Which are the most affordable business degree programs in the United States? We rank the cheapest accredited colleges for business degrees.
The world of business encompasses a wide range of industries. It is not surprising to find that there is a high demand for business professionals with a strong foundation and understanding of business principles, theory, and practice. Official Bureau of Labor Statistics data indicate a $76,570 median pay for business and financial professions.
For entry-level jobs, business professionals need to at least hold a bachelor’s degree in business or related field. A bachelor’s degree in business equips students with knowledge and skills on the principles of finance, marketing, management, and business administration and how these can be applied to real-world problems faced by many businesses.
Bottom Line: Working professionals will find online business degree programs an ideal choice because it gives them the flexibility they need to fit school around their busy schedules. They will be able to juggle their personal responsibilities along with their professional duties and educational pursuit.
Given that the online programs on this list are bachelor’s degrees, these programs include general education courses that will serve as a preparatory role for the major courses, and will also train students in a number of critical hard and soft skills, which are typically applicable to any future careers. This may include skills in research and data processing, a foundational knowledge of important topics in the liberal arts, and soft skills such as critical thinking, communication, and more.
Major courses may differ slightly between universities in terms of name or how they are structured, but generally, bachelor’s degrees in business program contains a standard set of major courses that address key content areas.
The following courses are typically included in business programs:
This online course serves as a survey of the various theoretical bases that inform and underlie current business practices.
Economics as a course is often split into Microeconomics and Macroeconomics. This course is an important introduction to the forces that shape the environment where business practice occurs.
In business law courses, students discuss the relevant laws and legal principles that govern businesses, including the laws that are specific to the state where the university is located, as well as federal and national laws. Some programs with an international business component would also include discussions on relevant international legal aspects governing business practice.
Finance is, in a way, the lifeblood of business, and it is important for students to have sound knowledge of the key content areas and skills that are related to the health (and often the survival) of businesses. Business degree programs often have several courses dedicated to the various aspects of finance.
This is a separate discipline and is a separate specialized degree program. It is nonetheless crucial for students to be well-versed in the fundamentals of accounting (e.g. Financial Accounting, Managerial Accounting) as this aspect is also one of the keys to the survival of a business, not to mention its transparency and integrity.
Management skills are crucial for careers in business. This course not only serves as an introduction to the various theories that underlie the current set of best practices in the industry, but also serves to inculcate students with the right skills and habits that are key to being effective leaders.
It is common for online bachelor’s degree programs to offer students a specialization track that allows them to customize their learning experience and help them meet their career goals more effectively. Each specialization can lead to a specific career path. Students will be able to hone their knowledge and skills on a particular area, whether it is in finance, entrepreneurship, administration, management, or marketing.
Students looking to earn an online bachelor’s degree in business will want to learn more about the potential specializations that they can choose from. Here are some of the most common concentration areas:
A concentration in business management will allow professionals to supervise and oversee the practices and operations. Students earning a bachelor’s in business with a concentration in management will gain a solid foundation on the fundamentals of business while focusing on the study of business principles and their real-world applications.
Students will gain skills such as how to do performance evaluation and analysis of cases such as sales forecasting and market research. This business program specialization can lead to management positions such as assistant manager or executive manager.
An ideal choice for students whose interest and passion lies in numbers, the finance specialization provides students with foundational knowledge of corporate finance and financial markets that are integral to a successful career in the field.
Students can expect to cover subjects such as investment, capital planning, financial analysis, and international finance. They are expected to assess and solve issues where the principles of finance and accounting are applicable. Students must also recognize the connection between financial concepts and their use in global markets.
Graduates of this specialization can enjoy a rewarding career in finance. Financial analysts earn a median pay of $95,570.
Another specialization for business degree students is marketing. As a dynamic area in business, this concentration explores the key principles of marketing, including planning, implementation, controlling, and evaluating the strategies that can help achieve the marketing goals of an organization. It is also part of the learning experience for students to measure market demand and segment the market in an effort to attain competitive advantage.
Those who work in advertising, promotions, and marketing have a median pay of $133,380.
Integral to making data-driven decisions in the world of business, data analysts need a solid understanding of the power of data and how it can help in meeting the organizations’ needs. This specialization involves collecting and making sense of data to identify areas where a company is doing well and where they need improvement.
