Online Business Certificate Programs

ASO Staff Writers
Updated October 17, 2023
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Business professionals often want to develop skills or enter new sectors. For instance, you may want to improve your negotiation skills or start working with nonprofit organizations. One of the most efficient ways to develop a new skill set is by pursuing an online business certificate.

A certificate program can help you expand your business offerings and broaden your skills. You can pursue a program that explores a particular arena, like the business of sports, or a specific competency, like improving your sales growth.

The diversity of online business certificates also extends to program price and length. Some college and university programs can be completed in a few months, though many may take a year or more to finish. Massive open online courses (MOOCs) and free certificate programs may only take a few hours or weeks.

This guide focuses on reasons to pursue an online business certificate and explores programs of varying prices and lengths.

Why Get a Business Certificate?

There are more than a few reasons to earn a certificate in a particular area of business, and even more reasons to earn that certificate online. Whether the end goal is to enhance a knowledge area, build a new skill set, aim for a management position or even change lanes to find a new career, a business certificate might be able to help. Here are a few good reasons why online business certificate programs make sense.

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    Augment Current Business Credentials

    Those who want to boost their resumes or learn the skills that could lead to promotions can turn to the huge variety of online business programs to find the one that suits their future plans. These certificate programs can boost your skills, including increasing your management prowess and establishing a baseline of knowledge in finance. They can also open doors to areas that might have been closed before, such as a manager moving into a financial area of their company.
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    Prove the Ability to Handle New Expectations

    Those who are moving up in the business world need to prove they know their stuff. Online business certificate programs offer students a wealth of in-depth knowledge. They can brush up on the theories and principles learned during college and learn entirely new concepts. By constantly being open to learning, business professionals prove that they can rise to any occasion, fulfill and exceed the expectations of their supervisors, and otherwise demonstrate that they have the kind of knowledge that is put to good use in businesses today.
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    Learn About New and Emerging Technologies

    By taking a course online, students can get hands-on experience with new technologies that might help them with their day-to-day work. Online education is delivered through various platforms, all of which include video chats, lectures, message boards, quizzes, and the like. By using these new technologies, enterprising business students can find ways to incorporate them into their own work, thus setting the stage for smoother workflows and, of course, for coveted promotions.
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    Move into a New Sector

    Speaking of opening new doors, some business certifications qualify a professional to move into an entirely new career path. Business encompasses so many disciplines, such as marketing, finance, advertising, and more; by choosing to expand a base of knowledge and skills, a business professional with numerous certifications might be qualified to move into other areas of the field.
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    Cast a Wider Networking Net

    In the world of business, who you know matters just as much as what you know. An online course can allow you to network with other students, professors, and advisors across the country. Casting a wider net can eventually lead to new, exciting, and even lucrative partnerships. Despite their diverse locations, students in these programs are all looking for the same educational experience, which means they might be working at the same levels; for instance, a course for managers will likely draw either managers or aspiring managers.
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Spotlight: 10 Great Online Business Certificate Programs

There are thousands of business certificates to choose from, ranging from those that are suitable for students who simply want a bit of extra knowledge to graduate certificates designed for those who are already deep into working in a business-related field. The following certificates are excellent examples of what is out there for aspiring students to choose from.

Sales Growth

  • Offered by: Cornell University
  • Cost: $3,600
  • Length: 3 months (5 two-week courses)
  • Format: Online
  • Outcome: Certificate in Sales Growth

Designed for those working in sales, this program looks at key frontline sales concepts that can help grow the bottom line, conducting micro-market analysis, strategies for streamlining, increasing face times and growing conversion rates. Organizational leaders can use this course to bring training back to their front line workers.

Database Management and Business Intelligence

  • Offered by: Boston University
  • Cost: $14,240
  • Length: 16 credits (8-12 months)
  • Format: Online
  • Outcome: Graduate Certificate in Database Management and Business Intelligence

This program provides students with a wealth of information on how manage the data coming into a business, including handling various databases (including those for data mining), designing and implementing specialized databases, ‘crunching the numbers’ of data sets, and incorporating and maintaining large business intelligence systems.

Business and Law of Sport

  • Offered by: Villanova University
  • Cost: $4,995
  • Length:About 8 weeks
  • Format: Video-based online learning
  • Outcome: Master Certificate in Business and Law of Sports

This program focuses on the business of sports and how the law surrounding sports events and teams is constantly changing. Courses take students into the legal aspects of professional sports, representation of players and teams, regulations in the sports industry, and advanced topics that have legal implications, such as concussions, rules compliance, illegal gambling and more.

