2018 Guide to the Best Online Master's Programs

Online degrees offered exclusively to master's students are concentrated in disciplines like aerospace engineering, cybersecurity management and policy, human factors, leadership and systems engineering. Examine the different majors offered by a variety of top online colleges that relate to the field of study you are interested in. Students seeking to earn a baccalaureate degree from the Texas-based institution can do so in fields like Bible and theory, communication studies, history, and social studies. Additionally, the school allows students to transfer up to 90 credits from a regionally accredited institution. After confirming accreditation, it can still be difficult to weigh the value and quality of one online college over another.

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The Best Accredited Online Colleges and Universities

Students who enroll in the eNSU Global Campus pay the same tuition rates regardless of their state of residence, and the university has also been recognized as a top online academic destination for veteran students. These options include a B. Psychology majors can also select prevention specialist or substance abuse concentrations for their online bachelor's studies.

A hybrid RN to BSN pathway offered for registered nurses features online coursework supplemented with onsite clinical training, and a similar transitional program is available for radiologic technologists seeking a B. Additional healthcare-related options include online degrees in allied health and addiction studies.

Students pursuing a liberal arts education may choose from degrees in fields like criminal justice, history, psychology and social work. Opportunities for online grad students at eNSU are even more extensive -- 20 degree programs in all.

Fourteen of these options are concentrated in education studies. Three master's tracks for teachers feature multiple specializations: Additional education master's programs include seven grade-specific specializations, as well as degrees in student affairs in higher education, early childhood education and educational leadership. Nursing students may choose from five different MSN concentrations; master's degrees are also available in health and human performance with a health promotion concentration and radiologic science.

The University of Southern Mississippi is a haven for the arts, rigorous academics, and an athletic department that, combined, enroll approximately 15, students in programs. Courses are delivered in classrooms with a to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. Online baccalaureate degree programs are offered in applied technology, business administration, construction engineering technology, and library information science.

The school's BS in child and family studies prepares students for careers working in educational and human service organizations and has two areas of emphasis: The BS in industrial engineering technology is offered in both hybrid and fully online formats, with an emphasis in logistics focused on supply chain management.

Southern Mississippi also offers two teacher preparation programs fully online: The institution's catalog of graduate degrees are extensive, covering fields such as education, public health, human capital development, sports management, and nutrition and food systems. The business administration program MBA offers a concentration in sport security events management, combining a business core foundation with hands-on security experience.

The executive master of public health in health policy and administration helps experienced healthcare professionals learn to apply best practices and business principles in the delivery of healthcare services. Several graduate certificate programs are offered online such as business foundations, archives and special collections, TESOL, and sports security management.

Named for its founder, this Philadelphia-based private research university first opened its doors to students in Long touted as a national leader in technology-oriented education and named among the top 20 most innovative national universities in a ranking by U. Drexel Online features two web-based options for undergraduate nursing students: The latter program supplements onsite clinical courses with an innovative Health Assessment Simulation Lab, which allows students to interact with virtual patients and diagnose different medical conditions.

Additionally, fully online bachelor's degrees are available in five core academic areas of study: A blended bachelor's of education degree with student-teaching components is also offered. Most of Drexel Online's bachelor's degree programs are roughly credits in length; since the school operates on a quarter schedule, this means students can generally complete all degree requirements after four years of full-time study. An additional 13 Master of Science degrees are available online through Drexel's business and management department.

Other specialized master's options at Drexel Online include degrees in television management, cyber security, project management, sports management and 14 education specialization tracks.

Many of Drexel's master's programs include practicum or field-based components. With an emphasis on public affairs, Missouri State University-Springfield trains students to become culturally competent and community-engaged, ethical leaders. While the school has a four-year campus in Springfield, two-year campus in West Plains, and a campus in China, it is also among the top accredited online colleges in the country, boasting baccalaureate degrees in fields like communication studies, criminology and criminal justice, health services, and psychology.

The BS in information technology service management prepares students for the workforce in careers like database administration, systems development, and tech support. The BS in health services is a clinical service option that allows allied health professionals with an associate degree to transfer credits toward the program. Graduate degree programs are offered fully online in fields like history, communications, business administration MBA , early childhood and family development, education, and professional studies.

Note that some degree programs, particularly in the sciences, have prerequisite courses that may not be available online. Support services for online learners include tutoring, access to the library and writing center, and career services. The school facilitates the seamless transfer of credits from regionally accredited colleges and awards credits for military service and exams such as CLEP, International Baccalaureate, and Advanced Placement.

Located in the heart of Omaha, the University of Nebraska at Omaha provides an accessible education to approximately 15, students taught in classrooms with a to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. Whether students study on campus or online, being a student at the University of Nebraska at Omaha means you'll have access to hands-on learning, internships, and applied research opportunities.

Baccalaureate degrees can be earned in library science, criminology and criminal justice, sociology, and management information systems, among others. For example, the credit bachelor of multidisciplinary studies BMS is a flexible degree that enrolls nontraditional students, transfer students, and military students. The program offers dozens of concentrations around which students develop a course of study that corresponds to their career or graduate school aspirations.

