Accredited Online Masters Programs 2021

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A master’s degree can mean new career opportunities, greater responsibilities at work, and a higher earning potential. Accredited online master’s programs help graduate students advance their education in a flexible format.

In diverse fields like education, business, and social work, a master’s degree opens the door to new roles like principal, manager, or clinical social worker. In other fields, professionals need a master’s degree for entry-level positions. For example, many counselors and therapists need a master’s degree.

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Professionals with a master’s degree earn higher salaries and benefit from lower unemployment rates, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). A master’s degree translates into nearly $13,000 more in wages per year compared with a bachelor’s degree. Some fields report even higher increases. Professionals with a bachelor’s in business administration earn around $64,000 per year according to PayScale, while professionals with a master of business administration (MBA) earn about $89,000 per year.

Our list ranks the best master’s programs online to help prospective students find the right fit for reaching their career goals.

Earning a master’s degree offers many personal and professional benefits. The online learning format particularly appeals to working professionals seeking a flexible route to career advancement.

Students considering master’s programs online must meet certain requirements to gain admission. At most universities, applicants need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school. Some programs also set coursework prerequisites or prefer candidates with a major or minor in a related field. Applicants may also need to submit standardized test scores, a current resume or CV, a statement of purpose, and recommendation letters.

After gaining admission, online master’s students complete coursework requirements. Depending on their degree, they may also need to meet internship or practicum requirements. Many graduate programs require a master’s thesis, master’s exam, or capstone project to graduate.

University of Florida View School Profile $$ Gainesville, Florida 88% 24% 50% Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges UF offers 84 online master’s programs across multiple disciplines, including engineering, agricultural and life sciences, health and human performance, and education. Unlike its online bachelor’s degrees, UF provides its online master’s programs through individual departments rather than a singular UF Online portal.

Most master’s programs require credits and take 1-2 years to complete. The curriculum often culminates in a capstone course or project. For example, the online master’s in educational leadership requires students to complete supervised practice in school administration.

Admission criteria and application materials vary by program. However, applicants generally submit a statement of purpose, resume, recommendation letters, and undergraduate transcripts. Applicants need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and a minimum 3.0 GPA. Some programs may require standardized test scores, such as the GMAT or GRE.

University of Florida is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

California State University-Bakersfield View School Profile $ Bakersfield, California 42% 34% 41% Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission CSUB features online master’s programs with small class sizes and faculty who conduct cutting-edge research. CSUB’s fully online offerings include a master of business administration (MBA), a master of arts (MA) in curriculum and instruction, a master of science (MS) in kinesiology, and an MS in general administration. The university also provides hybrid master’s degrees in educational administration, special education, and social work.

Most online master’s degrees at CSUB require credits and take 1-2 years to complete. The curriculum culminates in a capstone course, project, or examination. MBA students complete a project while MA in curriculum and instruction students take a comprehensive exam.

Applicants need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and a minimum 3.0 GPA in the last 60 credits of coursework. Some departments and programs may list additional requirements. For instance, the MA in curriculum and instruction requires students to possess a teaching credential at the time of application.

California State University, Bakersfield is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

California State University-Los Angeles View School Profile Los Angeles, California 48% 29% 31% Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission Cal State LA offers online master’s degrees through the College of Professional and Global Education designed to meet the needs of diverse learners. Students can choose from a fully employed master of business administration (MBA) program, a master of public health, and a master of social work (MSW).

Each program provides flexibility and efficiency. MBA students earn their degree in 16 months through a program that combines in-person Saturday classes with online learning during the week to accommodate working professionals. The MSW program allows students with a bachelor’s degree in social work to advance directly into upper-division coursework and complete the degree in one year.

Applicants need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and a minimum 2.5 GPA. Most programs prefer candidates with a 3.0 GPA or higher. Prospective students should also submit their transcripts, resume, personal statement, and recommendation letters.

California State University, Los Angeles is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

California State University-Fresno View School Profile $ Fresno, California 54% 30% 25% Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission Fresno State offers a few fully online master’s programs, including a master of arts (MA) in teaching and an MA in water resource management. The school also provides several other master’s programs on campus.

Fresno State’s online master’s degrees require 30 credits and take approximately two years to complete. In the MA in education programs, students choose from completing a capstone project, thesis, or comprehensive exam. Enrollees can also add a credential or certificate in reading/literacy to their degree. Students in the water resource management master’s program must complete a relevant internship and capstone project.

