best online masters degreesThis article considers the 50 best online master’s degree programs in the United States.

Featured Programs

A recent Survey of Online Learning (Online Learning Consortium) found that students taking one or more online courses is now over 6.7 million. This is an increase of over 550,000 students from year before. Students are now able to take advantage of entirely online master’s degree programs from accredited institutions and receive the same advanced degree as their traditional student counterparts. As the demand for online degrees increases, greater emphasis is placed on the quality and instruction of these programs.

Ranking Methodology

In order to be considered for this ranking of the best online master’s degree programs, institutions needed to have at least ten online master’s degrees and be accredited. Data points were obtained from College Navigator for ratio and tuition (unless specifically noted in the online program website). From those universities, we narrowed them down to the top 50 using the following point system.

Number of Online Programs:

Less than 20 – 1 point
Between 20-40 – 2 point
Greater than 40 – 3 point

Student-Faculty Ratio:

Greater than 30:1 – 1 point
Between 20:1 and 29:1 – 2 points
Less than 19:1 – 3 points

Tuition:

Greater than $20,000/year – 1 point
Between $10,000 and $19,999 – 2 points
Less than $10,000 – 3 points

Ranking Top Masters Degree Online Programs 2016

#50 – Boston University Online

Boston University

Website
Tuition: $45,686/year
Points: 4

Boston University Online is home to 20 master’s degree programs online. Courses are offered on a seven-week schedule and are both interactive and flexible. Graduates of Boston University Online receive the same degree as their traditional counterparts and are known for their theoretical foundations and strategies they develop to meet modern workforce needs. Most programs are offered entirely online and several are included in rankings by U.S. News & World Report including the Online Master of Criminal Justice, the Online Master of Computer Information Systems and the Online Master of Management. Boston University is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and is ranked among our top online master’s programs.

Online Master’s Degree Programs

Art Education; Criminal Justice; Master of Music, Music Education; Computer Information Systems in Security; Health Communication; Project Management; Social Work; Master of Laws (LLM) in Taxation

#49 -Rochester Institute of Technology-RIT Online

Website
Tuition: $36,688/year
Points: 4

Rochester Institute of Technology-RII Online offers 14 online master’s degree programs. RII is a private, non-profit institution with 10% of graduate students engaged in exclusively online programs. U.S. News & World Report ranks RIT #20 in their list of Best Online Graduate Computer Information Technology Programs. Kiplinger’s ranks RII 97th in their list of Best Values in Private Colleges. Rochester Institute of Technology is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Online Master’s Degree Programs

Health Systems Administration; Human Resource Development; Human–Computer Interaction; Imaging Science; Manufacturing Leadership; Microelectronics Manufacturing Engineering; Networking & System Administration; Product Development; Professional Studies; Service Leadership and Innovation

#48 -Cornerstone University

cornerstone university

Website
Tuition: $12,120/year
Points: 4

Cornerstone University offers ten online master’s programs. This private Christian university was named a 2015 Christian College of Distinction by Colleges of Distinction. Online students will find a supportive environment and free 24/7 tutoring. 18% of graduate students are enrolled in the online master’s programs. Cornerstone University is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Online Master’s Degree Programs

Management; Business Administration; Counseling; Biblical Studies; Ministry Leadership; Curriculum and Instruction; Educational Leadership; Educational Technology; TESOL

#47 -Central Michigan University’s Global Campus

central michigan university top online masters programs

Website
Tuition: $11,330/year in-state and $17,208/year out-of-state
Points: 4

Central Michigan University’s Global Campus provides online students access to 10 online master’s degrees and dozens of concentrations. Both the MBA program and the Graduate Education program are nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report. Cohort programs are offered for some degrees. Central Michigan is an excellent choice for veterans and is military friendly. 31% of graduate students are enrolled in online programs. Central Michigan University is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Online Master’s Degree Programs

Counseling; Education; Educational Technology; Reading and Literacy K-12; School Principalship; Teacher Leadership; Master of Business Administration (MBA); Public Administration; Administration; Nutrition and Dietetics

#46 -Columbia University-School of Continuing Education

Columbia University

Website
Tuition: $41,048/year
Points: 5

Columbia University School of Continuing Education offers 13 online master’s degree programs in unique areas such as Narrative Medicine and Negotiation and Conflict Resolution. Over 6,000 students each year are enrolled in online coursework at Columbia. Sport Business International named the M.S. program in Sports Medicine as one of the top five programs in the world. Columbia University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Online Master’s Degree Programs

Bioethics; Sports Management; Sustainability Management; Technology Management; Narrative Medicine; Construction Administration; Communications Practice; Negotiation and Conflict Resolution; Fundraising Management; Strategic Communications.