Opening up global opportunities, an international business specialization allows students to learn about how international trade and finance policies can affect business decisions. Students will also learn how to adapt marketing strategies designed for international markets.
This particular specialization combines course materials from economics, logistics, and finance to prepare students for managing and overcoming challenges in supply chain and logistics. Managing this area with efficiency will positively impact an organization’s profitability.
The human resource management specialization teaches students to take care of employees and manage their compensation and benefits. Some of the things they will learn from this concentration include training and development, payroll management, labor laws, and more.
To meet the healthcare industry’s demand, healthcare management as a specialization is quite useful. This helps students learn how to assess growth areas and propose innovative ways to address pressing issues and improve the performance of a healthcare organization.
A bachelor’s degree in business gets students started on a career in the business world, but career advancement often requires further education in terms of attaining advanced skillsets, credentials, and personal marketability.
The next step for graduates with a bachelor’s degree is the master’s in business administration or MBA. MBA degree programs provide advanced training on several topic areas, specifically ones relevant to those in managerial and leadership roles.
In a more practical sense, the MBA also serves as a venue for students to meet a wide range of individuals from all sorts of professional and technical backgrounds (MBAs are typically designed to be welcoming to a wide range of professions), and these encounters can serve as new learning opportunities as well as means for networking and building real-world partnerships.
There are some degree programs that integrate both bachelor’s and master’s degrees into an accelerated timeline, but students need not hurry: in practical terms, it is often very helpful for students if they already have real-world career experience before embarking upon a master’s degree program. Experience is often not a requirement, but is an unwritten rule.Back to Top
Graduates of bachelor’s degrees in business can use the skillsets and theoretical knowledge they learn to launch their own business, or they can jump into a variety of careers in local and/or international business.
The ultimate career goal with a business degree is to become a CEO of a global company, but for those just embarking on their career, a variety of managerial positions are within reach, such as Operations Managers, Human Resources Managers, Administrative Services Managers, Financial Managers, and other similar and related positions.
The business world is a competitive place, however, and success depends on the right mindset and in having the right habits and skills, as well as a willingness to keep on learning and placing a value on experience.
Many colleges and universities in the country that offer online bachelor’s degree programs in business aim to make them affordable and accessible.
Generally, an online degree may be cheaper as compared to its on-campus counterpart. This is because an online degree does not require students to pay for the additional cost of campus facilities and resources.
By opting for affordable online programs, students skip student housing and transportation costs as the online learning format allows them to complete the program anytime and anywhere.
Even better, there are other ways that colleges and universities help to make bachelor’s in online business degrees even more affordable:
More often than not, business schools make a distinction between in-state and out-of-state students through different tuition rates. However, there are many affordable online business programs that offer the same rate to students, regardless of where they reside.
Sometimes, students are offered tuition freeze opportunities for their online business degree. This is a great help for students aiming to battle inflation and rising cost of living. Students are motivated to finish the program before the tuition freeze ends.
There are many cases where the tuition cost per credit hour covers other fees such as textbooks and online resources. This brings down the overall tuition cost of the program, which is a huge help to students who struggle financially.
Lastly, students can often enjoy forms of financial aid. For online students trying to earn a bachelor’s degree in business, having different financial aid options to choose from can ease the financial burden of pursuing an undergraduate degree. Sources of aid can include scholarships, grants, and loans.
Tuition + fees
University of Missouri’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
An innovator in digital education, the University of Missouri makes higher learning education accessible to students near and far. One of their degree offerings is the Bachelor of Science in Business Administration that is fully available online. Offered under the Trulaske College of Business, this online business administration program is designed for those considering a career change or seeking career advancement.
Business majors can enjoy the instructional quality and opportunities that the university’s on-campus programs provide. Whether one is a non-traditional student or a working professional, they will be able to expand their knowledge on finance, management, sales, marketing, data analysis, and even accounting.
Students are allowed to tailor their degree to their career interests and goals through the online program’s flexible format and advanced course choices. They will receive a solid, cross-disciplinary business foundation with the aim of strengthening their strategic, critical thinking, decision-making, and interpersonal skills to help them thrive in the cutthroat business environment.