Applicants need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or college with a minimum 2.75 GPA. Students applying to the water resource management program must also demonstrate proficiency in geographic information systems.

California State University, Fresno is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

American University View School Profile Washington, District of Columbia 80% 45% 7% Middle States Commission on Higher Education American University offers 22 online master’s degrees in disciplines such as business administration, strategic communication, healthcare management, and legal studies. These programs accommodate the schedules of working professionals. Enrollees can also pursue a graduate certificate in healthcare management, human resource management and analytics, project monitoring and evaluation, or sports analytics and management.

The school’s master’s programs require 30 credits and take less than two years to complete. Some programs offer concentrations that allow enrollees to further specialize in the field. For instance, in the master’s in strategic communication program, students choose from a concentration in advocacy and social impact, or digital communication strategies and analytics. Learners must complete a capstone course, project, or thesis.

Applicants need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school. Some programs require candidates to have a minimum 3.0 GPA.

American University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

University of Connecticut View School Profile $$$ Storrs, Connecticut 85% 45% 12% New England Commission on Higher Education UConn offers online master’s degrees in several subject areas, including accounting, educational technology, engineering, and neonatal nursing. These programs allow working professionals to earn advanced credentials while working full time. For example, the master’s in accounting is designed for working accountants who need additional credits to qualify for CPA licensure or those who want advanced credentials to apply for a senior-level position.

Each master’s program at UConn provides flexibility for working professionals. The engineering master’s program runs asynchronously or synchronously in the evenings, while the master’s in educational technology program features condensed online courses over two summers.

Applicants need a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution. Some programs, such as the master’s in engineering program, require applicants to hold a bachelor’s degree in a specific field and to have a minimum undergraduate 3.0 GPA. Students should verify their program’s admission requirements.

University of Connecticut is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

The University of Texas at Austin View School Profile $$ Austin, Texas 83% 36% 24% Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges UT’s Extended Campus provides several online master’s degrees in disciplines such as business administration and technology commercialization. UT offers a master’s in electrical and computer engineering, mechanical engineering, and nutritional sciences entirely online. Other programs feature flexible formats to accommodate distance learners and full-time employees. For instance, the executive master of business administration program requires one weekend of classes per month in Austin for 20 months.

UT’s online master’s degrees require 30 credits and take two years to complete. Students in the master of science in nutritional sciences (MSNS) program can choose from two concentrations: health promotion and disease prevention or biochemical and functional nutrition. The engineering program is a non-thesis program while the MSNS requires a thesis.

Applicants need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and a minimum 3.0 GPA. The mechanical engineering program also requires 12 months of industry experience.

The University of Texas at Austin is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Indiana University-Bloomington View School Profile $$ Bloomington, Indiana 78% 33% 18% Higher Learning Commission IU offers 43 online master’s degrees, most of which run entirely online. However, some master’s programs require in-residence commitments. For instance, the master of health administration (MHA) and the master of business administration (MBA) program deliver courses 80-99% online. The MBA program includes two weeks of on-campus workshops and networking activities. The MHA program requires an on-campus health economics course.

Most of IU’s online master’s degrees require credits and take two years to complete. Some master’s programs require credits. Students complete a combination of core and elective courses. Depending on the specific program and degree, students then complete a capstone project, thesis, practicum, or exam.

Applicants need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. Some programs list GPA and work experience criteria. Most programs also require GMAT or GRE scores.

Indiana University Bloomington is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

California State University-Sacramento View School Profile $ Sacramento, California 51% 34% 42% Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission Sacramento State offers two fully online master’s programs: a master of science (MS) in accounting and a master of arts (MA) in curriculum and instruction. The school also provides several hybrid degrees in business administration, education, and nursing. The hybrid programs vary in delivery format but include in-residence lectures and online courses. The executive master of business administration program, for example, holds every third week of classes online.

The MA in curriculum and instruction and the MS in accounting both require 30 credits and take less than two years to complete. Sacramento State delivers 25% of courses in the MA program synchronously and 75% asynchronously. MA students must complete a culminating experience consisting of a written exam and oral defense. MS in accounting students complete a culminating experience project in accounting and ethics.

Applicants need a bachelor’s degree and a minimum 2.5 or 3.0 GPA. MS in accountancy applicants must also submit GMAT test scores.

