Best Online Associate in Business Degrees for 2023

Associate Degree in Business Career Options & Salary

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If you're thinking of going to college but aren't sure what major to declare, you might want to consider starting with an associate degree in business or business administration. An associate degree in business will give you a well-rounded base of knowledge you can utilize regardless of your job field and you'll gain skills which can be useful in almost any career. These degrees may not be offered by four-year business schools, but you can gain entry into these schools with an associate degree in business.

While most positions in upper management prefer to hire those with at least a bachelor’s degree, not everyone can afford the time and money it takes to earn a higher degree without first joining the workforce. An associate degree is an excellent starting point for entry level-jobs and it will also give you a chance to focus on a specific career goal for your future education plans. A business degree will provide you with knowledge and courses in business administration, business law, human resource management, general business management principles, management theories, and business skills.

Although most enroll in school to boost their employment opportunities, an associate degree in business will also give you life skills that will put you at an advantage in understanding personal finances, such as loans and mortgages, helping you to better utilize your current and plan for your future financial situation. Aditionally, you will also have access to federal financial aid, even at this level, as long as you attend a program with appropriate accreditation.


  • An associate degree can be completed in a relatively short time increasing your business skills and giving you a quick boost into the job market.
  • If your high school GPA was less than stellar, an associate degree will give you the opportunity to bring your grades up to par before you try to get into a regular four-year college.
  • Those who hold an associate degree earn more on average than those who only have a high school diploma or GED.
  • Employers prefer to hire those who hold a degree in comparison to those with only a high school diploma.
  • Your associate business degree can be completed at a community college, saving considerably in comparison to a four-year college.
  • Credits from taking an associate degree program can be applied to your bachelor’s degree program when you decide to continue your education.
  • Earning an associate degree will help you learn to utilize your time and instill good study habits for future educational plans.


  • Most job positions specific to business and management require at least a bachelor’s degree, so you should plan to continue your education if you want to work in supervision or upper management.
  • You won't have specialized learning in business, just the basic core knowledge. Many positions require specialized knowledge on specific subjects within the realm of business.
  • Specialized certifications such as Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) typically require a bachelor’s or master’s degree as part of the qualification process.
  • Earning a business degree takes considerable dedication and money, so you'll need good study and budget habits in order to keep your coursework up to date.
  • Returning to school can be hard to fit in an already hectic schedule, especially if you're already juggling a job, debts, and family life.

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What are the Best Online Business Associate Programs?

Online Business Associate College Badge

*Includes Business Administration & Business Management


Saint Francis University

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $39,502
    • Out-of-State: $39,502
  • Net Price: $28,883
  • Retention Rate: 96%
  • Graduation Rate: 74%
  • Total Enrollment: 2,769
  • Undergrad Students: 2,279
  • Graduate Students: 490
  • Diplomas Awarded: NA
  • Grads Salary: $48,900
  • Student-to-faculty: 14:1
  • Saint Francis University

Immaculata University

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $27,750
    • Out-of-State: $27,750
  • Net Price: $28,510
  • Retention Rate: 83%
  • Graduation Rate: 69%
  • Total Enrollment: 2,563
  • Undergrad Students: 1,614
  • Graduate Students: 949
  • Diplomas Awarded: 6
  • Grads Salary: $51,300
  • Student-to-faculty: 10:1
  • Immaculata University

Indiana Wesleyan University

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $28,960
    • Out-of-State: $28,960
  • Net Price: $22,098
  • Retention Rate: 81%
  • Graduation Rate: 71%
  • Total Enrollment: 3,108
  • Undergrad Students: 2,677
  • Graduate Students: 431
  • Diplomas Awarded: 1
  • Grads Salary: $47,700
  • Student-to-faculty: 13:1
  • Indiana Wesleyan University

Bismarck State College

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $4,926
    • Out-of-State: $6,930
  • Net Price: $10,249
  • Retention Rate: 72%
  • Graduation Rate: 53%
  • Total Enrollment: 3,716
  • Undergrad Students: 3,716
  • Graduate Students: 0
  • Diplomas Awarded: 12
  • Grads Salary: $48,500
  • Student-to-faculty: 14:1
  • Bismarck State College