The program is 120 credit hours. This includes core business courses such as advanced statistics concepts, operations and regulations, key software programs, principles of marketing, legal and ethical factors, and management and organizational behavioral theories, among many others.
As one of the most affordable online business degrees, this program’s tuition cost and fees per credit hour are $459.95. Students can also take advantage of various financial aid options, including grants, scholarships, and loans.
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Kansas State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
For more than 50 years, Kansas State University has been providing distance education and now offers over 100 online programs. Their online bachelor’s degree in business administration with an emphasis on data analytics is a good foundation for students preparing to take on the diverse world of business. Students will be able to specialize in a competitive and exciting career as the online program combines the fundamental areas of business and data analytics.
This affordable business degree equips students with knowledge and skills that will prepare them for successful careers in small business, banking, advertising, government agencies, and non-profit organizations among others. The curriculum includes courses such as Accounting for Business Operations, Principles of Finance, Business Strategy, Business Ethics and Corporate Citizenship, and Business Innovation and Entrepreneurial Mindset.
Students will also need to complete courses for the data analytics concentration. This includes Managerial Decision Analytics, Social Media Analytics and Web Mining, Marketing Analytics Fundamentals, and Business Analytics and Data Mining.
Regardless of where they live, online students earning the bachelor’s degree in business administration pay the same tuition rate. The cost of one credit hour for this program is $512, which covers the tuition cost and other fees. Distance students will be able to take advantage of scholarship opportunities, including the K-State Global Campus Scholarships.
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Central Methodist University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Since its establishment in 1854, Central Methodist University has been offering quality education to students. Their online programs make earning a degree more accessible to students, whether they are located in the country or beyond.
Those who want to build a successful business or help an existing business to succeed may want to consider earning the bachelor’s degree in business. This online program covers a variety of areas, ranging from marketing and advertising, finance, management, and entrepreneurship.
Students will develop skills that will aid in building and transforming themselves into in-demand professionals who succeed in the business world. Part of the curriculum teaches students to conduct case studies, complete business plans, conduct marketing campaigns, deliver presentations, and work through projects. This online bachelor’s program can also help them prepare for an advanced degree in business or related field.
The program costs $26,360, making it one of the most affordable online bachelor’s degree in business. To help students further afford their online education, students may make use of the financial aid options available at their disposal. This includes federal student aid, scholarships, grants, and loans.
Veterans and military-connected students can also enjoy a wealth of benefits. The university provides help in terms of benefits, degree program selection, delivery format of classes, and the Yellow Ribbon program.
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University of Wisconsin–Whitewater’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Designed to help students begin a successful career in business, the Bachelor of Business Administration offered at the University of Wisconsin in Whitewater is fully available online. Students are not required to attend on-campus classes. Online students enjoy the same perks that on-campus undergraduates are offered, including access to academic advising, library services, technical support, mentoring, and career services.
Students will be able to delve deep into finance, economics, accounting, safety and risk management, marketing, ethics, and diversity. Students are expected to gain a wide breadth of knowledge that will prepare them for a rewarding career in a variety of settings, including the government, education sectors, and nonprofit organizations.
The online learning format makes the program flexible, allowing students to focus on their area of interest without compromising their personal obligations. They will be able to learn at their own pace, whenever and wherever it is convenient for them.
For the academic year 2023-2024, the online bachelor’s program in business costs around $395 per credit. This is applicable to all online students, regardless of their state or country of residence. The program is one of the most affordable as the cost of tuition includes the textbook rental. Students can also apply for financial aid in the form of loans, grants, and scholarships.
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Dickinson State University is known for its low student-faculty ratio and highly accessible higher education options. It offers a Bachelor of Business Administration degree that is fully available online. Students who wish to earn this online degree need to complete general education courses, business core courses, major core courses, and electives.
The program teaches students to apply theories and practices of management, including practices applicable to international business. Students will learn how to develop and recommend strategic decision alternatives with the use of business concepts and theories.
They will also explore critical elements that make organizations function efficiently. The skills they gain from this online degree program can be applied to various career paths, including management, sales, health care administration, and marketing.
