Online Master’s Degree

College Degree Finder

Online Master's Degree main - adult female studying with laptop

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. Traditional master’s programs are usually 36-54 credits long. Depending on a student’s circumstances 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.

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?

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 about $200 more each week than their colleagues holding bachelor’s degrees and $543 more than those with an associates. Earning an online master’s degree can 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.



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.

Advantages of Online Graduate School

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.

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 StudyPercent of Master’s
Business24.4%
Education19.3%
Health professions and related programs13.6%
Engineering6.1%
Public administration and social services6.1%
Computer and information sciences4.1%
Psychology3.5%
Social sciences and history2.7%
Visual and performing arts2.3%
Biological and biomedical sciences1.9%
Theology and religious vocations1.9%
Homeland security, law enforcement, and firefighting1.3%
Communication, journalism, and related programs1.3%
English language and literature/letters1.2%
Multi/interdisciplinary studies1.1%
Architecture and related services1.1%
Legal professions and studies1.0%
Parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies1.0%
Mathematics and statistics1.0%
Physical sciences and science technologies0.9%
Agriculture and natural resources0.8%
Engineering technologies0.7%
Library science0.7%
Foreign languages, literatures, and linguistics0.5%
Family and consumer sciences/human sciences0.4%
Liberal arts and sciences, general studies, and humanities0.4%
Philosophy and religious studies0.3%
Area, ethnic, cultural, gender, and group studies0.2%
Transportation and materials moving0.1%
Communications technologies0.1%
Military technologies and applied sciences0.0%
Precision production0.0%
Not classified by field of study0.0%

Best Jobs For Online Master’s Degree Holders

Occupation2015 Median PayProjected New JobsProjected Growth RateOn-the-job Training
Economists$75,000 or more1,000 to 4,9990 to 9 percentNone
Education administrators, elementary and secondary school$75,000 or more10,000 to 49,9990 to 9 percentNone
Education administrators, postsecondary$75,000 or more10,000 to 49,9990 to 9 percentNone
Industrial-organizational psychologists$75,000 or more0 to 99910 to 19 percentInternship/residency
Mathematicians$75,000 or more0 to 99920 to 29 percentNone
Nurse anesthetists$75,000 or more5,000 to 9,99910 to 19 percentNone
Nurse midwives$75,000 or more1,000 to 4,99920 to 29 percentNone
Nurse practitioners$75,000 or more10,000 to 49,99930 percent or fasterNone
Occupational therapists$75,000 or more10,000 to 49,99920 to 29 percentNone
Physician assistants$75,000 or more10,000 to 49,99930 percent or fasterNone
Political scientists$75,000 or moreDecliningDecliningNone
Psychologists, all other$75,000 or more1,000 to 4,99910 to 19 percentInternship/residency
Statisticians$75,000 or more10,000 to 49,99930 percent or fasterNone
Anthropologists and archeologists$55,000 to $74,9990 to 9990 to 9 percentNone
Art, drama, and music teachers, postsecondary$55,000 to $74,99910,000 to 49,99910 to 19 percentNone
Epidemiologists$55,000 to $74,9990 to 9990 to 9 percentNone
Genetic counselors$55,000 to $74,9990 to 99920 to 29 percentNone
Historians$55,000 to $74,9990 to 9990 to 9 percentNone
Instructional coordinators$55,000 to $74,99910,000 to 49,9990 to 9 percentNone
Librarians$55,000 to $74,9991,000 to 4,9990 to 9 percentNone
Nursing instructors and teachers, postsecondary$55,000 to $74,99910,000 to 49,99910 to 19 percentNone
Orthotists and prosthetists$55,000 to $74,9991,000 to 4,99920 to 29 percentInternship/residency
Sociologists$55,000 to $74,9990 to 999DecliningNone
Speech-language pathologists$55,000 to $74,99910,000 to 49,99920 to 29 percentNone
Urban and regional planners$55,000 to $74,9991,000 to 4,9990 to 9 percentNone
Archivists$35,000 to $54,9990 to 9990 to 9 percentNone
Curators$35,000 to $54,9991,000 to 4,9990 to 9 percentNone
Educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors$35,000 to $54,99910,000 to 49,9990 to 9 percentNone
Healthcare social workers$35,000 to $54,99910,000 to 49,99910 to 19 percentNone
Marriage and family therapists$35,000 to $54,9995,000 to 9,99910 to 19 percentInternship/residency
Mental health counselors$35,000 to $54,99910,000 to 49,99920 to 29 percentInternship/residency
Survey researchers$35,000 to $54,9991,000 to 4,99910 to 19 percentNone
Rehabilitation counselors$25,000 to $34,99910,000 to 49,9990 to 9 percentNone

Sources: