Online Master’s Degrees
Students who have already completed a bachelor’s degree program may be wondering how to take the next step in their educational journey. While a bachelor’s degree allows you to obtain entry-level work in a variety of fields, the competitive job market is making it increasingly necessary to have a graduate level degree. In some fields, such as teaching, psychology, nursing, and engineering, a master’s degree is essential to climb the corporate ladder to higher paying positions.
One of the biggest hindrances to students hoping to continue their education with a graduate degree is the difficulty of balancing schooling with their already busy lives. Most master’s degree students are working professionals who already have careers within their field, and many of them are adults also juggling family obligations at home. For this type of student, an online master’s degree program may be the ideal option!
Choosing an online program to complete your master’s degree can be a challenging process, and we are here to help! Luckily, many top accredited universities now offer a variety of master’s degrees online, and in the following sections we will go over the essential information that you need to know before choosing the school that is right for you.
Highest Paying Master’s Degree Careers
Earning a graduate degree is a great accomplishment, and a master’s level education can help you pursue top positions within your field. Depending upon your field, a master’s degree can give you the opportunity to make substantially more than those with undergraduate degrees.
The table below highlights five of the top paying master’s degree career fields in today’s job market:
|Master’s Degree||Career Summary||Mid-Career Salary|
|Nurse Anesthesia||Administers anesthesia to patients in the surgical setting and oversees postoperative recovery.||$156,000|
|Computer Science & Engineering||Responsible for software and web development to assist their clients in developing and maintaining computer systems.||$134,000|
|Operations Research||Versatile field that works in a variety of business settings to help organizations manage and develop efficient systems.||$130,000|
|Electrical & Electronics Engineering||Responsible for the design, development, and implementation of electrical and electronic systems or devices.||$129,000|
|Taxation||Works in supervisory accounting positions to help businesses and personal clients manage their financial situation.||$129,000|
*Degree data provided by Payscale.com
All of the careers listed have an annual salary of more than six-figures after working 10 years within the field. While some of these degrees, such as nurse anesthesia, cannot be completed solely online, certain colleges may be have a combination of online and traditional learning programs available to help you achieve greater flexibility in your course schedule.
What is an Online Master’s Degree?
Students thinking about pursuing a master’s degree are often intimidated by the extensive coursework and commitment to attending high-level classes that is required. While an online master’s degree program uses the same rigorous curriculum as a traditional degree, there are several advantages to online learning that can make a master’s degree more accessible to working adult students.
Pursuing your master’s degree through online education comes with a number of benefits that include:
- Opportunities to accelerate your degree program
- Lower tuition costs and less out of pocket expense
- Highly flexible online class scheduling options
- Extensive virtual resources and support
- Exposure to a instructors and students within a diverse global network
Whether you want to double up on courses to graduate early or you need flexibility to complete coursework in the evenings and on weekends, an online master’s degree program offers students a way to balance their daily life with furthering their education.
Types of Online Master’s Degrees
There are several options for earning a master’s degree online, and the degree you choose is highly dependent on your field of study. The two major degree types discussed below are considered “taught master’s degree” programs. Some schools also offer postgraduate research degrees or certificate and diploma programs to expand on your education.
Online Master of Science (MSc) Degree
The first type of taught master’s degree program that we will discuss is the Master of Science degree. For those who want to earn a master’s degree in a science, technology, or mathematics subject, this degree program is the most likely option for continuing your education. As a MSc degree covers STEM subjects and professions, many of these degree programs for specific career fields are part of a professional qualification pathway. For example, if you are studying for a master’s in engineering, you will likely take part in an integrated master’s program that results in a MEng (Masters of Engineering) degree.
A few of the most popular Master of Science degree programs available include:
- Computer Science
- Finance or Accounting
Typical Master of Science degrees require at least 30 credits to successfully graduate the program. This is generally completed within two years, but some schools may offer a part-time program in addition to online learning options to provide a greater level of flexibility to working adult students.
Online Master of Arts (MA) Degree
A Master of Arts degree is the second type of taught master’s degree programs available. In a taught master’s degree program, students will complete a set timetable of courses that resembles the setup of an undergraduate degree. Unlike the MSc degrees, a MA focuses on studies related to the Arts and Humanities. While some fields within the arts require a PhD in order to reach top career positions, an MA degree is an excellent step towards a lucrative professional career.
There are many different paths of study available as a Master of Arts program, and a few of the popular degree options include:
- Visual Arts
- Political Science
Like the MSc degree program, completion of an MA degree requires a minimum of 30 credits to graduate. While this level degree provides a wealth of career opportunity, many students continue their studies by enrolling in a PhD program after graduation.
Online Master’s Degree Admissions and Transfer
Those who want to enroll in a master’s degree program with an accredited university go through several steps in the application process. In the sections below, we go over some essential information that can help you understand the process of enrollment. However, it is always a good idea to speak with your school’s academic advisor about your unique circumstances and goals before admission.
Applying to a master’s level degree program is typically more involved than application to an undergraduate degree program. There are several requirements that potential master’s level students need to complete during their application process. The first requirement for a master’s degree program is to provide proof to the college that you have completed a related bachelor’s level degree from a regionally accredited university. You will also need to provide transcripts to your school, and many colleges require a minimum GPA, such as a 3.0, to enter into a master’s degree program.
In addition to the application, transcripts, and fees required to enroll in a master’s degree program, colleges generally ask for a number of other supportive documents for admission. These documents include professional references, a personal statement or essay, resume, and approved degree plan.
Tuition for a master’s degree program can vary depending upon the university and type of degree program you choose. Fortunately, there are some accredited universities that offer tuition reductions for those taking online programs, and many students utilize financial aid to help them pay for the costs of classes.
Transferring Credits with an Online Master’s Degree
Transferring graduate-level credits can be a convoluted process. Whether you want to switch to a different university or to another course of study after beginning your master’s degree program, there are several things you need to be aware of in regards to the transfer process.
Every college sets their own policies for transferring of credits, and it is essential that you check into the regulations of both schools before continuing with the process. The number of credits eligible to be transferred depends on whether you are simply switching schools or want to begin an entirely different course of study. For example, your new college may allow you to transfer as many as 12 credits into an equivalent master’s degree program, but you may be limited to transfer of 6 credits if beginning a different master’s degree program. Additionally, there are some universities that do not allow any credits for transfer.
Many accredited schools follow the recommendations of the American Council on Education Credit Recommendation to determine the credits that they will accept for transfer. This standard may allow you to submit a PLA or proof of professional and military training to earn credit towards your graduate degree program.
Regardless of your reasons for transferring schools after starting your master’s degree education, it is vital that you work closely with your academic advisor to ensure you get the most out of your completed college credits.
How do I know if an Online Master’s Degree is Right for Me?
An online master’s degree program is an excellent tool for expanding your knowledgebase, learning specialized skills, and opening up a wider range of future career opportunities. With the advancements in virtual learning over the last several years, an online degree program provides students with a well-rounded education that on par with traditional learning curriculum.
While an online master’s degree can provide working adults with a flexible method of earning their graduate degree, those who have a strong drive to succeed and are self-motivated learners have the greatest chance of success. With the number of online master’s degrees now available from top colleges, there’s never been a better time to take the next step in furthering your education!