Best Online Bachelor's Degrees in Retail Management

Oct 20, 2021

Online Retail Management Degree Overview

Students who want to study the dynamics of the retail industry and learn how to improve their retail skills can pursue an online degree in retail management. Degree options are available at all levels including associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctorate. There are also certificates in retail management available.

Online Associate Degrees in Retail Management

An online associate degree in retail management can help a student increase their potential for career advancement in the retail industry. Online retail management programs are usually flexible and affordable with multiple start dates and low-cost tuition. Students will likely earn an Associate of Arts (AS) degree.

For an associate degree in retail management, a student will typically need to take about 60 credit hours of classes. This can usually be completed in four semesters. However, some schools may have accelerated programs that allow students to take classes year-round.

Common courses in a retail management program will include economics, algebra, introduction to business, and marketing. An associate degree in retail management provides a foundation for a future bachelor's degree or other advanced degrees in similar fields.

Online Bachelor's Degrees in Retail Management

There are a wide range of online bachelor's degree programs in retail management available. These programs give students the flexibility they need to earn their degree, while still working and attending to other obligations. A typical online bachelor's degree program will include about 120 credits worth of classes. Some schools award Bachelor of Arts (BA) degrees in Retail Management, while others may call them something specific, like a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA).

Depending on the school, coursework may include around 40 classes spread over eight semesters. Some schools may have flexible start times with shorter timeframes for classes. This may allow a student to complete their degree faster. Another option for finishing faster is with applicable transfer credits.

With a bachelor's degree in retail management, a student should be able to evaluate retail operations, assess competitive marketplaces, and form retail strategies. A degree in retail management can lead to careers in marketing, sales, and purchasing.

Online Master's Degrees in Retail Management

If students are interested in pursuing advanced degrees in retail management and related fields, there are online degree programs available. Online master's degrees in retail management can help a student gain an in-depth understanding of product development, branding, merchandising, and global markets. An advanced degree in retail management will likely be a Master of Science (MS) degree.

Online master's degree programs will typically take about two years to complete. However, some programs may allow you to complete the program faster. Master's degree programs will give students some flexibility to choose more specialized classes. This could include classes in financial management, e-retailing, and marketing. In total, students will need to complete about 60 credit hours of classes.

With a master's degree in retail management, a student could pursue a career as a corporate executive, sales representative, educator, or merchandise manager.

Online Doctoral Degrees in Retail Management

There are not many online doctoral degree programs in retail management. However, there are doctoral programs available in the broader field of management, referred to as a Doctor of Management (DMGT) degree. These programs can prepare a student with advanced critical thinking skills for a fast-paced business environment. Some programs offer specialization or concentration options, which can then be focused on the retail side of business.

A typical online doctoral degree program in management will include at least 60 credit hours, but some may require more. Some programs will also require a research project, dissertation, or residency. The average time to complete an online doctoral degree is about three years. Typical classes may include research methods, management theory, and leadership development.

Online Certificates in Retail Management

For students looking to advance their skills in retail management without earning a degree, there are online certificate options available. There are options for students who do not have a college degree and those who have at least a bachelor's degree.

The basic retail management certificate is geared towards helping students learn the skills they need to succeed in retail positions in grocery stores, retail stores, and customer service. A typical certificate program will include about 24 credits worth of classes, which can be completed in one year. Many of these classes could be transferred towards a future associate or bachelor's degree.

A graduate retail management certificate will help a student develop their analytical skills in areas like marketing, human resources, and technology. Typical graduate programs will include about 12 credit hours of classes that can be completed in less than a year.

Best Bachelor's Degrees in Retail Management has researched degree programs from universities across the country to create a list of the best bachelor's degree programs in retail management. We have searched through statistics and research, including data points from the Department of Education, plus several unique factors such as student-run professional organizations, study abroad options, internships, and tuition rates. If you are looking for a program in retail management, this list is a great starting point.

1. University of South Carolina

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$12,688 69% 77% 95% Yes Yes AP Credits

The University of South Carolina, located in Columbia, South Carolina, offers a Bachelor of Science in Retailing with concentrations in Retail Management or Fashion Merchandising and Digital Innovation. The retail management concentration allows students to focus on sales, customer service, and strategy while networking in one of the many on-campus professional student organizations, like the Women in Retailing living and learning community or the National Retail Federation. USC also boasts a dedicated team of internship directors to help students maximize program internships at a variety of locations such as Macy's, Under Armour, and Ralph Lauren.

2. Central Washington University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$8,273 85% 58% 90% Yes Yes AP Credits

Central Washington University, in Ellensburg, Washington, presents a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology and Administrative Management (ITAM) with a specialization in Retail Management Technology, with options for online and flexible scheduling for students in addition to in-person class schedules. CWU offers an extensive study abroad program where students use skills gained from their program in countries like Peru, Spain, and Central Europe. The university also provides students a unique ITAM-specific internship resource center to help students plan for internships early and start the application process.

To get a more in-depth look at our school ranking methodology, please visit's ranking methodology page.

Tuition information is based on published tuition and required fees, per data by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

Curriculum/Coursework for a Retail Management Degree

Coursework for an online bachelor's degree in retail management will cover a variety of topics. Students will need to complete around 120 credit hours of classes. Of that, about 30 credits will be general education classes in subjects like history, art, science, and communications. Major requirements will constitute the remainder of the necessary credits. Common courses in retail management include the following:

  • Retail management
  • Social media strategy or marketing
  • Marketing communications or strategy
  • Retail merchandising

Along with the core major requirements, a bachelor's degree in retail management will also include some major electives. This will allow a student to focus on their preferred area, such as marketing or digital retailing.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Bachelor's in Retail Management?

