Degree Overview

You have a lot of choices available for online business certificates, whether you are pursuing an undergraduate certificate or a graduate certificate. More and more colleges and universities are offering these online programs to meet the continuing education needs of busy professionals. Most business certificates have a specific focus, or you can tailor a general program to your specific needs. Online business certificates cover a wide range of topics from basic business concepts to specific skills such as project management, financial planning and human resources leadership.

Most business certificate programs can be completed in a short amount of time, from a few weeks to a few months. There are some, however, that cover complex subject matter and may take about a year to complete, even if you are taking a full-time credit load. A business certificate online may be awarded for completing a few intensive classes or several courses that comprehensively cover a particular topic or skill. Their short duration makes many of these programs ideal for an online structure. People who are most likely to succeed in online formats are self-motivated and good time managers.

Finding a quality online business certificate program may require some research on your part. Check an institution’s accreditation status through the U.S. Department of Education.

A business certificate program can help you achieve a variety of goals. For example, it can:

  • Add a business dimension to your current area of undergraduate or graduate study
  • Help you on your way to an MBA
  • Enhance your knowledge of a particular area of business for a future career direction
  • Add skills that can help you progress in your current job
  • Sharpen your abilities and ensure you are up-to-date on the latest business thinking
  • Make you more marketable and increase your earning potential

What do certificate programs include?

Some programs focus on the basics of business and provide an overview of functions such as accounting, economics, finance, marketing, management, strategy development and tactical implementation. Others provide greater depth into specific areas. All programs are designed to provide students with practical knowledge and skills they can put to use immediately after graduation. Many include instruction from seasoned academics and business leaders from different industry sectors.

While many programs are on campus, a growing number are offered online. Many allow students to work with an advisor to customize a course plan in order to meet personal goals. Online offerings allow flexibility for students pursuing other areas of study, as well as accommodating actively working professionals. They also make it possible for a student in Kansas or Casablanca to earn a degree at Columbia University in New York City as easily as at the University of California in Los Angeles.

Programs are usually designed to be completed in weeks or months, not years. Eight week courses of study are common, however, many offer learn-at-your-own-pace options to accommodate busy schedules.

How should you choose a business certificate program?

There is no set formula for choosing the best program. The quality of faculty is important, but so is accessibility. A well-known professor may be a draw, but if you can’t ask questions and get relevant and specific answers back in a timely manner, a star teacher may not give you the educational experience you’re looking for. Examine program offerings, schedules and requirements closely. Make sure what is on offer matches with your particular goals. In addition to checking rankings and ratings, talk to people who have been through the programs you are considering and get employer feedback if possible. If cost is an issue, see what financial aid programs are available and find out if your employer may cover some of the costs.