Back in the day, many assumed you couldn’t pair work with school if you wanted impressive grades. This mentality delayed, if not completely stopped, many prospective professionals from attending graduate school— especially if they had a family to look after.
But on-campus classes aren’t the only option for college anymore. Remote, online master’s degree programs allow students to achieve great work-life balance, giving them the freedom to pursue high-quality studies while supporting themselves with work. Interested in exploring online master’s degree programs? You might wonder where to start! Read on to discover the best online master’s degree programs across a range of fields.
Boston University is a private, nonprofit institution known for its quality programs. In fact, the school’s program is considered one of the best online master’s programs, particularly in the field of business and finance.
You can complete the MS in Financial Management online, studying subjects like financial accounting, financial regulations, and ethics. The university also allows you to pursue the program as part of a dual degree in computer science, telecommunications, or actuarial science. If you’re interested in a post-graduate finance degree from Boston University, you can also opt for their MBA with a concentration in finance.
John Hopkins offers two well-recognized MSN programs, both available online:
1. MSN in Healthcare Organizational Leadership, for professional working nurses with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. This program aims to create leaders capable of fiscal and strategic management as well as solving ethical and legal issues.
2. MSN Entry into Nursing, for graduates who have an undergraduate degree in another field. This program molds professionals with specialized knowledge in global health.
Duration: 2 years
Total credits: 36
Tuition: $65,088 per year (MSN Entry into Nursing) and $52,342 per year (MSN in Healthcare Organizational Leadership)
A public land-grant university with campuses in Morgantown, Keyser, and Charlestown, West Virginia University offers hundreds of programs across various fields. Its Master of Science in Business Data Analytics is a fully online program that teaches students how to make data-driven business decisions. Graduates can expect to secure lucrative roles that take advantage of their analytical and statistical abilities, such as business analyst, database administrator, and business continuity manager.
One of the nation’s leading universities, Stanford University boasts not only a strong track record across many disciplines, but is also one of the largest US campuses. Among its many excellent computer science programs, they offer an online MS in Computer Science.
This program is not 100% remote, as it involves a small amount of on-campus attendance. However, a vast amount of classes and coursework are completed online. You can also choose a research-intensive track — the ideal preparation for a PhD.
Located in Washington DC, George Washington University is a renowned university known for its high level of research and a broad range of programs. Its online Master of Health Administration offers the same excellence in education as its on-campus equivalent, covering themes of healthcare management, financial leadership, and health economics. To qualify for this program, you’ll need to have a bachelor’s degree, a minimum of two years’ experience, and current work experience in the healthcare sector.
The University of Nebraska’s online arts master’s degree offers students experiential learning in one of four areas: literature, creative writing, childhood and youth studies, and composition, rhetoric, and language. It’s particularly well-known for its creative writing concentration, which focuses on poetry and prose.
Harvard University is well-known as one of the best education institutions in the world, offering a wide range of programs at both the undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Its online ALM program is designed for working professionals and can be completed mostly online. Students can develop high-level skills interpreting poetry, fiction, and drama with this program.
NYU is one of the country’s premier private research universities and is based in New York City. However, it has campuses all over the world that give it quite an international perspective. NYU’s ASHA-accredited Master’s in Speech-Language Pathology can be completed mostly online. Students learn how to treat communication and swallowing disorders in a range of settings.
The University of Southern California is a large, internationally focused private university. Its online Master of Management in Library & Information Science is accredited by the American Library Association (ALA). This program prepares students for a career in information management with in-depth knowledge of management, operations, and leadership in the sector.
Purdue University is a large public land-grant institution based in West Lafayette, Indiana. Its MS in Human Resource Management is recognized as one of the best human resources master’s in the country. You can complete this MS program in a hybrid format based on online study with some on-campus attendance. This program emphasizes experiential learning and the importance of people within organizations.
Duration: 3 semesters (18 months)
Tuition: $849 per credit ($1,110 for non-residents)
Choosing the right master’s program requires careful thought. It’s not sufficient to simply pick the highest-ranking school — you’ll be miserable if the program doesn’t align with your interests and needs.
Your passions and career goals are highly relevant, as are logistical factors such as whether the program needs to be fully online or if it’s a hybrid.
Some key factors to keep in mind when choosing your online master’s are:
Field of study and choice of concentrations
Self-paced vs structured
Level of interaction with faculty and other students
Integration options, such as the ability to combine with other master’s degrees or a PhD
Tuition and other costs
Applying for an online master’s degree program is typically the same as applying to any master’s program. You’ll need to submit an application through the university’s website, pay an application fee, and attach supporting documents.
Although individual program websites will list specific requirements, master’s programs will typically ask for:
Some universities also look for a minimum GRE score. Finally, non-native English speakers will usually need to meet a minimum TOEFL or IELTS score.
Pros and Cons of Online Master’s Programs
Pursuing an online master’s degree has both advantages and drawbacks.
Online master’s degrees typically involve watching classes on video and completing coursework online. There may also be online tutorials, group work, student forums and online chat opportunities.
Many (though not all) online master’s degrees are asynchronous, meaning you can study at your own pace and schedule your studies around work and other commitments.
Advantages of completing a master’s online include:
Flexibility – You can study from anywhere and often on your own schedule.
Accessibility – You can complete your dream program anywhere in the country or even the world.
Lower costs – Although tuition is comparable with on-campus study, you’ll likely save on other expenses such as accommodation, transportation, and study materials.
Range of options – You can access a wider range of programs, meaning more options in terms of concentrations and accelerated courses vs. self-paced study.
Fewer interruptions – Even in the face of social distancing and lockdown orders, online courses have been able to continue as normal over the past couple of years.
Some disadvantages of studying online are:
Isolation – You’ll have less interaction than you would studying on-campus and may have a harder time building relationships with your teachers and fellow students.
Self-motivation needed – Studying online takes a high degree of motivation, discipline, and time management.
Connectivity – Internet or technology issues could interrupt your studies.
Online Master’s Degree FAQs
Can You Take a Master’s Degree Online?
Although not all master’s programs are offered online, more and more universities are offering post-graduate programs in online or hybrid formats. There are many top online master’s programs in highly sought-after fields like finance and engineering, and from prestigious, Ivy League universities. You’ll likely find a quality master’s program online, no matter your desired field of study.
Is an Online Master’s Degree Valuable?
An online master’s degree is just as valuable as an equivalent on-campus qualification. An online master’s from a reputable university will be a valuable addition to your resume, helping you to build a successful career.
Today’s job market is more competitive than ever. With more candidates holding a postgraduate qualification, having a master’s degree can be invaluable in securing your dream job. In some cases, employers see a master’s degree as a minimum, while for other roles, it will help you to stand out from other candidates.
How Many Years is an Online Master’s Degree?
Like on-campus master’s programs, online master’s degrees can take anywhere from 1-5 years to complete, though most can be completed in around two years full-time. This depends on the individual program, as well as whether you choose to study full-time, part-time, or go for a fast track option.
Because online master’s programs typically offer flexible, part-time study options to accommodate working professionals, you may choose to take longer to complete the course than an on-campus post-graduate degree.
How Much Does an Online Master’s Degree Cost?
The cost of pursuing a master’s degree varies greatly depending on the field, institution, and individual program. Some online master’s programs cost as little as $10,000 annually. On the other hand, the best online graduate programs from renowned private universities such as Harvard and John Hopkins can cost more than $60,000 per year.
The best online master’s degrees develop your skills and advance your career in a diverse range of industries, from nursing and human resources to creative writing, data analytics, and computer science.
To learn more about pursuing a master’s online, take a look at our posts and guides.