e-Commerce Degrees: Bachelor, Associate & Online Courses

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What kind of job can you get with a degree in e-commerce? Find out program requirements, online options and info on courses and e-commerce associate's and bachelor's degrees.
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Studying E-commerce: Degrees at a Glance

E-commerce encompasses a variety of career opportunities, such as Web development, e-commerce management, and Web advertising. E-commerce training at the associate's degree level is often combined with another area of study, such as information technology, business management technology, or Web technology. At the bachelor's degree level, you can usually find e-commerce as a major within a business or technology program.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that computer support specialists were expected to experience an 18% increase in job opportunities between 2010 and 2020. The BLS also predicted that the growth of e-commerce businesses would lead to solid job prospects for Web developers.

Associate's Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? Individuals seeking entry-level positions that deal with business transactions over the Internet People who want a mid-level career in Internet commerce
Common Career Paths (with approximate median annual income, if available) - Web designer ($63,000)*
- Computer support specialist ($48,000)**
- E-commerce Web administrator (salary unavailable)
- E-commerce manager ($101,000 - with 8-10 years of experience)*
- Content specialist ($55,000)*
- Web applications developer ($81,000 - with 2-4 years of experience)*
- Content engineer ($78,000)*
Time to Completion 2 years, full-time 4 years, full-time
Common Graduation Requirements - About 3-5 basic business and e-commerce courses
- Roughly 6-10 in-depth courses covering either the business side or technical aspects of e-commerce
- Internship/capstone/work experience (varies between programs)
- About 6-8 business-related courses
- Roughly 10-12 courses covering e-commerce technologies and practices
- Senior project or internship
Prerequisites High school diploma or equivalent High school diploma or equivalent
Online Availability Yes A few programs are available

Sources: *Salary.com (September 2012 figures), **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Associate's in E-commerce

You can find a few standalone e-commerce programs, but most schools include e-commerce studies as a specialization within a business- or technology-related program. The majority of e-commerce programs can give you basic programming skills, while some give you a chance to learn advanced programming and Web development techniques. E-commerce programs also include some courses that cover a variety of business principles, giving students a chance to learn how business operations work in addition to understanding the technical aspects of doing business over the Internet.

Pros and Cons


  • Programs usually give you technical training and business knowledge, which can be useful for jobs in a variety of industries
  • You have a variety of program options that can give you e-commerce training, allowing you to focus your studies on a particular area of interest or prepare for a specific type of career
  • Many of the positions you might be qualified for have higher median salaries than the median for all associate's degree holders (about $48,000 for computer support specialists vs. approximately $40,000 for associate's holders)*


  • E-commerce studies at this level are usually part of terminal degree programs, which could lead to difficulties if you're interested in transferring to a bachelor's degree program
  • Bachelor's degree holders may be preferred to fill jobs that you're qualified for
  • Many Web development and e-commerce careers may require bachelor's degrees, making an associate's degree limiting

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

Courses and Requirements

You'll typically be required to complete some business and e-commerce foundation courses, such as accounting, marketing, programming principles, and introduction to business. General e-commerce courses that you can expect to take regardless of the program's emphasis include Web development, e-commerce principles, and computer systems. Some programs may include a capstone course or a cooperative work experience, but this requirement varies between schools.

The focus of your particular program usually shapes what courses you'll take after your introductory courses; for example, a program with an emphasis on the technical aspects of e-commerce may include courses like C# programming, database design, and Java programming. A program that emphasizes business concepts might have courses covering business law and customer service techniques.

Online Course Options

E-commerce associate's programs can be found in hybrid and online formats. The concepts taught in e-commerce programs work well with online delivery formats, so you won't have to worry about missing out on important courses if you'd prefer this format. You can still complete an internship in an online program as well. A distance learning program can even help you get some practice with working in an online environment, which can be especially important for e-commerce workers.

Standing Out with This Degree

E-commerce is constantly changing, so you may want to look into joining a professional organization to keep up with the latest developments in Internet commerce. CIW confers the E-commerce Specialist (ES) designation and offers Webinars for e-commerce professionals who are looking to get ahead. The Webinars cover a variety of topics, including HTML, user security, and Java. The ES certification is available to anyone who passes the required exam.

Bachelor's in E-commerce

A bachelor's degree program in e-commerce is usually based on a combination of business and computer courses. Some of the topics you may cover throughout the program include ethical issues in e-commerce, e-commerce business strategies, and marketing principles in online retail environments. Most bachelor's degree programs in e-commerce are designed to give you a mix of business skills and technical abilities that are useful for a variety of jobs.

Pros and Cons


  • Can give you a combination of business and computer skills that are applicable to a variety of different careers
  • Could open up career opportunities not available to e-commerce associate's degree holders
  • Could lead to e-commerce careers that have solid job prospects (the BLS predicted that information security analysts, Web developers, and computer network architects would see a 22% increase in job opportunities from 2010-2020)*


  • Programs cover a variety of topics, meaning you may not become an expert in any particular area
  • E-commerce careers are constantly evolving and changing with technology advances, so you'll need to be prepared to keep learning new skills throughout your career
  • You may need a master's degree to advance to high-level e-commerce positions

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Courses and Requirements

You'll typically begin your e-commerce major with some basic business courses in marketing, management, or accounting. Your core e-commerce course options may vary slightly between programs, depending if the program is more focused on business concepts or the technical aspects of Internet commerce. Some of the courses you may have the option to take include the following:

  • Web publishing
  • Internet applications
  • Programming
  • Web servers
  • Networking concepts
  • Production design for the Internet
  • Internet strategies

Students can also expect to complete a senior project or an internship towards the end of the program.

Online Options

Although e-commerce studies typically fit well with online learning, this program is not commonly found in a distance learning format. A few programs do exist, but you may need to already have an associate's degree before you can enroll in the bachelor's degree program. You may also need to have some relevant work experience before you can qualify for enrollment. Hybrid programs are sometimes available, allowing you to take some of your courses online while still travelling to campus on a regular basis.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

You may want to look into obtaining a relevant certification to get an edge over other job candidates who have similar training as you. The World Organization of Webmasters (WOW) offers the Certified E-Commerce Manager (CECM) designation that demonstrates the holder's skills and abilities in Web design and understanding of e-commerce fundamentals. You'll need to pass a 70-question exam that covers a number of subjects, such as Web business strategies, e-commerce, and Web marketing.

WOW also offers online training opportunities that can keep you up-to-date with e-commerce and Web technology developments. Course topics may include Joomla fundamentals, HTML5, and Web accessibility.

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