Find out about the best online master's degrees and program guide for 2022

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Find out about  the best online master's degrees and program guide for 2022

 If you are considering postgraduate studies, take some time to learn about our online master's programs. Online graduate schools offer flexible and affordable options to help you balance the demands of work, family, and your education. Use this guide to learn more.

When you are close to deciding whether to earn your degree online, reach out to admissions counselors for details on specific programs, including Including admission and course requirements.

What is a master's degree?

The Master's degree is an advanced undergraduate degree awarded to students who complete coursework at the graduate level. Master's degree recipients can expect to develop theoretical, analytical and/or professional expertise in their field of study.

 How long does it take to earn a master's degree online?

The average duration of a master's program for full-time or traditional online students is two years. This can equal anywhere from 36 to 54 credit hours of study. Actual completion times may range from one to four years depending on the subject matter, program curriculum and format, and the number of credits completed per semester.

Is a master's degree worth it?

The value of the online master's degree program is subjective, And it may include more than just calculating the return on your educational investment. Some things to keep in mind include:


According to the latest figures from the National Center for Education Statistics, the average tuition fee for a graduate degree program is $18,947. Some professional programs may exceed $100,000, so it is important to check estimated costs with an admissions counselor.

Future earning potential:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that master's degree holders earn a median weekly salary of $1,497. Comparatively, those with a bachelor's degree earn a median weekly salary of $1,248. This means that master's degree holders earn an average of $12,948 more annually than bachelor's degree holders.

 Career aspirations

If you want to pursue a career As a licensed professional, a master's degree from an accredited institution may be mandatory. For example, licensed clinical social workers must have a master's degree in social work from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. State licensing requirements can be checked through the state government website.

 Types of online master's degree programs

With the growing interest in distance education, the number of online postgraduate programs is increasing. BestColleges features hundreds of unique pages dedicated to online master's degree programs. Use the list below to start your search for a program that meets your goals.

 More about getting a master's degree online

Keep reading for additional information on earning a master's degree online. We would like to help you become one of the 1 million students who take online postgraduate courses.

 Is an online master's degree as good as an on-campus degree?

Online higher education has become a hot - and sometimes hot - topic in recent years. During that time, the number of online degree programs has grown exponentially. A study by the University of the Potomac found that more than 250 accredited colleges and universities offer online courses to students.

 The NCES test shows that approximately 33.7% of all college students in the United States are enrolled in some form of Distance education in 2018. As the graphs below illustrate, most students, professors, and academic leaders today believe that online education is as effective — no more effective than — real-world education in producing skilled and knowledgeable graduates who add value to their professional fields.

 71.4% of academic leaders believe that the learning outcomes - the skills and knowledge a student is expected to gain - from online classes are comparable to or superior to face-to-face courses

Employers are coming in, too. Although some remain convinced that online degrees are less valuable than traditional degrees, most equate the two and do not discriminate when it comes to hiring qualified graduates. According to an article by US News & World Report, experts point out two important factors.

 The first is dependency. If the college or university is properly accredited, the way education is delivered doesn't make much difference for most employers. Name recognition is a second factor, with some organizations having a better reputation than others in certain specialized functional areas. One respondent—the manager of a professional services firm with more than 100,000 clients—indicated in the article that nearly 75% of her clients believe online certifications equal real credentials.

Is it better to enroll in an online master's degree program in my state?

According to NCES, most graduate students attend an out-of-state college. Of the 933,000 students [graduates] who received exclusively distance education courses, 406,000 were enrolled in institutions located in the same state as their residence, and 495,000 were enrolled in institutions in a different state. The location of the school will significantly affect the total cost of the master's degree program.

 Although rates vary by institution, most colleges and universities offer lower tuition fees for students residing in the state in which they are located. It has their university campus. CollegeBoard found that in-state students, on average, pay $10,440 in annual tuition at four-year schools; Out-of-state students pay $26,820 annually to attend the same school—more than 250% more than their in-state counterparts.

 Although rates vary by institution, most colleges and universities offer lower tuition fees to students residing in the state where their campus is located.

Some Master's students may be able to pay tuition fees in-country regardless of their residency status. Many colleges and universities will grant in-state residence to anyone who has resided in that state for at least one year, allowing master's degree seekers to reduce the financial burden by moving one year before enrollment.

