A self-paced master’s degree is designed for adult learners who may not be able to dedicate themselves to a regular course load or structure while pursuing their degree, preferring instead to engage in flexible learning where they can work at any time.
As more top universities recognize how difficult it is for some students to fit the pursuit of a master’s degree into the real world of their professional and personal responsibilities, self-paced programs are being offered at more institutions and they’re offering more master’s degrees, including self paced masters degree online programs.
Continue reading to read about best self-paced programs online and on campus and learn about nine universities offering self-paced master’s degrees.
Did You Know?
The number of master’s degrees conferred from 2000-2001 to 2015-2016 increased 66%, or from 474,000 to 786,000.i
Universities with Self-Paced Master’s Degree Programs Online & On-Campus
While many universities offer online master’s degrees or at least some type of hybrid learning for your degree, the nine listed below offer a variety of self-paced learning options that allow you to take courses at your convenience - including self paced masters degree online options.
Check out any of the sponsored listings below by clicking on any of the links for the universities or for the specific programs to learn how to apply.
With more than 3,000 campus students and more than 80,000 online students, plus an alumni network of more than 84,000, Southern New Hampshire University is one of the fastest growing universities in the nation.
SNHU offers a variety of master’s degrees that can be earned in as little as 15 months with two courses per ten-week term. Or, you can take one course per term and earn your degree on your schedule.
Some of the more than 100 master’s degrees available at SNHU are:
Purdue University Globalserves 30,000 students and is an adult-serving public university that focuses on convenient online degrees in career-oriented fields of study.
Purdue University Global offers online master’s degrees that can be earned in about two years or longer, depending on the flexible scheduling you choose.. Or, you can take one course per term and earn your degree on your schedule.
Some of the dozens of master’s degrees available at Purdue University Global include:
- M.S. Accounting
- M.S. Homeland Security
- M.S. Health Education
- Master of Public Administration
- M.S. Psychology
For the past 45 years, Walden University has been serving the higher education needs of adult learners. Today, Walden serves students from all 50 states and more than 150 countries from around the world through programs that reflect current market trends and promote positive social change.
Tempo Learning, Walden’s self-paced learning format, is an innovative and custom way to complete your degree. These programs allow you to use real-world experience to potentially speed your progress through a curriculum that can be applied to your job immediately.
Some of the Tempo Learning programs are:
- Master of Public Health (M.P.H.) – General
- Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) – Self-Designed
- M.S. in Instructional Design and Technology – Online Learning
Other online programs:
At Northeastern University, students receive more than an education. They gain relevant, real-world skills and experience through the school’s signature experiential learning model that combines academic scholarship and professional practice.
With some master’s degrees that can be completed in as little as 16 months.
Northeastern offers a variety of programs that you can pursue at a pace that works best for you, such as:
- Master of Science in Criminal Justice Leadership
- Master of Science in Corporate and Organizational Communication
- Master of Science in Applied Nutrition
- Master of Science in Project Management (ALIGN)
- Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Informatics
#5: Grand Canyon University
Grand Canyon University offers over 200 academic programs across nine colleges and various online learning platforms. GCU is Arizona’s premier private Christian university earning regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and its predecessor since 1968.
GCU expects to grow to 25,000 students within the next five years and have invested approximately $1 billion in campus and academic infrastructure.
Some of GCU's programs are:
Indiana Wesleyan University was founded in 1920 and is committed to liberal arts and professional education as a Christian comprehensive university of The Wesleyan Church. Ranked as “one of the best Master’s universities in the Midwest", Indiana Wesleyan University has an enrollment of nearly 3,000 students and one of the largest private colleges in Indiana.
IWU offers more than 80 undergraduate degrees, 38 graduate degrees, and 5 doctorate degrees. The university receives national attention for its innovative adult education program with over 10,000 adult learners in education centers in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, and online.
Some of these programs are:
- Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership
- Graduate Teaching Certificate – Biology
- M.S. Nursing – Associate to Master’s – Nursing Administration
- Master of Business Administration
The Northwestern University School of Continuing Studies offers a supportive, collaborative environment that allow students to balance their personal and professional lives with the pursuit of learning.
Adult learners have been a core part of Northwestern’s mission for more than 80 years. As a result, the school offers a variety of programs that combine online technology with the interactivity of the classroom, all around your busy schedule.
