Best Online Business Certificates 2021

by TBS Staff
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Business certificates prepare students for administrative roles by covering fundamental financial planning, accounting, business operations, and financial reporting skills.

Earning a business certificate online builds key skills for careers in business. During business certificate programs, learners take courses in areas like entrepreneurship, financial accounting, and management. They also strengthen their analytical and decision-making skills through real-world case studies and projects.

With a business certificate, professionals can work as financial clerks, loan officers, and auditing clerks. They also pursue careers in administrative services and facilities management. These fields all offer entry-level opportunities for people seeking careers in business. Professionals can also pursue specialized certificate programs to move into new roles in their current careers.

Our list includes the top online business certificate programs to help prospective students find the best fit for their interests, budgets, and career goals. This article also covers common business certificate courses, career paths, and certifications.

The Best Online Business Certificate Programs

Chandler-Gilbert Community College true View School Profile $ Chandler, AZ 24% 8% 22% Chandler-Gilbert Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

A community college founded in 1985, CGCC offers a certificate of completion in general business in a variety of class formats, including online. Students complete 21 credits and can finish in as little as one year.

Students take four required courses: introduction to business; survey of computer information systems; accounting principles; and legal, ethical, and regulatory issues in business. Students then choose nine credits in electives from approved selections in the business department.

Applicants may use high school transcripts, GED scores, ACT or SAT scores, or placement tests to begin the application process.

Asnuntuck Community College true View School Profile $ Enfield, CT 39% 17% 22% Asnuntuck Community College is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

Founded in 1969, ACC offers a certificate in business administration. Students can complete most courses online. Learners complete just 24 credits over two semesters to complete the certificate requirements.

Students must take three required courses: principles of management, principles of marketing, and English composition. Participants then move on to complete 12-16 credits in business and accounting electives from approved selections in the business department.

Students need a high school transcript or proof of diploma or GED certificate to begin the application process.

Pima Community College true View School Profile Tucson, AZ 18% 10% 31% Pima Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Founded in 1969, PCC offers a basic business certificate completely online. Students complete 31 credits over two semesters without needing to come to campus.

Students take required courses such as financial accounting, ethics in the workplace, human relations in business and industry, and principles of marketing. Support courses include computer fundamentals, college success and career planning, and English composition and career communications.

Applicants must fill out the application and establish residency to determine tuition requirements. Transfer students need a grade of "C" or better for any potential transfer credits.

Tulsa Community College true View School Profile $ Tulsa, OK 18% 22% 40% Tulsa Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

A community college founded in 1970, TCC offers an online certificate in business. Most students take just two courses per semester to finish in four semesters.

Required courses include computer concepts and applications, principles of human resources, principles of management, and business management. Students choose from one of two emphasis tracks in the final semester: retail management or small business management.

Applicants need a high school diploma or GED equivalent and standardized test scores to qualify for admission.

Northwest Technical College true View School Profile $$ Bemidji, MN 42% 40% 73% Northwest Technical College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

A public technical college founded in 1965, NTC offers an online certificate of business that students can complete in just one semester.

The 16-credit program includes required courses such as financial information for life, customer relationship management, business management, and introduction to business. Learners complete four credits in technical electives to satisfy certificate requirements.

Applicants need a high school diploma or GED equivalent to qualify for admission. Students without SAT or ACT scores may need to take placement exams.

Phoenix College View School Profile $ Phoenix, AZ 16% 13% 35% Phoenix College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

A public community college founded in 1920, PC offers an online certificate of completion in business administration. Students can complete 27 credits in just over two terms.

Learners take required courses such as human relations in business, computer usage and applications, understanding and using accounting systems, and business organization and management. Students also study ethical and legal issues.

Students must apply to the school with high school transcripts to get started with the admissions process.

Normandale Community College View School Profile $$ Bloomington, MN 25% 23% 37% Normandale Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

A public community college founded in 1968, Normandale offers an online certificate in general business. Students complete 20 credits entirely online.

