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2023 Best Online Master's Degrees

By OnlineU Staff Writers | Updated 12/9/2022
2023 Best Online Master's Degrees in  Badge

Earning an online degree at the master's level can be a convenient way to gain advanced skills while balancing life's responsibilities. Many students believe master's degrees are worth it because they help them start a new career, advance in their current career, or allow them to work their way toward a doctorate. To make this decision easier, we developed the first program rankings list that uses student outcomes, such as a salary score, to help you determine if an online master's program is right for you. 

The following list of the best online master's programs includes accredited programs in fields like accounting, computer science, healthcare administration, management, nursing, and nutrition, and outlines how many online programs are available in each field of study. View our methodology for more details about our list or learn more about OnlineU.

2023 Best Online Master's Degrees in  Badge
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Types of Master's Degrees

Jump to a Program: a b c d e f h i l m n o p r s t v w
a Online Schools Programs Alumni Salary
Accounting 214 468 $60,960
Aerospace Engineering 32 77 $89,910
b Online Schools Programs Alumni Salary
Biology 50 110 $44,980
c Online Schools Programs Alumni Salary
Chemical Engineering 16 29 $77,090
Civil Engineering 49 180 $72,570
Communications 158 476 $52,810
Computer Engineering 45 123 $100,360
Computer Science 118 321 $88,540
Conflict Resolution 26 41 $50,000
Counseling 150 446 $42,870
Counseling Psychology 44 65 $46,350
Creative Writing 25 46 $38,080
Criminal Justice 160 404 $49,830
Cybersecurity 169 419 $58,770
d Online Schools Programs Alumni Salary
Data Science 138 250 Not reported
e Online Schools Programs Alumni Salary
Educational Leadership 305 759 $56,400
Electrical Engineering 60 203 $97,510
Elementary Education 141 307 $47,430
Emergency Management 56 113 $67,850
Engineering Management 92 203 $90,560
English 93 165 $41,670
Environmental Science 101 314 $52,280
ESL 117 168 $52,600
Exercise Science 45 92 $43,850
f Online Schools Programs Alumni Salary
Finance 223 417 $81,780
Forensic Psychology 16 33 $46,350
Forensic Science 44 99 Not reported
h Online Schools Programs Alumni Salary
Health Education 88 130 $55,730
Healthcare Administration 258 541 $64,990
Healthcare Informatics 106 203 $73,540
Healthcare Management 248 464 $64,990
History 43 73 $40,310
Homeland Security 71 199 $68,320
Human Resources 186 371 $60,890
Human Services 127 327 $42,840
i Online Schools Programs Alumni Salary
Industrial Engineering 39 87 $82,800
Information Technology 178 577 $86,490
l Online Schools Programs Alumni Salary
Library Science 74 208 $43,460
m Online Schools Programs Alumni Salary
Management 471 2,659 $77,710
Marketing 213 360 $65,610
Marriage & Family Therapy 29 65 $42,870
MBA 440 2,592 $77,710
Mechanical Engineering 49 112 $85,240
Medical Office Administration 2 2 $64,990
MFA 18 35 $31,000
MPA 97 233 Not reported
MSW 89 251 Not reported
n Online Schools Programs Alumni Salary
Nurse Practitioner (NP) 127 326 $96,740
Nursing 271 1,244 $96,740
Nutrition 85 153 $47,300
o Online Schools Programs Alumni Salary
Organizational Leadership 315 974 $77,710
p Online Schools Programs Alumni Salary
Personal Training 1 2 $43,850
Physical Education 53 93 $43,840
Political Science 25 67 $65,150
Project Management 132 275 $77,710
Psychology 138 372 $45,450
Public Administration 209 674 $57,650
Public Health 156 413 $55,730
r Online Schools Programs Alumni Salary
Religious Studies 84 643 $44,960
RN to MSN 51 129 Not reported
s Online Schools Programs Alumni Salary
School Counseling 75 99 $45,030
Secondary Education 111 257 $47,430
Software Engineering 55 93 $100,360
Special Education 247 719 $52,180
Speech Pathology 13 14 $55,960
Sports Management 129 239 $106,660
Statistics 27 50 $89,570
Substance Abuse Counseling 35 46 $42,870
Supply Chain Management 114 173 $77,710
Systems Engineering 59 175 $105,910
t Online Schools Programs Alumni Salary
Teaching 291 1,201 $48,900
Theology 44 144 $45,500
v Online Schools Programs Alumni Salary
Vocational 1 1 Not reported
w Online Schools Programs Alumni Salary
Web Design 11 11 $77,940

2023 Online Colleges Offering Master's Degrees

Ranking Details

#1 Georgia Institute of Technology

  • Salary Score: 93
  • Locations: Atlanta (GA)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The Georgia Institute of Technology has 13 online master’s degree programs. Some areas of study include analytics, computer science, cybersecurity, engineering, and operations research. The length of the graduate programs ranges from one to three years, although some students may take longer to complete their degrees.