Elizabethtown College

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $34,600
    • Out-of-State: $34,600
  • Net Price: $26,534
  • Retention Rate: 89%
  • Graduation Rate: 75%
  • Total Enrollment: 1,881
  • Undergrad Students: 1,688
  • Graduate Students: 193
  • Diplomas Awarded: 5
  • Grads Salary: $44,800
  • Student-to-faculty: 12:1
  • Elizabethtown College

Northwest Nazarene University

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $34,390
    • Out-of-State: $34,390
  • Net Price: $23,045
  • Retention Rate: 79%
  • Graduation Rate: 63%
  • Total Enrollment: 2,109
  • Undergrad Students: 1,389
  • Graduate Students: 720
  • Diplomas Awarded: 1
  • Grads Salary: $47,900
  • Student-to-faculty: 18:1
  • Northwest Nazarene University

The Pennsylvania State University

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $18,898
    • Out-of-State: $36,476
  • Net Price: $24,012
  • Retention Rate: 87%
  • Graduation Rate: 72%
  • Total Enrollment: 89,816
  • Undergrad Students: 74,446
  • Graduate Students: 15,370
  • Diplomas Awarded: 123
  • Grads Salary: $43,600
  • Student-to-faculty: 15:1
  • The Pennsylvania State University

Cardinal Stritch University

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $34,762
    • Out-of-State: $34,762
  • Net Price: $17,555
  • Retention Rate: 70%
  • Graduation Rate: 54%
  • Total Enrollment: 1,646
  • Undergrad Students: 1,068
  • Graduate Students: 578
  • Diplomas Awarded: 3
  • Grads Salary: $48,500
  • Student-to-faculty: 9:1
  • Cardinal Stritch University

Northwest Iowa Community College

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $6,540
    • Out-of-State: $6,840
  • Net Price: $11,613
  • Retention Rate: 78%
  • Graduation Rate: 62%
  • Total Enrollment: 1,666
  • Undergrad Students: 1,666
  • Graduate Students: 0
  • Diplomas Awarded: 6
  • Grads Salary: $41,900
  • Student-to-faculty: 13:1
  • Northwest Iowa Community College

McKendree University

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $33,050
    • Out-of-State: $33,050
  • Net Price: $25,492
  • Retention Rate: 76%
  • Graduation Rate: 56%
  • Total Enrollment: 2,200
  • Undergrad Students: 1,701
  • Graduate Students: 499
  • Diplomas Awarded: 6
  • Grads Salary: $48,800
  • Student-to-faculty: 14:1
  • McKendree University
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Certificate vs. Associates

A certificate program is like a crash course in business. Not to be confused with certification in one or more specific areas of business, a certificate is basically an online associate degree without the core general education classes such as English and mathematics, which make it easier to roll into an online bachelor’s degree.

A certificate program is helpful if you're looking for a short (less than two years) program to enable you to qualify for entry-level positions. The biggest downside is many certificate programs won't be transferable as credits towards a degree if you plan to attend college in the future, so you should look for this key component if you're considering such a program.

What Business Associate Degrees are Available Online?

There are three basic types of associate degrees and each offers a business major. The main difference is in the choice of coursework within each online program.

  • Associate of Arts (AA)
  • Associate of Science (AS)
  • Associate of Applied Science (AAS)

In addition, some schools offer an Associate of Applied Business. Here's a brief look at the differences in degrees:

  • An AA degree will focus more on courses than emphasize critical thinking, such as humanities and social sciences.
  • An AS degree will have more courses in the fields of math and science, and usually fewer course requirements in general education.
  • The AAS degree is designed primarily to allow students to enter the workforce immediately after graduation.
  • An AAB allows a student to specialize in a certain area of business such as marketing, office administration, logistics, or financial management.

While it may sound confusing, the easiest way to choose which degree is right for you is to look at the prerequisites for each online business bachelor’s degree program at your school of choice. You'll want to choose an online associate program that will be transferable to an undergraduate or graduate degree in an area of study that meshes with your long term goals; that way you won't take courses that don't transfer or miss courses required for entry into a higher online degree program.