Areas of study include aviation, civic leadership, computer science, emergency management, engineering physics, and cybersecurity. Up to 64 credits can be transferred into the program from regionally accredited two-year institutions; students may also earn credits for military experience and education.

One of the best online schools in the nation, the University of Nebraska at Omaha offers several graduate degree programs in criminology and criminal justice, critical and creative writing, political science, public administration, special education, and writing. The credit MA in social gerontology gives students in-depth knowledge of the aging process and the needs of the elderly. Online undergraduate and graduate certificate programs can also be earned in fields such as gerontology, information assurance, systems development, and American government.

The school has a long history of serving military-affiliated students with support services like the writing center and the math-science learning center. A college of The Lutheran Church— Missouri Synod, Concordia University-Saint Paul provides students with an educational experience steeped in career preparation and challenging academics. Concordia's online programs are delivered asynchronously over the course of seven weeks for maximum flexibility and accelerated learning.

The school offers bachelor's programs in business, child development, criminal justice, healthcare administration, and information technology management. Respiratory therapists can work full-time and still complete the credit, accelerated BS in pulmonary science.

The credit BA in organizational management and leadership immerses students in study of group behavior, and how it impacts organizational effectiveness. At Concordia, educators have a number of graduate teacher preparation options from which to choose, including master's programs in educational leadership, special education, early childhood education, and differentiated instruction.

Non-education-related master's degrees are offered in fields such as human resource management, sports management, and creative writing. The credit MBA program offers a general track and a healthcare management concentration that studies trends in healthcare and business principles.

A designated faculty member supports MBA students throughout the program. Because students can transfer credits seamlessly, many distance learners can complete the bachelor's degree in two years or less. One feature that makes Concordia one of the top online schools in the nation is the identical tuition rates for online learners regardless of in-state or out-of-state residency. Likewise, active duty service members are eligible for discounted tuition rates, and all students can expect no change in tuition throughout their time school.

The second largest school in the UMass system behind Amherst , this institution first opened its doors in and currently hosts more than 18, enrolled students. UMass-Lowell's distance learning branch features more than 50 degree and certificate programs , most of which are delivered in an exclusively online format. A total of seven online bachelor's degrees are available through UMass-Lowell.

Students seeking a web-based degree in liberal arts can choose from nine concentrations: Program length for this pathway varies by concentration.

In addition to a standard bachelor's degree in information technology, the university also offers an IT bachelor's degree with a business minor, as well as a credit IT specialization for students who have already earned a bachelor's in a different field. The university recently unveiled its latest online program, a credit bachelor's degree in English that culminates in a capstone project.

Other new additions to UMass-Lowell's web-based lineup include online bachelor's degrees in criminal justice and business administration. Additionally, 11 undergraduate certificates are available online; eight of these options are concentrated in IT and digital design. UMass-Lowell's online programs also feature 11 master's degree tracks. These include master's in securities studies degrees with five cutting-edge specialization options: Multiple areas of focus are also available for MBA students, who can choose from degree specializations in accounting, finance, IT or marketing; standalone master's degrees in accounting, IT and finance are also offered online.

Master's in education students can pick from five specializations, as well. Other opportunities for online grad students include degrees in engineering management and criminal justice. Thirteen online graduate certificates are offered, including four new programs in network security, new venture creation, systems models and management, and victim studies. Established in , this Vermont institution maintains an annual enrollment of roughly 2, full-time students. Most of Champlain's online degree programs are asynchronous , or self-paced; in addition to standard degree plans, many courses follow an accelerated seven- or eight-week schedule that enables students to complete their program requirements ahead of schedule.

Undergraduates enrolled at Champlain can choose from a list of 11 online bachelor's degree programs. Some of these programs are highly specialized, and concentrated in cutting-edge fields of study. Degrees in cybersecurity and computer forensics focus on strategies for investigating and preventing digital crimes, while a degree in economic crime investigation covers fraud, identity theft and other crimes that result in financial losses.

Champlain also offers online bachelor's programs in accounting, business management, integrated studies and health care administration. All of the college's online bachelor's tracks are credits in length, and standard courses are 15 weeks in length; choosing the accelerated seven-week option when available can allow students to complete their bachelor's requirements in as little as two to three years. Champlain's distance learning options also include nine online master's degrees.

In addition to a standard MBA, master's programs also include three specialized fields: Additionally, three online master's degrees focus on the tech fields of digital forensic science, emergent media and information security operations.

Master's degrees in early childhood education and law are available online, as well. All master's programs at Champlain range from 30 to 42 credits in length, and may be completed in as little as 12 months with an accelerated curriculum plan. A total of 11 online graduate certificates are also available, including nine related to business studies. Located in the town of Longview, Texas, this interdenominational Christian institution was primarily founded in to provide education and specialized for returning WWII veterans.

LeTourneau's online programs are centered around the philosophy that higher education shouldn't interfere with the lives of working adults; many degrees and courses are available in accelerated web-based formats, and most follow an asynchronous schedule that allows students to complete degree requirements at their own pace.

