2021 Best Online Master's Programs

Online Master's Degrees with the Highest Return on Investment

By the OnlineU team | Updated 4/22/2021

Using student salary and debt data from the government, we have developed the first online master's program rankings that showcase the online colleges and universities with the best return on investment (ROI). We calculated an ROI percentile for each online master's degree program by comparing the 10-year ROI value against the average for similar programs. We ranked the schools with the highest average percentile scores that offered online programs at the master's degree level in at least three different subject areas. The highest-ranked schools typically offered online master's programs in business, computer science, and education. On this page, we also dive into earning a master's degree online and how that compares to the in-person experience, the importance of accreditation, the cost of a degree, and whether earning an online master's degree will be worth it for you.

View our methodology for more details. We've also published an appendix that lists all of the program salaries and debt figures for these ranked schools.

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RankSchool Annual Tuition ROI Score
# 1 #1 Fordham University $47,788 97.0%
# 2 #2 University of California - Berkeley $26,817 96.9%
# 3 #3 Northwestern University $19,373 90.7%
# 4 #4 Columbia University in the City of New York $34,915 85.2%
# 5 #5 Johns Hopkins University $28,505 84.9%
# 6 #6 California State University-Northridge $13,950 84.1%
# 7 #7 George Mason University $13,305 83.1%
# 8 #8 St. John's University $22,185 81.4%
# 9 #9 University of Maryland - College Park $13,920 81.2%
# 10 #10 Seton Hall University $20,576 80.2%
# 11 #11 Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University $16,575 78.5%
# 12 #12 University of Washington - Seattle $26,505 78.4%
# 13 #13 Duke University $20,500 77.9%
# 14 #14 Saint Joseph's University $14,328 77.3%
# 15 #15 Norwich University $17,256 77.2%
# 16 #16 University of Massachusetts - Amherst $21,545 76.5%
# 17 #17 National University $10,166 76.3%
# 18 #18 Georgia Institute of Technology $16,500 74.9%
# 19 #19 University of Michigan-Flint $15,776 72.7%
# 20 #20 Washington State University $9,147 72.6%
# 21 #21 Mercy College $16,686 72.2%
# 22 #22 California State University-Dominguez Hills $7,176 71.1%
# 23 #23 Purdue University - Main Campus $20,730 70.5%
# 24 #24 Boston University $56,854 69.4%

Popular Online Master's Programs

Students pursuing an accredited online master's program can browse our thorough list of options, including 587 colleges and 16,919 degree programs. The following comprehensive list of online master's programs includes accredited programs in fields like accounting, computer science, healthcare administration, management, nursing, and nutrition, and outlines how many online programs are available in each field of study. Average salaries for each program were calculated using earnings in the first year after graduation sourced from the 2020 release of the Department of Education's College Scorecard.

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Jump to a Program: a b c d e f h i l m n o p r s t w
a Online Schools Programs Annual Salary Accreditation
Accounting 185 404 $61,500 AACSB ACBSP
Aerospace Engineering 30 78 $89,830 ABET
Architecture 5 8 $54,410 NAAB
b Online Schools Programs Annual Salary Accreditation
Biology 53 106 $48,580 Institutional
c Online Schools Programs Annual Salary Accreditation
Chemical Engineering 14 26 $77,170 ABET
Christian Counseling 22 60 $38,070 ACPE
Civil Engineering 45 158 $72,990 ABET
Communications 149 433 $52,790 ACEJMC
Computer Engineering 45 125 $101,350 ABET
Computer Science 105 336 $88,770 ABET
Conflict Resolution 24 39 $50,220 Institutional
Counseling 133 389 $43,020 AAMFT CACREP
Counseling Psychology 39 62 $46,250 Institutional
Creative Writing 23 41 $37,760 Institutional
Criminal Justice 150 375 $49,270 Institutional
Cybersecurity 146 346 $58,770 Institutional
d Online Schools Programs Annual Salary Accreditation
Data Science 122 229 Not reported Institutional
e Online Schools Programs Annual Salary Accreditation
Educational Leadership 278 737 $56,430 NCATE
Electrical Engineering 57 200 $97,260 ABET
Elementary Education 130 297 $47,270 CAEP MACTE NCATE TEAC
Emergency Management 55 114 $67,160 Institutional
Engineering Management 88 183 $89,640 Institutional
English 92 172 $40,870 Institutional
Environmental Science 100 314 $52,660 Institutional
ESL 108 162 $51,700 CEA
Exercise Science 38 84 $44,300 Institutional
f Online Schools Programs Annual Salary Accreditation
Finance 204 366 $83,440 AACSB
Forensic Psychology 15 33 $46,250 APA
Forensic Science 43 97 $58,770 AAFS
h Online Schools Programs Annual Salary Accreditation
Health Education 87 124 $56,550 Institutional
Healthcare Administration 247 512 $65,500 CAHME
Healthcare Informatics 104 207 $73,670 CAHIIM CAHME
Healthcare Management 233 441 $65,500 CAHME
History 46 90 $40,540 Institutional
Holistic Medicine 5 5 $28,240 ACAOM CNME
Homeland Security 72 209 $67,590 Institutional
Human Resources 167 317 $61,020 AACSB ACBSP
Human Services 124 333 $42,520 Institutional
i Online Schools Programs Annual Salary Accreditation
Industrial Engineering 36 89 $81,830 ABET
Information Technology 177 552 $87,120 ABET
l Online Schools Programs Annual Salary Accreditation
Law 59 203 $47,750 ABA ABA
Library Science 68 188 $43,520 ALA
m Online Schools Programs Annual Salary Accreditation
Management 454 2,560 $78,150 AACSB
Marketing 202 345 $68,040 AACSB
Marriage & Family Therapy 27 70 $43,020 AAMFT COAMFTE
MBA 414 2,377 $78,150 AACSB ACBSP IACBE
Mechanical Engineering 45 103 $85,160 ABET
Medical Office Administration 2 2 $65,500 ABHES
MFA 13 30 $31,550 Institutional
MPA 98 269 Not reported Institutional
MSW 77 195 Not reported CSWE
n Online Schools Programs Annual Salary Accreditation
Nurse Practitioner (NP) 111 286 $97,500 ACEN ACEN CCNE NPWH
Nursing 262 1,186 $97,500 AANA ACEN ACEN ACME CCNE
Nutrition 80 142 $48,160 ACEND
o Online Schools Programs Annual Salary Accreditation
Organizational Leadership 295 904 $78,150 AACSB
p Online Schools Programs Annual Salary Accreditation
Personal Training 1 2 $44,300 Institutional
Physical Education 52 93 $44,280 NCATE
Political Science 27 67 $64,770 Institutional
Project Management 124 232 $78,150 AACSB PMI-GAC
Psychology 131 368 $45,460 APA
Public Administration 201 706 $57,890 NASPAA
Public Health 143 353 $56,550 CEPH
r Online Schools Programs Annual Salary Accreditation
Religious Studies 81 661 $45,140 ACPE
RN to MSN 51 110 Not reported Institutional
s Online Schools Programs Annual Salary Accreditation
School Counseling 55 80 $45,280 CACREP
Secondary Education 108 311 $47,270 CAEP NCATE TEAC
Software Engineering 50 93 $101,350 ABET
Special Education 227 691 $52,040 CAA CAEP
Speech Pathology 11 11 $56,320 CAA
Sports Management 121 236 $97,480 Institutional
Statistics 25 46 $89,770 Institutional
Substance Abuse Counseling 32 42 $43,020 CACREP
Supply Chain Management 104 157 $78,150 Institutional
Systems Engineering 54 158 $107,530 ABET
t Online Schools Programs Annual Salary Accreditation
Teaching 284 1,182 $48,740 CAEP MACTE NCATE TEAC
Theology 38 144 $45,830 CAATS
w Online Schools Programs Annual Salary Accreditation
Web Design 10 10 $77,490 Institutional
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Best Online Master's Programs Highlights

