A decade ago, an online masters degree was generally seen as not all that reputable– at least in comparison to “traditional” degree programs. Fortunately those days are behind us. Technology is changing the way we view education, and the best universities in the world are leading the way. There are dozens of world renowned universities offering flexible high quality education, often with rolling admissions. Because these programs are accredited Universities, any traditional financial aid or fellowships that are on offer to on-campus students are generally available to online students as well. Contact departments directly for specific information.
Word of caution: Despite the increase in online degree reputation, there are still scam diploma mills and nearly worthless “certifications” out there. Always use extreme caution when considering a proprietary university.
Top Universities: Online Masters Degree Programs
To illustrate our point we’ve made a list of some of the best universities in the United States that have online masters degree programs. You might be surprised by some of the options, which include top 10 and Ivy League universities.
If you know of an online masters degree program at a top university that we missed, leave us a comment and we’ll be sure and update our list.
The Harvard Extension School offers a Master of Liberal Arts degree in one of 24 fields. The program balances online study with a Harvard campus experience. Most programs allow you to take courses online or in person; requirements vary by degree. Upon completion you’ll spend 6-12 weeks finishing your thesis and/or coursework at Harvard.
One of the most unique aspects of this program is that you can start taking classes immediately and for free. You don’t formally apply to the program until you’ve completed 2 full online courses and are in the process of finishing your third. Your performance in the coursework helps determine your acceptance. They offer application periods in the fall, spring, and summer. The 2016–17 graduate tuition is $2,550 per course; the total tuition cost of earning the graduate degree is approximately $25,500.
Pursue a Stanford University Master of Science degree on a part-time basis through the Honors Cooperative Program (HCP). The program has 11 degree programs on offer, including various types of engineering and computer science. Most courses that contribute to the degrees are available online during the academic quarters they are held on campus. As a HCP student, you are a fully matriculated graduate student of Stanford University, with the same student privileges, rights, and responsibilities as a full-time residential student. You can go to campus at any time to attend class, meet with instructors and classmates, and use Stanford libraries. You can gain admission as a degree candidate to your specific academic department through the standard graduate admissions process and according to the HCP application deadlines. Complete 45 quarter units of master’s degree study in 5 years or less to receive your degree!
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The MITx MicroMasters in Supply Chain Management is equivalent to one semester of coursework at MIT. After attaining the MITx MicroMasters, learners are eligible to apply for an accelerated, residential, one-semester master’s degree program in Supply Chain Management at MIT. The admissions page states that performance in the MicroMasters plays a strong role in admissions. The goal of this set up is to give students a chance to prove they can achieve excellence in a master’s program before they have to apply for admission. This will level the playing field: Students from lesser-known universities globally will be able to prove their mettle as prospective MIT residential students.
The MicroMaster’s is a credential granted by MITx for outstanding performance in graduate-level online coursework, not a master’s degree. But if you’re admitted to the full master’s program, students can use their MicroMaster’s credential as course credit for a semester’s worth of the two-semester master’s program.
Johns Hopkins University
Advanced Academic Program (AAP) students at JHU have their choice of 16 online masters degree programs including somewhat rare programs such as Applied Economics, Biotechnology, and Government. Students integrate online courses into their graduate study. Some programs offer their entire degree online while others provide online courses but require in-person course work as well.
There are no application deadlines for any of the programs. Applications are reviewed on an ongoing basis.
University of California, Berkeley
As a World Campus graduate student at The Pennsylvania State University, you earn diplomas and transcripts that are identical to those earned by Penn State students studying on campus. Penn State World Campus offers more than 60 accredited master’s degrees and graduate-level certificates. Many online masters degree programs are based on highly successful Penn State resident programs and are taught by the same experienced faculty.
The online courses are the same academically challenging courses taught on campus, but the online courses are flexible — the asynchronous format allows you to learn at your convenience without stepping onto a campus. And in the end, the degree or certificate you earn as a World Campus student is identical to the one awarded to all of Penn State graduates on campus.
The Columbia Video Network program at Columbia University is a top-ranked online graduate engineering school, identical to its on-campus programs in admissions, coursework, professors and graduation requirements.
CVN has been leading the field of online learning since its inception in 1986, enabling thousands of working professionals and remotely located students to benefit from distance learning and pursue their degrees without any residency requirements on the campus in New York.
They offer 46 different online masters degree program, as well as some doctoral degrees and certificates. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.
University of California, Los Angeles
University of California–Los Angeles, a public institution, offers online labs, and all of the online classes are recorded and archived so students can access lecture material at their convenience. Ninety-nine percent of students are employed when they enroll for online graduate engineering programs at University of California–Los Angeles and the application deadline is rolling. UCLA Samueli is ranked #1 in online engineering graduate programs by U.S. News.
