Online Master's Degrees

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Article Sources

Sources:

  1. Education Still Pays, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Accessed October 2017, https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2014/data-on-display/education-still-pays.htm
  2. Fact Sheet: Focusing Higher Education on Students Success, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Accessed October 2017, https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/fact-sheet-focusing-higher-education-student-success
  3. "Jobs that Require a Master's Degree" U.S. News, Accessed October 2017, https://www.usnews.com/education/best-graduate-schools/articles/2017-04-03/6-occupations-that-typically-require-a-masters-degree
  4. "Master's Degrees are as common now as bachelor degrees were in the 60s," Vox.com, Accessed October 2017, https://www.vox.com/2014/5/20/5734816/masters-degrees-are-as-common-now-as-bachelors-degrees-were-in-the-60s
  5. Masters in IT, Degree Programs, Kaplan University, Accessed October 2017, https://www.kaplanuniversity.edu/degree-programs/information-technology/master-information-technology/
  6. Online Master's Degree Programs, Kaplan University, Accessed October 2017, http://www.phoenix.edu/degrees/online-masters.html
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Intro to Master's Degrees

If you are interested in advancing your skills or changing careers, a master's degree could be the opportunity you've been looking for. Master's degree programs let you study a specific field, like information technology or teaching, in great depth. Generally speaking, master's degrees:

  • Are considered to be "graduate level," meaning the courses are more focused and rigorous than courses for an associate or bachelor's program
  • Can be completed in two years
  • Can be done on a full-time or part-time basis
  • Are offered through colleges and universities
  • May require a final project or thesis

The rationale for earning a master's degree can vary from person to person, but as a general rule, a person applying for a master's program is probably interested in one or both of the following goals:

  • Advancing skills: The courses in a master's degree program are usually specific to the subject being studied. Such courses enable students to look at the subject in greater depth and even to examine different types of research and evidence-based practices. Some master's degree programs also allow students to concentrate in a particular aspect of their subject to build even more specialized skills. As an example, an online master's degree in information technology may offer concentrations in business intelligence and analytics, information security and assurance, or project management.
  • Switching careers: In some, but not all cases, students may be able to pursue a new career through a master's degree program. An example of this is nursing: some nursing programs allow students to apply even if they have an undergraduate degree in another field. Some schools even offer master's programs in one subject, such as accounting, that only accept students whose previous degrees were in a different subject. Such programs allow a person with a background in multiple subjects to bring unique insight to their career, a trait that may be appealing to a prospective employer.

Benefits of Earning an Online Master's Degree

A master's degree often requires a lot of time and effort to earn, but can be well worth the endeavor for a multitude of reasons. Just a few of the advantages afforded by a master's degree include:

  • Higher weekly pay on average: The difference in average weekly earnings between a person with a master's degree and a person with a high school diploma is more than $600 (BLS.gov). In fact, some careers, such as teaching, may directly increase an employee's pay when that employee completes a higher degree than what they had previously earned.
  • Advancement opportunities: In some fields, advancement is prioritized to people who have earned more advanced degrees. This is due to the majority of master's degree programs being structured to teach management and leadership skills as well as in-depth knowledge. Earning a master's degree may be particularly helpful for advancing in fields like education administration, political science, statistics, industrial-organization psychology, mental health counseling and more.
  • Even lower unemployment rate: Perhaps due to their in-depth skill set, the unemployment rate for people with master's degrees is almost half of what it is for those with high school diplomas (BLS.gov).
  • Time flexibility: Often, one of the obstacles for professionals considering a master's program is the fact that they are professionals and are therefore generally working long or unusual hours. Making the time to take courses can feel impossible. This is where online courses can be a lifesaver. Not only do they reduce or eliminate the need to commute to a campus — freeing up time for the actual coursework — but online lectures and assignments can often be completed whenever is convenient for you, allowing you to enhance your education without abandoning your career.

Rankings

Higher education is an investment, and as such, both the quality and cost of your education are important. To give an idea of these two characteristics, here are some rankings of colleges that offer master's degree programs online. If you'd prefer to create your own rankings with your own choices of school qualities, try out our Top Colleges Tool.

Best 4-Year Colleges with Online Master's Degree Programs

With the help of our proprietary methodology, we have created a ranking of the five best American colleges offering online master's degree programs.

College NameTuition & Fees/Year
Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Distance Education Participation
Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Number of Online Programs Offered
Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics..
Overall Score
University of Florida$6,38158.66%61100
American Public University System$6,880100.00%15499.94484
Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus$17,90033.39%8099.88969
Liberty University$21,29289.45%9299.834526
Regis University$34,45065.18%7799.77937

Most Affordable 4-Year Colleges with Online Master's Degree Programs

These five colleges offer online master's degree programs with the most affordable tuition costs out of all the competition.

College NameTuition & Fees/Year
Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Distance Education Participation
Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Number of Online Programs Offered
Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics..
Overall Score
University of the People$1,000100.00%41.3237728
United States Merchant Marine Academy$1,1672.48%110.645339
University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras$2,0780.03%135.576393
Universidad Teologica del Caribe$3,96827.50%40.49641478
Grace College of Divinity$4,24089.29%882.07391
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