#1 Fordham University

  • Annual Tuition: $47,788
  • Locations: Bronx (NY)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

The instructors are caring individuals that genuinely care about their students. I attend strictly online courses, but still feel a sense of togetherness when engaged with other students. The financial services and administrative departments at Fordham are reliable, easily accessible, and helpful.

The classes allow you to be able to freely express your opinions without being harshly criticized by the professor and encouraged open communication between classmates. The professors encourage communication with any problems, questions, and comments, with a quick reply.

Fordham University is a Jesuit research institution that offers 23 fully online master’s degrees. Graduate programs are available in global finance, strategic marketing communications, management, social work, teaching, corporate compliance, pastoral studies, and Christian Spirituality. The majority of the programs are 30 credits and can be completed in one year. One exception is the master’s degree in education, which requires 36 credits and can be completed in two years.  

Online classes at Fordham can follow either an asynchronous or synchronous format. Students in asynchronous courses will interact with classmates through discussion boards, blogs, and wikis, while synchronous learning allows students to engage with instructors and peers in real-time. Financing and aid options are available through loan programs, grants from graduate schools within the university, and payment plans. The Veterans Initiative provides aid through scholarships and the Yellow Ribbon program to veteran students. Graduate students are offered comprehensive support services, such as academic advising, field placement assistance, access to Handshake (a job and internship database), invitations to industry events, and notifications of new or trending research in their field. 

Fordham’s graduate admission requirements will vary for each program. In addition to submitting an online graduate application with fee and official transcripts, master’s programs may also require prerequisite courses, work experience, or professional certifications. 

School Overview
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 926
  • School Type: Non-Profit
Program Overview
  • Program Count: 23
Admissions
  • Application Fee: $70
  • Requirements: Vary by program and may include a personal statement, interview, transcripts, minimum 3.0 or 2.5 GPA, resume, work experience, letters of recommendation, and GRE or GMAT

#2 University of California - Berkeley

  • Annual Tuition: $26,817
  • Locations: Berkeley (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

While UC Berkeley is known for its leading research success, the school truly invests and fosters each student's personal growth so that they can become leaders in their individual fields.

The University of California - Berkeley offers eight online master’s degree programs in information and data science, cybersecurity, and public health. The 27-credit, fully-online data science program can be taken in an accelerated, standard, or decelerated path, taking twelve, twenty, or thirty-two months, respectively. The Master’s in Public Health offers several concentrations, such as epidemiology/biostatistics and health policy and management, and can be completed twenty-seven months.

The format of online classes at Berkeley is dependent on the program. For example, the data science and cybersecurity program is synchronous and requires that students participate in weekly Zoom meetings with instructors and peers. Additionally, there is an opportunity for students to participate in an in-person immersion experience. The Master’s in Public Health program requires some on-campus components. Online coursework follows an asynchronous format. UC-Berkeley offers tuition payment plans and various program-specific fellowships, scholarships, and awards like the Dean’s Health Equity and Leadership Award. Students have access to career services through the I School, which offers support and guidance in career planning, connects students with networking opportunities, and builds resume writing and interview skills. Additionally, students can participate in career-oriented webinars and face-to-face leadership sessions. 

UC Berkeley’s online master’s degree programs have three start dates throughout the year, with applications accepted on a rolling basis. Generally, prospective graduate students must submit an online application with fee, official transcripts, statement of purpose, two professional letters of recommendation, current resume, and TOEFL score (if applicable). GRE/GMAT scores are not required. Applicants should review any additional admission requirements for their program of interest. 

School Overview
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 651
  • School Type: Non-Profit
Program Overview
  • Cost per Credit: $1,277.00
  • Program Count: 6
Admissions
  • Application Fee: $120
  • Requirements: Vary by program and may include a statement of purpose, transcripts, minimum 3.0 GPA, resume, work experience, letters of recommendation, and prerequisites

#3 Northwestern University

  • Annual Tuition: $19,373
  • Locations: Evanston (IL)
  • Accreditation: HLC

This masters program has taught me an incredible amount in the short time Ive been enrolled. There is not any wasted time and the platform software is easy to use and aids in the learning process.

Northwestern University offers a total of 67 online master’s degree programs. Degrees available include a Master of Arts, Master of Science, and Master of Public Policy and Administration. Students can choose from a range of different concentrations within each of these degrees. Some of these programs are conducted entirely online, while others include in-person requirements as well. The length of time to complete a degree depends on the track chosen and the degree requirements. Some programs can be completed in six quarters of full-time study.

Northwestern University uses Canvas, an online learning management system that provides students with access to lectures, discussions, readings, and other materials they need for class. Students may also use Canvas to take quizzes and exams. Northwestern’s online master’s degree programs may require both synchronous and asynchronous learning activities. Online students in Northwestern’s graduate programs may qualify for federal loans. A limited number of scholarships are also available. Northwestern also has high job placement rates of 80 percent or more for many programs.

To be admitted to an online master’s degree program at Northwestern, students must meet general requirements, such as showing evidence of a bachelor’s degree with a minimum GPA. Students may also need to submit letters of recommendation, resumes, and test scores. Specific requirements vary by program. Resources available to online students at Northwestern include technical support and career services. Students are also assigned an academic advisor to provide ongoing guidance.

School Overview
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 654
  • School Type: Non-Profit
Program Overview
  • Cost per Credit: $1,076.33
  • Program Count: 67
Admissions
  • Requirements: Vary by program and may include a statement of purpose, supplemental essay, additional essays, interview, group interview, recent photo, transcripts, resume or CV, letters of recommendation, and GRE or GMAT

#4 Columbia University in the City of New York

  • Annual Tuition: $34,915
  • Locations: New York (NY)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Almost weekly, alumni send out emails for job openings, which has significantly helped my job outlook.

The faculty members are great! They are usually willing to help student find research or work opportunities. I have received a lot of help with career development.

Columbia University offers more than 20 online master’s degrees in computer science, engineering, social work, business, applied physics, developmental disabilities, and more. The average master’s degree student completes the program within 3.5 years. Students have up to five years to earn their degrees.

