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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.

Top Online Certificate in Business Programs 2021
#1 West Kentucky Community and Technical College Paducah, KY
#2 Stanly Community College Albemarle, NC
#3 Northwest Iowa Community College Sheldon, IA
#4 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA
#5 Richmond Community College Hamlet, NC
#6 Wayne Community College Goldsboro, NC
#7 College of Central Florida Ocala, FL
#8 Ocean County College Toms River, NJ
#9 Surry Community College Dobson, NC
#10 Northwest Technical College Bemidji, MN

Featured Online Schools

The Best Online Certificate in Business Programs

West Kentucky Community and Technical College true View School Profile $ Paducah, KY 0.43% West Kentucky Community and Technical College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Western Kentucky Community and Technical College is a public institution in Paducah. The school is one of 16 schools in the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. WKCTC students can earn a business administration certificate online.

Business students complete 15 credits for the certificate in advanced business administration. Required classes include applied management skills, principles of management, productivity software, and principles of marketing. The curriculum prepares learners for entry-level careers or to pursue further education in related fields. Full-time students typically complete the program in less than one year.

WKCTC subscribes to an open admissions policy and accepts all interested learners with a high school diploma or GED. Prospective students must submit a free online application and high school or GED transcripts. WKCTC also requires business administration certificate seekers to submit standardized test scores. Applicants without ACT or SAT scores may take a free placement test before enrolling.

Distance learners enjoy one-on-one tutoring, remote library access, and personal and academic counseling services. Through the career services center, students can search for internships and employment, prepare for job interviews, and attend career fairs and professional workshops. Online students may also participate in special interest student groups and activities.

Stanly Community College true View School Profile $ Albemarle, NC 0.36% Stanly Community College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Located in Albemarle, North Carolina, SCC is one of 58 community colleges in the state’s community college system. The school hosts approximately 10,000 students and offers a variety of comprehensive online programs. Students can pursue a certificate in business administration education online.

This program introduces students to the essential components of free enterprise. Certificate seekers develop managerial techniques, effective marketing evaluation methods, and business communication skills. Additionally, students learn to prepare managerial accounting reports.

Learners study business law, economics, marketing, management, and accounting. Required classes include college student success, business ethics, people skills, and principles of management. In total, students complete 16 credits.

SCC follows an open admissions policy and accepts all learners with a GED or high school diploma. All certificate students need to submit an online application along with their high school transcripts. They must also take a placement test before enrolling in classes.

Distance students can take advantage of online academic support, career preparation services, remote library access, and financial aid assistance. Remote learners also enjoy access to 24/7 information technology assistance.

Northwest Iowa Community College true View School Profile $$ Sheldon, IA 0.65% Northwest Iowa Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Established in 1966, NCC is a public institution in Sheldon. This community college offers more than 40 vocational programs and academic degrees, including several online and hybrid programs. Students can pursue a certificate in business administration online.

The curriculum gives learners the time management, math, writing, and people skills necessary for entry-level positions. Graduates pursue careers as department store managers, administrative assistants, upper-level managers, and entrepreneurs.

Required courses include three general education classes in communications, math, and social science. Business-focused courses include principles of accounting, business math, personal finance, and principles of management. Students choose from a variety of business electives to tailor the diploma to their goals and interests. Popular electives include real estate pre-licensure, risk management, and principles of banking. Students usually complete this program in two semesters.

Distance pupils can take advantage of a variety of federal and state funding sources to help cover the cost of their education. Remote learners work directly with the financial aid office to develop payment plans and compile applications for funding opportunities. Additionally, remote students can take advantage of academic advising, personal counseling, veteran services, and online library access. The NCC learning center offers free tutoring services, national workshops, and career planning opportunities.

Liberty University true View School Profile $$$$ Lynchburg, VA 0.47% Liberty University Online is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Liberty is a private Evangelical Christian university established in 1971. Located in Lynchburg, Virginia, the school serves approximately 110,000 students on campus and online. Liberty students can pursue an online certificate in business administration.

