Overview

The best online master’s degree program will vary from person to person. Multiple factors including your career interests, scheduling needs, and finances will affect which program is best for you. That said, there are still a few key characteristics that define the best graduate programs. Keeping these characteristics in mind can lead to a rewarding and fulfilling educational experience and greater career opportunity.

No matter what program you choose, students should make sure that it is accredited. Accreditation ensures that the educational quality of the schools is acceptable and recognized by employers and other universities. In addition, students should look for professors that specialize in the fields they’re interested in as well as flexible scheduling—an essential consideration for online students. Keeping these factors in mind will allow students to develop an advanced understanding of the fields they choose to specialize in. In short, it will improve their graduate experience and the benefit of their degree.

Online degrees are just as accepted as traditional degrees. In fact, the most well-respected universities in the nation also offer online degrees.

It is important to choose a program based on your educational and career interests. The best option is to spend time thinking about the specialized fields you would like to join.

Most master’s programs take around 2 years to complete. Students can obtain their degrees faster by taking on more courses, but it is important to aim for a balanced schedule.

For many the answer is yes. Not only do they offer an opportunity to explore fields that interest you in greater detail, but they can also lead to greater career opportunities.

For those who are hesitant to join a master’s program, they can feel confident that graduate programs will offer a rewarding opportunity to further their education. At the same time, students should be prepared for the costs of school (financial and time base). But students who choose to go on to a graduate program can look forward to an engaging and exciting intellectual challenge and greater career potential.

Best Online Masters Degree Programs

We took a deep-dive and analyzed every online Masters program in the nation. Below are the results of our analysis and list of the 50 best online masters degree programs.

Read about our methodology here.
School Type
Public
Tuition
In-state: $662-$1,205 per credit; Out-of-state: $1,263-$1,706 per credit



Texas A&M offers 12 distance degree programs and eight distance certificates and is best known for its College of Engineering and commitment to military students. Distance learners in the master's programs at A&M receive a high-quality education from industry leaders, graduating as nurses, engineers, attorneys and other professionals in their respective field.

Address:

750 Agronomy Road, Suite 1501

College Station, TX 77843

979-845-8201

School Type
Private
Tuition
$1,666-$2,214 per credit



USC provides distance learners with 17 master's degree programs in everything from business and accounting to gerontology and engineering. Students in the online degree programs benefit from several tracks of study in each program and gain the credentials to advance their careers with their master's degrees in science, business, health, psychology and more.

Address:

3551 Trousdale Pkwy

Los Angeles, CA 90089

213-740-9033

School Type
Public
Tuition
$1,418 per credit



With two doctoral, nine master's and eight certificate programs, UNC provides a wealth of educational opportunities for distance learners. The Kenan-Flagler Business School and the School of Public Health are just two areas in which UNC ranks highly for its educational leadership and devotion to learners in and out of state.

Address:

Chapel Hill, NC 27599

919-966-2611

School Type
Private
Tuition
$2,797-$4,634 per course



JHU offers 21 master's degree programs and 15 certificate programs for online students who are pursuing advanced careers in everything from applied economics to nonprofit management. Every program is designed with flexibility in mind and features scholarly instruction and a high level of interaction to engage students on their pursuit of a graduate degree or certificate.

Address:

1717 Massachusetts Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20036

410-516-7936

School Type
Public
Tuition
$673-$1,560 per credit



The University of Minnesota Twin Cities provides 14 master's degree programs and 15 graduate certificate programs, each one offered fully or primarily online with affordable costs per credit. Each degree program is equivalent to on-campus degrees, and only a few require a short residency as part of graduation.

Address:

3 Morrill Hall, 100 Church St. S.E.

Minneapolis, MN 55455

800-991-8636

School Type
Public
Tuition
$250-$1,172 per credit



UI Urbana-Champaign offers 35 graduate degree programs that are available in an online format, making this school ideal for distance learners who want to receive a quality education without stepping foot on campus. Students can choose from accounting, aerospace engineering, business administration and more, building their skills and earning their degrees for career advancement.