A typical online bachelor's degree in retail management will take about four years to complete. However, some schools may have opportunities available for accelerated learning. This may include any transfer credits, credits for work experience, frequent course starts, and taking classes year-round.

Most bachelor's degree programs require about 120 credit hours. This will include general education credits, major requirements, and major electives. Depending on the school, a bachelor's degree may include about 40 classes.

Accreditation for Online Bachelor's in Retail Management Degrees

An important step in choosing an online bachelor's degree in retail management is making sure the college or university is accredited. Accreditation is either regional, national, and/or programmatic. It helps ensure a school and degree program meet the same high-quality standards as other schools. Choosing an accredited university ensures quality education, while also making sure a student is eligible for federal financial aid.

Accreditation is offered through independent, third-party organizations. Common regional accreditation organizations include the Higher Learning Commission, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, and the New England Commission of Higher Education. Some business schools and programs, which retail management falls under have specific programmatic accreditation organizations, such as the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

Retail Management Licensure & Certification

There are no licensure requirements for general retail management positions. However, those in the field of retail management can become a Certified Retail Management Expert (CRME) if they wish to appeal to current and future employers. This certification is available to anyone with a bachelor's degree, at least one year of experience in a retail management position, and at least 25 hours of project management training. Applicants will need to pass the CRME exam, which does include a fee. Once issued, members will need to recertify every four years to maintain their status.

Retail Management Career Information

There are a wide range of career options available to students who pursue a degree in retail management. At the entry-level position, this could include roles as a retail assistant manager, an assistant buyer, or merchandise representative. More advanced career options include retail manager, retail sales consultant, buyer, and district manager.

How to Become a Retail Manager

One of the most common careers for anyone with a degree in retail management is a sales or retail manager. In this role, an individual will help resolve customer issues, monitor general sales staff, plan training programs, and analyze sales trends. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the median pay in 2019 for sales managers was $126,640 per year. The states with the highest annual mean wage include New York, Delaware, and New Jersey.

To become a retail manager, a prospective employee must have at least a high school diploma; however, many positions will require an associate or bachelor's degree. Students should get a degree in retail management or a related field. Their studies should focus on general business practices, finance, marketing, and accounting. Most retail management positions will require at least 1 to 5 years of experience in the retail industry.

How to Become a Retail Sales Consultant

Another popular career in the retail management industry is a retail sales consultant or retail sales worker. This would be a general employee at most retail stores where consumers shop. For anyone interested in becoming a retail sales consultant, no formal educational training is required. However, having an associate or bachelor's degree may help. Once hired, an individual will receive on-the-job training.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay, as reported in 2019, for retail sales workers was $25,440 per year. The job outlook between 2019 and 2029 is 0%, meaning there will be little to no change in the projected employment. The states with the highest annual mean wage for retail sales workers include the District of Columbia, Washington, and Connecticut.

Career Advancement in Retail Management

For anyone looking to advance their career in retail management beyond an entry-level position, there are a few paths that they can take. After working for a few years as a retail sales consultant or retails sales worker, there may be opportunities to pursue a position as a retail sales manager. While no degree is required to start in the retail industry, an associate or bachelor's degree may help make a job candidate more desirable for management positions.

For senior-level positions, job candidates should have an advanced degree. This could be a master's or doctorate in a business-related field. Some senior positions include district manager or store director. Strong skills in communication, leadership, and strategy are an important part of retail management career advancement. Professional certification or membership could also help advance careers.

Professional Organizations in Retail Management

There are a variety of professional organizations available for those in the retail management industry. Membership in these organizations can provide networking opportunities and other professional support.

  • American Collegiate Retail Association (ACRA) - This group aims to improve retail education for both undergraduate and graduate degrees. To join the organization, there is an online registration process. This gives anyone access to the member information.
  • American Marketing Association (AMA) - For anyone who focuses their career on marketing, the AMA can provide professional support. There is a fee to join; however, members have access to certification classes, academic journals, training, and other marketing tools.
  • International Textile and Apparel Association (ITAA) - This professional organization is available to anyone in the textile industry including educators, students, and retailers. Members have access to a network of like-minded professionals, textile industry news, networking, and grant opportunities.

Financial Aid and Scholarship Information for Retail Management Degrees

All students should consider applying for financial aid and scholarships to help with tuition and other costs. The first step in the financial aid process is completing the FAFSA (free application for federal student aid). College financial aid departments will use the information from the FAFSA to help students determine what kind of aid they are eligible for, whether that is grants, scholarships, or loans. In addition to aid that is available to all students, there are also scholarships specifically for students pursuing degrees in retail management.

  • Illuminators Scholarship - This scholarship awards more than $100,000 each year to high school seniors and undergraduate students pursuing degrees in food-related industries. Specifically, $25,000 is set aside each year for students in the Retail Management Certificate Program.
  • Tennessee Grocers Education Foundation - This scholarship is available to students in the Retail Management Certificate program. It awards up to $200 per term in tuition reimbursement. Students are eligible to receive up to $600 per year.
  • California Grocers Association -The California Grocers Association (CGA) awards more than $500,000 in scholarships each year. These scholarships are available for high school seniors and undergraduate students who are children or dependents of GCA employees. Scholarships are awarded based on leadership potential, character, and academic merit.
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