The Top 10 Business Certificate Programs of 2021

Getting an education in business will put you on a versatile career path. Even if you are running a small or medium-scale enterprise (SME), a business certificate program will provide you with more insight to help your business grow and stay ahead of the competition. This guide will help you find the best online business certificate programs in 2021.

An online business administration certificate program can be completed at your own pace, or it may run for a few weeks or months. The best part is that you can complete most of the top 10 business certificate programs online without leaving your home. In addition, you will receive a certificate of completion at the end of the program.

Why You Should Study Business Administration

It’s a given that studying business administration will help you develop leadership and organizational skills that will come in handy across industries. Entrepreneurs will benefit significantly from these skills, especially as the company grows and more employees join the fold.

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Business administration will open up a world of possibilities. There are programs for working professionals who want to upskill, and there are programs for those without prior experience who want to learn something new.

A certificate in business administration will teach you how to combine financial and human resources to ensure profitability in any business. Even if you choose to specialize in one industry, general knowledge of business administration will be helpful as well.

Top 10 Online Business Certificate Programs

Universities and community colleges offer the best online certificate programs for business students across the globe. This is a convenient way to upgrade your skill set.

As sourced from each school website, below is a list of the top 10 best certificate programs for learning business administration.

California Southern University | Certificate in International Business

Cost: $9,810

Duration: 12 months

In just one year, you can get a Certificate in International Business (CBIB) from California Southern University. The total credit requirement is 18, shared across six advanced courses on international business.

Keep in mind that this program is for people who already have undergraduate degrees. It covers business ethics, international marketing, international economics, and international business law. You will also take courses on international financial management and the cultural environment of international business.

The advanced business certificate is comparable to an MBA, and students get networking opportunities through the university’s global alumni group. There is also the option to accelerate gaining the CBIB, depending on the credits you transfer and increasing the number of courses you take each term.

Charles Sturt University | Graduate Certificate in Intelligence Analysis

Cost: $8,400

Duration: 18 months, full-time (self-paced option also available)

Charles Sturt University allows students from different parts of the globe to participate in its Graduate Certificate in Intelligence Analysis online. The next start date is sometime in July 2021, and the program focuses primarily on business analytics skills.

International students must pass the IELTS to prove that they meet international English speaking requirements. While the full-time program runs for 18 months, self-paced studies are allowed. Each course is attached to eight points, and students are expected to get 32 points.

The knowledge you will acquire during the program doesn’t just make you a better business person. It also improves your big data analytics and business intelligence skills. Afterward, you can dive into law enforcement roles or become a business intelligence analyst.

ISCTE Executive Education | Postgraduate in Applied Management Certificate

Cost: Approx. $4,900

Duration: 5 months

This Postgraduate in Applied Management Certificate is for business leaders who want to improve their skills or aspire to higher positions in their respective industries. The four significant subjects are Agile companies, retail, ecommerce, and digital innovation in business. The program is incredibly immersive.

All subjects during the five-month business certificate program are applied studies. The core modules of the certificate program include applied corporate finance, applied strategy, applied accounting, and applied database management.

International students who don’t speak English as their native language must have a passing score in IELTS or an equivalent English international exam.

London School of Economics and Political Science | MBA Essentials Online Certificate Course

Cost: $4,538

Duration: 10 weeks

The MBA Essentials Certificate course offered by LSE is meant for business professionals targeting all-important soft skills. The three primary subjects revolve around the financial and human aspects of a business. You will also learn about creating a strategic environment for businesses to thrive.

Unlike other programs that focus only on teaching you how to be a good business person, this program teaches business leaders how to maintain a work-life balance without compromising one for the other.

The classes are personalized, and every student is assigned a success manager who acts as a mentor and helps them achieve their goals.

North Dakota State University | Graduate Certificate - Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)

Cost: Approx. $811.20 per credit

Duration: 9 – 12 months

This is a postgraduate degree for high rollers who want to dive into logistics and supply chain management. Keep in mind that only those with ERP certification can apply for this program. It covers data analytics, business integration, and business intelligence.

The certificate allows you to apply for a range of systems applications and products (SAP) roles, and the next start date is in August. In addition, team members can pay for members of their ERP team to gain additional knowledge during the program.