Some of the business core courses in the curriculum includes Management and Leadership, Management Information Systems, Business Ethics and Critical Thinking, International Business, Principles of Marketing, Managerial Finance, and Entrepreneurship, among others.
Committed to providing personalized education at an affordable rate, Dickinson State University sets the tuition for undergraduate students at $249 per credit hour for residents and $319 per credit hour for out-of-state and international students.
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Bellevue University is a private university based in the City of Bellevue, Nebraska. Since its founding in 1966, the school has continued to specialize in offering programs that cater to the needs of adult learning. Bellevue has a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs.
Bellevue University currently offers several online bachelor’s degree programs related to the field of business, including its Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. This business program is offered in both on-campus and 100% online formats, and has a total of 127 credit hours, comprised of 63 credits of major courses, 37 credits of general education, and a further 27 credits of electives.
Students can choose from a number of possible emphasis areas in this business program: Accounting, Finance, Human Resources, International Business, Business Analytics, Interdisciplinary Business, Marketing, and Supply Chain.
Bellevue University also designs the program’s general education component to help build students’ crucial foundational skills: ethical leadership, qualitative reasoning, and critical thinking. Students can choose to take their general education subjects individually or in 3-course clusters that address a single key thematic area at a time.
Bellevue University has affordable tuition rates, currently costing $440 per credit hour for bachelor’s degree programs. Bellevue University also has a generous transfer policy, and has special benefits and discounts for military members, as well as their own scholarships and grants on top of the standard federal financial aid.
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University of the Cumberlands’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
A private Christian university in the City of Williamsburg, Kentucky, the University of the Cumberlands is named after its Cumberland River location, and proximity to the the Cumberland Gap and Cumberland Falls. Established in 1888, it currently offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate degree programs, and has a significant number of degree programs offered both online and on campus.
University of the Cumberlands offers several business degrees, including the Bachelor’s in Business Administration, an accredited online degree program that is designed both for undergraduate students, as well as non-traditional adult learners. It is designed to teach students the core skills related to managing, leading, and launching businesses.
This bachelor’s degree contains a total of 120 credit hours, which is comprised of 54 credit hours of core coursework, 37 credits of General Education courses, and up to 31 hours for electives. The curriculum includes courses in the content areas of accounting, economics, marketing, and financial management.
University of the Cumberlands prides itself with its One Price Promise, a transparency-based tuition model that eliminates hidden costs often associated with college education. University of the Cumberlands’ online associate and bachelor’s degree programs are $220 per credit hour, and other degree types are also affordably priced. University of the Cumberlands also offers financial aid options to help students further reduce costs.
Aside from this degree program, students may also be interested in Cumberlands’ Bachelor of Applied Science which has Business Administration as one of the potential concentration areas. This program is also offered online.
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Walsh College is a private college based in the City of Troy, Michigan. It was established in 1922 as an Institute of Accountancy. Currently it primarily offers business degrees at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, with its first fully online degree being approved for offering back in 2005, and the first doctoral degree in 2006.
Among its range of business degree programs is the Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in General Business program, which is designed to prepare students with a strong and competitive foundational knowledge in business, which they can apply to a whole range of careers, whether they are seeking career elevation or just starting out.
This BBA degree program is delivered 100% online and in other formats which includes in-person and a remote synchronous mode. Walsh College also has Connected Classrooms, where on-campus and online students hold classes together, giving distance learners a venue for real-time interaction with their peers and faculty.
Students may also opt to take the Fast Track option. Fast Track is an accelerated degree program that lets students transition seamlessly between their bachelor’s and master’s degrees. The Fast Track option lets students earn both degrees in as little as five years, which translates into cost savings, especially if students are already planning to continue their studies into a master’s degree program.
Walsh College’s BBA degree programs each have their own Fast Track options, where the General Business BBA transitions into either an MBA, or an MS in Management, Marketing, or Information Technology Leadership. Walsh College also has a number of scholarships, including an Undergraduate Academic Excellence Award for eligible students.
Based in the City of Albany, New York, Excelsior University is a private university that offers online education for both undergraduate and graduate degrees, primarily aimed at non-traditional learners, i.e. working adults who seek the benefits of additional/further education. Excelsior University was established in 1971 by the New York State Board of Regents. It has since separated, operating as an independent, nonprofit institution.