Some of these programs are:
Offering more than 550 programs of study, and with an alumni network of more than 250,000, Liberty University provides a world-class education with a solid Christian foundation and is committed to academic excellence.
Many of the master’s degrees at Liberty can be earned in as little as 12 months. Or, you can pursue these programs at your own pace through flexible programs designed to allow you to work while pursuing your degree.
Some of these programs are:
- Master of Business Administration (MBA): Leadership
- Master of Arts (MA): Marriage and Family Therapy
- Master of Arts (MA): Strategic Communication
- Master of Education (Med): Teaching and Learning: Early Childhood Education
- Master of Public Administration (MPA): Law and Public Policy
As the nation’s first state university to open its doors, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill serves as an educational and economic beacon for the people of North Carolina and beyond. In addition, the faculty at UNC is dedicated to innovation, excellence in their teaching, and have made discoveries that touch every aspect of society.
UNC also offers a growing selection of online graduate programs designed for students to complete at their own pace. Some of these degrees are:
Self-Paced Learning Definition
Self-paced learning provides students the flexibility to make their own schedules while pursuing a degree. Most of these are online programs that not only allow you to perform your coursework and post assignments at your convenience, but also dictate your course schedule.
While every university has a unique design for their self-paced offerings, some allow you to complete courses in as little or as much time as it takes you. Others offer you the option to take as many courses as you feel comfortable during each term.
While these programs can be a great option for busy people looking to earn a degree, you still need to make sure that you meet all of the required deadlines for each of your courses so that you earn full credit.
How Self-Paced Learning Has Changed Over the Years
While self-paced learning has been around in some form since the 1700s when private correspondence courses were advertised in the Boston Gazette, it didn’t really take off until the internet became readily available.
Since then, wi-fi, especially in public places and coffee shops, and mobile devices have made self-paced learning, especially in graduate school, even more accessible. And, as we can now be connected wherever we are, it is easier to meet deadlines, perform research, and communicate with peers and professors.
Plus, with more professional and personal responsibilities, self-paced master’s programs allow you the option to take as many or as few online courses or offline courses as you feel comfortable. Some even allow you to complete a course in as little as two weeks.
While many self-paced programs are offered online or in a hybrid format, understand your own learning style to decide whether a campus or distance program is better for you.
Did You Know?
The Society to Encourage Studies at Home, created in 1873, was the first correspondence school in the United States.
Difference Between Self-Paced and Online
Online has some self-paced options, such as performing coursework and posting to message boards whenever it is convenient for you. However, that doesn’t make every online program a self-paced one.
For instance, many online master’s degrees are designed in a similar way and adhere to a similar schedule as on-campus or hybrid programs, which means you take a certain number of courses and complete them in a designated amount of time.
On the other hand, self-paced programs, including self paced online masters degrees are designed to fit into the busy schedule of degree seeking professionals. Some of these programs even allow you to complete a course in as little or as much time as you need to feel comfortable with the material.
Benefits of Self-Paced Master’s Programs
Some of the benefits of self-paced master’s programs are:
- Design your program
- Take as many or as few courses as you’d like
- No stress over deadlines
- Widely accepted by employers
- Perform coursework at your convenience
- May give you a technological edge over brick and mortar graduates
- May offer more interaction between instructor and students
In the table below are a few ideas from partner universities to get you started.
List of Self-Paced Online Master's Degree Programs
|Graduate School||Sample Self-Paced Degrees Awarded|
|1.Southern New Hampshire University||MS Data Analytics, MS Public Health, MS Operations Management|
|2.Purdue University Global||MA Liberal Studies, MSN, MS Homeland Security|
|3.Thomas Edison State University||MA Liberal Studies, MSN, MS Homeland Security|
|4.Wilmington University||MBA Health Care Admin Concentration, MS Applied Technology|
|5.Northwestern University School of Continuing Studies||MS Global Health, MA Public Policy, MS Information Sciences|
|6.Liberty University||MBA, MA Family Therapy, MA Strategic Communication|
|7.University of North Carolina||MSW, MBA, MPA, MS Public Policy|
|8.Walden University||MPH, MBA, MS Instructional Design|
|9.Northeastern University||MS Criminal Justice, MS Applied Nutrition|
Earn a Master’s Degree at Your Pace Today!
Think a self-paced master’s degree online or on-campus is right for you?
Click on any of the sponsored listings on this page, including those listed above, for more information about the degree and the school and how to apply. Or, complete the form on this page to get matched to the perfect program for you!