Purdue Online - Polytechnic Institute | Graduate Certificate in Information Technology Business Analysis

Cost: $820 per credit

Duration: 12 – 36 months

When it comes to online programs, only a few schools can be compared to Purdue online, and the online business certificates are no exception. The school offers open enrollment all year round, and the primary focus is the influence of information technology on business analysis.

Only graduates with a cumulative grade point of at least 3.0 can apply for the Graduate Certificate in Information Technology Business Analysis program. If you have previous work experience, your chances of getting admitted will be higher. Non-English international students also need an impressive TOEFL score.

By the end of the program, students will have mastered how to design and complete IT-driven business projects for maximum profit, and be ready to enter IT management roles.

University of Essex Online | Post Graduate Certificate in Business Management

Cost: $5,298

Duration: 8 months

Over the years, the University of Essex Online has provided undergraduate and postgraduate certificate programs for students across the globe. The Post Graduate Certificate in Business Management is offered online, part-time. So, professionals who are already working may apply without sacrificing working hours.

The course covers topics including an introduction to business, business leadership, human resource management, finance, and marketing. You must have an undergraduate degree equivalent to undergraduate honors in the United Kingdom to apply. It doesn’t need to be a business undergraduate degree.

University of California, Irvine - Division of Continuing Education | Certificate in Data Analytics for Business

Cost: Approx. $4,850

Duration: 7 – 18 months

This is another good option for professionals who want to master data-driven decision-making in business. Students who enroll in the Certificate in Data Analytics for Business learn how to use modern data analytics tools to collect, clean, and generate insights from large volumes of data.

The program goes beyond regular business statistics and reporting, teaching students how to manipulate data with technology. It is a graduate program, and those with real-world experience will benefit significantly from the program.

University of California Riverside - Extension School | Introduction to Business Management Certificate

Cost: $1,185

Duration: 3 months

Another great online school for business management is UC Riverside Extension. The Introduction to Business Management Certificate program is perfect for entry-level workers who haven’t yet acquired the professional experience required to impress prospective employers. You will be taught the essentials of business management and leadership.

Students from all over the world are welcome to enroll. However, as with many other international programs, proof of advanced English efficiency is required for the admission of non-native speakers.

Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania | Advanced Business Analytics

Cost: $40,000

Duration: 12 months

The Advanced Business Analytics Program is one of the best offered by the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. It was designed to bridge the gap between technology and traditional business.

This postgraduate program is taught through a hybrid of interactive online sessions and on-campus electives. It teaches students how to use modern tech tools like artificial intelligence for data analysis. This, in turn, allows them to get data-driven insight that can be used to promote the goals of a business.

While the tuition is on the high side, early enrolment attracts a discount of $4,000. The digital transformation might be just what you need to get an edge over others in your industry. All classes are based on real-world datasets and hands-on experience.

The 5 Best Free Business Certificate Courses

If you don’t have the funds to pay for a postgraduate business certificate, you can take a free online program. In collaboration with universities, massive open online courses (MOOCs) are hosted on the Internet.

Introduction to Business Management by King’s College London (FutureLearn)

Length: 4 weeks

Outcome: Certificate

This course requires about four hours of your time weekly until completion. It starts with the basics of business management, teaching you the most common terminology and the fundamentals of running a business.

Business, Management & Leadership Fundamentals by The Expert Academy (Udemy)

Length: 12 weeks

Outcome: Certificate

These free courses focus on teaching you how to become a great leader by speaking with conviction and motivating your team. In addition, you will get access to prerecorded online classes that you can watch at your own pace.

Business, Management & Leadership Fundamentals by The Expert Academy (Udemy)

Length: 12 weeks

Outcome: Certificate

These free courses focus on teaching you how to become a great leader by speaking with conviction and motivating your team. In addition, you will get access to prerecorded online classes that you can watch at your own pace.

Business Foundations by the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania (Coursera)

Length: 7 months

Outcome: Certificate

This is an online program for beginners who want to understand people management and business marketing. While it is self-paced, a minimum of two hours weekly is all you need to complete the program in seven months.

Fundamentals of Project Planning and Management by the University of Virginia (Coursera)

Length: 8 hours

Outcome: Certificate

This is one of the fastest programs to complete. You can either take it all at once or break it up. It prepares you for a future career in product management. You will learn how to plan and execute projects while coordinating an entire team across different departments.