California State University, Sacramento is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

University of San Diego View School Profile San Diego, California 80% 38% 8% Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission USD offers various online or hybrid master’s degrees, including a master of science (MS) in cybersecurity operations and leadership, a master of education (M.Ed.), and a master of business administration (MBA). The MBA program delivers courses in a hybrid format that requires students to meet on campus for one weekend per month. The other two programs run entirely online.

The MBA program requires 53 credits while the MS in cybersecurity and M.Ed. require 30 credits. The latter two take 20 months to complete while the MBA takes longer. Students enroll in a combination of core and elective courses. M.Ed. students choose from five concentrations: STEAM, inclusive learning, literacy and digital learning, curriculum and instruction, and school leadership. The master’s curricula culminates in a capstone course.

Applicants need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and a minimum 2.75 GPA. Specific admission criteria and application materials vary depending on the program.

University of San Diego is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

John Brown University View School Profile Siloam Springs, Arkansas 66% 45% 33% Higher Learning Commission JBU offers 10 online master’s degrees in fields of business, counseling, cybersecurity, and education. Bachelor’s students can take up to 12 credits of graduate coursework, which count toward both a bachelor’s and master’s degree. These programs prepare students for more senior-level positions or for licensure. For instance, graduates from the master’s in counseling program are eligible for licensure as a licensed professional counselor.

These master’s degrees require credits and take 1-2 years to complete. Students take a combination of core courses and electives, culminating in a capstone project, thesis, or exam. Some programs offer emphasis areas for students to specialize further. Counseling students can choose from concentrations in marriage and family therapy, play therapy, and adventure therapy.

Admissions criteria vary depending on the specific program, but applicants need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. JBU evaluates applications based on factors such as GPA, GRE/GMAT scores, and work experience.

John Brown University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Colorado State University-Fort Collins View School Profile $$$ Fort Collins, Colorado 69% 42% 24% Higher Learning Commission CSU in Fort Collins offers a variety of online and hybrid master’s degrees in subjects such as the agricultural sciences, arts and music, business, education, and health and human services. Many programs run entirely online but some include an in-residence requirement. Some of the music, arts, and education programs require students to complete an on-campus summer session. The master’s in communication and management program operates on a blended learning format that requires enrollees to meet in person once a week.

These online master’s degrees require credits and typically take two years to complete. Online students take the same courses as their on-campus counterparts. Professional programs, such as the master of business administration, do not require a thesis, project, or comprehensive exam.

Applicants need a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution. Additional GPA or testing criteria varies by program.

Colorado State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Florida Institute of Technology View School Profile Melbourne, Florida 60% 35% 11% Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges Florida Tech offers online master’s degrees in organizational leadership, business administration, information assurance and cybersecurity, and supply chain management. The school’s master of business administration (MBA) program provides several specialization options, including cybersecurity, healthcare management, information technology management, and project management.

These master’s degrees require credits and take two years to complete. Florida Tech delivers courses for these programs entirely online. In the MBA program, students take core courses, specialization courses, and a capstone course in strategic management. For the capstone course, learners conduct case analyses of industries and their competitors. Other programs require core courses with no capstone requirement.

Applicants need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. To apply, prospective students submit an application and undergraduate transcripts. Florida Tech does not require GMAT or GRE scores. The institute offers a 10% graduate tuition discount for military service members and veterans.

Florida Institute of Technology is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Illinois Institute of Technology View School Profile Chicago, Illinois 72% 44% 14% Higher Learning Commission IIT offers a variety of online master’s programs in areas including engineering, computing, and business. Some online programs require in-person appearances for lab courses or practicums. Course delivery combines asynchronous online materials with some synchronous video conferences and discussions.

IIT’s online master’s degrees require 30 credits and take two years to complete. Students enroll in a combination of core and elective courses. The master of business administration (MBA) program allows students to choose from 13 concentration areas, including business analytics, business and society, emerging markets, and risk management.

Applicants need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. Many programs in engineering and computing require learners to possess a bachelor’s degree in a related engineering or computing discipline. Some departments also require a minimum 3.0 GPA. Students in the online accelerated MBA program can apply for the Chicago Innovation Scholarship, worth up to $14,000.

Illinois Institute of Technology is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Texas Tech University View School Profile $$$ Lubbock, Texas 59% 45% 50% Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges Texas Tech offers several online master’s degrees in disciplines such as education, technical communication, business administration, and engineering. Most programs deliver courses fully online but some may require students to attend an in-residence orientation or summer session. Master of business administration (MBA) students attend in-person courses one weekend each month. Programs list specific in-person requirements on their websites.

