The Best Online Master’s Degrees 2020

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Pursuing a master’s degree online provides students with specialized knowledge in a discipline and can lead to opportunities for career advancement, transition to another field, or a doctoral degree. Graduate education is ideal for students who want clinical experience, research experience, or additional skills and credentials in order to attain their career goals. In some cases, a master’s degree is required for state licensure.

For instance, to obtain a state license as a licensed professional counselor or licensed mental health counselor, candidates must complete a master’s degree and several counseling hours under supervision. Other students may pursue a graduate degree to qualify for executive-level positions and higher salaries, such as a master of business administration (MBA), master of healthcare administration, or master of education (M.Ed.). Obtaining an online master’s degree can also be a way to transition into a different career or field.

Master’s programs require 30-60 credits and take 1-3 years to complete. They entail a combination of coursework and clinical or research requirements and culminate in a capstone project or thesis. Students often work closely with faculty advisors to develop their own professional identity as practitioners and researchers. This guide provides an overview of online master’s degrees, including school rankings and summaries, common courses, accreditation, and scholarships.

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Affordable Online Master’s Degree Overview

Students completing a master’s degree online have access to the same courses, faculty, and resources as students who attend traditional on-campus programs. Online master’s programs that have an internship or clinical experience requirement typically allow students to complete these requirements at a qualified organization or institution in their community.

Other student resources, such as tutoring, writing center services, and editorial office assistance are also available virtually. For instance, in master’s programs that require a thesis, students must meet editorial and formatting requirements in order to graduate. Many schools run an office dedicated to providing this assistance, which is available to distance learning students as well.

Online degrees allow for additional benefits, such as increased flexibility in scheduling, the ability to attend classes from anywhere, lower costs, and the possibility of retaining previous employment during graduate study. Courses are offered in synchronous or asynchronous formats.

Synchronous classes require students to log in at a specific time and attend a virtual lecture while asynchronous classes allow students to access course materials at any time and watch lectures according to their own schedules as long as they meet general deadlines. Both formats allow students to take courses from schools located anywhere in the nation. Some online programs also offer courses in an accelerated format of 6-8 weeks instead of the typical 15-16, which means students can complete their degree in a shorter amount of time.

Many online master’s degrees cost less than their traditional face-to-face counterparts. Online programs may offer a flat tuition rate regardless of residency. Students save on expenses related to transportation and facilities fees. In addition, online degrees offer students the flexibility to balance work or other obligations alongside their schooling. This allows learners to maintain an active income to offset tuition costs.

Why Get an Online Degree?

  • MORE CHOICES Students may be restrained in their graduate school selections by geographic location or other factors. Obtaining a master’s degree online allows students to attend programs across the nation regardless of where they are.
  • DEVELOP TECHNICAL SKILLS Learning through a virtual platform can allow learners to develop technical skills, such as familiarity with new softwares and troubleshooting common problems. Students may also learn to use project management and communication tools commonly used in the workplace, including Skype, Zoom, Dropbox, Slack, and Trello.
  • TIME MANAGEMENT AND DISCIPLINE The self-paced format of many online graduate programs requires students to manage their time wisely and demonstrate self-discipline and motivation. These are skills that are also valued by employers in the workforce.
  • REDUCED COSTS Many online programs cost less than their on-campus counterparts. In addition, students save on room and board, transportation, and other costs affiliated with living on or near campus.
  • RETAIN CURRENT EMPLOYMENT For anyone who has already started working, earning a master’s degree online allows them to keep their job while they earn their degree.

Cost of an Online Master’s Degree

Many online master’s degrees are more affordable than traditional on-campus programs because lower overhead costs for offering online courses allows schools to charge lower tuition rates. Some programs charge a flat rate for online tuition, which means out-of-state students do not incur higher tuition costs.


  • What to Expect from Tuition and Fee


    Online master’s programs typically charge $400-$800 per credit. Tuition costs vary depending on the institution, graduate program, and discipline. For instance, MBA programs are generally more expensive than other master’s degrees.

    In addition to the tuition rate, students must also pay fees and cover the cost of textbooks and other course supplies. Technology fees affiliated with online courses range from $25-$75 per course. The cost of books and supplies can cost up to $1,000 per year, depending on the courses and professors. Professors and courses that have adopted open source textbooks or upload all required texts can reduce or eliminate these costs for online students.