Certificate Program in Business Administration

  • Offered by: UC Berkeley Extension
  • Cost: $5,350
  • Length: 15 semester units (18 months to 2 years)
  • Format: Most courses available online; required Principles of Management Accounting must be completed on campus
  • Outcome: Certificate; Certificate of Distinction is earned by those with a 3.7 GPA or higher

This program is suitable for those who want a broad-based foundation in business administration, touching on the basic underlying areas: economics, marketing, finance, management and accounting. One chosen elective allows students to delve even deeper into areas of the program that hold the most interest.

Certificate Program in Financial Planning and Analysis

  • Offered by: UC Berkeley Extension
  • Cost: $6,345
  • Length: 16 semester units (240 hours of instruction)
  • Format: Required courses entirely online; some electives must be taken in person
  • Outcome: Certificate; Certificate of Distinction awarded to those with a 3.7 GPA or higher

Students will get a strong understanding of economic decision making through courses on statement analysis, risk management, financial analysis and modeling and international finance. Electives on quantitative data, mergers and acquisitions and business valuation can further expand the knowledge gained in the program.

Nonprofit Management Certificate

  • Offered by: Harvard Extension School
  • Cost: $10,200
  • Length: Four courses completed within 3 years
  • Format: Online
  • Outcome: Certificate in Nonprofit Management

Graduates of this certificate program will learn about the intricate needs of nonprofit organizations, including budgeting, strategic planning, analysis, reporting, fund accounting, capital funding and more. Graduates will know how to leverage fundraising techniques and principles to provide the best possible cash flow situation for nonprofits.

Organizational Behavior Certificate

  • Offered by: Harvard Extension School
  • Cost: $10,200
  • Length: Four courses completed within 3 years
  • Format: Online
  • Outcome: Certificate in Organizational Behavior

A deeper understanding of human behavior in the organizational setting is offered through this program, which includes courses in organizational behavior, conflict management, human resource management, negotiation, change management and more. The certificate might transfer to credit toward the master’s degree, if desired.

Advanced Business Certification of Professional Achievement

  • Offered by: Columbia University
  • Cost: $1,808 per ‘point’
  • Length: 24 ‘points’ (usually completed within three years)
  • Format: Synchronous online learning
  • Outcome: Advanced Certificate in Business

Designed for bachelor degree holders or working professionals, this program focuses on introductions to finance and marketing, financial accounting, managing human behavior in organizations, corporate finance, marketing strategy, options and futures and security analysis. A minimum GPA of 3.0 is required to complete the program.

Executive Certificate in Negotiation

  • Offered by: University of Notre Dame
  • Cost: $4,995
  • Length: About eight weeks
  • Format: Three courses completed online
  • Outcome: Executive Certificate in Negotiation

This program strongly targets building negotiation skills, preparing the student for more effective one-on-one work, team building, interpersonal skills, conflict management, verbal and non-verbal communications, working with difficult people and situations, and handling negotiations across cultural divides.

Graduate Certificate in Business Analytics

  • Offered by: Penn State World Campus
  • Cost: $930 per credit
  • Length: 9 credits (about one year)
  • Format: Online only
  • Outcome: Graduate Certificate in Business Analytics

Working professionals can brush up on several key points during this program, including data, marketing and prescriptive analytics, problem-solving strategies based on those analytics, decision-making in modern enterprises, risk assessment and management, business supply side decisions and more. Graduates will be capable of analyzing large data sets and coming to a conclusion on what that data means for their business.

MOOCs and Free Certification Courses for Business

Some certifications can be earned through massive open online courses, or through free options available through a variety of colleges and universities across the nation. The chart below lists several options for free certification courses that students might find helpful.

MOOCs and Free Courses
CourseOffered byLengthOutcome
Diploma in Business Process ManagementALISON15-20 hoursDiploma
Diploma in Business Management and EntrepreneurshipALISON15-20 hoursDiploma
Business English: Making PresentationsCoursera/University of WashingtonFour weeksCertificate or Verified Certificate
Coaching ConversationsCoursera/University of California, DavisA few weeksCertificate or Verified Certificate
Inferential and Predictive Statistics for BusinessCoursera/University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignFour weeksCertificate or Verified Certificate
International Business ICoursera/University of New MexicoSix weeksCertificate or Verified Certificate
New Models of Business in SocietyCoursera/University of VirginiaFour weeksCertificate or Verified Certificate
Starting a BusinessFutureLearn/University of LeedsTwelve weeksCertificate
Applications of Everyday LeadershipCoursera/University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignFour weeksCertificate or Verified Certificate

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