Certified Business Advisor® Certificate | Kent State University

A female consultant works with a male client.The Certified Business Advisor® (CBA) is an on-demand, self-paced eLearning certification program specially designed for professionals who advise small business owners.

CBA® is designed for maximum on-the-job performance and provides assurance to clients that its graduates have the business skills, competency and knowledge to effectively counsel, guide and inform entrepreneurs.

View CBA® Registration Information


  • Provides assurance to clients that CBA® graduates have the business skills, competency and knowledge to effectively counsel, guide and inform entrepreneurs
  • Serves as a review of knowledge obtained through education and experience.  CBA® is, in essence, a proficiency exam, and reaffirms the Business Advisor’s knowledge in business basics
  • Contains travel costs and reduces time away from the office
  • Is designed to be applied immediately in the workplace. Students can integrate the material into their jobs while learning instead of waiting until the class ends.  Work and learning become one and the same
  • Answers the need for lifelong learning. CBA® provides a framework for continuing professional development by requiring additional continuing education annually to maintain certification
  • Graduates will receive a certificate of completion issued by Kent State University


  • Kent State University, an AACSB-accredited university, (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) awards CBA® certification, thereby validating its objectivity and integrity
  • The College of Business Administration at Kent State University is among fewer than 1% of business schools worldwide to receive dual AACSB accreditation in both business and accounting
  • Kent State’s MBA and EMBA programs are ranked Tier One globally by CEO Magazine. The College is ranked as a top business college in Ohio and the number is ranked as one of the nation's most outstanding business schools, according to The Princeton Review
  • CBA® is a graduate-level certification program, implemented by graduate-level professors using graduate school standards in both course development and grading

Ohio Small Business Development Center, Certified Business Advisor and U.S. Small Business Administration logos. Ohio Development Services Agency

We are excited for your interest in CBA® and hope you find it fulfilling. The following 15 steps have been compiled to help make CBA® an efficient, effective and positive experience.



Download the CBA® Guidelines for Ohio and Out-of-State SBDCs (.docx)


Download the CBA® Guidelines for EAN-ESP-MBAC-MEP-PTAC & Public (.docx)





Ohio SBDC Employees (6 months)

Non-Ohio SBDC; Partner Organizations; Public Professionals (1 year)



November 1, 2017





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January 1, 2018





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September 1, 2018






The CBA Marketing course provides a comprehensive overview of all aspects of marketing, including strategic planning and the marketing plan; marketing research, feasibility studies and the marketing plan; customer relationship marketing and understanding the consumer; segmentation, target marketing and positioning; product planning and development, pricing, distribution and promotion management including digital marketing.

These concepts are especially important for those hoping to help small businesses, as marketing is often a mystery to small business owner and managers. In today’s “white-water rapids” competitive environment, it is likely that your clients are operating in white water rapids. They need to make plans and implement them, while watching for rapidly occurring changes in competition, regulations and legislation, the economy, in society and in technology. Any plans they make almost certainly will not last as the environment changes and they adapt (or sink). A comprehensive understanding of marketing is essential to small business success.

This course is comprised of nine (9) sessions:

  • SESSION 1: Introduction to Marketing
  • SESSION 2: Strategic Planning, Marketing Plan and Portfolio Models
  • SESSION 3: Market Feasibility Study and Marketing Information
  • SESSION 4: Customer Relationship Marketing (CRM) and Consumer Behavior
  • SESSION 5: Market Segmentation, Market Targeting and Positioning
  • SESSION 6: Product Management
  • SESSION 7: Pricing Management
  • SESSION 8: Place Management
  • SESSION 9: Promotion Management


The CBA Accounting and Finance course provides an overview of essential issues regarding the areas of accounting and finance. The objective of the course is to impart enough information and develop sufficient basic skill to allow the student to understand the impact that these subject matters have on the small business. After all, lack of an understanding of, or lack of financial information in general, represent major causes of business failure.

In this course the topics of business organization, accounting, tax, business planning, financial statement analysis and other specialized analytical techniques are covered. This course is one of the more quantitative courses that are in the course. The work in this course will require effort by the students to work out problems using basic mathematic skills and to learn more advanced analytical techniques based upon those skills.

This course is comprised of seven (7) sessions:

  • SESSION 1: Business Entities and Employment Taxes
  • SESSION 2: Business Planning
  • SESSION 3: Financial Statements
  • SESSION 4: Financial Projections and Cash Flows
  • SESSION 5: Financial Statement Analysis
  • SESSION 6: Break Even Analysis
  • SESSION 7: Sources of Financing


The CBA Human Resources course offers a comprehensive review of major concepts in the area of human resource management. Particular focus is given to competitive advantage derived from improvement upon HR planning, selection, recruitment, training and compensation practices. Vignettes related to the hiring, management and termination of people in the workplace will be offered as a means to delve into topics from both a practical and theoretical perspective.

This course is comprised of ten (10) sessions:

  • SESSION 1: Analyzing Job and Task Requirements
  • SESSION 2: Employment Laws and Compliance
  • SESSION 3: Accessing Needs and Recruiting for Employees
  • SESSION 4: Applicant Testing and Selection
  • SESSION 5: Training and Development
  • SESSION 6: Compensation and Total Rewards
  • SESSION 7: Employee Benefits
  • SESSION 8: Safety and Health
  • SESSION 9: Performance Management
  • SESSION 10: Labor and Employee Relations


To pass each course, you will be required to have an overall average minimum grade of 80% and no session grade below 70% which is the usual level for a graduate course.