Texas Tech’s online master’s degrees require credits and take approximately two years to complete. Many programs allow students to specialize further. Professional MBA students choose from three concentration areas: big data strategy, energy business, and health organization management. Master of education students can choose from concentrations in curriculum studies, language and literacy education, STEM education, blended learning, and bilingual education.

Applicants need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. Required application materials include a resume, professional recommendations, applicant statement, and writing sample. Some programs require test scores, such as the GMAT or GRE.

Texas Tech University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

DePaul University View School Profile Chicago, Illinois 71% 55% 29% Higher Learning Commission DePaul’s online offerings include 22 master’s degrees in accountancy, business information technology, educational leadership, and human-computer interaction. DePaul’s online learning platform incorporates award-winning training for faculty, a unique online curriculum, and digital learning tools. DePaul features small class sizes that provide students with one-on-one interactions with their professors.

The school’s master’s degrees require 52 quarter credits. Enrollees must maintain a minimum GPA, which varies across programs and departments. Some programs offer concentration areas. Students in the master of education program in educational leadership choose from concentrations in general education, Catholic leadership, higher education, and physical education.

Applicants need a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited university of college. Prospective students must submit an online application form, official transcripts, personal statement, and resume. Some programs also require recommendation letters.

DePaul University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Wheaton College View School Profile Wheaton, Illinois 87% 50% 2% Higher Learning Commission Wheaton offers several master’s degrees and graduate certificates in disciplines such as biblical studies, global leadership, higher education and student development, and ministry leadership. The master’s in humanitarian and disaster leadership combines in-person intensives with online coursework while the master’s in teaching English to speakers of other languages operates on a summers-only structure. The intensive format requires students to attend classes on campus for three weeks a year.

These master’s degrees require credits and take two years to complete. As an evangelical institution, Wheaton offers courses that emphasize religious values. Applicants need a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution with a minimum 2.75 GPA.

Applicants must submit three recommendation letters, one from an academic reference, one from an employer, and one from a pastor or Christian leader. Some programs also require work and ministry experience.

Wheaton College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Gallaudet University View School Profile Washington, District of Columbia 47% 45% 29% Middle States Commission on Higher Education Gallaudet University offers online and hybrid master’s degrees in areas such as clinical mental health counseling and education. The Center for Continuing and Online Education provides a variety of professional development courses for non-degree-seeking students, including American Sign Language, deaf studies, linguistics, and interpreting.

Most of these master’s programs take two years to complete. Hybrid programs require both in-person and online attendance. The master’s in clinical mental health involves one year in residence at Gallaudet University and the second year in a fieldwork placement with continued coursework online. Enrollees complete their fieldwork in mental health agencies, addiction programs, or educational programs serving children and families with mental health needs.

Applicants need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. Several master’s programs require American Sign Language proficiency and an interview with program faculty. Prerequisites may include undergraduate credits in psychology.

Gallaudet University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Clemson University View School Profile $$$ Clemson, South Carolina 83% 39% 26% Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges Clemson offers online and blended master’s programs in disciplines such as education, athletic leadership, biological sciences, and industrial engineering. Most online programs combine weekly synchronous evening meetings through a web-conferencing system and asynchronous course materials through Canvas.

Most of Clemson’s master’s degrees require 30 credits and take two years to complete. The online master of business administration (MBA) requires 49 credits and takes 2.5-3 years to complete. Some programs allow students to specialize further. The master of parks, recreation, and tourism management offers four concentrations: parks and conservation areas, travel and tourism, community recreation, and recreational therapy.

Applicants need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or college. Some programs require work experience in the field and prerequisite courses in certain subjects. For instance, the master of engineering in industrial engineering requires at least three years of industry experience and the completion of coursework in engineering calculus, business calculus, and statistics. The MBA program also requires GMAT scores.

Clemson University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Western Carolina University View School Profile $$$ Cullowhee, North Carolina 62% 59% 35% Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges WCU offers an online master of project management (MPM) for professionals who aspire to project management roles or mid-career project managers seeking graduate-level training. WCU’s project management courses provide students with contact hours necessary to sit for the Project Management Institute (PMI) credential. Students can also pursue a graduate certificate in project management.