The school's online bachelor's selection offers a mix of technical, business, liberal arts and religious studies. Two bachelor's degrees, aviation studies and aviation management, are offered through LeTourneau's aviation and aeronautical science department; these options are geared toward military veterans and retired personnel seeking a college degree as they transition back to civilian life. Aspiring educators can also pursue two bachelor's pathways -- early childhood to 6th grade, and 4th to 8th grade -- that result in full certification in the state of Texas.

Other online bachelor's degrees are available in biblical studies and ministry, criminal justice, human services and psychology. LeTourneau's accelerated course structure allows students to complete most courses in three to seven weeks.

All of LeTourneau's online master's programs are concentrated in three academic departments. The 'Business and Technology' branch features five online master's degrees, including two MBA tracks with five possible specializations and innovative management pathways in engineering, strategic leadership and health care administration.

The online Master of Education program includes four possible specializations: Established in , Indiana University-Bloomington is a world-class hub of innovation, creativity, and research.

The university's virtual campus features approximately degree and certificate programs from the Indiana University system, with approximately 7, students in the system participating in full-time distance learning. Indiana University-Bloomington has a catalog of degree completion baccalaureate programs for students with transferable credits. Fields of study include math, nursing, criminal justice, communication studies, psychology, and English technical and professional writing.

The credit BS in business administration gives students a broad business foundation. Students take courses in areas such as accounting, commercial law, human resources, and international business and have the option of a finance concentration. The school offers a full complement of graduate programs online. Master's degree programs are available in fields like adult education, business administration MBA , data science, educational leadership, marketing, and literary science.

Notable programs include the credit MS in stewardship, a unique degree only available at Indiana University-Bloomington. The program prepares professionals versed in product design, manufacture, sale, and disposal to reduce environmental impact while ensuring profitability. Home to the world's first school of philanthropy, the school offers a credit MA in philanthropic studies focused on the socio-cultural, economic, and political roles of nonprofit organizations. The institution's Credit Transfer Service makes Indiana University-Bloomington one of the best online colleges in the nation by facilitating up to 64 credits from start to finish.

With the launch of Penn State's web-based World Campus in , the State College institution became one of the first accredited universities to provide online courses.

Today, the World Campus features more than degree and certificate programs, and serves students from all 50 states and more than 60 countries worldwide. Penn State's online bachelor's degree programs cover a wide range of academic fields, from core subjects to less traditional areas of study. Students can pursue bachelor's degrees in more than a dozen business-related fields, including accounting, agribusiness management, finance, marketing and security and risk analysis.

Eco-minded undergrads can also earn online bachelor's in biobehavioral health, energy and sustainability policy or turfgrass science. Online degrees in four different fields are available as either a B.

In addition to degree fields of study, a total of 18 online minors are available. These include nine minors in business-related fields and six in liberal arts subjects. Seventeen online undergraduate certificates are also offered, including three nursing options.

California Baptist University enrolls more than 9, students who are privy to an educational experience that integrates academics and Christian development. The school designed its virtual college with the needs of nontraditional learners in mind. Online degrees are delivered asynchronously via Blackboard to students around the country. Baccalaureate degrees are offered in fields such as accounting, Christian ministries, criminal justice, human services, public administration, sociology, and organizational leadership.

The degree completion credit BA in business administration provides a business foundation in one of two concentrations: Students seeking an education degree can choose the credit BA in early childhood studies with a focus on childhood social and emotional growth and development.

California Baptist, one of the best online schools in the nation, offers a credit online MBA program with emphasis areas in accounting and management. Educators may enroll in the to credit MS in education with specializations in early childhood studies, educational leadership, and teaching.

Other master's degree programs are also available in public relations, public heath, accounting, and counselling psychology. The school offers an interactive online learning community that is supportive and affordable. California Baptist allows students to transfer credits into a baccalaureate degree, including a maximum of 30 credits allowed for examinations like CLEP and IB. Students may use Transferology , a nationwide network, to determine the transferability of credits into California Baptist University.

The Southwestern Assemblies of God University was established when three Bible schools merged into one. The school now administers 70 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, including several delivered entirely online. Students seeking to earn a baccalaureate degree from the Texas-based institution can do so in fields like Bible and theory, communication studies, history, and social studies.

The school also has several undergraduate business degrees. Students ages 22 and over can enroll in the fully online bachelor's in accounting, where they explore business law, advanced accounting, finance, or international business. Students focus on management communication, project management, operations management, venture management, and organizational behavior. Students older than 22 can also enroll in the school's fully online human services bachelor's degree program in which they study general education, the Bible, and pick one of four specializations: Master's programs are offered online in fields like counseling and psychology, education with several areas of emphasis, including curriculum development and middle and secondary education , and a master of divinity with eight specializations, including chaplaincy, family ministry, and biblical languages.

As one of the top online colleges in the nation, Southwestern Assemblies of God University charges one tuition for online learners regardless of in-state or out-of-state residency.

