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)
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 |
The Catholic University of America
The Catholic University of America Online Master of Science in Nursing Degree Prepares You for Your National Certifying Exams. Small Class Sizes. Clinical Practicum. Complete at Your Own Locale. CCNE Accredited MSN-FNP Degree Program.
Saint Mary's University of Minnesota
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University of New Haven
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- Fairfield, CTFairfield, CT
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Lawrence Technological University
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University of Saint Mary
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The University of Scranton
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Seton Hall University
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James Madison University
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Southern New Hampshire University
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St. John's University
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Saint Joseph's University
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The George Washington University
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Saint Xavier University
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