How Do Online Business Programs Work?

A well-designed online business program, which are offered at many online universities including Arizona State University, Columbia College, Colorado State University, Baker College, Western Governors University, will combine the curriculum of a business degree – courses in accounting, marketing, finance, organizational management, and so on – with an interactive learning environment. Online business programs utilize technology to promote accessibility, flexibility, and collaboration. Modes of instruction may include textbooks, multimedia lectures, and other Internet tools.

Before students begin an online program, most will participate in an orientation that teaches them how to navigate the online platform that their school uses. They will also learn how to use the learning or content management system, as well as discussion boards, to communicate with peers and instructors. There are two types of online programs – synchronous and asynchronous. Synchronous programs function much like classroom-based courses, where students all meet at the same time. However, in an online synchronous program, students “meet” on the Internet instead of reporting to a physical classroom. Asynchronous programs, on the other hand, allow students to log in to courses at any time, although many also include deadlines by which assignments must be completed. For both types of programs, assignments may be turned in via email or through a course management system; instructors will clarify their preferences.

Course management systems, such as Moodle, Blackboard, and Angel, promote interactive learning among students through assignments such as message board posts and group projects. Some major assignments will simulate real-life business problem-solving situations. Students will collaborate with classmates through online discussions and virtual meetings. Most online programs also feature 24/7 technical support in the event that computer or connection issues arise. In addition, professors are typically available to answer questions by phone, email, and/or fax, and grades will be posted online. Generally speaking, course instructors will outline their expectations and discuss their availability at the beginning of the course.

Online business programs also feature classroom learning staples, such as homework and examinations. While some classes may not have exams, others will rely on proctored exams, where students must report to an approved testing center to complete an examination with a testing supervisor present. Make sure that you understand your program’s requirements.

Credit requirements for degree completion also vary by school. However, students who wish to pursue a master’s degree in business administration, or MBA, but whose undergraduate degrees are in non-business related fields, may need to take additional hours of foundation courses to learn the fundamentals of business vocabulary and workings. A business curriculum, at the undergraduate and graduate levels alike, may include courses in economics, operations management, business analytics, strategic marketing, and financial management. However, the specific classes students take will depend on their specific business major or concentration. For example, a finance student will take advanced courses in money management, risk, and liability, whereas a business administration student will take advanced courses in budgeting, project organization, and planning.

Before you begin pursuing your business degree online, ensure that you meet computer software and hardware requirements. To access courses and lecture content, you will need a reliable Internet connection. Beyond this, schools may require additional software. While some programs, such as Adobe Flash Player, may be readily available for free download, others may only be available for purchase. Check with your program administrators to determine if your computer meets tech requirements.