Address:

505 E Armory Avenue, Suite 156

Champaign, IL 61820

217-244-4637

School Type
Public
Tuition
$950-$1,700 per credit



MSU excels at delivering a quality education through distance programs, offering 26 graduate degrees and 22 graduate certificates through fully online classes. Those who are interested can also take part in its many hybrid courses in which classes are available both online and through on-campus participation.

Address:

426 Auditorium Road

East Lansing, MI 48824

517-353-3220

School Type
Public
Tuition
In-state: $379-$1,139 per credit, Out-of-state: $700-$1,302 per credit



Professionals looking to advance their careers will find 22 graduate degree programs available at Purdue University, a leader in online education. Purdue is known for its science department and offers M.S. degrees in everything from computer science to construction management, making it the ideal location to earn an advanced degree in the fields of engineering, aviation and technology.

Address:

610 Purdue Mall

West Lafayette, IN 47907

765-494-2600

School Type
Public
Tuition
$384-$866 per credit



IU Bloomington offers 12 master's degree programs in an online format, allowing professionals to take courses from an on-campus faculty in a virtual learning environment. Graduate students have the freedom to learn on their schedule and will earn a degree that provides the credentials to pursue leadership roles in the fields of social work, philanthropy, education and more.

Address:

107 S. Indiana Avenue

Bloomington, IN 47405

812-855-0661

School Type
Online
Tuition
$886-$930 per credit



Penn State World Campus is an online leader in education, offering 52 master's degree programs for distance learners. This nationally recognized institution provides specialty programs in additive manufacturing and turfgrass management as well as traditional programs in homeland security, electrical engineering and business administration, making it one of the premier online schools of higher education.

Address:

128 Outreach Building

University Park, PA 16802

800-252-3592

Graduation Rate
85%
School Type
Private
Tuition
$880-$985 per credit



With a combined 39 online master's degree programs and graduate certificates, Boston University provides the necessary education in topics that professionals need to advance their careers. From health communication to international business law, graduate students from across the country can earn their degrees through Boston U's online learning system.

Address:

1010 Commonwealth Avenue, 2nd Floor

Boston, MA 2215

888-883-0218

School Type
Public
Tuition
In-state: $129 per credit; Out-of-state: $553 per credit



The University of Florida offers an astounding 77 master's programs for students who are interested in earning their degrees online. Whether it's for veterinary medicine, sport management or another profession, UF delivers numerous programs to help graduate students excel and advance in the field.

Address:

Gainesville, FL 32611

352-392-1365

School Type
Private
Tuition
$1,392-$2,139 per credit



Georgetown University offers 15 master's degree programs in an online format, some of which are also offered on campus and with up to five residencies. Graduate students can choose between business and management, marketing and communications, real estate and urban planning, and technology and security programs.

Address:

640 Massachusetts Ave NW

Washington, DC 20001

202-687-5568

School Type
Public
Tuition
In-state: $437-$504 per credit; Out-of-state: $1,245-$1,312 per credit



NCSU offers 39 fully online master's degree programs as well as 12 hybrid programs in which students can participate in both online and on-campus classes. Selective courses range from nutrition and computer engineering to soil science and textiles, making NCSU a great choice for graduates looking to further their knowledge and skills in traditional and nontraditional fields.

Address:

1010 Main Campus Dr. Suite 220

Raleigh, NC 27695

919-515-2872

School Type
Public
Tuition
In-state: $323-$447 per credit; Out-of-state: $777-$1,193 per credit



The University of Nebraska offers 29 graduate distance programs, covering everything from agronomy and business administration to beef cattle production and interior design. Graduate students from diverse backgrounds and professions choose Nebraska for its broad range of available programs and excellence in academic instruction.

Address:

305 Brace Labs

Lincoln, NE 68588

402-472-4681

School Type
Public
Tuition
In-state: $230 per credit; Out-of-state: $360-$876 per credit



With 25 graduate degree programs, Oklahoma State University provides students with a path to achieve their degrees for career advancement. Graduate students can select from programs in aviation, engineering, health care administration and more, completing the coursework in an online format without interrupting their careers.

Address:

Whitehurst Hall 301

Stillwater, OK 74078

405-744-6368

Graduation Rate
79%
School Type
Private
Tuition
$835-$1,765 per credit



George Washington University offers nearly 50 graduate degree programs in everything from business to security, many of which emphasize leadership and expert decision-making. The Milken Institute School of Public Health is one standout area of the university and adds to its reputation for delivering quality education to distance learners everywhere.