An increasing number of institutions are also offering in-state rates to students after they attend school classes for six months to one year (at Although this may require attendance on campus).

 If in-state tuition is not feasible, master's students may still be able to reduce tuition rates by a significant margin of Through a system known as state licensing reciprocity. Select US schools offer discounted out-of-state tuition rates to students from neighboring countries. For example, the Midwest Student Exchange Program offers lower rates for students than nine other states in that region of the country.


 Online students are usually able to pay in-state tuition if their current place of residence is in that state designated. Online degree programs use tracking technology that allows them to locate each student, preventing anyone living out of state from paying in-state tuition.

 As with traditional students, online student tuition policy will vary by school. Some charge all online students the same tuition fee regardless of government residence; In most cases, this rate is cheaper than the out-of-state school rate, but more expensive than the in-state rate. Online students should research the tuition policies of each school they are considering—and contact campus administrators if possible—in order to determine which options are more costly.

 In addition to low tuition rates, students pursuing a master's degree often choose to attend college in their home state for other reasons. Also. They include unique degree programs and specialization options, athletic programs, and renowned counseling and counseling services.

How to choose an online master's degree

Before settling into an online master's degree program, applicants must carefully research and rank all potential schools using the same set of criteria. These factors include:


Creating a budget plan is an important first step for any prospective master's student. Browse the tuition rates for the schools on your list to see if the total costs fit within your personal budget constraints. Add all expenses - including tuition, housing, and student fees - to calculate the exact cost estimate.

Research grants, grants, and other financial aid opportunities offered exclusively For students registered in certain institutions. Finally, look at each school's student outcomes - in particular, the average salaries for master's graduates after they leave school.

 Elasticity :

The choice between a synchronous or asynchronous online master's program should be up to the student's preferences.

Some learners appreciate the flexible schedule of the self-paced program, and look forward to the possibility of getting their degree ahead of schedule. Others prefer a more stable academic structure, and don't mind investing the full two years (or more) towards a master's degree.

proximity :

The distance between your current residence and your school campus may play an important role in your decision. While most courses in a master's program are conducted online at home, some courses require regular visits to campus.

Includes these classes with components Laboratory and/or practical training. Living close to campus also allows you to use school resources such as libraries, computer labs, writing centers and job boards, which are not always available online.

non-profit vs not-for-profit :

Online for-profit colleges and universities have been in disarray with below-average academic offerings and student scores compared to their non-profit competitors. Many students who graduate with a master's degree online from a for-profit school incur more debt, but are considered less employable than those who obtained a master's degree from other schools.

For-profit institutions often provide the best academic path for students, and programs and student outcomes vary by school. However, students should take the time to check the for-profit and non-profit schools on their list to look for previous criticisms and controversies.

private vs public :

For most students, total cost is the primary consideration when choosing between public and private schools. At private colleges, tuition rates for online courses tend to be less expensive than for traditional courses and for out-of-state students.

In contrast, Online in-state students enrolled in public universities often pay more tuition than their in-state counterparts who attend on-campus courses.

Interview with Christopher Gearhart

Christopher Gearhart

To get some personal thoughts on the opportunities a master's degree can provide, we spoke with Christopher Gerhart, a small business owner who earned his master's degree in online addiction studies from the University of South Dakota in 2013.


In your opinion, is it easier to get a master's degree online than to get a traditional degree in Campus?

My wife completed law school at Texas Tech University, in Lubbock, Texas, and while we were there, I took one class at the graduate level, so I have some reasons to compare, both from my own experience and by observing it. Getting my degree online was easier in some ways and more difficult in others.

Working at my own pace, on my own schedule, making my experience Smoother in many ways, but it can also present challenges at times. Having classmates around the world in similar demographics (employees, family life, more life experience) was helpful. At the same time, I missed some face-to-face discussion of what a student would have in a traditional on-campus program.

 Have views of online software completely changed in recent years?

I think there are plenty of reliable options out there for online schools. Opinions of employers and licensing boards differ; But the common wisdom I've tried is that if a school has a physical presence, it tends to be a better option when choosing an online program. Most people don't wonder where I got my degree from, just what license and certification I have.

 Do employers respect online master's degrees?

