An online master’s degree is a graduate level degree that takes anywhere from 1.5-3 years of study after completion of a bachelor’s degree. Master’s programs require students to complete 36-54 credits. Depending on a student’s circumstance and how quickly they want to graduate, this can take between 3-4 semesters.
Certain programs, especially ones preparing students to enter their selected professions immediately after graduation can be longer. Most students earning an online master’s degree from an American university are either enrolled in a Master’s of Business Administration (MBA), Master’s of Science (MS), or Master’s of Arts (MS) degree.
Master’s Degree Curriculum and Networking
The curriculum of a master’s degree program is often more difficult and rigorous than that of a bachelor’s degree program. Graduate school is also often very competitive as students are driven and have more professional and life experience. Undisciplined and unmotivated students often struggle in graduate school.
Aside from obtaining more skills and knowledge, students earning master’s degrees usually have excellent networking opportunities while they complete their graduate study. These networking opportunities extend to students earning an online master’s degree and typically take place in online forums, discussion posts and boards, and group projects.
Many students earning master’s degrees are required to conduct original research and present their findings in a thesis. Depending on the program, there are usually numerous internship opportunities available for graduate students.
Is an Online Master’s Degree Worth It?
How Much Can You Make With a Master’s Degree?
Earning an online master’s degree can be a wise investment, depending on the major. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has reported that workers possessing a master’s degree earn almost $11,600 more each year than their colleagues holding bachelor’s degrees and almost $29,000 more a year than those with an associates.
Earning an online master’s degree can also improve one’s chances of being promoted and obtaining a higher paying job. Completing an advanced degree like a master’s or doctorate is a great achievement and is one that only 12 percent of Americans 25 and older can claim.
- See the Most Common Types of Master’s Degrees
- See the Most Popular Master’s Degrees
- See the Best Jobs For Online Master’s Degree Holders
A master’s degree can be categorized as a terminal degree if once it is earned, the individual is not required to earn any further education or training to practice professionally. That is because these terminal degrees are the highest on the academic track or the professional track in a specific field of study. For example, graduates of Master’s of Fine Arts (MFA) programs do not need to earn additional degrees or certificates to work as writers or artists.
Many people immediately qualify for jobs after graduating from a master’s program. However, depending on the profession, some graduates are required to complete additional schooling, pass a test, or complete an internship. For example, a person graduating with an M.A. in Sociology is often required to earn a PhD before he or she can teach at a university.
Online Master’s Degree vs. Traditional Master’s
Those pursuing technology careers can greatly benefit from earning a master’s degree online. This is especially true for people interested in jobs where technology is used to conduct a large proportion of commerce and train employees.
In addition to the computer skills developed through online study, students can complete classes anywhere and anytime, and they do not have to wait for a new semester to begin a program. Online study is especially appealing to individuals with family and work responsibilities. However, those considering obtaining a degree online should be aware that many programs are designed to be completed in a short amount of time.
Online Master’s Degree Programs
To learn more about specific master’s degree program, select a degree category below.
From the Council of Graduate School’s Graduate Enrollment and Degrees Report
Most Popular Master’s Degree Programs by Field of Study
Fields of Study Master’s Degrees Conferred by Postsecondary Institutions, by Field of Study
The master’s programs with the largest number of conferred degrees are business (25%), education (19%), and health professions and related programs (14%).
- Business (MBA; M.S. in Business)
About 25 percent of students enrolled in master’s programs are working towards master’s of business administration degrees (MBA). Students have the option of earning a general MBA or specializing in such fields as e-commerce, international business, and finance. Many of these MBA specialization programs can be completed online. This is especially advantageous for people currently working in related industries since many working professionals earn MBAs after gaining some work experience. Those interested in conducting research usually earn M.S. in business degrees.
- Education (MEd; MAT; MSEd)
Nearly 20 percent of people enrolled in master’s programs earn education related degrees. Those enrolled in master’s of education programs will receive a broad education. However, there are many programs offering specializations. For example, programs are available where students can specialize in e-learning or company training. Individuals interested in teaching at various levels can earn a master’s of arts in teaching (MAT) degree. Students earning MATs are often required to complete student teaching assignments or other teaching internships. Those interested in being employed as school administrators should earn the MSEd degree. Many people who’ve taught for years earn this degree.
|Field of Study||Percent of Master’s|
|Health professions and related programs||13.6%|
|Public administration and social services||6.1%|
|Computer and information sciences||4.1%|
|Social sciences and history||2.7%|
|Visual and performing arts||2.3%|
|Biological and biomedical sciences||1.9%|
|Theology and religious vocations||1.9%|
|Homeland security, law enforcement, and firefighting||1.3%|
|Communication, journalism, and related programs||1.3%|
|English language and literature/letters||1.2%|
|Architecture and related services||1.1%|
|Legal professions and studies||1.0%|
|Parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies||1.0%|
|Mathematics and statistics||1.0%|
|Physical sciences and science technologies||0.9%|
|Agriculture and natural resources||0.8%|
|Foreign languages, literatures, and linguistics||0.5%|
|Family and consumer sciences/human sciences||0.4%|
|Liberal arts and sciences, general studies, and humanities||0.4%|
|Philosophy and religious studies||0.3%|
|Area, ethnic, cultural, gender, and group studies||0.2%|
|Transportation and materials moving||0.1%|
|Military technologies and applied sciences||0.0%|
|Not classified by field of study||0.0%|
Best Jobs For Online Master’s Degree Holders
All occupations listed below have a salary of at least $35,000 to $54,999 and have stagnant or positive job growth rates. It is noted whether or not there is any required on-the-job training.
