ACCREDITED ONLINE MASTER’S DEGREES

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A master’s degree is a graduate level degree that typically takes two years to complete. Accelerated online master’s degree programs may be completed in as little as a year. Many students enroll in master’s programs immediately after earning a bachelor’s degree. Students who choose to earn a master’s degree typically want to build on their existing career specialties or return to college to change careers. Master’s degrees have a positive impact on long-term career success and earning power.

Best Online Master’s Programs 2018-2019

Methodology
2-Year Colleges

After completing an undergraduate degree, many students fill up their schedules with new work opportunities, making it difficult to return to school to earn a master’s degree. However, by studying at a school that offers their degree in an entirely online format, students are able to progress through their program at a comfortable pace, without interrupting any non-curricular scheduling constraints that may prevent them from attending class in-person. We’ve compiled a comprehensive list of the best online master’s programs available, basing our findings on the school’s affordability, available student services, and class sizes. Check out our rankings list for 2018 to find a top online master’s program.

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Rank University Title Tuition # of Online Programs Expand Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid Credit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services University Description
1 University of Scranton $11,352 7 75% 81% 93% Yes Yes Yes

Founded more than a century ago, the University of Scranton is a Jesuit Catholic institution that emphasizes ethics in learning and encourages students to translate their education into positive change. Scranton offers a total of 7 online master's programs. One of these is an MBA degree with several specialized tracks, including accounting, human resources, health care management and international business; there are also master's degree options in the fields of accountancy, finance, education, health administration, health informatics and human resources. Faculty mentors are assigned to all graduate students to help them plan their schedules and assess their progress throughout the program. Programs require between 30 and 36 credit hours to complete, so students can expect a 2-year commitment for most programs, but some, such as finance, could take as little as 12 months with appropriate planning. Some programs, such as accountancy, have prerequisite courses that must be satisfied before enrollment.

2 Robert Morris University $15,386 9 80% 63% 97% Yes Yes Yes

Robert Morris University was founded as a small accounting school in suburban Pittsburgh in 1921, but has since grown to offer a full range of courses in business, education, health care, technology and other industries. Out of its 24 graduate programs, 17 are offered fully online, offering students the opportunity to pursue an education even while maintaining their working lives. The master's degree offerings include programs in nonprofit leadership, data analytics, human resource management, instructional management and leadership, engineering management, internet information systems, and cybersecurity and information assurance. Nursing students can choose from an MSN degree in either nursing education or nursing leadership, a dual MSN/MBA, or an RN-to-MSN track. Most programs are structured to encompass 30 credit hours that can be completed in as few as 2 years; however, some more intensive programs will require additional time - the health services administration degree, for example, has a 42-credit hour requirement.

3 Xavier University $10,908 18 69% 71% 99% Yes Yes Yes

With high postgraduate employment and salary rates, Xavier University's graduate programs prepare students for solid work prospects after graduation, while also instilling the Jesuit institution's values of community service, sustainability and religious inclusion. Xavier offers 8 different master's degree programs, such as business administration, coaching education and athlete development, criminal justice, Montessori education, nursing, and health economics and clinical outcomes research. Each program has different graduation requirements. The most intensive is the MBA program which requires 39-45 credit hours. The criminal justice program requires 30 credit hours which, if taken full-time, can be completed in as little as a year and part-time in 2 years. Programs such as the Montessori education program can be completed in 12-18 months (33 credits) depending on whether students have achieved certain credentials that can be translated into credit hours. Xavier also provides online students with access to professional mentors, no matter what program or degree they're pursuing.

