A master’s degree is one of four basic degree types. Unlike an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree program is at the graduate level, which means you must obtain your undergraduate degree before you pursue your master’s degree.
These programs typically take one or two years to complete and are offered on campus or online.
There are also other ways to complete these programs, such as a combined bachelor’s and master’s degree program, which allows you to earn your bachelor’s and master’s degree in a single program that takes less time overall.
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One of the main reasons why individuals work toward their master’s degree is the career opportunities available to them upon graduation. While a bachelor’s degree allows you to work in many industries, a master’s degree opens higher-level occupations to you and even the potential to hold a higher salary.
There are several master’s degrees out there, including a Master of Science, Arts, Business Administration, Fine Arts, Education, and much more. As a graduate program, a master’s degree program typically requires students to take more advanced coursework than previous degree programs. Each program has specific course requirements. Many programs even require students to complete a written thesis or thesis project.
When Should You Earn a Master’s Degree
You should pursue your master’s degree if you already have your bachelor’s degree. This is one of the best methods of advancing your career in a field where you already have experience.
Certain fields require you earn your master’s agree, such as medicine, engineering, and education, before you can work in the top positions of the industry.
If you know that your chosen career requires a master’s degree, earn one while working toward your bachelor’s degree. Several schools offer a combined degree program for various majors. These programs allow you to earn your master’s without going through the extensive process of applying and getting into competitive master’s degree programs.
Another key benefit of signing up for combined degree programs is that you earn it at a faster rate. Some combined programs are only 120 credits, which means you earn it in four years, which is typically the amount of time it takes to earn just a bachelor’s degree.
One of the difficulties of working toward a master’s degree is that many students are working adults. Finding a school, going to campus, and meeting your education requirements while working is difficult.
However, through online master’s programs, it is possible to earn your master’s degree at your own pace, sometimes at an accelerated rate, and receive your graduate’s degree from the comfort of your own home.
Reasons to Take an Online Master’s Program
Earning your master’s degree online offers several benefits in regards to your professional and personal life. Online learning is particularly useful for working professionals.
Online master’s programs can be more affordable due to tuition discounts and various financial savings. One of the biggest saving benefits is that many online students are charged in-state tuition rates.
Another key benefit of an online master’s program is the flexibility. When completing the program online, students have more room to meet their professional demands while completing their studies. Not having to go to campus, complete commutes, or find a schedule that fits yours is all beneficial for someone seeking higher education while still working in their chosen field.
Best Online Master’s Degrees
With the growth of technology, many colleges and universities make it possible for people to earn their master’s degree in its entirety online. There are several master’s programs available online from various universities in the United States. Below are some of the most popular master’s programs that can be completed online.
Master’s in Psychology
For both a Master of Arts and a Master of Science, online master’s programs in psychology are very popular and are only increasing in popularity as more people complete programs online.
Pursuing an online master’s in psychology can either be for generalist studies or for a specific concentration, such as forensics, counseling, or clinical.
Master’s of Education
It is now a requirement in many states for teachers to earn their master’s degree. Luckily, for certified teachers, there are online Master’s in Education programs available that introduce them to advanced teaching theories and better prepare them for their roles.
Educators who are tasked with earning their degree to keep their certification can do so online without having to take time outside of their own classrooms. There are also several universities that offer specialities for their Master’s in Education, such as concentrations in literacy, educational technology, ESL instruction, elementary education, and much more.
Master’s of Accounting
Earning a Master’s in Accounting helps accountants further their career and enhance their knowledge of specialized fields in keeping, examining, and organizing financial records. Completing an online master’s degree program in accounting allows you to become a Certified Public Accountant within two years.
Some of the specializations for these programs include concentrations in taxation, accounting information systems, auditing, corporate accounting, and more.
Master’s of Business Administration
Completing this program gives graduates in-depth management training to pursue upper-level administrative positions. One of the more significant benefits of earning your MBA is that it applies to any industry.
Most programs offer students the ability to customize their MBA concentration, such as placing a focus on entrepreneurship, energy, international business, marketing, finance, and more. An online MBA can take anywhere from one to three years to complete.
These are only a handful of the online master’s programs available to students. Others offered by many universities include master’s programs in nursing, health administration, science, engineering, computer science, and much more.
For more information on what online master’s programs are available, look to your prospective universities and see what they currently have to offer.
Top Colleges and Universities for Online Master’s Programs
Whether you have professional obligations or are looking to advance your career, there are several distance programs available to you. Below is a list of the best online master’s programs available from highly-ranked colleges and universities.
Use this list to start your research toward finding the ideal institution to pursue your master’s degree online and reach your career and education goals.
National Louis University has over 9,000 students and offers online master’s programs in several areas, such as business administration, human resources management, psychology, education, and more. The university has professional connections with alumni and other employers to help students with learning, employment opportunities, and internships.
Students who are enrolled in programs that require they earn a certification or state licensure can make use of the services the school offers through its Academic Advising Center to ensure they meet their educational requirements for those certifications.
The University of Illinois at Springfield ranks as one of the best institutions in the Midwest. The university offers over 20 master’s degree programs online. The programs are available in several fields, such as environmental health, public administration, political science, management information studies, and more.
The University of Illinois at Springfield is particularly recognized for its education programs and it is considered one of the best in the country. Their education programs prepare students to take on leadership roles in large school settings and classrooms. Students also meet the educational requirements needed to earn their teaching certification.
