How Do I Pick an Online Business Program?

Since there is no dearth of colleges and universities that offer online business degrees, students should consider some variables as they determine which institutions will provide the best fit for them. These factors can include the size and cost of the institution. Students should also determine whether they prefer a synchronous or an asynchronous program; the former requires students to attend a virtual classroom that meets at a predetermined time, while the latter allows students to log in to courses at any time, although course work and assignments will still be held to strict deadlines.

While general course work remains uniform among most business programs, differences may exist and students should make sure that the curriculum of the business programs they consider suits their interests. Aside from your own personal preferences, however, you should insure that the online business schools you are considered have upheld certain standards.

Increasingly, employers are recognizing the legitimacy of well-designed online programs like those at Argosy University, Post University, Kaplan University, Western Governors University, Ashford University, Capella University, etc., especially those created by reputable institutions. However, an online business degree from just any program will not suffice, and programs must meet or surpass certain standards; business degree quality matters. Earning an online business degree from an unaccredited institution puts you at risk of earning a degree that employers and other higher education institutions may not recognize.

Accreditation is granted to higher education institutions that meet certain standards set by the accrediting agency. Ensure that your prospective schools are accredited by legitimate bodies, and use accreditation as a tool to determine whether these schools offer students an acceptable quality of education. The U.S. Department of Education maintains a database of accredited institutions.

Aside from institutional accreditation, you may also want to ensure that your program is accredited by The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). AACSB accreditation represents the highest standard of achievement for business schools worldwide. AACSB-accredited schools offer instruction from well-regarded faculty, a relevant and challenging curriculum, and educational and career opportunities. These schools must pass a rigorous set of standards to attain AACSB accreditation, and degrees from AACSB-accredited schools are generally more desirable to employers than those from non-accredited schools. However, the AACSB only accredits not-for-profit schools, which means that schools like the University of Phoenix and Kaplan University are not eligible for this form of accreditation, though their programs may be equal in quality.

The Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) is another specialized accreditation agency that accredits business schools with an emphasis on teaching and learning. It represents an alternative to AACSB accreditation.

Aside from accreditation, students should also consider factors such as the overall reputation of an institution and the success of its graduates. If you do not personally know anybody who has attended the programs you are interested in, use online forums and discussion boards to learn about other students’ experiences. Internet resources can also give you a better sense of how the program is regarded. But while this information can enhance your search, it should not be considered the sole determinant in your decision. Use your best judgment to determine whether the school will offer you a high-quality educational experience.