Learners complete courses such as information technology and concepts and business software, legal environment for business, statistics for business and economics, and human relations and effective teams. Students also study marketing and financials as they relate to the business field.

Applicants need a high school diploma or GED equivalent to qualify for admission. The school does not charge an application fee.

Rio Salado College View School Profile $ Tempe, AZ 5% 10% 58% Rio Salado College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

A public community college founded in 1978, RSC offers an online certificate of completion in general business. Students can begin the program almost every week of the year.

The 21-credit certificate can be completed in about one year. Learners take four required courses: accounting principles; a survey of computer information systems; introduction to business; and legal, ethical, and regulatory issues in business. From there, students complete nine credits in approved electives.

Applicants must fill out the admissions form and designate one of the 40 start dates as their target start.

Edison State Community College View School Profile $$ Piqua, OH 33% 16% 41% Edison State Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

A community college founded in 1973, Edison State offers an online certificate in business management. Students can complete all requirements without coming to campus.

Learners participate in courses such as introduction to financial accounting, principles of organizational behavior, computer concepts and applications, and introduction to business. Most students complete the certificate requirements in as little as one year.

Applicants must fill out the admissions paperwork and submit either standardized test scores or other placement scores to begin the program.

DeSales University View School Profile Center Valley, PA 70% 64% 32% DeSales University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

A private Catholic university founded in 2000, DeSales offers an online certificate in business administration. Students must complete five courses plus one elective.

Required coursework includes principles of macroeconomics, introduction to business, principles of management, and financial accounting. Learners can choose one elective in consultation with their advisor to satisfy certification requirements.

Applicants need a high school diploma or GED equivalent to begin the admissions process. Applicants also need one of the following: veteran or military status, a record of full-time employment, a bachelor's degree, or more than five years of work experience.

Best Online Certificate

Online Business Certificate Programs Ranking Guidelines

We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.

Our Methodology

Here at TheBestSchools.org, we take the trust and welfare of our readers very seriously. When making our school and program rankings, our top priority is ensuring that our readers get accurate, unbiased information that can help them make informed decisions about online education. That's why we've developed a rigorous ranking methodology that keeps the needs of our readers front and center.

Our proprietary, multi-criteria ranking algorithm analyzes key data indicators — as collected by the federal government — for each school or program. What data we use depends on the focus of each specific ranking, but in all cases, our ranking methodology is impartial: Schools cannot buy better rankings at TBS.

While specific criteria under consideration can vary by ranking, there are a few data points that we value most highly. They are affordability, academic quality, and online enrollment. Below, we break down our algorithm to help you understand what you're getting when you use one of our rankings.

  • Academics
  • Affordability
  • Online Enrollment

Data Sources

The data used in TBS rankings comes primarily from the federal government, and much of it is provided by the schools themselves. We aggregate and analyze this data to build our rankings.

The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is our primary source. Its data comes from annual surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Every college, university, or technical school with access to federal financial aid must participate in these surveys, which include questions about enrollment, graduation rates, finances, and faculty qualifications. This is publicly available data, which you can access yourself through the College Navigator.

Additionally, because we value a personal touch and the professional experience of our staff and Academic Advisory Board, we vet all results and adjust rankings as necessary based on our collected knowledge of schools and degree programs. Depending on the ranking, we may obtain additional input from AcademicInfluence.com, subject matter experts, prior TBS ranking lists, or other sources we deem relevant to a particular ranking.

Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology

About Our Ranking Factors

Here at TBS, we value what you value: quality education, affordability, and the accessibility of online education. These factors guide all of our program rankings.

Each of these factors are further broken down into weighted subfactors. For example, retention rates are weighted more heavily than availability of program options because they are a better indicator of student success.

We chose the following factors for our rankings because of their influence on learning experiences and graduate outcomes. However, students should always balance our rankings against their personal priorities. For instance, a learner who needs a fully online program may prioritize online flexibility more than our rankings do. Our rankings are designed to help you make a decision — not to make a decision for you.