Admission Requirements to Enter an Online Business Associates Program

An online associate degree program in business usually has less stringent admissions criteria than higher degree programs; some community colleges only require the student to have a high school diploma or GED in order to be accepted into the program. This should be one of the first things you check when choosing a college, as there is no set of standard rules for admission requirements across the country. Here are some other requirements schools may have for those seeking to enroll in an online associate degree program:

  • A minimum high school GPA
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Minimum scores on SAT or ACT
  • A letter of intent
  • Background check
  • Minimum grades in prerequisite courses

How long does it take to earn an Online Associate Degree in Business?

Most online associate degree programs require 60 semester credits, which is equal to two years (four semesters) of full-time attendance. Of course, if you can only take a partial class load, you'll take longer to earn your degree. If you opt to take some college level courses during high school, you may have enough credits to equal a full semester, allowing you to earn your degree in a year to 18 months.

If you are knowledgeable in one or more subjects, you can opt to use the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) and take a standardized test for specific courses in one or more of 36 subjects. You should keep in mind that these are not accepted equally across every school, so you should check with yours to see which tests are available for you to earn credit with yours.

Potential Careers in Business with an Online Associates

  • Assistant store manager:
    The position of assistant store manager is usually a key-holder job and often a training position for store managers. They may be tasked with ordering stock, supervising and training employees, creating weekly schedules, constructing displays, and completing training modules as well as daily sales duties such as assisting customers and stocking shelves. The average annual salary is $48,700.
  • Sales support specialist:
    The sales support specialist does exactly that: they focus on sales driven issues such as streamlining customer support at help desks, preparing items for the sales team, marketing, maintaining records of clients or customers, and finding solutions to problems relating to products. Their average annual salary is $47,200.
  • Retail Store manager:
    The retail store manager takes credit or blame for the entire store. They may be tasked with setting and achieving sales goals, settling customer complaints, scheduling training modules, overseeing store budgets, authorizing discounts, and developing new sales plans to attract new customers and retain current clients. Their average annual salary is $48,300
  • Executive assistant:
    An executive assistant holds a busy and important position as they may be tasked with everything from scheduling interviews and other appointments, emails, preparing and filing reports, finding and booking travel accommodations, and other clerical functions as needed. They are often the hub of the office wheel and make sure everything runs smoothly and on schedule. Their average annual salary is $55,300.
  • Sales consultant:
    A sales consultant seeks out new customers for the product or services offered by their company. They are typically assigned a territory for perspective clients and usually must travel as part of their job. Although some sales consultants perform a majority of work by phone, it is typically a face-to-face sales position. Their annual average salary is $51,000.
  • Compliance officer:
    Many companies require a degree in business law to become a compliance manager. A compliance manager is responsible for overseeing and managing the organization's regulatory and legal requirements. This position requires an individual who can understand complex laws and regulations, as well as have the ability to communicate them effectively to staff members. Their annual average salary is $74,800.

Salary by Occupation

Occupations Entry-Level Mid-Career Late-Career
Financial Analyst $55,200 $68,900 $75,200
Accountant $46,700 $55,500 $58,400
Human Resources Manager $51,400 $68,500 $75,200
Supply Chain Manager $61,900 $85,600 $95,100
Accounting Manager $56,800 $75,400 $71,300
Public Relations Manager $44,500 $72,300 $75,400
Content Marketing Manager $46,500 $72,100 $85,400

Options to Advance

The options to advance with an online associate degree in business environment are vast. Much depends on your chosen career; an assistant store manager may rise to store manager and then district or even regional manager, and the same holds true for similar positions.

You should plan your future schooling to match your career goals. Using store manager as an example, you might continue your online education to earn an online bachelor’s and master's degrees in administration or finance. The biggest benefit can be found once you're in the field: most employers will pay for, or reimburse you for earning, a higher degree, which means they will, in effect, be paying for you to earn a promotion.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I earn an associate degree in business administration online?