#45 – George Washington University-GW Online

George Washington University best online masters degree programs

Website
Tuition: $26,820/year
Points: 5

George Washington University-GW Online offers accredited online master’s degree programs in over 30 areas. Students in GW Online programs have access to real time video seminars, discussion threads and customized assignments allowing them to tailor their education with their professional interests. The faculty-student ratio for online courses is even lower than for traditional courses allowing students greater individualized attention. GW Online is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Online Master’s Degree Programs

Publishing; Strategic Public Relations; Political Management; Law Firm Management; Publishing; Strategic Public Relations; Healthcare Master of Business Administration; Master of Business Administration; Public Leadership; Information Systems Technology; Project Management

#44 -Dallas Baptist University

Dallas Baptist University

Website
Tuition: $2,355/three-credit course
Points: 5

Dallas Baptist University is home to 16 online master’s programs with dozens of concentrations. Students benefit from the ability to learn on various mobile platforms, web conferencing and media on demand. Although students are engaged in their education through asynchronous learning off campus, the programs are student centered. Dallas Baptist University earned the 2006 Outstanding Online Course Award and the Blackboard Bbionic Course Award. DBU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Online Master’s Degree Programs

Children’s Ministry; Christian Education; Christian Ministry; Family Ministry; Leadership; Management; Professional Development; Student Ministry; Teaching; Theological Studies.

#43 -Robert Morris University

Robert Morris University

Website
Tuition: $875/credit hour
Points: 5

Robert Morris University offers online master’s degree programs in five areas. Students benefit from personalized attention and an individualized education plan. RMU provides generous college benefits for military servicemen. SuperScholar and TheBestSchools.org named RMU as one of the Best Online Colleges in 2014. Robert Morris University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Online Master’s Degree Programs

Engineering Management; Industrial Leadership; Organizational Leadership; Internet Information Systems; Data Analytics Systems; Health Services Administration; Business Education; Higher Education.

#42 -Illinois Institute of Technology Online
Illinois institute of technology

Website
Tuition: $22,500/year
Points: 5

The Illinois Institute of Technology Online is a four-year private institution offering over 30 online accredited master’s programs. The Princeton Review, Fiske Guide to Colleges, and U.S. News and World Report named IIT a Best Value School. Over 3,200 graduate students participate in online learning, making IIT one of the larger graduate online programs in the country. The Illinois Institute of Technology is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Online Master’s Degree Programs

Biology with Microbiology Specialization; Chemical and Biological Engineering; Environmental Engineering; Biomedical Imaging and Signals; Electrical and Computer Engineering; Food Science Engineering; Health Physics; Analytical Chemistry; Materials Chemistry with a Concentration in Inorganic, Organic, or Polymeric Materials

#41 -Loyola University-Chicago

Loyola University-Chicago best online masters degrees

Website
Tuition: $17,370/year
Points: 5

Loyola University-Chicago is a private institution with a small online graduate student presence. Currently, Loyola offers accredited online master’s programs in 13 areas. Individual program requirements vary and courses may be online, hybrid or blended, with some requiring short residencies to facilitate face-to-face interaction and deeper understanding of certain concepts. Currently ranked 106 in the U.S. News & World Report list of National universities, Loyola has a strong reputation and provides a quality education. Loyola University Chicago is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Online Master’s Degree Programs

Spirituality; Public Health; Pastoral Studies; International Higher Education; Health Systems Management; Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist with Oncology Specialty; Health Law; Global Competition Law; Business Law; Bioethics and Health Policy

#40 -Lynn University

lynn university top masters programs online

Website
Tuition: $16,200/year
Points: 5

Lynn University is a private institution offering online accredited master’s programs. Students can earn their degree in as little as one year. The curriculum is iPad powered. A GRE test is not required for admission. Lynn University recently completed a one million dollar technology enhancement to their online program. Lynn University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Online Master’s Degree Programs

Administration – Criminal Justice Administration; Administration – Emergency Planning and Administration; Applied Psychology; Financial Valuation and Investment Management; Hospitality Management; Aviation Management; International Business; Marketing; Mass Communication and Media Management

#39 -Creighton University

creighton

Website
Tuition: $14,929/year
Points: 5

Creighton University is a private, nationally ranked university offering 14 online master’s degree programs. U.S. News & World Report ranks Creighton #1 in its list of Midwest Regional Universities. The Princeton Review ranks Creighton as one of the nation’s top 379 colleges and universities. Online students have access to a 24×7 help desk and have online resources at three Creighton libraries. Creighton University is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Online Master’s Degree Programs

Medical Anthropology; MBA; Finance; Investment Management and Financial Analysis; Public Health; Educational Leadership; Health Care Ethics; Leadership; Negotiation and Conflict Resolution; School Counseling and Preventative Mental Health.

#38 -University of the Incarnate Word

university of the incarnate word best online colleges for masters degree

Website
Tuition: $14,670/year
Points: 5

The University of the Incarnate Word offers 11 master’s degree programs online. Students can complete their degree entirely online with no face-face classroom requirements. Students can complete their degree in as few as ten months. According to a 2013 UIW Graduate Exit Survey, graduates were extremely satisfied with their experience at UIW. University of the Incarnate Word is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Online Master’s Degree Programs

Applied Administration; Communication Arts; Healthcare Administration; Industrial & Organizational Psychology; Organizational Development; Teacher Leadership; General Business; International Business; Business Administration; Organizational Development & Leadership; Psychology

#37 -Colorado Technical University

Colorado Technical University

Website
Tuition: $13,643/year
Points: 5

Colorado Technical University is a private for-profit university offering accredited online master’s degrees. The MBA programs are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs. Students benefit from industry current curriculum and technology such as a smartphone app. Colorado Technical University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission North Central Association.

Online Master’s Degree Programs

MBA; Computer Sciences; Criminal Justice; Cybersecurity Policy; Healthcare Management; Homeland Security; Information Technology; Management; Nursing.