This program gives learners managerial skills that are applicable to a variety of industries, including public administration, entrepreneurship, marketing, and human resources. Distance students complete 18 credit hours. Classes follow an eight-week schedule and most students graduate in less than one year. Required courses include organizational ethics, human resource management, principles of management, and organizational behavior.

Prospective students need a minimum 1.5 GPA. Applications must include official transcripts from any previous college coursework, a high school self-certification form, and proof of English proficiency.

Current military members, discharged or retired veterans, and spouses of service members or veterans receive tuition discounts and flexible start dates throughout the calendar year. Distance students can take advantage of student counseling services, online tutoring, remote library access, and a variety of online ministry and spirituality resources. Remote learners also enjoy access to an IT helpdesk seven days a week.

Richmond Community College true View School Profile Hamlet, NC 0.25% Richmond Community College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Established in 1967, RCC is a public institution located in Hamlet, North Carolina. RCC students can earn one of the top business administration certificate programs online. Most remote students complete the program in one year or less.

Distance students learn the basic practices and principles of contemporary business and the free enterprise system. In addition to introductory courses in management, pupils examine standard legal and ethical frameworks in business, including contracts, constitutional law, and court systems. Additionally, remote learners acquire strategic marketing, communication, team-building, and decision-making skills.

Required courses for the business administration certificate include basic computer literacy, principles of macroeconomics, principles of management, business law, and principles of marketing. In total, distance students complete 17-18 credit hours. Graduates can pursue careers in government agencies, businesses, and financial institutions.

RCC subscribes to an open admissions policy and accepts all learners with a high school diploma or GED. The school also offers a program for high school students who wish to earn college credit while finishing their diploma. Applicants must submit official transcripts and financial aid information.

All incoming students complete a placement test in math, reading, and English. Students who test low on these exams must take developmental studies courses before engaging with required business classes. Online learners receive a one-on-one consultation with an academic advisor to ensure they get the most out of their business administration program.

Wayne Community College View School Profile $ Goldsboro, NC 0.28% Wayne Community College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Located in Goldsboro, North Carolina, WCC is a public institution that offers a business administration certificate online. Distance students may complete this program in as few as eight months.

Business administration students prepare for careers in today’s technology-based global economy with a variety of computer and finance classes. Certificate seekers also learn the basics of business management, financial management, business ethics, and decision-making.

Over the course of two semesters, remote learners complete 18 credits, taking courses such as business law, principles of marketing, and human resource management. Additionally, WCC ensures that all incoming students obtain introductory instruction in business basics and computer technology.

WCC follows an open admissions policy. Interested students must submit official transcripts and financial aid information. All incoming freshmen must take placement exams in math, writing, reading, and computer skills.

Online students gain access to career services, professional workshops and seminars, one-on-one career counseling, and online resources for young professionals. Using video chat and whiteboard technology, remote students can receive free online tutoring through the academic skills center. This center also features a website with downloadable instructional PDFs to help remote students complete assignments in all major academic subjects.

College of Central Florida View School Profile $ Ocala, FL 0.37% College of Central Florida is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

CF is a public state institution that serves approximately 11,000 students. Located in Ocala and established in 1957, the school is a member of the Florida College System. CF students can pursue a business administration certificate online.

This business specialist certificate prepares students for entry-level business occupations. Remote learners develop a strong foundation of business communication skills and problem resolution methods. Graduates can secure employment in customer service representation, company outreach, sales and service, and a variety of specialized roles.

Business administration certificate students need to complete 12 credit hours. Learners take three required courses and one elective. Popular electives include elementary statistics, financial accounting, and college algebra. The school recommends that certificate students take the college algebra elective if they plan to pursue a bachelor’s degree in the field.

CF is an open-access institution and accepts all high school graduates. Prospective students must submit an application fee, Florida residency declaration form, and high school transcripts or GED scores.