4 Bethel University $9,630 4 82% 74% 100% Yes Yes Yes

Christian values serve as the guiding principles at Bethel University, which offers several online graduate programs in the fields of health care, K-12 education, special education, athletic training and business. Several MBA options are available, with concentrations in finance, global management and healthcare administration. The credit requirements and duration of each program vary according to its intensiveness, and coursework may be fully or partially online. For example, students in the nurse-midwifery program must fulfill 57 credits; online coursework is combined with intensive practicum portions. There are options to complete the program in either 2 or 3 years. The strategic leadership program has somewhat more flexibility and can be completed 100% online (with options to take courses in-person if a student chooses). Courses are slated to start every 6 to 8 weeks to accommodate various schedules, and students can complete their degrees in as few as 12 to 18 months.

5 Independence University $15,616 7 - 100% 79% Yes Yes Yes

Having offered online or distance education options for 40 years, Independence University is now a fully online college with several graduate program options. Independence caters to students who have either already begun their careers or are eager to get started; its streamlined educational process is designed to get students into the workforce as quickly as possible with programs that forego traditional elective requirements. The university's master's programs - most of which can be completed in 15 months - include degrees in health care administration, public health, nursing education, nursing administration and information systems, as well as 2 MBA options - one general and one with a entrepreneurship focus. Although coursework is completed online, students can also gain experience from Independence's national professional network of businesses and healthcare organizations. Independence also offers online students personalized advising and free tutoring services. Classes are on a rolling schedule, so that students can begin courses at multiple times throughout the year.

6 Saint Joseph's University $16,092 17 78% 74% 97% Yes Yes Yes

More than 160 years old, Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia is a Jesuit institution that emphasizes ethics and leadership in the student population, providing a broad liberal arts foundation as well as career training. Students with an eye toward graduate study can choose a master's degree from the school's 12 online program options, including business intelligence and analytics, food marketing (MBA), financial services, health administration, organization development and leadership, special education, and strategic human resources management. Each program has different requirements. For example, the financial services program can be completed with 30 credit hours if certain prerequisites have already been satisfied, while an MBA requires an investment of more than 50 credit hours. Most programs are flexible, allowing students to choose an accelerated schedule that lets them study full-time to finish in 1 year to 18 months, or to work part-time and expect to finish in 2 years.

7 Salve Regina University $9,180 5 68% 68% 99% Yes Yes Yes

Salve Regina University is a Catholic university that began as a small undergraduate women's college in the 1930s, but expanded to welcome men and add graduate education options in the 1970s. Today the school offers 6 graduate degree programs entirely online: administration of justice and homeland security; business administration; health care administration and management; humanities, innovation and strategic management; and international relations. The rehabilitation counseling program offers some, but not all, courses online as well. Students may also choose a hybrid format if it better fits their schedules, attending some classes on campus and doing other work online. Students should expect coursework to reveal strong ties to Salve Regina's Catholic mission; much of the curriculum takes an in-depth look at issues surrounding ethics and justice, and students are encouraged to explore ways to apply their knowledge to global political problems. Most of the degree programs require 36 credits (or 12 courses) to graduate.

8 Saint Joseph's College of Maine $8,460 8 78% 63% 97% Yes Yes Yes

Saint Joseph's College of Maine is a liberal arts college rooted in the Catholic tradition, but welcomes students from all faiths. The school offers an array of online master's programs, in fields such as accounting, business, health administration, education, nursing and theology. In the education department, specializations include adult education and Catholic school leadership. Nursing students may choose from several individualized tracks, ranging from administration to education to gerontological acute care. Given the school's Catholic affiliation, the theology program is particularly extensive, with focuses in theology, pastoral ministry to minority populations, and Jewish-Christian studies. Program requirements vary widely. For example, the Master of Divinity program requires 90 credits to complete; however, there's a fast-track option for students who already have a master's degree in theology or ministry that brings that commitment down to 72 credits. Other programs are more standard in length, ranging from about 33-42 credit hours. Rolling admissions times allow students to begin at various times; terms last for 10 weeks.

