An online business course is an ideal MBA alternative for students who don’t have the time or money to commit to the intensive degree.
But are online business courses worth it? There are so many to choose from, and though they don’t carry the same price tag as a full-time degree course, they’re not always affordable.
To see if an online business course is worth it, there are a few things you might consider. From your career goals to the reputation of the programme, these five things will help you figure out if an online business course is worth it.
Are online business courses worth it?
Online business courses are perfect for students who want to study part-time or just want to update a specific area of their skillset. Offered by accredited universities and other sites including LinkedIn, they are usually flexible and more affordable than a full business degree programme.
However, an online business course might not be the right fit for everyone. At an early stage in your career, it’s not a complete replacement for an in-depth study programme. For example, an online course cannot give you the same access to a network and professors. However, it could help you to level up in your current job or make the transition to a different sector easier.
Here are five things to consider in order to answer the question: are online business courses worth it?
the cost of the programme
As with degree programmes, the cost of online courses varies drastically depending on which provider you choose. This is advantageous for students who don’t have the ability to invest in an expensive, full-time programme.
Short online business courses are available from online learning providers like LinkedIn Learning and Coursera. These can represent great value for money, as you often only pay for the time that you are learning – if you’re committed to your course and can dedicate time to it, you’ll pay less in the long run. Coursera courses may start from around €40 per month, but their courses are often taught by top-ranked universities, and you’ll get a professional certificate at the end. LinkedIn Learning is on the cheaper end of the scale, requiring just a LinkedIn Premium account which costs €26.50 per month.
You should expect to pay upwards of €2,000 for a university-accredited short online business course. This may seem expensive until you compare it to a full-time university course, where tuition could be around €5,000 per year.
Accreditation and reputation
If you’re going to use your online business course to try for a new job or move up in your career, it’s important that you choose a course that is accredited. While employers won’t see an online course as exactly the same as a full-time degree programme, your course will have more value if it comes from a reputable source.
For example, the courses at Harvard University Online will have the same rigorous admissions process, so will carry more value for employers after you’ve completed them.
Your Career goals
An online business course is most useful if you already have some experience under your belt. These courses may not be as broad as a Masters degree or MBA, and consequently are better for improving your skills in very specific areas.
For example, you may already have some basic leadership and business skills, but want to explore a new field such as digital marketing. An online business course may be enough for you to pick up the basic elements of this industry without needing a fully-fledged business course. After this, you may be able to use your course to transition from your current role to a new one.
However, if you don’t have any business experience behind you, then an online course may not be enough for you to get your first job in the industry. For this reason, an online business course may not be worth it, and you should look to a degree programme instead.
How much time you have
An online business course is almost certainly worth it if you want to broaden your business skills but don’t have the time for a full-time degree course. For example, you may have a full-time job that you don’t want to give up or family commitments that you need to workaround.
In this case, and provided you have some business background already, an online business course is a great way to improve your employability. Many courses will take less than a year to complete, though they may be flexible enough that you can spend as long as you want completing them.
The skills you need
Many online business courses focus on in-demand skills such as technology, leadership, digital marketing, or entrepreneurship. If you already have a degree course in a highly technical area, then you may get less value out of an online business course.
However, if you want to improve your skills in a select area, then an online business course is a great way to do this. For example, your company might have opened up an opportunity in a new technical area, and a short course will give you the skills to apply for this job. Or, if you’re considering starting your own business, then a short course on entrepreneurship will give you an introduction to the skills most necessary for this.
Before applying, consider which skills you would really like to get out of your online business course. This will enable you to see if an online course is worth it, or if you would get more out of a full degree programme.
Conclusion: Are Online Business Courses Worth It?
If you don’t have much prior business knowledge and are perhaps looking to transition from a non-business career into the industry, then an online business course might not be ideal. Some courses assume or require the knowledge from a degree programme, and to have the most successful chance of finding a career in business it may be better to follow a full-time degree programme.
However, if you’re short on cash – or don’t have the time to dedicate to a degree – then an online business course is a great way to boost your skills and employability. This is especially true if you want to dive into one specific area of business or focus on starting your own business. In these cases, an online business course is undoubtedly worth it.