The MPM degree requires 36 credits and takes two years to complete. Students take core courses on project planning, project selection and initiation, project execution, and project closeout and approaches. Students must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA in order to graduate.

Applicants need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. WCU evaluates candidates based on criteria including work experience, undergraduate GPA, GMAT/GRE scores, military service, and any additional merits or achievements. Applicants need a minimum two years of industry experience and a 3.0 undergraduate GPA or higher.

Western Carolina University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Bradley University View School Profile Peoria, Illinois 78% 66% 27% Higher Learning Commission Bradley offers online graduate programs in nursing, education, and counseling. Bradley’s online master’s programs include a master of arts (MA) in counseling – clinical mental health counseling, an MA in counseling – professional school counseling, and a master of science in nursing (MSN) – family nurse practitioner program. While these programs run mostly online, some include in-residence requirements.

Bradley’s online master’s degrees require credits and take 3-4 years to complete. MA in counseling students must complete a practicum, two internships, and a weeklong on-campus residency. Students in the MSN program must complete clinical hours. The number of credits and clinical hours needed to graduate in the MSN program varies depending on whether enrollees already possess an associate degree in nursing or a bachelor of science in nursing.

Counseling students take courses such as human growth and development, substance abuse counseling, counseling diverse populations, and crisis intervention.

Bradley University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Temple University View School Profile $$$$ Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 71% 61% 18% Middle States Commission on Higher Education Temple offers online master’s degrees in a variety of disciplines, including sport business, business administration, public health, and communication management. Some programs run entirely online while others use a hybrid format. The online master of business administration (MBA) program requires an in-person residency for the first three courses, online courses for the remaining coursework, and a capstone consulting practicum with a real-world organization.

Online classes combine synchronous weekly video chats with asynchronous components.

These online master’s degrees require credits and take approximately 3-4 years to complete. Some programs allow students to specialize further. MBA students can choose from 15 concentrations, including business analytics, financial management, human resource management, and travel and tourism. Master of public health students can choose tracks in epidemiology, health policy and management, and social and behavioral sciences.

Applicants need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. Some programs require a minimum GPA or a certain number of years working in the industry.

Temple University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Harding University View School Profile Searcy, Arkansas 67% 54% 10% Higher Learning Commission Harding provides several fully online master’s programs, including a master’s in information systems and a master’s in kinesiology and sport administration. The university offers other primarily online degrees with minimal on-campus components in the fields of education, mental health and wellness, nursing, and the school of theology.

These online master’s degrees require credits and take 1-2 years to complete. Students take a combination of core and elective courses. For some programs, students fulfill elective requirements through a concentration. The master’s in information systems offers three concentration areas: information security and assurance, data analytics, and project management.

Applicants need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or college. Additional admission requirements vary by program.

Harding University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Western Illinois University View School Profile $$$ Macomb, Illinois 46% 68% 40% Higher Learning Commission WIU offers eight online master’s degrees in disciplines including business administration, curriculum and instruction, music, and public safety administration. The school also provides integrated bachelor’s and master’s programs that allow learners to earn both degrees in five years. These combined degrees include combinations such as a bachelor of arts in general studies and a master of science in instructional design and technology or a bachelor’s in business and a master of business administration.

An online master’s degree at WIU requires credits and takes two years to complete. Some degrees allow students to specialize further. The master’s in educational studies program offers two concentration areas: professional education or language, culture, and education. Most master’s degrees deliver courses asynchronously but some contain synchronous components.

Applicants need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. They must also submit transcripts, a goals statement, and participate in an interview.

Western Illinois University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Saint Leo University View School Profile Saint Leo, Florida 45% 55% 74% Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges Saint Leo offers 35 online master’s degrees in a variety of fields, including business administration, education, criminal justice, and social work. This degree count includes different tracks and concentrations. For instance, Saint Leo provides master of business administration (MBA) degrees in cybersecurity management, data analytics, healthcare management, social media marketing, and sports business.

These degrees require credits and take 1-2 years to complete. The MBA programs allow students to pursue two MBA concentrations concurrently. Master of education students also choose from various concentrations, including educational leadership, exceptional students education, and reading. The educational leadership degree prepares students to obtain principal licensure in Florida. Saint Leo delivers courses entirely online but some programs include in-person requirements, such as practicum and field experience in K-12 environments.

Applicants need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. Applicants to the educational leadership program need a valid teaching license.

Saint Leo University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

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