9 Hamline University $8,532 5 70% 65% 100% Yes Yes Yes

As Minnesota's first university, Hamline University has been offering a liberal arts education since 1854. Hamline taught its first students in the space above a general store; now the university serves students with a full range of on-campus and online education. A variety of master's programs - in areas such as business, law and education - are available in both fully online and hybrid formats. Graduation requirements vary by program. For example, the public administration program is a hybrid program that requires 48 credit hours to complete; students do most of their coursework online, and supplement it with short residencies on the St. Paul campus every 8 weeks. The study of law program is similarly structured as a hybrid but only requires 34 credit hours and can be completed full time in as little as 18 months. A master's degree in education can be completed fully online (with the option to take courses on campus if desired by the student) and can be completed within 18 to 24 months. Not all online options are offered every semester.

10 Creighton University $14,760 11 71% 73% 98% Yes Yes Yes

Like other Jesuit institutions, Creighton University stresses an education that enables students to improve the world around them. Creighton offers 16 master's degree programs in a range of areas such as educational leadership, emergency medical services, finance, health care ethics and ministry. Each program has different parameters depending on the intensiveness of the course load; required credit hours range from 30 to 45. For example, the negotiation and conflict resolution program - aimed at those interested in high-level positions in fields such as human resources, healthcare or local and state government - requires 33 credit hours. The program is flexible in that there are 3 start dates a year and can be completed in 16 to 20 months completely online. Students in the Executive Healthcare MBA program - designed for clinicians who are chairing a department or others in healthcare leadership positions - will need to satisfy 45 credit hours. The MBA program is mostly online, but also includes 4 on-campus residencies lasting 4 days each. The program can be completed in 18 months.

11 McDaniel College $8,550 3 78% 69% 99% Yes No Yes

For a small private institution located outside of Baltimore, McDaniel College has a wide reach, achieved through academic partnerships with institutions all over the world, as well as a satellite McDaniel campus in Budapest, Hungary. That desire to connect students to education and experiences extends to McDaniel's full complement of online offerings. Several master's degree programs are offered completely online, including curriculum and instruction, data analytics, educational leadership, gerontology, public administration and policy, school librarianship and TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages). The duration of programs vary, ranging from 30 to 36 credit hours. Some programs are designed to satisfy professional certification requirements; others, however, are not. For students seeking a condensed education schedule, McDaniel also offers some of its online programs in a 5-year, bachelor's-to-master's format. Hybrid learning options are also available for students who prefer to do some classwork on-campus and some online.

12 Villanova University $17,917 18 44% 90% 53% No Yes Yes

Villanova University is known for its academic programs. The only Augustine Catholic university in the nation, Villanova supplements its tradition of campus learning with a small selection of graduate-level online offerings designed to appeal to students who need flexibility in their schedules. 2 online master's degree programs are offered 100% online: a Master of Science in Human Resource Development and a Master of Public Administration. Both programs require the completion of 36 credit hours and each has its unique advantages. The human resource program is recognized by the Society for Human Resources Management for professional development credits and certifications, and is designed to prepare students for successful careers as recruiters, corporate trainers and human resource managers. The public administration program is accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration and gives students the opportunity to pursue specializations in nonprofit management or city management.

13 Azusa Pacific University $16,224 8 61% 69% 97% Yes Yes Yes

Azusa Pacific University is an evangelical Christian university that serves students seeking an education backed by Christian values. One of the college's goals is to make education accessible and convenient, and it has several online or low-residency master's programs. Programs offered completely online (requiring 30-plus credit hours to graduate) include arts education, educational leadership, educational technology, health care administration and leadership (under the Master of Nursing heading), nursing education, business management, modern art history, physical education, school librarianship and transformational urban leadership. Low-residency programs in music entrepreneurship and screenwriting are also offered, for which students complete much of the program online while also attending a limited number of in-person courses. Program lengths vary, typically spanning 1 to 2 years. Online students also receive comprehensive technical support, in addition to access to on-campus resources such as the library, writing center and academic support.

