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Did you know that the terms “master” and “doctor” were used for teachers in the universities of medieval Europe? Nowadays, a master’s degree is considered the intermediate degree between a bachelor’s degree and a doctor’s degree.
The master’s degree also transformed through the centuries. In the Middle Ages, it started as an academic award given to recipients of a bachelor’s degree who taught in university, maintained a respectable lifestyle, and paid a token fee. By the late 1800s, it became an earned academic degree whereby individuals must undergo advanced studies in specific disciplines.
In the United States, the University of Michigan was among the first universities to introduce the master’s degree, particularly Master of Science. This was awarded in two forms – “in course” in 1858 and then “on examination” in 1862.
With that said, what exactly is a master’s degree? It’s an academic degree awarded by accredited colleges and universities upon completion of the academic requirements demonstrating mastery of an area of professional practice or a specific subject. The emphasis is on mastery, and, as such, the assumption is that the individual has a bachelor’s degree in a related field.
Individuals with a master’s degree have high expectations to live up to! If you have it, you are expected to possess the following attributes:
- You have advanced knowledge and skills related to a specific subject or practice;
- You have higher-order skills in critical evaluation, analysis, and applications of situations related to your specialization
- You have the above-average ability to think rigorously and independently, as well as to solve complex problems
With such high expectations – and the academic challenges that come with pursuing higher education – why pursue a master’s degree?
For one thing, a master’s degree can result in an earnings boost! According to the latest United States Bureau of Labor Statistics data, American employees with master’s degrees earn more than college graduates –$1,545/week versus $1,305/week, respectively. The $240/week difference adds up over a lifetime and pays for the cost of the master’s degree if you think about it.
For another thing, a master’s degree acts as a shield against the uncertainties of the economy. People with a master’s degree have a 4.1% unemployment rate against the 5.5% unemployment rate for bachelor’s degree holders. Even in the pandemic-related economic fallout, highly educated workers are much less likely to struggle with settling their bills or losing their health insurance.
Why pursue a master’s degree online? After all, on-campus programs are offered, and these provide benefits that online learning cannot!
Nonetheless, we strongly recommend online programs because of their numerous benefits, including:
- The flexibility and convenience of self-paced learning, usually through asynchronous classes, make online programs attractive to working professionals and adult learners.
- The completion of the master’s degree program demonstrates your motivation and determination, a strong inner drive to accomplish goals.
- The program encourages effective communication and collaboration, a global perspective, and higher-order thinking skills.
Of course, not everybody is well-suited to online degree programs! But we suggest looking into these programs first and deciding for yourself.
- FAQs on Online Bachelor Degrees
- Art Education
- Business Administration
- Corporate Communications
- Criminal Justice
- Educational Leadership and Administration
- English Literature
- Family, Youth, and Community Sciences
- Healthcare Administration
- Human Services
- Liberal Studies
- Library Science
- Mass Communication
- Music Education
- Public Administration
- Reading and Literacy Education
- Special Education
- Sports Management
- Theater and Performance Studies
When we chose the 20 easiest online master’s degrees, we looked for programs that met one or all of these criteria:
- Non-thesis programs are easier than thesis programs because of the challenges associated with qualitative and quantitative research. We considered programs that required a capstone or culminating project instead of a thesis. In cases where a thesis may be required, we factored in the general ease with which the master’s degree can be earned.
- Test-optional programs are also considered easy because GMAT and GRE are known for their difficulty. Colleges and universities that don’t require standardized test scores for graduate admission make it to the list, too.
- Programs that focus more on generalized education instead of highly specific areas, particularly in advanced science and math classes, are also favored. Science and math classes are considered the hardest subjects for more than half of the general population.
But we must also emphasize that just because a master’s degree program is on this list doesn’t automatically mean that you will breeze through it! These are considered easy because of their emphasis on non-math, non-science skills, including effective reading, writing, and speaking skills.
Furthermore, the term “easy” is subjective. You may find business administration easy because you have a knack for and interest in business but find criminal justice harder. You must then choose a master’s degree program that fits in with your interests and professional goals to make it “easy” in your eyes.
We also chose these programs based on the following factors:
- Accreditation – The college or university must be accredited by a regional accreditation agency and, preferably, with programmatic accreditation.
- Reputation – The program in particular and the college, in general, must be held in high regard among the academe, the industry organizations, and the community.
