Online Master's Degree Programs

Online masters programs offer working students the opportunity to earn a graduate degree through web-based technology.

Studies report not only that certain professions may require a masters degree for entry-level jobs, but also that earning a graduate degree might lead to higher wages.i Join the ranks of other driven students and consider the large variety of online master degree programs.

Online masters degree cap and graduate certificate

About Online Master's Degree Programs

Many universities and colleges have both residential and online master's programs which one might pursue on a full-time or part-time basis. Today, an increasing number of adult learners are turning to the online option.ii Applicants to online master degree programs should have first earned an undergraduate degree. As with traditional masters programs, an online master program may take anywhere from one to two years to complete full-time. Some universities may offer an online dual degree that combines both a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree. These may take longer. Furthermore, duration may vary between graduate schools and the type of degree you work towards.


In fall 2013, there were 5,522,194 students enrolled in any distance education courses at degree-granting post-secondary institutions.iii

Who Might Consider Earning a Master's Degree Online?

There are many different groups that might benefit from the convenience of distance learning. An online Masters degree program could be a great option for any of the following.

  • Undergraduates returning for a graduate degree
  • Professionals returning to update skills or change careers
  • Working students who want to balance job and study
  • Students out of geographical proximity to a masters degree program of interest
  • Students returning to finish their degree
  • Students who have family duties and demands
  • Students who are autonomous and self-motivated
  • Working students who
  • travel and need the convenience of studying from a laptop

Try a MicroMasters Program

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If you are a professional and can’t take time off to earn a traditional master's degree, a MicroMasters program may be an accessible and affordable option.

Types of Online Master Degrees: MA, MS, MBA, MFA, MPS

The online master's degree in itself is a “second-cycle” or graduate degree that is awarded to students who have demonstrated “mastery” in their academic field.ii Within this tier of education, you can find different types of online master's degree programs. Types of master degrees online are:

Sometimes you have a choice between ‘tracks’ and you should spend some time researching the curricula and possible outcomes of the various online masters programs. This should give you a feel for whether it aligns with your goals. For instance, are you using the Master’s degree as a stepping stone to a Ph.D.? Do you aspire to enter the workplace after graduation? These are some things to consider when it is appropriate. We recommend you use the ‘request info’ tab to contact each graduate school and ask questions to help with your choice.

Potential Features of Online Masters Programs

While each university may define and format their online masters programs differently, the term “distance-learning” commonly means that the graduate student and his or her professor are separated by space, or by both time and space. As such, some of the potential features of earning an online master degree could include those listed below.ii

  • Course material delivered online
  • Use of digital cameras and other technology
  • Use of special software, pre-recorded video, live streaming video
  • One-way video and two-way audio for live lectures and class participation
  • Assembling on different campus sites to see and hear a lecture transmitted via television monitor
  • Using a common web browser to view and listen to pre-taped lectures
  • Lecture notes and web pages to complement textbook readings and assignments
  • Electronic discussion boards, chat rooms, email, telephone, group projects to facilitate interaction and feedback between classmates and student to professor
  • Turn in assignments by mail or online course management system
  • Fully online (100%) or partially online (some campus courses)

Many Possible Options for Online Master's Programs

Use our subject selection for live links to Master Programs Online in the following broad categories. Then narrow your search when there are sub categories. You can then browse suggestions of sponsored listings.

  • Online Business Master’s Degree Programs (e.g. Online MBA, Online Master of Science in Finance, Executive Master of Health Administration, Online Master of Science in Accounting, Online Master of Public Administration)
  • Online Criminal Justice & Legal Master’s Degree Programs (e.g. Online MPA-Criminal Justice, Online MSL-Master of Science in Law, Online MS-Criminal Justice-Cybercrime and Technology)
  • Online Education Master’s Degree Programs (e.g. Online Master of Arts in Special Education, Online Master of Science in Educational Administration)
  • Online Fine Arts & Design Master’s Degree Programs (e.g. Online M.S. in Interior Architecture, Online MFA in Media Design, Online MS in Information Technology- Game Design & Development)
  • Online Health & Medicine Master’s Degree Programs (e.g. Online MPH, Online MSN, Online Executive Master of Healthcare Administration)
  • Online Liberal Arts & Humanities Master’s Degree Programs (e.g. Online MFA in Creative Writing, Online Master of Arts in Public Relations, Online M.S. in Communication)
  • Online Math, Science & Engineering Master’s Degree Programs (e.g. Online Master of Mathematics, Online M.S. in Information Technology Data Analytics, Online Master of Engineering in Engineering Management, Online Master of Aerospace Engineering)
  • Online Public Affairs & Social Sciences Master’s Degree Programs (e.g. Online Master of Public Administration, Online M.A. Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Online Master of Arts in Psychology-General Psychology)
  • Online Religious Studies Master’s Degree Programs (e.g Online M.A. in Ministry, Online Master of Divinity, Online Master of Arts in Theology)
  • Online Technology Master’s Degree Programs (e.g. Master of Science in Business Intelligence & Analytics, Online Master of Library Science, Online Masters of Professional Studies, Technology Management).  

What Should I Look For in An Online Masters Program

Your search for masters programs online may lead you to colleges, universities, for profit companies and virtual universities. So how might you ensure a quality education?

Accredited Online Masters Degree Programs

One of the things to consider is accreditation. Accredited graduate schools have demonstrated that they meet industry standards. You can look for regional accreditation, national accreditation and professional accreditation. The U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation are good resources.

Faculty, Curriculum & Course Content

Another factor to consider when searching for an online Masters program or degree is how the courses, curriculum and faculty handle the online delivery method so you ensure your own educational needs are met. Often distance learning programs are mirrors of residential ones, but this is a good thing to verify.

Technical Support

If you are enrolling in an online Masters program, make sure you understand the technologies involved and that your graduate school has tech support. Sometimes there is an orientation for new students which could be beneficial to you.

Take the Next Step

Enrolling in an online Masters degree program can be an exciting way to advance your education! Use our helpful navigation menus to refine your search and remember to reach out to your preferred graduate schools. There are deadlines to consider and you want to ensure you have all the important aspects of your application lined up.

sources: [i] |[ii] |[iii]