This institution uses the Canvas learning management system (LMS). The exact structure and content of courses depend on the program. Some classes may require students to participate in synchronous or in-person activities, such as exam proctoring. Online students at the Georgia Institute of Technology can receive federal financial aid and apply for scholarships. Students can access online resources designed to help them find a job after graduation through the Workplace Learning and Professional Development department.

Applicants typically need to submit an online application, proof of citizenship, a professional resume, test scores, and references. Specific online master’s degree programs may have other requirements. Enrolled students will have access to an extensive library of digital resources.

#2 Norwich University

  • Salary Score: 75
  • Locations: Northfield (VT)
  • Accreditation: NECHE

Norwich University operates 25 online master’s degree programs in diplomacy, history, nursing, civil engineering, and much more. The types of master’s degrees available include a Master of Science, Master of Arts, Master of Business Administration, and Master of Accounting. The length of these programs varies, with most students completing them in around 18 months while studying full time.

Norwich University uses Moodle and a virtual campus as their online platforms to provide learning materials to students. All learning is conducted asynchronously, allowing students to log on and complete activities at their convenience. However, students still must adhere to specific deadlines. Courses typically include a combination of exams, lectures, discussions, videos, and reading. Private scholarships, Norwich scholarships, and federal loans can be used to finance online graduate education. Students can also use military or veteran education benefits.

Graduate admission requirements include a completed online application form, a letter of intent, three references, a resume, and official transcripts. Some programs may have other specific admissions requirements as well. Once a student has been admitted to an online graduate program at Norwich, continuous support is available from academic advisors, library resources, the Graduate Writing Center, and the technical support staff.

#3 The University of Scranton

  • Salary Score: 73
  • Locations: Scranton (PA)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

The University of Scranton offers eight master's programs, ranging from accounting and business analytics to health informatics and human resources management. There are four master's of science degrees, with the remaining program titles being specialized to their degree subject, such as the Master's in Accountancy. Each degree takes between one and three years to complete.

The University of Scranton uses Engage for its remote coursework, which is 100% online. Students can participate on a flexible schedule through asynchronous learning. Professors are available via discussion posts as well as through phone or video conferencing. All online students are eligible to apply for federal financial aid and have support systems to help students apply for Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) loans.

To apply for an online master's degree, students must fill out an online application and submit their transcripts. Specific admissions documents vary from program to program. Online resources include 24/7 technical support, a digital library, and a student laptop program.

#4 Concordia University - Chicago

  • Salary Score: 71
  • Locations: River Forest (IL)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Concordia University - Chicago hosts 25 online master's programs in the areas of exercise science, education, health care, and business. Some examples of specific degrees include a Master of Arts in Special Education, a Master of Business Administration, and a Master of Applied Arts in Exercise Science. Some degrees include concentration options, while others have accelerated tracks that allow students to graduate early.

Students at Concordia University use Blackboard as their primary LMS. Their programs are 100% online and use asynchronous learning, which allows students to take courses on a flexible schedule. Enrolled students are eligible for financial aid through FAFSA. IT support is also available through a virtual help desk, and career support can be accessed by contacting their career services office.

To be admitted into a master's program, students must submit an online application along with their bachelor's degree credentials, transcripts featuring a GPA above 2.85, a letter of recommendation, and an objective statement.

#5 Sam Houston State University

  • Salary Score: 66
  • Locations: Huntsville (TX)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Sam Houston State University has 29 master's degree programs for online students. Each degree falls under one of these categories: art and media, business, criminal justice, education, health science, humanities and social sciences, science, agriculture, and computer science. On average, these programs require 36 credit hours, which full-time students can complete in about a year.

Blackboard Learn is the main LMS for Sam Houston's online students. Each course uses a combination of discussion boards and video lectures, with other content left to the professors' discretion. Some courses are asynchronous, with others requiring in-person classroom or lab attendance. Both scholarships and financial aid may be available for enrolled students. The school offers resources for students studying online, including instructional IT lessons, as well as career services, such as resume writing guides and career assessments.

To apply for a graduate program at Sam Houston State University, students must fill out their online admissions application, submit their transcripts, and upload the relevant materials based on the specific requirements of their chosen program.

#6 American Public University System

  • Salary Score: 65
  • Locations: Charles Town (WV)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The American Public University System has 47 online master's degree programs. There are several options in nursing, education, information technology, and business, among others. Each program is designed for full-time students to finish in around two years. Most require 36 to 48 credits, while others may require the completion of 60 credits (such as the dual Master's in Emergency and Disaster Management and Homeland Security).