Address:

2130 H Street NW, Suite 709G

Washington, DC 20052

202-994-6210

School Type
Private
Tuition
Full-time: $415-$605 per credit; Part-time: $330-$615 per credit



Liberty University delivers more than 60 master's degree programs to graduate students seeking greater knowledge and skills for career advancement. Liberty has many areas of study, including divinity, giving students a way to earn their master's in religion, ministry and more in an online format.

Address:

1971 University Blvd

Lynchburg, VA 24515

800-424-9596

School Type
Public
Tuition
In-state: $700 per credit; Out-of-state: $1,033 per credit



Texas Tech offers more than 30 master's degree programs for online students, providing advanced courses in human sciences, agricultural sciences, engineering and more. TTU puts a heavy focus on e-learning and has numerous academic partnerships to enhance the students' overall educational experience.

Address:

1901 University Avenue, Suite 513

Lubbock, TX 79410

806-742-7227

School Type
Public
Tuition
$533-$640 per credit



Cincinnati offers more than 25 different graduate degrees, many of which forgo the GRE and GMAT requirement. This university is all about accessibility and offering affordable online courses to help graduate students propel their careers through cutting-edge programs in health sciences, business administration and more.

Address:

45 Corry Blvd

Cincinnati, OH 45221

School Type
Public
Tuition
In-state: $368 per credit; Out-of-state: $1,006 per credit



Mizzou has more than 100 online degree and certificate options to help graduate students excel in their education and careers. This university stands out in its College of Education, providing 19 different programs in areas of special education, TESOL, positive coaching and more for graduates interested in advancing their careers as teacher leaders.

Address:

136 Clark Hall

Columbia, MO 65211

573-882-2491

School Type
Private
Tuition
$574-$1,600 per credit



Northeastern University offers 25 online master's degree programs and 32 graduate certificates for professionals who are ready to launch their careers to the next level. Graduate students have numerous programs from which to choose, such as nonprofit management and higher education administration, making NU a wise choice for professionals looking to assume higher roles in their respective businesses and organizations.

Address:

360 Huntington Ave.

Boston, MA 2115

877-634-6865

School Type
Public
Tuition
In-state: $401 per credit; Out-of-state: $1,203 per credit



Auburn University has six major educational schools, one of which is the Raymond J. Harbert College of Business, which consistently ranks as a top school for students seeking their MBAs and master's in business degrees. The College of Agriculture is also a popular choice among online students as it has three distance education degree programs from which to choose.

Address:

182 S College St

Auburn, AL 36849

334-844-4700

Graduation Rate
67%
School Type
Private
Tuition
$637-$1,265 per credit



Drexel University is an academic leader in distance education and offers 20 different areas of study for online students. Each department, such as Arts or Technology, features multiple degree programs for students to build upon their current skill set and to gain the knowledge for advancing their professions.

Address:

3025 Market Street

Philadelphia, PA 19104

877-215-0009

Graduation Rate
76%
School Type
Private
Tuition
$755-$1,299 per credit



The University of Denver emphasizes flexibility with its online master's degree programs, designing them for busy professionals who are seeking career advancement without interrupting their current schedules. Graduate students can select from different programs such as arts and culture management, geographic information systems and more, gaining the credentials and the knowledge to become leaders in the field.

Address:

2211 South Josephine St

Denver, CO 80208

303-871-2706

Graduation Rate
63%
School Type
Public
Tuition
$522-$1,397 per credit



ASU offers more than 60 online graduate degree programs in art, education, engineering and more for distance learners. Each program is designed to fit around the students' work schedule and to help give them the expertise for career advancement upon graduation.

Address:

Tempe, AZ 85281

866-277-6589

Graduation Rate
85%
School Type
Public
Tuition
In-state: $717 per credit, Out-of-state: $1,548 per credit



UM College Park offers countless master's degree programs, with around 20 offered in a convenient online format for distance learners. Some of these programs include data science, project management and cybersecurity, giving students various areas in which to hone their skills in their respective careers.