Online courses at Columbia can include both asynchronous and synchronous elements, such as live sessions through Zoom. Students will participate in discussions and take online exams and quizzes through the Courseworks learning platform offered by Canvas. Columbia provides a payment plan that allows students to pay tuition interest-free over a couple of months. As a renowned university, Columbia promotes experiential learning to prepare students for careers once they graduate. Students may participate in various professional development and leadership opportunities, including virtual sessions that focus on workplace skills, life management, communication, job search, leadership, and cultural/educational topics. 

Applicants to Columbia University Online can submit an online graduate application with fee, personal/professional statement, and official transcripts with a minimum GPA of 3.0 (3.3 for Computer Science). GRE/GMAT scores are not required. 

School Overview
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 586
  • School Type: Non-Profit
Program Overview
  • Program Count: 52
Admissions
  • Requirements: Vary by program and may include a statement of purpose, personal essay, additional essays, transcripts, minimum 3.0 GPA, resume, and letters of recommendation

#5 Johns Hopkins University

  • Annual Tuition: $28,505
  • Locations: Baltimore (MD)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

My time at Johns Hopkins University was an incredible experience. ...I feel the diverse demographics and academic strength of students there provided a range of perspectives in class discussions and is essential for being successful the workplace today. The courses were challenging and pushed me to excel, and the network of people and resources I have at my disposal is invaluable.

The Energy Policy and Climate (EPC) program at Johns Hopkins University is an excellent opportunity for those seeking a career in either climate science or energy. As the two topics becoming increasingly related, the courses strive to connect the science, technology, and policy of climate and energy in a way that is relevant to current events. The professors are highly knowledgeable, have varied academic and professional backgrounds, and are excellent resources for the capstone project.

Johns Hopkins University offers one of the most extensive online learning programs in the nation for graduate studies, with a total of 227 graduate degrees available. This institution offers an online Master of Arts, Master of Science, Master in Business Administration, and more. Students can also obtain dual master’s degrees. Online graduate programs at this institution require at least 30 credit hours to complete.

Johns Hopkins University’s online learning management system was developed by the institution’s Center for Technology in Education. Students participating in online programs will use this system to access lectures, readings, activities, exams, and other course materials. Programs may require synchronous activities, but many activities are asynchronous. Online students may receive federal financial aid. This institution also accepts veteran education benefits.

To be admitted to an online master’s degree program at this institution, students must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. They must also submit past transcripts with a minimum of a 3.0 GPA. Applications must be submitted online. Individual programs may have additional requirements, such as prerequisite courses. After being admitted to a program, students will have access to an academic advisor, career guidance resources, and technical support.

School Overview
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 16,594
  • School Type: Non-Profit
Program Overview
  • Program Count: 213
Admissions
  • Requirements: Vary by program and may include a statement of purpose, analytical essay, personal statement, additional essays, interview, transcripts, resume or CV, letters of recommendation, GRE or GMAT, and pre-requisite courses

#6 California State University-Northridge

  • Annual Tuition: $13,950
  • Locations: Northridge (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

Although the course is online, the amount of works is just as much if not more than if attending on campus. The program has some great professors who care deeply about their students and their success. Acceptance into the program is also a plus because the program has more than one time to apply per year, which is nice compared to the large rush usually done at the beginning of January to apply to several schools.

Within the first semester of the program, I was able to learn the basics of the U.S. Healthcare system. It is a challenging program, but worth every minute you put into it. I would highly recommend this program to anyone looking into pursuing a Masters in Health Administration.

California State University-Northridge provides students with 18 online master’s degree options. Some of the graduate degrees available include a Master of Arts, Master of Public Administration, Master of Knowledge Management, Master of Science, and Master of Social Work. This institution follows a traditional semester-based schedule, with two to three start dates throughout the year. Programs will generally require between 30 and 36 credit hours to graduate.

Students can access course materials through the Blackboard online learning management system. Learning is primarily asynchronous to allow students to complete coursework on their schedule. Classes may include lectures, videos, reading, projects, discussions, and tests. California State University offers scholarships and financing plans to qualifying students. Federal aid may also be available. Student resources include academic advising and technical support.

Admissions requirements for California State University’s online graduate programs vary. Most require that applicants have a bachelor’s degree, a minimum GPA, and official transcripts. Resumes, letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and GRE or GMAT test scores may also need to be included. Applications can be submitted online.

School Overview
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 858
  • School Type: Non-Profit
Program Overview
  • Program Count: 17
Admissions
  • Application Fee: $70
  • Requirements: Vary by program and may include a personal statement, bachelor's (minimum 2.5 GPA) or master's, resume, work experience, letters of recommendation, Upper Division Writing Proficiency Exam (UDWPE), and pre-requisite courses

#7 George Mason University

  • Annual Tuition: $13,305
  • Locations: Fairfax (VA)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The department of computer science offers excellent coursework for the students. The professors at the university have excellent knowledge in the field of teaching. The research work being conducted at the university is groundbreaking and has much to offer. I personally feel the university's expectation of students will drive the scholars to greatness.

The faculty are very supportive and accommodating to an educator's demanding lifestyle.

At George Mason University, students have access to 34 online master’s degree programs. Degrees available include a Master of Science, Master of Education, Master of Arts, Master of Public Health, Master of Law, and Master of Health Administration. Most online master’s programs at this institution require 30 to 36 credit hours of study. Some programs can be completed in 11 months with full-time study.

George Mason University’s online courses are delivered via the Blackboard learning management system. Learning may be synchronous or asynchronous. Depending on the program, students may watch lectures, participate in discussions, complete lab work, take tests, or work on group projects. In some cases, online programs require occasional in-person meetings or exams. Loans, scholarships, fellowships, and other types of financial aid may be available, depending on the program.

To be admitted to an online master’s degree program through George Mason University, prospective students must submit an application online. Applicants must hold at least a bachelor’s degree and have a minimum GPA of 3.0 for undergraduate study. Individual programs may have other admissions requirements. Advising, career services, technical support, and library resources are available to support enrolled online students.

School Overview
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 1,499
  • School Type: Non-Profit
Program Overview
  • Cost per Credit: $887.00
  • Program Count: 34
Admissions
  • Application Fee: $75
  • Requirements: Vary by program and may include a personal/goals statement, portfolio, writing sample, interview, transcripts, minimum 3.0 GPA, resume, letters of recommendation, and GRE

#8 St. John's University

  • Annual Tuition: $22,185
  • Locations: Queens (NY)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

I have learned a lot from my classmates through group discussions and projects, the professors have been very informative, and the faculty in the business school has been nothing but helpful throughout my experience.

St. John’s University offers 25 online Master of Art, Science, Business, or Professional Studies degrees. Students can pursue graduate-level studies in business administration, accounting, library and information science, taxation, and homeland security. The majority of programs range from 30 to 69 credits and can be completed in one to two years.

St. John’s online classes are asynchronous with set assignment deadlines and exam dates. Coursework is completed on Blackboard, where students can review lectures, post assignments, and participate in discussion boards with classmates. Students may choose to enroll in interest-free tuition payment plans. As a Yellow Ribbon school, St. John’s provides tuition benefits to veteran students. Additional resources and support are offered to students to prepare them for their careers beyond graduation. Career Services hosts the Career Peers and Johnny’s Journey programs to help students stay on track and develop career readiness skills. Studies have the opportunity for leadership development through services, workshops, mentorships, and conferences. According to St. John’s website, graduation outcomes for the Class of 2019 reflects 94.4% job placement, and 75.8% are employed in their desired field.