    Students in online master’s programs also save on expenses such as facilities fees, room and board charges, and parking on campus. Some programs offer graduate assistantships or stipends for online master’s students that can offset the costs of attendance.


Common Online Master’s Degree Courses


  • Counseling Intervention and Techniques


    This course covers foundational counseling skills and therapeutic interventions to help patients navigate personal, social, and work-related struggles. Students learn techniques and strategies associated with crisis intervention, conflict, and multicultural or ethical issues. This course is required in master’s programs in clinical mental health counseling, addictions counseling, counseling psychology, and related fields.

  • Data Management in Healthcare


    This course provides students with the knowledge and skills to collect, organize, and analyze health data. Students learn to maintain health records, capture and communicate insights gleaned from data analytics efforts, and manage databases containing data. This course is required in health informatics, healthcare administration, and related disciplines.

  • Organizational Theory and Behavior


    This course focuses on theories that explain human behavior in an organizational context, particularly employee behavior within companies or public organizations. Students learn about elements of individual and interpersonal behavior as well as organizational-level factors that affect behavior. This course is typically offered in MBA programs and other business-related disciplines, such as nonprofit management or healthcare administration.

  • Criminological Theories


    This course examines sociological, psychological, and criminological theories on the etiology of crime and their implications for the criminal justice system. Students learn about past and present research in criminology and how these paradigms affected policy. This course is frequently required in master’s programs in criminal justice, legal studies, or sociology.

  • Foundations of Curriculum and Instruction


    This course provides students with an overview of learning theory, the historical and social foundations of education, and their impact on practices in curriculum development and assessment. This course can be found in many education-related master’s programs.

Accreditation for an Online College

Accreditation of educational institutions provides students and parents a level of quality assurance. Accrediting bodies and organizations are responsible for evaluating educational institutions and programs according to a set of standards and ensuring they meet those standards.

In the United States, schools and programs can be regionally or nationally accredited. Regional accreditation is considered more prestigious and reputable because regional accrediting agencies serve academically oriented schools and adhere to the same standards. Credits earned from regionally accredited schools are more widely recognized and easily transferable. National accrediting agencies, on the other hand, serve technical, trade, vocational, and professional schools and programs.

In searching for an online master’s program, students should look for regional accreditation from the agency that serves the geographic region in which the school is located as well as any relevant discipline-specific accreditations. The U.S. Department of Education provides a searchable database of accredited postsecondary institutions and programs.

Scholarships for an Online Master’s Degree

A variety of scholarships are available to students pursuing an online master’s degree. Some scholarships are designed to help minority and underrepresented communities, some are designed for students in specific disciplines, and others are based on merit or financial need. Students should research and apply for any scholarships or fellowships they qualify for.

AICP Scholarship

The Association of Insurance Compliance Professionals offers three scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students pursuing a degree in disciplines such as insurance, actuarial science, economics, finance, management, statistics, and other business-related fields.
Who Can Apply: Full-time students pursuing a degree in a relevant discipline who have completed at least two years of college-level coursework and have earned minimum 3.0 GPA.
Amount: $1,500

American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation Graduate Student Scholarship

The ASH Foundation awards 15 graduate student scholarships to full-time students currently enrolled or accepted to a program in communication sciences or disorders.
Who Can Apply: Applicants must be accepted or enrolled full time in an accredited communication sciences or disorders graduate program, such as audiology, speech language pathology, and other related clinical or research degrees.
Amount: $5,000

Frederic G. Melcher Scholarship

This scholarship provides financial assistance to graduate students pursuing a master of library science who intend to work in children librarianship, including any type of library serving children up to age 14.
Who Can Apply: Citizens of U.S. or Canada pursuing graduate study in the field of library work with children.
Amount: $7,500

Eckenfelder Scholarship

Brown and Caldwell, a company that designs and builds water and waste systems, offers a scholarship to support students interested in pursuing a career in an environmental discipline.
Who Can Apply: Undergraduate juniors and seniors and graduate students enrolled in an accredited institution pursuing a degree in civil, mechanical, electrical or environmental engineering, or an environmental science.
Amount: $5,000

Albert W. Dent Graduate Student Scholarship

The Foundation of American College of Healthcare Executives offers a scholarship for minority students in healthcare management graduate programs to help offset the costs of tuition and expenses.
Who Can Apply: Minority students who are U.S. citizens, are enrolled full time in a healthcare management graduate program, and demonstrate financial need may apply.
Amount: $5,000