Address:

College Park, MD 20742

301-405-3644

School Type
Public
Tuition
In-state: $377-$626 per credit; Out-of-state: $452-$731 per credit



The University of Colorado Denver offers 14 master's degree programs, all of which are available online without any residency requirements. Students can also take advantage of fully online nondegree programs to improve their skills and to gain general knowledge in a specific area of interest or for work-related purposes.

Address:

1380 Lawrence Street

Denver, CO 80204

303-315-2183

School Type
Public
Tuition
$567 per credit



KSU Global Campus offers 34 online graduate degree programs for distance learners who are ready to earn their degrees but aren't able to attend classes on campus. This university caters to students of every profession with programs in human ecology, engineering, arts, technology and more

Address:

919 MidCampus Drive North

Manhattan, KS 66506

785-532-6191

School Type
Public
Tuition
In-state: $500-$656 per credit; Out-of-state: $500-$656 per credit



UAB is known for the Collat School of Business but also has other highly renowned schools with several degree offerings. More than 95 percent of the graduate degree programs at UAB are available in a blend of both online and on-campus classes with around 40 programs offered completely online without any on-campus or residency requirements.

Address:

1700 University Blvd.

Birmingham, AL 35294

205-934-8227

School Type
Public
Tuition
$500 per credit



CSU has 38 online master's degree programs available for distance learners from most every profession whether it's biomedical engineering or tourism management. Through virtual learning, graduate students develop the necessary skills to advance their careers upon graduation.

Address:

2545 Research Blvd

Fort Collins, CO 80526

970-491-6909

School Type
Public
Tuition
In-state: $394-$608 per credit; Out-of-state: $1,125 per credit



With 62 master's degree and graduate certificate programs, UND offers something for every professional seeking a higher education. Graduate students enjoy the freedom of the virtual campus and have access to courses in accounting, business, early childhood education and more.

Address:

3264 Campus Road - Stop 9021

Grand Forks, ND 58202

701-777-2784

School Type
Public
Tuition
In-state: $249 per credit; Out-of-state: $894 per credit



ECU offers around 50 graduate degree programs in an online learning format, making it a prime choice for students seeking a higher education but wanting to forgo on-campus classes. This university is known for its nursing and health programs and includes popular areas of study in nursing education, gerontology and more.

Address:

East 5th Street

Greenville, NC 27858

252-328-6012

School Type
Private
Tuition
$250-$895 per credit



Regent University has dozens of online graduate degree programs in health care, education, arts, STEM and more. It caters to online students, providing them with full faculty support and academic advisers who ensure that they receive a quality education and meet their educational and career goals.

Address:

1000 Regent University Drive

Virginia Beach, VA 23464

800-373-5504

School Type
Public
Tuition
$253-$316 per credit



NMSU offers 12 graduate degree programs and five graduate certificates for online learners who are coming from nursing, engineering, education and other professional backgrounds. The programs meet the students' career needs and helps them to gain the credentials to advance their careers to senior positions within their organizations.

Address:

2915 McFie Circle

Las Cruces, NM 88003

575-646-8231

School Type
Public
Tuition
$288 per credit



UCF is an innovative leader in education and offers more than 25 master's degree programs in an online learning format, such as aerospace engineering and criminal justice. The programs are designed with convenience in mind and easily adaptable to busy professionals who are ready to earn their degrees while continuing their full-time employment.

Address:

4000 Central Florida Blvd.

Orlando, FL 32816

407-823-2766

School Type
Public
Tuition
In-state: $717 per credit; Out-of-state: $1,548 per credit



UMUC offers nearly 20 graduate degree programs, each one with numerous specializations to hone the students' skills and knowledge in a specific area of interest. Whether it's information technology or another well-received program, students receive expert instruction from industry leaders in both academics and their professions outside of teaching.

Address:

1616 McCormick Drive

Largo, MD 20774

240-684-2400

School Type
Public
Tuition
$500



CSU Global Campus has 13 master's degree programs and six graduate certificates for online students seeking advancement in their careers. With such offerings as criminal justice, management and health care administration, students from various professional backgrounds can receive a quality education without stepping foot on campus.

