Over the last decade, online education has become increasingly popular. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, between 2012 and 2017 the number of students enrolled in an online bachelor's or master's program increased by almost 43%. This growth is due to technological innovations and increased accessibility, as well as the benefits that come with online programs - convenience, flexibility, mobility, and lifelong learning to name a few.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, online learning has become not just an option, but a requirement for many students. To accommodate this need, 98% of universities have moved classes online, according to ThinkImpact.

Is an Online Degree Right for me?

Earning an online bachelor's or master's degree is a highly flexible and accessible way to earn your degree. Many students are better able to balance work, life and other obligations in addition to attending an online degree. Students who do well online are self-motivated, independent, persistent, and have good time-management and communication skills. 

Many people who take an online degree program have family and/or work obligations.  Online courses allow parents, part-time or full-time employees, caretakers, travelers, and transfer students the flexibility to earn a degree while fulfilling their other responsibilities. Other people may simply enjoy the ability to study when they are most productive (taking to all your night owls and early birds!). 

Another reason some people attend an online degree program is the ability to choose from a wider range of schools. Someone who lives in another state or even another country can earn a degree from a university in Arizona or Washington D.C. This opens up many doors for online students who otherwise wouldn't be able to attend a more reputable and prestigious college or a college that best fits their needs and interests. 

How to Choose the Right Online Degree

Of all the degrees that are available online, business degrees are the most popular. This is due to the benefits that a business degree offers graduates - transferable skills, high demand jobs, and high earning potential.

  • Transferable Skills  - The skills learned in through a business degree program allow one to do many jobs in many different industries. 
  • High Demand - Even as the world continues to evolve, organizations always need people who are well versed in business. Business degree graduates qualify for some of the most in demand jobs today. 
  • High Earning Potential - The average starting salary for someone with a bachelor's degree in business administration is about $55,000. The mean salary for someone with an MBA is $134,955.

Another major benefit of a business degree is that they transfer very well to an online platform. Many of the same business majors that are available to on-campus students, are also available online. Online students can choose a more general business degree program or a more specialized path with a degree in international business, business law, marketing, accounting, finance, analytics, economics or entrepreneurship. 

Choosing the Right Online Degree Program

Online students also have the option of attending an online college or an institution that offers both in-person and online programs.  Both school types have advantages. Here are a few things prospective students should take into consideration when choosing an online degree program: 


Whether networking or looking for a job, the reputation of a persons school acts as a first impression; it speak to the persons character, knowledge, skills, and network before their words and actions can. Reputation matter so much, in fact, that according to 83% of business leaders, an online degree at a well-known institution has the same value as an on-campus degree. If they are not familiar with a school, however, or the institution isn’t known for producing prepared graduates, the degree is not seen as having the same value. Additionally, 58% of employers believe that an institution’s brand and reputation is the main driver of a credential’s value, regardless of whether or not it was earned online.

Traditional institutions often have a greater reputation than schools that operate exclusively online. That may be why, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 92% of employers view online degrees from brick-and-mortar schools as favorable, while only 42% would consider a candidate with an online degree from a university that operates solely online, despite any accreditation.

At Thunderbird, our reputation proceeds us. We have been a top-ranked business school for more than 70 years. Our faculty has been designated as Expert Advisors in Global Leadership by the World Bank, we have more than 45,000 alumni across 145 countries, we have strong ties with corporate partners, and our students are innovating and serving to help solve some of the world's greatest challenges. In 2019, Thunderbird earned #1 Master's in Management by Times Higher Education/The Wall Street Journal Business Schools Report 2019. And ASU has been ranked #1 most innovative university by U.S. News & World Report six years in a row. 


Researching an institutes accreditation is an essential step for online degree-seekers. Accreditation ensures that schools meet certain standards of academic excellence. Accreditation will influence a persons ability to receive financial assistance, and their ability to transfer schools or attain higher level degrees in the future. Additionally, many employees require that applicants have a degree from a nationally or regionally accredited school. 

Accredited schools have the highest quality faculty, offer relevant and challenging curriculum, and provide educational and career opportunities not found at other business schools. As an accredited institution, a Thunderbird education is recognized worldwide. All ASU graduate and undergraduate academic programs are fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and Thunderbird is also accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)

Depth of Knowledge 

In many arenas, specialization is the key to competitive advantage. But universities by their nature are at once broad and deep, exploring a wide range of topics as an institution made up of individuals with great depths of knowledge in specific areas.

At Thunderbird, that combination of breadth and depth is enhanced by our relationship with Arizona State University. Our students also gain and apply cross-disciplinary learnings and best practices regardless of whether they're online or in-person. 


Online programs appeal to many students because they often cost less than on-campus degrees. While it's important to consider cost, it's important to consider your return on investment (ROI) as well. 

Your tuition is more than a bill, it's an investment in your future. Earning a degree from an accredited school with a good reputation may cost more, but these graduates are well educated, find jobs more easily and are paid a higher salary. Thunderbird graduates have a 91% employment rate after graduation. 

For students who are concerned about the cost of attending business school, financial aid is available to students for academic or athletic excellence, income, heritage, and more. Thunderbird has many financial aid options for students and about 96% of our students are awarded scholarships each year. 


How long will it take you to earn your degree? That depends! Some online programs have accelerated options, but generally an online bachelor's degree takes four-years to complete and an MBA or other master's degree takes an additional two-years. Thunderbird offers an accelerated 4+1 program that enables students to earn a bachelor's degree and master's degree in five years instead of six. We also offer two online bachelor's degrees, one online master's degree and online executive education programs. 

Thunderbird Online Business Degrees

All of our degree programs are designed to empower leaders of transnational organizations to adapt and thrive in a rapidly changing and increasingly complex world. They are taught by world-renowned faculty with real-world experience and expertise. Our current online programs include: 

Online Bachelor of Global Management - Through this degree program, undergraduate students will learn how to manage global organizations and lead effectively in international contexts. This degree develops students' knowledge in international business, entrepreneurship and leadership so they can become skilled global leaders.

Online Bachelor of Science in International Trade - This degree program helps undergraduate students master global economic dynamics and develop a digital global mindset. Students study disruptive technologies such as AI, IoT and blockchain, diverse business environments, global supply chains and cross-cultural negotiation.

Master of Applied Leadership & Management (Online) - Our online MALM degree program is designed to explore new leadership and management practices for global organizations from a global perspective in order to deliver the highest quality graduate education in a flexible online format.

Prospective online business students have a lot to consider when choosing the right degree program and the right school. We are here to help you make the best decision possible. If you are interested in earning your online degree at ASU's Thunderbird School of Global Management, you can learn more about becoming a student or contact our admissions team.

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