Distance learning associate's degree programs in business are available in fully online and hybrid formats. Students can also pursue very similar online associate's degrees in business administration or business management. In some cases, students may be able to focus on one specialty, such as management, marketing, labor relations or business communications. These programs are found at community colleges and some private institutions, and typically take two years to complete. An internship may be required.
Online business degrees include the Associate in Business, the Associate of Science in Business Administration and the Associate of Applied Science in Business Management. The business courses for an online Associate of Science in Business Administration or Associate in Business are designed for transfer to a four-year college or university. Online courses in Associate of Applied Science programs may not be transferable.
The Associate of Science in Business Administration is also a more general degree with a broad business curriculum. The Associate of Applied Science in Business Management is more focused on management aspects of different types of businesses, including hotel management and small business management. The Associate in Business is a degree program designed mainly for students who intend to complete a Bachelor of Business Administration degree.
Students pursuing an online associate's degree in business take the required general education courses covering subjects of composition, mathematics and economics, usually in the first semester of study. Then, depending on the online program, students begin choosing business-related courses along with other required courses. Some online courses are not offered every semester, and thus students may have to choose electives based on availability. Online courses typically found in all business associate degree programs include:
- Small business management
- Sales management
- Business law and ethics
- Business communications
Some distance learning programs allow students to complete a specialization or concentration as part of their studies in areas such as small business management, entrepreneurship, sales or hospitality management. Students may take a capstone course designed to tie together coursework at the end of their programs.
Students in an online business associate's program usually never have to step foot on campus, but some schools may require an internship. Otherwise, all coursework is completed in a virtual classroom containing lectures, assignments, videos, tests and other learning aids. Classmates interact with each other and their instructors using course chat rooms, discussion boards or conferencing technologies.
Career Information for Graduates
Graduates who have obtained an online associate's degree in business may go on to earn a four-year degree from an on-campus or online university. Other graduates may choose to enter the workforce in entry-level sales, bookkeeping, auditing, business office administration and administrative services. With work experience, employees with two-year degrees may seek career advancement to jobs in business management.
Individuals interested in pursuing an associate's degree in business on a flexible schedule can look into fully online options. These programs typically explore topics such as accounting, finance, advertising and sales management.