To apply to St. John’s graduate programs, students must have completed the necessary prerequisites before submitting an online application. Additional application requirements including submitting official transcripts with a preferred minimum GPA of 3.25, a resume, two letters of recommendation, a statement of professional goals, relevant work experience, and GMAT/GRE scores (waivers are available).

School Overview
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 557
  • School Type: Non-Profit
Program Overview
  • Cost per Credit: $1,305.00
  • Program Count: 25
Admissions
  • Application Fee: $70
  • Requirements: Vary by program and may include a personal statement, interview, transcripts, minimum 3.0 GPA, resume, letters of recommendation, and GRE or GMAT

#9 University of Maryland - College Park

  • Annual Tuition: $13,920
  • Locations: College Park (MD)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

The Systems Engineering program at the University of Maryland, College Park is greatly committed to preparing students for the real world. ...The faculty is committed to making sure you fully understand the material at hand, and are not just memorizing information to take an exam. The courses can be challenging, but they are also extremely rewarding when abstract concepts and theories finally start to click thanks to the efforts of the amazing faculty.

The faculty is very knowledgeable, the classes are interesting and relevant, and the Office of Career Services is incredibly effective in preparing students for the next step in their careers.

The University of Maryland’s College Park campus offers 39 online master’s programs. Degrees available include a Master of Business Administration, Master of Engineering, Master of Library and Information Science, Master of Professional Studies, Master of Public Health, and Master of Science. The number of credit hours needed varies, but most programs require a total of 36 credits.

Online master’s degree programs at the University of Maryland utilize the Canvas learning management system. All online courses are asynchronous so that students can log into their classes at their convenience. Students may be eligible for scholarships and federal financial aid. This institution also provides digital textbooks at no additional cost to make learning more affordable. Students at the University of Maryland have access to CareerQuest, which provides students with online academic advising, career services, and support.

Graduate programs at the University of Maryland may have different admission requirements, such as prerequisite courses. However, general admission requirements include submitting an online application and submission of past transcripts. This institution does not require GMAT or GRE scores.

School Overview
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 928
  • School Type: Non-Profit
Program Overview
  • Cost per Credit: $580.00
  • Program Count: 39
Admissions
  • Application Fee: $75
  • Requirements: Vary by program and may include a statement of purpose, essays, bachelor's in a relevant field, transcripts, minimum 3.0 GPA, resume or CV, work experience, letters of recommendation, GRE or GMAT, and course prerequisites

#10 Seton Hall University

  • Annual Tuition: $20,576
  • Locations: South Orange (NJ)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

The financial aid options are not as available as one would like. Nonetheless, the faculty and staff are supportive with great experience and tools that will help you succeed in your career.

The professors were all in the field that I was interested in and had a lot of life advice.

Seton Hall University offers 28 online master’s degree programs with options including Master of Jurisprudence, Master of Science, Master of Business Administration, Master of Arts, and Master of Law. Most of these degree programs require between 30 and 40 credit hours of study to complete. The duration will depend on whether students choose full-time or part-time study.

This Blackboard learning management system is used to deliver course content to online students. Most learning activities are completed asynchronously, allowing students the flexibility to work at their own pace. However, assignments will still have specific deadlines. Class activities may include lectures, reading, discussions, papers, and exams. Financial aid is available to online graduate students in the form of loans and graduate scholarships.

The specific graduate admissions requirements at Seton Hall University will depend on the program. However, most will require at least a bachelor’s degree and a minimum GPA. Students may also be asked to submit an online application, statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, transcripts, and other documentation. After being admitted to a program at Seton Hall University, online students have access to career services, student coordinators, and technical support.

School Overview
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 864
  • School Type: Non-Profit
Program Overview
  • Cost per Credit: $1,286.00
  • Program Count: 27
Admissions
  • Application Fee: $75
  • Requirements: Vary by program and may include a statement of purpose, resume or CV, and contact for references or letters of recommendation

#11 Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

  • Annual Tuition: $16,575
  • Locations: Blacksburg (VA)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

You will walk out of this program with a master's degree, a lifelong network of connections, and a unique perspective only this program could produce.

Since being accepted there several members of the faculty and I have been in constant contact and they helped me with so many of my questions.

Virginia Polytechnic University offers over 30 online master’s degree programs. Graduate students can major in these areas of study: agricultural and life sciences, information technology, engineering, foreign language, education, political science, and natural resources. The majority of the online master’s programs require 30-33 credits and do not include a residency requirement.

The majority of online courses at Virginia Tech are asynchronous. Students can fund their education with various assistantships, scholarships, and fellowships offered by the Graduate School. Monthly payment plans are also available. The university supports students’ career development by providing multiple programs to enhance workplace skills and connect with alumni. These programs include academic and career advising, the Transformative Graduate Education Initiative, Handshake to connect students to employers, and Hokie Mentorship Connect, which connects students to alumni.

Prospective graduate students applying to Virginia Tech must submit an online application with fee, official transcripts, and recommendation letters. The Graduate School does not require GRE or GMAT test scores. Applicants should check specific department pages to review all admission requirements.

School Overview
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 967
  • School Type: Non-Profit
Program Overview
  • Cost per Credit: $975.00
  • Program Count: 33
Admissions
  • Application Fee: $75
  • Requirements: Vary by program and may include a purpose statement, letter of interest, writing sample, transcripts, minimum 3.0 GPA, resume or CV, and contact for references or letters of recommendation

#12 University of Washington - Seattle

  • Annual Tuition: $26,505
  • Locations: Seattle (WA)
  • Accreditation: NWCCU

The faculty are extremely helpful and supportive. In my undergrad at a different school I felt like a number and no one really cared if I graduated or not but I feel like the faculty in my program want me to succeed and are willing to work with me and be flexible so I can reach my goal.

The [faculty are] very quick to address issues and questions and work with you to continue your educational goals.

The University of Washington - Seattle offers 24 online master’s degree programs in aerospace engineering, public health, education, pharmaceutical bioengineering, and science. Several concentrations are available within each of these fields. The duration of the programs and the number of credits required varies. Some programs can be completed in as little as 18 months, while others may take three years or more.

The University of Washington uses Canvas to facilitate its online programs. Much of the learning is asynchronous, but some programs do require synchronous courses conducted in real-time. Students in all programs may watch lectures, participate in discussions, read course materials, and take exams. Grants, loans, and scholarships are often available to online students to make learning more affordable. Veteran education benefits may also be accepted.

To be admitted to an online master’s degree program at the University of Washington, students must have a bachelor’s degree and a minimum GPA. Different programs may have varying requirements. Students may need to submit GRE scores and have completed specific prerequisite courses for some programs. Admitted students have access to supportive resources, including mental health services, IT support, and library services.

School Overview
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 434
  • School Type: Non-Profit
Program Overview
  • Cost per Credit: $589.00
  • Program Count: 24
Admissions
  • Application Fee: $85
  • Requirements: Vary by program and may include a statement of purpose, personal statement, transcripts, minimum 3.0 GPA, resume or CV,, work experience letters of recommendation, writing sample, transcripts, course prerequisites, and GRE

#13 Duke University

  • Annual Tuition: $20,500
  • Locations: Durham (NC)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

All of my professors are personable and easily reachable by email or phone. I get a response from them within the day or the next day--this includes weekends or holiday breaks.

The instructors are extremely knowledgeable in their field (almost intimidating) and yet still very approachable. All of the instructors are invested in ensuring each student has what they need to succeed.

Duke University offers 16 online master’s degree programs to prospective graduate students. The majority are Master of Science in Nursing degrees. However, the institution also offers a Master of Quantitative Management, a Master of Environmental Management, and a Master of Engineering Management. Most programs will take approximately two years of full-time study to complete.

Duke University uses the Sakai learning management system. Students can use this platform to access all course materials, as well as to communicate with instructors. Students may be asked to participate in discussions with classmates, complete papers or other projects, take exams, attend lectures, or complete readings. Specific requirements vary based on the program chosen. Duke University offers scholarships for qualifying graduate students. Loans may also be available.

Programs at Duke University have different admissions requirements depending on the field and concentration. However, all prospective online graduate students can apply online. Students must typically submit a resume, statement of purpose, transcripts, and letters of recommendation. Students have access to a range of online resources, including a career center, academic advising, tech support, and more.

School Overview
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 790
  • School Type: Non-Profit
Program Overview
  • Program Count: 16
Admissions
  • Requirements: Vary by program and may include bachelor's, master's, resume or CV, essay, letters of recommendation, interviews and/or video introduction, transcripts, essays, employment history, GMAT or GRE, and licensure (nursing)

#14 Saint Joseph's University

  • Annual Tuition: $14,328
  • Locations: Philadelphia (PA)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

The courses have been very interactive; the professors are always available and I do not feel that I am missing out on the in-class experience. Also, I really like that my advisor is always there when I need her, she always points me in the right direction and make sure that I am taking full advantage of the services and supports offered by the university.

The Health Administration graduate program at St. Joseph's University not only provides me with specific courses in the field I love, but it has definitely expanded my network! ...The classes have been fairly small thus far (10 - 12 people) so we get individualized attention and we get to bounce ideas off of other budding administrators who are already working in the health care environment. Most of the faculty members are also full-time executives so we are learning from people who are putting these skills into practice every day.

At Saint Joseph’s University, students can choose from 49 online master’s degree programs, including a Master of Science or Master of Business Administration. The program's length depends on the degree's requirements and whether students enroll in full-time or part-time study. Some programs can be completed in as little as one year, while others will require two years or even longer.

Students will use Canvas to access course materials and submit work. Classes may include videos, audio lectures, readings, discussions, papers, tests, and projects. Learning is asynchronous so that students can complete work on their time. Financial aid may be available to graduate students in the form of loans. Saint Joseph’s University offers a military tuition discount to qualifying students and reduced tuition rates to students involved with certain missions organizations.

To be admitted to the graduate programs, students must complete the online application packet. This packet includes a personal statement, a professional resume, two letters of recommendation, and official transcripts. Some programs may also require GRE or GMAT test scores. Students have access to the online Writing Center, 24/7 technical support, and the Office of Student Success and the Career Development Center.

School Overview
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 1,908
  • School Type: Non-Profit
Program Overview
  • Cost per Credit: $796.00
  • Program Count: 48
Admissions
  • Application Fee: $35
  • Requirements: Vary by program and may include GRE or GMAT, transcripts, letters of recommendation, resume, personal statement, GPA explanation (if below 3.0), and a writing sample / letter of intent

#15 Norwich University

  • Annual Tuition: $17,256
  • Locations: Northfield (VT)
  • Accreditation: NECHE

I was impressed by the administrative support received throughout the entire process, from application to graduation.

Norwich University operates 75 online master’s degree programs in diplomacy, history, nursing, civil engineering, and much more. The types of master’s degrees available include a Master of Science, Master of Arts, Master of Business Administration, and Master of Accounting. The length of these programs varies, with most requiring 30 to 36 credit hours to complete.

Norwich University operates an online platform to provide learning materials to students. All learning is conducted asynchronously, allowing students to log on and complete activities at their convenience. However, students must still adhere to specific deadlines. Courses typically include a combination of exams, lectures, discussions, videos, and reading. Private scholarships, Norwich scholarships, and federal loans can be used to finance an online graduate education. Students can also use military or veteran education benefits.

Graduate admission requirements include a completed online application form, a letter of intent, three references, a resume, and official transcripts. Some programs may have other specific admissions requirements as well. Once a student has been admitted to an online graduate program at Norwich, continuous support is available from academic advisors, library resources, the Online Writing Center, and the technical support staff.

School Overview
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 799
  • School Type: Non-Profit
Program Overview
  • Cost per Credit: $719.00
  • Program Count: 67
Admissions
  • Requirements: Vary by program and may include min 2.7 GPA, contacts for references, transcript, letter of intent, essay, GRE, and an RN license (nursing)

#16 University of Massachusetts - Amherst

  • Annual Tuition: $21,545
  • Locations: Amherst (MA)
  • Accreditation: NECHE

I can't say enough good things about this program and the faculty. Administration could be slow at times but I was always able to get any issue taken care of in the end. Faculty was very supportive and very knowledgeable. ...The commitment that UMass has made to education and access has really paid off in my opinion. This is the best value for a highly regarded university I know of.

The professors are dedicated and the online learning program is demanding. The graduate student population is diverse in both ethnicity, career field, and work experience, making for a great learning environment.

At the University of Massachusetts - Amherst, 21 online master’s degree programs are available, including a Master of Business Administration, Master of Education, Master of Public Health, and Master of Science. Students can choose from various specialties within each discipline. The number of credits required to complete the master’s degree program ranges from 30 to 60.

Blackboard Learn is used to connect students to their professors and course materials. Students may use this platform to watch lectures, complete assignments, and interact with peers and teachers. Students studying online at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst can receive the same financial aid as on-campus students, including loans and scholarships.

Students can apply to the graduate programs by submitting an online application. All programs require students to have a bachelor’s degree and a minimum GPA. Specific programs may have other requirements as well. Examples of additional supporting documentation include transcripts, letters of recommendation, and test scores. Students admitted to a program have access to academic advising, library services, and tech support.

School Overview
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 2,383
  • School Type: Non-Profit
Program Overview
  • Program Count: 21
Admissions
  • Application Fee: $80
  • Requirements: Vary by program and may include personal statement, resume or CV, transcripts, letters of recommendation, GMAT or GRE, min 2.75 GPA, work experience, and course prerequisites

#17 National University

  • Annual Tuition: $10,166
  • Locations: La Jolla (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

I find most of the instructors here are very caring and responsive. I don't know how much they get paid for teaching online graduate courses since most of them are working in another full-time job. But I feel most of them actually have gone above and beyond in accommodating their students.

