, ME 51% St. Joseph’s College of Maine is regionally accredited by New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Higher Education (NEASC-CIHE).

SJC in Standish, Maine, offers a bachelor’s of science in business administration with a major in sales and marketing management. The fully online program has no on–campus requirements. Full–time students complete the program in four years. Per credit tuition rates for online courses are slightly less than tuition for on–campus courses and are not affected by the student’s state of residence.

The program’s 128 credits include 42 general education credits and 39 business core credits. SJC is a Catholic college, and some religion courses are required. Coursework for the sales and marketing management major include classes in advertising, marketing research, customer relations management, marketing management, and sales management.

Applicants must submit official transcripts and a letter of recommendation from a high school guidance counselor or teacher. Standardized test scores are not required unless the applicant was homeschooled. Transfer students must submit college transcripts and a letter of recommendation from a professor, advisor, work supervisor, or religious leader.

Southern New Hampshire University View School Profile $$$$ Manchester, NH 59% Southern New Hampshire University is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Higher Education (NEASC-CIHE).

SNHU’s online BS in fashion merchandising management comprises core general education and business courses and specialized courses in textiles and color theory, the history of fashion and costuming, merchandise planning and management, supply chain management, and fashion research and forecasting. The retail concentration covers principles of retailing, technology in fashion and retailing, and retail management. Full–time students complete the 120–credit degree in four years.

Although SNHU is based in Manchester, most of its students attend online and live around the world. SNHU offers six undergraduate terms per year, so accepted students begin classes at the next convenient start date. Most SNHU students are transfer students completing their education online.

Applicants must submit high school or college transcripts. Online tuition is less expensive than on–campus tuition, and all online students pay the same tuition rate, regardless of residency. Resources available to distance learners include a writing center, libraries, tutoring services, academic advising, and career services.

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Choosing an Online Retail Sales Management Bachelor’s Program

When selecting a retail management bachelor’s degree program, choose the institution that best suits your interests. While all programs feature some of the same core courses, many offer additional subjects for students with a career goal in mind. Examples include courses in global supply chain management for students looking to work on an international scale, entrepreneurship for those who want to pioneer their own retail organization, and e–commerce for individuals who choose to focus on online shopping.

Core subjects you can expect to cover in any retail management program include consumer behavior, business statistics, and marketing research. These courses provide you with a business foundation and the knowledge required to manage the operations of any retail business. Upon program completion, you will have the option to take the National Retail Federation’s credential exams that will certify you as a retail sales manager.

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Online Bachelor’s in Retail Sales Management Careers

Earning an online retail management degree qualifies graduates for management positions in and outside of the retail industry. With skills applicable to both small startup companies and large corporations, you will find opportunities to lead a variety of teams, from a store’s band of retail staff to entire sales departments.

Sales Manager
Sales managers direct the actions of a company's sales teams. Primary responsibilities include goal setting, developing training programs, and analyzing sales statistics. They work closely with other departmental managers to help meet sales quotas.
  • Median Annual Salary: $117,960
  • Projected Growth Rate: 7%
Assistant Store Manager
Assistant store managers oversee the daily operations of the retail location. Responsibilities include hiring staff, assigning employee schedules, setting the standard for customer service, and enforcing store policies.
  • Median Annual Salary: $46,466
  • Projected Growth Rate: 2%
Operations Manager
Operations managers oversee a wide variety of areas within an organization. The specific responsibilities of this position vary depending on the size of the company but will typically include creating policy and managing daily operations, such as assigning work schedules and supervising the completion of projects.
  • Median Annual Salary: $103,950
  • Projected Growth Rate: 8%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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