Remote learners can take advantage of academic advising and student success resources, including free online tutoring. Additionally, CF offers extensive career services for young students and experienced professionals. The talent center helps business students locate job opportunities, provides feedback on job application materials, and conducts practice job interviews.

Ocean County College View School Profile $$ Toms River, NJ 0.35% Ocean County College is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

OCC is a public community college located in New Jersey. Established in 1964, the school serves approximately 9,500 students. Distance students can pursue the business administration certificate online.

The certificate in administrative office management in bookkeeping prepares distance students for entry-level employment across industries. Graduates secure positions in small businesses; nonprofit organizations; and local, state, and federal governments. Certificate holders may work as bookkeepers, office managers, management trainees, bank tellers, and loan officer trainees.

The certificate requires 30 credit hours. Required classes include principles of accounting, business communications, integrated office software, and intermediate spreadsheets and databases. Learners choose two electives to customize their certificate, such as small business management, business law, principles of management, and human resource management. Remote students can also pursue licensure with the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers in lieu of one elective.

OCC subscribes to an open admissions policy and admits anyone 18 years of age or older who may benefit from taking college-level classes. The school accepts applications year-round and admits students on a rolling basis. Students must maintain a 2.0 GPA or higher to remain in good standing. In some cases, transfer students may apply previous college credit toward the business administration certificate.

Surry Community College View School Profile $ Dobson, NC 0.31% Surry Community College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Located in Dobson, North Carolina, SCC is a public institution founded in 1964. The school serves over 18,000 students with online associate degree, diploma, and certificate offerings. SCC students can pursue an affordable business administration certificate online.

This program introduces business students to the free enterprise system. Remote learners study standard business processes and functions and how professionals operate in today’s global economy. SCC offers a well-rounded curriculum that prepares certificate seekers for careers in financial institutions, businesses, and government agencies.

Remote learners complete five courses for a total of 16 credits. Most students complete the certificate in two semesters. Required classes include principles of marketing, principles of management, business law, financial accounting, and introduction to business.

SCC offers professional development services, career coaching, and job search assistance. Online students can also receive free, short-term personal counseling and academic success coaching.

SCC follows an open admissions policy. Interested students submit a North Carolina residency determination form and official high school transcripts or GED scores. All incoming students must take placement tests. Learners with lower scores take remedial courses before engaging with required business coursework.

Northwest Technical College View School Profile $ Bemidji, MN 0.46% Northwest Technical College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

NTC is a public technical college established in 1965. Located in Bemidji, Minnesota, the school serves approximately 1,300 students. NTC students can pursue a business administration certificate online.

The business foundation certificate gives students essential computer, communication, and mathematics skills for entry-level careers. Pupils learn how to develop strong working relationships with colleagues. Graduates can pursue careers as operations managers, educators, administrative assistants, bookkeepers, and administrative service managers.

Certificate seekers need 16 credits to finish the program. All business students take classes in business communications, customer relations management, and financial planning. Learners also choose four elective credits. Elective options include business communications, information systems, network essentials, and microcomputer operating systems.

NTC follows an open admissions policy. Applicants must submit high school transcripts or GED scores. All incoming students meet with a personal admissions representative to ensure they enroll in appropriate classes. The registrar considers transfer credits on a case-by-case basis.

Online business students can take advantage of NTC’s career services and professional networking opportunities. Additionally, students can receive free online tutoring in all major subjects. The school also offers an IT help desk to assist remote pupils with connection issues, online learning software, and general computing questions.

University of Minnesota-Duluth View School Profile $$$ Duluth, MN 0.59% University of Minnesota – Duluth is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

UMD is a public institution established in 1947. The school offers over 100 academic programs, including a business administration certificate online.

The certificate in business administration benefits working professionals who wish to improve their business knowledge and new students without professional experience. Over the course of eight modules, or 16 credits, learners gain an understanding of business fundamentals, business management vocabulary, and solutions to common challenges that business managers face daily.

Business students engage with all major areas of business, including accounting, economics, and human resource management. Learners can complete classes entirely online or in a hybrid format.