14 Canisius College $14,310 11 78% 69% 99% Yes Yes Yes

Education at Canisius College reflects its Jesuit roots, including the Jesuit traditions of academic achievement, leadership and service. It offers online master's programs in 2 of its 3 colleges: the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Education and Human Services. The master's degree programs offered fully online include applied nutrition, community and school health, educational leadership and supervision, respiratory care, sports administration and sports product development, as well as various education programs, including literacy education, physical education, and TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). Programs can be completed in several configurations: fully online; through a hybrid format where most courses are online although there are some residency requirements; or in blended classes that include online components - such as specific workshops, discussions, or presentations - for courses that are primarily campus-based. Completion times vary; Canisius operates on a traditional semester schedule, but some classes are offered in shorter modules.

15 The College of Saint Scholastica $11,160 7 64% 62% 100% Yes Yes Yes

The College of St. Scholastica was established in 1912 in Minnesota and anchors its educational goals in the Catholic Benedictine values of hospitality, stewardship, respect, community and love of learning. In addition to physical campuses in several areas across the state, the college also offers a strong online presence, with 5 master's degree programs that can be completed either partially or fully online. St. Scholastica was the first college in the country to have a program in health informatics; today the school offers a master of science in that field, as well as master's degrees in health information management and project management. Students may also pursue a Master of Education or a Master of Business Administration in rural healthcare. Program lengths vary, requiring anywhere from 30 to 42 credit hours to complete. Most programs can be completed within 2 years and the MBA program is structured so that students can complete the program on a part-time basis (taking 1 course per term) within 2 years.

16 Bethel College-Indiana $6,750 4 98% 72% 99% Yes Yes Yes

Established in 1947 and affiliated with the Christian Missionary Church, Bethel College-Indiana offers several graduate degree programs online. Online master's degrees can be earned in business administration, education, teaching and ministry. A graduate level school administration or special education licensure can also be achieved online. The Master's in Counseling program is offered in a hybrid format; students who choose this program can expect to take most courses online, but will need to visit the campus for some in-person classes. Flexibility is built into the schedule, so students may begin their coursework during any of the 6 start dates staggered throughout the year, and each course can be completed within 7 weeks, before the next scheduled start date. Most programs require a total of 36 credit hours. Bethel also caters to adult students by offering credit for previous learning, and academic advisers are specifically dedicated to their respective programs to ensure students enroll in the appropriate classes.

17 Marist College $14,040 4 41% 78% 86% Yes Yes Yes

Marist College is a private liberal arts institution in Poughkeepsie, New York, with several online master's degree options. As one example, the online MBA at Marist can be earned entirely remotely, with flexible scheduling designed for professionals who are already working full-time. More than 90% of MBA students at Marist earn their degrees while working and balancing family commitments. Other available master's programs, delivered either online or in a hybrid format, cover subjects such as communication, educational psychology and public administration. All online courses are delivered asynchronously through the iLearn platform and can be accessed 24/7. Prospective students for the MBA program must complete the online graduate admission application and answer three essay questions, as well as submit their GRE or GMAT scores, official transcripts, and a current resume. Other master's programs at Marist do not require that students take the GRE or GMAT. Depending on the program and your enrollment status as part-time or full-time, your master's degree can take 2-5 years to complete.

18 Gonzaga University $16,457 6 67% 84% 99% No Yes Yes

Gonzaga University is a Roman Catholic institution located in Spokane, Washington. Established in 1887, Gonzaga offers several options for online master's degrees. Among the offerings are programs in nursing, organizational leadership, and communication and leadership studies. Two standout programs are the Master's in Sports and Athletic Administration and the Master's in Theology and Leadership. These degrees require 31 and 30 course credits, respectively, and take full-time students 2 years to complete. Distance learners in the sports and athletic administration program explore the marketing, communications, media relations, and financial aspects of the sports industry. Graduates of this program may move into careers working as sports facilities managers, athletic directors, and sports marketing specialists, among many other positions. Learners who complete the master's in theology often work in campus or youth ministry, for nonprofit organizations, or as chaplains. The theology degree requires 2 on-campus commitments for community building purposes but can be completed mostly in the online format. The theology program is offered at a reduced tuition rate from other programs at Gonzaga. Eligible students in any master's degree program can receive up to $20,500 in financial aid; internal scholarships through Gonzaga are also available for all online programs.