- Curriculum design – The curriculum and coursework must be relevant to the 21st century, including its employment trends. What use is a master’s degree if it’s obsolete? Employers want master’s degree holders with relevant, competitive, and useful skills!
20 Easiest Online Master’s Degrees
Master’s in accounting programs are easier because there’s less focus on quantitative equations and more focus on critical thinking and analysis of problems. Their required credits range from 30 to 40 credits with courses like financial accounting, corporate financial reporting, and business law and obligations. Students with a bachelor’s degree in Accounting will find it easier to deal with the coursework.
Many of these programs don’t require graduate standardized test scores (GRE/GMAT) and offer a non-thesis option. But higher thinking skills are still a must, considering that accounting is a fast-changing field.
Graduates acquire competitive credentials to aim for higher positions, such as financial managers, investment managers, and compensation and benefits managers. Also, earning both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in accounting can result in eligibility to sit for the CPA licensure examination; which has a 150-credit requirement. Graduates are also well-prepared to take accounting certifications, including certified internal auditor, certified management accountant, and certified public bookkeeper exams.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
2302 Fox Drive, Suite D, Champaign, IL 61820(217) 300-2481
Students benefit from a blend of self-paced, on-demand video lectures and hands-on, practice-oriented live sessions that deliver their core learning materials. These modes of delivery encourage students and faculty members to become actively engaged in the learning process.
Offered via the Gies College of Business, the 100% online program consists of 32 credits that can be completed in 18-36 months. Students study managerial and financial accounting, federal taxation and accounting analysis, and several electives, such as professional ethics.
Admission requirements don’t include GRE/GMAT scores, but candidates must have at least a 3.0 GPA from their bachelor’s degree.
Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, also known as AACSB International
Aside from the quality instruction, students become well-prepared to take the CPA exams and succeed in certification exams if they wish to proceed.
George Mason University
4400 University Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030(703) 993-8978
Mason’s School of Business offers a world-class MS in Accounting program that features eight-week classes on subjects like global accounting environment, taxation, and fraud. Students can also pursue a week-long international study tour in European countries, an experience designed to expand their professional horizons.
Part-time students can complete the 30-credit program in two years but have the option to finish it in less than 12 months. Once completed, the 30 credits earned can be applied to the 150-credit CPA licensing requirements.
Accreditation: AACSB International
While the admission process is quite competitive, the module format makes it easier for students to keep on top of their studies. Students gain professional accounting skills that make them more competitive in the international scene, too.
Art is largely a subjective field of study with none of the advanced math and science courses that many students dread. With art education, it becomes easier as there are fewer studio courses compared to master’s in fine arts programs. But there are also plenty of hands-on art classes where students demonstrate their art skills.
Art education master’s degree programs require students to complete 30-36 credits within two years or so, but there are also accelerated and extended options. Students learn techniques to develop their skills as artists and educators, such as mastering the latest art techniques and preparing lesson plans. Their training allows them to teach art across multiple age groups, enable artists to improve on their art and conduct art analysis and research.
Since art is a hands-on profession, most are low-residency programs wherein students conduct most of their studies online but must engage in on-campus studio sessions. The coursework includes making and teaching art, creative leadership, and curriculum planning.
1010 Commonwealth Avenue, 2nd Floor, Boston, MA 02215(617) 358-1960
The 32-credit accelerated program has a two-year ideal completion rate and can study abroad or on-campus experiences during the summer term. Students, nonetheless, can choose the 100% online program. Instructors provide the learning materials and lead the classes through Internet technology.
Candidates must be certified teachers to have an effective appreciation of coursework, including child development, art education, and creative leadership. Students have access to useful student services, including enrollment advisors, program managers, coordinators, and specialized library resources.
Accreditation: NASAD – National Association of Schools of Art & Design
Students agree that the relevant curriculum enables them to be aware of the trends in the art world and, thus, be more competitive in the job market. Their graduate experience is also enhanced by the opportunity to personalize their degree by choosing between two concentrations – Artist Teacher and Arts Education Leader.
Maryland Institute College of Art
College Park, MD 20742, (301) 405-1000
MICA’s low-residency program is a top-ranked program designed for experienced art educators who want career advancement opportunities. Students improve not just their art skills, a must in their profession, but also their educator-related skills.
The 30-credit program is considered quite easy because of its non-thesis option, and it draws art educators who want the degree but not the intensive energy required for thesis completion. But students must submit a satisfactory seminar paper to be considered for graduation. The coursework includes qualitative research, contemporary issues, and teaching strategies.
Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
MICA may be a small university, but it’s a prestigious institute known for transforming raw but promising talent into a dazzling skill through a strong art foundation. Students are known for their wide array of skills that make them employable and marketable.
The MBA is undoubtedly the most popular master’s degree for several years running for good reasons. There are numerous career opportunities associated with an MBA, most of them on the managerial level. These include human resources managers, financial managers, and computer and information systems managers.
Getting an MBA is also considered easier than most master’s degrees because GMAT scores aren’t required, and students don’t have to complete a thesis. The broad curriculum also means that technical knowledge isn’t a big issue among students. The focus is on soft skills that make a business professional stand out from the competition.
The coursework includes accounting, finance, information systems, and operations discussed with more practical applications than at the undergraduate level. Most programs may be completed in two years (or less!), with classes ranging in length from six to eight weeks.
University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill
McColl Building, Campus Box 3490, 300 Kenan Center Drive, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3490(919) 962-5327
Students complete the program in 18 to 36 months, depending on their course load. Offered by the Kenan-Flagler Business School, 100% of the program’s students are already employed. Students have a better understanding of the business environment and are more likely to be invested in their success.
The faculty members and administrators are also invested in the students’ success! This is manifested through a relevant curriculum, the opportunity to customize the coursework according to your career objectives, and a collaborative learning environment. Students can also tap into career services as part of their career development plan.
Accreditation: AACSB International
The weekly live classes ensure that students and instructors collaborate, while the flexible length means students can study at their own pace. Students may also choose to enroll in in-person courses.
900 South Crouse Ave., Syracuse, NY 13244(844) 797-4622
There’s no GMAT required for candidates to the 54-credit program that can be completed in 24 months or less. Students tackle a wide range of core courses, including data analysis, organization leadership, and economics. Electives include entrepreneurship, project management, Lean Six Sigma, even an introduction to Python for Business. Students must also complete the 3-credit US or international residency.
Six concentrations are available – Accounting, Entrepreneurship, Business Analytics, Finance, Supply Chain Management, and Marketing Management. Qualified instructors lead live classes, but the self-paced coursework can be completed at your convenience. The university makes it a point to establish a tight-knit community of students and instructors who work together for their mutual success.
Accreditation: AACSB International
Online business graduates are known for their success at receiving a promotion and a raise following graduation, even when still in the program.
Individuals with strong communication skills, particularly in the organizational setting, will benefit from a master’s degree in corporate communications. This is an easy program considering the lack of demand for technical skills in science and math. But it must also be noted that it’s a reading- and writing-intensive program that will test your skills.
The curriculum prepares students for executive or leadership positions in corporate communications, including public relations. Thus, there’s a strong emphasis on strategic planning, implementation, and evaluation of public relations programs. The coursework includes public relations theory, media relations, and communications ethics and law.
Students can choose a concentration like international business or organizational behavior. Graduates can become marketing or advertising professionals, public relations officers, and brand development officers.
50 Nightingale Hall, 360 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02115-9959(877) 668-7727
Students can choose between part-time and full-time studies, which means their time commitment ranges from 12 to 18 months. The program offers six concentrations, including Public and Media Relations, Social Media, and Cross-Cultural Communication.
Each concentration has its unique features, such as using the HubSpot marketing platform by Public and Media Relations students. Regardless of concentration, students are assured that their courses are aligned with the high-demand skills of their profession. Students also learn from engagement in consulting and coop projects and the completion of a capstone project.
Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education, Inc. (NECHE)
Professional success for its graduates is the program’s end goal, and the program itself is well-known for the exceptional quality of its instruction.
Bay Path University
588 Longmeadow St., Longmeadow, MA 01106(800) 782-7284
The 100% online program requires students to complete 36 credits, or 12 courses, in an accelerated eight-week format. Completion is within 1-2 years, depending on your student status. Candidates aren’t required to present GMAT and GRE scores.
Students learn to make cross-disciplinary connections that empower them to thrive in a technology-driven economy. The coursework also enables them the effective use of resources, tools, and technologies in information manipulation. Proficiency in data, technology, and human literacy is also emphasized, and analytical thinking is necessary.
Student success is a priority, and it’s achieved through effective access to tutoring, mentoring, and academic services. Career services are also available, which aids students in seizing work opportunities even before graduation.
