Accredited Online Master’s Programs 2021

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A master’s degree can mean new career opportunities, greater responsibilities at work, and a higher earning potential. Accredited online master’s programs help graduate students advance their education in a flexible format.

In diverse fields like education, business, and social work, a master’s degree opens the door to new roles like principal, manager, or clinical social worker. In other fields, professionals need a master’s degree for entry-level positions. For example, many counselors and therapists need a master’s degree.

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Professionals with a master’s degree earn higher salaries and benefit from lower unemployment rates, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). A master’s degree translates into nearly $13,000 more in wages per year compared with a bachelor’s degree. Some fields report even higher increases. Professionals with a bachelor’s in business administration earn around $64,000 per year according to PayScale, while professionals with a master of business administration (MBA) earn about $89,000 per year.

Our list ranks the best master’s programs online to help prospective students find the right fit for reaching their career goals.

Top 10 Accredited Online Master’s Programs

Rank School Location
1 University of Florida Gainesville, Florida
2 California State University-Bakersfield Bakersfield, California
3 California State University-Los Angeles Los Angeles, California
4 California State University-Fresno Fresno, California
5 American University Washington, District of Columbia
6 University of Connecticut Storrs, Connecticut
7 The University of Texas at Austin Austin, Texas
8 Indiana University-Bloomington Bloomington, Indiana
9 California State University-Sacramento Sacramento, California
10 University of San Diego San Diego, California

FAQ

Question Answer
Can I do my master’s degree online? Yes. Many colleges and universities offer online master’s programs in counseling, technology, and many other fields.
How much does it cost to get an online degree? The cost of an online college degree varies depending on the school, program, and enrollment options. In-state public schools generally charge the lowest tuition rates.
Do employers like online master’s degrees? An accredited online degree meets the same standards for educational excellence as an accredited in-person degree. Many employers hire candidates with an online master’s degree.
Is college cheaper online? Attending college online can save students money. Some schools offer tuition discounts for online learners and distance learners often save on transportation, parking, and commuting costs.

What Are the Goals of an Online Master's Degree?

A master’s degree offers advanced study in fields like engineering, the liberal arts, and technology. In many fields, a master’s degree prepares graduates for increased responsibilities. During a master’s in education administration, for example, teachers train for roles as principals or school administrators. An MBA prepares graduates for management-level opportunities in business.

An online master’s program helps learners complete a graduate degree with a flexible schedule. In many programs, online learners can study at any time from any place, making it easier for many students to earn a master’s degree.

Why Get an Online Master’s Degree?



Earning a master’s degree offers many personal and professional benefits. The online learning format particularly appeals to working professionals seeking a flexible route to career advancement.

Career Advancement
In many fields, a master’s degree helps professionals advance to supervisory or administrative roles. Earning a master’s degree online helps professionals pursue roles with greater responsibility.
Increased Earning Potential
A master’s degree often translates into a higher earning potential. Roles like manager, administrator, or supervisor, which often require a master’s degree, pay higher salaries.
Flexibility
Working professionals can complete a master’s degree online while continuing to work thanks to the flexibility of the online learning format. Distance learners often arrange coursework around their other responsibilities.
Accessibility
An online master’s program lets students enroll in top-ranked or specialized programs without needing to relocate or leave their current job. As a result, online programs rank high for accessibility.
Cost Savings
Online learners often benefit from cost savings, including by saving money on transportation, commuting, and parking costs. Some schools also offer tuition discounts for fully online students.

What Are the Requirements for an Online School?



Students considering master’s programs online must meet certain requirements to gain admission. At most universities, applicants need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school. Some programs also set coursework prerequisites or prefer candidates with a major or minor in a related field. Applicants may also need to submit standardized test scores, a current resume or CV, a statement of purpose, and recommendation letters.

After gaining admission, online master’s students complete coursework requirements. Depending on their degree, they may also need to meet internship or practicum requirements. Many graduate programs require a master’s thesis, master’s exam, or capstone project to graduate.

How Does College Accreditation Work?

Scholarships for Online Master's Students

Online master’s students qualify for many scholarship opportunities. Private foundations, professional associations, and scholarship sites all offer awards for online graduate students. Most traditional scholarships accept applications from online learners attending an accredited college or university. Master’s students can research additional scholarship opportunities based on their school, field of study, or career goals.