19 DePaul University $18,960 14 70% 73% 95% Yes Yes Yes

DePaul University is a private school in Chicago that is home to the Kellstadt Graduate School of Business. As a distance learner, you can earn a master's degree in business information technology entirely online or in a blended format. Courses are delivered asynchronously, allowing you to access audio and video lectures, as well as whiteboard notes and supplemental materials, at any time. This joint degree between the College of Computer and Digital Media and the Kellstadt School teaches students management skills, core business concepts, and methods of serving populations in information-dependent areas. Other available online master's programs cover disciplines such as game programming, health informatics, and network engineering and security. Most programs require students to complete 52 credit hours and a capstone course, in addition to maintaining a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher. For transfer students, a maximum of 2 courses may be counted toward your master's degree. While tuition between master's programs varies, all online students pay the same tuition costs and fees as on-campus students.

20 Endicott College $11,489 5 79% 73% 89% Yes Yes Yes

The Van Loan School at Endicott College in Beverly, Massachusetts, offers adult learners several educational degrees ranging from athletic administration to homeland security studies. Its online programs allow both full- and part-time students to earn their degrees in either hybrid or online formats. Among their many online offerings, Endicott's online education program stands out with an accelerated Master of Education in Teaching, as well as master's degrees in education specialties such as elementary education, secondary education and administrative leadership. Most of Endicott's master's degree programs require approximately 36 credit hours and take up to 2 years to complete. Endicott also offers a fifth-year master's option, wherein undergraduate students can take an extra year to earn both their bachelor's and master's degrees simultaneously. To apply, students must complete the online application, as well as submit 2 letters of recommendation, official transcripts of all post-secondary academic work, confirmation of their undergraduate degree, and a personal essay. Non-native English speakers must score a minimum of 550 (paper-based) or 79 (iBT) on the TOEFL exam. An IELTS score of 6.0 or higher is also acceptable.

21 Niagara University $12,690 6 83% 65% 99% Yes Yes Yes

Niagara University, a Catholic university established in 1856 and located in Lewiston, New York, offers several online master's degree options for distance learners. Niagara's master's of education degrees, including programs in special education and educational leadership, as well as the online MBA, aim to teach students instructional principles and practices applicable to teaching students of all skill levels and abilities, as well as those with physical and mental disabilities. Graduates of the special education and educational leadership programs are trained to work effectively in a variety of educational settings where they evaluate student progress, and make the appropriate accommodations to deliver the best, individualized instruction for their students. Niagara distance learners majoring in educational leadership can choose from specializations in school building, district, or district business leadership. Online students in the MBA program can specialize in strategic marketing, sharpen their technical and managerial skills, and learn the core business knowledge needed in a digital economy. Online tuition at Niagara is slightly less than traditional on campus and varies per program. Transfer credits from previously attended colleges and universities are eligible if students earned a "C" or higher in the course; the total number of semester hours accepted for transfer credit is decided by the dean on a case-by-case basis.

22 St John's University-New York $15,888 8 63% 60% 100% Yes Yes Yes

St. John's University in Queens, New York, was founded in 1870 as a Catholic and Vincentian institution emphasizing service to those in need, in the manner of St. Vincent de Paul. As such, its students, who hail from different backgrounds and faiths, are encouraged to combine classroom experience with community service, and many of its courses have a social justice focus. St. John's offers 14 fully online master's degrees, in subjects such as accounting, business, education, global development and social justice, homeland security and criminal justice leadership, integrated advertising communication, library and information science, public health and theology. Three MBAs are offered, in interdisciplinary business, risk management and taxation. Credits, tuition, course terms, quality and rigor of online programs are designed to mirror the programs taught in-person. The online faculty are certified to teach in this format, and course design is reviewed by Quality Matters, a quality assurance program. Courses are delivered asynchronously via the Blackboard online classroom environment and student are not required to come to campus during their program.