If you receive a grade of less than 70%, a retake exam is necessary and must be taken before you are allowed to take the next exam or continue to the next session or course.

If you receive multiple grades of 70% or above, but the grades do not average to 80% or above for the entire class, you will be required to retake each exam until the overall average is 80% or above before moving on to the next session or course.

This makes it easier for you to learn, understand, and retain the concepts being taught rather than waiting until completion of the program. It is also easier for you to increase your grade this way.

NOTE: Each participant will be allowed to retake one exam at no charge. If more than one retake is required, the CBA® candidate will need to register again for that course and pay the course registration fee of $500.

More information regarding grading can be found within the GUIDELINES section of the site.


"As an independent CPA operating a public accounting practice in the Tampa Bay, Florida area, I regularly receive phone calls from entrepreneurs who need assistance with startup, marketing, accounting and operational issues. In order to better position myself as a small business advisor to guide these small business clients, I recognized the need to become certified in this area. Since completing this program, I have more knowledge and confidence to consult with my small business clients in order to help them to run a successful business. I would highly recommend this program to anyone who provides consulting services to small businesses."

Linda A. Stortz, CPA, MAcc

Certified Business Advisor®
Advanced Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor

Seminole, Florida 

Questions? You're in the right place. If you can't find what you're looking for, contact us.


When can I register for CBA®?

We have worked to keep registration as flexible as possible, especially for those working professionals. There will be a one-week registration/enrollment period each month. Refer to the schedule under the Guidelines tab.

View Registration Information

What is the CBA® registration fee?

The registration fees have been designed so that you have the option of taking one or two courses to heighten your knowledge in a topic(s) of special interest or one that needs development or you may take all three (3) courses to become fully certified. To see the schedule of registration fees, visit www.kent.edu/cba, then click the Registration Info tab.

Do I receive a certificate for CBA® certification?

Those who successfully pass individual courses will receive a Course Certificate of Completion. Upon successful completion of all three (3) courses, CBA® graduates will be issued a certificate under the banner of Kent State University College of Business Administration, Graduate Certificate. This certificate will be signed by the Dean of the college, authenticating and verifying successful completion of CBA®.

Does the CBA® certification expire?

To ensure CBA graduates are up-to-date on the latest industry trends, lending opportunities, and relevant regulations impacting small business, CBA® graduates are required to complete 20 hours of continuing education per year.

Exception: SBDC Directors will determine the number of annual continuing education hours.

Who developed the CBA®?

CBA® was developed by and for Small Business Development Center (SBDC) advisors. For over 20 years, the Certified Business Advisor® program has been used by 20 state SBDCs to improve their networks’ professional knowledge, competence, skill and effectiveness in helping thousands of small businesses start, grow and thrive.

How is the curriculum structured?

The CBA program offers a concise, yet comprehensive up-to-date curriculum designed for maximum on-the-job performance. The instructors, who are required to have business experience in addition to graduate level teaching experience, emphasize application as well as theory.

Courses are segmented by discipline, i.e., distinct areas of study, which were produced specifically for small business and entrepreneurship development including Human Resource Management, Marketing, and Accounting/Finance. For more information on learning objectives and specific sessions, please visit the Courses tab.

What is the registration cancellation policy?

If you need to withdraw from the program, refunds must be requested in writing to the Office of Continuing and Distance Education. No cancellations and refunds will be accepted after the program begins.

Contact the Office of Continuing Education

How are CBA® Learning Courses Graded?

  • Each session of each course will be "graded" through a written assignment or exam (essay or multiple choice). Each course has about eight sessions
  • To pass the course, you will be required to have an overall average minimum grade of 80% and no session grade below 70% which is the usual level for a graduate course
  • If you receive a grade of less than 70%, a retake exam is necessary and must be taken before you are allowed to take the next exam or continue to the next course. This makes it easier for you to learn, understand and retain the concepts being taught rather than waiting until completion of the course. It is also easier for you to increase your grade this way

NOTE: Each participant will be allowed to retake one session in each course at no charge. If more than one retake is required, the CBA® candidate will need to register again for that course and pay the course registration fee of $500

Can I 'Test out' of CBA®?

CBA® candidates will not have the option to “test out.” CBA® is not a traditional “correspondence course” using a simple read-and-answer mode of learning. CBA® employs multimedia instruction to enhance the learning process—consequently making “testing out” extremely difficult, if not impossible.

When will CBA® Learning Courses become available to begin?

October 1, 2017

How long will it take to complete the CBA® Learning Courses?

Since CBA® is self-paced, the timeline for completion is largely dependent on the candidate’s level of knowledge in each discipline and a number of responsibilities s/he has on the job. There are approximately nine (9) hours of recorded lecture in each course in addition to the required readings. In Ohio, we require our newly hired advisors to complete the program within six (6) months; however, we give each state/center director full discretion in developing a reasonable time frame for their staff. Business professionals in the private sector have the option of setting and meeting their own personal deadlines.

If you have additional questions regarding the CBA®, here's where you can reach us. We'd be happy to answer your questions.



Have questions regarding the registration process?

View CBA® Registration Information