Many schools offer online associate's and bachelor's degrees in e-commerce, but distance learning programs in e-commerce at the master's degree level are not so easy to find. At the graduate level, e-commerce may be offered as a concentration option for a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree program.
Distance learning programs allow students to access lectures and course materials through the internet as their schedules permit, within established deadlines. Most programs can be completed fully online, but some programs follow a hybrid format, asking that students visit campus periodically for special activities, such as group discussions. Attendance at some on-campus lectures may be required as well.
Students at the associate's and bachelor's degree levels must complete general education courses in topics such as English composition and mathematics. Other courses cover the basics of a business education and allow students to explore the differences in online commerce and the traditional business model. Distance learning master's degree programs cover management skills and show students the strategies for operating a business website. A research project may be required. Applying to programs at this level typically requires a bachelor's degree.
Associate's Degree in E-Commerce
Through an online associate's degree program, students can enhance their knowledge or acquire new skills in the field. Major areas of study at this level typically include website administration, business management and entrepreneurship. These programs are intended to provide a foundation in all aspects of e-commerce and provide a path to entry into careers in industries like retail or finance. Graduates of these programs may also be qualified to enter bachelor's degree programs in e-commerce or related fields like Internet marketing.
Program Information and Requirements
Depending on the program and the student's pace, an associate's degree in e-commerce may be earned in less than a year. Associate's-level programs in e-commerce are often available entirely online, but some institutions offer degree programs that combine distance education and on-campus classes.
Most programs require students to retrieve assignments, submit their homework and participate in class discussions online. Videos of lectures also may be included in the coursework. As a result, students should have access to a computer with high-speed Internet connectivity. Many courses require software programs such as Microsoft Excel, Visual Basic and Dreamweaver.
Some e-commerce associate's degree programs require students to take general education classes in addition to in-field coursework. Associate's degree candidates examine the correlation between traditional business practices and Web-based application development and management.
Introduction to E-Commerce
This online course provides students with an overview of the basic principles of e-commerce and its standing in the global business environment. Topics covered include security, online funds transactions and legal and ethical issues. Students may be tasked to create their own online businesses leveraging concepts learned throughout the course.
Search Engine Marketing
This online course provides an overview of search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click advertising (PPC), which comprise the foundation of search engine marketing principles. Students focus on topics such as keyword research, content optimization, authoring effective ad copy and design of landing pages in order to maximize search engine results.
Students investigate consumer behavior and how people are identified by the marketing they respond to and the products they buy. Topics of discussion include understanding the psychological, social, economic and political factors that influence an individual's buying decisions.
Bachelor's Degree in E-Commerce
E-commerce bachelor's degree programs are available online from a variety of schools. These bachelor's degree programs allow students to develop knowledge of e-commerce concepts by exploring topics and concepts like the technologies required to create Web-based applications and e-commerce project management. Depending on the program, students may graduate with a Bachelor of Business Administration or a Bachelor of Science degree. Common major titles for these programs include e-business, business with an e-business concentration or e-commerce.
Program Information and Requirements
Some institutions require bachelor's candidates to complete prerequisite coursework in economics, business communications or website design. Curricula for most of these programs are business-intensive, but may also include instruction in technology-focused topics as well. Many online bachelor's programs combine textbook assignments and classroom discussions with research projects.
Many programs are taught completely online and include downloadable lectures and discussion board participation; however, some schools may require students to take part in group assignments on-campus. Some schools offering this degree have an online campus at a specific website, allowing students to access all necessary course materials for their program. These course materials may include video lectures, emails and discussion boards.
Bachelor's students explore more complex areas of e-commerce with a particular focus on the relationships between consumer behavior and online technologies. They also learn how product information is delivered in an online platform.
Legal, Social, and Ethical Issues in E-Commerce
This online course examines the issues surrounding how e-commerce is conducted. Topics of discussion include business ethics, intellectual property, e-contracts and an overview of online criminal activity.
Internet Technologies Used in E-Business
This course introduces students to the relationship between the Internet and e-business applications. Areas of study include the basic framework of Web-based applications, client and server side processing, security and e-business integration. Students may be placed in groups to create a design proposal.
In this online course, students examine the relationship between business and the law. Topics of study include contracts and commerce, business organizations and employment law.
Master's Degree in E-Commerce
Master's degree programs in e-commerce are not very common, but are available through a few schools. These degrees are most often available as MBAs with a concentration in e-business or e-commerce management. Successful applicants to these programs typically must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. A capstone or individual research project may be required to complete these programs.
Program Information and Requirements
Many classes in these programs are conducted online, but students may be required to attend on-campus lectures or meet in-person with their professors. These programs may offer students areas of focus, such as operations management or website promotion. Because many of these programs allow students to complete coursework at their own pace, and make coursework available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, completion time for this degree may vary.
Some schools offering a master's in e-commerce have an online education portal through which students access their course materials and assignments. Schools may also have online resources like a library, bookstore and writing help center, allowing students to complete every facet of their degree program from home.
Master's students examine key characteristics of e-commerce to enhance their skills in areas such as e-commerce technologies and project management. General education courses are not typically included in the curricula for these programs.
E-Commerce Strategic Management
Students learn to develop and implement corporate e-commerce strategic plans that leverage information gleaned from economic, cultural, social, technological and legal data. Topics covered include global competition issues and employment of strategies designed to gain competitive advantage.
E-Commerce Website Promotion
This course covers the tools and methods that businesses use to generate traffic to their websites. Focus is placed on common web-based tools to increase traffic including search engine optimization (SEO), affiliate programs and Yahoo! or Google ad words.
E-Commerce Research Project
Students conduct a research study of an e-commerce-related topic and present their results in a formal report. Project methodology generally includes identifying a problem and formulating a plan solution based on the student's assessment of the situation. An academic advisor usually must approve these final research projects.
Graduates with an associate's degree can expect to find entry-level positions in the e-commerce industry, such as in Internet marketing, Web application development and e-commerce sales. In November 2016, the median annual salary for an e-commerce customer service representative was $32,933, according to Salary.com.
Graduates with a bachelor's degree in e-commerce generally are equipped to pursue lower management positions, such as marketing analyst, customer support manager or assistant sales manager. The median salary for an e-commerce marketing analyst manager was $67,490 in November 2016, as reported by Salary.com.
Those who've completed a master's degree might attain upper management positions, such as marketing director or strategy director. In November 2016, Salary.com reported that the median annual salary for an e-commerce strategy director, a position for which a master's degree is usually required, was $141,736.
Online programs in e-commerce are available at the associate's, bachelor's and master's degree levels. Courses explore the legal and ethical issues of e-commerce, as well as marketing and operational techniques.