Best Online Master's Degree Programs 2023

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Updated January 27, 2023

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Considering online master's programs? Learn about the top-ranked accredited master's degrees and how to pay for grad school and choose the right program.

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Earning a master's degree can take your career to the next level. A master's provides advanced knowledge and skills, often focused on a specific career path. Accredited online master's programs make it easier than ever to get a graduate degree.

Many top-ranked universities offer online master's degrees. Whether you're working full time or juggling a busy schedule, an online format gives you the flexibility to reach your educational and career goals.

Why Get an Online Master's Degree?

  • You can qualify for many high-paying, in-demand jobs.
  • A graduate degree can lead to promotions to management-level positions.
  • Online master's programs offer flexibility, which can appeal to working professionals.
  • You can specialize your skills with a concentration not offered at your local university.
  • An online program is more likely to fit your budget and save you money.
  • You can attend a prestigious program with a strong alumni network — without having to relocate.

Explore Our Featured Online Master's Programs

Did You Know?


  • People with a master's degree earn about $240 more per week than those with just a bachelor's degree, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • Master's degree-holders have lower unemployment rates than both bachelor's and associate degree-holders.
  • A Georgetown University report found that the average lifetime earnings for master's degree-holders is $3.2 million.
  • The number of people with a master's degree doubled between 2000 and 2019, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • In 2021, 14.4% of Americans, or 21 million people, had a master's degree.

Does Accreditation Matter for Online Master's Programs?

As you compare online master's programs, be sure to check each program's accreditation status. Accredited programs meet high standards for academic quality.

Independent accrediting agencies review colleges and universities regularly, measuring their student learning outcomes, faculty qualifications, and academic missions. Only reputable programs hold accreditation.

Accreditation matters for your grad school experience and career prospects after earning an online master's degree.

Only accredited online master's programs fulfill the requirements for many professional certifications and licenses. And you can only qualify for federal financial aid if you attend an accredited program.

Find out whether an online master's program is accredited before you apply.

Common Types of Online Master's Degrees

  • Master of arts (MA)
  • Master of science (MS)
  • Master of fine arts (MFA)
  • Master of business administration (MBA)
  • Master of social work (MSW)
  • Master of public administration (MPA)
  • Master of public health (MPH)
  • Master of science in nursing (MSN)
  • Master of education (M.Ed.)

Top 10 Schools for Online Master's Programs

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#1 Best Online Master’s Degree Programs 2023

University of Florida

  • Gainesville, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Avg. Cost per Credit:

In State | $350-$1,500

Out of State | $350-$1,500

Credits to Graduate: 30

A top-ranked public university, the University of Florida offers more than 200 online programs. You can earn a master's degree in a flexible format.

Choose from dozens of master's programs, including pathways in business, education, and engineering. For example, UF offers an online MBA and a master's in aerospace engineering. You can also earn a master's in biostatistics, Latin, mass communication, or pharmaceutical sciences. Many programs offer specialization options to help you focus on your degree.

The same high-quality faculty teach online and in-person courses. Prospective students should contact programs to learn more about their admission requirements.

Average Tuition
In-state
$4,477
Out-of-state
$25,694
Retention Rate
97%
Admission Rate
31%
Students Enrolled
53,372
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
92% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#2 Best Online Master’s Degree Programs 2023

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

  • Chapel Hill, NC
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Avg. Cost per Credit:

In State | $586-$1,735

Out of State | $1,446-$1,735

Credits to Graduate: 30

The flagship campus of North Carolina's public university system, UNC-Chapel Hill stands out for its commitment to higher education. The university's online master's programs help professionals advance their knowledge and skills.

Choose from programs in business, healthcare, nursing, and information science. You can earn an MBA online or study popular fields like public administration, health informatics, and digital communication. UNC-Chapel Hill also offers an online master's in pharmaceutical science.

Available through the university's professional schools, each program sets its own admission policies and requirements. Contact programs to learn more about how to apply.

Average Tuition
In-state
$7,019
Out-of-state
$34,198
Retention Rate
95%
Admission Rate
25%
Students Enrolled
30,092
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
91% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#3 Best Online Master’s Degree Programs 2023

University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

  • Ann Arbor, MI
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Avg. Cost per Credit:

In State | $932-$1,828

Out of State | $1,243-$2,003

Credits to Graduate: 30

The University of Michigan is a top-ranked public university based in Ann Arbor. Through Michigan Online, you can earn a master's degree from a distance in as little as one year.

Michigan Online partners with Coursera to offer online master's degrees in applied data science and public health. You can also earn an online master's in social work or a master's in nursing. Finally, U-M offers a 57-credit online MBA program with a part-time format.