FAQ

QUESTIONANSWER
Can I complete a master’s degree online?Yes, a variety of master’s programs are available online. Degrees obtained online from accredited institutions provide the same courses, faculty, and credentials as traditional master’s programs.
How long does it take to earn a master’s degree online?An online master’s degree can take anywhere from 1-3 years to complete, depending on program requirements and whether a student enrolls full time or part time.
How much is the average cost of online college?Most online master’s programs cost $400-$800 per credit. However, these costs can vary depending on the school, graduate program, and discipline.
Is there a free online college?Yes. In some cases, students can attend an online master’s program at no cost. Some highly competitive programs offer graduate assistantships, tuition waivers, and stipends. In addition, schools such as the University of the People offer tuition-free online education, including MBA and M.Ed. programs.

Affordable Online Master’s Degrees 2020

The ranking below includes 50 of the best online master’s programs available. Prospective learners can use this list to begin researching prospective schools. The ranking considers factors including tuition rates, program offerings, financial aid opportunities, and student-to-faculty ratios.

  1. University of the Cumberlands
    Location

    Williamsburg, KY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Kentucky, emphasizes practical, career-oriented academic graduate programs for working professionals. Master's students can choose from more than 20 fully online degree paths in subject areas including business, counseling, criminal justice, education, health sciences, information technology, medical science, and international executive studies. UC also offers a master's program in ministry, reflecting its venerable Baptist heritage.

    Degree-seekers engage with instructors and peers through a cutting-edge e-learning platform designed to support collaboration and replicate the traditional classroom learning experience. The institution's innovative approach to pedagogy includes continuous updates that prioritize the latest field-specific research, propelling many online master's programs into the upper tiers of national rankings.

    Founded in 1888, UC features affordable online tuition starting at $315 per credit as of the 2019-2020 school year. Alumni include multiple state governors, members of Congress, and scores of successful professionals.

  2. Logan University
    Location

    Chesterfield, MO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Exclusively focused on health sciences and chiropractics, Logan University supports an evidence-based approach to holistic healing. Following the methods developed by its celebrated founder, the renowned chiropractor Dr. H.B. Logan, the school and its programs ground students in a patient-centered approach to care that eschews invasive surgical procedures and the unnecessary use of pharmaceuticals.

    As of the 2019-2020 school year, Logan University offers three fully online master's programs: health informatics, nutrition and human performance, and sports science and rehabilitation. All three degree paths support the school's signature tailored curriculum, which allows students to customize their degrees through a broad variety of electives.

    Logan University enjoys outstanding student retention rates and has earned many accolades and distinctions for its academic excellence. The institution holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission along with programmatic endorsements from the Council on Chiropractic Education and the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics.

  3. Concordia University-Chicago
    Location

    River Forest, IL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    With world-class faculty drawn from elite global ranks of academia and a structured yet flexible online learning environment, Concordia University-Chicago ranks as a national leader in online master's education. Small class sizes and an institution-wide student-to-instructor ratio of 11-to-1 foster an intimate, interactive learning experience.

    Buoyed by a decisive commitment to innovation, Concordia University-Chicago offers a long and enriched list of online programs. The 2019-2020 school year features more than 30 online master's degree paths, including both traditional and novel subject areas.

    Concordia places particular emphasis on education degrees with graduate students enjoying unique learning opportunities in such specialized fields as curriculum development for bilingual learners, educational technology, K-12 reading education, and teacher leadership. The school also enjoys a prestigious reputation for its online MBA degrees and certificates, which include 17 distinctive areas of concentration.

  4. Touro University Worldwide
    Location

    Los Alamitos, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    A private, nonprofit school based in California's Orange County, Touro University Worldwide has leveraged its longstanding commitment to academic innovation into a thriving online learning environment. In 1998, TUW became the first regionally accredited institution in the world to deliver a 100% online doctoral program with no campus requirements. The school has since expanded its distance offerings to include dozens of online master's degrees.

    For the 2019-2020 school year, TUW features online master's programs in three major subject areas: business and management, psychology, and health and human services. Students enjoy distinctive learning opportunities in specialized, career-focused areas such as organizational psychology, dispute resolution, human resources, and marriage and family therapy.

    All programs support TUW's institutional goals of embracing the needs of underserved student communities, helping established professionals advance their career goals and applying a problem-solving approach to project-based learning experiences.

