Online Associate’s Degree in Business Administration Guide

Associates Degree in Business Administration Career Options & Salary

In order to succeed in business, you will need a degree. One of the quickest ways to attain a degree in business and get to work is by completing a two-year associate degree. These degrees are often found at your local community college, but they are also available online and from some four-year universities. Since an associate degree takes only two years, perhaps less, many current students see this as a quick way to get out of learning in school and into the real world and successful employment. This is true, but an associate degree, whether a business management or business administration degree program, will only take a graduate's career so far. It may be difficult to get into leadership positions with their corporate employers, but they can start earning experience and working toward their long-term goals. Keep reading to learn more about Associate degrees in Business Administration.


    An degree in business administration at the associate level comes with many benefits. During your education, you will learn the nuts and bolts of business (including academics in customer service, human resources, principles of finance, etc.), along with your general education courses. Once you graduate, you will have a solid foundation on which to build a long and successful business career.

    One chief positive of attaining an associate degree is that you can complete the degree in as few as two years after you complete high school. Further, AA degrees are often offered through local community colleges and online, too. Thus, if you live far from a four-year public school, you can jumpstart your business career without a lengthy commute or other inconveniences.

    Another of the chief pros of an associate degree is that degree holders can command a higher salary than those without a degree can. Your knowledge and skills in the field of business also mean that you can advance in your career faster than if you were trying to learn on the job.


    On the negative end of an associate degree program focused on business management or a degree in business administration, you'll find that, while it's great for getting started, you may hit a glass ceiling before too long. Two years’ worth of knowledge and skill only go so far. You may also find that you are ineligible to attain additional certificates. Even if you are an entrepreneur, you may find that banks prefer to loan to those with a bachelor's degree over those with a lower-level degree in business administration.

    A two-year Associate in Business Administration also limits you in that, it's difficult to broaden your knowledge on the field of business in a brief two-year span. Your time will probably be filled with core curriculum and the few business courses you're able to take for your major concentration. When you move on to a four-year bachelor's degree, you'll see that there's more opportunity to add a minor concentration and gain a breadth of knowledge you don’t otherwise have access to. For instance, you could add a minor in accounting, marketing, or even economics to increase the scope of your knowledge. Ultimately, while a two-year degree is far better than no degree at all, it will behoove you to progress through a full bachelor's degree in business administration, business management, or a related degree in business in order to have the career you've always dreamed of.

Certificate vs. Associates

A certificate in business administration is a great way to broaden your business opportunities. Certificate programs are most often offered to students who already have attained a bachelor's degree in any field plus some significant experience, often at least a year in a business environment. However, there are programs that admit non-degreed students on a non-credit basis. Non-credit options often require more experience for admission. Since there is no college credit involved, you won't be able to apply your work towards a degree.

Thus, if you don't yet have an associate degree , your best bet is to enroll in a two-year degree program and progress from that point. Your coursework will likely cover the same material as a certificate course, and you'll have college credit that will help when you move on to a bachelor's degree in business administration program. And earning a bachelor's degree in business will give you access to even more entry-level and higher opportunities, such as in international business, business policy creation, consumer research, as an executive assistant, customer service rep, or human resources specialist, etc.

What Business Administration Associate Degrees are Available?

  • Associate of Science:
    Generally speaking, an AS degree indicates that you have studied a STEM subject. Though Business is heavily math oriented, it also incorporates other elements from humanities.
  • Associate of Applied Science:
    This degree places an emphasis on applying one's knowledge and skills to a practical purpose.
  • Associate of Arts:
    An AA degree is one that is not in a STEM subject, such as Literature, Philosophy, History, or Political Science, for example.
  • Associate of Applied Business:
    If hold an AAB, your degree implies that you have studied with the sole purpose of entering the workforce. The downside of an "applied" associate degree in business administration or any other field is that your credits may not all transfer.
  • Associate of Applied Arts:
    This type of degree implies that the holder has placed a priority on job skills. An AAA degree might include coursework that does not transfer to a baccalaureate program.

Admission Requirements

Each Associate of Business Administration program will have its own admission requirements. However, you should count on showing a high school diploma and SAT scores. Generally speaking, a GPA of 2.0 and SAT scores over 900 will suffice for many programs. However, there are always exceptions and there are programs that will accept a high school equivalency certificate and/or significant experience in business or management.

One strong suit of many two-year programs vs a bachelor's degree is that they have great flexibility in their admissions standards and will provide you with opportunities despite shortcomings in the past. However, is it vital that you make sure your program is fully accredited and has a strong reputation in academia and your local business community.

How long does it take to earn a Business Administration Associates?

Most associate degree programs are created to take two years to complete. However, many students opt to take longer by not attending full-time. While it may be tempting to prioritize your work or home life over a degree, try to resist this temptation. The faster you can complete your associate degree, the faster you can get your career in to high gear. The short term sacrifices you'll endure for the sake of education will pay off once you've graduated. Further, the faster you can complete your degree the less likely you are to incur additional charges, such as tuition increases or the rising cost of books.