I have two employers since I got my degree online. One of them was the company I used to work for when I was in school. I did my training and supervision hours there with my clinical and administrative supervisors.

The other one was with another company and they didn't ask where I got my degree from as long as I had one. I am now pursuing a private career and do not think of my online degree any differently than I would have had if it were a degree from a brick and mortar program.

 How much work does it take to earn an online master's degree? How long does it take?

The amount of work I put into my degree was directly reflected by my 3.5 GPA with me. The more you work at it, the better it will be in class, on papers, and during exams. I worked full time during my studies and didn't have much difficulty balancing my life. My daughter was young (3-6 years old) and my wife was supportive.

Having said that, I haven't spent much time on social media or watching TV or in my garden. I had a number of late nights and early mornings. If I was awake and worried about my studies, I just got up and worked on it.

 Who is the ideal student for an online master's program?

I believe that the ideal online student is self-motivated, balanced, and committed to improving his or her life and the lives of those around them. I had very successful colleagues who ranged in age from their early twenties to late seventies. Some were geographically isolated; Others were so involved in their communities or jobs that leaving for graduate school wasn't an option.

The online software is not for everyone. Be honest with yourself about your level of dedication and participation.

 Apply for a master's degree programt

 Things to Consider


This will be an especially important consideration for students working full or part-time and planning to keep their jobs while they earn their master's degree. Asynchronous programs allow them to study at their own pace, which can be ideal for those with demanding schedules. Synchronous programs can be difficult to work with while working, but students tend to complete these tracks faster than asynchronous tracks.

Convert credit opportunities:

Masters students may be able to enter graduate programs with a small number of credits if they have held certain jobs or served in the military. This is known as trial credit, and it is awarded on the basis that the student's professional background precludes the need to take certain courses.

This type of credit is not always available, But students with experience in certain fields should consider trial credit opportunities at the schools they are considering; Just one course can save them thousands of dollars.

 Admission deadline

It is absolutely essential that all application materials be submitted before the school's admission deadline. Some organizations will receive and review requests during certain times of the year, and will ignore requests that arrive outside that window.

Others offer "renewed acceptance", and they will Continuously reviews applications and grants admission to students throughout the calendar year. On average, schools with continuing admission will issue a response to applicants within four to six weeks of receiving their application materials.

What you need to applyTests

The Exams

Like undergraduate programs, many master's programs require applicants to submit standardized test scores. The most common test taken by master's applicants is the Graduate Record Examinations, or GRE. The GRE features three sections: verbal, consisting of reading comprehension, vocabulary, and critical thinking. Quantitative, which consists of mathematics and logical thinking; A written evaluation is critical, which is optional.

The GRE is scored on a scale from 130 to 170, representing only the verbal and quantitative sections. In addition to the GRE, some master's programs require standardized test scores from tests focused on specific academic areas. These exams include the GMAT (business), LSAT (law), and MCAT (medical).

Students who speak English as a Second Language (ESL) may be required to take a Graduate Entrance Examination to assess their English reading, writing and comprehension abilities. The three most common English as a Second Language (ESL) tests for master's students are the TOEFL, IELTS and MELAB tests. It is important to note that many schools do not require standardized test scores of any kind for master's degree applicants.

Letters of Recommendation

Master's program applicants should carefully select who they ask to write their letters of recommendation for. The best choices typically include university professors and advisors, current and former employers, relevant co-workers, and other individuals with direct knowledge of the applicant's academic and/or professional background.

Family members, friends and classmates should be avoided. Ensure that the selected references are given sufficient time to write the letter; Generally, six weeks before mailing in the application is a good standard.


Applicants should design their CV to reflect academic and professional experiences relevant to the Master's degree field of study. Prioritize jobs that showcase skills and knowledge related to the program, and be sure to include community service projects, volunteer experiences, and other applicable details that will enhance employment history.

Ensure that all contact information is accurate and up-to-date; For most applications, a cover letter will not be required.

Personal statement/article

Like college applications, many graduate applications require candidates to write a personal statement and/or directed essay. This section gives students the opportunity to demonstrate their writing and critical thinking skills. The amount of writing requirements usually varies from one or two to as many as five or six, depending on the school.

Write or write everything down beforehand to review the language and check the grammar. If you are completing a paper application, always use a pen and write as accurately as possible.

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