With a total of four colleges and schools, California-based National University offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate degree programs delivered by world-class faculty. At National University , approximately 70 degree programs are delivered asynchronously fully online to eLearners. Students are given access to interactive tools and a wide range of support services.

Baccalaureate degree programs can be earned in fields like digital journalism, global studies, integrated marketing communications, psychology, sports psychology, and strategic communications. Those seeking to become educators also have a number of degree programs from which to choose, including BA degrees in early childhood education, elementary education, English education Nevada secondary licensure only , and mathematics California middle and secondary school licensure.

The BA in pre-law studies provides students with the educational foundation needed for admission into law school. Two programs are offered for those seeking to enter the construction industry: BS in construction engineering technology and BS in construction management. National's graduate programs include education, health informatics, sustainability management, engineering management, gerontology, and film studies. The MA in performance psychology is a unique program that delves into the theory, research, and applicability of psychological techniques across disciplines including sports, the arts, and military combat.

The school also offers a number of certificate programs online such as marketing, criminal justice administration, and autism. In keeping with the best online colleges in the nation, National offers affordable tuition and provides discounts for military personnel and their dependents. The school charges the same tuition for online learners regardless of where they live.

Home to the Red Wolves athletics teams, Arkansas State University is a learning community of 14, students privy to world-class faculty, research, and student-friendly instruction. The school offers academic programs in classrooms with a to-1 student-to-faculty ratio.

Arkansas State is one of the oldest virtual colleges in the state. Courses are delivered asynchronously to both undergraduates and graduate students. Distance learners can earn bachelor's degrees in fields like general studies, communication studies, nursing, sociology, and political science. The credit bachelor in applied science gives students the expertise needed to pursue leadership roles in technical fields.

The program builds on technical coursework taken in an associate of applied science curriculum and offers concentrations in renewable energy technology and technology. Those seeking to attend graduate school have an even larger catalog of degree programs from which to choose. Fields included are business administration MBA , the MSE in early childhood education or reading, media management, public administration, and sports administration.

The credit MS in college student personnel services prepares professionals hoping to enter residential life, career service, or admissions positions in higher education. One of the top online colleges in the nation, Arkansas State ensures that its faculty members are trained in the online mode of delivery. Online learners have access to a diverse network of peers and support services, including tutoring and a help-desk.

Note that online degrees are only available in some states, so students should check availability. An innovator in education and research, the University of Arizona continues to make advances in fields like bioscience, art and humanities, business, and medicine.

The institution offers approximately undergraduate and graduate degree programs, 80 of which can be taken online. Bachelor's degrees are delivered asynchronously and can be earned online in fields like Africana studies, business administration, economy and industry, geographic information systems, meteorology, informatics, and sustainable built environments.

The program provides students with a historical, political, social, and cultural understanding of national and international intelligence agencies. The BAS in cyber operations is also a transfer-only program and immerses students in hands-on study of offensive and defensive cyber security techniques they practice within the institution's Cyber Virtual Learning Environment.

Graduate students have a plethora of options from which to choose, including master's degrees in accounting, nutrition, electrical and computer engineering, business administration, optical sciences, and photonic communications engineering.

The school has one of the nation's top nursing programs; among offerings is the online credit RN to MS, an accelerated degree with a focus on clinical systems leadership. Nurses can elect to take the program full-time or part-time. Hands-on experience is one of the hallmarks of learning at the University of Arizona. All students have the opportunity to participate in fieldwork internships and student leadership.

The school is transfer-friendly, and the Transfer Credit Guide -- while not a complete list of all transferable courses -- gives students an idea of which courses transfer to the University of Arizona. The school charges the same tuition for online learners regardless of in-state or out-of-state residency. The faculty at Northern Arizona University provides students with personalized mentorship in order to help them reach their potential. Whether learners are high school students heading for college or working professionals, the school's degree programs offer many options.

Northern Arizona's virtual campus is home to more than 80 fully online and hybrid bachelor's and graduate degree programs. While most courses are delivered asynchronously, students also have the option to select class delivered synchronously.

Bachelor's degree programs can be earned online in fields like communication studies, business administration, the liberal arts, logistics and supply chain management, nursing, and health sciences. Master's degree programs can be earned in fields like administration -- with several areas of specialization, education -- with several areas of specialization, English, communication, and counselling.

Students seeking to earn a degree at their own pace can do so with a catalog of personalized learning programs. Busy professionals in any of the five programs -- management, RN to BSN, computer information technology, liberal arts, and small business administration -- study courses broken down into modules in which their real-world knowledge can be applied to learning. The programs are competency-based with no set classes or schedules. The school is transfer-friendly, and students can transfer between 64 and 90 credits into baccalaureate programs.

NAU offers comprehensive support services for online learners including tutoring through the school's Student Learning Centers, online library resources including journals and ebooks, and tech support. Founded more than 50 years ago with the goal of serving the needs of career-motivated working adults, Bellevue University is widely recognized for its expertise in online learning and commitment to prepare students with essential workplace knowledge and skills.