Admission requirements vary by program. For the online MBA, you'll need an accredited bachelor's degree and must submit GMAT or GRE scores. The program also conducts interviews.

Average Tuition
In-state
$16,520
Out-of-state
$53,669
Retention Rate
96%
Admission Rate
26%
Students Enrolled
47,907
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
91% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#4 Best Online Master’s Degree Programs 2023

Florida State University

  • Tallahassee, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Avg. Cost per Credit:

In State | $444

Out of State | $1,076

Credits to Graduate: 30

Florida State University enrolls students from 128 countries around the world. The Distance@FSU program makes it even easier to earn a degree, with dozens of online options.

FSU's online master's programs include an MBA and programs in engineering, educational leadership, and information technology. You can also earn an online social work or public administration master's degree.

As an online learner, you'll benefit from academic and career advising, tutoring, online mentoring, and a virtual computer lab. You can take classes synchronously or asynchronously. Prospective students can apply online or reach out to the graduate enrollment team for more information.

Average Tuition
In-state
$4,640
Out-of-state
$19,084
Retention Rate
95%
Admission Rate
32%
Students Enrolled
43,569
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
97% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#5 Best Online Master’s Degree Programs 2023

The University of Texas at Austin

  • Austin, TX
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Avg. Cost per Credit:

In State | $333-$1,333

Out of State | $333-$1,472

Credits to Graduate: 30

The flagship campus of Texas's public university system, the University of Texas at Austin offers many online options, including a number of master's degrees.

Through UT-Austin's Extended Campus, you can pursue unique online master's degrees like human dimensions of organizations and technology commercialization. The university also stands out for its business and technology programs, with pathways in information security, business analytics, and data science.

Each program sets its own admission requirements. Contact programs directly to learn more about the admissions process.

Average Tuition
In-state
$11,448
Out-of-state
$40,032
Retention Rate
97%
Admission Rate
32%
Students Enrolled
50,476
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
92% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#6 Best Online Master’s Degree Programs 2023

New York University

  • New York, NY
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Avg. Cost per Credit:

In State | $2,000

Out of State | $2,000

Credits to Graduate: 30

New York University calls itself a campus without borders. And NYU Online makes it easier to pursue a degree at this elite private research university from anywhere.

Designed with working professionals in mind, most of NYU's online master's programs offer a part-time option. You can earn a graduate degree in over 20 disciplines, with many incorporating intensive workshop sessions in New York. Program options include public health, journalism, health administration, project management, counseling, and technology management.

Contact individual programs to learn more about admission requirements.

Average Tuition
In-state
$52,204
Out-of-state
$52,204
Retention Rate
90%
Admission Rate
21%
Students Enrolled
52,775
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
89% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#7 Best Online Master’s Degree Programs 2023

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

  • Champaign, IL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Avg. Cost per Credit:

In State | $302-$1,172

Out of State | $302-$1,172

Credits to Graduate: 32

The University of Illinois boasts over 6 million learners in its free online courses. And through Illinois Online, you can also earn a master's degree online.

With the same faculty teaching online and on-campus courses, Illinois offers high-quality degrees. Its online graduate programs include an MBA, education programs, and engineering disciplines like aerospace engineering and bioengineering. The public university also offers unique online programs through its College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences, including master's programs in agricultural leadership, crop sciences, and digital agriculture.

Apply to an online program by checking the program's admission requirements and deadlines. The graduate admission requirements include an accredited bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA.

Average Tuition
In-state
$14,317
Out-of-state
$33,824
Retention Rate
94%
Admission Rate
63%
Students Enrolled
52,679
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
96% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#8 Best Online Master’s Degree Programs 2023

Ohio State University-Main Campus

  • Columbus, OH
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Avg. Cost per Credit:

In State | $756-$1,574

Out of State | $756-$1,574

Credits to Graduate: 30

Ohio's top-ranked public institution, OSU blends hard and soft skills into its programs. And you can earn a master's degree online through Ohio State Online.

Choose from programs in education, healthcare, engineering, and business. For example, Ohio State offers a master's in clinical research for nurses. Or you might opt to pursue a master's in social work or pharmacy administration online. The public university also offers an online MBA for working professionals.

Admission requirements vary by program. For example, the online master's in art education requires a minimum 3.0 GPA and optional GRE or MAT scores.

Average Tuition
In-state
$10,615
Out-of-state
$32,599
Retention Rate
94%
Admission Rate
68%
Students Enrolled
61,369
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
94% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#9 Best Online Master’s Degree Programs 2023

Florida International University

  • Miami, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Avg. Cost per Credit:

In State | $500-$1,000

Out of State | $500-$1,000

Credits to Graduate: 30

Florida International University ranks among the 10 largest universities in the U.S., with nearly 54,000 students. And FIU Online expands the public university's reach.