Get Educated Online College Scholarship

Who Can Apply: GetEducated.com offers the scholarship to students attending an accredited online university, including at the graduate level. The award takes merit and financial need into account. Applicants need U.S. citizenship and a minimum 3.0 GPA. The scholarship also requires a 500-word essay on what earning an online degree means to the applicant.
Amount: $1,000

Beinecke Scholarship

Who Can Apply: This scholarship supports students earning a research-focused graduate degree in the arts, humanities, or social sciences. Applicants must demonstrate their intellectual ability and promise. The committee also requires recipients to show they qualified for need-based financial aid as an undergraduate.
Amount: $34,000

AAUW Career Development Grants

Who Can Apply: The American Association of University Women offers grants to women with a bachelor’s degree who return to school to advance their education. The scholarship grants a preference to women of color and women earning their first advanced degree in a nontraditional field. Recipients must attend an accredited school, including accredited online schools.
Amount: $2,000-$12,000

Ralph W. Shrader Graduate Diversity Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The AFCEA Educational Foundation offers scholarships for women and minority full-time students pursuing a graduate degree at an accredited institution, including accredited online programs. Applicants must enroll in an eligible program in STEM or the hard sciences like information technology, telecommunications electronics, and cybersecurity.
Amount: $3,000

Inspire Our Future Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Teacher.org offers this scholarship to support teachers advancing their education by earning a degree, including online master’s degrees. Candidates need a minimum 3.5 GPA to qualify. The application process includes completing a form and answering questions.
Amount: $500

Accredited Online Master’s Programs 2021



  1. University of Florida
    Location

    Gainesville, Florida

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    UF offers 84 online master's programs across multiple disciplines, including engineering, agricultural and life sciences, health and human performance, and education. Unlike its online bachelor's degrees, UF provides its online master's programs through individual departments rather than a singular UF Online portal.

    Most master's programs require 30-33 credits and take 1-2 years to complete. The curriculum often culminates in a capstone course or project. For example, the online master's in educational leadership requires students to complete supervised practice in school administration.

    Admission criteria and application materials vary by program. However, applicants generally submit a statement of purpose, resume, recommendation letters, and undergraduate transcripts. Applicants need a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and a minimum 3.0 GPA. Some programs may require standardized test scores, such as the GMAT or GRE.

    University of Florida is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  2. California State University-Bakersfield
    Location

    Bakersfield, California

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    CSUB features online master's programs with small class sizes and faculty who conduct cutting-edge research. CSUB's fully online offerings include a master of business administration (MBA), a master of arts (MA) in curriculum and instruction, a master of science (MS) in kinesiology, and an MS in general administration. The university also provides hybrid master's degrees in educational administration, special education, and social work.

    Most online master's degrees at CSUB require 30-33 credits and take 1-2 years to complete. The curriculum culminates in a capstone course, project, or examination. MBA students complete a project while MA in curriculum and instruction students take a comprehensive exam.

    Applicants need a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and a minimum 3.0 GPA in the last 60 credits of coursework. Some departments and programs may list additional requirements. For instance, the MA in curriculum and instruction requires students to possess a teaching credential at the time of application.

    California State University, Bakersfield is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

  3. California State University-Los Angeles
    Location

    Los Angeles, California

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Cal State LA offers online master's degrees through the College of Professional and Global Education designed to meet the needs of diverse learners. Students can choose from a fully employed master of business administration (MBA) program, a master of public health, and a master of social work (MSW).

    Each program provides flexibility and efficiency. MBA students earn their degree in 16 months through a program that combines in-person Saturday classes with online learning during the week to accommodate working professionals. The MSW program allows students with a bachelor's degree in social work to advance directly into upper-division coursework and complete the degree in one year.

    Applicants need a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and a minimum 2.5 GPA. Most programs prefer candidates with a 3.0 GPA or higher. Prospective students should also submit their transcripts, resume, personal statement, and recommendation letters.

    California State University, Los Angeles is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

  4. California State University-Fresno
    Location

    Fresno, California

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Fresno State offers a few fully online master's programs, including a master of arts (MA) in teaching and an MA in water resource management. The school also provides several other master's programs on campus.

    Fresno State's online master's degrees require 30 credits and take approximately two years to complete. In the MA in education programs, students choose from completing a capstone project, thesis, or comprehensive exam. Enrollees can also add a credential or certificate in reading/literacy to their degree. Students in the water resource management master's program must complete a relevant internship and capstone project.

    Applicants need a bachelor's degree from an accredited university or college with a minimum 2.75 GPA. Students applying to the water resource management program must also demonstrate proficiency in geographic information systems.

    California State University, Fresno is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

  5. American University
    Location

    Washington, District of Columbia

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    American University offers 22 online master's degrees in disciplines such as business administration, strategic communication, healthcare management, and legal studies. These programs accommodate the schedules of working professionals. Enrollees can also pursue a graduate certificate in healthcare management, human resource management and analytics, project monitoring and evaluation, or sports analytics and management.