Holders of a master’s degree in criminal justice can pursue careers as intelligence analysts, security managers, and crime scene investigators. The degree itself is easy to earn since there’s less focus on advanced science and math courses, not to mention that non-thesis programs are available. But be prepared for forensic science and other research-based courses since these can be academically challenging.
Candidates with a criminal justice background, particularly a bachelor’s degree, will thrive in the master’s program. Candidates without such a background are welcome to apply but must complete foundational courses first. However, all prospective students must have the capacity for analytical thinking, critical thinking, and problem-solving. GRE and GMAT scores aren’t required in most schools, but a satisfactory GPA is a typical requirement.
University of California – Irvine
School of Social Ecology, 102 Social Ecology I, Irvine, CA 92697-7055(949) 824-6861
Applicants don’t have to present their GRE scores to be considered for admission into the 52-credit program. Students must take the 13 compulsory courses sequentially and ideally complete the program in two years (six quarters).
This is a non-thesis program, but students must take the Social Problems, Law and Policy course as part of a capstone project, including a research paper. While most of the courses are conducted online, students have to participate in the on-campus five-day Introduction to Criminology, Law and Society course.
Accreditation: WASC – Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission
Aside from the university’s prestigious reputation, the program draws the best students because of the top-notch faculty, cutting-edge research, and outstanding student support services.
Sam Houston State University
Huntsville, TX 77341(936) 294-1111
The College of Criminal Justice designed the program with student empowerment and success in mind! Graduates assume leadership positions in various criminal justice careers, including corrections, law enforcement, and social services. The college itself maintains a strong network of relationships with agencies involved in criminal justice.
Most students already have professional experience in these careers and enroll in the program due to its online convenience. Enrollment starts in the fall and spring, with students enrolling in courses based on their schedules. It is a 36-credit program that may be completed in two years or less.
GRE scores aren’t required with a 3.0 GPA or higher for a relevant undergraduate degree.
Accreditation: SACSCOC or Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
The university’s faculty is nationally recognized as the best and most productive researchers in criminal justice, translating to excellent instruction.
Educational Leadership and Administration
School principals, assistant principals, and department chairs are among the common career paths that hold a master’s degree in educational leadership and administration. Their courses included teacher development, curriculum development, finance and resource management, and multicultural education. The coursework prepares students to become leaders in educational settings, usually at the K-12 level.
Most, if not all, students already have a teaching license and extensive professional experience which makes it easier for them to be on top of the coursework. Many programs also have a non-thesis option that facilitates quick completion of the academic requirements. Instead of a thesis, students may have to complete a professional portfolio and an internship. The challenge lies in the development of leadership skills applicable in educational settings.
Admission requirements may or may not include GRE scores, but the most common are official transcripts, a resume, and a personal statement.
Texas A&M University
511 Harrington Tower, College Station, TX 77843-4226(979) 845-2716
The low-residency program requires students to attend one on-campus training weekend, but the rest of the classes are conducted online. This is an easy program to get into since it doesn’t require standardized tests, and there’s no minimum GPA.
The expansive coursework includes K1-2 financing and budgeting, administration of special programs and populations, and instructional leadership development training. The 36-credit program has a two-year completion time, but students may extend their studies. Students must complete internships for two semesters. Graduates also sit for the state principal examination.
Students are trained to become educational leaders who are responsive to schools’ unique cultures and become change agents of society. The curriculum embodies the university’s ideals of social justice, responsibility, and equity.
George Washington University
2136 G Street NW, Washington, DC 20052(202) 994-9283
Standardized tests aren’t required for admission, but applicants must have at least a 3.3 GPA and one year of teaching experience. Students must complete the academic requirements for 30 credits and an administration internship. Completion time is two years, and graduates can sit for administrative certification in the District of Columbia and other states.
Instructors have extensive experience in PK-12 educational leadership and can provide their students with relevant, practical, and helpful insights. Students gain valuable experience in group work activities where leadership skills are emphasized, and evidence-based courses are taught.
Accreditation: MSCHE and National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
Graduates become inspirational leaders in educational settings, whether as principals or administrators. GW’s track record in education means high recognition among employers, too.
With English as your first language, pursuing a master’s degree in English literature should be easy peasy! Literature is also a fun and fascinating area of study, and its coursework doesn’t involve the dreaded advanced math and science courses. For an even easier time, ask about non-thesis programs!