#36 -University of St. Francis

university of st francis best online master programs

Website
Tuition: $13,032/year
Points: 5

The University of St. Francis is a private, non profit, Roman Catholic university offering 11 accredited online master’s degree programs. The University of St. Francis has been identified as a College of Distinction. USF is also listed in The Princeton Review as one of the “Best Colleges: Region by Region.” Students admitted into the online program benefit from being able to select from dozens of concentrations to meet their professional goals and interests. The University of St. Francis is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Online Master’s Degree Programs

Nursing; Master of Education with Teacher Licensure (M.Ed.); Master of Science in Education (M.S.) – Educational Leadership; Master of Business Administration; Health Administration; Management; Training Development; Social Work

#35 -Tiffin University

Tiffin University

Website
Tuition: $12,600/year
Points: 5

Tiffin University is a private non-profit institution offering quality, professionally focused online master’s degree programs. Students will find Tiffin University to be a learning centered environment, especially in areas of online education. The Criminal Justice program is currently ranked #6 as a “Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Program” by U.S. News & World Report. Tiffin University is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Online Master’s Degree Programs

Criminal Justice; Psychology; Educational Technology; Higher Education Administration; MBA (9 concentrations) and Humanities (6 concentrations).

#34 -University of Louisville

University of Louisville best masters degrees online

Website
Tuition: $11,326/year in-state and $23,568/year out-of-state
Points: 5

The University of Louisville is a public research university offering fully accredited online master’s degrees. Students benefit from quality programming and a state of the art online learning platform. The number of graduate students participating in online programs is around 7%. The online criminal justice program is ranked 13th by U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Programs. The University of Louisville is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Online Master’s Degree Programs

Criminal Justice; Social Work; Human Resources and Organization Development; Human Resource Leadership; Workplace Learning and Performance; Engineering Management; Civil Engineering; Computer Science; Higher Education Administration; Special Education

#33 -University of Wisconsin

University of Wisconsin

Website
Tuition: $10,728/year in-state and $24,054/year out-of-state
Points: 5

The University of Wisconsin offers graduate students 11 online master’s degree programs. Kiplinger’s ranked UW-Madison 8th in their list of 2015 Best Values In Public Colleges. Two online programs are rated highly by U.S. News & World Report including the 6th ranked Best Online Graduate Engineering Program and the 15th ranked Best Online Graduate Program in Criminal Justice. Students benefit from a modern online learning platform and individualized student-faculty interaction. The University of Wisconsin is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Online Master’s Degree Programs

Civil & Environmental Engineering: Environmental Engineering; Electrical Engineering: Power Engineering; Engineering: Engine Systems; Engineering: Engineering Management; Engineering: Sustainable Systems Engineering; Engineering: Technical Japanese; Library & Information Studies: Distance Delivered Option; Mechanical Engineering: Controls; Mechanical Engineering: Polymer Science; Physician Assistant Studies: Community Based PA Program; Educational Psychology: Professional Educators

#32 -Bowling Green State University

Bowling Green State University

Website
Tuition: $10,168/year in-state and $17,476/year out-of-state
Points: 5

Bowling Green State University is a public institution offering accredited online master’s degrees in a variety of professional areas. Online students have access to the same exceptional professors as their on-campus counterparts. Bowling Green was named a “Host Center of Excellence for E-learning” and has several graduate online programs ranked by U.S. News & World Report. Bowling Green State University is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Online Master’s Degree Programs

Executive Master of Business Administration (Blended); Organization Development (Blended); English – Specialization in English Teaching; English- Specialization in Professional Writing and Rhetoric; Teaching Biology – Interdisciplinary Science; Learning Design; Workforce Education and Development; Classroom Technology; Curriculum & Teaching; Educational Administration & Supervision.

#31 -Florida State University-Distance@FSU

Florida State University

Website
Tuition: $9,684/year in-state and $24,116/year out-of-state
Points: 5

Florida State University is home to Distance@FSU which offers 18 online master’s programs across 7 colleges within the institution. Florida State has the Carnegie Foundation’s highest designation of “Doctoral Research University Extensive.” The Princeton Review and USA Today both ranked FSU a “Best Value” public university. Faculty include a Nobel Prize winner, Pulitzer Prize winners and an Academy Award winner. Online programs at FSU encourage academic coordinators, instructors, and mentors to work together with students to have a successful online experience. Florida State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Online Master’s Degree Programs

Communication Disorders; Information Technology; Library and Information Studies; Criminology; Educational Leadership/Administration; Instructional Systems and Learning Technologies; Learning and Cognition; Special Education Studies; Management of Orthotics and Prosthetics; Nurse Leader.

#30 -Lamar University

Lamar University

Website
Tuition: $5,724/year in-state and $12,240/year out-of-state
Points: 5

Lamar University Online is a public institution offering 14 online master’s programs. 73% of graduate students are enrolled in online programs. Lamar has several programs ranked by U.S. News & World Report including Criminal Justice (#31) and Nursing (#74). The online master’s degree program in education is ranked #35 in the ranking of Best Online Graduate Education Programs. Lamar is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Online Master’s Degree Programs

MBA in Criminal Justice Management; MBA in Educational Management; MBA in Enterprise Resource Planning; MBA in Healthcare Management; MBA in Organizational Management; Education Administration; Teacher Leadership; Education Technology Leadership; Digital Learning and Leading; School Counseling; Clinical Mental Health Counseling; Public Health; Nursing; Criminal Justice

#29 -City University of Seattle

city university of seattle

Website
Tuition: $15,957/year
Points: 6

The City University of Seattle is a private, non-profit institution offering accredited online master’s degree programs. CUS boasts a low student-faculty ratio which allows students ample opportunity for individualized attention. 32% of graduate students at CUS are enrolled in online learning programs exclusively. The City University of Seattle is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Online Master’s Degree Programs

Educational Leadership: Administrator Certification; Guidance and Counseling; Leadership; Leadership in Education; Reading and Literacy; Special Education; Computer Systems; Information Security; Integrated Supply Chain Management; Project Management.

