Study Business Leadership: Bachelor's, Associate & Online Degree Info

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What will you learn in a business leadership degree program? Read about degree requirements, the pros and cons of an associate and bachelor's degree and potential careers.
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Business Leadership Associate and Bachelor's: Degrees at a Glance

A degree in business leadership can help you prepare for managerial roles in industries like administrative services, general and operations, industrial production, marketing and sales. Individuals working in any of these fields oversee a specific aspect of a company's daily operations. For example, an administrative services manager coordinates all of a business' support roles, such as secretaries and other clerical personnel. Administrative services managers may only need a high school diploma, while a career in any of the other fields typically requires at least a bachelor's degree and some work experience.

Associate Degree Bachelor's Degree
Who is this degree for? Individuals interested in entry-level business positions Individuals interested in leadership positions or career advancement
Common Career Path (with approximate mean salary) - Administrative services manager ($87,000)* - General and operations manager ($114,000 - common salary for professionals with related experience)*
- Industrial production manager ($96,000 - common salary for professionals with 2-5 years of experience)*
- Marketing manager ($126,000 - common salary for professionals with 1-5 years of experience)*
- Sales manager ($117,000 - common salary for professionals with 1-5 years of experience)*
Time to Completion About two years, full-time About four years, full-time
Common Graduation Requirements 60-70 credit hours - Varies; 40-60 credit hours beyond the associate degree
- Internship
- Capstone course
Prerequisites High school diploma or equivalent High school diploma or equivalent
Online Availability Not common; related programs are available Yes

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

Associate Degree in Business Leadership

Business leadership programs at this level award degrees like the Associate in Applied Science (AAS) in Business Leadership, AAS in Business Management and Leadership or Associate in Arts in Business with a concentration in management/leadership. These programs, which usually take about two years to complete, provide students with instruction about basic business operations and leadership techniques. You may choose to apply your business studies to a 4-year program or pursue an entry-level career.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • You will be prepared for a career with a predicted faster-than-average job outlook; 15% employment growth for administrative services managers from 2010-2020*
  • Programs require a relatively short time to completion (two years)
  • Curriculum include general education courses, thereby providing you with a solid educational foundation in a breath of subjects

Cons

  • Only a high school diploma is needed to work as an administrative services manager, meaning that you may be competing with applicants who have a high school diploma and more experience
  • Many other management positions require a bachelor's degree, so you may be unqualified for some positions
  • Entirely online degree programs are not available at this time, which may make it difficult for you to earn your degree while working

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Courses and Requirements

These programs generally require at least 60 credit hours. Classes cover topics like the principles of organization and management, business computations, supervisory management, business statistics and supply chain management.

Other common course topics include:

  • Business communications
  • Human relations
  • Marketing principles
  • Small business operations and management
  • Business law
  • Accounting

Online Degree Options

Currently, associate degree programs in business leadership are not available entirely online. However, some programs include online courses. Attending a hybrid or in-person program allows you to interact with students and professors while on campus. You can also study similar topics through other programs, such as the Associate in Science in Business Administration, which are available online. In these online programs, you will still be able to gain the necessary training for entry-level positions in business.

Stand Out with This Degree

To stand out with your degree, consider completing courses focusing on the use of computers in business operations. Classes in topics such as database management, computer applications and spreadsheets can teach you about the ways in which businesses normally use computers for organizational purposes. You can also stand out by pursuing professional certification related to administrative services, such as the Facilities Management Professional (FMP) credential from the International Facility Management Association.