For example, the university has been named as a "Top 10 University for Adult Learners" by Washington Monthly each year since the ranking was started. The mission of Bellevue University is to enable students to compete in a connected world, with an emphasis on making it possible for busy, working adult learners to earn a degree.

Bellevue University considers many forms of previously earned college credit for transfer into its degree programs, including associate degrees, previous college classes, military and corporate training, and for-credit exams like CLEP and DSST. This helps accelerate completion, while keeping it affordable. Concentrations available for these degree include cybersecurity, clinical counseling, industrial and organizational psychology, intelligence and security studies, business analytics, finance, and computer information systems.

Bellevue University is a non-profit, private university, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission through the U. More information is available at Bellevue. Since , Washington State University has attracted problem-solvers. The institution's 30, learners have access to 95 undergraduate majors and 79 master's degree programs delivered in classrooms with a to-1 student-to-faculty ratio.

Many of the school's students are distance learners, who study in one of the school's 11 undergraduate or 11 graduate programs online. One of the nation's top online colleges, Washington State offers bachelor's degrees in fields like accounting, criminal justice, data analytics, economics, humanities, and management information systems. Students can transfer at least 60 credits into the program and study upper-level coursework in hospitality systems, operational analysis, foodservice systems and control, and human resource management.

Graduate students have several master's degree programs from which to choose: The state of Washington has a rich history of agricultural education including the credit MS in agriculture in food science management, with coursework dedicated to statistics, toxicology, organizational management, and microbiology. The credit MS in agriculture in plant health management includes coursework in entomology, plant pathology, crop and soil science, and economics.

The school partners with a number of two-year schools in western states, helping students transfer their associate degree credits. Students in states not on the school's "direct agreement" list can still transfer credits on a course-by-course basis.

Since its establishment 80 years ago, Eastern New Mexico University has served students in New Mexico and beyond with academic programs emphasizing the liberal arts. Students have the option to be part of a global learning community enrolled in one of 30 online programs offered fully online or in hybrid format. Note that some programs are delivered synchronously. Bachelor's degrees are available in aviation science, business, criminal justice, hospitality management, nursing, and social work.

The school's bachelor of business administration has several concentrations, including applied economics and finance, hospitality and management, information systems, and financial planning. Eastern New Mexico University also offers several bachelor of applied arts and science BAAS degrees in areas like aviation science, culinary arts, fire and emergency services administration, and electronic engineering technology. Those seeking a master's in education can do so with emphasis in special education, education administration, career and technical education, pedagogy and learning, or elementary education.

Other graduate degree areas of study include business administration, nursing, and communication. Online resources for students include the library, online writing center OWL , counselling services, and library services. The Transfer Evaluation System has made transferring into its baccalaureate programs easy by providing students with information about which classes transfer.

Online students attending Eastern New Mexico enjoy the second-lowest tuition rate in the state and one of the most affordable in the country. Online colleges allow students to take courses through an online learning management system. Online courses provide flexibility for nontraditional students who have obligations outside school, such as raising a family or working full time. There are thousands of online schools in the U.

Some schools only teach online and do not have physical campuses. Online college tuition varies depending on a variety of factors, including residency status. Check with your school to get accurate tuition estimates. The difficulty of online college programs is comparable to that of traditional, on-campus programs. You can check for student reviews for an accurate description, which the school may offer. Online degrees from regionally accredited colleges are respected.

Employers understand the value of distance learning for those who need to balance the demands of work and family while finishing a degree program.

This initiative and drive should be commended. Accredited online college programs are subject to the same financial aid and student loan guidelines as on-campus programs.

You can learn more about your financial aid options here or in our guide, Scholarships and Financial Aid for Online College Students. Hundreds of degrees and certificate programs are available online from accredited colleges and universities across the country. We also have information about how to choose an online degree program.

Accreditation verifies the legitimacy and quality of colleges, universities, and their degree programs. Both maintain lists of recognized regional, national, and programmatic accrediting agencies. Accreditation matters because it sets quality standards meant to ensure that your degree holds value. Employers and graduate schools know that if you hold a degree from an accredited online school, then you graduated from a program that meets the rigorous requirements for accreditation.

In contrast, an unaccredited degree can cost you more than job offers. Always verify that an online college is accredited. Colleges are accredited by either national or regional agencies. Regionally accredited colleges are typically nonprofit and state-operated. Most nationally accredited colleges are for-profit and often have to meet lower academic standards than their regional counterparts. Students should also be wary of accreditation mills that offer genuine-looking but ultimately phony endorsements to schools.

Some states also have their own accrediting bodies independent of the regional agencies. You can learn more about each individual agency, and its jurisdiction, through the Office of Postsecondary Education. In some cases, individual programs may also be accredited by an independent board.

One example is the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, which evaluates academic programs in applied science, computing, engineering, and technology. Some state-level professional certifications require that students graduate from a program with programmatic accreditation. After confirming accreditation, it can still be difficult to weigh the value and quality of one online college over another. These standards also extend to the full-time faculty and adjunct professors that schools hire.

Any online school that fails to meet program and faculty quality requirements risks losing accreditation. Due to the rapid evolution of online coursework, online programs are quickly becoming some of the most high-quality degree options available. To date, well over 2, colleges offer accredited online programs.