#28 -Walden University

Walden University

Website
Tuition: $11,925/year
Points: 6

Walden University is a for-profit online only institution located in Minnesota. Walden offers 39 degrees in 12 areas. Founded in 1970, it is one of the first online institutions designed for working professionals. Students engage through MobileLearn to download podcasts, Walden app, and Walden’s own channel on iTunesU. Walden has over 47,800 online students. Students can expect to engage in actionable learning and receive strong student support from professors and administrators. Walden University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission North Central Association.

Online Master’s Degree Programs

Criminal Justice Leadership and Executive Management; Early Childhood Studies; Education (Accelerated); Emergency Management; Forensic Psychology; Health Education and Promotion; Health Informatics; Higher Education; Human Resource Management; Human Services; Information Technology

#27 – University of Florida-Distance Learning
University of Florida

Website
Tuition: $10,770/year in-state, $27,335/year out-of-state
Points: 6

The University of Florida Distance Learning program offers master’s degree programs online in over 50 areas, many of which have numerous specializations. SmartMoney ranked UF #2 in their list of schools for graduates commanding the highest salary for their tuition dollars. Kiplinger’s ranked the University of Florida #3 in their list of “Best Values in Public Colleges.” Students looking for diversity in educational offerings will appreciate the vast number of specializations and individual faculty attention as they move through the program. The University of Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Online Master’s Degree Programs

Forest Resources and Conservation (Concentration in Natural Resource Policy and Administration); Microbiology and Cell Science (Concentration in Medical Biology and Biochemistry); Soil and Water Science; Art Education; Music Education; Arts in Medicine; Master of Business Administration; Entrepreneurship; Construction and Planning

#26 -Regent University

Regent University

Website
Tuition: $595-$710/credit hour
Points: 6

Regent University is a private, non-profit institution offering over 40 online master’s degree programs. Regent University prepares students to excel in both mind and spirit and takes a holistic approach to education. G.I. Jobs magazine named Regent as a Military Friendly School. The American Council of Trustees and Alumni gave Regent University an “A” rating. Students at RU have access to a 24 hour hotline for academic and emotional support. Regent University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Online Master’s Degree Programs

Communication: Strategic Communication; Communication: Political Communication; Film-Television: Producing; Film-Television: Script Writing; Film-Television: Script & Screenwriting; Theatre; Journalism; Government – International Relations; Non-Profit & Faith-Based Organizations; Emergency Management & Homeland Security

#25 – Colorado State University OnlinePlus

Colorado State University

Website
Tuition: $9,000/year
Points: 6

Colorado State University OnlinePlus provides students access to 38 online master’s degree programs. Forbes named Colorado State University a Top College for 2013. Affordable Colleges Online named CSU one of “54 Most Affordable Online Colleges.” G.I. Jobs magazine named CSU one of the top military friendly schools in the nation. CSU provides online students an excellent online platform for their education and is one of the founding partners of Unizin, a one-stop shop for digital education. Colorado State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association.

Online Master’s Degree Programs

Agricultural Extension Education; Integrated Resource Management; Adult Education and Training (AET); Industrial/Organizational Psychology; Organizational Learning, Performance and Change; Tourism Management; Statistics; Applied Statistics; Natural Resource Stewardship

#24 -Ball State

Ball State

Website
Tuition: $8,098/year in-state and $20,014/year out-of-state
Points: 6

Ball State is a public institution with 58% of graduate students participating in an online master’s program. U.S. News & World Report ranks Ball State #7 in their list of “Best Online Programs for Veterans.” The Public Relations master’s degree is the only graduate program in the U.S. to receive certification in education for Public Relations. All online teacher programs are fully accredited by NCATE. Ball State is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Online Master’s Degree Programs

Coaching Education; MBA; Applied Behavior Analysis; Elementary Education; Journalism; Public Relations; Nursing; Technology Education; Secondary Education; Adult and Community Education

#23 – Arizona State University Online

Arizona State University

Website
Tuition: $482-$852/credit hour
Points: 6

Arizona State University-ASE Online offers a highly interactive and collaborative learning environment for students looking to earn their degree fro man online accredited master’s program. Faculty include Nobel Laureates, Fulbright Scholars, and Pulitzer Prize winners. Fiske Guide considers ASU a “Best Buy” college. Online students benefit from a cutting-edge online platform. ASU online is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges.