Address:

7800 East Orchard Road, Suite 200

Greenwood Village, CO 80111

800-920-6723

School Type
Private
Tuition
$480-$566 per credit



Lindenwood University offers 25 online graduate degree programs in growing areas such as game design, fashion business, web design and social media/digital content strategy. More traditional master's programs are also available, such as business administration and accountancy, providing graduate students with abundant learning paths to advance their careers.

Address:

209 S. Kingshighway

St. Charles, MO 63301

636-949-4949

School Type
Private
Tuition
$625-$780 per credit



Webster University has more than 30 online master's degree programs available, including a couple dual-degree options, for distance learners of every profession. Many of the programs, such as communication arts, are delivered in a flexible format; however, others are only offered synchronously with set times to attend online classes.

Address:

470 East Lockwood Avenue

St. Louis, MO 63119

800-753-6765

School Type
Public
Tuition
$288 per credit



FHSU has nearly 20 graduate degree programs, a few of which are available in a hybrid format and require students to attend classes online and on campus. This university is ideal for students seeking careers in education, offering such programs in special education, educational administration, nursing education and higher education.

Address:

600 Park Street

Hays, KS 67601

785-628-5666

School Type
Public
Tuition
$470-$590 per credit



UMass Lowell has more than 40 graduate degrees and certificates available for online students who seek professional advancement in business administration, criminal justice and other areas. Graduate students are able to learn the necessary skills through a virtual learning format and to earn the credentials to succeed as administrators and other upper-level positions within their organizations.

Address:

Lowell, MA 1854

800-480-3190

School Type
Public
Tuition
In-state: $746 per credit; Out-of-state: $1,456 per credit



UMass Boston excels as a leader in distance learning and online education, providing nearly 15 master's degree programs and 13 certificate and licensure programs in a virtual learning format. UMass also has several professional development programs available and provides useful online resources to help students succeed academically and professionally.

Address:

100 William T. Morrissey Blvd.

Boston, MA 2125

617-287-7900

School Type
Public
Tuition
$465 per credit



West Texas A&M has 13 fully online master's degree programs available, including several known as mixed or hybrids that require on-campus attendance in some capacity. Graduate students have access to programs such as school counseling, nursing, business administration and more in a convenient and flexible online format.

Address:

2501 4th Avenue

Canyon, TX 79015

806-651-2020

School Type
Public
Tuition
$555-$743 per credit



The University at Albany offers nearly 20 online graduate degree and certificate programs to help distance learners receive an education without the need to visit campus. The School of Education as well as the School of Public Health are two well-known areas of the university and excel in academic excellence.

Address:

1400 Washington Ave.

Albany, NY 12222

518-442-3980

School Type
Public
Tuition
$277-$527 per credit



GSU offers around 50 master's degree and graduate certificate programs combined and excels as leaders in the College of Education. The Waters College of Health Professions is another popular choice among distance learners who are pursuing advanced roles in kinesiology, sports management and other areas related to the field.

Address:

1332 Southern Drive

Statesboro, GA 30458

912-478-4636

School Type
Private
Tuition
$1,050-$1,200 per credit



Golden Gate University has more than 30 master's degree programs available in an online format, including more than 20 graduate certificates. From accounting to taxation, GGU offers a broad range of programs to help graduate students receive their degrees for career advancement.

Address:

536 Mission Street, 5th Floor

San Francisco, CA 94105

415-442-7800

School Type
Public
Tuition
$383 per credit



Kennesaw State University has more than 20 combined master's degrees and graduate certificates for students in professions from business to education. Whether it's nursing or social sciences, KSU offers the required courses to help students receive the credentials to advance their careers in their respective field.

Address:

1000 Chastain Road

Kennesaw, GA 30144

470-578-4377

School Type
Private
Tuition
$575 per credit



Bellevue University has more than 25 master's degree programs available online for distance learners who are seeking advanced careers in strategic finance, security management, accounting and more. Every class is offered completely online, giving students a way to balance their school work with their careers and other commitments.

Address:

1000 Galvin Road South

Bellevue, NE 68005

402-293-2000

School Type
Public
Tuition
$675 per credit



UW Platteville offers nearly 10 graduate degree programs online, such as criminal justice, education and project management. All of the programs are designed to give students the education and the experience needed for them to become leaders in their field.