Prospective students must possess a 2.0 GPA or higher. Applications must include ACT or SAT scores and official high school transcripts. Students may begin courses during any semester provided they meet the two-week application deadline before each start date. Most business students complete the certificate in two semesters.

Students gain access to discounted software, hardware, and cellular phone options. Additionally, students enjoy access to a remote library, online workshops, professional development services, and various tutorials for learning platforms.

Scottsdale Community College View School Profile $ Scottsdale, AZ 0.19% Scottsdale Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

SCC, a public community college established in 1969 with a campus in Scottsdale, Arizona, now features a diverse slate of distance education programs. In addition to fully online and hybrid degrees in psychology, English, and human resources management, the college also offers online certificates, including a certificate of completion in business administration.

Learners enrolled in this program can advance their existing knowledge in the field to prepare for fulfilling roles in a modern business environment. Requiring 27 credits total, students can enter accelerated five- or eight-week courses to explore topics such as workplace communication skills, human relations in management, and principles of marketing, along with owning and operating a small business.

Full-time enrollees can typically receive this certificate in two semesters, while those taking classes part time commonly take three semesters. SCC lists no specific admission criteria, but students must earn a “C” grade or better in all certificate courses.

SCC maintains an open admission policy, so anyone with a high school diploma, GED, or is age 18 or higher may become a member of its growing student population. Aspiring students must complete a student admission application to receive a school ID and a student email account. Distance students can take part in eLearning classes through the Canvas platform, and SCC maintains a digital help desk to assist students in navigating their education in an online space.

Craven Community College View School Profile $ New Bern, NC 0.27% Craven Community College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Craven offers academic programs in several technical fields and hosts approximately 3,200 curriculum students and 10,000 continuing education students. Distance students at Craven can pursue a business administration certificate online with a concentration in banking or customer service. The school also serves online learners who wish to transfer to four-year business programs.

This program gives learners fundamental knowledge of the essential business topics commonly used in today’s global economy. In addition to studying business law, economics, and marketing, distance students develop the interpersonal and communication skills necessary for success in the modern business world.

Online students in the banking concentration complete classes like principles of banking, teller training, personal finance, and principles of marketing. Students in the customer service concentration take classes including customer service, principles of management, and introduction to computers. In total, certificate seekers need 17-18 credits for graduation.

Craven subscribes to an open admissions policy for applicants with a high school diploma. Incoming students must be at least 18 years old. The school offers free academic and personal counseling resources for distance learners. Online students also enjoy access to online academic tutoring, a full-text library, and a writing lab.

Online certificate students can apply for financial aid through the financial aid office. Active duty military personnel and students with military experience may be eligible for tuition assistance.

Hazard Community and Technical College View School Profile $ Hazard, KY 0.3% Hazard Community and Technical College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

HCTC is a public community college established in 1968. The school subscribes to an open admissions policy and accepts all learners with a high school diploma or GED. In addition to five campus locations, HCTC provides extensive online academic programs. HCTC students can earn a business administration certificate online.

The advanced business administration certificate requires 17-18 credits. Required classes include introduction to business law, introduction to quality systems, and productivity software. Additionally, HCTC students receive instruction in marketing and management.

HCTC’s certificate in advanced business administration prepares students for a variety of careers in management, general business, and supervisory roles. Graduates pursue careers as retail store managers, office managers, administrative assistants, operations managers, and executive directors.

Applicants submit high school transcripts and ACT or SAT scores. HCTC uses standardized test scores to place students in the correct courses upon admission. Incoming learners also take a series of placement tests. Applicants with above-average test scores may receive a placement test waiver.

West Valley College View School Profile $$ Saratoga, CA 0.32% West Valley College is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC).

Located in Saratoga, California, WVC is a community college that serves approximately 8,100 students. Students at WVC can earn a 12-credit business administration certificate online.