Online Master’s Degree Programs

Biomimicry; Business Analytics; Clinical Research Management; Construction Management; Criminal Justice; Curriculum and Instruction: Applied Behavior Analysis; Curriculum and Instruction: Autism Spectrum Disorders; Curriculum and Instruction: Gifted (MED)

#22 – University of Massachusetts-U Mass Online

university of Massachusetts

Website
Tuition: $465-$825/credit hour
Points: 6

The University of Massachusetts, through UMass Online, offers online master’s programs in over 39 program areas. The University of Massachusetts has all campuses represented in Carnegie Foundation’s 2015 Community Engagement Classification. The Times Higher Education World University Rankings lists the UMass system as one of the top 100 in the world. Faculty include Nobel Laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners and members of the National Academy of Sciences. UMass is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

Online Master’s Degree Programs

Concurrent Dietetic Internship/Online Master of Public Health in Nutrition Program (DI/MPH-N); Education of Diverse Populations Ed.S.; M.Ed. Learning, Teaching and Educational Transformation; Master of Arts in Criminal Justice; Master of Arts in Critical and Creative Thinking; Master of Arts in History; Master of Arts in Security Studies: Homeland Defense Concentration

#21 -Iowa State University

Iowa State University

Website
Tuition: $7,990/year in-state and $20,804/year out-of-state
Points: 6

Iowa State University offers 19 online and distance learning programs to meet the needs of working professionals. Ranked #70 by Kiplinger’s as a “Best Value in Public Colleges”, Iowa State is an affordable online program. Students in online programs at Iowa State receive the same degree as their brick-and-mortar counterparts with no online distinction. U.S. News & World Report ranks the Computer Information Program as #27 in their list of Best Online Graduate Computer Information Programs. Iowa State University is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Online Master’s Degree Programs

Agronomy; Agricultural Education; Seed Technology and Business;
Curriculum and Instructional Technology; Educational Administration; Family and Consumer Sciences; School Mathematics; Statistics; Civil Eng. with an Emphasis on Construction Engineering and Management; Mechanical Engineering

#20 -University of Central Florida

University of Central Florida

Website
Tuition: $6,916/year in-state and $25,759/year out-of-state
Points: 6

The University of Central Florida is home to over 25 accredited online master’s degree programs. The U.S. Distance Learning Association has awarded UCF the 2015 21st Century Best Practice Award for Distance Learning. Over 20% of all graduate students are distance learners. Students participating in the online@UCF program benefit from personalized faculty-student interaction and the use of cutting-edge online learning platforms. UCF is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Online Master’s Degree Programs

Educational Leadership; Exceptional Student Education; Instructional Design & Technology; Criminal Justice; Executive Health Services Administration; Health Care Informatics; Master of Social Work; Nonprofit Management; Research Administration; Aerospace Engineering; Civil Engineering;Digital Forensics M.S.

#19 – Indiana State University Online

Indiana state university

Website
Tuition: $6,840-$13,446/year
Points: 6

Indiana State University Online offers 16 online master’s programs. Online students benefit from an 18-month graduation plan (assuming full-time study) and a dedicated academic advisor. Students work with an online student services concierge and have access to a career center coach. U.S. News & World Report ranks the nursing program #91 in their list of Best Online Nursing Programs. Indiana State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association.

Online Master’s Degree Programs

Criminology and Criminal Justice; Electronics and Computer Technology; Elementary Education; Health Sciences (Public Health); History; Human Resource Development; Nursing (Nursing Administration); Nursing (Nursing Education); Occupational Safety Management; Public Administration; Recreation and Sport Management

#18 -University of Nebraska-Lincoln

university of nebraska lincoln
Website
Tuition: $6,840/year in-state and $19,572/year out-of-state
Points: 6

Th University of Nebraska in Lincoln is a public institution offering 28 online master’s degree programs. 21% of graduate students are enrolled in a distance learning program at UN. 33,000 students have engaged in an online course over the past four years. Students have access to career services, advisors and library staff. Students come from all 50 states and over 130 countries. The University of Nebraska, Lincoln is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Online Master’s Degree Programs

Agronomy; Applied Science; Business Analytics (MBA); Community Development; Dietetic; Engineering Management; Entomology; Youth Development; Textile History and Quilt Studies; Science for Educators

#17 -Western Governors University

Western Governors University

Website
Tuition: $6,500/year
Points: 6

Western Governors University was founded by 19 governors who had a vision for an accessible learning institution with dedicated mentors. WGU is a distance learning institution offering both bachelors and master’s degree programs online. Fast Company proclaimed WGU as one of the 50 most innovative companies in the world. Online students benefit from online communities, e-textbooks, web based tutorials and instructor led online classes. Western Governors University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Online Master’s Degree Programs

Education; MBA (several types); Accounting; Information Security and Assurance; Nursing; Healthcare Management; Management and Leadership; Information Technology Management.

#16 -American Public University System

american public university

Website
Tuition: $5,850/year
Points: 6

American Public University System (APUS) is an accredited institution comprised of American Public University and American Military University. APUS is a private, for-profit institution offering over 3 online master’s degree programs to students in all 50 states. APUS is recognized by the Online Learning Consortium for best practices in online learning. Students will benefit from instructors with experience in their field of interest and a close knit community of peers and faculty. Individual programs are accredited to meet the highest standard of learning. APUS is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Online Master’s Degree Programs

Environmental Policy and Management; History; Homeland Security; Humanities; Information Technology; Intelligence Studies; International Relations and Conflict Resolution; Legal Studies; Management; Military History