APUS uses MyClassroom as its online learning platform, where students can study asynchronously. Interaction with course instructors occurs through message boards, visual presentations, and videos. Students can access their grades, test scores, and all others messages through an online portal. Eligible students may apply for federal financial aid. Financial aid advisors are available, along with career coaching and services through the school's website.

Prospective students may apply for enrollment online without a fee. They must also meet their degree's admissions requirements. An admissions representative is available for online students.

#7 University of Maryland Global Campus

  • Salary Score: 63
  • Locations: Adelphi (MD)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

The University of Maryland Global Campus offers 47 master's programs, which include a variety of information technology, biotechnology, management, and communication degrees. The school's options also include military-online master's specializations, such as management degrees in Air and Space Strategic Studies or Joint Military Strategy.

All online courses are offered on a flexible, asynchronous schedule through the e-platform myLeo, with several resources for online students, such as digital libraries, tutoring, and a writing center. Some hybrid courses may be available for certain programs that require in-person learning. Students may apply for military benefits, financial aid, and payment plans to finance their degrees. Further online resources include a writing center and remote tutors.

Students applying to a UMGC master's degree will need to submit an admissions application, a non-refundable fee, and proof of a bachelor's degree. Specific master's degrees may further require additional documentation.

#8 Texas A&M University - Commerce

  • Salary Score: 61
  • Locations: Commerce (TX)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Texas A&M University - Commerce has 10 master's-level degree options. Some examples include a Master of Science in Sociology, a Master of Science in Physics, and a Master of Education in Educational Administration. Their programs are meant to be completed in one to two years while studying at a full-time pace.

Students at Texas A&M - Commerce use myLeo for their online coursework, which allows them to study flexibly through 100% online courses. Accepted students are eligible to apply for federal financial aid through FAFSA. Graduate students can request tutoring and career and services.

Admissions requirements may vary based on each program; however, students must submit an online application along with transcripts, a letter of recommendation, a personal statement, and a resume.

#9 Saint Joseph's University

  • Salary Score: 60
  • Locations: Philadelphia (PA)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

At Saint Joseph’s University, students can choose from 32 online master’s degree programs, including a Master of Science or Master of Business Administration. The program's length depends on the degree's requirements and whether students enroll in full- or part-time study. Some programs take students as little as one year to finish, while others require two years or even longer.

Students at Saint Joseph’s use Canvas to access course materials and submit work. Classes may include videos, audio lectures, readings, discussions, papers, tests, and projects. Learning is asynchronous so that students can complete work on their own time. Financial aid may be available to graduate students in the form of loans. Saint Joseph’s University offers a military tuition discount to qualifying students and reduced tuition rates to those involved with certain mission organizations.

To be admitted into one of the school's graduate programs, students must complete the online application packet. This packet includes a personal statement, a professional resume, two letters of recommendation, and official transcripts. Some programs may also require GRE or GMAT test scores. Distance learners can access the online Writing Center, technical support, the Office of Student Success, and the Career Development Center.

#10 University of Nebraska at Kearney

  • Salary Score: 59
  • Locations: Kearney (NE)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The University of Nebraska at Kearney features 45 online master's programs. They have various master's degrees in education for science and the arts, along with several master's degrees in communication, history, and English. These degrees require between 36 and 60 credit hours, which full-time students can complete in under two years.

Canvas is the primary LMS for online students at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. Some programs are only available in a hybrid format, meaning students must attend some in-person classes. Whether a program's courses are synchronous or asynchronous depends on the instructor. The school offers a variety of scholarships that enrolled students can apply for, along with resources for financial aid and loan applications.

To be admitted into a UNK graduate program, students must submit their online application and documentation based on each department's requirements. Once enrolled, students may take advantage of resources such as technical support, digital libraries, and remote student orientation.

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Overview: Online Master's Degrees

Can You Get a Graduate Degree Online?

Yes, you can earn a master's degree online. An accredited online master's degree demonstrates advanced knowledge of a particular subject and can carry the same prestige as an in-person degree. More than 580 accredited colleges offer fully online master's programs in over 100 disciplines, and the number of online degree programs continues to grow as technology steadily improves. In fact, in the fall of 2019, 33% of all postbaccalaureate students took courses exclusively online, including master's and doctoral students. Interestingly, enrollment in online master's programs outpaces bachelor’s programs.

An accredited online master's degree demonstrates advanced knowledge of a particular subject and can carry the same prestige as an in-person degree.

How Long Does It Take To Complete an Online Master's Program?

A master's program is designed to take students 1.5-2 years of full-time study whether it's completed in-person or online. Some colleges — mostly for-profit schools — offer accelerated programs requiring 5-6 eight-week terms each year. However, working students may prefer to enroll part-time, which could take three years or more.

Most master's programs are worth 30-60 credits, with full-time students completing 12-15 credits per term. Master's programs don't take as much time to complete as undergraduate degrees because no core courses are required.