This program introduces students to common business theories and concepts. Learners develop teamwork skills through group project assignments and professional business presentations. Upon completion of the certificate, WVC students can analyze legal and business cases, develop strategic marketing plans, and solve business problems.

Faculty deliver courses fully online and in a hybrid format through the Canvas system. WVC students work through synchronous classes with their classmates and complete regular assignments, exams, and online class discussions.

Online students pursuing a business administration certificate online choose from a variety of classes, including business law, business communication, and strategic management. Learners also explore useful computer technologies through classes like beginning spreadsheets, introduction to Microsoft Office, and presentation skills using PowerPoint.

WVC has an open admissions policy. Any interested learner over age 17 with a high school diploma or GED may attend. Admitted students can take advantage of remote student support services, including online tutoring, career coaching, and academic and personal counseling.

St Petersburg College View School Profile $ Clearwater, FL 0.29% St. Petersburg College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Located in Florida, SPC is a state college established in 1927. SPC hosts more than 20,000 students each year. The school is part of the Florida College System and its students can earn a business administration certificate online.

This certificate program offers a diverse curriculum that covers essential topics in marketing, business law, budgeting, and strategic planning. Online students learn to make educated financial decisions and manage business information with the latest technologies. Additionally, certificate seekers develop effective communication and leadership skills.

In total, certificate students complete 24 credits for graduation. Most learners complete the program in one year or less. Required major courses include financial accounting, principles of finance, supervisory management, and principles of marketing. Learners must complete all classes with a “C” grade or higher to remain in good standing. Certificate students may participate in an optional business internship program to gain hands-on experience.

SPC follows an open admissions policy and accepts all learners with a high school diploma or GED. Distance students must apply online and submit an application fee and their high school transcripts. Incoming students take a college placement test, which helps SPC determine which prerequisite classes incoming students need, if any.

Incoming online learners work directly with a career and academic advisor to plan their coursework and discuss the school’s remote learning resources. Online students enjoy access to SPC’s online library and remote tutoring. Additionally, distance learners may receive research help from librarians and attend virtual office hours with faculty.

Central New Mexico Community College View School Profile Albuquerque, NM 0.24% Central New Mexico Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Established in 1964, CNM serves approximately 22,300 students in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and online. The community college offers a variety of associate degrees and professional certificates, including a certificate of completion in business administration.

Learners in this program develop the skills necessary for entry-level jobs in business. Learners engage with real-world case studies, hands-on learning experiences, and community-based projects. While earning the business administration certificate online, students study business law, entrepreneurship, marketing, and accounting. Students typically graduate in one year.

Graduates pursue careers in the private and public sectors, including roles in human resources, real estate, retail, and advertising. Certificate holders often hold positions as team leaders, project managers, supervisors, and administrative support team members.

Incoming students must have taken high school math and writing. Business certificate students take prerequisite courses as needed or as determined by their placement exam scores. In total, online students complete 39-40 credits over the course of three terms.

Interested students must submit official high school transcripts with a minimum cumulative 2.5 GPA. Students with lower GPAs may submit scores from the ACT, SAT, or ACCUPLACER exams to supplement their applications. CNM allows students to take the ACCUPLACER exam for free on any CNM campus.

Southeast Community College Area View School Profile $ Lincoln, NE 0.31% Southeast Community College Area holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Established in 1941, SCC offers a variety of academic programs at its three campus locations and online. SCC students can earn a certificate in business administration education online. Students study essential business concepts and their practical applications in online or hybrid formats.

Online learners at SCC take only 6 classes — 15 credits — to complete the business administration certificate. Required classes include principles of accounting, introduction to business, career transition and management strategies, and business communication.

During their second term, online students typically choose nine credits of approved electives to tailor the certificate to their goals and interests. Incoming students must possess prerequisite courses in reading and writing before taking certificate coursework. Online students need to complete all required courses with a “C” grade or better to remain in good standing with the department.