  5. North American University
    Location

    Stafford, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Based in Houston, Texas, NAU distinguishes itself through five intensive, fully online graduate programs. Its acclaimed online MBA program opens up learning opportunities to nontraditional business students and does not require GMAT or GRE scores. Tech-oriented learners can earn a master of science in computing, and aspiring educators can choose from paths in school counseling, curriculum and instruction, and educational leadership. The school reports a 100% post-graduation employment rate for computer science graduates.

    Founded in 2007 with the objective of establishing a superior educational institution with a strong focus on innovation, NAU holds accreditation from the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges. Recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, NAU also features endorsements from the International Association of Universities and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

  6. Nebraska Methodist College of Nursing & Allied Health
    Location

    Omaha, NE

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    NMC exclusively prepares students for careers in healthcare professions through innovative, rigorous academic programs informed by cutting-edge scientific research. Formally affiliated with the Nebraska Methodist Health System, which ranks among the largest in the state, NMC has trained thousands of successful healthcare practitioners since its 1891 founding. Institutionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, NMC favors a holistic, community-centered approach to learning.

    The school's current lineup of online master's programs uses the proprietary MyMethodist e-learning platform to engage students through lectures, forum-based discussions, and presentations. All learning paths include field placement or practicum requirements, which students can complete in their local areas if they live outside NMC's base in Omaha. Students can pursue master of science in nursing degrees as well as healthcare management and continuing education programs designed for working professionals who must meet ongoing professional development requirements to maintain licensure.

  7. Clarkson College
    Location

    Omaha, NE

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Nearly 90% of students at Clarkson College take at least one online course, a statistic that speaks to the reliability of the institution's advanced approach to digital learning. Clarkson College uses the Canvas e-learning platform to facilitate interactive lectures, online discussions, and an efficient assignment management system. Online instructors are required to answer student questions within 48 hours, with most faculty members providing same-day responses. As a result, Clarkson College's online learning community enjoys atypically high levels of student engagement and academic success.

    Graduate students seeking a flexible path to an advanced degree can take advantage of multiple career-oriented online healthcare programs in administration and management, community health, informatics, medical imaging, nursing, radiography, and physical therapy. Degree-seekers enjoy flexible full-time or part-time program structures.

  8. Concordia University-Irvine
    Location

    Irvine, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Established in 1976, CUI began its history as a religious education center for Christian community leaders. Though it has since branched out into many other academic areas, CUI retains its focus on spiritual values while delivering flexible, customizable learning experiences. Students in its online master's programs can earn their degrees 100% online or blend digital and traditional classroom learning at CUI's Southern California campus.

    As of the 2019-2020 school year, CUI features 14 accredited online master's degrees in subjects including nursing and healthcare, coaching and athletic sciences, education, counseling, organizational leadership, and theology. In keeping with the institution's Christian roots, faculty members double as mentors, working to guide the learners under their care to elite levels of academic, personal, and professional success. Nationally recognized as a leading regional private university, CUI holds accreditation from the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

  9. Cleveland University-Kansas City
    Location

    Kansas City, MO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    CUKC enjoys a prominent position as an acclaimed regional leader in healthcare education. This private, nonprofit institution offers a flexible, fully online master of science in health education and promotion, which delivers multiple appealing supplementary benefits in addition to an exemplary education.

    Students in the CUKC online master's program benefit from the insights and expertise of highly qualified professors with advanced degrees and extensive professional experience. While enrolled, degree-seekers and their immediate family members qualify for free chiropractic care through partner providers as well as complimentary fitness center memberships. Accessible admission standards reflect the school's commitment to facilitating career growth opportunities for nontraditional healthcare learners.

    Applicants need only a bachelor's degree in any field from a university with regional accreditation and must submit supporting materials, including a current resume, personal statement, and academic transcripts.

  10. Hamline University
    Location

    Saint Paul, MN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Founded in 1854, HU is Minnesota's oldest college and continues to rank among its best, earning accolades and distinctions that place it among the most prestigious higher education institutions in the Midwest. Self-paced asynchronous learning defines the HU digital experience, and the school features online master's degrees in three professional areas: business, law, and education.

    HU's online business programs lead to master of public administration (MPA) designations, and the school hosts the region's oldest MPA program. Students interested in pursuing their academic interests in law and legal institutions can undertake a master's in the study of law, a purpose-built program designed for working professionals seeking to deepen their academic qualifications. HU education programs offer excellent versatility and provide the opportunity to earn specialized certificates and concentrations in dozens of distinct fields while working toward a master of arts in education.

