Whether you already work in business, want to transition into the field, or aspire to be your own boss, online business courses teach the skills to succeed, which you can learn from the comfort of your own home.
Business courses online range from introductory to advanced, designed to accommodate your busy schedule. Taking online business classes also gives you an opportunity to explore the world of business and decide if a degree in the discipline is in your future.
Should I take business courses online or pursue an MBA?
If you want a quick, flexible, and affordable option for learning business skills, you should take business courses online. Earning an MBA is ideal for individuals who want to grow their business knowledge through a series of courses and activities over a longer period of time, or for those pursuing careers that require or prefer MBA graduates.
Because the amount of time invested into an online business course is minimal compared to the commitment required for an online business degree, you should consider your lifestyle and schedule when choosing which option best suits your needs.
Online business courses can last a few hours or several weeks, while an online MBA program spans as many as two years. The overall commitment to an online business degree also means a higher price tag than individual business courses.
Standalone business courses mean you can get what you need in one package, and can likely tailor your education to directly fit your goals. Online MBAs require students to complete numerous courses as they work toward a comprehensive project or practical requirement. MBA students often take many courses that don't directly tie into their personal career goals. Taking online business classes can often provide more freedom in selecting your course program.
The best online MBA programs and degrees are a good fit for current business professionals or individuals pursuing leadership business roles. With specializations, advanced coursework, and networking opportunities, an online MBA builds careers while fostering individual skills.
Online business courses to prepare you for career advancement
Top academic institutions around the world offer online business courses, as do numerous well-respected individuals and groups within the business industry.
Business courses online vary in content and scope. Many provide information on specific aspects of business like marketing, accounting, strategy, and entrepreneurship. Others offer intensive, comprehensive knowledge about business as a whole. Take a look at our list of 10 online business courses to find the one for you.
Babson College's Financial Accounting Made Fun: Eliminating Your Fears
Cost: Free, optional upgrade available
Length and format of course: Self-paced, estimated to last 4-6 weeks
What you'll learn: In this class, students learn the fundamentals about how to use financial statements. The course explores financial statement preparation and assessment by introducing learners methods and metrics to calculate performance ratios. The course also trains students to create and present financial forecasts.
Who will this course most benefit? The introductory course benefits individuals entering the field of business, starting their own business, or looking to enhance their financial skills.
Brunchwork's Business Intensive
Cost: $1499 for basic course, $1840 for advanced
Length and format of course: Weekly meetings with 14 live video sessions, professional presentations, weekly speakers, and projects distributed over an online system
What you'll learn: Emphasizing eight business skills, the intensive course incorporates interactive projects to engage learners. Students gain fundamental understanding of strategy and finance, pricing, web development, and communication and presentation. Additional areas of emphasis include sales and influence, customer research, marketing, and branding.
Who will this course most benefit? Designed as a comprehensive program to build business skills, the course is designed for busy professionals.
Cornell's Structuring Business Agreements for Success
Cost: Free, optional upgrade available
Length and format of course: Five weeks, instructor-led sessions.
What you'll learn: Enrollees in Cornell's Structuring Business Agreements for Success course learn about laws that govern business and society as they develop skills to construct legal documents. The course trains students to evaluate contracts and covenants, assess the benefits and challenges of various provisions, and how to assign risk in an agreement.
Who will this course most benefit? As an introductory course, this class would benefit individuals who need to understand contracts and agreements present in daily life benefit from the comprehensive content. The class also provides understanding of common legal terms and concepts, useful for professionals and nonprofessionals alike.
Project Management Institute's Online Courses
Length and format of course: Varies
What you'll learn: PMI offers foundational, intermediate, and advanced courses on numerous aspects of project and program management. As students learn topics such as Agile, digital intelligence, and business leadership, they also receive continuing education and professional development credit as needed.
Who will this course most benefit? PMI is a world-recognized leader in project and program management. Current business professionals and individuals looking to enter the field can find a course that benefits them.
Steve Blank's How to Build a Startup
Length and format of course: One month of self-paced content with interactive quizzes
What you'll learn: The class leads students through content on business models and customer development, value proposition, and distribution channels before moving into content on revenue models and partnership. The ninth and final lesson focuses on resources, activities, and costs.