Prospective students must submit an online application for consideration. Completed applications include high school or college transcripts and standardized test scores. The school accepts the Compass, ACT, or ASSET exams. Standardized tests also serve as placement exams for new SCC students. Online learners may apply at any time and begin classes during the fall, spring, or summer terms.

Distance students can take advantage of SCC’s learning resources through its entrepreneurship center and career services specialists. Additionally, the school offers advising services and online tutoring for distance students.

Broward College View School Profile $ Fort Lauderdale, FL 0.3% Southeast Community College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, BC is a public institution established in 1949. The school offers a variety of academic programs, including bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees, and multiple certificates. BC students can earn a business administration certificate online.

This management-focused program prepares students for entry-level careers that lead to entrepreneurship, management roles, and administrative positions. The curriculum covers foundational topics in management, communications in the workforce, microeconomics, accounting, and public speaking. Certificate seekers complete 15 credits of online classes and most complete the program in one year or less.

Applicants must submit high school transcripts for consideration. Students seeking in-state tuition rates must provide proof of Florida residency. Online students can apply for federal financial aid using the FAFSA and internal BC scholarships with a separate application. Incoming students may also receive credit for prior learning depending on their educational histories.

Online students enjoy access to academic advising, research assistance from librarians, and various career exploration tools. BC also offers online academic tutoring and a comprehensive online writing lab. Additionally, learners may pursue internship opportunities with the help of BC advisors upon completion of their coursework.

Great Basin College View School Profile $$ Elko, NV 0.28% Great Basin College is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

GBC is a public institution established in 1967. Located in Elko, Nevada, the school serves approximately 4,000 students. GBC offers a variety of academic programs, including bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees, and professional certificates. Remote students can pursue its business administration certificate online with no on-campus obligations.

This certificate of completion in business administration gives students a foundational understanding of business practices that affect financial success. The curriculum trains students to make ethical decisions in the workplace and exposes learners to a variety of customer service strategies and business networking skills.

Remote students complete six credits of English and communications courses, up to three credits of human relations courses, and three credits of mathematics. Certificate seekers must also pass a computer competency evaluation. Online learners typically complete the certificate in two semesters, which requires a total of 30.5 semester hours. GBC’s program prepares students to enter its associate program or pursue entry-level positions.

GBC has an open admissions policy. While some classes require prerequisite courses, the school accepts students of most academic backgrounds. Most incoming learners have at least a high school diploma or GED, and incoming students must take a placement test.

Distance students can take advantage of services through the academic success center, including free live tutoring, proctored testing, computer lab access, and online instructional workshops.

Best Online Colleges

Online Business Certificate Program 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%

In all our school rankings and recommendations, we work for objectivity and balance. We carefully research and compile each ranking list, and as stated in our advertising disclosure, we do NOT permit financial incentives to influence rankings. Our articles never promote or disregard a school for financial gain.

If you have questions about our ranking methodology, please feel free to connect with our staff through contact page.

We thank you for your readership and trust.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Business Certifications

A business certificate is offered through a college or university and operates like a shorter version of a degree. Students enroll in courses and complete assignments and exams to gain business skills. In contrast, business certifications are conferred by independent organizations and demonstrate skill in particular areas. Certification candidates must meet specific requirements and pass an examination.

Earning a business certification demonstrates that a job candidate has specific professional strengths, helping them appeal to employers. For example, individuals can earn certifications in project management, business analysis, and financial analysis. Most business certifications require prior education and work experience to apply.

After meeting these requirements, candidates typically complete an examination. Credentialed professionals maintain their certifications by meeting continuing education requirements. Some common business certifications are listed below.

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 Organizations

Professional organizations help students and early-career professionals transition into the workforce and advance their careers. For example, groups like the Business Professionals of America and the National Business Association connect members with career resources and scholarships.

Specialized professional organizations in finance, marketing, accounting, and human resources provide focused career support for professionals in those areas. The Association of Business Process Management Professionals International, for instance, focuses on process management. Other specialized organizations include groups like the American Business Women's Association and the Black Business and Professional Association.

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?

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?

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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