Potential Careers in Business Administration with an Associates

  • Marketing Specialist:
    In this job, you will work to promote your company's products and services in the most effective ways possible. Depending on the product, you might oversee television ad campaigns, print ads, or other approaches to your target markets. The average annual salary for this job is $51,400.
  • Operations Manager:
    Your degree will help you oversee a company's operations as a manager. Depending on your company's business, you could manage all or part of a manufacturing process, warehouse facilities, or purchasing. Operations Managers command an average annual salary of $66,100.
  • Bookkeeping:
    Bookkeepers are the core of business support. You will put your two-year degree to work ensuring that all incoming or outgoing funds are appropriately recorded for later auditing. You'll need top-notch spreadsheet abilities and a quick 10-key hand, but from this position you will find many opportunities. Bookkeepers earn an average annual salary of $43,500
  • Office Manager:
    In order for any business to operate smoothly, it needs an office manager. You'll need to be able to manage a budget, have creative solutions for the best use of office space and materials, and also provide a helpful and friendly face for the business. Office managers earn an average annual salary of $48,800
  • Outside Sales Representative:
    This general job description can apply to many industries. For each, you'll follow up sales leads, meet company sales expectations, and manage your current customers. Sales Reps generally work on a strictly commission-only basis, meaning that you must produce sales in order to earn a salary. Though earnings vary depending on your industry, sales representatives earn an average annual salary of $50,000.

Options to Advance

Once you have a solid foundation set in place with your Associate degree in Business Administration, you will have more opportunities to advance than if you had no degree at all. However, you still need to pursue added schooling if you want to add more responsibility to your plate.

You should consider taking more business classes after you've graduated with a two-year degree. While your associate degree will provide a leg-up in the business world, if you continue taking courses on a part-time basis, you may be able to complete a bachelor's degree in three years or so. Your employer might be able to help with tuition assistance and they might even reward your studies with bonuses or promotions, even before you complete a baccalaureate degree.

Best Associate of Science in Business Administration Programs

  • Georgia State University / Perimeter College
    Atlanta, Ga

    Perimeter College is a part of Georgia State University. They have campuses located throughout Atlanta, and offer courses online, too. Their Business Administration Pathway does not confer an A.S. degree in Business, but rather provides students with the background necessary to complete a bachelor's degree. The curriculum includes coursework in Computer Information Systems, Macroeconomics, and Accounting.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate of Science – Business Administration Pathway
  • Berkeley College
    New York – Manhattan, Brooklyn, White Plains, and more
    New Jersey – Newark, Paramus, Woodbridge, and more

    Berkeley offers a wide range of business degrees at the associate level. They have campuses all over the New York/New Jersey region and online, too. You can specialize in areas such as Health Services Administration, Fashion Merchandising, and Marketing Communications, among others. Berkeley even supports you with a full internship program and a history of excellence that dates back to 1931.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate Degree in Accounting
    • Associate Degree in Financial Services
    • Associate Degree in Management
    • Associate Degree in Information Technology Management
  • California College San Diego
    San Diego, CA

    California College - San Diego offers three campus options from which you can pursue your Associate Degree in Business. They will prepare you to launch your business career as a bookkeeper, financial clerk, sales professional, or any number of operations positions. This degree will be a great foundation on which to build business experience and later academic success.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate of Applied Science in Business
    • Associate of Applied Science in Business Management and Accounting
  • Devry University
    Locations Nationwide

    Devry University has a long history of preparing students for their career track. Their AA in Business Degree will prepare you for a management trainee program, retail management, or work as a sales associate, among other possibilities. Devry offers two concentration tracks for your AA in Business: General Business and Retail Management.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate Degree in Business
  • Central Texas College
    Killeen, TX

    Central Texas College offers multiple tracks to business success that they offer either on a traditional day-school schedule, a nights and weekends format, or online. Though their business programs are not nationally accredited, they are certified by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. As such, their business degrees will set you on a path to success.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate of Science in Business Administration
    • Associate of Applied Science in Accounting Technician
    • Associate of Applied Science in Business Management
    • Associate of Applied Science in Business Management – Marketing and Sales Management

Traditional Schools Offering an AS in Business Administration

  • University of Phoenix

    University of Phoenix is one of the most well-known online universities. The scope of their programs is comprehensive and includes an Associate of Arts degree with a concentration in Business Fundamentals. The degree includes coursework on globalization, managerial communications, financial accounting, information systems, and management theory.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate of Arts in Business Fundamentals
  • Strayer University

    This online university offers a wide array of business and business-related courses. Once you make your choice, your accredited Associate degree in business will open doors in all the industries you desire. Accreditation means that your degree will carry just as much weight as any other. This will prove invaluable when it comes time to apply for a four-year degree, or beyond.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate Degree in Accounting
    • Associate Degree in Acquisitions
    • Associate Degree in Business Administration
    • Associate Degree in Information Systems
    • Associate Degree in Information Technology
    • Associate Degree in Marketing
  • Purdue University

    This nationally recognized business program offers two online Associate degrees in Business. If you don't live in Indiana but want to launch your business career with a top-notch program, Purdue is for you. In fact, they are accredited by Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), which is one of the best accrediting agencies around.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate Degree in Accounting
    • Associate Degree in Business Administration
  • Southern New Hampshire University

    You can launch your business career with an Associate degree in Business from Southern New Hampshire University. In fact, their business program is fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). This nationally recognized agency's certification means that your degree is sure to open doors in top four-year institutions and when you apply for your MBA, too.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate Degree in Business Administration
  • Penn State University

    If you have the opportunity to put Penn State on your resume, you should seriously consider it. Associate degrees in Business don't have much finer pedigrees, and Penn State's World Campus allows you study from literally anywhere in the world that offers wi-fi. You should still consider a baccalaureate degree, and an MBA thereafter, but an AS degree in Business from Penn will certainly put you on solid ground for the future.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate of Science in Business Administration

Business Degrees & Career Paths