Master’s degrees are post-grad, second-cycle academic offerings awarded by universities as advancement tools for specialized professional practice. Earning a master’s is considered a prerequisite for many high-paying jobs, such as economist, school administrator, statistician, political scientist, financial advisor, marketer, and operations manager. According to Jobscan, 16 million U.S. adults now hold a master’s degree. This represents a 43 percent increase from 2002 since many employers have risen their educational standards. The Lumina Foundation reports that average income jumps from $50,360 at the bachelor’s level to $68,064 with a master’s degree for a median lifetime salary of $3.65 million. With the advent of technology, online colleges are also making master’s programs easier and more accessible than ever.
Although graduate school should never be effortless, we’ve researched the Top 20 Easy Accredited Online Master’s Degrees that won’t require jumping through hoops. We used the U.S. News and World Report’s “Online Colleges Guide” to find universities offering at least five master’s degrees. We prioritized schools that offered condensed terms, course-only tracks without research, transfer credits, shorter curricula, GRE/GMAT waivers, and fast average graduation times. Our search was focused on simpler, nontechnical majors, so you won’t find tough data analytics or computer engineering degrees here. Each easy online school had to have CHEA-recognized regional accreditation for industry recognition. We also considered online rankings, class sizes, tuition prices, ease of technology, faculty support, and demand.
Here are our selections for the Top 20 Easy Accredited Online Master’s Degrees:
1. Sam Houston State University
Founded on San Jacinto Day in 1879 by Governor Oran M. Roberts, Sam Houston State University is Texas’ third-oldest public, coeducational research institute endowed for $97.5 million that offers 59 master’s degrees to 6,477 post-grad Bearkats in Huntsville and beyond. The U.S. News ranked SHSU for America’s #1 best online master’s criminal justice and 11th best online master’s technology degrees. On Blackboard, graduates can easily access 36-credit, non-thesis programs, including the Victim Services Management M.S. and Sociology M.A.
Master’s Tuition: $478/credit
2. Arizona State University
Labeled one of Sierra Club’s “Cool Schools,” Arizona State University is a public, research-intensive ABOR institution of the PLUS Alliance that’s serving 13,098 post-grad Sun Devils under President Michael M. Crow with Tempe, Downtown, Polytechnic, and Online courses. The U.S. News recognized ASU for America’s fifth best MBA and criminal justice master’s programs online. Arizona State offers 7.5-week online scheduling for finishing easy, nontechnical degrees like the M.A. in English or Master of Liberal Studies in 30 credits.
Master’s Tuition: $512-$1,312/credit
3. Western Kentucky University
Sitting atop the Barren River Valley in Bowling Green, Western Kentucky University is endowed for $125.5 million under President Timothy C. Caboni to serve 3,066 post-grad Hilltoppers as a public, coeducational research institution of Conference USA. The U.S. News ranked WKU for America’s 15th best online criminal justice and 21st top online nursing master’s programs. Waiving GRE scores, WKU has easy, 30-credit online master’s degrees on Blackboard, such as the M.A. in Organizational Leadership or M.S. in Sports Media.
Master’s Tuition: $707/credit
4. Ball State University
Fully HLC accredited, Ball State University is a public, eight-school doctoral research institute founded by F.A.Z. Kumler in 1876 that’s now affordably educating 4,987 post-grad Cardinals on its 109-building campus in Muncie, Indiana and online with eBooks. The U.S. News applauded BSU for America’s 12th best online MBA and 16th top online master’s teaching degrees. Ball State simplifies its 30-credit, non-GRE online programs like the M.A. in Community Education and M.A. in Executive Development for 12-month completion.
Master’s Tuition: $402-$603/credit
5. North Carolina State University
Affiliated with 156,297 living alumni like Zach Galifianakis and Jill Wagner, North Carolina State University is a public, land-grant STEM-centric research hub that owns 107,000 total acres in Raleigh to educate 9,904 post-grad Wolves both near and afar. The U.S. News ranked NCSU for America’s ninth best online engineering and 29th top online education master’s degrees. Featuring seven-week semesters, NC State has some easier, test-optional online degrees like the Digital Learning M.S. and Parks and Recreation M.S.