Academics - 75%
Affordability - 15%
Online Enrollment - 10%

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Featured Online Business Certificate Programs

What Is an Online Business Certificate?

An online business certificate offers focused training in core business areas, such as finance, accounting, and management. During a business certificate, learners study strategic planning, organizational behavior, and business decision-making. A certificate also teaches enrollees to create business plans, analyze financial reports, and manage staff.

In addition to gaining foundational knowledge in business, learners strengthen their analytical, problem-solving, and decision-making skills through projects and assignments. A business certificate also covers communication and research abilities.

Many colleges offer online business certificate programs, and earning a business certificate online offers more flexibility than a traditional degree. Learners can complete coursework around their other responsibilities, which appeals to working adults seeking career advancement. After gaining foundational training through certificate programs, graduates can pursue business degrees or enter the workforce.

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What's the Difference Between a Business Certificate and an Associate Degree in Business?

Business certificates and associate degrees in business both train students in foundational business areas, like entrepreneurship, accounting, and management. However, a certificate offers more focused coursework without general education requirements. A certificate also takes less time than an associate degree.

Most certificate programs take around one year or less, while an associate degree typically requires two years. With an associate degree, graduates can work as financial clerks, account managers, and administrative assistants, and they can transfer directly into bachelor's programs.

After completing a certificate, graduates can transfer into associate programs. Many schools offer both certificates and associate degrees in business.

Choosing an Online Program

When choosing an online business certificate program, students should consider factors like enrollment options, course schedules, and certificate specializations. Each student has unique goals and needs, so which business certificate is the best fit will be different for everybody. Learn more about choosing an online program at the links below.

Accreditation for Business Programs

Prospective students should always choose accredited schools for their business certificates. Accredited colleges meet the highest standards for educating students. Accredited colleges also meet the requirements for federal financial aid awards. For business education, regional accreditation is the gold standard.

In addition to school accreditation, applicants should also seek out accredited business programs. Several accrediting agencies evaluate business programs, including the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs. Accreditation demonstrates that a business program follows the best practices for training business professionals.

What to Expect From a Business Certificate

During a business certificate, online learners build foundational skills in accounting, management, and marketing. They also take courses in business ethics, strategic decision-making, and entrepreneurship. Some certificates offer focused coursework in a particular area, like finance, public accounting, or leadership. Below are a few common courses in online business certificate programs, though the exact curriculum varies by school.

Business Curriculum

  • Accounting: Basic accounting skills help professionals in every field. This course covers financial accounting systems, creating financial documents, and evaluating accounting statements. Students learn about inventory, revenue, income statements, and balance sheets.
  • Business Strategy: Business decision-makers use a variety of strategies to solve problems. In this course, learners consider strategic alternatives, learn to implement business strategies, and assess strategic plans for their effectiveness.
  • Business Ethics: In this course, learners examine ethical obligations and problems for businesses. The course introduces students to ethical decision-making, company responsibility conflicts, and personal integrity in a business environment.
  • Entrepreneurship: Entrepreneurs launch businesses. This course covers the business planning process, marketing for new companies, and expanding organizations. Students also learn core principles needed for success in new ventures.
  • Fundamentals of Marketing: Marketing courses introduce learners to core principles and concepts in marketing. Topics include market research, pricing strategy, and competitor research. Coursework blends lectures with case studies and real-world projects.
  • Principles of Management: Learners explore theories and best practices for managers. The course covers organizational needs, corporate responsibilities, and management roles. Students also learn about planning, management analysis, and decision-making.

How Long Does It Take To Get a Business Certificate Online?

Earning a business certificate online typically takes around one year. Program length depends on several factors, including the number of required credits, the student's enrollment status, and the program format.

Short certificate programs may only take a few months, while a longer certificate can exceed one year. Part-time enrollment extends completion timelines. Some online business certificate programs offer an accelerated schedule, where learners complete coursework in shorter terms.