Excelsior University offers a Bachelor of Science in Business, which is designed specifically for working adults, especially those who are seeking career advancement in the field. The curriculum design of this program gives students a broad foundation in both the liberal arts and sciences, preparing them with skills that include data analysis, marketing, fostering a communicative and collaborative workplace environment, and more.
This degree contains a total of 120 credit hours, and has a number of possible concentration areas which include Finance, General Accounting, General Business, Logistics Management, Human Resource Management, and Marketing. Excelsior University implements a very generous credit transfer policy, with students being able to transfer up to 113 credits. This, of course, translates to real-world cost savings.
This degree program is currently offered with a per-credit-hour cost of $510, and Excelsior University has a wide range of scholarship opportunities available as well.
Military members as well as veterans also get their own special discounts and fee waivers; in fact, Excelsior University is a member of the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges Consortium, and consistently makes the ranks of the best military-friendly schools in the country.
On top of Excelsior’s Institutional accreditation, this program is also accredited by the IACBE-International Accreditation Council for Business Education.
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Union Institute & University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Union Institute & University is a private, not-for-profit university based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Established in 1964 and gaining its current name and institutional arrangements in 2001, it offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs primarily through distance education and in limited residence programs.
Among its range of degree programs is the BS in Business Management. It is a uniquely-designed program that is aimed at adult learners who already have workplace experience, and they accordingly adopt an educational approach that serves to fuse management theory with best practice and students’ experience. It is a program that not only deepens students’ knowledge of business and management, but is also intended to address key aspects of leadership, and its role in social justice.
The program contains a minimum of 120 credit hours, and students can either choose to complete a generalized program, or follow one of the four available concentration areas: Organizational Leadership, Health Care Administration, Human Resource Management, or Applied Technology & Business Leadership. Students can transfer up to 90 credits, with start dates every 8 weeks.
Union Institute & University also prides itself with its general education component, where courses are topic-based instead of the usual introductory courses, and are directly linked to the university’s majors. This not only builds on students’ foundational knowledge, but also allows for a seamless transition from the general education component to the degree’s major courses.
This degree program is currently offered with a $545 per-credit-hour cost, and students can potentially save on costs by applying for any of the wide range of scholarships and grants available for students at Union Institute & University.
Whether on-campus or online, a bachelor’s degree in business typically takes at least 4 years to complete, much like other bachelor’s degrees. This includes all general education coursework, major courses and electives, as well as completing final degree requirements, which are often in the form of a capstone project. Some programs, especially online programs that cater to adult learners like some in our ranking, let students enroll in the program on a part-time basis, and this accordingly would take longer.
Some universities also offer accelerated programs that let students earn their degree far faster than the typical 4 years, or degree programs that integrate both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in a 5-year timeline.
The amount of previously-earned credits that students can transfer upon enrollment into a particular program also varies, and this also can have an impact on a program’s completion time.
Universities vary in their particular set of requirements for entry into their bachelor’s degree program in business, but the most basic is that students must have completed a high school education (or its equivalent in GED or homeschool) and have a satisfactory GPA. Some colleges and universities may also require test scores, although others may waive these, so it is best to consult directly with any particular college or university you may have in mind.
An online bachelor’s degree in business offers a lot of advantages. It boasts a flexible learning format that allows working students and adult learners to earn their degree easily and conveniently.
Students can often go through their coursework at their own pace, easing up the pressure of completing their degree in a hurry and letting them meet personal demands and responsibilities without sacrificing their pursuit of a higher education.
Another benefit of an online degree is its location. By being able to complete the coursework anytime and anywhere, students can save a lot of extra college costs such as housing costs and transportation.
As for the cons, there are cases where an online program limits the course options because there are courses that are not effective in an online learning environment. There are also less face-to-face interactions, which can be important for students who want to build their professional network.
The short answer is no. In most cases, your bachelor’s degree will only show the name of the degree and will not specify where and how it was earned.
This means online students won’t be discriminated against in the workplace because their bachelor’s degree in business was earned online. The on-campus and the online programs often share the same curriculum and are taught by the same faculty, so there is hardly any difference in terms of quality and credibility. Both degrees hold the same merit.