But it isn’t as easy as it sounds throughout – the analysis of voluminous works of literature can be difficult. This is a reading- and writing-intensive program that will eat up your time if you don’t have time management skills. Career opportunities, such as teacher, writer, and editor, are well worth the time.
The coursework includes literary theory, composition, methods of teaching writing, and electives that emphasize specific writing genres like Shakespeare.
Northern Arizona University
S. San Francisco Street, Flagstaff, AZ 86011(928) 523-9011
If you’re looking for a program that will refine and expand your understanding of English literature and its traditions, then look into NAU’s program. The expansive curriculum prepares students for a professional life characterized by excellence, integrity, and credibility. Graduates have several career options, including a high school or community college teacher, a leader in the publishing industry, or a student in a Ph.D. program.
Students must complete at least 30 graduate-level credits, earn a minimum cumulative average 3.0 GPA, and complete other academic requirements. The program should be completed within six consecutive years after admission.
We love the student-centered curriculum where students are provided with crucial support services, including top-notch faculty and technology. The university is also known for its adept blending of traditions and innovations in its programs.
Arizona State University
411 N. Central Ave. Phoenix, AZ 85004(480) 965-7788
The Department of English offers comprehensive academic coursework, exciting seminars, and productive faculty-student interactions for a memorable student experience. Students learn not just about the English language in all its glory but also about conducting research. Career opportunities are available in the publishing, education, and corporate sectors.
Students can choose between thesis and non-thesis tracks, and the latter is considered the easier track since students can create innovative intellectual projects. Candidates need not present GRE scores, but three letters of recommendation, a resume, a statement of purpose, and an academic writing sample are a must for admission.
The non-thesis option eases the path toward a master’s degree, although it also has its fair share of challenges. The university offers several student support services including library and research support, financial aid, and learning support.
Family, Youth, and Community Sciences
Individuals with a passion for helping others, including their communities, will find a master’s degree in family, youth, and community services truly useful. The knowledge and skills learned here will make a huge difference in how aid-related services are planned, delivered, and evaluated.
Most programs focus on youth, family, community development principles and practices, and program planning. Students learn the ins and outs of fundraising, from the laws to their logistics and the crucial business skills. Strategic planning, risk management, and marketing are also part of the curriculum.
Students can find non-thesis options that make the degree easier to earn. The most time-consuming part of the studies is the design, conduct, and presentation of social science research projects. Nonetheless, career opportunities make an effort worthwhile, including community development leaders, family therapists, and counselors.
University of Florida
201 Criser Hall – PO Box 114000, Gainesville, FL 32611-4000(352) 392-1365
Students can choose from two concentrations – Family and Youth Development and Non-profit Development – or complete the program without a concentration. All tracks involve completing 30 credit hours, with students typically taking 3-6 credit hours per semester; nine credit hours is the full load. This is a non-thesis program that can be completed in five semesters.
Students benefit from the asynchronous format and enjoy the weekly live discussion groups, which are largely voluntary. Instructors suggest multiple log-in times throughout the week, about 2-3 times, to access the learning materials.
Graduates report near-immediate employment or promotion partly due to UF’s prestigious reputation and partly due to their professional skills. UF also assists students in their career prospects through the Career Resource Center.
North Carolina State University
Campus Box 7113, Raleigh, NC 27695-7555(919) 515-9030
NCSU provides its students with two options for a master’s degree in youth, family, and community sciences. First, the Master (MR) is a non-thesis program with a 30-credit curriculum and a capstone experience. We suggest it for people who view the master’s degree as their final one.
Second, the Master of Science (MS) is a 36-credit program with a thesis and final oral examination as graduation requirements. This is the best option for students who want to pursue doctoral studies or pursue a career in program research and development.
The program doesn’t get boring with its range of learning methods, including web-based classes, live online seminar classes, and teleconference seminars. The students and their success are at the center of the curriculum design, too.
Combining healthcare and business is at the core of healthcare administration. Holders of an MHA degree work as medical and health services managers, administrative services managers, and healthcare social workers. Earning a degree can be easy, too, since most programs don’t require standardized test scores and prior work experience.
The challenge lies in the in-person clinics, the fairly long duration of the program, and the wide range of courses. The latter include management, marketing, human resources, healthcare laws and information systems, and leadership. The business side of healthcare is, indeed, as demanding as in any sector.