Choose from dozens of online master's programs, including programs in accounting, computer engineering, criminal justice, and construction management. The university's online graduate programs also include options in education, such as curriculum and instruction and educational leadership. Healthcare graduate programs, meanwhile, include health informatics, health services administration, and public health.

To apply to FIU, you'll need an accredited bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Some programs require additional documents, like a statement of purpose or letters of recommendation.

Average Tuition
In-state
$4,721
Out-of-state
$16,529
Retention Rate
91%
Admission Rate
58%
Students Enrolled
58,836
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
86% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#10 Best Online Master’s Degree Programs 2023

Johns Hopkins University

  • Baltimore, MD
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Avg. Cost per Credit:

In State | $875-$1,730

Out of State | $875-$1,730

Credits to Graduate: 30

Johns Hopkins University prides itself on its history as America's first research university. Today, the prestigious institution offers online master's degrees as part of a partnership with Coursera.

You can earn an online master's degree in writing, applied economics, or data analytics through the Krieger School of Arts & Sciences. You can also pursue an online MBA with a part-time program designed for full-time professionals. Johns Hopkins offers master's programs in international relations, education, engineering, nursing, and public health.

Each program sets different admission requirements. Contact the university for more information about applying to a graduate program.

Average Tuition
In-state
$54,160
Out-of-state
$54,160
Retention Rate
97%
Admission Rate
11%
Students Enrolled
28,890
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
88% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

How Much Does a Master's Degree Cost?



Broadly speaking, you can expect to spend anywhere from $10,000-$60,000 in tuition and fees on your master's degree.

Many factors affect how much your degree will cost, including:

  • Program length — most online accredited master's programs last 1-2 years
  • Whether you attend a public or private school
  • Whether you qualify for in-state tuition
  • How much financial aid you receive

You can save money on your online master's degree by filing the FAFSA and seeing whether you qualify for federal grants and loans, as well as for any institutional or programmatic scholarships.

Note that you may have to pay additional fees as an online student. Some online master's programs require you to pay technology fees that support online class delivery and IT services.

You'll also need to budget for a high-quality laptop and any in-person requirements, like practicums and fieldwork.

What Jobs Can You Get With a Master's Degree Online?

You can qualify for a variety of jobs with a master's degree. For example, nurse practitioners and school counselors must have a master's degree. In other fields, a master's degree can help you advance or get promoted.

This table outlines some of the fastest-growing careers you can pursue with a master's degree.

In-Demand Careers That Require a Master's Degree
Job Median Annual Salary (May 2021) Job Growth Rate (2021-2031)
Computer and Information Research Scientists $131,490 21%
Physician Assistants $121,530 28%
Nurse Practitioners $120,680 46%
Statisticians $95,570 33%
Genetic Counselors $80,150 18%
Speech-Language Pathologists $79,060 21%
Epidemiologists $78,830 26%
Healthcare Social Workers $60,840 11%
School and Career Counselors and Advisors $60,510 10%
Curators $60,110 14%
Mental Health Counselors $48,520 22%

How to Choose an Online Master's Program: 6 Tips

Trying to narrow down your options? Start by identifying your goals, focusing on a field, and setting a budget.

Once you know what you want out of a program, you can begin comparing online master's degrees to find the best fit for you.

1 Identify Your Goals

Are you looking for a higher salary? Or do you want a master's degree so you can change careers?

Before looking at programs, carefully consider your goals. Avoid starting a master's program without clear direction, and take time to consider your strengths and interests.

2 Choose a Field of Study

Online graduate schools offer master's degrees in hundreds of subjects. Narrow your interests to one area. If you're torn between two options, research career paths and job growth data to help you make an informed decision.

You might also consider reaching out to alumni to learn more about the paths they took and see whether those options appeal to you.

3 Determine Your Budget

Graduate school can be expensive. Knowing your budget and financial aid options can help you make a decision and save money. Keep in mind that online graduate students at accredited universities do typically qualify for federal financial aid.

Once you have a budget in mind, reach out to programs to learn more about institutional and programmatic aid. Don't forget to look for scholarships in your field, too!

4 Compare Online Master's Programs

Once you have a clear idea of your goals, field of study, and budget, it's time to look at online master's programs.

Consider factors like the delivery format. Will you take classes synchronously (which includes live sessions) or asynchronously? Do you want a fully online program, or would you prefer a hybrid option with some in-person classes?