I was able to complete my classes in a hybrid format, attending one night a week...I would recommend the school to anyone who is very busy but wants to complete their degree.

National University offers 79 online master’s degrees in various fields, including management, accountancy, business, data science, nursing, and more. Degree types available include a Master of Arts, Master of Science, Master of Business Administration and Master of Education, and a few other specialized degrees. The length of study required for each program varies. National University operates on a quarter system, and degrees may require anywhere from 40 to 60 quarter units to complete.

National University uses the Blackboard Learn system to deliver course materials to its students. Classes may require students to complete reading tasks, watch lectures, participate in class discussions, take tests, and complete projects. Federal loans and scholarships may be available to help with the cost of study. National University is a self-described “military-friendly” school that accepts veteran education benefits. Some transfer credits are also accepted. Student support services include career and internship resources, a Writing Center, a Math Center, and a Veteran Center.

National University offers rolling start dates, and most online students can begin their program any month of the year. Students can apply to master’s degree programs by completing the online application. The exact admissions requirements vary by program.

School Overview
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 4,497
  • School Type: Non-Profit
Program Overview
  • Cost per Credit: $442.00
  • Program Count: 67
Admissions
  • Application Fee: $6
  • Requirements: Vary by program and may include min 2.5 GPA (or lower with standardized test), transcript, and an interview

#18 Georgia Institute of Technology

  • Annual Tuition: $16,500
  • Locations: Atlanta (GA)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Many of the professors are the top of their field, world renowned experts whose research is the cutting edge of the field. Furthermore, its location in Atlanta and Division 1 sports teams allows for a vibrant social life with lots to do out in the city and at sporting events.

The program is very convenient and everything can be done remotely.

The Georgia Institute of Technology has 27 online master’s degree programs. Some areas of study include analytics, computer science, cybersecurity, engineering, and manufacturing leadership. The length of the graduate programs ranges from one to three years, although some students may take longer to complete their degrees.

This institution uses the Canvas learning management system. The exact structure and content of courses depend on the program; Some classes may require students to participate in synchronous or in-person activities. Online students at the Georgia Institute of Technology can receive federal financial aid and be considered for scholarships. Students have access to online resources designed to help them find a job after graduation through the Career Center.

Applicants must typically submit an online application, proof of a bachelor’s degree, past transcripts, test scores, and recommendation letters. Specific online master’s degree programs may have other requirements. Enrolled students will be assigned an academic advisor and have access to SMARTech, an extensive library of digital resources.

School Overview
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 9,322
  • School Type: Non-Profit
Program Overview
  • Cost per Credit: $1,100.00
  • Program Count: 24
Admissions
  • Application Fee: $75
  • Requirements: Vary by program and may include transcripts, contacts for references or letters of recommendation, GRE or GMAT, personal statements, resume, statement of purpose, and course prerequisites

#19 University of Michigan-Flint

  • Annual Tuition: $15,776
  • Locations: Flint (MI)
  • Accreditation: HLC

[Faculty] are experienced, knowledgeable, open-minded, easy to contact and receptive to students... The financial aid office is very helpful, and in addition the university offers many types of aid (grants, scholarships, loans)...

The University of Michigan’s Flint campus offers master’s degrees in science, applied science, and business administration. Each of these degree types offers multiple program options. For example, students can obtain a Master of Science in Nursing, Psychology, Social Work, Respiratory Therapy, or Substance Abuse Treatment and Intervention. The length of each program may vary, but many require 30 to 36 credit hours to complete.

The University of Michigan utilizes the Blackboard learning management system. Students enrolled in online programs may participate in a wide variety of activities, including audio and videocasts, online chats, discussion boards, lectures, and more. Learning may be synchronous or asynchronous, depending on the program and course chosen. Scholarships, loans, and grants are available to help with the cost of tuition for online students. UM-Flint also offers additional resources through the career center to help students with networking before and after graduation.

The exact admission requirements for students at UM-Flint depend on the program. Most programs require a bachelor’s degree in a related field. Students may also need to meet minimum GPA requirements and submit GRE scores. Applications can be submitted online. Students admitted to online programs have access to many resources through the Student Success Center, including academic advising and tutoring.

School Overview
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 476
  • School Type: Non-Profit
Program Overview
  • Cost per Credit: $986.00
  • Program Count: 31
Admissions
  • Application Fee: $55
  • Requirements: Vary by program and may include transcripts, GMAT or GRE, statement of purpose, resume, letters of recommendation, min 3.0 GPA, and a professional goal statement

#20 Washington State University

  • Annual Tuition: $9,147
  • Locations: Pullman (WA)
  • Accreditation: NWCCU

I find the classroom setting preferable over the online only options some choose. I admire the professors and their individual attention to our classes.

Great online program. Easy to understand and apply concepts. Excellent staff and support system.

Washington State University (WSU) offers 22 online master’s degree programs, including a Master of Science, Master of Education, Master of Business Administration, and Master of Arts. These degrees are available in various fields, including education, business, agriculture, communication, engineering, and nursing. Most graduate programs require only 30 credit hours, but some require a greater time investment.

WSU currently uses Blackboard Learn to deliver online courses but will be transitioning to Canvas by 2021. Canvas will support synchronous and asynchronous course activities, including lectures, discussion boards, tests, reading, and more. Financial aid may be available to students in the form of scholarships and state or federal assistance. Resources available include career counseling, online tutoring, virtual mentors, and library services. Students at WSU are part of the institution’s Global Campus, providing valuable connections that help them succeed during and after their graduate programs.

WSU follows a traditional semester schedule, allowing students to begin most programs in fall, spring, or summer. Most master’s program admissions requirements include evidence of a bachelor’s degree, submission of past transcripts, and a completed online application. Individual programs may have other admissions requirements.

School Overview
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 993
  • School Type: Non-Profit
Program Overview
  • Cost per Credit: $609.80
  • Program Count: 22
Admissions
  • Application Fee: $75
  • Requirements: Vary by program and may include work experience, min 3.0 GPA, GMAT, letters of recommendation, statement of purpose, resume, organizational chart, transcripts, and an interview

#21 Mercy College

  • Annual Tuition: $16,686
  • Locations: Dobbs Ferry (NY)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

The school counseling program at Mercy college has well prepared me to enter the counseling field post-graduation. ...The [professors] at Mercy are challenging and are willing to offer any insight they have within the counseling world. What is very helpful is that most of the professors already have worked as a counseling (school counselor or mental health), so they know the ins and outs of the profession. ...I am extremely pleased with all of my professors I have had in my class.

The program is completely online, but the faculty are always accessible. The professors are willing to help and work with each student independently.

Mercy College offers 41 online master’s degree programs in science, education, human resources management, psychology, nursing, and more. The degree types available include a Master of Science, Master of Public Administration, and Master of Arts. The number of credits required to complete a program varies, ranging anywhere from 36 to 60 credits.

Students at Mercy College will use the Blackboard learning management system to complete coursework. This system will provide access to assignments, discussions, readings, videos, and other course materials. Students may also need to take quizzes and exams. Learning is asynchronous, but students must still meet specific deadlines for assignments. Scholarships and loans may be available to help make tuition more affordable. This institution also accepts military education benefits.

