A bachelor’s degree in business administration, often formally designated as a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) or a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA), provides undergraduates with functional training and instruction in core business proficiencies. Students in a BBA program learn the fundamentals of accounting, finance, marketing, organizational leadership, and operations management. These programs generally give students the opportunity to take additional coursework in specialized areas of business, including but not limited to business technologies, entrepreneurship, human resource management, public relations, and real estate. BBA programs are designed to prepare students for entry- and mid-level positions in business and/or for advanced training at the master’s degree level.
Whether it is designated as a BBA, BSBA, or a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration (BABA), a bachelor’s in business administration has two primary components. The first encompasses the type of introductory courses and general education requirements that are integral to any four-year baccalaureate degree. Students develop critical thinking skills and general knowledge through courses in English composition, college-level mathematics and statistics, the social and physical sciences, and a broad range of other subjects that are part of an undergraduate education. This coursework is generally offered through an institution’s school of arts & sciences. The second component of a BBA degree program involves targeted instruction in business theories and practices, including applied economics, managerial accounting, business law, international finance, marketing and public relations, and operations management. The business administration component of a BBA program is generally offered through the business school or a department of business within a college or university.
An online BBA program uses distance-learning technologies to provide the same curriculum as a campus-based BBA program. For students who cannot or would prefer not to relocate or commute to a college or university campus, an online BBA program offers a more convenient alternative to attending on-campus classes. Online programs are also more flexible in terms of their formatting and are often designed to accommodate students who may be working or have other significant commitments outside of school. Students in an online BBA program complete all or most of their coursework through learning management systems (LMSs), which are online instructional platforms that allow lectures and other interactive activities to be streamed to a student’s laptop, desktop, or tablet through a secure Internet connection. Discussions and other course activities take place through the LMS, which also connects students with instructors, advisors, and other academic resources. Most online BBA programs are set up to offer the business management portion of their curriculum to transfer students who have already completed several semesters of undergraduate coursework at another school.
Online BBA programs are typically designated as Bachelor of Science (BS) in Business Administration, although programs designated as Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Business Administration also offer BBA training. The differences between a BS and a BA in business administration are often quite subtle, and there may be very few actual distinctions, depending on the specific program. In general, a BA is thought to include a broader range of course offerings outside of the core business curriculum than a BS, although students in both types of programs usually have some choice and flexibility in terms of elective coursework and concentrations.
There are also Bachelor of Business Management (BBM) programs that offer what is essentially the same curriculum as a BBA program under a different name. BBA and BBM programs are typically offered through a college or school of business that is affiliated with a larger college or university, and they receive programmatic accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International), the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), and/or the International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE), the three accreditation bodies for baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral programs in business administration.
OnlineEducation.com researches BBA programs and classifies them based on several important criteria. First, the program must be offered by a non-profit college or university that has institutional accreditation from one of the six regional bodies designated by the Department of Education for the accreditation of four-year bachelor’s programs: the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE); the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC); the Higher Learning Commission; the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU); the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS); or the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
Secondly, the business school and/or program must be accredited by the ACBSP, IACBE, or AACSB International, which indicates that the BBA program has the proper resources to provide undergraduate training and instruction in business administration. Finally, OnlineEducation.com examines the format of each program to ensure that all or most of the coursework is offered online. BBA programs that require students to attend more than two on-campus sessions per year are not currently included on the site.
While specific course requirements vary by BBA program, the basic structure of these programs has several similar features. Students complete preparatory business major prerequisites in English composition, college algebra, statistics, psychology, economics, and other topics that create a foundation for understanding the theories and concepts of business administration. Core BBA coursework centers around key business functions and proficiencies, including business law and ethics, financial and managerial accountancy, finance, human resource management, business IT systems, strategic marketing and public relations, professional communication, and operations management and administration. In order to fulfill the general education requirements for a bachelor’s degree, students must also complete a certain number of credits outside of the business major, which may include a lab science, as well as classes in the humanities and social sciences. Finally, BBA programs may offer formal concentrations or elective coursework in business specializations, which can include additional upper-level courses in economics, marketing, accountancy, organizational leadership, healthcare administration, human resource management, nonprofit management, and/or small business management.