Yes, you can earn a degree in business administration online. With the advancement of technology and the rigorous coursework required for an associate business administration degree, more and more universities are offering courses that can be taken online. Whether you prefer to attend lectures on-campus or take them from the comfort of your home, an online associate business administration degree offers flexibility that traditional degrees cannot provide.

An online associate business administration program typically consists of foundational courses such as financial management, marketing principles, communication skills and accounting principles. Through these courses students will gain knowledge in all aspects of running a successful business operation which they can apply to their future career endeavors. Courses are typically offered on a semester basis with some universities also offering accelerated programs that allow students to complete their degree faster than traditional methods.

Is an online associate degree even worth it?

Many employers prefer to hire bachelor’s graduates to even lower-level management positions. Many students who earn associate degrees go on to earn bachelor’s degrees eventually. So, is it even worth it to get an associates? It certainly can be! No matter what industry or sector you are considering, a business associate degree will prepare you well for entry-level positions. And, while you still might need to earn a bachelor’s degree eventually in order to continue to progress in your career, by earning an associate degree, you can do so with real world experience and with a job supporting you through the rest of your academic career. Some businesses will also help you pay for your bachelor’s degree if you are working for them while you earn it. That means that, not only can you save money on the first two years of a bachelor’s degree, but with some wise transfer planning and a job that is willing to help you out, you could also save a bundle on the last two years of your bachelor’s degree. That can make the associate degree more than worth it.

Will I be taken seriously with an online degree?

This question is still being asked even though the majority of the issues with online learning are now things of the past. As long as you ensure that you are attending a well-accredited school, perhaps one that is well-known in your state, such as a public college, then your online degree will have exactly the same impact in the business environment as an in-person degree would. After all, your diploma won’t have any marking indicating how you earned your degree, only that you earned it. So, unless you decide to tell your prospective boss that you managed your time well enough to complete a college degree from your home or the public library, perhaps while also working part-time, they won’t even have to know about it.

Are there accelerated associate degrees in business?

Yes! While most associate degrees take around two years, or 24 months, to complete, there are some business associate degrees that can be completed in 15 months. If you are interested in getting into the work force as quickly as possible, this might be the best choice for you.

What is the course work like for a degree in business management?

A degree in business management is one of the most sought after qualifications in modern times. With a business management degree, students gain valuable knowledge and experience that can help them advance their career in many different fields. But what exactly does it take to earn this type of degree?

The course work for students taking the business management program typically includes classes related to accounting, finance, marketing, economics, operations and human resources. These courses are designed to provide students with a broad understanding of how businesses operate on both an individual and organizational level. In addition to these core classes, some programs may also require students to take electives related to specific areas of interest such as entrepreneurship or international business. Many programs also incorporate hands-on learning through internships or study abroad experiences where students can gain real world experience working within a variety of organizations.

What is the difference between a business administration degree and a business management degree?

Business administration and business management degrees offer students a range of opportunities in the field of business. While many people assume the two degrees are similar, there are important distinctions that make them unique.

A degree in business administration focuses on developing skills related to financial analysis, budgeting, taxation and managing accounts. With this type of degree, students can pursue a career in accounting or finance. In addition, graduates often have an understanding of areas such as human resources, marketing and economics.

By contrast, a degree in business management is geared towards preparing individuals for positions in operations management or project management. Students learn about innovation strategies, organizational behavior and problem solving techniques to help them succeed as managers. This business management program also emphasizes leadership development and team building skills while providing an extensive understanding of how organizations work from the inside out.

How do I get federal financial aid for school?

For many students, attending college is a dream that can quickly become an intimidating reality when the inevitable question of how to pay for it comes up. With the cost of tuition continuing to rise, many are unaware of the available avenues for federal financial aid. Whether you’re a high school student looking ahead or already in college and needing help paying your bills, there are resources that can provide assistance with college costs.

The first step in getting started on your path to securing federal financial aid is filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA will determine whether or not you qualify for federal grants and loans along with other forms of aid such as work-study programs and scholarships. After submitting your application, you can monitor its status online and receive information about any awards you may be eligible for.

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