In the world of online education, there is no overall best online college or online degree program. But there is a best option for you — you just have to know what questions to ask. Ask yourself these five questions to begin the search for the best online colleges and universities for you:.

The rapid growth in online colleges and universities means that you have more choices than ever before — and therefore you have to think even more carefully about which online school is right for you. If you know exactly what you want out of a particular degree, then you can make educated choices about which schools and programs will give you an acceptable return on investment. A college degree is the best way to increase your earning potential — but different careers require different degrees.

Think specifically about the types of job titles you hope to be eligible for after you graduate and the types of employers you want to work for. Research the kinds of skills and degrees people at those jobs have, and use that research to narrow down the degree programs you are considering. There are a few considerations to make before choosing a degree level to pursue.

One, what level of education have you achieved already? Two, what are your career goals? The following list can help you better understand these options:. Full-time students can typically earn an associate degree in two years. An online associate degree is ideal for those who have a high school diploma and who want to quickly gain practical career skills.

An online associate degree program is also a cost-effective way to complete general education requirements before transferring to a four-year program.

Most entry-level positions at professional organizations require at least a four-year degree. Business , healthcare , tech and other sectors prefer to hire candidates who are well-rounded and have good critical thinking and communication skills. Many schools offer accelerated online programs, allowing you to complete your graduate degree in just 12 months. Example careers include licensed counselors , social workers , and certified public health employees.

Once you know what degree level you want to pursue, think carefully about what majors will have the biggest impact on your current career or future job prospects. Different majors teach different skills and have different points of emphasis. Multiple studies have shown that what you study has a bigger impact on future earning potential than where you go to school.

Examine the different majors offered by a variety of top online colleges that relate to the field of study you are interested in. Research what specific courses are required in each major. Also consider what specific hard and soft skills will be most valuable to the work you want to be doing.

You can explore our collection of academic program rankings to learn more about other fields of study and potential career paths. Different online degree programs offer different amounts of flexibility. Each offers a different level of flexibility and different types of instruction. Students are expected to attend classes, view lectures, participate in group chats and conversations and complete assignments at the same time according to a pre-set schedule or syllabus.

Students are given regular deadlines for completing assignments, reading, viewing or listening to lectures and participating in group discussions often using an online message board , but can complete these tasks at any time before the due date. A type of asynchronous class, Open Schedule courses allow students to begin courses at any time, independent of traditional quarter or semester systems.

Students complete assignments at set points during the class based on their start date. Discussion and interaction with other students is usually minimal. Students access all academic materials from a computer no in-person meetings are required , but must log in to virtually attend and participate in class at specific times.

The majority of course materials and instruction are provided online and can be done remotely, but students are required to meet in person one or more times during the course. For many people, earning an associate degree can provide you with the training you need in just two years for jobs that are rewarding and high-paying.

If you have a full-time job or have other commitments that make it difficult to attend a traditional on-campus, 2-year college, there are more online associate degree programs than ever before for you to choose from. Use the tips below to find the best online schools offering associate degrees in the subjects you are researching. Professionals with an associate degree enjoy higher average salaries and lower unemployment rates than those who only have a high school diploma.

By choosing an associate degree from an online community college, you can earn the degree you need to increase your salary without giving up your full-time job. As with other degree levels, different subjects and majors can have different impacts on your post-graduate earning potential. In general, associate degrees in healthcare, technology, and engineering have the highest return on investment and lead to the highest-paying jobs.

Online associate degrees are particularly useful for those pursuing a career in a specific trade or one that requires a narrow and specialized set of skills, such as paralegal , nursing assistant or information technology IT professional.

Many two-year schools offer degrees specifically for these industries that prepare graduates to pursue entry-level jobs. These schools, often known as trade schools, technical schools, or career colleges, tend to center around industries like healthcare, IT, and specific trades such as computer drafting.

As online education becomes more common, more online trade schools and online career colleges have emerged. Our rankings can help you find the best online technical education options. Start your research by visiting our ranking of the best online community colleges to ensure that you find an associate program that offered transferable credits. Therefore, it is in your best interest to be careful when choosing which programs to apply to. There are many reasons why it is important to know which subjects you want to study before you pick a school.

There is also evidence that what you study in college has a much bigger effect on post-graduate income than which college you attend. If you are uncertain what you want to major in, do some research and consider what you want to do after you earn your degree.

Find out what other people in that position or industry studied and what kinds of degrees they have. In short, talk to people who have the kinds of jobs you want. However, if you already know what you want to study, then you may wish to browse our collection of online program rankings or read up on some of the more popular programs for undergraduates. According to the National Center for Education Statistics , almost one quarter of graduate students were enrolled in exclusively online courses in , and the number of online courses offered has grown since then.

For some fields, like social work or psychology , a graduate degree is required for even entry-level jobs. Graduate school may not be the best choice for all career paths.