Master’s Tuition: $431-$1,147/credit
6. Arkansas State University
Attracting 3,954 post-grad Red Wolves, Arkansas State University is a flagship public, HLC-accredited research institution established by Robert W. Glover in 1909 that’s now endowed for $54.9 million with campuses in Jonesboro, Paragould, Querétaro, and online. The U.S. News recognized A-State for America’s 10th best online MBA and the South’s 25th top public education. Starting six times yearly, A-State Online has four easy 12-month, 30-credit degrees, including the M.S. in Reading Education and M.S. in Sport Administration.
Master’s Tuition: $294/credit
7. East Carolina University
Administered by Chancellor Cecil Staton, East Carolina University is a public, sea-grant economic prosperity campus that’s endowed for $207.9 million on 530 acres in Greenville to serve 5,866 post-grad Pirates and employ 2,004 academic staff. The U.S. News recognized ECU for America’s 15th best online criminal justice and 35th best online nursing master’s degrees. ECU Connect offers some easier non-thesis, internship-exempt online programs like the M.S. in Security Studies and M.S. in Sustainable Tourism for 36 credits.
Master’s Tuition: $249-$893/credit
8. University of North Texas
Divided into 10 colleges, the University of North Texas budgets $865 million annually under Chancellor Lesa Roe as a public, land-grant SACS-accredited college where 6,770 post-grad Mean Green choose studying on 1,200 acres in Denton or online. The U.S. News congratulated UNT for America’s 16th best online teaching master’s and 55th top online MBA programs. On Blackboard with eight-week courses, UNT Online has accelerated master’s like the MHA in Applied Gerontology and M.Ed. in Educational Leadership in easier, nontechnical fields.
Master’s Tuition: $1,073-$1,515/course
9. Northeastern University
Located on Huntington Ave in Boston’s Fenway Cultural District, Northeastern University enrolls 6,954 post-grad Huskies face-to-face and online as a private, research-heavy UPNE member of the Colonial Athletic Association that’s endowed for $693 million. The U.S. News ranked NEU for America’s 32nd best online master’s IT and 37th top online graduate business degrees. In the College of Professional Studies, online programs like the M.S. in Human Services and M.S. in Nonprofit Management can take just 12 months with practical, competency-based courses.
Master’s Tuition: $530-$1,570/credit
10. Faulkner University
Opened in 1942 as Montgomery Bible College, Faulkner University is a private, Christ-centered theological school that’s applying Congregationalist values and its $19.1 million endowment to instruct 1,362 post-grad Eagles from its 74-acre campus on the Alabama River. The U.S. News distinguished Faulkner for America’s 20th best online master’s criminal justice education. Faulkner graduates can take fast-track, two-month courses online to easily finish 36-credit degrees like the M.A. in Christian Ministry and M.A. in Humanities without thesis research.
Master’s Tuition: $440-$550/credit
11. University of Miami
Endowed for $844.6 million, the University of Miami has 5,725 post-grad Hurricanes and 3,030 faculty overseen by Chairman Richard D. Fain to provide private, nonsectarian research-based education on its 453 acres in Florida’s Coral Cables or online. The U.S. News honored UM for America’s 32nd best online business master’s and 61st top online MBA degrees. Logging onto Blackboard anytime 24/7 lets graduates easily complete 16-month, GRE-waiving online programs, such as the M.A. in Communication Studies and Master of Professional Accounting.
Master’s Tuition: $1,960/credit
12. Nova Southeastern University
Given the 2017 CASE Circle of Excellence Award, Nova Southeastern University is a private, nonprofit community-engaged school based in Davie that’s SACS-accredited to inspire 20,751 post-grad Sharks in over 250 professional majors organized by Provost Ralph V. Rogers. The U.S. News recognized NSU for America’s 47th nursing and 84 teaching master’s degrees online. Swapping theses for capstone portfolios, several 33-credit, self-designed NSU degrees like the M.A. in Cross-Disciplinary Studies and M.S. in Generalist Health Science are easy.