23 Biola University $10,350 4 65% 70% 97% Yes Yes Yes

Founded in 1908, Biola University is a Christian university in Southern California accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission. It offers a biblically centered education that's delivered by faculty and staff who are professing Christians. Its online program offerings include 18 master's degrees, all in the fields of education and theology. Its School of Education offers a teaching credential; Master of Arts in education (in varying specialties); Master of Arts in teaching (in varying specialties); Master of Science in special education and curriculum, instruction and publication; certificates in special education and curriculum and instruction; and child development permits all fully online. Students in Biola's Talbot School of Theology can enroll in an online or hybrid master's degree program, to earn an MA in theology (Greek or non-Greek track) or an MA in bible exposition. Every online student is assigned a Success Coach upon enrollment who will remain with the student throughout the life of the program. This coach provides academic advisement, helps the student navigate the enrollment and registration process, assists with financial aid inquiries, provides learning strategies and tips and offers spiritual guidance.

24 Webster University $12,690 32 47% 65% 93% Yes Yes Yes

Webster University is a private, nonprofit university based in St. Louis, Missouri, and is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. It offers a robust selection of online master's degrees in the arts and sciences, business and technology, education, and communications. A dual degree option is available to Master of Business Administration students as well, to concurrently earn an MBA and either a Master of Science in finance or an MS in science management and leadership. Nearly all programs can be completed asynchronously, or at any time of day or night, though the Master of Arts in legal studies, the Master of Public Administration and the MS in space system operations management are delivered synchronously, or on a time-based format. All of Webster's online graduate courses use the same curricula for both on-campus and online classes, and they both have the same rigor and faculty. Most graduate courses run on 9-week terms. They can be taken fully online or in combination with campus-based classes.

25 California Lutheran University $17,500 7 64% 66% 96% Yes Yes Yes

Founded on a California ranch in 1959, California Lutheran University is one of 26 colleges and universities affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, though it serves students of all faiths and cultures. Cal Lutheran offers graduate programs in business, education and theology, all of which are offered online or through a hybrid format. Of note is its wide variety of MBA programs, which include a standard MBA that may be completed entirely online over five 8-week terms, as well as a hybrid, accelerated, cohort-based Executive MBA program that can be completed in 18 months and involves 8 on-campus courses and 7 online courses. For students interested in financial planning, you'll find an MBA and a Master of Science in financial planning that can be completed in 1-3 years. The Graduate School of Education offers 2 master's-level programs that have online components: a preliminary administrative services credential and an MA in educational leadership. Both are for current teachers, are delivered in a hybrid format (60% on-campus/40% online) and can be completed in a year or less. A fully online Master of Divinity program is available as well. Cal Lutheran is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Its Graduate School of Education is authorized by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, and its Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary is accredited by the Commission Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools.