University of Southern California
Lewis Hall 312, Los Angeles, California 90089-0626(877) 830-7625
The low-residency Executive MHA program combines in-person learning with online synchronous and asynchronous learning. Students must complete two on-campus, four-day residencies, which are crucial in building a supportive USC community dedicated to learning and research.
Students tackle subjects designed to transform them into leaders in the healthcare industry. These include leadership of healthcare organizations, patient safety and outcomes, and health systems improvements. The university is known for its cultivation of networking opportunities for students, particularly in professional coaching and support.
Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission
Students learn to become transformative leaders and agents of change through relevant, practical, and effective skill sets. Their studies highlight leadership as a desirable goal, particularly when it’s put to good use.
University of Minnesota – Twin Cities
420 Delaware St. S.E., Minneapolis, MN 55455(612) 626-3500
UMN’s Executive MHA program features small class sizes with 30-35 students only. The student body has a diverse composition, including students with bachelor’s degrees, graduate degrees, MDs, or DO degrees. It’s a competitive program, but you will find it exciting once you’re in it.
Students say that the curriculum allows them to apply their lessons in their current careers while their peer and faculty interactions boost their knowledge. The innovative leadership projects and active alumni involvement contribute to a memorable student experience, too. The 42-credit program requires students to spend 26 days or five sessions in on-campus activities during the 25-month duration.
The Executive MHA at UMN is a top-ranked program and among the longest-running programs of its kind in the US! Many of its graduates are known leaders in the healthcare industry, too.
Mental and physical health care, foster care, and community and social services are among the master’s degrees in human services programs. Students learn the proper techniques in providing human services to individuals, groups, and communities in a more responsive and relevant way.
An MA or an MS in Human Services is an excellent choice depending on your career aspirations. Thus, both options focus on the social sciences and are considered easy for students with a knack for communication. Core subjects include human services research and management, social change, and policy issues.
Social services case manager, social and community service manager, and wellness director are among the career opportunities after graduation.
Concordia University Chicago
7400 Augusta St. River Forest, IL 60305 (708) 771-8300
Gerontology, psychology, and advocacy are the highlights of CUC’s MA in Human Services program and, thus, its students prepare for careers in family services agencies, among others. Students can complete it in two years, and it involves the completion of academic requirements for 33 credits, a capstone, and an internship.
Despite these requirements, students say that it’s a relatively easy program because of the exceptional student support services, approachable faculty, and exciting courses. Graduates can pursue higher positions or pursue doctoral studies, but their degree isn’t accepted for licensure purposes.
Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities or NWCCU
This is a generalist degree, so students learn a comprehensive body of knowledge without in-depth, advanced studies on a specific subject. But it can be tailor-made to fit in with your professional goals.
University of Oklahoma
1700 Asp Avenue, Norman, OK 73072(405) 325-4414
Candidates must have a bachelor’s degree with at least a 3.0 GPA and work history, and previous training to be considered for admission. Once admitted, students become involved in topics like cultures of organizations, strategic planning and evaluation, and human service delivery systems. While it’s a 100% online program, it’s unique in the sense that all courses are delivered in a synchronous format only.
Students complete 33 credits within two years of full-time study and must maintain a 3.0 GPA to graduate. The fall and spring courses are 16 weeks in length, while summer courses last for eight weeks.
With its fast-paced coursework, the program is suitable for working adults who want a career boost within a short time. Students work with an academic advisor for their personalized graduation plans.
A master’s in liberal arts degree involves an interdisciplinary graduate education that provides students with broad knowledge about arts, social sciences, and natural sciences. Students don’t undergo specialized training in a specific area since it’s designed for intellectual enlightenment and soft skills development. The generalist, interdisciplinary approach is the reason for its comparative ease, but it must also be noted that it also demands excellent communication and analytical thinking skills.
The degree is popular among new graduates of bachelor’s degree programs and working professionals, albeit for different reasons. For the former, it’s a way of transitioning into graduate life, perhaps to test the waters before choosing a specialization. For the latter, it’s the prestige and possible earnings boost of a graduate degree.
Stony Brook University
MA in Liberal Studies
100 Nicolls Rd, Stony Brook, NY 11794(800) 342-3811
An excellent feature of this MA in Liberal Studies program is that it allows students significant flexibility in determining their study plan, particularly in their preferred courses. Students, however, must complete the academic requirements for 33 credits, preferably within two years, although extensions are common. Candidates must possess a bachelor’s degree with at least a 3.0 GPA and submit their resume, letters of recommendation, and personal statement.
