Most Affordable Online Business Degrees 2021

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Accountants, cost estimators, and financial examiners work in the business and financial services sector. These professionals manage clients’ money and ensure their employer’s long-term success. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment for these workers to increase 5% from 2019-2029, faster than the projected average growth rate for all occupations.

Salary potential varies based on factors including job title, education, and experience. According to the BLS, business and financial workers earn a median annual salary of $72,250. Professionals can increase their salary potential by obtaining advanced degrees, industry certifications, and on-the-job experience.

Individuals often pursue online business degrees to qualify for careers in business and finance. Many online programs offer concentration options. Typical admission requirements include a high school degree or equivalent, and some online business programs require applicants to hold an associate degree.

Learn About Your Degree Options:


Cheapest Business Degrees | Tuition | Business Jobs | FAQs

Why Get an Affordable Online Business Degree?

The cost of college presents a significant financial challenge for many families. According to U.S. News & World Report, the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2020-2021 school year ranges from $9,687-$35,087. For students interested in a business career, selecting an affordable online business degree can help mitigate the rising costs of college.

The interests and goals of prospective business students are incredibly diverse, but many share common skills in areas like leadership, communication, and problem-solving.

Undergraduate business programs are ideal for both recent high school graduates and working adults looking to advance in their careers. The interests and goals of prospective business students are incredibly diverse, but many share common skills in areas like leadership, communication, and problem-solving.

Business careers tend to offer a high level of growth and opportunity. Three additional benefits of pursuing a cheap online business degree include:

  • College Savings: Along with the benefit of lower tuition costs, attending an affordable online business school helps students save money by avoiding campus-based fees. Remote learning also alleviates expenses associated with relocation and commutes.
  • Diverse Opportunities: Online business schools offer the fundamental knowledge and specialized training needed to excel in a variety of industries and roles, including manager, analyst, accountant, or consultant. Motivated graduates may even start their own businesses.
  • Earning Potential: A bachelor’s degree enables graduates to enhance both their career options and their earning potential. According to data collected by PayScale, graduates with a general business bachelor’s degree earn an average salary of $80,000.

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What To Expect From Online Business Degree Programs

Learners can select from three different types of online business degree programs. They might pursue a bachelor of arts (BA), bachelor of science (BS), or bachelor of business administration (BBA).

Each program requires approximately 120 credits of coursework, with slight variations. BS programs focus more on technical business skills, while BA degrees generally focus on the theoretical study of business. Earning a BBA provides a broad overview of business operations.

Full-time students without transfer credits can expect to graduate in approximately four years. Program cost varies by school type and student residency. The cheapest online business degrees typically charge between $300 and $400 per credit.

Online Business School Requirements

Although some affordable business degree programs admit freshmen, many online programs accept only transfer students with adequate college credit or an associate degree. Transfer applicants must generally meet GPA requirements. Individuals should contact their prospective school’s admissions department to ensure that their credits will transfer.

To remain in good academic standing, learners pursuing an online business degree must maintain a minimum GPA. Other graduation requirements often include a senior capstone course, during which learners complete a simulated business project. Capstone projects usually require extensive research, feedback, and reflection.

What Is Accreditation and Why Does It Matter?

Degree and Concentration Options

After selecting a BA, BS, or BBA program, students pursuing an affordable business degree choose a concentration. Many of the top business schools offer 10 or more concentration options, such as global supply chain management, small business management and entrepreneurship, and information technology. Choosing a specialization helps learners prepare for graduate studies and careers in certain areas of business.

Regardless of concentration, students earning an online business degree complete core coursework in areas such as financial and managerial accounting, business environment applications, and finance skills for managers. Degree-seekers also explore marketing and accounting fundamentals.

Popular Business Courses

Whether attending business school online or on campus, undergraduates enjoy the opportunity to study a variety of subjects. Online business degrees typically consist of 120 credits of general education, core, elective, and capstone courses.

Core courses provide foundational business knowledge and skills. Electives allow degree-seekers to pick and choose course subjects that align with their own personal interests and goals. Capstones serve as a degree’s culminating experience and typically provide an opportunity to practice the skills necessary to succeed in the field.

Four courses you may encounter in your online business degree include:

  • Introduction to Business Law

    This common core course introduces learners to the fundamental aspects of business law, including contract law, accounting law, agency law, and employment law. Students gain an understanding of how the U.S. legal system operates and the principles underlying the legal environment of business.

  • Principles of Marketing

    This core course introduces principles involved in marketing goods, services, and ideas in a dynamic global environment. Coursework focuses on the role of marketing within an organization. Students gain knowledge of topics including consumer behavior, marketing research, pricing strategies, product development, and government regulations.