Master’s Tuition: $882/credit
13. University of Missouri
Belonging to the SEC Academic Initiative, the University of Missouri is one of 34 top-tier public, land-grant AAU research institutions led by Chancellor Alexander Cartwright on a $1.57 million systemwide endowment to enroll 7,053 post-grad Tigers in Columbia and online. The U.S. News recognized Mizzou for America’s 61st best online master’s teaching preparation and 89th top engineering degrees. The IDEA platform lets Mizzou graduates take eight-week online courses for non-thesis programs like the Youth Development M.A. and Positive Coaching M.Ed.
Master’s Tuition: $415-$$800/credit
14. Clarion University of Pennsylvania
Producing over 55,000 alumni like Donna Oberlander and Kurt Angle since 1867, Clarion University of Pennsylvania is a public, state-funded PASSHE member headquartered on 201 acres in the Pittsburgh DMA with 894 post-grads also studying online. The U.S. News distinguished Clarion for America’s 80th best online business and 133rd top online teacher master’s education. Easier online degrees, including the M.Ed. in Early Childhood and M.S. in Mass Media, have 36 credits with exams instead of research for 18-month completion.
Master’s Tuition: $655-$746/credit
15. Marist College
Partnering with IBM for its SmartCloud Solution, Marist College is a private, tech-savvy Catholic research institution directed by President David N. Yellen on a $220 million endowment in Poughkeepsie to serve 898 post-grad Red Foxes at 26 study sites and online. The U.S. News applauded Marist for America’s 61st best MBA and 66th top business master’s degrees online. Taking 12 months full-time, Marist uses iLearn to teach simplified, non-thesis programs, such as the M.A. in Communication and Master of Public Administration.
Master’s Tuition: $800-$1,050/credit
16. Liberty University
Enrolling 92,500 online students in eight-week sub-terms, Liberty University is the largest nonprofit, distance-oriented Christian college globally that’s endowed for $1.1 billion under CEO Jerry Falwell, Jr. at its central Virginia headquarters. The U.S. News recognized Liberty for America’s 87th best online nursing and 92nd top online business master’s offerings. Accepting up to 18 credit transfers without on-campus intensives, Liberty’s easy, non-thesis programs include the Online M.A. in History and Online M.A. in Worship Arts.
Master’s Tuition: $565/credit
17. Southern New Hampshire University
Granted the 2007 Robert J. McKenna Award, Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit higher learning institution chaired by President Paul J. LeBlanc that’s providing NEASC-accredited study to 17,454 post-grad Penmen in Manchester and online. The U.S. News ranked SNHU for America’s 98th top graduate business and 171st best online MBA education. Skipping the GRE exam, flexible, easy online master’s programs like the Political Science M.S. and Social Media Marketing M.S. take just 15 months.
Master’s Tuition: $627/credit
18. Louisiana State University-Shreveport
Established by Donald Eugene Shipp, Jr. in 1967, Louisiana State University-Shreveport is a public, coeducational regional branch in the Red River Conference that’s holding 200 acres in Forbes’ 177th best city for education to train 1,564 post-grad Pilots. LSUS was crowned America’s 205th most conservative college on Niche and 24th top online MBA by Best Value Schools. The Electronic Campus has 10 easy, 10-course online master’s like the MBA in Project Management and M.S. in Nonprofit Administration.
Master’s Tuition: $373-$415/credit
19. Prescott College
Featuring a 7:1 student-faculty ratio with 1,200 enrolled in limited-residency or online programs, Prescott College is a private, HLC-accredited nonprofit liberal arts school founded by the Ford Foundation in 1965 in Arizona’s Yavapai County. Granted the 2017 Crescordia Award for Environmental Excellence, Prescott was ranked the West’s 81st best college by the U.S. News. The “College of Distinction” emphasizes easier humanities courses in 12-month, full-time online master’s degrees, including the M.A. in Social Ecology and M.A. in Adventure Education.
Master’s Tuition: $275/credit
20. Western Governors University
Led by Scott D. Pulsipher, Western Governors University is the private, nonprofit “New Kind of U” given NWCCU accreditation in 2016 to provide competency-based online learning for 78,709 Owls from its Salt Lake City headquarters. Granted the USDLA 21st Century Best Practices Award, WGU is ranked America’s eighth most affordable online college by GetEducated.com. Free applications allow post-grads to enter easy, 36-42 unit online programs, including the M.A. Science Education and M.S. Cybersecurity, with personal faculty mentoring.
Master’s Tuition: $2,890/term