California Online Accredited Graduate Programs
Online graduate programs offer students and working professionals the opportunity to earn masters and doctoral degrees completely online. Earning a graduate degree online means students have the flexibility and opportunity to balance academic goals with family or on-going career demands.
Top Online Graduate Programs
According to the 2016 Online College Student Aslanian Market Research Report, the top online graduate fields of study have fluctuated from 2014 to 2016. Business remains at the top with 26% of the market share in 2016, while Education has dropped to 14% and Computers and IT has leapfrogged over Education to 20%.
Top 3 Reasons to Pursue Online Graduate Programs
There are many reasons a student may choose to pursue a graduate degree program online. Often times convenience and flexibility are factors that may influence the decision to select an online degree over a campus based program. But beyond the format decision, there are many other reasons students decide to continue their education. According to the 2016 Online College Student Aslanian Market Research Report, the top 3 reasons are[iii]:
- I want a new career in a new field (20% of respondents).
- The satisfaction of completing my undergraduate/graduate education (15% of respondents).
- I wanted to keep up to date with the skills and requirements of my current job (14% of respondents).
How Credible Are Online Degrees?
The first step in determining credibility for any school is to determine if the graduate school is accredited or not. Check to see if the online school is regionally accredited. Not all online schools are regionally accredited—though the vast majority are. Beyond the school being accredited, students should also research if their program of interest has specific programmatic accreditation. If the answer is yes, it is a good idea to lean toward those schools that have that specific graduate program accreditation.
Degrees earned from regionally accredited online schools are just as respected and accepted as degrees earned from traditional graduate schools.
Why Is Accreditation Important?
Some online graduate schools are completely devoted to web-based learning and offer online graduate programs exclusively. Other universities may make their traditional programming available as an online graduate degree. Regardless of which type of school is offering the program you are interested in, it is important that you confirm that the school is regionally accredited. Why is accreditation important?
Among many reasons, two stand out as very important:
- Funding - As a grad student, you will not be eligible for federal funding if the school you are attending is not an accredited online graduate school. Main types of financial aid include the Pell Grant, the Federal Perkins Loan, and Stafford Loans. For example, as a grad student, you may be eligible for up to $8,000 per year through the Federal Perkins Loan.[ii]
What Types of Online Graduate Degrees Are There?
Online graduate degrees include online masters programs, online graduate certificates and online doctoral degree programs, there are also different features that can determine what type of degree you may pursue.
- Types may be defined by the subject you are pursing, Master of Arts (MA), MBA, DNP (doctor of nurse practitioner)
- Accelerated programs - some schools offer accelerated programs where students are required to dedicate more time in a shorter window to graduate sooner. For example, our sponsored school, Northcentral University offers an accelerated MBA that allows students to graduate in as little as 12 months
- Bridge programs - some schools offer programs that combine earning multiple levels of degrees at once. When taken together, these degrees are earned faster than when taken separately. Many nursing programs are offered this way. For example an BSN to DNP. or an RN to MSN
- Direct entry programs - Direct entry programs are also found in the nursing arena. For students who are looking to enter into a new career such as nursing and have an undergraduate degree in a different subject, there may be specialized programs that prepare the student for this transition.
DID YOU KNOW?
The 2016 Online College Student Aslanian Market Research Study reported that more than two-thirds of graduate students feel their online graduate program was worth the investment of their time (73%) and money (69%).[iii]
How Do I Choose an Online Graduate School?
With the variety of online graduate programs, there are a few features you might evaluate when choosing with online graduate school to attend. These are;
- Decide how specialized you want to be. For example, you may want to keep your options open and simply pursue an MBA. Or, you may want to get more specific and pursue an MBA that focus' on Marketing or some other are of Business.
- What are you going to use the degree for? If your desire is to focus on research it may be more appropriate to pursue accredited Online Doctoral Programs vs an Online Masters programs
- Are you looking for an accelerated program or program that may accept life experience for credits? Ask colleges you are interested in if they offer these options
- Do you want to avoid taking entrance exams such as the GRE or GMAT? Look for schools that advertise their programs as such
- Look for fully accredited online colleges and universities
Beyond the fields of study listed above, the 2016 Online College Student Aslanian Market Research Report also reports the following as the top 11 most popular online graduate program majors[iii]:
|Rank||Online Subject||Online Degree Type|
MS, MBA, DBA
Computer Science & Engineering
M.S., M.Eng., Ph.D.
M.S.N., Msc, DNP, PhD
MA, MS, Phd, DBA
Educational Administration (K-12)
M. Ed., M.S., EdD, PhD, Graduate Certificates, Post Master's Certificate
M.S., DBA, MBA, DIT, PhD
M.A., M.S., PhD, Ed.D, Graduate Teaching Certificate
PhD, PsyD, MA, M.A.I.O.P., MIOP,MS, Applied Behavior Analysis Certificate, Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Applied Research
MS, MIS,MSIS, MBA, MBA/MSISM, Doctor of Computer Science
#9 (tied at 9)
MS, MA, Advanced Certificate
#9 (tied at 9)
Adult and Higher Education
EdD,PhD, EdM, MS, MA
“In some occupations, a doctoral or professional degree may be more beneficial than a master’s degree. For example, about half of psychologists had a master’s degree in 2013 but another one-third of these workers had a doctoral degree—and those with a doctoral degree had a median annual wage that was 46 percent higher than that of psychologists with a master’s degree.”[i]
Are All Online Graduate Programs Formatted the Same?