#15 -Northwestern State University of Louisiana

Northwestern State University of Louisiana

Website
Tuition: $5,738/year
Points: 6

Northwestern State University of Louisiana is a Military Friendly institution and a part of the Louisiana Transfer Degree Program. NSUL offers 19 master’s degree programs online and over 17 concentrations. U.S. News & World Report named NSUL a Best Online Program for Veterans in 2014. Northwestern State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Online Master’s Degree Programs

Master of Arts in Adult Education; Master of Arts in Art; Master of Arts in English; Master of Arts in Teaching, Early Childhood Education; Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction; Master of Education in Special Education (524D); Master of Science in Health & Human Performance w/ concentration in Health Promotion; Master of Science in Homeland Security; Master of Science in Nursing

#14 -Sam Houston State University

sam houston state university

Website
Tuition: $4,572/year in-state and $11,088/year out-of-state
Points: 6

Sam Houston State University offers 26 online accredited master’s programs. Online Colleges.net named SHSU a “Most Affordable Online College in 2015” and Online School Center ranked SHSU #15 in their list of schools using progressive technology. 46% of graduate students at SHSU are enrolled in online programs exclusively. Sam Houston State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Online Master’s Degree Programs

Administration; Band Conducting; Business Administration, Executive MBA; Communication Studies; Criminal Justice Leadership and Management; Curriculum and Instruction; Digital Forensics; Family and Consumer Sciences; Higher Education Administration

#13 -Fort Hays State University

Fort Hays State University

Website
Tuition: $3,094/year in-state and $8,812/year out-of-state
Points: 6

Fort Hays State University offers 13 online accredited master’s degree programs that are amongst the cheapest in the nation. Online students benefit from tutoring service, personal advising and ongoing support services to keep them on track for the duration of their program. Most classes are taught be the same professors who teach courses in the traditional classroom, allowing students access to the finest teaching staff Fort Hays has to offer. Fort Hays State University is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Online Master’s Degree Programs

Business Administration (MBA); Counseling; Education; Educational Administration (Principal); Health and Human Performance; Higher Education Student Affairs; Instructional Technology; Liberal Studies (MLS); Professional Studies (MPS); Nursing Administration; Nursing Education; School Psychology; Special Education

#12 – Penn State World Campus

Penn State World Campus

Website
Tuition: $18,816/year
Points: 7

Penn State World Campus offers fully online accredited master’s programs in over 40 areas. Most programs are fully online with a small number requiring short on-campus residencies. Students benefit from various online resources such as chat, video conferencing, email, social media and online bulletin boards. According to a study published in the Wall Street Journal, Penn State is the #1 institution for producing the best prepared, most well-rounded graduates in the country. Online graduates receive the same degree as their classroom counterparts and can join the largest alumni network in the United States. Penn State World Campus is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.

Online Master’s Degree Programs

Art Education; Curriculum and Instruction; Engineering Management; Geodesign; Nuclear Engineering; Nursing; Project Management; Public Administration; Renewable Energy and Sustainability Systems; Software Engineering; Turfgrass Management

#11 -Southern New Hampshire University Online

Southern New Hampshire University

Website
Tuition: $18,810/year
Points: 7

Southern New Hampshire University is a private, non-profit institution offering over 80 master’s degree programs online. Students interested in earning their MBA will find over 40 specialized online MBA programs to meet their professional interests. 75% of graduate students at SNHU are enrolled in distance education programs. Southern New Hampshire University is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education since 1973.

Online Master’s Degree Programs

Accounting; Accounting Finance; Applied Economics; Data Analytics; Information Technology; International MBA; Reading and Writing Specialist; Technology Integration Specialist; Sport Management; Psychology

#10 -University of Alabama-Bama by Distance

University of Alabama

Website
Tuition: $9,826/year in-state and $24,950/year out-of-state
Points: 7

The University of Alabama Bama By Distance program offers 27 accredited online master’s degrees. UA is Alabama’s first public college and was founded in 1831. Students attending Bama By Distance benefit from unique online programs such as Aerospace and Engineering and Library and Information Studies. U.S. News & World Report ranked UA #13 in their list of Best Online Graduate Business Programs. The University of Alabama is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Online Master’s Degree Programs

Rehabilitation Counseling; Elementary Education; Aerospace Engineering; Health Studies; Law and Taxation; Social Work; Nursing; Educational Leadership; Library and Information Studies.

#9 -Auburn University

Auburn University

Website
Tuition: $8,586/year in-state and $25,758/year out-of-state
Points: 7

Auburn University is a public institution offering 27 accredited online master’s degree programs through Auburn Online. Students learn through streaming media and web based technology. U.S. News & World Report have included Auburn in their list of 2015 Best Online Programs for their MBA, Graduate Business, Graduation Computer Information Technology and Graduate Engineering online master’s programs. Auburn University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Online Master’s Degree Programs

Real Estate Development; Soil, Water and Environmental Sciences; Nutrition; Hotel and Restaurant Management; Library Media; Adult Education; Rehab Counseling; Agriscience Education; Elementary Education.

