United States Online Master's Degrees & Programs
Online master degree programs offer working students and professionals the opportunity to earn a graduate degree in a convenient and flexible online format. Studies report that certain professions may require a masters degree for entry-level jobs, and also that earning a master's degree might lead to higher wages.i
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.
What Should I Look For in An Online Masters Program
Your search for online programs may lead you to colleges, universities, for profit companies and virtual universities. So how might you ensure a quality education?
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. Online graduate degrees are gaining respect and becoming very popular and widely accepted. The diploma does not usually stipulate how a student earned their degree but employers may look for accrediation.
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.
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.
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
Types of Online Master Degree Programs
Type of Degree
Online Masters Programs
Online Business Master’s Degree Programs
MBA, MS, Executive Master (EM), MPA
Finance, Business Administration, Health Administration, Accounting, Public Administration
Online Criminal Justice and Legal Master’s Degree Programs
MPA, Master of Science in Law (MSL), MS
Criminal Justice, Law, Cybercrime and Technology
Online Education Master’s Degree Programs
MA, MS, MEd
Special Education, Educational Administration
Online Fine Arts and Design Master’s Degree Programs
MS, MFA, MA
Interior Architecture, Media Design, Information Technology – Game Design and Development
Online Health and Medicine Master’s Degree Programs
Master of Public Health (MPH), Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), EM
Public Health, Nursing, Healthcare Administration
Online Liberal Arts and Humanities Master’s Degree Programs
MFA, MA, MS
Creative Writing, Public Relations, Communication
Online Math, Science, and Engineering Master’s Degree Programs
Master of Mathematics (MMath), MS, Master of Engineering (MEng), Master of Aerospace Engineering (MAE)
Mathematics, Information Technology – Data Analytics, Engineering, Aerospace Engineering
Online Public Affairs and Social Sciences Master’s Degree Programs
MPA, MA, Master of Social Work (MSW)
Public Administration, Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Psychology, Social Work
Online Religious Studies Master’s Degree Programs
MA, Master of Divinity (MDiv)
Ministry, Divinity, Theology
Online Technology Master’s Degree Programs
MS, Master of Library Science (MLIS), MPS
Business Intelligence and Analytics, Library Science, Technology Management
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:
- Online Master of Arts (MA)
- Online Master of Science (MS)
- Online Master of Business Administration (MBA)
- Online Master of Fine Arts (MFA)
- Online Master of Professional Studies (MPS)
- Online Master of Education (MEd)
DID YOU KNOW?
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in the Fall of 2014 -- 25% of graduate students were enrolled in exclusively online courses!
Try a MicroMasters Program
MicroMasters programs are a set of masters-level online courses that help you earn professional credentials and valuable university credits. 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. And now you can test drive a MicroMasters Program for Free!
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)
- Some online masters programs don't require you to take the GRE
5 Careers That Require A Master's Degree
|Career||Median Annual Salary for Master's Degree|
Healthcare Social Workers
Urban and Regional Planners
Narrow Your Search for Online Masters Degree Programs
Enrolling in an online Masters degree program can be an exciting way to advance your education in a flexible format! Remember to check for application deadlines for programs you wish to consider and ensure you have all the important aspects of your application lined up.
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 comparing online programs and schools.
sources: [i] bls.gov/careeroutlook/2015/article/should-i-get-a-masters-degree.htm |[ii] bls.gov/careeroutlook/2001/Summer/art01.pdf |[iii] nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=80 | [i] bls.gov/careeroutlook/2014/article/education-level-and-jobs.htm | [ii] bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/economists.htm#tab-5 | [iii] bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/psychologists.htm#tab-5 | [iv] bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/social-workers.htm#tab-5 | [v] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-nurse-practitioners.htm#tab-5 | [vi] bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/urban-and-regional-planners.htm#tab-5 |
Winthrop University's Master of Arts in Arts Administration combines current theory, academic research and applied practice to develop effective leaders who can work with skill, creative initiative and integrity in nonprofit arts environments.
- Fairfield, CTFairfield, CT
Sacred Heart University
Move up to a leadership role with a sought-after credential. Offering four specializations in Clinical Nurse Leadership, Nursing Management & Executive Leadership, Nursing Education, and Family Nurse Practitioner.
Customize your online MA in Organizational Leadership degree with a concentration in Higher Education-Student Services. This interdisciplinary program combines a keen understanding of human behavior with leadership techniques.
George Mason University
Delivering a diverse skill set with a global perspective, George Mason's online MBA gives students the credentials and confidence to assume critical leadership roles in business, government, and public institutions worldwide. Courses are availabl...
Purdue University's online Master of Science in Education in Learning Design and Technology gives you vital knowledge and innovative techniques to design and deliver effective instructional materials...
Saint Joseph's University
The online Master of Science in Strategic Human Resource Management (MSSHRM) at Saint Joseph’s University is designed for students to obtain competence in the HR field, gain experience in organizational development and learn to help their busin...
The University of Scranton
A modern education that provides a deep focus on hard-to-find financial skills. You'll study a curriculum rooted to the rigor of the Jesuit tradition. Prepare to lead: your career, your team, your company, in just 1 year.
St. John's University
The online Master of Science in Library and Information Science (M.S.L.I.S.) gives you the knowledge to analyze, evaluate and organize information effectively to enhance information delivery...
Loyola University Chicago
Develop linguistic competence and cultural awareness to help Spanish-speaking clients thrive by earning a Bilingual Masters in Social Work online. This unique MSW is taught primarily in Spanish and focuses in Health/Mental Health and Migration Studies.
The George Washington University
The online Master’s in Educational Leadership Administration is designed for teachers and school administrators who want to advance into leadership positions.
Antioch University’s online MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling allows you to channel your passion for helping others into a meaningful and rewarding career as a mental health counselor.
New York Institute Of Technology
Our 30-credit Master of Science in Energy Management degree program gives you the essential tools and knowledge that energy engineers need in developing and implementing policy to improve energy efficiency.
Anna Maria College
Designed with law enforcement officials in mind, Anna Maria College’s Master of Public Administration with a Criminal Justice specialization balances the leadership and organizational aspects of public service with the specific needs of the justi...
Widener University's online Master of Social Work (MSW) is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). It prepares you to improve both your life and the lives of others through clinical social work and social justice.
The Master of Science in Travel and Tourism at Temple University’s School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management is designed to provide an unparalleled opportunity for individuals to meet the needs of the fast-paced travel and tourism in...
University of Hartford
The MSAT program is designed for students who seek to develop or advance a career in professional accounting or taxation in industry, public accounting, government, or not-for-profit organizations.
James Madison University
James Madison University is one of the original 7 National Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance/Cyber Defense, designated by NSA and DHS...
Our Lady of the Lake University
Our Lady of the Lake University's Worden School of Social Service, offers its acclaimed Master of Social Work degree program entirely online, giving working adults the opportunity to work toward this career-building,service-oriented credential.
University of Southern California
USC Price’s online Executive Master of Urban Planning is an accelerated program that bridges the gap between urban planning goals and the objectives and constraints of effective real estate development. USC Price has been ranked both No.