Can You Get a Business Degree Online?

Online Business DegreeMany students opt to pursue a business degree online, because distance learning affords them the ability to maintain a full-time job and still schedule as many as 18 credits each semester. These programs are not only available, but thriving, in an education marketplace that is increasingly shifting to virtual classrooms, distance education software, and the ability to replace classroom discussions with videoconferencing and real-time messaging.

Today’s business students can choose from both new and established, prestigious online schools that will grant them the ability to change careers, advance into senior positions with an existing employer, or even pursue their MBA in a similar distance format. Before choosing one of these schools, however, there are some important considerations to be made.

Accreditation, Accreditation, Accreditation

Like virtually any other product offered online, distance education programs suffer from the occasional scammer trying to lure students into a non-accredited degree program that will cost them money but net them very little benefit. The most important thing to look for when selecting an online business degree is the school’s accreditation. The best business schools are regionally accredited, by groups like the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and many others.

New England, the Mid-Atlantic, the southeastern states, western and Midwestern states, all have their own regional bodies. National accrediting agencies also work with some distance learning schools, and are recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. The bottom line is this: Without a reputable accreditation by a group with U.S. Department of Education recognition, the business program in question is not worth pursuing.

Interaction and Assistance: Another Key Part of Distance Learning

Because there is no classroom environment for students to attend each week, a key thing to look for when selecting an online business program is the availability and accessibility of the professors who teach each class. Most schools will make professors available via email and online discussions, and the best schools require their professors to hold virtual office hours when students can schedule an online chat or videoconferencing session. Remember that these courses are largely self-guided, without any traditional lecture environment. Being able to address questions to the professor on a regular basis, in order to further comprehension of the material, is absolutely essential.

Focus on Affordability to Reduce a Post-Graduation Student Loan Burden

Finally, remember to look at the per-semester cost of tuition when choosing a program. Most online learning programs allow students to take classes in a year-round, trimester format, so the cost of tuition each semester should be tripled when deterring the full cost of the program per year. The benefit of this format is that it actually allows students to cut more than a year off their total study time for a four-year degree, and this means that they typically will be able to advance into a more lucrative position after graduation that can help them pay down any student debt incurred.

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Online Business Programs Offer Convenience and Academic Rigor

Pursuing a business degree online has never been a more popular choice, with plenty of schools that have embraced the distance learning format. From big state schools to prestigious private schools and even smaller institutions, the options are truly more numerous than ever before. According to the US News and World Report, make sure to select a business degree online only if it’s affordable, offers excellent professor access, and features a recognized accreditation that adds real value to the school’s diploma.