Why Should I Earn a Master’s Degree?
Enroll in one of our top 30 accredited schools offering online Master’s degrees and your resume will thank you. Online learning gives you access to some of the country’s most respected institutions of higher education no matter where you live. Not only will you advance your education, but you’ll also join a network of esteemed alumni. Bonded together by school spirit, your alumni connections might prove invaluable to your career goals.
According to the U.S. Census, more Americans than ever are earning bachelor’s degrees. As the workforce becomes more educated, higher-paying jobs with distinguished titles are becoming more competitive. Having a Master’s degree on your resume is an excellent way to set yourself apart.
Will a Master’s Degree Lead to a Higher Salary?
Yes! (Unless you pursue a significant career change, that is.) The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the further you take your education, the higher your earning potential becomes. Also, the BLS predicts that Master’s-level occupations will grow by almost 17% by 2026, faster than any other education level.
Why Should I Enroll in an Online Master’s Program?
As an online learner, you’ll receive the same diploma as traditional students. And in most cases, you won’t need to set foot on campus. Most graduate students have already started their professional careers. A Master’s degree will help them get to the next level, but taking time off work is often not an option.
That’s why so many universities have evolved for the unique needs of graduate students. Now, they offer online graduate programs that let students earn a paycheck while they study. And online students are no longer outliers. In 2000, just 5% of graduate students studied online – fast forward six years, and that percentage jumped to more than 30%.
What are the Best Online Master’s Degrees?
Accredited Online College uses the most recent data from the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. Each program is scored individually. It’s then compared to all other universities offering that degree to determine the final score you see by each ranking. Accredited Online College considers the affordability, student-to-faculty ratio, and the number of programs offered on-campus and online. To learn more, visit our methodology page.
Become a Nittany Lion, and you’ll join a pride of more than 692,000 alumni. Penn State boasts the largest dues-paying alumni association around the globe. Through Penn State World Campus, you can join this impressive network by enrolling in a Master’s degree online. After graduation, you’ll get to claim U.S. News & World Report’s No. 18 Top Public School on your resume.
With more than 50 online Master’s degree programs, Penn State World Campus offers a diverse array of academic opportunities for students. This institution is most highly regarded for its online graduate programs in engineering, business administration, computer information technology, and education. Each of these appears in the top ten of U.S. News & World Report’s rankings.
Best of all, Penn State’s online courses are asynchronous, allowing you to study on your schedule. You’ll learn from professors with online teaching experience, guaranteeing that they’ll understand your specific needs as an online learner.
Calling all teachers! If an online Master’s in education is your goal, then you can’t do much better than the University of Florida. The Florida Gators rank at No. 2 on U.S. News & World Report’s list of the Best Online Master’s in Education Programs.
This is only one of many areas in which the Gators excel. UF ranks at No. 7 on U.S. News & World Report’s list of the Top Public Schools, and the school’s online Master of Business Administration ranks at No. 4. Plus, UF dominates on the field, having earned more than 36 athletic national championships. Best yet, UF is Kiplinger’s No. 2 Best Value Public College for 2019, allowing you to gain a reputable degree at a low cost.
UF offers more than 70 fully online Master’s degrees. Many of these aren’t commonly found at other institutions, like programs in fisheries and aquatic science, international construction management, and sustainable design.
Liberty University is a top choice for students who want a graduate-level education grounded in the Christian faith. This private institution aims to graduate “Champions for Christ.” Enroll in one of its more than 300 online graduate programs, and you’ll undertake a curriculum that focuses on your field and Christian values.
Some of Liberty’s most popular online Master’s degrees include a Master of Divinity, a Master of Arts in Human Services Counseling, and a Master of Public Health. Liberty offers start dates throughout the year, allowing students to begin their programs whenever they’re ready rather than having to wait for the fall.
Liberty’s classes also do not follow the typical semester format. Rather, each course takes eight weeks. This format lets Liberty’s “Flames” quickly reach graduation in just 18 months. Liberty’s low tuition rates are currently frozen for online Master’s programs, and they’ve had the same price tag for the past four years.
