Retail management relates to customer-based enterprises and focuses on stock, employee management, pricing and profit. Distance learning coursework in this field is frequently offered as a specialty in a Master of Business Administration (MBA) program and includes topics on finance, marketing and operations. MBA programs are readily available online.
These master's degree programs may offer all courses through distance learning means, but some require scheduled campus-based learning sessions at various points throughout a student's studies. Other programs require an internship.
Requirements for admission to an online master's program with retail management courses vary by school, but all students must have a bachelor's degree. Applicants who lack an undergraduate background in business may be required to take prerequisite courses to be allowed to complete graduate studies. Programs in this field of study are often designed for working professionals, so schools could require resumes from prospective students.
Coursework in online business graduate programs mirrors that required of campus-based students. Examples of common distance learning core courses in general business master's programs include the following:
- Principles of marketing
- Ethics, law and the business environment
- Financial accounting and control
- Risk and quality management
- Communication and soft skills
- Operations, logistics and supply chain management
MBA programs offering a retail management specialization or elective options may offer courses in subjects such as those listed below:
- Retailing strategy
- International marketing
- International retailing
- Small business management
- Services management
Distance learning master's programs in business and management aim to aid students who are working independently to develop research, presentation and networking skills, typically with highly individualized feedback from faculty. Online programs are available in asynchronous formats that allow students to log on at their own schedule.
Distance learners log on to an online classroom containing lectures, assignments, videos and communication tools in order to move through required coursework. In business or retail management programs, integrative seminars that actively engage students, are common. To develop communication skills, students may be required to create videotaped presentations; these recordings may be used for feedback in peer group settings.
Internships or practicums in a retail or similar business may be required or encouraged as an instructive, hands-on method of learning. Some online master's programs in this field of study utilize a hybrid format, which involves completing certain course requirements independently online and then meeting face-to-face on campus at scheduled times. Schools could also require students to attend weekend residencies a few times throughout an online retail management MBA program.
Many students specializing in retail management through distance learning courses are already employed in retail and seeking advancement. However, completion of a distance learning retail management master's degree program prepares students for professional practice in many business environments, including those beyond the retail sphere. The following positions are available for master's degree holders:
- Department store manager
- Merchandise manager
- Clothing and accessory store manager
- Department manager
Overall, the curriculum of an MBA program with a focus in retail management is similar to that of a campus-based program in the same field, starting with general business coursework and then allowing students to choose elective courses in their concentration of interest. Graduates are ready to pursue management positions in retail marketing and related fields.