Once you know what you want from your education, spend time networking with people in your desired field and doing online research to find out what kind other professionals in your situation chose to do. You could look at the kinds of companies you want to work for and see where their employees went to school. One big benefit of going to graduate school, even through an online program, is the relationships you develop with other students and instructors.

These relationships will results in a strong professional network, which can help you out in a variety of ways for years to come. You can either browse our broader collection of rankings or go directly to one of our most popular program pages below. Individual earnings vary greatly from person to person based on what level of degree you earn, what you study, and what kind of career you choose to pursue. The cost of a college degree can vary wildly as well.

One of the main reasons that you might be considering an online college is because it frees you up from having to visit a campus, meaning you could attend college anywhere, regardless of where you live or work. Many students enroll at public colleges in their own state to qualify for lower in-state tuition rates.

This can mean savings of thousands of dollars a year, which means you pay less out-of-pocket and take out fewer loans. There are three main types of online schools, and each offers different advantages when it comes to cost:. At a community college , you can pursue your associate degree online, either to qualify for introductory positions in your chosen field or as preparation for a four-year program down the line. Tuition at two-year schools is lower than at most colleges, and for students just starting college, it might make sense for you to begin here.

If you want to attend school and prepare for a specific career, you can develop industry-specific skills in a career college. These are the traditional four-year state schools. As a general matter, public colleges are usually cheaper than private schools. Some online schools offer reduced tuition rates to in-state students, while others are able to offer in-state tuition to students throughout the country. Many, though not all, of the private schools offering online programs are religious schools.

Some of these schools incorporate scripture into their online program, though others do not, and have no religious requirements for distance learners. Private non-profit schools are often more expensive than other four-year options, so be sure to do your research and find a school that fits with your budget. There are a number of reputable private for-profit colleges as well. When researching for-profit schools, it is vital that you research their accreditation and reputation, as there are a number of diploma mills in this category.

Earning an online college degree requires a substantial investment. While some students choose to pay for college out-of-pocket using savings or loans from their parents, many must seek financial aid to offset the costs of tuition, housing, food, and other necessary expenses.

Many online schools also allow students to pay for tuition and housing in monthly installments, rather than paying one lump sum for each semester or quarter term. These deferred payment plans carry little to no interest, but the balance must be paid off by the end of each term. Financial aid opportunities are available through various sources, including the federal government, nonprofit organizations, and private companies, as well as the online college or university the student attends.

According to a report from the Society of Human Resource Management , more than half of private organizations offer tuition reimbursement plans to employees who wish to earn a postsecondary degree or certificate.

These plans are mutually beneficial. Employees who receive assistance can offset some of the out-of-pocket costs for their education, and employers strengthen their workforce with workers who have advanced training in their field.

Additionally, the employee may be required to work for the organization for a certain length of time after they have received their degree or certificate. A big reason for the growth in online education is demand. Online college programs make college more accessible to a much larger population than traditional on-campus learning. In a recent survey conducted by BestColleges. These respondents were also less concerned about curriculum specifics or access to on-campus activities.

While traditional factors such as affordability, academic excellence and delivery format remain major determining factors, our survey results suggest a majority of students choose to take courses online because they are more convenient. The advantages of online courses are more than just a sense of freedom. Online courses eliminate the need to commute to a campus, which saves money as well.

These responses may suggest that many online students are looking to expand their current professional skills, including the skills needed for a job promotion, rather than shift career paths entirely. Our rankings of the best online colleges and universities are a jumping off point to help you build your own list of prospective programs that meet your needs.

Remember, many factors that contribute to the quality of a degree program are intangible. Please contact your schools directly for more information. Asynchronous programs allow students to view lecture recordings on their own time. Alternatively, synchronous programs may require students to watch live-streaming lectures. In some cases, synchronous courses feature video conferencing components that allow students to ask questions and interact with their professors and fellow students.

Online courses often feature discussion boards where students can communicate through written posts. Videoconferencing may be also available, and students may contact one another by phone, email, or social media. Additionally, students who live close to campus may be able to coordinate live study groups with their classmates.

Online courses frequently feature a discussion board dedicated to faculty questions. Many professors will also provide their personal contact information — including email, phone, and social media — to ensure their students can easily contact them if they have questions or concerns. Online students are often invited to participate in cap-and-gown ceremonies with on-campus graduates, where they receive their official diploma.

Smaller ceremonies may be held to honor online graduates in specific programs. Some online colleges hold live-streamed commencement ceremonies and will mail diplomas to each graduate at a later date. One in three U. Many leaders in education predict digital learning will become even more of an everyday experience for college students and recommend that high schools require students to take one online course before graduation, a requirement many high schools have already adopted.

Digital learning is easily the most dramatic change to sweep higher education in more than a century. Colleges are under pressure to expand their online program offerings to meet the rising demand for distance learning options across the country.

Learners can choose to take individual courses online, or to pursue a formal certificate or degree program. The rest were enrolled in online classes for personal learning and growth rather than college credit. Online students at Southeast Missouri State University can take advantage of a demonstration class to help familiarize students with the online modules and how online courses work at the school.