Everything’s bigger in Texas, and Texas A&M University is no exception. Enrolling more than 69,000 students, Texas A&M is one of the largest public universities in the country. With size comes reputation; the “Aggies” hold the No. 27 spot on U.S. News & World Report’s list of the Top Public Schools. Furthermore, Texas A&M has the most graduates leading the top Fortune 500 companies.
Twelve of Texas A&M’s colleges and schools have online Master’s degrees, and especially distinguished are its programs in engineering, education, and nursing. Unique among Texas A&M’s offerings are Master’s degrees in wildlife science, geosciences, and maritime administration and logistics.
Many of Texas A&M’s Master’s degrees can be earned completely online, however, some may require on-campus coursework. Here, a distance-education degree is defined as any program in which more than half of a semester’s credit hours can be taken online.
If you plan to work and study at the same time, then your ability to focus will be critical to your success. National University helps its students juggle multiple responsibilities by offering courses that last just four weeks. By covering coursework in smaller increments, students can focus on one topic at a time, quickly Mastering material to graduate faster.
Founded by a retired U.S. Navy captain, NU is a Yellow Ribbon School, so veterans pay little to no expenses. NU’s commitment to helping U.S. service members advance their education means that all programs are flexible and designed with working students in mind.
At National, you can begin one of more than 60 online Master’s degrees each month. Programs run the gamut from business and healthcare to engineering and education. Many of these utilize an accelerated format. For example, at NU, you can earn a Master of Criminal Justice in just 12 months.
Many students are inspired to pursue a Master’s degree out of a passion for research. If you are eager to make a scholarly contribution to your field, then Washington State University is a great option. The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education evaluates institutions’ levels of research activity, and WSU has earned its highest marks.
Through WSU’s Global Campus, you can join the Cougar community by earning one of 12 graduate degrees online. These range from agriculture to health promotion and molecular biosciences. U.S. News & World Report includes WSU’s business administration and engineering programs on its lists of the best online graduate programs in these fields.
If you are worried that studying online might be lonely, then you can take advantage of WSU’s Global Connections. This initiative helps distance learners form a close-knit community. For example, you can live-stream a School of Music concert or join a book club.
Join the “Wolfpack” and enroll in one of North Carolina State University’s more than 50 fully online Master’s degree programs. Here, you can even pursue a degree that will allow you to help fellow adult learners like yourself. NC State offers an online Master of Education in adult and continuing professional education.
NC State ranks at No. 34 on U.S. News & World Report’s list of the Top Public Schools. Especially revered are its online graduate programs in engineering, business administration, and computer information technology. Unique online programs at the school include a Master’s in Textile Chemistry, Soil Science, or Aerospace Engineering.
NC State takes its online education seriously. Its Course Quality Program follows standards set by Quality Matters, an organization dedicated to improving online education across the nation. Through this program, NC State offers training and resources for faculty members to continue to enhance their online teaching skills.
When you were young, did you dream of fighting crime as a superhero? Live out your childhood dreams by enrolling at Sam Houston State University. This school holds the No. 2 spot on U.S. News & World Report’s list of the Best Online Master’s in Criminal Justice Programs. Named after a leader of the Texas Revolution, it’s not surprising that SHSU has such a strong reputation in this tough field.
Criminal justice isn’t SHSU’s only academic opportunity. This Huntsville-based institution offers more than 30 fully online Master’s degrees, covering disciplines like education, engineering, and computer information technology. Through SHSU Online, you can even prepare to become a band director with a Master of Arts in Band Studies or learn how to be a librarian with its online Master of Library Science.
SHSU Online follows a traditional academic schedule, with courses offered in the fall and spring semesters and during two, shorter summer sessions.
Earn a degree from the “Heartland” from anywhere in the country through the University of Nebraska Online. NU’s Lincoln campus is its flagship institution, serving more than 20,000 students. Ranked at No. 64 among U.S. News & World Report’s Top Public Schools, the “Cornhuskers” have earned a reputation that extends from coast to coast.
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln offers more than 30 online Master’s, including programs ranked by U.S. News & World Report in business administration, engineering, and education. NU Online is an especially wise choice for teachers aspiring to work in educational administration or special education.