Address:

1 University Plaza

Platteville, WI 53818

877-897-5288

What Can I Expect from an Online Master’s Degree Program?

Many working professionals who are interested in growing their careers or earning a higher salary typically start with investigating master’s degree programs in their line of work. Or sometimes, career changers may pursue a master’s degree in a field they’re interested in working in. Master’s degree attainment has risen steadily over the last 20 years, and organizations such as the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) expect that number to continue to grow.

Earning a master’s degree online is a convenient way for many people to earn an advanced degree because it allows them to balance other commitments, including work and family, with the rigors of an academic schedule. Online master’s degree programs also tend to offer the same quality education as what you would obtain in traditional on-campus studies. When browsing for master’s degree programs, it’s important to find the one that aligns with your career goals.

Concentrations Offered for an Online Master’s Degree

The number of concentrations for an online master’s degree are endless — your concentration depends on the field you want to study. Below are some of the most popular options for master’s degrees.

DEGREE TYPEDESCRIPTIONPOSSIBLE CAREERS THIS CONCENTRATION PREPARES FOR
Master of Arts (MA)Can be concentrated in a number of different subjects related to the fields of liberal arts, social sciences and education. Usually involves fieldwork and may have a capstone project.Teachers, political scientist, sociologist, counselors
Master of Science (MS)Usually focus on research and technical training in the fields of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, health care and clinical research.Engineer, scientist
Master of Business Administration (MBA)Typically obtained by students with an undergraduate degree in business who want to take on management or other leadership positions in business environments. Specializations may include finance, accounting, human resources or marketing.Roles in corporate leadership and strategy
Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)Designed for experienced nurses who want to advance their education to take on new, more advanced roles.Nurse practitioner, midwife, anesthetist
Master of Social Work (MSW)This degree is designed for experienced social workers who want to take on other roles in clinical settings or obtain roles in management. MSW concentrations usually include micro, which focuses on diagnosis and treatment of mental health issues; macro, which concentrates more on community development and social services; and mezzo, a generalist pathway that’s a combination of the previous two.Social worker manager
Master of Education (M.Ed)Typically considered the educational minimum for community college professors and high school teachers. It’s also looked upon favorably for elementary and middle school teachers as well. Many concentrations are available, depending on your desired age group and education field.Teacher, special education teacher, educational leadership roles

Curriculum for an Online Master’s Degree

The curriculum structure and classes you’ll take while earning your online master’s degree are going to depend on your chosen field. If you’re earning a MSN, for instance, your classes are going to be on nursing topics; if you’re earning a master’s degree in education, you’ll take courses related to the teaching practice and your chosen subject area. MBAs take classes related to finance, human resources, accounting, marketing and project management.

In general, an online master’s degree is a preferred learning format for many students because it allows them to take classes on their own time and complete them at their own pace while balancing demands of work, family and other personal commitments.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Master’s Degree?

The time it takes to complete your online master’s degree depends on several factors, including the type of program you’re enrolled in, the required coursework and your lifestyle. Master’s programs generally range from 35 to 60 total semester credits (or 60 to 90 quarter credits), depending on the field of study and institution. This amount of credits result in roughly 12 to 20 courses, which the average student can complete in about two years, although if the pacing is slower, it could take three to four years.

Certifications and Licenses an Online Master’s Degree Prepares For

The certifications and licenses you’ll earn with a master’s degree depend on your chosen field of study. In general, they vary widely from state to state and field to field. Master’s programs for teachers, for instance, typically lead to licensure in whatever state the teacher plans to practice. Medical-related master’s programs, such as those for nurse practitioners, physician’s assistants and nurse anesthetists, all require a state license to practice.

Accreditation for Online Master’s Degree

When it comes to researching colleges and universities for online master’s degrees, accreditation should be at the top of your list of considerations. Accreditation is a comprehensive vetting process during which individual educational institutions are evaluated according to academic curricula, faculty credentials, campus resources, student outcomes and other criteria related to the legitimacy of a master’s degree program.

Regional, national and programmatic accreditation are available. Be sure to choose a master’s degree program that is accredited — it also matters for employment, as many companies won’t hire individuals who haven’t completed their education at an accredited institution.