  • Human Resource Management

    Often offered as an elective, an undergraduate course in human resource management provides students with a broad understanding of the practices and policies involved in the development and management of an organization’s employees. Key topics include screening, recruitment, selection, and training. Coursework also covers performance appraisal, benefits, and equal employment opportunity.

  • Capstone/Practicum

    Depending on the school, a business bachelor’s may require a final capstone or practicum. Capstone projects commonly require students to participate in a business simulation experience, while practicums involve real-world, supervised work in an organization. Both culminating experiences require students to integrate the knowledge and skills gained throughout the program.


How Much Will a Degree in Business Cost?

Data from U.S. News & World Report shows that colleges and universities charged an average of $9,687- $35,087 in tuition and fees during the 2020-21 school year. The cheapest online business degrees sit on the lower end of that wide spectrum, with tuition costing between $300 and $400 per credit.

In general, college tuition rates vary based on school type and prestige, student residency, and program format. Degree-seekers should also budget for additional costs like textbooks, required technology, and any applicable university fees.

In general, college tuition rates vary based on school type and prestige, student residency, and program format.

Public schools typically cost less to attend than private schools. However, private schools do not charge a premium to nonresidents, which can sometimes make them more cost effective for out-of-state learners. At some public institutions, out-of-state students can waive nonresident tuition costs by studying online.

Financial aid can help learners reduce their out-of-pocket expenses. Grants and scholarships are widely regarded as the best financing option, as they do not require repayment after graduation. Many enrollees also decide to take out loans to finance their college education.

All undergraduates should fill out the FAFSA to see what federal grants and low-interest loans they may qualify for. Learn more about the FAFSA at the link below.

Learn About the FAFSA Application

Scholarships for Business Students

Even the most affordable business degrees can lead to student debt. Degree-seekers often reduce out-of-pocket expenses by applying for private scholarship opportunities.

Many organizations and companies sponsor scholarships for individuals studying business and related fields. Learners can use the following list to begin their search for financial aid.

  • Dairy Management, Inc., Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: This annual scholarship program supports the next generation of dairy professionals. Applicants must be studying business, food science, economics, or nutrition. Candidates submit undergraduate transcripts and an essay describing their interest or experience in the dairy field.

    Amount: $2,500

  • David R. Parsley Endowed Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: Undergraduate students with a major or concentration in supply chain management can apply for this competitive scholarship from the National Restaurant Association. The scholarship committee prefers applicants with restaurant experience. Candidates should have completed coursework in restaurant management or hospitality. Recipients apply the award toward the following semester’s tuition.

    Amount: $2,500-$10,000

Discover the Best Scholarships

Making Cheap Online Business Degrees Even Cheaper

Understandably, students interested in pursuing a cheap online business degree may want to seek out additional ways to cut costs. The following list details five methods and tips for saving money in college. Reducing costs sometimes comes with tradeoffs, however. It’s up to you to decide where your priorities lie.

Reevaluate School Prestige.
Schools with greater prestige often cost more to attend — think Yale, MIT, or Berkeley. Remember that a lack of prestige or name recognition does not necessarily mean an institution offers inferior academic programs. Attending an affordable, lesser-known school can provide access to a quality education at a lower cost.
Consider School Size.
The size of an institution can also impact tuition prices. Small, private colleges tend to charge more than larger state universities. Keep in mind that larger schools tend to maintain higher student-to-faculty ratios, meaning you may be less likely to receive personal, one-on-one attention from course instructors.
Save on Textbooks.
The cost of required textbooks can easily add up to hundreds of dollars per semester. College students can reduce their expenses by seeking out digital or loose-leaf versions, choosing to rent instead of buy, or borrowing books from the library or a friend, when available.
Load Up on Credits.
Whether you attend a school that charges tuition on a per-semester or a per-credit basis, consider maxing out the number of credits you can take each term. This method takes a lot of work but enables you to graduate sooner, saving on fees and tuition expenses over time.
Use Student Discounts.
College students face seemingly endless fees and expenses, but your student ID and email address can also help you save. Many retailers, events, and organizations offer student discounts. Take advantage of your student status to save on phone bills, car insurance, entertainment, software, and technology.

Jobs for Business Graduates

An expansive field, majoring in business offers access to opportunities across many different industries. Online business degree programs prepare graduates for a variety of analyst, management, and administrative careers.

Some entry-level careers offer compensation near the six-figure range. According to the BLS, management analysts and facilities managers earn median salaries of $87,660 and $98,890, respectively.

Online business degree programs prepare graduates for a variety of analyst, management, and administrative careers.