Diploma in Operations Management by Alison

Length: 10 hours

Outcome: Diploma

In just six to 10 hours, you can earn a free diploma that teaches you the fundamentals of operations management, a vital aspect of any business. The program is accredited by the CPD (Continuing Professional Development) Certification Service.

Choosing the Right Business Program

Choosing the Right Software Engineering Program

What should you consider when you’re choosing a business program? Well, the first thing that counts is your current level of education. The program an undergraduate or someone with a high school diploma will opt for is different from a postgraduate or professional program. You should also consider the cost, duration, and reputation of the school.


Not all programs cost the same. However, the most expensive one isn’t necessarily the best. Make sure you find out more about the school rather than making your choice based on cost alone.


If you have a day job, you need to consider the duration of the program since it is a vital factor for determining flexibility. Most certificate programs for postgraduates on this list run for two to 18 months. Undergraduate programs may last for less time.


A business certificate from Harvard Business School will hold more weight in the United States job market than one from an unknown community college.

How Long Does It Take to Complete a Certificate Program in Business Administration?

A certificate in business administration can run anywhere from six to 24 months. The timeline varies based on the school and the type of program. The good thing is that you can take your classes online for the entire duration. Self-paced options may also be available, depending on the school.

Business Certificate Program Curriculum

There isn’t a universal curriculum for business certificate programs. Instead, each school designs a curriculum based on the in-demand subjects in the given field of business. However, the most popular classes for business administration certificates are listed below.

Principles of Business Management

This is a foundational course that typically covers classes on organizational planning, business culture, and human resources management. In addition, it prepares you for more advanced courses in business administration.

Principles of Marketing

While there are great standalone digital marketing courses online, any business certificate program worth its salt will include an introduction to marketing. Covering both traditional and digital marketing, this module will teach you the core skills required to build and supervise a marketing team or launch a marketing campaign.

Basic Accounting

You need to learn the fundamentals of accounting to succeed in business administration. As the name implies, this course isn’t a deep dive. Only those who choose to specialize in accounting go beyond the core principles.

Business School Accreditation

In every part of the world, accreditation is essential in schools. Schools that don’t have accreditation cannot legally award degrees, diplomas, or certificates. So, if you want your business education to be recognized, make sure that you attend an accredited school.

The United States has regional and national accreditation for higher institutions. While regional associations accredit traditional schools, vocational, technical, and continuing education institutions are usually nationally accredited. The two types of accreditation are equally important.

Within the school, individual programs are also accredited by recognized bodies. For business schools in the United States, the best accreditation is the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

Business Certificate Salary Prospects

Business Certificate Salary Prospects

According to ZipRecruiter, the average salary of someone with a business management certificate is $52,079. However, it could be as high as $114,500 or as low as $21,000, depending on the additional credentials attached.

CPA Director

This is the person who traditionally heads up the accounting department of a business. CPA is an acronym for certified public accountants. An entry-level CPA will have to work their way up to a director role.

Entry-Level Salary: $63,857

Mid-Career Salary: $99,381

Operations Manager

The job includes overseeing operations in an organization to ensure that everything happens smoothly and the expected result is achieved.

Entry-Level Salary: $39,671

Mid-Career Salary: $64,185

Executive Assistant

An assistant might work for a business manager, accountant, sales manager, or human resource manager. Professionals in this role can progress to an executive assistant level.

Entry-Level Salary: $37,166

Mid-Career Salary: $49,074

Business Professional Associations

Apart from getting a certificate, joining a professional business association will help increase your reputation among your peers in the industry. It also helps to boost your resume. Below are some of the best business associations in the United States.

American Management Association (AMA)

This is a non-profit organization with headquarters in New York. It is part of an international body that currently has 25,000 members across 90 countries. AMA-certified professionals prove that they follow the highest standards of analytical intelligence and business acumen.

National Association for Business Economics (NABE)

This is another credible international organization for business professionals. It has been around since 1959, and there are 3,000 members from different parts of the world. Members of this association are globally recognized in their field.

Should I Pursue a Business Certificate Program Online?

Yes, you should. An online business certificate program will help you boost your knowledge and resume wherever you are in the world. There are options for business professionals, non-business professionals, undergraduates, and postgraduate students.

The proper business certificate will help you run your business with more efficiency if you’re an entrepreneur. Business managers within the corporate world will also benefit significantly from the upgrade that comes with a new certificate.

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