Who will this course most benefit? This class serves aspiring entrepreneurs by looking at each step in the process of building a startup. At the end of the course, students will have created a real business model.
University of California, Berkeley's Effective Business Writing
Cost: Free, optional upgrade available
Length and format of course: Four weeks, instructor led
What you'll learn: Students in UC Berkeley's Effective Business Writing course learn to write effective and efficient business communications such as letters, emails, and reports. Learners explore formatting, concision, and streamlining as they develop business writing skills. Through instruction and exercises alike, individuals create documents using the techniques and approaches learned in the class.
Who will this course most benefit? Any business professional benefits from learning how to organize, condense, and present clear information via writing. Individuals looking to get into business also gain essential writing skills.
US Small Business Administration (SBA) Learning Platform
Length and format of course: Self-guided content varies in length; some in-person content with additional options to register interest for upcoming programs
What you'll learn: SBA provides several online learning resources, including the Learning Center and Ascent for Women. Learning Center courses train individuals to plan, launch, manage, market, and grow their business. SBA also offers entrepreneurial training to individuals transitioning their businesses, spouses, and executives of small businesses in underserved cities.
Who will this course most benefit? SBA's content meets the needs of entrepreneurs, business professionals, and leaders in the field. Ascent for Women specifically supports women interested in starting or growing a small business.
Wharton's Business Strategy –– Competitive Advantage
Length and format of course: Four modules covered in six weeks
What you'll learn: Students evaluate their business with any eye to the future by determining the differences between organizational effectiveness and strategic personing. The course incorporates organization mapping, strategy implementation, and change, and how to optimize strategic planning processes.
Who will this course most benefit? The course serves current business professionals who seek to identify, assess, and redesign internal, external, and dynamic aspects of their organization. By learning tools and frameworks for competitive strategies, learners gain new insight into strategic possibilities.
Y Combinator's Startup School
Length and format of course: Varies with self-guided content available
What you'll learn: The curriculum of Y Combinator's Startup School explores how to effectively share, get feedback for, and pitch a startup. Content focuses on launching startups, prioritizing, goals, and building an effective culture. Students can also access startup advice and get answers to frequently asked questions.
Who will this course most benefit? With information gathered from a pool of knowledge and advice on entrepreneurship, the Startup School benefits individuals who want to build their own business. Alongside the school itself, individuals have opportunities to take part in co-founder matching or access a six-week, online aspiring startup founders course.
Yale's Introduction to Negotiation: A Strategic Playbook for Becoming a Principled and Persuasive Negotiator
Length and format of course: Thirty-one hours of online sessions with readings and quizzes
What you'll learn: The course trains students to develop negotiating skills by focusing on building a negotiation framework. Through case studies, learners explore business scenarios, assess their approach, and look at alternative tools and techniques for negotiating outcomes. Topics include making ultimatums, avoiding regret, and gender differences in negotiations.
Who will this course most benefit? While the course is geared toward those working in business scenarios, anyone who wants to learn how to negotiate more effectively benefit from the course. By learning how to analyze and shape negotiations, individuals learn to predict, interpret, and the behavior of others.
What is the best course to start a business?
The best course to start a business is the one that provides information that relates to your goals and needs. Introductory courses offer comprehensive content, while more advanced classes focus on niche aspects of business.
How do you transition into a business career?
You can transition into a business career by taking online classes, enrolling in a business degree, or jumping into an entrepreneurial role and learning as you go. Organizations such as the Small Business Administration or Small Business Development Center in your area may have free or low-cost training courses, coaching, and mentorship to help you determine the best skills to achieve your goals.
Is it worth getting an MBA?
An MBA is worth it for individuals who seek advanced business knowledge and skills. Many business leaders and executives benefit from having an MBA.
This article was reviewed by Krystal Covington, MBA
Krystal Covington, MBA, is a business growth strategist with 15 years of experience in marketing and public relations. Her company, Go Lead Consulting, provides clients foundational tools to build new client and customer relationships.
Covington founded Women of Denver, one of the largest privately held membership organizations in Denver, Colorado. Her program helps women increase their business acumen, sharpen leadership skills and connect with other high-achieving women. Covington received her MBA from Western Governors University in 2012.
Krystal Covington is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education freelance review network.