Online courses, degrees and certificate programs are offered by a range of departments at UCLA. Hybrid courses typically combine online instruction with a reduced number of face-to-face class sessions while fully online courses provide instruction, interaction and assessment entirely in the virtual environment. Some courses draw on innovative software, gaming simulations and other digital tools to present material and foster discussion. While online courses provide new flexibility and opportunities for learning, they are academically-rigorous and require the same investment of time and work as a face-to-face course.
Cornell University offers a Master of Engineering in Systems Engineering online. Cornell’s College of Engineering program, a preeminent engineering school in the Ivy League, is ideal for you if you’ve entered the workforce and want to earn your master’s without taking a break in your employment. Their graduates work at prestigious companies like Applied Materials, BAE Systems, Boeing, and Google.
University of Maryland–College Park
University of Maryland–College Park, a public institution, offers online labs, and all of the online classes are recorded and archived so students can access lecture material at their convenience. Eighty-four percent of students are employed when they enroll for online graduate engineering programs at University of Maryland–College Park, and the application deadline is rolling.
U of Maryland–College Park offers niche programs that you can’t take from most schools – Cybersecurity, Project Management, Fire Protection Engineering, Reliability Engineering, Sustainable Energy Engineering, Nuclear Engineering, Bioengineering and Energetics. All of which are in are high demand. Flexibility in elective courses/customize education to meet career goals from over 100 online courses has been a key attribute in the programs success.
The Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering Distance Learning Program at Texas Tech University, a public institution, offers online labs. All of the online classes are recorded and archived so students can access lecture material at their convenience. Admission take place on a rolling application deadline.
The program is over 23 years old. The faculty members have an average of 5 years OENG experience and across the board the program has high retention and graduation rate.
University of Michigan
Many of online masters degree students at University of Michigan have full-time jobs, families, work, or other personal obligations that keep them busy. The U of Michigan program offers 17 online master’s programs designed for working professionals. For some programs, course exams may require proctoring. Many more additional graduate programs offer some of their required courses in an online or hybrid format.
Students complete their online master’s degree part-time and remotely with Carnegie Mellon University, following the identical curriculum as the on-campus students, and guided by CMU faculty.
Carnegie Mellon has been delivering world-class software engineering programs at a distance for nearly 20 years. Throughout this time, they’ve continuously refined their approach to ensure that the learning experience is of the highest caliber, is enriching as well as rewarding, and as cost- and effort-effective as possible. They currently offer several programs, including Master of Science degrees in Information Technology – Software Engineering and Information Technology –Software Engineering Management. They also offer certificates in software engineering and systems and software engineering.
The Northwestern School of Professional Studies offers an online masters degree and certificate program covering a range of academic disciplines. Fully accredited, SPS online courses marry the best aspects of online technology with the interactivity of the classroom in a format designed to work with students’ schedules. At Northwestern, students benefit from participating in a prestigious program with no distinctions made as to whether the degree was an online or on-campus format. Regardless of the method of course delivery, the degrees and curricula are equivalent: classes are taught by outstanding Northwestern faculty and students must meet the same admissions standards. Northwestern currently has approval (or is in the process of obtaining approval) to offer courses in states that require authorization for programs that are taught entirely online. They offer rolling admissions throughout the year.
The NYU School of Professional Studies offers numerous graduate degree programs and certificates online, as well as programs that provide an option for both online and onsite study. Students and faculty members from around the world meet online in virtual classrooms that allow for a stimulating learning experience and exchange of ideas.
The Georgia Institute of Technology, Udacity, and AT&T have teamed up to offer the first accredited Master of Science in Computer Science that students can earn exclusively through the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) delivery format — and for a fraction of the cost of traditional on-campus programs.
This collaboration—informally dubbed “OMS CS” brings together leaders in education, MOOCs and industry to apply the disruptive power of massively open online teaching to widen the pipeline of high-quality, educated talent needed in computer science fields.
SPS’s Executive Master programs offer advanced study to mid-career professionals in diverse fields, in alignment with Brown’s mission to develop reflective leaders, to effect change in the world, and to improve human welfare. These relevant interdisciplinary programs prepare leaders to meet their most pressing professional challenges, to transform their organizations, and to have a significant impact in their fields.
The blended 15- or 16-month programs combine online coursework with short, intensive residential sessions held on Brown’s campus or in locations around the world related to the program’s course of study. Current programs include: MBA, Cybersecurity, Healthcare Leadership, and Science and Technology Leadership.
For over a decade, Boston University’s online degree and certificate programs have offered outstanding academic opportunities to undergraduate and graduate students around the globe.
Boston University’s award-winning online programs are designed via a unique collaboration between Boston University’s Distance Education office and faculty members throughout the University’s schools and colleges. With 23 online masters degree programs available, there are plenty of options for both remote and local students.
As part of Boston University Extended Education, the Distance Education office consists of a team of instructional designers, media producers, and support staff who specialize in online education.
Did we miss one? Leave a comment and let us know!