#8 -Saint Leo University-Online

Saint leo university

Website
Tuition: $8,442/year
Points: 7

Saint Leo University Online is a private, Catholic institution that is currently one of the top military friendly universities in the country according to G.I. Jobs magazine. Programs are 100% online allowing students maximum flexibility when planning for their degree. New students can engage in StartingPoint, which provides online self-paced tutorials to help students get started at Saint Leo. Saint Leo is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Online Master’s Degree Programs

Exceptional Student Education; Instructional Leadership; Reading; Critical Incident Management; Instructional Design; Theology; MBA; Accounting; Instructional Design

#7 -Northern Arizona University

Northern Arizona University

Website
Tuition: $8,284/year in-state and $17,069/year out of state
Points: 7

Northern Arizona University is a public research institution having over 4,400 online students. Students benefit from a low faculty to student ratio allowing for personal interactions even when taking courses at a distance. The graduate program in education is ranked #100 by U.S. News & World Report. NAU has a rather robust online master’s program with almost 42% of all graduate students enrolled as distance learners. Northern Arizona University is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Online Master’s Degree Programs

Administration; Applied Geospatial Sciences; Career and Technical Education; Communication; Early Childhood Education; Human Relations; Science Teaching; Nursing Mathematics Education.

#6 -California State University-Cal State Online

The California State University

Website
Tuition: $6,738/year in-state and $17,898/year out-of-state
Points: 7

California State University is a public institution which includes 23 campuses and 45,000 faculty and staff members. Cal State is the largest, most diverse college system in the United States. Cal State Online gives students access to over 100 hybrid and fully online programs in 13 academic areas. U.S. News & World Report currently ranks Cal State Online #6 in their list of Best Online Graduate Business Programs, #21 in the list of Best Online Graduate Education Programs, and #16 for Online Graduate Engineering. California State University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Online Master’s Degree Programs

Agriculture and Natural Resources; Business and Management; Communications; Computer and Information Sciences; Education; Engineering; Nursing; Interdisciplinary Studies; Library Science; Public Affairs and Services; Social Sciences

#5 -University of Memphis-UofM Online

University of Memphis

Website
Tuition: Online only tuition is $100/credit hour
Points: 7

The University of Memphis is home to UofM Online which offers accredited online master’s degrees is over 20 areas. 22% of all graduate students at UofM are primarily online students. Graduate students taking online courses pay the low tuition rate of $100/credit hour regardless of geographic location. The online MBA program is ranked #66 in the list of Best Online MBA Programs by U.S. News & World Report and the Nursing program is ranked #70.

Online Master’s Degree Programs

History; Criminal Justice; Applied Computer Science; MBA; Journalism; Sport Commerce; Leadership; Public Health; Nursing; Health Promotion.

#4 -Liberty University Online

Liberty University

Website
Tuition: $9,360/year
Points: 8

Liberty University Online is the largest private, religious oriented (Southern Baptist), non-profit institution in the country. Students are guided through the admission process by an admission specialist who will assist them in planning their future at Liberty. Currently, Liberty University Online offers over 140 master’s degree programs online to students living in all 50 states and 90 countries. Courses are offered in eight-week blocks allowing students to move through the program quickly. Liberty University Online is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Online Master’s Degree Programs

Executive Leadership; Master of Business Administration; Strategic Communications; Studio and Digital Arts; Human Services Counseling; Marriage & Family Therapy; Professional Counseling; Criminal Justice – Command College; Cyber Security

#3 – University of Missouri-Mizzou Online

University of Missouri

Website
Tuition: $8,335/year
Points: 8

The University of Missouri-Mizzou Online offers 44 online master’s degree programs and enrolls students from almost every state and dozens of countries. Last year, 446 students received their master’s degree through Mizzou Online. Courses are offered in a nine month, self paced format or a more traditional 8-16 week session. U.S. News & World Report ranked the online master’s degree program in education #94 in their list of Best Online Graduate Education Programs. The online nursing program is ranked #48. The University of Missouri is accredited by the Commission on Higher Learning of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Online Master’s Degree Programs

Architectural Studies; Family and Community Services; Gerontology; Personal Financial Planning; Social Work; Youth Development; Health Communication; Interactive Media; Media Management; Strategic Communication; Leadership in Nursing and Health-care Systems; Nurse Educator

#2 -University of Illinois Online

university of illinois

Website
Tuition: $7,782/year in-state and $27,435/year out-of-state
Points: 8

The University of Illinois Online combines the online programs of all three campuses to provide students a one-shop for online degree information at the UofI. University of Illinois Online offers 45 online master’s programs. Students need to apply to their specific program of interest which is affiliated with a specific campus. The online education, business, and engineering programs are ranked in the top 50 Best Online Graduate Programs list by U.S. News & World Report. The University of Illinois is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Online Master’s Degree Programs

Aerospace Engineering Master of Science Degree (Non-thesis Program); Agricultural Education; Civil and Environmental Engineering; Computer Science; Crop Sciences; Diversity and Equity in Education; Engineering; Environmental Studies – Environmental Planning and Management; Environmental Studies – General Environmental Sciences; Environmental Studies – Sustainable Development and Policy; Evidence Based Decision Making

#1 -North Carolina State University-Distance Education

North Carolina State University

Website
Tuition: $7,623/year in-state and $21,311/year out-of-state
Points: 8

North Carolina State University is a leader in the area of online learning with more than 13,000 online learners and more than 45 online master’s degree programs. Kiplingers ranked NCU 12th as a Best Value for Public Universities. State of the art online technology such as the “Elluminate” Learning Management System virtual classroom and “WebAssign” Learning Management System for coursework give students access to an exceptional learning experience. U.S. News & World Report ranks the online master’s degree program in education 16th in their list of Online Graduate Education Programs. North Carolina State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Online Master’s Degree Programs

Soil Science; Statistics; Aerospace Engineering; Forest Biomaterials; Nano-engineering; Animal Science; Civil Engineering; Adult and Community Education; Computer Science.


