Associate degrees in business administration: What to expect

Whether you’re a high school graduate or working professional, starting your higher education is a major career decision. 

This business administration associate degree guide explores online and traditional programs, course requirements, and hands-on learning opportunities and internships. It also goes over important soft and hard skills for business leaders seeking career advancement. 

What is an associate degree in business administration?

An associate degree in business administration is the foundation of gaining a global understanding of business fundamentals. Students may pursue an online or traditional associate degree in business administration. 

While satisfying degree requirements, students generally complete coursework in accounting, business fundamentals, and management together with business ethics, principles of finance, and business law. 

Both online and traditional programs require general education and elective courses as well.

How long does this degree take to complete?

Whether a recent graduate or full-time employee, it is essential to research how long it takes to get a business degree. 

Both full-time online and traditional programs typically require two years for earning an associate degree. For full-time professionals enrolling on a part-time basis, the program could take about 4 to 6 years to complete.

How much does this degree cost?

Tuition and fees may range between $6,000 and $26,000. Depending on the college or university, there might be additional technology, textbook, and supplemental course fees. 

Some colleges and universities offer free laptops, rentals, and discounts. The cost of the laptop is typically included in the cost of tuition and fees. 

With an associate degree, qualified professionals can earn higher salaries and extra compensation.

Skills taught in a business administration associate degree

While pursuing your course of study, you will have the chance to gain practical knowledge and applied experience in business solutions. 

If seeking to excel beyond broad experiences, then it is critical to learn and apply hard and people-oriented skills. Below are a number of the foremost common skills for successful leaders. 

Technical skills

  • Data analysis
  • Project management
  • Marketing skills
  • Financial management
  • Financial literacy

People skills

  • Team-building
  • Creative thinking
  • Communication
  • Problem-solving
  • Decision-making 

Who is a good fit for a business administration associate degree program?

Are you an aspiring leader in your workplace? Do you possess strong analytical and problem-solving skills? Then, a business administration associate program might be an excellent fit for you. 

Perhaps, you are new to the industry and aspire to be a transformative leader. Or, after reflecting on your talents and career goals, you might be ready to boost your company’s business operations. 

For next steps, consider the benefits of earning an online business certificate for entry-level positions. If seeking upper management positions, research programs that provide a business master’s degree. 

What is an associate degree in business administration like?

While earning an associate degree in business administration, expect courses that build on practical knowledge of business and current trends and consumer and accounting theory. Students will learn the legal components of business, supply and demand, and algebraic operations. 

As the program progresses, students participate in research projects, presentations, and team-oriented activities, along with hands-on learning opportunities and internships. Students are expected to actively participate in both oral and written assignments. 

It is essential for future business professionals to develop their problem-solving and critical thinking, communication, and conflict resolution skills alongside active listening, technical, and leadership skill sets. These skills are vital for managing diverse workplaces.


  • Introduction to business
  • Business law
  • Accounting 
  • Management concepts
  • Principles of finance

What can you do with an associate degree in business administration?

After earning an associate degree in business administration, graduates may explore several business careers in business operations and management.

New graduates can pursue entry-level positions from the following career list.

  • Relationship banker
  • Assistant store manager
  • Sales manager
  • Customer service supervisor
  • Project manager
  • Sales consultant 
  • Account executive
  • Retail sales manager
  • Administrative assistant
  • Project manager

What’s the difference between an AA and AS in business administration?

With an associate of arts (AA) degree, students complete courses in general studies, liberal arts, or pre-professional studies. An associate of science (AS) degree offers more specialized courses in finance, marketing, human resources, and other business specializations. 

How much money can you make in business administration?

According to Payscale, the median annual wage for graduates with an associate degree in business administration is about $53,000.

Is it worth getting a business degree?

Yes. A business degree can lead to more job prospects, career advancement, and salary increases.

This article was reviewed by Krystal Covington, MBA 

Krystal Covington, a woman with medium-length, curly hair, smiles at the camera.

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.