Bachelor's Degree in Business Leadership

Bachelor's degree programs, such as the Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Business Administration/Organizational Leadership or B.S. in Business and Leadership, cover more advanced topics than an associate degree program. You will learn valuable skills, including how to manage an organization or business, navigate group dynamics or understand organizational structure. These programs are typically designed to prepare you for entry-level and mid-management business careers.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Your degree can prepare you for a career in a variety of industries, such as marketing or industrial production
  • Some programs include internship opportunities that allow you to obtain hands-on experience
  • Programs are available online, which may make it easier to earn your degree

Cons

  • Some positions require experience in addition to a degree, meaning that you may not be eligible to work in certain fields immediately after graduation
  • You may be competing against applicants with less education and more experience or professional certification
  • Some online programs are designed for students who already have college credits

Courses and Requirements

Courses in these programs cover topics like the principles of management, human resources management, human relations in administration, operations management, business strategy and leading in dynamic environments. Some programs may allow students to complete an internship during their studies or require that students complete a capstone course prior to graduation.

You may also study topics similar to the following:

  • Business statistics
  • Economics
  • Intercultural communication
  • Social environment of business
  • Strategic management

Online Degree Options

Online bachelor's degree programs in business leadership are available. However, some of these programs are designed for individuals who have already earned an associate's degree in the field. Generally, online programs have curriculum similar to their on-campus counterparts, which means you will study similar topics and still have the opportunity to gain experience. Your online studies in areas that include financial management, strategic planning and intellectual property will also prepare you for the same business careers.

Stand Out with This Degree

To stand out with this degree, consider completing an internship or other hands-on experience in a business environment. In an internship, you will be able to learn more about business and how it is applied to various industries. You may also consider voluntary professional certification, which is available in a number of areas. For example, the Project Management Institute offers the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) credential. You may also consider the Certified Associate Business Manager (CABM) designation offered by the Association of Professionals in Business Management.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BSBA in Management
      • Bachelor of Business Admin
      • BSBA - Investment
      • BBA: Project Management
      • BBA: New Media and Internet Marketing
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS - Business Management
      • BS - Project Management
      • BS - Organizational Leadership
  • Campus and Online Programs
    3. South College

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Business Admin w/Con Project Mgt
      • Bachelor of Business Administration
      • Bachelor of Business Admin w/Con Health Care Admin
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Saint Leo University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BA: Business Administration - Management
      • BA: Business Administration - Logistics
      • BA: Business Administration - Marketing
      • BA: Business Administration - Project Management
      • BA: Business Administration - Technology Management
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Business for Secondary Education
      • Bachelor of Science in Applied Business Analytics
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Regent University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Business
      • Bachelor of Science in Business - General Management
      • Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies - Business
      • Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies - Leadership Studies
      • Bachelor of Arts in Leadership Studies
      • Bachelor of Arts in Leadership Studies - Business
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Trident University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Business Administration (BSBA)
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Colorado Christian University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Business Administration, B.S.
      • Business Administration, B.S. - Emphasis in International Business
      • Org. Mgmt. in Christian Leadership, B.S.
      • Org. Mgmt. in Project Management, B.S.
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Post University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. in Management
      • B.S. in Business Administration
      • B.S. in Management / International Management
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Brenau University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor in Business Adminstration - Operations Management
      • Bachelor in Business Adminstration

Featured Schools

Kaplan University

  • BSBA in Management
  • Bachelor of Business Admin
  • BSBA - Investment

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Colorado State University Global

  • BS - Business Management
  • BS - Project Management
  • BS - Organizational Leadership

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South College

  • Bachelor of Business Admin w/Con Project Mgt
  • Bachelor of Business Administration
  • Bachelor of Business Admin w/Con Health Care Admin

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Saint Leo University

  • BA: Business Administration - Management
  • BA: Business Administration - Logistics
  • BA: Business Administration - Marketing

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Grand Canyon University

  • Bachelor of Science in Business for Secondary Education
  • Bachelor of Science in Applied Business Analytics

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Regent University

  • Bachelor of Science in Business
  • Bachelor of Science in Business - General Management
  • Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies - Business

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Trident University

  • Business Administration (BSBA)

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Colorado Christian University

  • Business Administration, B.S.
  • Business Administration, B.S. - Emphasis in International Business
  • Org. Mgmt. in Christian Leadership, B.S.

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