Many online entrepreneurs may feel like they have earned an ecommerce degree from the school of hard knocks. However, for those interested in a more traditional education experience, there are degree programs specializing in ebusiness.
Bachelor and master’s degrees in ecommerce are available at a select group of institutions, but there aren’t as many universities offering ecommerce degree programs as there once were.
The Internet business frenzy of the late 1990s also swept through various colleges and universities by prompting educational institutions to develop programs that focused on ebusiness. After the dot com bust in 2000, many ecommerce degree programs lost their luster and were quietly dropped from course catalogs.
The degree program at Champlain College in Vermont is one that survived, and it offers a bachelor of science degree in ebusiness management. It offers online courses for students throughout the United States, and it also offers a more traditional college experience at its campus in Burlington.
“Our program has been here for seven years now,” said Elaine Young, ebusiness management program director at Champlain. “It is the program that I believe is the perfect intersection between traditional business, technology and marketing — all the skills that students need to be successful as they walk out with a degree.”
Young said many students involved with Champlain’s program are already focused on launching an online business, and they are just looking for the educational experience to help with their entrepreneurial endeavor.
She said many students enroll saying, “I want to start my own business, I want to use the Internet to do it and this is the program that’s going to help me get there.”
One recent graduate of Champlain’s program launched his online business while at the university. Pete Jewett, 24, co-founder and chief information officer of Gotradingpost.com, had already launched one online business before starting Champlain, but used his experience at the school to fine-tune his business goals.
He said that, since the college designs the ebusiness program with such flexibility, he was able to tailor the experience to help build a new ebusiness.
“It makes it nice because your studies can be almost 50/50 theory and practice,” Jewett said. “You go to class, you learn, you go back at night and you hack away on your computer doing whatever your ecommerce business is. It is not a matter of just sitting there pondering how your business is going to run. Every time the teachers say ‘ROI’ or ‘keyword campaign,’ you would know exactly what they are talking about, and you can compare it to actual real-world experiences rather than just looking in a book, nodding your head and hoping you remember it for the quiz.”
Many universities have eliminated undergraduate degrees in ecommerce, and, instead, include the topic as part of the general course load for a business degree.
For those interested in more colleges and universities that offer online or on-campus ebusiness degrees, visit Worldwidelearn.com.
“In most textbooks that have content related to marketing, there is also emarketing that is in there, or a business law course also contains information about ebusiness problems,” said Dr. Karen Smith, dean of academic affairs at Columbia Southern University. “[Ecommerce] has been incorporated across the curriculum because it is just a normal way of doing business.”
For those looking for an advanced degree in ecommerce, Columbia Southern University offers a master’s of business administration (MBA) with an emphasis in ebusiness and technology. The 37-hour master’s program blends 25 course hours for the MBA and adds 12 hours for the online emphasis.
The program at Columbia is only offered online, and is specifically designed to accommodate the schedules of working professionals.
Smith noted traditional-aged college students are much more familiar with the Internet and online activity, but adults, who didn’t grow up in the Internet Age, often need specific ebusiness courses to round out their education and be competitive in today’s business environment.
“For the adult learners who need a more focused understanding of an ecommerce environment and technology, they have the option to take four additional courses in a concentration that will allow them to better specialize and understand how this type of structure functions in today’s business environment,” Smith said.