All students applying to online graduate programs at Mercy College will need to submit official transcripts and a completed online application. Individual programs have additional requirements, including test scores, a personal statement, a resume, and letters of recommendation. Mercy College offers enrolled students access to the On-Demand Learning Center that provides writing and research assistance.

School Overview
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 639
  • School Type: Non-Profit
Program Overview
  • Cost per Credit: $927.00
  • Program Count: 40
Admissions
  • Application Fee: $40
  • Requirements: Vary by program and may include transcripts, letters of recommendation, personal statement, resume, and test scores

#22 California State University-Dominguez Hills

  • Annual Tuition: $7,176
  • Locations: Carson (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

I feel supported and that I have the resources to develop greatly into my future profession at this school.

California State University (CSU) at Dominguez Hills offers 15 online master’s degree programs. Three types of degrees are available: a Master of Arts, Master of Science, and Master of Public Administration. Students can pursue graduate studies in nursing, public administration, systems engineering, negotiation, and quality assurance. Within each degree, students can select from several different concentrations. The number of credit hours required to complete a program varies, with many programs requiring 30 to 36 credit hours. Start dates follow a traditional semester-based learning schedule.

CSU at Dominguez Hills uses the Blackboard online learning management system. Most coursework is completed asynchronously and may include videos, online message boards, exams, collaboration with classmates, and discussion forums. Financial aid opportunities include loans and scholarships. Financing plans may also be available for qualifying students.

Admission requirements may vary for each master’s degree program. Typically, students must show evidence of a bachelor’s degree and possess a minimum cumulative GPA. Programs may also require GRE or GMAT test scores. Applications must be submitted online. Resumes, transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement are standard admission requirements. After being admitted, students can access support services through the advising team.

School Overview
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 927
  • School Type: Non-Profit
Program Overview
  • Program Count: 15
Admissions
  • Application Fee: $70
  • Requirements: Vary by program and may include min 2.5 GPA in bachelor's, transcripts, and course prerequisites

#23 Purdue University - Main Campus

  • Annual Tuition: $20,730
  • Locations: West Lafayette (IN)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Online students follow an on-campus class, which means that all the lectures, classwork and finals are exactly the same for every student... The professors are very tech-savvy and they do a good job at making the distance students feel like they are always available for questions.

Even though I'm not sitting in a classroom, there is a high level of involvement among students enrolled in online classes.

Purdue University’s main campus offers 83 online master’s degrees in a range of fields. Students can obtain a master’s degree in engineering, economics, business analytics, nursing, hospitality, and much more. The number of credit hours needed to complete these programs varies; Many require only 30 credit hours to complete, while some require a more significant time investment.

Purdue University uses the Brightspace learning management system to facilitate online learning. The majority of online courses are asynchronous. Students may participate in online discussions, watch lectures, read materials, complete papers, and take tests. Group work is sometimes required. Financial aid is available and includes grants, loans, or scholarships to qualifying students. Various support sources are available through the Graduate Resource Center, which provides students with information on social networking, career services, professional memberships, and more.

Purdue University’s online master’s degree programs offer varying start dates. Most programs have at least three start dates available each year. To be admitted to an online master’s program at Purdue, students must hold a bachelor’s degree. Application requirements vary according to the specific program. For example, some programs require GRE scores, while others do not. Students may also need to provide references and show evidence that they have completed specific prerequisite courses.

School Overview
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 2,156
  • School Type: Non-Profit
Program Overview
  • Cost per Credit: $1,382.00
  • Program Count: 77
Admissions
  • Application Fee: $60
  • Requirements: Vary by program and may include statement of purpose, transcripts, letters of recommendation, resume, course prerequisites, GRE or GMAT, min 3.0 GPA, video essay, and an interview

#24 Boston University

  • Annual Tuition: $56,854
  • Locations: Boston (MA)
  • Accreditation: NECHE

The professors are knowledgeable, creative and accessible in the teaching of the courses.

The instructors are very accessible and want to make sure you're getting the most out of the program. Overall satisfied with my experience so far.

Boston University offers a total of 50 online master's degree programs. Degrees available from this institution include a Master of Arts, Master of Education, Master of Law, Master of Music, Master of Science, Master of Social Work, and Master of Business Administration. A range of different specialties is available within each of these fields. For example, students can obtain a Master of Education in English, Math, Social Studies, Science, Special Education, Educational Policy, and Leadership Studies. The length of the graduate programs varies from two semesters to 24 months of study.

Boston University’s online learning management system delivers course content to students at their convenience. Learning is asynchronous, and students have access to online lectures, course materials, discussions, exams, and interactive multimedia content. Financial assistance may be available to some online students through grants, loans, and scholarships. Boston University has an extensive alumni network of more than 377,900 people.

Online programs at Boston University follow a traditional semester-based schedule. Each of these online master's programs has different admission requirements, some of which may include unique prerequisites. Students can apply to these programs online. Applicants must complete the full application, submit past transcripts, provide references, and complete other requirements to be considered. Once admitted, students will have access to various support services, including online tutoring, libraries, career development services, and technical support.

School Overview
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 4,878
  • School Type: Non-Profit
Program Overview
  • Program Count: 50
Admissions
  • Requirements: Vary by program and may include letters of recommendation, transcripts, personal statement, resume or CV, portfolio, standardized test score (LSAT, GRE, GMAT), and an interview

Overview: Online Master's Degrees

Can You Get a Graduate Degree Online?

Yes, you can earn a master's degree online. More than 580 accredited colleges offer fully online master's programs in more than 100 disciplines. An accredited online master's degree demonstrates advanced knowledge of a particular subject and can carry the same prestige as an in-person degree.

The number of online degree programs has been growing for years as improving technology creates better, more affordable student experiences. Enrollment in online master's programs has outpaced bachelor's programs, likely because many graduate students are working adults who may find it more convenient to complete a master's degree online. For example, a typical student of the online MBA program at Ohio University is 33 years old and has 8-10 years of work experience, a profile that's remarkably similar for online master's students at Franklin University and likely at other online programs.

An accredited online master's degree demonstrates advanced knowledge of a particular subject and can carry the same prestige as an in-person degree.

How Long Does It Take to Complete a Master's Degree Program?

On average, it takes graduate students 1.5-2 years of full-time study to complete a master’s program, regardless of whether it's earned online or on campus. This may vary if the student enrolls on a part-time basis or applies transfer credits to the program. Most online master's programs fall between 30 and 60 credits, with full-time students taking 12-15 credits per term and able to complete 30 credits per year. For example, St. Joseph's University estimates that students can complete its 30-credit Master of Science in Cybersecurity in as few as 12 months of full-time study.

Some colleges feature 5-6 eight-week terms each year to allow students to take more classes annually and potentially finish a master's degree in one year. Most of these are for-profit schools, but not all of them — for example, the nonprofit University of Arizona offers six terms of 7.5 weeks each year for online students. Note that many master's students prefer to take classes part time on top of jobs and other responsibilities.