Why Should I Earn a Master’s Degree Online?

Median Weekly Earnings by Education

Associate DegreeBachelor’s DegreeMaster’s Degree
$836$1,173$1,401

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Below are some common reasons for students to pursue an online master’s degree. Distance learning often provides additional benefits, such as more affordable tuition rates. Many schools charge all online learners the same tuition rates, regardless of residency.

Accessibility

Online master’s programs tend to be more accessible than on-campus options. Online learning reduces barriers associated with geographic location. Distance learning programs allow degree-seekers to study from anywhere, and many programs require no campus visits. Learners can advance their education through their ideal program without considering long commutes or an increased cost of living.

Flexibility

Most online master’s programs offer high levels of convenience and scheduling flexibility. Designed with motivated and disciplined individuals in mind, online master’s programs generally encourage self-paced study. Distance learning is ideal for busy learners and working professionals who need to balance education with other obligations. Degree-seekers can take courses that fit into their schedule and can typically access class materials and complete assignments at their convenience.

Diversity

Online master’s degree programs often attract learners from diverse backgrounds. Many programs include students of various ages, nationalities, and vocational aspirations. Studying in this type of environment can help learners develop their social and interpersonal skills to prepare for success in the workforce.

What Are the Most Popular Master’s Degrees to Earn?

MajorDescription
BusinessMaster’s programs in business provide specialization options and can help professionals increase their earning potential. Master’s degree-holders in the field often qualify for more advanced positions. For example, certified public accountants need a master’s degree.
EducationEducators often pursue a master’s degree to teach specific types of learners. For example, teachers who want to work with students who have disabilities typically need a master’s degree in special education. Additionally, administrative positions, such as school principal or superintendent, usually require at least a master’s.
Health Professions and Related ProgramsThe highest-paid nurses usually hold a master’s degree in a specific type of medicine. Additionally, positions in healthcare administration and other business-focused aspects of the healthcare industry often require a master’s degree.
EngineeringEngineers can increase their earning potential and specialize their career by pursuing a master’s degree. Completing a master’s program is also a stepping stone to earning a doctoral degree. Engineering professionals can also specialize by obtaining certifications, many of which require candidates to hold at least a master’s degree.
Computer and Information SciencesThis competitive and in-demand field offers above-average salary potential. Some computer and information science professionals, such as computer and information research scientists, need a master’s degree. While other positions require only a bachelor’s degree, candidates with a master’s are often more competitive in the job market.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

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How Long Does It Take to Earn a Master’s Degree Online?

Most learners complete their online master’s degree in 1-3 years. Degree completion time depends on factors including enrollment status, employment, and field of study. This section outlines the typical process of earning a master’s degree online.

Application Process

Preparation for master’s studies begins well before students complete the application. Many schools set GPA requirements, so undergraduate students who plan to continue their education should work diligently to maintain a good GPA. Some graduate schools also require applicants to submit scores from entrance exams, such as the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE). Degree-seekers can study and take practice tests before sitting for the GRE.

Most online master’s degree programs have similar application processes. Applicants must typically hold a relevant bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. Students must generally submit official transcripts and 1-3 reference letters from professors and academic advisors. Many programs also require a written statement outlining the applicant’s professional and educational goals. Depending on the field of study, applicants may need to submit an academic writing sample.

Year One

Because master’s programs do not typically include general education requirements, learners focus on their field of study beginning in the first year of their graduate program. Master’s students should have a bachelor’s degree, work experience in the field, or both. Graduate-level learners also need a solid understanding of foundational concepts in their field.

Students in some master’s programs choose a specialization area during their first year, although most programs do not emphasize specialization coursework until the second year.

Year Two

The second year of a master’s program features high-level courses that cover specific field topics. Students usually complete a capstone project or thesis at the end of their second year. Many master’s students begin their job search during the second year of their program. Learners often spend significant time networking and applying for positions.

Students can also continue to doctoral studies after earning their master’s. These learners may research and apply to doctoral programs during the second year of their master’s program. Master’s degree-holders can also enter the workforce and gain professional experience before pursuing a doctorate.

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Are Online Master’s Degrees Cheaper?

In many cases, earning an online master’s degree can cost less than pursuing a degree on campus. This section compares online education to on-campus learning, exploring factors including cost and scheduling options. Each of these elements varies by school and major, so prospective students should contact their institution for details.