Employment Outlook for Master’s Degree Graduates

Job Placement: Master’s v. Bachelor’s

According to the NCES, master’s degree attainment has risen steadily over the last 20 years. Between 2016 and 2027, enrollment in master’s degree programs is projected to increase by 3 percent. It’s considered the minimum educational attainment level for a wide variety of career pathways in business, health care, education and other professional fields.

Expected Salary

In addition to more job opportunities, a master’s degree can help boost your earning potential, especially in fields where a bachelor’s degree is the minimum educational requirement such as information technology, social work and criminal justice.

And there’s more good news for individuals who want to earn a master’s degree — their lifetime earnings are often higher, according to a study from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. Median lifetime earnings for employees with a master’s degree are $2,671,000, compared to the $2,268,000 median lifetime earnings for individuals with a bachelor’s degree.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, individuals with a master’s degree earn a higher salary and face a lower unemployment rate.

Education LevelUnemployment RateMedian Weekly Earnings
Doctorate degree1.5%$1,743 per week
Master’s degree2.2%$1,836 per week
Bachelor’s degree2.5%$1,173 per week
Associate’s degree3.4%$836 per week
Some college, no degree4%$774 per week
High school diploma4.6%$712 per week
Less than a high school diploma6.5%$520 per week

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Your chosen career also affects your salary. Below are some of the median annual salaries in popular career paths that require a master’s degree.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Opportunities

Earning a master’s degree in your chosen field of study opens up a wealth of job opportunities, especially in industries such as education, health care and business. Below are some popular careers that individuals obtain with a master’s degree.

JOB TITLEJOB DESCRIPTIONMEDIAN SALARYPROJECTED GROWTH RATE
Operations Research AnalystsThese professions, who often have an advanced degree in business, operations research, management science, analytics, mathematics, engineering, computer science or another technical field, used advanced mathematical and analytical methods to help organizations investigate complex issues within their company to help them solve problems and make better decisions.$81,390 per year27%
Human Resources ManagersThe many jobs of a Human Resources Manager include planning, directing and coordinating all the administrative functions of an organization. They often oversee recruiting, interviewing and hiring of new staff. They typically serve as a link between a company’s management and its employees.$110,120 per year9%
Postsecondary Education AdministratorsTypically employed at colleges, universities or other postsecondary institutions, these administrators oversee certain departments, such as student services, academics, admissions and other areas of faculty research. Their job duties vary depending on the department they work in.$92,360 per year10%
Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives and Nurse PractitionersThese types of advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) coordinate patient care and provide primary and specialty health care to patients. The scope of practice varies widely from state to state.$110,930 per year31%
Physician AssistantsPAs practice medicine on teams with physicians and surgeons. They examine, diagnose and treat patients in clinical environments, including physicians’ offices, hospitals, outpatient clinics and other healthcare settings.$104,860 per year37%

Professional Organizations

Belonging to professional organizations is an important part of career growth. There are many professional organizations that exist to support you in your chosen line of work, and their functions and operating procedures will vary widely depending on your field of study.

In general, professional organizations offer professional development opportunities, provide career support, maintain active job boards and host networking events or conferences that allow you to meet people in your industry and perhaps form professional connections.

Financing Your Online Master’s Degree

While online degrees may be less expensive overall than obtaining an on-campus degree, many students still need financial aid to help them pay for the cost of their program. Filling out the Federal Application for Free Student Aid (FAFSA) is a step in the right direction — submitting this form provides you with information about grants, scholarships and other forms of financial aid available from the federal government. In addition, nonprofit organizations and other companies have their own scholarships they offer to students. Be sure to investigate your field of study and the school you are considering to find out about their scholarship and grant programs, in addition to consulting the resources listed below.

Resources

Scholarships

Scholarships

Details

GetEducated.com Distance Learning Scholarship

Award: $1,000

Deadline: October and March

Eligibility: U.S. citizens enrolled in an accredited online degree program and have a GPA of 3.0.

IMA Memorial Education Fund

Award: $1,000-$5,000

Deadline: February

Eligibility: Graduate students enrolled in an MBA program.