Most students are working professionals who will benefit from the intellectual and professional development brought by advanced studies in the liberal arts. The degree itself may or may not be used for doctoral studies.
The online faculty members are the same ones who teach on-campus and, thus, the outstanding quality of instruction is maintained. Students also learn by doing community service, clinical placements, and internships.
429 Cooper St., Camden, NJ 08102-1405(856) 745-6532
Working adults enrolled at Rutgers’ program enjoy the cross-disciplinary curriculum with stimulating courses including philosophy, history, literature, arts, and social sciences. Indeed, the intellectual stimulation combined with the flexibility of online learning and the active engagement of faculty makes it among the best, in our opinion!
This is a 30-credit program that appeals to young professionals, soon-to-be-retirees, and ambitious adults with multiple intellectual interests. Due to its broad nature can also be used for career advancement, as a stepping stone for a doctoral degree, or its sheer pleasure.
This is a highly-rated program led by the best faculty members in a conducive learning environment, not to mention that Rutgers is a prestigious institution.
Many librarians, archivists, and media curators seek a master’s in library science degree because it’s proof of proficiency in several areas. These include information organization, online reference systems, research strategies, archival organization and preservation, digital libraries, web design, and database design. Graduates work in public libraries and in museums, digital libraries, and law firms – proof that, indeed, there’s so much you can do with the degree.
Part of the reason for the perception of library science being easy is public perception. We think of librarians as people who sit at a desk and shush people for being loud. The job is much more than that! Librarians are also adept at research and business matters, including human resources and inventory management.
University of South Florida
4202 E. Fowler Avenue, CIS 1040, Tampa, FL 33620(813) 974-3520
USF’s program features a relevant curriculum that reflects the ever-changing technologies used in library and information science. Students tackle subjects like information technology literacy, advanced library administration, instructional technology, and adult services in libraries.
Requirements for graduation include completion of 39 credits and submission of a portfolio. The coursework includes six compulsory core courses aside from the electives chosen based on your professional interests. The two-year program has an asynchronous instruction style that fits working adults.
Accreditation: SACSCOC and American Library Association (ALA)
Students learn the vital skillset and competencies to make them effective and efficient library and information science professionals. Every course emphasizes the practical skills that must be learned.
San Jose State University
One Washington Square, San José, CA 95192-0029(408) 924-2490
While the traditional library and information science methods are discussed, SJSU’s program focuses more on contemporary technologies. The coursework then includes digital asset management, metadata, and data analytics aside from the electives that personalize the curriculum.
Students must submit an e-portfolio for graduation, as well as choose to participate in an internship program. The latter can be in-person or virtual, thanks to SJSU’s wide network of willing employers. Students, for example, can be virtual interns at a high-tech Silicon Valley startup without reporting for in-person work.
Accreditation: ALA and WASC Senior College and University Commission
Graduates are amply prepared for the demands of diverse professional environments, from public libraries to museums, tech companies, and law firms.
Many master’s in mass communication programs offer multiple concentrations, such as corporate communications, strategic communications, or marketing communications. But all programs share overarching learning outcomes, such as providing students with learning opportunities to create and deliver effective messages and adapt to communication challenges. Graduates can apply their skills in public relations, journalism, and media relations, among other sectors.
Most programs require the completion of 30-36 credits within two years of full-time study. The ease with which a mass communication degree can be completed lies in the fact that students already possess the required communication skills. These are also non-thesis programs, although internships and portfolio requirements are common.
2240 Campus Drive, Rm 2-118, Evanston, IL 60208(847) 467-6037
Northwestern’s program is easier on students since only eight courses are completed within the 10-month duration. Students have to complete a capstone requirement and attend four on-campus seminars; it’s a low-residency/hybrid program. On-time completion can be achieved by enrolling in a core course and an elective course every quarter.
Admission into the program is easy, too, since no specific minimum GPA and standardized tests aren’t required. Coursework includes current issues in communication, law, and technology; elegant communication; and collaborative leadership. Students are encouraged to connect with peers and instructors for more learning opportunities.
If you’re an inspired and ambitious professional whose job demands exceptional communication skills, then this program is your best bet! The program emphasizes practical applications that will become your advantage in the workplace.
