Best Accredited Online Master’s Programs 2024

Thomas Broderick
Updated April 15, 2024
Edited by
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Earning a master’s degree can lead to unique opportunities and upward mobility in your current position. It can also prepare you to switch fields or embark on an exciting professional journey — especially if you earn an in-demand master’s degree. Many high-paying jobs require applicants to hold a master’s degree, including a variety of roles in healthcare and IT.

Online master’s programs can offer additional benefits, such as increased flexibility. For example, many top programs feature asynchronous classes that let you schedule coursework around your job or family obligations.

Are Online Master’s Degrees Worth It?

A May 2023 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that U.S. workers with a master’s degree earned a median salary of $1,661 per week in 2022 — about 16% more than professionals with only a bachelor’s degree. This figure suggests earning a master’s can increase your financial stability and help you save for the future.

Although earning a master’s degree can be expensive, you can reduce your student debt burden in many ways. Some online master’s programs offer departmental and institutional scholarships. You may also qualify for federal aid by submitting the FAFSA.

Additionally, use your online graduate program’s academic and career resources to make the most of your time in school and prepare for a job hunt after graduation.

Did You Know…

  • People with a master’s degree earn about $230 more per week than those with just a bachelor’s degree, according to the BLS.
  • Master’s degree-holders have lower unemployment rates than both bachelor’s and associate degree-holders.
  • A Georgetown University report found that the median lifetime earnings for master’s degree-holders is $3.2 million — about $400,000 more than bachelor’s degree-holders.
  • The number of people with a master’s degree more than doubled between 2000 and 2018, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
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Best Accredited Online Master’s Programs of 2024

#1 Best Accredited Online Master’s Programs 2024

University of Florida

  • Location-markerGainesville, FL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$4,477
  • Out-of-state$25,694
  • Retention Rate97%
  • Acceptance Rate30%
  • Students Enrolled55,781
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment57%
  • AccreditationYes
#2 Best Accredited Online Master’s Programs 2024

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

  • Location-markerChapel Hill, NC
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$7,019
  • Out-of-state$34,882
  • Retention Rate97%
  • Acceptance Rate20%
  • Students Enrolled31,641
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment29%
  • AccreditationYes
#3 Best Accredited Online Master’s Programs 2024

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

  • Location-markerChampaign, IL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$14,446
  • Out-of-state$34,444
  • Retention Rate93%
  • Acceptance Rate60%
  • Students Enrolled56,607
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment84%
  • AccreditationYes
#4 Best Accredited Online Master’s Programs 2024

Ohio State University

  • Location-markerColumbus, OH
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$11,018
  • Out-of-state$34,101
  • Retention Rate94%
  • Acceptance Rate57%
  • Students Enrolled61,677
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment77%
  • AccreditationYes
#5 Best Accredited Online Master’s Programs 2024

New York University

  • Location-markerNew York, NY
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$53,770
  • Out-of-state$53,770
  • Retention Rate94%
  • Acceptance Rate13%
  • Students Enrolled58,226
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment45%
  • AccreditationYes
#6 Best Accredited Online Master’s Programs 2024

Johns Hopkins University

  • Location-markerBaltimore, MD
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$58,720
  • Out-of-state$58,720
  • Retention Rate96%
  • Acceptance Rate8%
  • Students Enrolled32,049
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment80%
  • AccreditationYes
#7 Best Accredited Online Master’s Programs 2024

Florida State University

  • Location-markerTallahassee, FL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$4,640
  • Out-of-state$19,084
  • Retention Rate94%
  • Acceptance Rate37%
  • Students Enrolled45,130
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment58%
  • AccreditationYes
#8 Best Accredited Online Master’s Programs 2024

University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

  • Location-markerAnn Arbor, MI
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$16,865
  • Out-of-state$54,769
  • Retention Rate97%
  • Acceptance Rate20%
  • Students Enrolled50,278
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment34%
  • AccreditationYes
#9 Best Accredited Online Master’s Programs 2024

Southern New Hampshire University

  • Location-markerManchester, NH
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$15,000
  • Out-of-state$15,000
  • Retention Rate62%
  • Acceptance Rate92%
  • Students Enrolled145,533
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment96%
  • AccreditationYes
#10 Best Accredited Online Master’s Programs 2024

San Diego State University

  • Location-markerSan Diego, CA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$5,742
  • Out-of-state$17,622
  • Retention Rate90%
  • Acceptance Rate38%
  • Students Enrolled36,484
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment64%
  • AccreditationYes

Popular Online Master’s Degrees by Field

Although there are hundreds of options to choose from, many of the most popular online master’s degrees can be found in the business, education, healthcare, and computer fields.

1. Business Administration

Online MBA programs may feature general business coursework or offer concentrations like data analytics or entrepreneurship. Some graduates go on to work as chief executive officers or chief financial officers. You can also put your business skills to work as a people manager. Management occupations report the highest pay of any category, with a median wage of over $116,000 per year (BLS, May 2023).

2. Education

Earning an online master’s in education can help you transition into a teaching role. Concentrations may include secondary education, special education, or teacher leadership. You can add to your classroom strengths or move into administrative roles with specialized education leadership programs.

3. Healthcare

Healthcare managers and administrators make hospitals run smoothly and efficiently. You can choose from different master’s concentrations, such as healthcare management and administration or health informatics.

4. Computers and Technology

Online master’s programs in computer science can help you learn the skills necessary for a top-paying position, such as a computer and information research scientist. Additionally, computer and information systems managers earn a median annual salary of around $169,000 (BLS, May 2023). Graduates can also use their degrees to advance in software development, network architecture, or other in-demand fields.