26 Liberty University $8,051 27 24% 55% 88% Yes Yes Yes
27 Duquesne University $22,212 8 74% 76% 99% Yes Yes Yes
28 Philadelphia University $19,620 5 61% 67% 98% Yes Yes Yes
29 Concordia University-Wisconsin $10,170 29 63% 62% 98% Yes Yes Yes
30 Texas A & M University-College Station $5,784 34 67% 81% 54% No Yes Yes
31 Wisconsin Lutheran College $9,450 8 90% 62% 100% Yes Yes Yes
32 Quinnipiac University $17,730 7 76% 77% 93% No Yes Yes
33 University of Dayton $16,020 6 60% 77% 94% No Yes Yes
34 Regis University $11,250 16 57% 60% 97% Yes Yes Yes
35 Baker University $9,990 7 78% 59% 100% Yes Yes Yes
36 Grace College and Theological Seminary $7,872 10 79% 68% 94% Yes Yes Yes
37 DeSales University $19,560 7 76% 71% 99% Yes Yes Yes
38 University of St Francis $13,302 8 49% 57% 100% Yes Yes Yes
39 Maryville University $13,768 3 93% 68% 97% Yes Yes Yes
40 Baldwin Wallace University $12,697 3 60% 69% 99% Yes Yes Yes
41 Messiah College $11,250 3 80% 80% 100% No Yes Yes
42 Cairn University $11,790 6 98% 68% 100% Yes Yes Yes
43 Worcester Polytechnic Institute $25,344 13 48% 86% 99% No Yes Yes
44 Olivet Nazarene University $14,845 8 78% 56% 100% Yes Yes Yes
45 University of Oklahoma-Norman Campus $4,886 12 71% 70% 80% Yes Yes Yes
46 Graceland University $9,079 8 48% 56% 100% Yes Yes Yes
47 Valparaiso University $11,070 6 83% 67% 99% No Yes Yes
48 Champlain College $14,436 12 70% 57% 96% Yes Yes Yes
49 Lewis University $14,310 11 59% 63% 100% Yes Yes Yes
50 Westminster College $13,412 5 84% 63% 98% Yes Yes Yes
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Master’s Degree Basics

The Master’s of Science, Master’s of Arts, Master’s of Business Administration and Master’s of Fine Arts are the most common degrees offered at this level. Coursework can include group seminars, lectures, independent research and internships. Online degree programs are well-suited for students who can’t attend traditional classes. Since much of the degree work involves independent study and research, the curriculum lends itself to distance learning.

Some master’s degree programs, such as a Master’s of Fine Arts, are considered terminal degrees, which means it’s the highest degree level you can achieve in that field. Others provide an academic stepping stone to doctoral degree programs.

Master’s degree coursework is more strenuous and advanced in academic depth and focus than classes at the undergraduate level. The following table shows the complexity and range of courses students take toward completing their graduate degree:

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Course Name Description
Topics in Social and Personal Psychology Graduate students and faculty review current scholarship and research in personal and social psychological topics. Varies by semester. Requires consent of the instructor.
Seminar in International Finance Financial management principles specific to engagements with international monetary systems, foreign trade, working capital, exchange rates, investments, and taxation.
Advanced Topics in Animation Theoretical and practical applications of computer animation technology, including aspects of kinematics, motion capture, and key framing. Laboratory component.
Air Pollution Suppression Engineering Engineering studies of theory and design of pollution reduction technology as applied in fossil fuel power generation or industrial facilities.
Physical Therapy: Biomechanics of Abnormal Movement A study of dynamics and statics evidenced in abnormal multi-joint movement along with a practical application of remedial interventions. Laboratory/lecture.
Principles of Healthcare Human Resource Management Extensive use of software applications and research into theories and practices of recruitment, employee development and retention, personnel management, productivity assessment and organizational leadership.
Criminal Justice Seminar: Race, Gender, and Social Classes The major influences that legal decisions, cultural influences, gender, and class distinctions have on training, policy, law enforcement, and institutionalization.
Advanced Nursing: Neonatal Management Focus on high risk, acutely and gravely ill infants. Emphasis on assessment, stabilization and intervention in a patient and family centered setting.

Master’s Degrees Earning Potential

The proof is in the paycheck. A 2014 report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that professionals in management, business and financial operations took home $1,231 in median weekly earnings. These wages excelled over the median weekly salaries of $504 for service occupations and $685 for workers in sales. The BLS study also cited weekly 2014 median earnings by educational attainment for employees ages 25 or older:

  • No college: $942
  • Bachelor’s degree: $1,633
  • Master’s degree: $2,026
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When to Pursue a Master’s

Many students enroll directly in master’s degree programs upon graduation from their bachelor’s degree institutions. Others return to college after they have worked a while in a career field where promotion and higher earnings depend upon graduate training. Students may also pursue a master’s degree to gain skills and advanced training to facilitate an entire career change. For example, a mid-level manager might enroll in an online MBA degree program to become a business consultant.