    The school's master's programs require 30 credits and take less than two years to complete. Some programs offer concentrations that allow enrollees to further specialize in the field. For instance, in the master's in strategic communication program, students choose from a concentration in advocacy and social impact, or digital communication strategies and analytics. Learners must complete a capstone course, project, or thesis.

    Applicants need a bachelor's degree from an accredited school. Some programs require candidates to have a minimum 3.0 GPA.

    American University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

  6. University of Connecticut
    Location

    Storrs, Connecticut

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    UConn offers online master's degrees in several subject areas, including accounting, educational technology, engineering, and neonatal nursing. These programs allow working professionals to earn advanced credentials while working full time. For example, the master's in accounting is designed for working accountants who need additional credits to qualify for CPA licensure or those who want advanced credentials to apply for a senior-level position.

    Each master's program at UConn provides flexibility for working professionals. The engineering master's program runs asynchronously or synchronously in the evenings, while the master's in educational technology program features condensed online courses over two summers.

    Applicants need a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution. Some programs, such as the master's in engineering program, require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree in a specific field and to have a minimum undergraduate 3.0 GPA. Students should verify their program's admission requirements.

    University of Connecticut is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

  7. The University of Texas at Austin
    Location

    Austin, Texas

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    UT's Extended Campus provides several online master's degrees in disciplines such as business administration and technology commercialization. UT offers a master's in electrical and computer engineering, mechanical engineering, and nutritional sciences entirely online. Other programs feature flexible formats to accommodate distance learners and full-time employees. For instance, the executive master of business administration program requires one weekend of classes per month in Austin for 20 months.

    UT's online master's degrees require 30 credits and take two years to complete. Students in the master of science in nutritional sciences (MSNS) program can choose from two concentrations: health promotion and disease prevention or biochemical and functional nutrition. The engineering program is a non-thesis program while the MSNS requires a thesis.

    Applicants need a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and a minimum 3.0 GPA. The mechanical engineering program also requires 12 months of industry experience.

    The University of Texas at Austin is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  8. Indiana University-Bloomington
    Location

    Bloomington, Indiana

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    IU offers 43 online master's degrees, most of which run entirely online. However, some master's programs require in-residence commitments. For instance, the master of health administration (MHA) and the master of business administration (MBA) program deliver courses 80-99% online. The MBA program includes two weeks of on-campus workshops and networking activities. The MHA program requires an on-campus health economics course.

    Most of IU's online master's degrees require 30-42 credits and take two years to complete. Some master's programs require 45-60 credits. Students complete a combination of core and elective courses. Depending on the specific program and degree, students then complete a capstone project, thesis, practicum, or exam.

    Applicants need a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. Some programs list GPA and work experience criteria. Most programs also require GMAT or GRE scores.

    Indiana University Bloomington is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  9. California State University-Sacramento
    Location

    Sacramento, California

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Sacramento State offers two fully online master's programs: a master of science (MS) in accounting and a master of arts (MA) in curriculum and instruction. The school also provides several hybrid degrees in business administration, education, and nursing. The hybrid programs vary in delivery format but include in-residence lectures and online courses. The executive master of business administration program, for example, holds every third week of classes online.

    The MA in curriculum and instruction and the MS in accounting both require 30 credits and take less than two years to complete. Sacramento State delivers 25% of courses in the MA program synchronously and 75% asynchronously. MA students must complete a culminating experience consisting of a written exam and oral defense. MS in accounting students complete a culminating experience project in accounting and ethics.

    Applicants need a bachelor's degree and a minimum 2.5 or 3.0 GPA. MS in accountancy applicants must also submit GMAT test scores.

    California State University, Sacramento is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

  10. University of San Diego
    Location

    San Diego, California

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    USD offers various online or hybrid master's degrees, including a master of science (MS) in cybersecurity operations and leadership, a master of education (M.Ed.), and a master of business administration (MBA). The MBA program delivers courses in a hybrid format that requires students to meet on campus for one weekend per month. The other two programs run entirely online.

    The MBA program requires 53 credits while the MS in cybersecurity and M.Ed. require 30 credits. The latter two take 20 months to complete while the MBA takes longer. Students enroll in a combination of core and elective courses. M.Ed. students choose from five concentrations: STEAM, inclusive learning, literacy and digital learning, curriculum and instruction, and school leadership. The master's curricula culminates in a capstone course.

    Applicants need a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and a minimum 2.75 GPA. Specific admission criteria and application materials vary depending on the program.

    University of San Diego is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

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Advertisement AccreditedSchoolsOnline.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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