Roles like human resource specialists bring in a generous median salary of $63,490. With experience and certification, HR specialists can advance to management positions, which offer a median annual salary of $121,220.

Four potential career paths for business graduates include:

  • Budget Analyst

    Budget analysts help organizations, including governments, private companies, and universities, make financial plans. Common duties include monitoring spending, reviewing budget proposals and funding requests, estimating future financial needs, and preparing budget reports.

    Required Education: Bachelor’s degree in business, finance, or a related field. Some employers prefer master’s program graduates.
    Job Outlook (2019-29): +3%
    Median Annual Salary: $78,970

  • Management Analyst

    Management analysts, also called management consultants, provide recommendations to improve an organization’s efficiency and profit margin. Common duties include gathering and analyzing information about current issues, interviewing personnel and conducting observations, developing solutions, and conferring with managers.

    Required Education: Bachelor’s degree suitable for entry-level opportunities. Some employers prefer master’s program graduates.
    Job Outlook (2019-29): +11%
    Median Annual Salary: $87,660

  • Human Resource Specialist

    Human resource specialists perform tasks throughout all areas of an organization’s HR department. Common duties include interviewing job applicants, conducting new employee orientation, administering benefits, processing payroll, and keeping employment records. Specialists may advance to positions as HR managers with experience and additional certification.

    Required Education: Bachelor’s degree in human resources, business, or a related field. Voluntary certification is available and sometimes preferred by employers.
    Job Outlook (2019-29): +7%
    Median Annual Salary: $63,490

  • Administrative Services or Facilities Manager

    Administrative services and facilities managers plan, direct, and coordinate activities to help an organization operate efficiently. Duties vary but may include recordkeeping, supervising administrative staff, setting departmental goals, overseeing maintenance needs, and recommending changes to policies or procedures.

    Required Education: Bachelor’s degree in business or a related field and related work experience.
    Job Outlook (2019-29): +6%
    Median Annual Salary: $98,890

Choosing the Right Affordable Business Program

Cost of attendance matters, but a variety of other factors can affect how you choose the right online business school. Consider the following criteria as you evaluate different programs:

Accreditation


This should be your first priority when evaluating schools. Accreditation is a vital form of quality assurance that impacts the value of your degree, credit transferability, and whether you qualify for federal aid.

School Size


The size of an institution typically correlates with its student-to-faculty ratio. Attending a smaller school generally means you can expect more personalized, one-on-one attention from instructors.

Faculty Credentials


In college, who you learn from can matter just as much as what you learn. Look for business faculty with terminal degrees and extensive industry experience.

Program Length


Bachelor's degrees traditionally take four years of full-time study to complete. If you want to graduate faster, consider an accelerated program. If you need to take things slower, look for schools that offer part-time options.

Concentrations/Specializations


Concentrations are a great way to customize your degree. Prioritize finding an online business school that accommodates your interests and goals.

Why You Should Attend a Business School Online

Online learning has become an increasingly common and respected method of earning a college degree. According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, 34.5% of all Fall 2018 undergraduates completed at least some of their courses through distance education, while 14% studied exclusively online.

Business programs are often particularly suited to the online environment because distance learning allows degree-seekers the flexibility to retain employment while studying. Learners can immediately apply course lessons to their workplace.

When deciding whether an online business degree program is right for you, consider the following:

  • Learning Style: Do you feel comfortable completing coursework independently? Do you mind communicating with instructors and peers virtually instead of face to face?
  • Time Management: Can you manage your own schedule and reliably complete course requirements without set class times?
  • Learning Environment: Do you have access to a quiet, distraction-free space where you can study?
  • Technology and Equipment: Do you own a computer and have access to a reliable internet connection? Make sure your equipment meets the minimum requirements suggested by the university.

Professional Organizations for Business Students

Learners in online business programs can join one or more of the professional organizations that accept business and finance workers. Student members often receive access to in-person and virtual networking opportunities, exclusive scholarships, and industry-leading publications. Other benefits for students may include affordable membership fees and mentorship programs.

  • American Institute of Certified Public Accountants Undergraduate and graduate business students can join the AICPA to prepare for the CPA examination, network with more than 400,000 professionals, and qualify for scholarships. The organization's website provides detailed information about each state's CPA requirements. The AICPA does not charge student affiliates a membership fee.
  • American Management Association AMA offers continuing education courses, professional certifications, and skills assessments. Members can access training courses, such as a crash course for aspiring managers. Student members also receive a subscription to AMA Quarterly and invitations to virtual and in-person events. Students pay no membership fees for the first year.
  • Beta Alpha Psi Business analytics, accounting, and finance majors can join BAP, an international honor organization. Prospective members need a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA and a high class rank. Member benefits include professional development and volunteer opportunities, access to in-person networking events, and mentorship.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How much does an online business degree cost?