|Occupation||2016 Median Pay||Number of New Jobs||Growth Rate||On-the-job Training|
|Art, drama, and music teachers, postsecondary||$55,000 to $74,999||10,000 to 49,999||10 to 19 percent||None|
|Community and social service specialists, all other||$35,000 to $54,999||5,000 to 9,999||0 to 9 percent||None|
|Counselors, all other||$35,000 to $54,999||1,000 to 4,999||10 to 19 percent||None|
|Curators||$35,000 to $54,999||1,000 to 4,999||0 to 9 percent||None|
|Economists||$75,000 or more||1,000 to 4,999||0 to 9 percent||None|
|Education administrators, elementary and secondary school||$75,000 or more||10,000 to 49,999||0 to 9 percent||None|
|Education administrators, postsecondary||$75,000 or more||10,000 to 49,999||0 to 9 percent||None|
|Educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors||$35,000 to $54,999||10,000 to 49,999||0 to 9 percent||None|
|Farm and home management advisors||$35,000 to $54,999||1,000 to 4,999||10 to 19 percent||None|
|Health diagnosing and treating practitioners, all other||$55,000 to $74,999||5,000 to 9,999||10 to 19 percent||None|
|Healthcare social workers||$35,000 to $54,999||10,000 to 49,999||10 to 19 percent||None|
|Instructional coordinators||$55,000 to $74,999||10,000 to 49,999||0 to 9 percent||None|
|Librarians||$55,000 to $74,999||1,000 to 4,999||0 to 9 percent||None|
|Marriage and family therapists||$35,000 to $54,999||5,000 to 9,999||10 to 19 percent||Internship/residency|
|Mental health counselors||$35,000 to $54,999||10,000 to 49,999||20 to 29 percent||Internship/residency|
|Nurse anesthetists||$75,000 or more||5,000 to 9,999||10 to 19 percent||None|
|Nurse midwives||$75,000 or more||1,000 to 4,999||20 to 29 percent||None|
|Nurse practitioners||$75,000 or more||10,000 to 49,999||30 percent or faster||None|
|Nursing instructors and teachers, postsecondary||$55,000 to $74,999||10,000 to 49,999||10 to 19 percent||None|
|Occupational therapists||$75,000 or more||10,000 to 49,999||20 to 29 percent||None|
|Orthotists and prosthetists||$55,000 to $74,999||1,000 to 4,999||20 to 29 percent||Internship/residency|
|Physician assistants||$75,000 or more||10,000 to 49,999||30 percent or faster||None|
|Psychologists, all other||$75,000 or more||1,000 to 4,999||10 to 19 percent||Internship/residency|
|Speech-language pathologists||$55,000 to $74,999||10,000 to 49,999||20 to 29 percent||None|
|Statisticians||$75,000 or more||10,000 to 49,999||30 percent or faster||None|
|Survey researchers||$35,000 to $54,999||1,000 to 4,999||10 to 19 percent||None|
|Urban and regional planners||$55,000 to $74,999||1,000 to 4,999||0 to 9 percent||None|
Featured Schools that Offer Master Degrees
|Southern New Hampshire University You have goals. Southern New Hampshire University can help you get there. Whether you need a bachelor's degree to get into a career or want a master's degree to move up in your current career, SNHU has an online program for you. Find your degree from over 200 online programs. Learn More >|
|Grand Canyon University (GCU) With a spotlight on intellectual creativity and innovation for the 21stcentury, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at GCU provides a job focused education. It blends the study of traditional humanities in a modern context. Through academic inquiry and beyond the box thinking, the college advances our society and its accomplishments. Learn More >|
|Purdue University Building on Purdue’s mission to provide greater access to affordable, world-class education, Purdue University Global delivers a fully personalized online experience that’s tailored to working adults. By opening the doors to adults who need flexibility to fit learning into their busy lives, we make it possible to achieve a high-quality education from the prestigious Purdue University system—completely online. Learn More >|
|Northcentral University Northcentral University (NCU) was founded to provide accessible, high-quality, online graduate degrees to working professionals. As a regionally accredited, online university, NCU serves students worldwide, focusing on Doctoral and Master's degree programs in the Schools of Business and Technology Management, Education, Psychology, and Marriage and Family Sciences. Learn More >|
|Colorado Technical University (CTU) CTU could help you connect to what matters most: a powerful professional community, faculty who are real-world professionals, and innovative technology. Learn More >|