Small Business Management Degrees: Associate, Bachelor's & Online Class Info

About this article
What will you learn in a small business management degree program? Read about degree requirements, the pros and cons of an associate's and bachelor's degree and potential careers.
View available schools

Study Small Business Management: Degrees at a Glance

You can obtain formal training in small business management through an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree program. While an associate's degree will provide you with the training for an entry-level position, a bachelor's degree program will make it possible for you to work in an upper-level capacity. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses account for about 50% of private sector employment and have been responsible for 65% of the new jobs created between 1993 and 2009.

Associate's Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? People who want to work in an administrative capacity in a business setting or prepare to manage a small business Individuals who want to manage or own a small business
Common Career Paths (with approximate median annual salary) - Office manager ($59,000 - may require 1-5 years of experience)*
- Administrative services manager ($80,000 - may require 1-5 years of experience)*
- General and operations manager ($80,000)*
-Small business owner (no salary available)
Time to Completion 2 years, full-time 4 years, full-time
Common Graduation Requirements - Capstone project
- Internship
- Minimum GPA in all core courses (this may vary by school)
- Internship
Prerequisites - High school diploma or GED
- At least 18 years old (required by some universities)
- High school diploma or GED
- Acceptable SAT or ACT score (may vary by school)
- High school GPA of at least 2.5
Online Availability Yes Yes

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Associate's in Small Business Management

An associate's degree in small business management combines general education courses and business courses directed at future small business managers and owners. In this degree program, you'll learn the basics of small business operations and prepare for an entry-level position in business, such as an office manager. With experience, you could work in business administration and manage a small or family-owned business.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • You'll learn business management skills, including developing a business plan, which can be useful in any type of business
  • If you decide to continue your studies, you may transfer your credits to a bachelor's degree program
  • There is significant potential for advancement in this career path

Cons

  • Only about half of small businesses survive over five years*
  • You may be required to work overtime hours in order to complete your responsibilities
  • Job opportunities may fluctuate with changes in the economy

Source: *U.S. Small Business Administration.

Common Course Requirements

In an Associate of Arts or Associate of Applied Science degree in small business management you can expect to take courses in advertising, accounting, economics, management and marketing. It is common for associate's degree programs to provide students with practical experience through internships and capstone projects. As a portion of your advanced level coursework, most colleges will also require you to create a small business plan.

Online Degree Options

Online Associate of Applied Science degree programs in small business management or business administration are available in an online learning format. You'll take the same courses as you would in an on-campus program, including a capstone project.

How to Stand Out

One way to stand out in the job market is to choose an area of focus within your associate's degree program. For instance, you could select courses that emphasize specific areas, such as retail management or finance. Another way to make you appealing to potential employers is to gain experience through an internship or externship as a part of your degree program.

Bachelor's Degree in Small Business Management

A bachelor's degree in small business management is ideal for individuals who plan to start their own business. The coursework is designed to teach you how to effectively market your business, as well as how to handle the human resources and financial aspects of business operations. A bachelor's degree program may also prepare you to continue your studies in a Master of Business Administration program.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • A bachelor's degree in small business management can allow you to work in practically any industry
  • Small businesses create many new jobs and help the economy
  • Business administration and management programs are widely available and most programs allow you to choose an area of concentration, which can be small business management

Cons

  • You can start a business without a degree
  • Business office managers are often required to work overtime hours
  • Due to the constant push to succeed, your job may be stressful

Common Course Requirements

A Bachelor of Science degree with a concentration in small business and entrepreneurship consists of approximately 120 credit hours. You'll take classes in marketing, economics, human resource management, accounting and finance to teach you how to handle the different challenges small businesses face. It is common for colleges to offer internships to students who are pursuing a bachelor's degree in small business management. Internships provide you with the opportunity to explore different entrepreneurial opportunities and help you identify your niche in the field.

Online Degree Options

There are many online bachelor's degree programs small business management. Most learning institutions offer degree programs that can be pursued in a fully online format, in a campus-based learning format or as a combination of both learning formats. In an online degree program, you will be required to take major courses and elective courses that will teach you about the many aspects of a small business.

How to Stand Out

One way that you can stand out against fellow job seekers is to pursue an area of specialization. Most bachelor's degree programs will allow you to complete 15 credit hours in a focus area, such as public and non-profit management, business administration or healthcare management. In addition, many colleges provide their students the opportunity to complete an internship in a real-world company setting. This semester will count towards the hourly requirements for your degree and will give you the chance to apply some of the skills you have been learning in the classroom.

Degree Alternatives

If you like business, but your interests line on one area of business or if you have a particular ability in one area of business, you could consider pursuing a career in advertising, promotions or marketing. Degree programs in marketing contain similar coursework to that of a small business management degree program with additional focused coursework. Although marketing and promotions managers were predicted to only have average job growth during the 2010-2020 decade, the median annual salary for marketing managers in 2011 was around $116,000 and it was around $88,000 for advertising and promotions managers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. American InterContinental University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Business Admin: Management
      • Bachelor of Business Administration - Generalist
      • Bachelor of Business Administration - Entrepreneurship
      • Bachelor of Business Admin: Operations Management
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Business Admin
      • BSBA - Investment
      • Bachelor: Accounting
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Business for Secondary Education
      • BS in Applied Management
      • BS in Entrepreneurial Studies
      • BS in Business Admin.
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Undergraduate Specialization - Small Business and Entrepreneurship
      • BS - Business Management
      • BS - Organizational Leadership
  • Campus and Online Programs
    5. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. - Music Business
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Indiana Wesleyan University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. General Studies - Entrepreneurship
      • B.S. Business Administration - No Specialization
      • B.S. General Studies - Business
      • B.S. Management - No Specialization
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Central Christian College of Kansas

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Business Administration
      • BS in Business in Organizational Leadership
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Colorado Technical University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS - Business Administration - Management
      • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration - Organizational Behavior
      • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration - Business Development
      • BS - Business Administration - General
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. - Business Management: Entrepreneurial Studies Concentration
      • B.S. - Business Management With No Concentration
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Keiser University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.A. - Business Admin: Management
      • Business Administration, BA - Management

Featured Schools

American InterContinental University

  • Bachelor of Business Admin: Management
  • Bachelor of Business Administration - Generalist
  • Bachelor of Business Administration - Entrepreneurship

Are you a US citizen?

Kaplan University

  • Bachelor of Business Admin
  • BSBA - Investment
  • Bachelor: Accounting

Which subject are you interested in?

Grand Canyon University

  • Bachelor of Science in Business for Secondary Education
  • BS in Applied Management
  • BS in Entrepreneurial Studies

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado State University Global

  • Undergraduate Specialization - Small Business and Entrepreneurship
  • BS - Business Management
  • BS - Organizational Leadership

What is your highest level of education?

Full Sail University

  • B.S. - Music Business

What is your highest level of education?

Indiana Wesleyan University

  • B.S. General Studies - Entrepreneurship
  • B.S. Business Administration - No Specialization
  • B.S. General Studies - Business

What is your highest level of education?

Central Christian College of Kansas

  • Bachelor of Business Administration
  • BS in Business in Organizational Leadership

What is your highest level of education completed?

Colorado Technical University

  • BS - Business Administration - Management
  • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration - Organizational Behavior
  • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration - Business Development

Are you a US citizen?