Housing Costs

Online master’s programs do not typically require learners to relocate to campus, which allows distance students to save on housing costs. Off-campus housing options are often more affordable than on-campus dorms. Additionally, students can choose to live with their family or in an area with a lower cost of living.

School Fees

The cost of fees varies widely by institution. Many schools charge technology fees, administrative and wellness fees, and library fees. These fees may be assessed for each course or once per semester. Although distance learners may not be required to pay fees associated with campus services, many schools charge fees specific to online students.

Travel Costs

Online master’s programs tend to have few travel costs. Often, all course instruction takes place online, eliminating the need to commute to campus. However, some programs require degree-seekers to attend orientation meetings or intensive sessions in person.

Tuition Differences

Tuition rates often depend on the learner’s state residency status. In-state tuition rates are generally much lower than rates for out-of-state students. Some schools charge all online learners the same flat tuition rate, regardless of residency, so students should contact their prospective institution for tuition details.

Computer and Internet Costs

Learners pursuing a master’s degree online must often upgrade their computer and internet to comply with technical requirements of the learning management system. These costs vary based on the learner’s school, residential location, and personal preference.

Flexibility to Work Full Time

The ability to maintain full-time employment while studying is a distinct advantage of earning an online master’s degree. Online programs typically offer flexible scheduling options, allowing degree-seekers to work and develop their professional status while completing the program at a reasonable pace.

Can You Get Financial Aid for Online Master’s Programs?

Students pursuing an online master’s degree can apply for the same financial aid opportunities as on-campus learners. Students can begin by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to determine their eligibility for federal aid.

Learners can also apply for scholarships, grants, and loans from businesses and professional organizations. A student’s funding options depend on their school, program, and demonstrated need. Learners can also consider work-study programs and fellowships, and they can take out loans to cover remaining costs. The sections below explore a few funding options for students pursuing a master’s degree online.

Types of Financial Aid Available for Online Students

Scholarships

Many businesses, nonprofit organizations, and professional associations offer scholarships for learners enrolled in online master’s programs. These scholarships may be available based on organizational affiliation and area of study. Also, many schools provide departmental scholarships to qualifying master’s students.

Grants

The federal government and state governments offer grants to eligible learners. Grants do not require repayment, and applicants must typically demonstrate financial need. Students can submit the FAFSA form to automatically apply for federal grants. Learners can also research grants available from private organizations and their institution.

Work-Study

Through work-study placements, learners receive income in exchange for part-time employment. Students may work on campus or off campus, and placements sometimes correlate with students’ professional goals. Learners in work-study positions often perform clerical, administrative, or research tasks for the institution. Work-study opportunities vary by school, level of education, and field of study.

Loans

Federal and private loans help learners cover tuition costs and expenses. These loans accrue interest over time and require repayment. The federal government offers student loans with lower interest rates than many private options.

Fellowships

Many schools and professional organizations offer fellowships. These opportunities typically provide learners with a stipend, and many fellowships involve a service component. Fellows may perform lab work, conduct research, or teach classes.

Continuing Education Opportunities

After earning an online master’s degree, graduates can pursue further education or professional development. Obtaining credentials beyond a master’s can facilitate career advancement and increase earning potential.

Master’s degree-holders can continue into a doctoral program, obtain licensure, or pursue certification. This section explores a few continuing education opportunities for graduates with an online master’s degree.

Doctoral Degrees

Most doctoral programs require applicants to hold a relevant master’s degree from an accredited institution. The highest level of formal education, a doctorate qualifies learners for expert-level teaching and research in their field. Learners who intend to earn a doctorate often pursue an online master’s degree satisfy prerequisites and hone their skills.

Professional Licensure

Many careers that require a master’s degree also require professional licensure. For example, teachers and rehabilitation counselors must hold a state license. Many licenses require candidates to hold a master’s degree and to have professional experience.

Professional Certification

Professional certification demonstrates that an individual has skills beyond those gained during formal academic education. While certifications cannot replace a degree, these credentials often broaden career prospects. Professionals in fields such as engineering, telecommunications, and marketing often pursue certifications to demonstrate expertise in their specialization area.

How Can I Find the Best Online Master’s Programs?

When researching schools, learners should consider their personal preferences and goals. The ideal program for one student may not be right for another. The following list ranks schools based on factors including affordability and number of available programs. Learners can use this list as a starting point when researching academic options that fit their personal and professional goals.

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