Master’s Degree Quick Facts
  • Typical time to completion: 1.5 - 2 years
  • Typical credits needed: 30 - 60

Should I Get a Master's Degree?

Getting a master's degree is a significant time and financial investment. Many people pursue graduate degrees to increase their earning potential or broaden their career opportunities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has identified the career paths where workers earn more with a master's degree than a bachelor's degree. These fields are business, education, healthcare and social services, and STEM.

Comparing the Online and In-Person Experiences

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 40% of U.S. graduate students were taking at least one online class in the fall of 2018, with 30% taking exclusively online courses. This is about 1.2 million students, though some of them are studying for doctoral or professional degrees rather than master's degrees.

Students may be wondering what distance learning will look like from day to day, and how they'll experience courses differently from how they would in person. Most online master's degree programs offer asynchronous learning options so that students can log in to their classes to watch lectures and work on assignments at any time. Professors usually require a minimum number of discussion posts from students each week and assign group projects to keep online programs as interactive as possible. Some courses require synchronous attendance at lectures, though this is less common and the lectures are usually during evening hours to accommodate working students. Some programs are designed with short on-campus residency periods to orient students and encourage cohort camaraderie.

Online Degree Benefits

If the day-to-day experience of online learning sounds appealing, you may be curious about the overall benefits of pursing higher education online. The benefits of online include the ability to work when it's convenient for you, the time and money savings on transportation, and potential cost savings on tuition. This convenience can be important for the more than 70% of graduate students who are working, including those raising families.

Traditional Degree Benefits

The main benefit of a traditional degree is face time with classmates and faculty, which may lead to career-boosting opportunities for networking. On-campus master's programs also usually focus on research, and some research opportunities may be lacking in an online program. Finally, data shows that students in on-campus and hybrid programs complete their degrees and graduate at higher rates than online students. Researchers haven't agreed on the reason for this, but it may be that some online schools are low-quality, unaccredited diploma mills that don't offer much student support. This is why students should be sure their school is accredited, and look at the resources available to them.

Are Online Master's Degrees Respected?

Accreditation is the key factor in determining whether your online master's degree will have value and be respected. If you want a prospective employer to respect your education, choose a degree from school that volunteers to meet standardized quality criteria set by an accrediting institution. We list the accreditation information for all colleges on our site.

Accreditation is the key factor in determining whether your online master's degree will have value and be respected.

Unless you attend an exclusively online college, your employer may not even know you earned your degree online. Although perceptions of online education are changing as more students enroll in these programs, most colleges understand the lingering stigma around online degrees. Many of them don't distinguish between online and traditional programs in their transcripts and diplomas.

What's the Easiest Master's Degree to Get Online?

Many students are drawn to online master's programs because of the flexibility they provide. With so many choices online, you may be wondering what the easiest degree will be. Subject matter that you find easy may be difficult for other people, so one answer won't cover every individual, but there are some factors that help determine how difficult a program will be. These include admissions requirements (more exclusive colleges might feature more difficult programs), the length of the program (you may stay motivated if you're on track to finish quickly), the level of student support the school offers, and what culminating projects or experiences are required (e.g., research paper or internship). You can get a sense of these factors from the web pages of individual programs and from reading reviews from real students and alumni.

You might also wonder which programs are easiest to find in the online format. The fields with the most choices for online master's degrees are business and management, nursing, education, and engineering. Each discipline offers hundreds or even thousands of accredited programs to choose from, varying in length from 12-36 months. These degrees often require an experiential component, such as an internship, student teaching, or nursing clinicals.

Applying to Online Master's Programs

Once you've found a program that fits your needs, the next step is to apply. Though schools have different procedures and requirements, some elements are common to all.

You'll submit your official undergraduate transcripts by requesting that your alma mater send them to the admissions office of the school where you're applying.

Colleges usually require a minimum undergraduate GPA from master's applicants because they want students who will demonstrate mastery of a subject within 1-3 years.

You may need to gather and submit letters of recommendation from professors or managers, an essay or statement of purpose, and a resume detailing relevant professional experience.

Many schools require minimum scores on the Graduate Records Examination (GRE) test or, for business students, the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT).

These admissions criteria from the University of Washington's Department of Mechanical Engineering provide a representative example.

How Much Does an Online Master's Degree Cost?

The cost of an online master's program will vary by the school and subject. Annual tuition rates range from around $2,700 to about $60,000 a year, and the average tuition for schools on our best-of list is $21,116. Although tuition makes up the largest percentage of total college cost, it isn't the whole story. Schools charge a range of fees, including technology fees and a graduation assessment for students in their final term. Online students will need to buy books and the occasional software package, and they need to ensure access to a high-speed internet connection. Costs can be partially or mostly defrayed by financial aid from a variety of sources, including federal and state aid, institutional grants and scholarships, and loans (which you'll need to repay with interest).

Annual tuition rates range from around $2,700 to about $60,000 a year, and the average tuition for schools on our best-of list is $21,116.

In addition to the up-front cost of tuition and related fees, it may be helpful to consider future earnings. Our ROI scores can help you weigh a program's upfront cost against the likelihood that it will pay off later. The scores show that a more expensive education doesn't necessarily lead to greater earning potential mid-career — for example, the second- and third-ranked schools on the master's degree list both cost less than the fourth- and fifth-ranked schools.

What Is the Cheapest Way to Get a Master's Degree?

Earning an online master's degree can be a more affordable route, whether you attend a public or private college. Many schools charge a flat tuition rate to online students regardless of where they live. This rate is often lower than the on-campus rate because colleges can enroll more online students without making costly infrastructure upgrades.

Another way to lower the cost of your degree is to finish the program more quickly. Some schools offer accelerated online degrees with short academic terms that run end to end, which allows students to take more courses per year. Schools with generous transfer policies can also accelerate degree completion, especially if they offer prior learning assessments that grant credits for work, volunteering, or other life experiences. For example, Thomas Edison University allows students to submit a portfolio to earn credit for extracurricular experience.

Is an Online Master's Degree Worth It?

Earning a master's degree can be costly in money and time, but the effort can lead to significant payoff: the average professional with a master's earns a median of $13,000 more each year than someone with only a bachelor's degree and experiences less unemployment over the course of their career. An online program can provide extra flexibility to make a master's degree especially attainable.

Median weekly earnings for bachelor's degree holders versus master's degree holders

The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the value of a master's degree. People with advanced degrees were more likely to start a new job in 2020 than those with less education (this data includes doctorates and professional degrees such as M.D.s and J.D.s). The sudden universal pivot into online learning in 2020 may also lead to an increase in the quality of online master's degrees, further eroding any lingering stigma about distance education programs.

Online degrees involve less interaction with classmates and faculty, so students will likely forego some opportunities for networking, social connection, and perhaps personalized instruction. Depending on your learning style and the discipline, you may prefer to work asynchronously and separate from classmates. The online experience can also help prepare you for remote work, an increasing trend in many sectors of the economy. You'll need to weigh all these factors to decide whether an online master's degree is a good fit for you.

This website offers school details to prospective students as an informational resource. The appearance of a school listing on this website should not be interpreted as an endorsement of the school by this site.