What Can You Do With a Business Certificate?

A business certificate trains students for entry-level roles as financial clerks, bookkeepers, and accounting clerks. Graduates also use their business training to launch new companies, run small organizations, or work as office managers.

Training in accounting, management, and finance helps professionals in a variety of careers. In addition to the following fields, earning a business certificate can lead to opportunities in marketing, accounting, and financial services.

Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs develop business ideas and establish new companies. They research demand for new products and services to identify potential customers and gaps in the market. An entrepreneur can then create a business plan, raise capital, and launch a business venture.

A business certificate with a focus in entrepreneurship helps prospective business owners gain the necessary knowledge to form a business plan and launch a business.

Office Managers

Office managers oversee support services within an organization. They manage administrative needs and coordinate services like mail distribution, record filing, and printing. In some organizations, office managers plan budgets, purchase office supplies, and manage facilities.

Some employers prefer office managers with bachelor's degrees, but most will hire office managers with administrative experience or certificates. Similar titles include administrative services manager, business unit manager, and records and information manager.

Financial Clerks

Financial clerks perform administrative tasks in brokerage firms, accounting offices, and other business settings. They manage financial records, calculate charges, and assist customers. Some financial clerks also carry out transactions for customers or clients.

This career path typically requires a high school diploma, plus college-level business courses, like those offered in a business certificate program. Many financial clerks complete on-the-job training to strengthen their specialized knowledge.

Business Certifications

The Project Management Institute (PMI) offers the CAPM credential for entry-level project managers. Each candidate must hold a high school diploma or associate degree and complete 23 hours of project management education. A business certificate meets the latter requirement. PMI requires a three-hour, 150-question certification exam. CAPM professionals maintain the credential by earning 15 professional development units every three years. PMI also offers the PMP credential. Education and work experience requirements vary depending on whether the candidate holds a bachelor's degree. CAPM certification fulfills the project management education requirement. Each prospective PMP then takes a certification exam. PMI reports that PMP-certified individuals earn 25% higher salaries than those without certification. The CBAP credential recognizes experienced business analysts. An aspiring CBAP must have at least 7,500 hours of work experience in business analysis, including at least 900 hours each in four of the credential's knowledge areas. The certification also requires 35 hours of professional development, two references, and passing scores on an exam. Professionals experienced with Salesforce, a customer relationship management platform, can pursue certification to demonstrate their expertise. Candidates take a 60-question exam on configuration options, user management, and Salesforce functions. The certification offers proctored exams at testing centers or online environments. Professionals can pursue Oracle certification in multiple areas, including cloud infrastructure, enterprise performance management, and human capital management. Candidates start by choosing their certification and meeting requirements, then selecting a recommended training or specialized exam. Individuals earn certification after passing the exam at a Pearson VUE center.

Business Careers

A business certificate prepares graduates for entry-level roles as accounting clerks, bookkeepers, financial clerks, and administrative assistants. Professionals who add business certificates to their college degrees can advance into administrative and management roles. For example, the specialized training in a certificate can lead to a career as a general manager, management analyst, or human resources manager.

The following median salary data pertains to business careers for individuals with certificates but no degree.

Career Median Salary (2020)
Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks $42,410
Financial Clerks $41,520
Secretaries and Administrative Assistants $40,990
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Frequently Asked Questions

true What Are the Best Certifications To Have in Business?

Voluntary certifications — like PMP, certified supply chain professional, and chartered financial analyst credentials — help professionals demonstrate specialized skills on the job market. Which certification is the best depends on your field.

Are Business Certificates Worth It? true

Business certificates offer a fast, less expensive route to specialized training in business. A certificate helps professionals transition into business careers or advance their careers.

What Jobs Can You Get With a Business Certificate? true

After completing a business certificate, professionals can work as entrepreneurs and small business owners, financial clerks, and office managers. Current business professionals can also move into specialized roles using graduate certificates.

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