What is a master’s degree?
A master’s degree is an advanced degree beyond a bachelor’s degree that typically takes two to three years to complete. Some people pursue a master’s degree to gain additional knowledge or skills to advance their professional career. Other people complete a master’s degree to change careers.
Can I get a master’s degree online?
Online master’s degree programs are popular alternatives to traditional brick and mortar programs. Students appreciate the freedom and flexibility a distance learning program provides.
Is an online master’s degree as respected as a traditional master’s degree?
Absolutely! Most universities do not distinguish whether a master’s degree was attained online or in-person on a transcript. Both types of degrees provide the academic rigor needed to master advanced knowledge and skills.
What type of accreditation should I be looking for in an online master’s degree program?
It is critical that you check to make sure the school offering the online master’s program is regionally or nationally accredited. Regional accreditation is the “gold standard” of accreditation, but national accreditation is acceptable as well for certain types of degrees. Most public universities with online master’s degrees are regionally accredited. With regards to the master’s program itself, you will need to make sure that the program is accredited by the appropriate professional organization. For nursing degrees, that means accreditation through the CCNE. An MBA program would hold accreditation with the AACSB or the ACBSP. Not all fields have accrediting bodies, but it is important to know if your specific area of study does, and if so, make sure your online master’s degree program is appropriately credentialed.
Are there online master’s programs that do not require a thesis?
There are plenty of 100% online master’s degree programs that do not require a thesis. All programs are different, but popular thesis alternatives include a capstone project, comprehensive exam, or research paper. An online master’s with no thesis requirement is a great choice for those planning careers outside academia.
Are there master’s degree programs that do not require the GRE, GMAT, etc.?
Admission requirements for online master’s degree programs vary considerably. Some online graduate programs do not require students to submit scores at all while other waive their requirement for students with a specific undergraduate GPA. Online graduate programs with no GRE requirement may ask for additional references, work history, or another demonstration of aptitude in the field.
Why should I get an online master’s degree?
Earning an online master’s degree certainly has rewards. Some of the best reasons to pursue an online master’s include:
Online master’s degrees are located all over the country and their flexible structure can reduce or even eliminate trips to campus. Online master’s programs typically require minimal on-campus visits so there is usually no need to relocate to complete your degree.
Earning a master’s degree is a significant time commitment and it can be a challenge to balance work, family, and school. Distance learning programs give students the flexibility to log in to attend class or complete assignments from almost anywhere in the world. Some classes may have set times or days while others have no set log-in times and use weekly or monthly deadlines for coursework.
Work while earning your degree
College is expensive and stepping away from full-time employment to earn a degree can cause financial hardship. Earning your online master’s degree allows you to continue working to preserve your income. By scheduling class time around your work and family, you can complete your degree without making sacrifices a full-time brick and mortar program might require. Employers will appreciate the knowledge and skills you bring to the table while working on your degree.
Advance in or change your career
In some fields, earning a master’s degree is critical to career advancement. To further your career or work in a clinical setting, social workers need to earn their MSW. An online master’s program in education can open the door to administrative roles. An online masters can also be helpful if your goal is a career change or specialization. The career plans you had as an undergraduate may have changed and earning an online master’s is a great way to acquire new knowledge and skills without taking a step back.
Increased earning potential
According to research published by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, Social Security Administration, graduate degree holders can expect typical lifetime earnings of over $2.7 million. The highest salaries fall in the areas of STEM and managerial/professional roles. Unemployment rates are typically lower for individuals with advanced degrees. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the unemployment rate for professionals with a master’s degree was just 2% in 2019.
How long does it take to complete an online master’s degree?
Online master’s degree programs usually take between two and three years to complete. Most programs offer full and part-time options that allow students to complete the program at a comfortable pace.
Are there accelerated online master’s degree program?
There are several different types of accelerated master’s programs available to online students.
Accelerated degree programs
Accelerated programs are popular with professional master’s degrees like an online MBA, an online Master of Social Work, and an online Master of Public Administration. The shortest online master’s programs take about 12-18 months to complete.
4+1 accelerated programs
Some online master’s programs are offered through a path known as 4+1. The 4+1 degree program is a combined bachelor’s/master’s program that takes just five years to complete. Earning the two degrees separately can take six or seven years, so a 4+1 accelerated option is a great choice for students who want to save time and money.
What are some of the most popular online master’s programs?
A Master of Business Administration (MBA) is an advanced degree for business professionals that focuses on core business topics like finance, operations, and marketing. According to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), the MBA is the most sought-after graduate management degree.
Online Master’s in HR Management-
The HR Management online master’s is a highly specialized degree covering the entire HR profession. Popular roles for graduates of these programs include HR Manager or Compensation and Benefits Manager.
Online Master’s in Organizational Leadership-
An online Master’s in Organizational Leadership is an alternative to an MBA. The MSOL is a great choice for professionals with successful careers but want to advance to management or leadership roles within the field. Most programs focus on the personal and human elements of business such as communication, collaboration, and workplace dynamics.
Online Master’s in Computer Science-
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an increase of 546,100 new computer and IT jobs through 2026. Earning an online Master’s in Computer Science is a great option for professionals working in science, technology, math or engineering.
How much does an online master’s degree cost?
According to a study by Sallie Mae, the average amount spent on graduate school is $24,812. How are students covering the cost?
- 53% is covered by student borrowing
- 24% is covered by student earnings including income and savings
- 15% is covered by grants, scholarships, fellowships, and tuition waivers
- 8%-covered by external contributions from family or friends
Is an online master’s cheaper than a traditional on-campus master’s degree?
An online master’s degree can provide significant savings to students on a budget. Many schools charge online students their lower, in-state tuition rate regardless of their state of residency. The cheapest online grad schools offer students reduced tuition or fees or other perks like free online books and software.