How Much Does an Online Master’s Degree Cost?

Broadly speaking, you can expect to spend anywhere from $13,000-$60,000 in tuition and fees on your master’s degree.

Many factors affect how much your degree will cost, including:

  • Program length — most online accredited master’s programs last 1-2 years
  • Whether you attend a public or private school
  • Whether you qualify for in-state tuition
  • The amount of financial aid you receive

You can save money on your online master’s degree by filing the FAFSA and seeing whether you qualify for federal grants and loans, as well as for any institutional or programmatic scholarships.

Note that you may have to pay additional fees as an online student. Some online master’s programs require you to pay technology fees that support online class delivery and IT services.

You’ll also need to budget for a high-quality laptop (or look at colleges that offer free laptops to students) and consider any in-person requirements, like practicums and fieldwork.

What Jobs Can You Get With an Online Master’s Degree?

You must hold a master’s degree to qualify for a variety of jobs. For example, nurse practitioners and statisticians need a master’s degree. In other fields, a master’s degree can help you advance or get promoted.

The following table outlines some of the fastest-growing careers that require a master’s degree.

Fastest-Growing Careers Requiring a Master’s Degree
JobMedian Annual Salary (May 2022)Job Growth Rate (2022-2032)
Nurse Practitioners$121,61045%
Physician Assistants$126,01027%
Computer and Information Research Scientists$136,62023%
Speech-Language Pathologists$84,14019%
Genetic Counselors$89,99016%
Mental Health Counselors$51,24011%
Source: BLS

How to Choose an Online Master’s Program: 6 Tips

Trying to narrow down your options? Start by identifying your goals, focusing on a field, and setting a budget. Once you know what you want from a program, you can compare online master’s degrees to find the best fit for you.

  1. Identify Your Goals: Are you looking for a higher salary? Or do you want a master’s degree so you can change careers? Avoid starting a master’s program without clear direction. Take time to consider your strengths and interests.
  2. Choose a Field of Study: Online graduate schools offer master’s degrees in hundreds of subjects. Narrow your interests to one area. If you’re torn between two options, research career paths and job growth data to help you make an informed decision.
  3. Determine Your Budget: Graduate school can be expensive. Knowing your budget and financial aid options can help you make a decision and reduce out-of-pocket costs. Keep in mind that online graduate students at accredited universities typically qualify for federal financial aid.
  4. Compare Online Master’s Programs: Consider factors like flexibility and delivery format. Would you rather take classes synchronously (which features live sessions) or asynchronously? Do you want a fully online program, or would you prefer a hybrid option with some in-person classes?
  5. Confirm Accreditation: Be sure to choose an accredited university. Attending an unaccredited school can impact your financial aid options and career prospects. You can confirm a school’s accreditation status before applying. To do this, refer to the U.S. Department of Education’s Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs.
  6. Talk to Current Students, Faculty, and Alums: Ask students about their experiences in the program. And talk to faculty about advising and career support. Finally, you can ask graduates about the program’s reputation on the job market. Use these conversations to find online master’s programs that align with your needs and goals.

Q&A With Real Online Master’s Students and Grads

Q: Why did you choose an online master’s program?

“I chose to pursue my MBA online because I needed a way to balance grad school work with my day-to-day life. As a mom who also works full time in a demanding, busy job, I knew that getting out of the house and attending classes in person somewhere just wouldn’t work for my schedule. Online courses allow me to fit my school work in when it makes sense for me.”

Cassie Viau, Director of Marketing, CoreMedical Group

“An online master’s degree allowed me to continue my education while on active duty in the Air Force. … My school and program offered me the flexibility to get my master’s in education while continuing to serve in my full active duty capacity, including on two deployments to Afghanistan.”

Gina Smith, Air Force Officer (name has been changed upon request to protect the interview participant’s privacy)

“I chose this specific program because it had synchronous meetings weekly for each course. This allowed me to travel and complete my coursework and meetings from all over the world. I attended class while in a car in Ireland, at the beach in Spain, and in the middle of a refugee camp in Jordan!”

Emma Cole, Nurse Practitioner

Q: What surprised you most about earning your master’s degree online?

“I found it to be more work than I expected. … [The instructors] wanted to see that I was keeping up with the work and engaging with the material and with my online classmates, so I had to post a lot in the portal about my thoughts on the material and respond to all the responses my classmates posted.”

Marie Coughlin, Associate Director, The New York Public Library

“My program was physically located on the East Coast, but I was able to complete my clinical education in my local community. This allowed me to create connections locally for post-grad employment but also allowed me to learn how to navigate the specific challenges of clinical care in my area.”

Emma C.

“The thing that has surprised me most about earning my MBA online is how much I’m enjoying all the independent reading and research. I’m genuinely enjoying reading the books and articles that are assigned!”

Cassie V.

Q: What advice would you give to students considering online master’s programs?

“Compare schools, programs, and tuition assistance options. Choose a school that is accredited, and ask your employer about tuition assistance.”

Gina S.

“Never expect it to be a cakewalk because it’s online. I am glad I had the experience of doing an online master’s program because it really did hold me accountable to do the work. There were several undergraduate courses where I could reasonably skate by; not so in online grad school!”

Marie C.

“Put together a schedule for yourself at the start of the semester that you can stick to and keep yourself accountable. Mapping out assignments and deadlines up front on the calendar makes it feel much more manageable when life starts to get busy.”

Cassie V.

Frequently Asked Questions About Online Master’s Programs

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Note: The insights on this page — excluding school descriptions — were reviewed by an independent third party compensated for their time by Accredited Schools Online. Page last reviewed April 16, 2024.

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