Online graduate programs are not all formatted the same way. A traditional graduate school may offer ‘live’ classes at one of their campuses that online students can ‘attend’ by logging in synchronously (at the same time) to be able to participate. Or, a completely online grad school may have asynchronous course material where students pace themselves. There could also be a mixture of these two formats. Ultimately, each university, whether it is a brick and mortar graduate school or an online graduate school, has different ways of formatting their online grad programs.
Online Graduate Programs FAQs
- How online is it? Some programs may be entirely online (100%), while others may be partially online, which might entail campus visits, residency or intensives. (e.g. online MFT programs).
- How long to complete an online degree?: Some online graduate degree programs may be full-time, others part-time. You might also find online graduate degrees that are offered in an accelerated format to appeal to executives (e.g. Accelerated online MBA programs).
- What if there are lab requirements? In online grad programs where a laboratory or supervised practicum is required, students may be able to complete the requirements in their community (e.g. Online MSW programs).
- What are the tech requirements for online programs?: Your computer is your access to online discussion, online resources (E-Books, video, your course management system and email). You may be required to update your software, meet specific hardware requirements or have a working email address. In terms of tech support, this should be stipulated by a graduate school and you should be able to access this information ahead of enrollment.
- How do I contact my professor? There are usually provisions for contacting faculty. An online student may be paired with a faculty member, to reach out via email, telephone, online chat or whatever is predetermined by your university and program.
- Where is the library? An online graduate school may have agreements with your local library or have online resources. Some programs may supplement with textbooks.
- Is an online graduate degree easier? Online does not mean easier. It is a learning format that works best for self-motivated students.
- Are online graduate programs accredited? Many online graduate programs are accredited but some are not. All GradSchools.com partner schools are accredited but it is always a good idea to research on your own and double check. For those earning a degree from a lesser-known online school, researching accreditation is especially a good idea given the number of scams on the internet.
Find Online Programs
The opportunity to pursue a graduate degree online may make your goals within reach. Browse sponsored online graduate programs and use our on-page navigation to submit a request for more information from the online graduate schools on your list.
[i]bls.gov/careeroutlook/2015/article/should-i-get-a-masters-degree.htm#to-earn-or-not-to-earn-a-master-s-degree [ii] studentaid.ed.gov/sa/types/loans/perkins [iii] Aslanian Market Research 2016 Online College Students
NCU’s PhD-level Computer Science specialization calls on students to research the design and function of computers from the inside out, providing an inside understanding of the foundational technology of any information system.
University of Southern California
Nursing@USC delivers the online Master of Science in Nursing program from the University of Southern California Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work Department of Nursing. RN and BSN req’d.
University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences
The dynamics of today's fast-paced, complex healthcare system requires nursing leaders with the knowledge and expertise to improve the delivery of patient care and positively influence patient outcomes.
Pepperdine Law’s online Master of Legal Studies program is designed for professionals who would benefit from a legal education but do not plan to become lawyers. No GRE/LSAT scores required.
Develop professional competence in a world of rapid change with a Master of Arts in Organizational Management degree from Ashford University. Study organizational change, marketing, decision-making, strategic thinking, and innovation while learning t...
California Baptist University
The purpose of the online Masters of Business Administration in General Management degree program (MBA-GM), is to equip working professionals for advancements in a variety of senior level positions in business.
California State University, Northridge
The Online Master of Science in Assistive Technology Studies and Human Services is a two-year program that prepares you to assess clients’ needs and to apply the assistive technologies that improve the quality of their lives.
Claremont Graduate University
The online Master of Science in Marketing Analytics (MSMKT) program is tailored for recent college graduates with an interest in marketing as well as working professionals seeking a career transition.
University of Redlands
The University of Redlands Online Master of Business Administration (MBA) focuses on students gaining the business fundamentals needed to succeed in an ever-changing, technology-based world.
- San Francisco, CASan Francisco, CA
California Institute of Integral Studies
The online Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness programs are dedicated to re-imagining the human species as a mutually enhancing member of the Earth community...
- San Francisco, CA
California State University, Cal Poly
The M.S. in Packaging Value Chain provides students with valuable expertise in packaging’s interface with data analytics, design, marketing, finance, supply chain, operations and statistics.
California Institute of Advanced Management
California Institute of Advanced Management (CIAM) is nonprofit University dedicated to providing a practical, hands-on, and applicable MBA program based on real-world experience. Rolling admissions deadlines, with Financial Aid for those who qualify...
University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences
Licensed athletic trainers, certified athletic trainers, and athletic therapists are eligible to complete their MHS degree with a specialization in Athletic Training.
Business activities have an increasingly global reach. Successful business professionals must have a thorough knowledge of international business environments and be able to operate within individual foreign markets.
The Master of Science in Nursing Specialization in Administration is an in-depth study of MSN leadership principles and...
Online Certificate in Teaching English to Young Learners developed by Dr. David Nunan.
Bayan Claremont: An Islamic Graduate School
Bayan Claremont offers accredited M.A. degrees and supports students in affiliated Ph.D. degree programs.
Adizes Graduate School
M.A., Ph.D., or dual track. Explore change management in organizations and society. Unique, multi-disciplinary content including Spiral Dynamics, and...