Students who sign up for its online program, even those who are not residents of Illinois, play an e-tuition rate, which is lower than the typical out-of-state tuition charged to students.
The University of Maryland Global Campus offers students online master’s degree programs in various academic areas. UMGC structures its graduate courses in six-credit units, which helps students by allowing them to concentrate on a single class while still completing a 36-credit master’s program in two years.
Online courses follow an asynchronous format in which students have several starting dates and must submit their coursework and complete exams before the deadlines given by their professors. UMGC has a strong emphasis on adult education.
Although originally created as a college for women, Averett University is now a co-education institution. The university offers an online master’s program in six areas, which are accountancy, applied data analytics, business administration education, human resource management, and criminal justice.
The university gives students success counselors to help them through both the admission process and throughout their program. Online students also have access to various digital resources, free tutoring, and writing assistance.
Penn State World Campus is a highly-ranked school when it comes to its online master’s program. Some of its programs include business administration, engineering, education, and information technology. The university’s online courses follow an asynchronous delivery system, which gives students more flexibility with their coursework.
Students are still responsible for submitting assignments and papers on time, taking exams, and completing other course requirements by the deadline set by instructors.
The university offers several online support services, such as tutoring and writing assistance, career guidance, and academic counseling.
Pacific Oaks College originally only offered programs for early childhood education but has now expanded its academic offerings to various other fields. Online classes at this school typically have seven-week schedules.
The college offers an online Master’s in Education with a specialization in two areas, which are special education and elementary education. It is important to note that the college only offers its online Master’s in Education program to residents of California.
Regent University offers more than 135 areas of study to prospective students. The university offers several online master’s programs. Many of the programs focus on education and business.
The university’s Office of Career and Talent Management aids online students in making the most of their experience while attending university. The office also organizes both onsite and online networking events to help students find internships or international educational opportunities.
There is also academic and career counseling offered to help ensure student success.
Brandman University has a focus on accepting nontraditional students. Many of its master’s programs can be completed either online or as hybrid programs. Students have the option to pursue an online master’s degree in various fields of leadership, psychology, and counseling.
Brandman University offers a flexible format for students to pursue their education goals. While students do have to be self-motivated and organized, they still have ample opportunity to interact with faculty and their classmates.
Logan University offers multiple online master’s programs in several fields, such as nutrition, sports science, and health informatics. Students can pursue and complete these programs in their entirety online.
Each of the programs that Logan University offers prepares students for the certification exam they must take for their chosen field. Students can also apply to transfer credits earned from another accredited university where they’ve received a 3.0 grade or higher.
Online classes at Logan University have a trimester schedule and each term lasts 15 weeks.
Prescott University is a small, private college that has several flexible online master’s degree programs for students to pursue. These programs can either be completed entirely online or through a mix of online and on-campus courses.
Prescott University’s online master’s courses are in critical psychology, environmental studies, social justice and community organizing, and resilient and sustainable communities. Some of these programs limit the enrollees to only a handful of students to help make sure the quality of the course is maintained.
Many of the online master’s programs that Prescott University offers can be completed within one year as they are comprised of 36 credits.
Touro University Worldwide has a strong commitment to helping adult learners meet their educational needs. The university offers several online master’s degree programs that students can complete without having to visit a campus.
Students can choose from any number of the master’s degree offerings the university has, such as those in industrial and organizational psychology, public health, marriage and family therapy, dispute resolution, and public administration.
Some of the master’s programs Touro University Worldwide offers have specializations that can also be completed online.
The University of Wisconsin is currently one of the highest-ranking online schools for master’s degree programs when it comes to the number they have available. In fact, the university has over 60 graduate offerings for students pursuing higher education.
While these courses can be completed online, they are just as rigorous as those given to students who study on campus.
Many of the offerings come in hybrid forms for students who want a more interactive experience, while there are others that are 100 percent online to better fit the schedule of students.
Colorado State University is one of the top online schools for online master’s degree programs in engineering. Overall, the university has 38 master’s programs that can be completed online.
Students seeking to further their education beyond a master’s degree may be happy to learn that Colorado State University offers several online PhD programs as well.
Florida State University is well-known for its online master’s programs, particularly those in the areas of criminal justice, business, social work, and education.
The online master’s programs Florida State University offers are through the university’s Office of Distance Learning.
Sam Houston State University is a high-ranking university that sits at the top of the US News & World Report’s ranking when it comes to criminal justice online master’s degrees.
The university is also recognized for its excellent online master’s degree programs in education and computer information technology.
Some of the online master’s degrees that Sam Houston offers require students to visit a campus.
North Carolina State University is one of the top colleges in the nation when it comes to online master’s degree programs. The university has over 90 online programs available to its students. This includes its top-ranked programs in engineering, business, information technology, and education.
While some of the online graduate degree programs that North Carolina State University offers require campus visits and/or exams, most of them can be completed online in their entirety.
Technology makes it possible for individuals to pursue an advanced degree without having to visit a campus. As careers grow more competitive, it is important for individuals to earn their master’s degree and make more options available to them.
Master’s degrees help individuals earn more in their chosen position and allow them to seek better positions. Within a year, you could earn your master’s degree and work in management or receive a significant increase in your salary.
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