Some of NU’s most unique programs include a Master of Science in Architecture with a specialization in Interior Design, a Master of Applied Science in Beef Cattle Production, and a Master of Arts in Textile History or Quilt Studies. On average, NU’s graduate programs require 36 credit hours.
Once upon a time, earning your degree online was unchartered territory. Arizona State University likes unchartered territory; in fact, that’s where it excels. The “Sun Devils” have held the No. 1 spot on U.S. News & World Report’s list of the Most Innovative Schools for five years. This university prides itself on trying out new ideas; for example, it partners with Uber to help drivers earn a degree, free-of-charge.
ASU is a cutting-edge university, and its robust online offerings reflect this. Here, you can choose from a list of more than 75 fully online Master’s degrees, all of which are taught by the same faculty who lead the on-campus equivalents.
Many of ASU’s online graduate-level degrees have earned the No. 1 spot on U.S. News & World Report’s program-specific rankings, including its MBA in General Management and Marketing, its Master’s in Electrical Engineering, and its Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction.
If you’re a fan of David Letterman, then earn a degree from his alma mater, Ball State University. Based in Muncie, IN, Ball State Online is housed in an on-campus building named for this famed alumnus.
Ball State offers more than 20 online Master’s degrees. If you live nearby, you can take advantage of this university’s blended programs to combine online coursework with in-person classes on Ball State’s famously friendly campus. All students at this university take a “Beneficence Pledge” to respect others.
Ball State has competitive online graduate programs in business, nursing, and education, and it is an especially good choice for those who want to teach future nurses. Additional academic options include Master’s degrees in athletic coaching, emerging media design and development, and nutrition and dietetics.
Founded in 1884 by a former Michigan governor and his wife, Ferris State University is based in Big Rapids, MI. This town sits on the banks of the Muskegon River and is flanked to the west by a large national forest that extends to the famed Lake Michigan coast. With its beautiful setting, Ferris State is a campus worth visiting. But a visit is not a requirement if you enroll in one of its six online graduate programs.
With programs in nursing, healthcare administration, and public health, Ferris State is a great option for health professionals seeking a Master’s degree. Ferris offers an online Master of Business Administration with seven specializations, including Project Management, Performance Metrics, and Incident Response. Ferris also has a Master of Science in Information Security and Intelligence.
At Ferris, 70% of students undertake an internship – so even though you’ll study online, expect to get on-the-job experience.
Get the most bang for your buck at Florida State University, Kiplinger’s No. 9 Best Value Public College. Not only does this Tallahassee-based university offer low tuition rates and generous financial aid, but it also makes an FSU education affordable for out-of-state students. Several of its online graduate programs have special out-of-state rates.
The Seminoles rank at No. 18 on U.S. News & World Report’s list of the Top Public Schools, and FSU has earned additional marks for its online graduate programs in criminal justice, computer information technology, and business. FSU offers 16 online Master’s in total, including a Juris Master, a Master of Social Work, and a Master of Science in Law Enforcement Intelligence.
FSU’s online students learn from the same on-campus faculty, which include Pulitzer Prize winners and Nobel Laureates. Additionally, FSU emphasizes connectivity, providing students with opportunities to get to know their peers, like regional study groups or real-time forums.
Calling all techies: Virginia Tech University is the school for you. In addition to being U.S. News & World Report’s No. 30 Top Public School, Virginia Tech ranks at No. 4 on its Best Online Master’s in Computer Information Technology. And when a school specializes in technology, you be sure that its online learning platform will be one of the best around.
Virginia Tech offers nine online Master’s degree programs. Here, online learners can earn a degree in aerospace, systems, or ocean engineering from VT’s renowned College of Engineering. Educators can advance their expertise in instructional technology, while globally-minded students can pursue a Master of Arts in Foreign Languages, Cultures, and Literature. Additional study areas include agricultural and life sciences, natural resources, and political science.
VT is part of the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements, which strives to improve the quality of distance education while keeping costs low.
Walk across Auburn University’s Alabama-based campus and you’re likely to hear students exchange an enthusiastic “War Eagle” as they pass. This greeting, or battle cry, bonds the Auburn Family together, and this school has many reasons to be proud. Auburn ranks at No. 44 on U.S. News & World Report’s list of the Top Public Schools, and it boasts famous alumni like sports superstars Charles Barkley, Bo Jackson, and Cam Newton.
Auburn Online offers graduate programs across seven schools and colleges. Here, you can pursue a Master of Turfgrass Management from the College of Agriculture or a Master of Science in Nutrition from the College of Human Services.
At Auburn, teachers can advance their education with a specialized Master’s program in 12 different areas, including agriscience, elementary, or foreign language education. Likewise, business students can earn a Master of Business Administration or a degree focused on accounting, finance, or information systems.
Earn your degree from the “Show Me State,” and the University of Missouri will show you the true value of an affordable education. Not only do the Tigers rank at No. 64 on U.S. News & World Report’s list of the Top Public Schools, but almost half of Mizzou’s students graduate without student debt.
Mizzou Online offers more than 50 online Master’s degree programs, covering disciplines from veterinary medicine and journalism to public health and engineering. The College of Education has the most online opportunities for graduate students. Educators can earn a Master of Education in 17 specializations, like English, Social Studies, or Math Education.
Mizzou is currently taking part in a state-wide eLearning initiative, which means it is investing time and resources into improving its online experience. Its goal is to expand enrollment from 16,000 to 25,000 online learners.
There’s no need to go “walkin’ in Memphis” to earn a degree from the University of Memphis. Through UofM Global, online students can pursue more than 25 graduate degrees. Based in a city famous for its music scene, it’s not surprising that a Master of Arts in Music Education is included among UofM’s offerings.
UofM Global offers programs in several disciplines, from business and engineering to education and health. Here, you can also choose to pursue a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies. This interdisciplinary, 33-credit-hour program is highly customizable. Students can combine areas of study into a degree plan that fits their specific professional goals.
UofM Global also has several graduate-level certificate programs. Certificates require fewer credit hours and consequently take less time to complete. For example, in under a year, you can earn a Certificate in Museum Studies, Data Science, or English as a Second Language (ESL) Instruction.
If you want to conduct research that can help protect the environment, then enroll at Colorado State University. The Rams have the country’s most sustainable campus, and 90% of its departments conduct research related to the sustainable use of natural resources. By pursuing one of CSU’s more than 30 online Master’s programs, you can further protect the planet by studying from home avoiding the gas pump.
CSU’s Warner College of Natural Resources offers three online graduate programs in fish, wildlife, and conservation biology; natural resource stewardship; and tourism management. Aspiring engineers also have several options at CSU, including programs in civil, computer, and electrical engineering.
Many people-focused programs require on-campus coursework; however, CSU’s summer sessions make earning a degree in these fields more flexible. For example, you can earn a Master of Music in Conducting or a Master of Social Work through a mix of online coursework and summer classes.
Become a “Golden Gopher” at the University of Minnesota, and you can tout a degree from U.S. News & World Report’s No. 27 Top Public School. U of M has nine fully online Master’s degree programs, including a Master of Business Administration from its respected Carlson School of Management. Additional programs range from computer science to family education and public health. If research is your goal, you could also pursue a Master of Science in Clinical Research, helping understand and treat diseases.
U of M is a great choice for students who want to take a mix of online and on-campus coursework, too. Many of its programs are 100% online, however, it also offers primarily online programs. These require short, in-person intensives, giving students opportunities for face-to-face interaction without traveling to campus each week. These primarily online programs include a Master of Health Informatics or an Executive Master of Healthcare Administration.
Oregon State University is the largest institution of higher education in Oregon, serving almost 32,000 students. More than a quarter of OSU Beavers study in its acclaimed College of Engineering, which ranks at No. 12 on U.S. News & World Report’s list of the Best Online Master’s in Engineering Programs.