Here is a sampling of careers where earning a master’s degree is either required or can prove advantageous for advancement:

  • Education: Post-secondary teachers, school principals and administrators, corporate trainers and researchers.
  • Business/Management: Human resource administrators, financial managers, technology officers, entrepreneurs, personal investment consultants.
  • Healthcare: Nursing managers, healthcare administrators, physician assistants, physical therapists, audiologists, epidemiologists.
  • Communications: Advertising and public relations account executives, internal communications editors, market research specialists.
  • Social sciences: Marriage and family therapists, substance abuse counselors, occupational therapists, social workers.
  • Technology and engineering: Software, network or systems engineers, mobile application developers, petroleum engineers, cloud architects, IT consultants, systems analysts, civil engineers.

How Online Master’s Degree Programs Work

Graduate students today have the opportunity to complete a master’s degree without ever setting foot on a college campus. Traditional, accredited degree-conferring colleges and universities now offer comprehensive online master’s degree programs. Students also have an option of perusing their master’s degrees from fully accredited, for-profit online schools, colleges, and universities.

Students who have never worked online toward a college degree will soon realize that self-discipline is the key to success in a virtual classroom. While courses are self-paced, they have deadlines for completing assignments or class modules and they establish firm dates for taking online exams. Online class sessions are delivered via the college’s web-interface, employing tools such as email, digital bulletin boards, chat sessions, video conference software, conference calls, and real-time interactive multi-media. Assignments, class notes, lectures and other materials are archived so students can view them on a 24/7 basis. There are graduate programs in which the college provides students with laptops. In most cases, a home or work computer/tablet with internet access is all students need to study online.

Online Learning Q&A

As an online graduate student, how will I meet research requirements when I’m never on campus?

A great amount of college research is done online today, whether a student is seated in a library or at home. Online colleges also provide 24/7 access to key databases and subject-matter libraries.

What are the technical requirements for attending classes online?

Online graduate schools provide secure, web-based access to classes through a graphical dashboard. Students that already know how to use email, chat tools, and multimedia players have few problems with the technology. Tech support and tutorials are readily available.

How does an instructor maintain decorum in an online class?

Online colleges establish course “netiquette”, including provisions against flaming, harassment, and posting about topics unrelated to class materials. Violators can be dropped from the course or, in certain instances, from the college.

Is the academic quality the same for online and traditional degree programs?

If the school or program is accredited, students can rest easy. Colleges strive to appoint online faculty members with the experience and credentials to teach traditional on-campus graduate courses.

How are tests and written exams taken online?

When students enroll, they receive a syllabus that identifies testing dates and times. In most cases, graduate midterms or finals are timed and once a student begins the exam, the clock starts ticking.

Master’s Degree Accreditation

Accreditation is a voluntary review of colleges and programs that let students and employers know that the schools meet or exceed requirements for providing quality academic programs and faculties. According to The Council for Higher Education Accreditation, accrediting agencies must be approved by the United States Department of Education. There are 19 recognized organizations that offer institution-wide accreditation and 60 agencies that award programmatic accreditations for special departments. Six regional accreditation agencies are the ones that typically award accreditations for master’s degree-conferring schools, colleges and universities.

To gain accreditation, schools first conduct internal assessments of their programs, their faculty and academic quality against standardized performance measurements. That review is followed by a campus visit by an accreditation agency. Finally, the agency offers its independent analysis and grants accreditation if the institution is worthy. Routine follow-up assessments help the school maintain accreditation as well as measure academic improvements. Whether a school is accredited can make a difference in how an employer views a graduate degree. Only accredited institutions can participate in Federal student aid programs such as grants, loans and fellowships.