As one of the 50 largest public universities in the country, Kennesaw State University offers a vast alumni network and extensive resources to all of its 35, students. Classes are offered in seven-week sessions and require around 15 to 20 hours per week for each three-credit course.

The GRE admission test is required by most departments, as well as a personal statement or essay, a resume and a Supplemental Information Form. Students can choose between a wide variety of M. The fully online master's degrees at Georgia Southern enable students to complete their programs from anywhere in the United States on their own schedule.

All online courses are taught by the same faculty members that teach on campus, so online students can feel confident that they are receiving a rigorous education. Online degrees at CSU incorporate multiple educational strategies including audio and visual content, online discussions, articles and textbooks, and synchronous class sessions. Established in , University of North Texas offers a wide variety of degrees to its more than 37, students.

The university's 26 online master's degree offerings span a variety of disciplines, including business, education, anthropology, criminal justice, and library science. Many of the online master's options can be completed as full-time or part-time programs, enabling students to select the schedule that fits best with their lives. In addition to an affordable tuition and flexible schedule, online students can expect to have top-notch professors; UNT faculty members have won Grammy, Emmy, and Pulitzer nominations in addition to National Medal of Arts and National Science Foundation awards.

The university offers over 1, online classes each year through its WKU Online portal and offers extensive support to online students including online tutoring and an online writing lab. Online courses are offered via two formats: Semester-based classes follow the typical semester schedule with set deadlines and typically do not require any real-time virtual meetings.

These classes can be started any day of the year and anywhere in the world. Established in , the University of Central Missouri is a public university with over 14, enrolled students. Prospective business, nursing, teaching, and criminal justice students will all find online master's degrees at the University of Central Missouri that fit their needs.

Asbury University is a Christian, multi-denominational liberal arts university founded in the Wesleyan-Holiness tradition. Asbury University uses its own learning management system for online course delivery, called Discovery.

Applications should be submitted at least two weeks before the first day of the semester. Online students have access to free tutoring services through the Academic Center for Excellence.

JSU has multiple exam proctoring options for distance learners: Find an Online Degree:. All tuition numbers were manually collected and verified. Popular Online Master's Programs. Jump to a Program: Master of Engineering in Energy Systems Enginee Master of Engineering in Fire Protection Engine Master of Professional Studies in Applied Entom Master of Professional Studies in Corporate Inn Master of Professional Studies in Survey and Da Master of Professional Studies in Technology En Master of Public Administration - Homeland Defe Master of Public Administration - Local and Sta Master of Public Administration - Regional Sust Master of Science in Wildlife and Fisheries Bio Master of Arts in Government-Political Communic Master of Business Administration - Leading Org Master of Science in Applied Biomedical Enginee Master of Science in Education - Educational St Master of Science in Education — Educational St Master of Science in Electrical and Computer En Master of Science in Engineering in Systems Eng Master of Science in Environmental Planning and Master of Science in Information Systems Engine Online Master's Degrees 14 M.

Healthcare Executive Master of Business Adminis Master in Special Education - Dyslexia Therapy Master in Special Education - Special Education Master of Science in Human Environmental Scienc Professional Master of Information Systems - En Master in Curriculum and Instruction - Science Master of Arts in Security Studies - Industrial Master of Arts in Security Studies - Internatio Master of Science in Engineering Management - E Master of Science in Engineering Management - O Master of Science in Education - Education Tech Master of Science in Education - Elementary Edu Master of Education in Diversity and Equity in Master of Education in Diversity and Equity Iss Master of Education in Educational Administrati Master of Education in eLearning in Higher Educ Master of Education in Foundations of eLearning Master of Education in International Education Master of Education in International Education, Master of Education in Learning Design and Lead Master of Education in Management of eLearning Master of Science in Civil Engineering - Constr Master of Science in Civil Engineering - Enviro Master of Science in Civil Engineering - Struct Master of Business Administration - Healthcare Master of Business Administration - Human Resou Master of Education in Early Childhood Educatio Master of Science in Engineering - Software Eng Master of Education in Special Education - Auti Master of Science in Education M.

Master's in Educational Administration - Non-Li Master of Arts in Christian Ministry - Disciple Master of Arts in Christian Ministry - Missions Master of Divinity - Discipleship and Spiritual Master of Arts in Teaching - Secondary Teacher Master of Science in Geosciences in Environment Master of Science in Instructional Technology Master of Arts in Teaching in Deaf and Hard of Master of Arts in Teaching in Education - Engli Master of Arts in Teaching in Education - Forei Master of Arts in Teaching in Special Education Master of Education in Adult and Career Educati Master of Education in Curriculum and Instructi Master of Education in Instructional Technology Master of Education in Learning, Design, and Te Master of Science in Financial Planning, Housin Master of Science in Foods and Nutrition, Commu Master of Science in Pharmacy, International Bi Master of Business Administration - Health Admi Master of Business Administration - Sport Manag Master of Education in Middle Grades Education Master of Education in Secondary Education - Hi Master of Education in Secondary Education - Ma Master of Education in Special Education - Gene

2018 Best Online Colleges for Master's Degrees - Ranking Details