Is financial aid available for an online master’s degree
Financial aid is available for students considering an online master’s degree and it is important to check with your school to see what financial aid opportunities are available. To be eligible for federal financial aid, the program must be accredited by the Department of Education. The process of applying for aid is the same for online and on-campus students. An online affordable master’s degree is within reach!
Is it better to apply for an online master’s in my state?
Master’s programs may be offered 100% online or in a hybrid format combining online and in-person instruction. Some programs include summer residencies, internships, or on-campus professional development and hands-on training sessions. If travel is not in your budget or schedule, you will want to choose a 100% online program or a program close to home.
How much money can I expect to make after getting my online master’s?
According to PayScale.com, an individual with a master’s degree can expect an average salary of $75,523/year. Positions like data scientist and HR director usually pay above average while a high school teacher or a financial analyst have a lower average. In comparison, the average salary of a worker with a bachelor’s degree is $62,496/year. Finding an affordable master’s degree online can dramatically increase your lifetime earnings. Due to salary variations by profession, we recommend doing some research when considering earning your master’s degree online.
What are the pros and cons of doing an online master’s degree?
We have highlighted a few important considerations when making the decision whether to pursue an online master’s degree.
Online programs provide students with maximum flexibility. These are great programs for working professionals or individuals with family obligations who would have a difficult time attending class on a set schedule.
Shorter time to degree completion
Online master’s degree programs are usually more streamlined than their on-campus counterparts. Most programs (other than professional programs) are course based so students can complete the program according to their own schedule. While some online programs follow a traditional semester or trimester schedule, many online programs are offered with condensed scheduling, allowing students to complete their degree in less time.
The last thing you want to do when you are establishing yourself in your career or with your employer is to relocate for a few years and take time away to complete your degree. For many mid-level career professionals, this is just not feasible. Students can save money by earning their degree from the comfort of their home.
Missing out on the college experience
Earning your master’s degree online is a vastly different experience than earning a degree on-campus. Online students trade the hustle and bustle of a college campus for the freedom to study wherever they choose. Students access peers and faculty from a virtual learning platform rather than meeting up face to face during office hours or grabbing a cup of coffee. While some students need the face to face interaction and regimented schedule of a brick and mortar program, those who learn better independently will find many benefits to an online master’s degree program.
Not everyone is cut out for online learning
In many ways, earning an online master’s degree is more challenging than a traditional program. Study time must be carved out and discipline is necessary to avoid pitfalls like procrastination. Instead of asking a peer or teacher for assistance, online students need to navigate virtual help desks, email, and zoom meetings. It takes considerable motivation and self-discipline to be a successful online student. Before deciding if an online master’s program is a good fit, you will need to do an honest evaluation of your ability to complete the requirements within your desired timeframe.
You need to be able to use technology
Online master’s programs are delivered through an online learning platform that instructors use to engage with their students. Students should be proficient using a computer and basic software packages. Video conferencing, online classrooms, and social media are used to help students stay engaged.
How do I apply for an online master’s degree program?
One you have made the choice to pursue your master’s degree online, you need to find the right program and submit your application. Fortunately, most schools share their requirements, cost, and expectations online on their school website. You should expect to submit undergraduate transcripts and applicable test scores (unless not required or you meet criteria that makes you exempt). If you have not taken these required exams, you will need to get them scheduled. You may also be asked to submit a professional portfolio or provide references. Some schools also conduct interviews with select applicants. You will also need to make sure you complete the FAFSA to determine your financial aid eligibility.
How do I find the best affordable online master’s program that interests me?
Below we have ranked some of the most popular master’s degree programs available online.
- 25 Most Affordable Online Master’s Degrees Christian/Nondenominational Colleges
- 20 Most Affordable Online Master’s-Granting HBCUs
- 25 Most Affordable Private Nonprofit Colleges with Online Master’s Degrees
- 25 Most Affordable Public Colleges with Online Master’s Degrees
- 20 Most Affordable Women’s Colleges with Online Master’s Degrees
- 25 Most Affordable Christian Colleges Baptist with Online Master’s Degrees
- 25 Most Affordable Christian Colleges Catholic with Online Master’s Degrees
- 25 Most Affordable Online Master’s Degrees in Computer Science
- 25 Most Affordable Online Master’s Degrees in Library Science
- 25 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Civil Engineering
- 25 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Organizational Leadership
- 25 Most Affordable Online Master’s of Accounting Degrees
- 25 Most Affordable Online Master’s of Business Administration Degrees
- 25 Most Affordable Online Master’s of Communications and Public Relations Degrees
- 25 Most Affordable Online Master’s of Criminal Justice Degrees
- 25 Most Affordable Online Master’s of Educational Leadership and Administration Degrees
- 25 Most Affordable Online Master’s of Finance Degrees
- 25 Most Affordable Online Master’s of Healthcare Administration and Management Degrees
- 25 Most Affordable Online Master’s of Human Resources Management Degrees
- 25 Most Affordable Online Master’s of Marketing Degrees
- 25 Most Affordable Online Master’s of Mathematics/ Statistics Education Degrees
- 25 Most Affordable Online Master’s of Nursing Degrees
- 25 Most Affordable Online Master’s of Nursing Education Degrees
- 25 Most Affordable Online Master’s of Project Management Degrees
- 25 Most Affordable Online Master’s of Psychology Degrees
- 25 Most Affordable Online Master’s of Public Administration Degrees
- 25 Most Affordable Online Master’s of Public Health Degrees
- 25 Most Affordable Online Master’s of Reading Literacy Degrees
- 25 Most Affordable Online Master’s of Social Work