At OSU, you won’t feel like the odd man out as a distance learner; approximately one-fifth of this university’s students study online. Its Master of Engineering is one of more than 25 online graduate degrees. Online students can also pursue degrees in business, public health, public policy, and education. Additionally, OSU offers several graduate certificates in unique fields like rural policy, urban forestry, and organic agriculture.
You can also add an online, 15-credit-hour graduate minor in Organizational Leadership to your OSU course of study. This program helps students lead through a better understanding of employee motivation, work-life balance, and conflict management.
Situated in northwest Ohio, Bowling Green State University is a public institution serving around 19,000 students. Each year, BGSU awards more than $25 million in scholarships. Better yet, this university has at least 75 scholarships solely dedicated to graduate students.
BGSU offers 16 online Master’s degrees, and its most notable program is the Master of Science in Criminal Justice, ranked at No. 12 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Here, you’ll also find several Master of Education options in specializations like Autism Spectrum Disorders, Classroom Technology, and Music Education. Business students can earn a general MBA or a Master’s concentrated in areas like accounting, finance, or supply chain management. Additional programs are available in strategic communication and nutrition.
BGSU is one of six universities to have earned Quality Matters’ Online Learner Support Certification. This accolade shows that BGSU takes online Falcons’ feedback seriously and constantly seeks ways to improve students’ academic experience.
The University of Maryland Global Campus is entirely dedicated to the needs of working adults. UMGC dates back to 1947 when it was established to help U.S. service members more easily access higher education. Today, UMGC offers flexible online programs and in-person classes on military bases across the globe. Discounted tuition rates are available for active military, veterans, and their families.
What distinguishes UMGC from other mostly online institutions is that it is a member of the revered University System of Maryland. The school is a public state university, and this status helps it keep costs low and value high. What’s more, 88% of its faculty have doctoral degrees, and UMGC prioritizes hiring professors with hands-on experience in their fields.
UMGC has 18 online Master’s degrees, mostly centered on graduate-level studies in business, technology, and education. Unique degrees include programs in biotechnology, cloud computing architecture, and digital forensics and cyber investigation.
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a higher-education heavy-hitter. As U.S. News & World Report’s No. 14 Top Public School, the “Fighting Illini” are especially esteemed in engineering. Illinois holds the No. 1 spot on U.S. News & World Report’s Best Online Master’s in Civil Engineering Programs, and it ranks in the top four for industrial and mechanical engineering.
Also highly regarded is Illinois’ College of Education, which offers more than ten online programs. Here, globally-minded educators have unique opportunities to earn a Master’s in International Education Administration, Global Studies, or Diversity and Equity in Education.
These are just a few examples of Illinois Online’s more than 35 graduate programs. Over 3.6 million learners enroll in Illinois’ online classes. Its global reputation in online learning is due in part to the fact that many components of the virtual classroom, like message boards, screen-sharing, and instant messaging, were invented on Illinois’ campus.
Enroll in one of Iowa State University’s online graduate programs, and you’ll earn a degree from U.S. News & World Report’s No. 55 Top Public School. You’ll also have access to 18 other universities’ accomplished faculty. Iowa State is part of the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance; this consortium of colleges enhances the effectiveness of online programs by pulling together resources from 19 member institutions.
Six of Iowa State’s schools and colleges offer online graduate-level degrees and certificates. Some of these are GPIDEA programs, while others are solely delivered through Iowa State. The College of Human Services has the most opportunities for online “Cyclones,” including a Master of Family and Consumer Sciences in Dietetics, Family Financial Planning, Gerontology, or Youth Development.
Iowa State also offers 11 online engineering programs and five agricultural sciences degrees.
The University of South Carolina’s mascot might be “Cocky,” the fighting gamecock, but this school excels in a gentler field. USC ranks at No. 2 on U.S. News & World Report’s Best Online Master’s in Nursing Programs.
All of South Carolina’s graduate-level nursing coursework is delivered online, providing students several flexible pathways in areas like psychiatric mental health, administration, and informatics. Moreover, 100% of USC’s Master of Science in Nursing graduates passed the exam for the American Nurses Credentialing Center certification.