Don't forget to research online student services. Look into academic advising, online library access, and career services for distance learners. These services can shape your experience during grad school and your transition into the workforce.

5 Confirm Accreditation

Be sure to choose an accredited university. Attending an unaccredited school can impact your financial aid and career prospects.

You can confirm a school's accreditation status before applying. To do this, refer to the U.S. Department of Education's Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs.

6 Talk to Current Students, Faculty, and Alumni

Looking at tuition rates and job placement rates can help you identify which programs are a good fit. But make sure you talk to students, faculty, and alumni as well.

Ask students about their experiences in the program. And talk to faculty about advising and career support. Finally, ask alumni about the program's reputation on the job market.

Use these conversations to find online master's programs that match your needs and goals.

Q&A With Real Online Master's Students and Grads



Q: Why did you choose an online master's program?


"I chose to pursue my MBA online because I needed a way to balance grad school work with my day-to-day life. As a mom who also works full time in a demanding, busy job, I knew that getting out of the house and attending classes in person somewhere just wouldn't work for my schedule. Online courses allow me to fit my school work in when it makes sense for me."
 — Cassie Viau, Director of Marketing, CoreMedical Group
"An online master's degree allowed me to continue my education while on active duty in the Air Force. … My school and program offered me the flexibility to get my master's in education while continuing to serve in my full active duty capacity, including on two deployments to Afghanistan."
 — Gina Smith, Air Force Officer*
"I chose this specific program because it had synchronous meetings weekly for each course. This allowed me to travel and complete my coursework and meetings from all over the world. I attended class while in a car in Ireland, at the beach in Spain, and in the middle of a refugee camp in Jordan!"
 — Emma Cole, Nurse Practitioner

Q: What surprised you most about earning your master's degree online?

"I found it to be more work than I expected. … [The instructors] wanted to see that I was keeping up with the work and engaging with the material and with my online classmates, so I had to post a lot in the portal about my thoughts on the material and respond to all the responses my classmates posted."
 — Marie Coughlin, Associate Director, The New York Public Library
"My program was physically located on the East Coast, but I was able to complete my clinical education in my local community. This allowed me to create connections locally for post-grad employment but also allowed me to learn how to navigate the specific challenges of clinical care in my area."
 — Emma C.
"The thing that has surprised me most about earning my MBA online is how much I'm enjoying all the independent reading and research. I'm genuinely enjoying reading the books and articles that are assigned!"
 — Cassie V.

Q: What advice would you give to students considering online master's programs?

"Compare schools, programs, and tuition assistance options. Choose a school that is accredited, and ask your employer about tuition assistance."
 — Gina S.
"Never expect it to be a cakewalk because it's online. I am glad I had the experience of doing an online master's program because it really did hold me accountable to do the work. There were several undergraduate courses where I could reasonably skate by; not so in online grad school!"
 — Marie C.
"Put together a schedule for yourself at the start of the semester that you can stick to and keep yourself accountable. Mapping out assignments and deadlines up front on the calendar makes it feel much more manageable when life starts to get busy."
 — Cassie V.

*Name has been changed upon request to protect the interview participant's privacy.

Frequently Asked Questions About Online Graduate Programs

Are online master's degrees credible?

Yes, online master's degrees from accredited schools are reputable. In fact, many online graduate programs use the same course materials and instructors as in-person programs. At many schools, online graduate students receive an identical degree as on-campus students.

Always look for an accredited university, as these schools meet high academic standards.

Can you get a master's degree without a bachelor's degree?

In general, you must earn a bachelor's degree before you can pursue a master's degree.

That said, some specialized programs, such as ADN-to-MSN programs, admit applicants with just an associate degree. Such programs usually require additional undergraduate coursework before you can get started on the graduate curriculum.

How long does it take to get a master's degree?

Most master's programs take two years for full-time students. For example, you can earn an online MBA or a master's in social work in two years.

Some programs offer accelerated one-year options, such as a one-year master's in education.

Because the length of online master's degrees varies, make sure to check with programs before you apply.

Can I get a master's degree entirely online?

Yes, you can earn a master's degree in a fully online format. Many programs require no in-person classes or campus visits, while others may require minimal on-campus experiences.

Some programs may incorporate hands-on components in your local area. For example, master's in nursing and master's in counseling programs include supervised clinical experience. Distance learners typically complete these requirements in their area at a nearby hospital or clinic.

Do employers look down upon online master's degrees?

Accredited online master's degrees have a strong reputation. These programs meet the same academic standards as in-person programs.

Many employers do not consider the delivery format when assessing job candidates. In fact, your diploma likely will not list whether you took classes online or in person. As a result, you can benefit from a master's degree without taking in-person classes.


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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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