Online Master’s Degree Programs vs. Campus-based Programs

Graduate Students are faced with more options than ever before when choosing a program that meets their professional and educational goals. Making the choice between a traditional brick-and-mortar program and a comparable online program has many considerations.

1) Students need to determine if they have the discipline and motivation to complete a program in a virtual environment. Campus based programs tend to provide more structure and accountability to students on an ongoing basis. Online programs rely more heavily on students being disciplined and organized enough to complete assignments, participate in online discussions and complete online group projects.

2) Students in either type of program need to be comfortable with technology, but online programs require students to be more self sufficient. Online students often need to be able to use technology such as video conferencing, message boards, chat, and web based learning platforms in order to participate in course activities. If students are not comfortable with that type of technology or getting themselves up to speed, then a more traditional program may allow them to be more successful.

Online Master’s Degree Programs vs. Campus-based Programs

Graduate Students are faced with more options than ever before when choosing a program that meets their professional and educational goals. Making the choice between a traditional brick-and-mortar program and a comparable online program has many considerations. An graduate education is not “one size fits all” so it is important that students do their due diligence to find a program that meets their needs and allows them to be successful.

1) Students need to determine if they have the discipline and motivation to complete a program in a virtual environment. Campus based programs tend to provide more structure and accountability to students on an ongoing basis. Online programs rely more heavily on students being disciplined and organized enough to complete assignments, participate in online discussions and complete online group projects.

2) Students in either type of program need to be comfortable with technology, but online programs require students to be more self sufficient. Online students often need to be able to use technology such as video conferencing, message boards, chat, and web based learning platforms in order to participate in course activities. If students are not comfortable with that type of technology or getting themselves up to speed, then a more traditional program may allow them to be more successful.

Selecting an Online Master’s Degree Program

When selecting an online program, there are several considerations students need to take in order to make sure the program will meet their professional and personal needs.

1) Students needs to ensure the program they are interested in comes from an accredited institution. There are six regional institutional accreditors in the United States and students will need to confirm that their institute is accredited by one of those bodies. Some professions, such as nursing and social work, require that the individual master’s program have specific accreditation. Students will need to make sure that the program they plan to enroll in meets licensing or certification criteria.

2) Students need to research the amenities included in the program. Will students have access to 24 hour tech support? Will online graduates have access to career services or an alumni network to assist with job placement? These are examples of factors that should be considered based on the needs of the student.

3) Not all online programs are 100% online. Some require students to come to campus for short residencies throughout the program to engage in face-to-face activities or professional development. Others may offer hybrid courses which combine online and classroom learning. Still others may require students attend an onsite orientation. Students need to be careful in reviewing course requirements ahead of time, especially if coming onsite is not an option.

Applying to Online Master’s Degree Program

Online programs can be just as competitive as their on-campus counterparts. Students may need to select more than one program to apply to depending on acceptance rates and a students own application portfolio. When applying to online master’s degree programs it is important that students carefully review admission requirements. Some schools will require applicants to apply directly to the program of interest, while others require students to apply to the university itself. Application deadlines are also important to review as they will differ from program to program. The deadline to apply to the university may be different than the deadline to apply to the program. Program requirements differ from school to school so it is important to note if applicants need a specific undergraduate GPA, graduate record exam (GRE) score or years of experience in the workforce to be considered. A school with lower admission standards may make it easier to be accepted, but the program may be less rigorous. Knowing these requirements up front will help applicants avoid surprises or have their educational goals put on hold.

Paying for an Online Master’s Degree Program

Whether pursuing an online or on-campus master’s program, students will need to complete a free application for federal student aid (FAFSA). By completing the FAFSA early in the year, students will receive consideration for grants and loans by meeting specific criteria. Graduate students have scholarships available to them, and more and more online schools are making grants and scholarships available to their students. Online programs may appear cheaper, but students need to factor in program fees that might be overlooked when looking at cost per credit hour alone. Students will need to review costs for their specific program and determine whether those costs will vary with an online option. While graduate tuition can vary dramatically between schools, online and on-campus programs typically cost about the same once all costs are factored in.

Are Online Master’s Degree Programs Worthwhile?

Online degree programs can be an excellent way for students to obtain their master’s degree while continuing to meet their employment and family responsibilities. The flexibility provided by online programs can be invaluable if a student cannot afford to take time away from the workforce to complete a traditional program. By allowing students to continue working and earning an income, online programs can be a great way to utilize the skills and knowledge learned immediately. Employers benefit when students can apply higher level skills and abilities to their existing position.

When students are able to utilize self-discipline and motivation to complete their online program, the benefits are identical to those graduating from a traditional program. Most schools do not differentiate between online and traditional degrees on a transcript, which means students do not have to disclose that they earned their degree online if they are not comfortable doing so. Online graduates are often able to take advantage of career services and alumni associations in order to network and develop professional connections. Since students often do not reside in the same community as their graduate program, they need to be intentional about making these connections (providing the school provides these amenities). When thoroughly planned, online master’s degree programs can give graduates additional earning power, greater knowledge and skills, and a lifelong network of other dedicated and educated professionals.

You are welcome to use the award badge in this article. Click here for a high resolution version.