USC offers additional online Master’s programs across six schools and colleges. Health professionals can earn a Master of Public Health in Health Education or Policy; engineers can advance their knowledge in several industries, from aerospace to nuclear engineering; and librarians can aid their fellow graduate students’ research by pursuing their Master of Library and Information Science with a Certificate in Graduate Study.
The University of Michigan is a long-standing leader in higher education, and UM-Flint is part of this respected institution’s commitment to increasing access to a top-notch education. At UM-Flint, students join the renowned University of Michigan system while attending a campus focused on nontraditional students. Boasting a 13:1 student-to-faculty ratio, UM-Flint provides personalized attention and the flexibility to earn your degree online.
At UM-Flint, you can earn one of ten fully online Master’s degrees, ranging from liberal studies and education to business and nursing. A unique online offering is UM-Flint’s online Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy program, which helps practicing physical therapists advance their education to adhere to new industry-wide standards.
UM-Flint also has several hybrid programs, which require on-campus classwork every few weeks. For example, the Master of Public Administration is delivered through online coursework and scheduled Saturday or evening classes.
In 1902, the cost for a semester’s worth of studies at Fort Hays State University was only $5. FHSU has remained true to these affordable roots: today, it offers the lowest tuition rates among Kansas’ public institutions of higher education. Online graduate students pay approximately $287 per credit hour.
FHSU offers 60 online graduate programs, all of which follow a traditional academic calendar. Among these is a Master of Professional Studies, which is a multidisciplinary degree program centered on career-focused skills. With an MPA, students can combine disciplines to customize their studies, for example, earning a degree in human resource management and organizational leadership or criminal justice and cybersecurity.
In the 1920s, FHSU served as a teacher’s college, and so, unsurprisingly, this university has robust offerings for educators. Its online Master’s in Education degrees run the gamut from PreK to higher education student affairs, from math to reading, and from library media to school counseling.
Based in Los Angeles, the University of Southern California is a private institution with a very public reputation. USC ranks at No. 22 among U.S. News & World Report’s National Universities, a list topped by world-renowned schools like Princeton and Harvard. USC Online allows students everywhere to become a USC Trojan.
U.S. News & World Report has awarded USC first place ribbons for online graduate education in business and computer information technology. Additionally, the school is in the top five in the nation for its Master of Business Administration and Master’s in Engineering programs. Unique among USC’s online programs are opportunities for dentists, including a Master of Science in Oral Medicine, Geriatric Dentistry, or Community Oral Health.
Private universities tend to come with a higher price-tag, but this investment can pay dividends. USC’s alumni lead across industries and most famously in Hollywood. Will Ferrell, America Ferrera, and John Wayne are all proud Trojans.
Golden Gate University is based in San Francisco, and it is named for this city’s iconic bridge. GGU is committed to adult learners, offering online and hybrid-format degree programs with in-person classes at campuses in the Bay Area and Seattle.
This institution has a strong tradition in legal studies, and many of its more than 68,000 alumni serve as leaders in law offices across the country. GGU also has 15 online Master’s programs and several more graduate certificates that span multiple disciplines. Many of the school’s business programs focus on areas that require a strong knowledge of corporate law, like a Master of Science in Accounting or Taxation.
Additionally, GGU’s online Master of Business Administration includes a Juris Doctor joint-degree concentration. This allows students to earn an MBA online while completing their law degree through in-person evening courses.
The University of Texas at Austin delivers academic excellence at an incredible value. This institution ranks at No. 14 among U.S. News & World Report’s Top Public Schools, and yet it is Kiplinger’s No. 9 Best Value Public College.
Fifteen of UT Austin’s schools and colleges offer graduate programs. And while the university does not have a centralized hub for fully online programs, these do exist. For example, health-conscious students can earn a Master of Science in Nutritional Sciences entirely online. Also, the Cockrell School of Engineering offers a 100% online Master’s in Mechanical Engineering. What’s more, you can earn UT Austin’s Master of Science in Computer Science online in just ten courses.
So, if you’re still unsure whether you want to become a “Longhorn,” then just ask Matthew McConaughey: the Hollywood actor and UT alum recently joined the faculty at the school’s Moody College of Communication!