    The most affordable online business degrees typically charge between $300 and $400 per credit. However, cost of attendance can vary widely by school choice and whether you enroll as an in-state or out-of-state student.

  • How long does it take to get a business degree online?

    Full-time students without prior college experience usually earn their online business degree in four years. Most bachelor’s-level curricula comprise approximately 120 credits, including major, general education, and elective courses.

  • What careers can I get with a business degree?

    Students pursuing an affordable business degree can explore numerous career paths, including positions as financial examiners, human resources specialists, and insurance underwriters. Professionals can increase their employability by earning certifications.

  • Is a business degree a BA or BS?

    Some colleges and universities offer both a BA and BS in business. They might also offer a BBA. BA programs typically require additional general education courses and electives. BS curricula emphasize technical skills development. BBA programs offer business operations skills.

  • How much do business majors make?

    Earning potential depends on factors including the individual’s degree, work experience, and geographic location. According to the BLS, financial and business professionals earn a median salary of $69,820 per year.

Most Affordable Online Business Degrees 2021

  1. Indiana University East
    Location

    Richmond, IN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    A public university located in Richmond, IU East offers an online bachelor of science in business administration. Students complete 120 credits and may transfer up to half of the required credits from previous college work toward their degree.

    In addition to general education courses, learners specialize in business core coursework like , quantitative business analysis and finance, marketing. Required courses include fundamentals of business, analytics and decision modeling, diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and professional career skills. A business capstone allows students to demonstrate skills mastery and complete a project for real-world experience.

    Applicants need a high school transcript or GED to begin the application process. The school does not require students to submit standardized test scores.

    IU East is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The school also boasts programmatic accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.

  2. University of Missouri Saint Louis
    Location

    Saint Louis, MO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    A public land-grant university founded in 1839, UMSL offers two online business degrees: a bachelor of arts or science in business administration and a master of business administration. Enrollees complete coursework for both the undergraduate and graduate degrees solely online, with no campus requirements.

    Students in the bachelor’s track complete foundational courses such as business analytics and statistics, and introduction to supply chain management. Learners can then move to graduate work and take upper-level courses like supply chain strategies and law, ethics, and business. In both tracks, students complete capstone courses and complete hands-on projects solving real-world problems.

    Applicants for the bachelor’s programs need a high school diploma and must submit SAT or ACT scores. Applicants to the master's program need a bachelor’s degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0 and a GMAT score of 500.

    UMSL is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The school also possesses programmatic accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

  3. University of the Cumberlands
    Location

    Williamsburg, KY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    A private Baptist university located in Williamsburg, Kentucky, Cumberlands offers several online undergraduate business degrees. Students may choose a general business program or can specialize in finance or strategic marketing.

    In each program, students take foundational business courses such as the principles of accounting, microeconomics, business statistics, and the legal environment of business. Learners also complete general education courses to finish a minimum of 120 credits for the undergraduate degree. Students who choose a concentration must also complete a course series in concentration-related topics.

    Applicants need a high school diploma with at least a 2.0 GPA to qualify for admission. Students with at least 12 transfer credits also need a 2.0 GPA in all college credits attempted. The school does not require prospective students to submit standardized test scores.

    Cumberlands is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  4. West Texas A&M University
    Location

    Canyon, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    A public university in Canyon, WTAMU offers an online bachelor of business administration with a concentration in general business. Students may also choose a concentration in accounting, computer information systems, or marketing.

    Learners complete courses such as international business, international management, business ethics and society, or corporate governance and ethics. In addition to the education core and electives, general business students may choose a course series for a minor in a business topic. Degree-seekers do not need to complete any on-campus requirements to complete their degree.

    Applicants need a high school diploma and must meet one of two requirements: a minimum GPA of 2.0 GPA or an ACT score of 18 English, 22 reading, 22 mathematics, and 23 science (SAT 480 for EBRW and 530 for math).

    WTAMU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The school earned programmatic accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

  5. Dickinson State University
    Location

    Dickinson, ND

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in Dickinson, North Dakota, DSU offers an online bachelor of business administration. Students can choose from four concentrations: accounting, administration, finance, and human resource management.

    Students begin with general business courses before moving on to concentration-specific coursework. Business courses include management and leadership, organizational behavior, management information systems, and international business. From there, degree-seekers complete a course series related to their majors.

    Applicants need a high school diploma with a minimum GPA of 2.0 to qualify for admission. Prospective students must send ACT (minimum score of 18) or SAT (minimum score of 950) to receive admission in good standing (waived through summer 2022).

    DSU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

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