Master’s Degree Quick Facts
  • Typical time to completion: 1.5 - 2 years
  • Typical credits needed: 30 - 60

Online vs. In-Person Master's Programs

Whereas in-person master's programs require attending a physical campus, online degrees can be acquired through e-learning platforms. These digital classes are often asynchronous, allowing participants to watch pre-recorded lectures, post in discussion forums, and complete assignments around their busy schedules.

While online learning can provide convenience, the main benefit of a traditional campus program is direct engagement with classmates and faculty. These relationships may lead to career-boosting opportunities. On the other hand, online study can prepare you for remote work, an increasing trend in many sectors of the economy.

Importantly, all regionally accredited master's programs — whether in-person or online — provide a high level of academic quality in their curriculum. A regionally accredited school has been evaluated by authorities to meet the nationally accepted educational standards via a rigorous peer-review process, and this stamp of approval is especially crucial for online learners because it signals a degree’s credibility to potential employers. Students should check if their school’s accreditation is recognized by the Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs.

Is an Online Master's Degree Worth It?

The decision to enroll in an online master's degree program should be based on your personal, financial, and career goals. Consider the following factors:

Experience more choices without relocating

You may choose from online programs nationwide without spending the time, money, and energy that's required to physically move. From the comfort of your home, you can attend the top schools in your field.

Potentially increase your earnings

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, those with a master’s degree make almost $13,000 more annually than a graduate with only a bachelor’s degree and also experience the lowest unemployment rates.

Build skills in your niche to increase leadership capacity

Not only can you learn industry-specific skills in a master’s program, but you can also learn organizational leadership, such as how to make strategic business decisions. By focusing on a specialization within your field of study, you become an expert in your field when you complete an advanced degree.

Median weekly earnings for bachelor's degree holders versus master's degree holders

Conversely, there are also some potential drawbacks to consider. Earning your master's can be challenging and time-consuming because advanced classes are often complex and demanding. In an online environment, you may find support lacking, especially compared to the strength of in-person peer and faculty groups. Additionally, acquiring a master's degree may cause you to incur more debt, depending on your career path. The Education Data Initiative reports that the average debt among master's degree holders is $71,287, which is almost twice as much debt as graduates who only hold a bachelor's degree.

Are Online Master's Degrees Respected?

Even before the remote learning boom that occurred as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, employers were increasingly accepting of online degrees. In 2018, Northeastern University conducted a study that showed how a solid majority of HR leaders already believed that online learning was of equal quality to traditional degrees. In fact, 71% of these recruiters claimed that they had recently hired someone with an online degree or credential.

Accreditation is the key factor in determining whether prospective employers will value and respect your online master's degree. We list accreditation information for all colleges on our site. However, unless you attend an exclusively online college, your employer may not even know you earned your degree online. For example, many colleges don't distinguish between online and traditional education programs in either their transcripts or diplomas.

Applying to Online Master's Programs

Although schools have varying admission procedures, some requirements remain consistent across the board. For example, applicants typically need to complete their bachelor’s degree before joining a master’s program. Prospective students usually submit the following to their school’s admission office to attend a master’s degree program in any given field:

Official undergraduate transcripts from the applicant’s alma mater that convey a minimum GPA that varies across schools but usually ranges from 3.0-3.5 (an additional review process may be warranted for lower GPAs)

Letters of recommendation from professors or managers

Essay or statement of purpose about the applicant’s goals

Resume detailing relevant professional experience

GRE test scores within a given range, which is typically 310-315

Nonrefundable application fee, often ranging from $75-100

Students should verify the admission requirements of their chosen schools prior to applying.

How Much Does an Online Master's Degree Cost?

Earning an online master's degree can be a more affordable route than a traditional advanced degree, whether you attend a nonprofit college or private institution. Many schools charge online students a flat tuition rate regardless of their residency status. However, the cost of an online master's program varies according to the chosen discipline and school. Annual tuition rates range from approximately $7,000-$57,000 on our rankings list of the master's degrees with the highest return on investment.

In addition to tuition and related fees, it may be helpful to consider future earnings. Our ROI scores can help you weigh a program's upfront cost against the likelihood that it will pay off in the long run. The scores show that a more expensive higher education doesn't necessarily lead to greater earning potential mid-career. For example, the second- and third-ranked schools on the master's degree list cost less than the fourth- and fifth-ranked schools.

Although tuition makes up the most significant percentage of total college costs accrued, schools charge students a range of other expenses. Online learners are often expected to pay technology fees. On the other hand, they save money by avoiding moving expenses as well as on-campus costs, such as room and board. Financial aid can lower the total cost of graduate school and leave you with lower student debt. Online learners usually qualify for the same financial aid programs as on-campus students, but you should verify each program's eligibility requirements.

This website offers school details to prospective students as an informational resource. The appearance of a school listing on this website should not be interpreted as an endorsement of the school by this site.

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