The table below provides an overview of the courses that are typically part of a core, undergraduate-level business administration curriculum. The course titles and descriptions are derived from actual online BBA degree programs.
|Course Title||Course Description|
|Principles of Management||Management theories and strategies with an emphasis on business planning, decision-making, and the development and implementation of business plans.|
|Social Environment of Business||The relationship between businesses, the government, and society with an emphasis on ethical decision-making, corporate responsibility, and other accountability and compliance issues.|
|Financial Accounting||Instruction in the processes associated with compiling and interpreting financial reports and communicating the results.|
|Managerial Accounting||The application of accounting information to the assessment of a companys past financial performance and to inform future investments.|
|Principles of Finance||An examination of theories and principles of financial management in the context of corporations and other business entities.|
|Principles of Marketing||Theories of marketing and the use of market research to determine strategies for pricing, distribution, and promotion of products and services.|
|Human Relations in Administration||Concepts and theories of leadership, motivation, communications, group dynamics, and organizational development as they relate to human resources management.|
|IT Systems & Business Computing||An introduction to business information technologies and their use to inform decision-making and improve the flow of data in business environments.|
|Business Law||An overview of federal law as it pertains to businesses, including an examination of torts, product liability, criminal law, contracts, sales, business organizations, and agency and cyber law.|
|Operations Management||An examination of management challenges and management strategies for companies operating in various sectors of the national and global economy.|
|Strategic Management and Policy||Case studies in strategic analysis and planning from the perspective of top managers in national and global enterprises and organizations.|
Admissions criteria and selectivity varies by program, but the basic eligibily requirement for an online BBA program is a high school diploma or the equivalent. More selective programs may indicate a preference for candidates with a minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) and/or upper percentile scores on the SAT or ACT exam. In addition, some programs require students to submit letters of recommendation and/or a personal goals statement as part of the application process, and some programs may conduct interviews with candidates. It is important to note that many online BBA programs are set up to accommodate first-year undergraduate students and students who are transferring into the program after completing one or more semesters at another school. Admissions requirements and criteria often differ for transfer students.
While all of the programs listed on this site offer accredited BBA degree programs online, there are variations in how online programs are structured. These variations affect the relative flexibility and convenience of an online BBA program and can represent an important consideration for prospective applicants. The central areas of concern in terms of online program formats include: the method of online instruction; enrollment options; and campus visits.
Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Instruction: There are two basic modes of online instruction. Synchronous instruction indicates that online classes have designated meeting times, usually once or twice a week. Students in a course that utilizes synchronous instruction must be logged on at these designated meeting times to participate in instructional activities. Asynchronous instruction indicates that courses have no designated meeting times. Students in a course that utilizes asynchronous instruction have round-the-clock access to lectures and other course activities, which can be viewed and completed at any time of the day. Synchronous instruction provides a more structured learning environment that some students may find preferable. Asynchronous instruction provides more flexibility, which may be advantageous for students who anticipate potential scheduling conflicts. However, asynchronous instruction does require more self-discipline. While all online BBA programs include asynchronous activities, some programs integrate synchronous activities as the primary mode of instruction.
Part-Time vs. Full-Time Enrollment: Online BBA programs provide the equivalent of a traditional four-year bachelor’s degree, which generally includes 120 credit hours of coursework, or about 40 classes. Students who are enrolled full-time generally take four or five courses per semester and can complete an online BBA program in eight semesters, or three to four years. However, many online programs allow students to enroll on a part-time basis and take fewer courses per semester. This may be a good option for students who have jobs or other commitments outside of school. Enrolling part-time in an online BBA program can extend the time it takes to reach the 120-credit threshold for graduation by a year or more, depending on how many credits are completed each semester. Prospective applicants who are concerned about the time it will take to earn a BBA degree and/or the number of courses they will be required to take per semester should carefully examine a program’s enrollment options.
Campus Visits: While online BBA programs typically do not incorporate mandatory campus visits, some online degree programs require students to attend a limited number of campus sessions as part of the instructional curriculum. These on-campus sessions can be used for orientation and/or networking purposes, and for learning activities that may include lectures, workshops, and seminars. Students in an online program that requires campus visits must be prepared to travel and be on-site at a designated location for several days at a time, which may mean incurring expenses in addition to base tuition and fees. OnlineEducation.com does not include BBA programs that require more than two campus visits per year.