610 Purdue Mall, West Lafayette, IN 47907(765) 494-4600
Purdue’s program offers five concentrations:
- General Track
- Integrated Communication and Advertising
- Strategic Communication / Public Relations
- Health Communication
- Communication and Leadership
Each concentration has its specific curriculum, but all program graduates become better communications professionals to reach local, national, and international audiences. This 30-credit is offered in the university’s Brian Lamb School of Communication, which boasts award-winning faculty.
Ask the alumni about their satisfaction with the program and their success after graduation. Most of them will assert that they have become highly effective at the various aspects of mass communication, from plan development to execution.
Like art education, music education is among the easiest areas of study because of its subjective nature combined with the absence of advanced STEAM courses. But a master’s in music education program has its share of challenges, too, including gaining a deeper understanding of music.
Most programs have 30-40 credits in their curriculum with a completion time of 2-3 years, depending on enrollment status and internship requirements. Students typically have teaching experience but pursue a master’s degree as part of licensure and promotion requirements. Graduates may sit for state-specific teaching licensure and professional certification, such as the Music Teachers National Association.
Career opportunities include music teacher in the K-12 levels and community colleges, band director, or even conductor.
University of Georgia
101 Herty Drive, Athens, Georgia 30602-6113(706) 542-4040
UGA’s reputation for student excellence in academics and applied experiences apply to its master’s degree in music education. The 100% online, 33-credit program includes courses in psychology of music, pedagogical efficacy, and music theory. Students learn through various delivery methods, including segmented lessons, video conferencing, and text materials.
Offered at the Hugh Hodgson School of Music, the program welcomes experienced classroom music teachers and certified music teachers. Students can choose from three concentrations – General Track, Instrumental Music, and Choral – but their overarching goal is to become leaders in music education. Access to online resources, technical support, and library services is guaranteed.
Graduates can acquire Georgia Teacher Certification in Music at the T-5 level.
Texas Tech University
Texas Tech Plaza, 1901 University Avenue, Suite 513, Lubbock, Texas 79410-5095(806) 742-7227
Texas Tech boasts of a diverse student population with equal access to its world-class learning facilities. Students in its online Master of Music Education program are assured of high-quality instruction delivered by competent professors.
There are two concentrations available:
- A 30-credit thesis track where students must undertake an oral defense of their respective thesis
- A 36-credit non-thesis track
The coursework includes music education for students with exceptionalities, choral conducting methods, and music technology. All students must complete five compulsory courses in music education, music theory, and musicology.
The university’s wide and strong alumni network can become your stepping stone toward a rewarding career in music education.
Many jobs in psychology either require or prefer an advanced degree, such as a master’s degree. Indeed, licensed psychologists with advanced degrees are more likely to earn more! According to BLS, their median salary is $82,180 per year in 2020, while their projected job growth is 3% (2019-2029).
Psychologists with a master’s degree can also choose from several jobs, including (Licensure requirements must be complied with.)
- Licensed professional counselor
- Psychology educator
- Licensed marriage and family therapist
- Licensed mental health counselor
Programs are offered either as MA, focusing on the liberal arts, or as MS with a research-oriented approach. Concentrations are also offered, and these include experimental psychology, forensic psychology, and clinical psychology. The training can be used in preparation for a specialty professional endeavor or a doctoral degree.
University of Louisiana at Monroe
700 University Ave, Monroe, LA 71209(318) 342-1000
Students can choose between a general track or two concentrations – forensic psychology and psychometrics. The general track and the forensic psychology tracks are offered in 100% online format, while the psychometrics track requires one semester of on-campus residency. All tracks consist of 36 credits.
All students, nonetheless, must complete core coursework in neuropsychology, research methods, and behavioral sciences. Students then follow a track-specific program of study depending on their chosen track. The forensic psychology coursework includes courses in intelligence testing, sociology of law, and advanced theories in crime and delinquency. The psychometrics courses include theories of learning and behavior modification.
This is among the most affordable master’s programs we’ve come across! Yet, we found that the academe highly regards ULM’s quality of instruction, so it’s among the best value programs, too.
University of Idaho
875 Perimeter Drive | Moscow, ID 83844(208) 885-6111
The U of I program emphasizes research into the engagement of humans in products, services, and technology vis-à-vis their mental health. As a result of the research-centric approach, students become well-prepared for careers in human services, business, and human resources. Students can also access the on-campus laboratory facilities, if necessary, for their research projects, although there are no on-campus requirements.
The 36-credit program accepts candidates with a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field and at least a 3.0 GPA. Completion time is two years, with the instruction style being asynchronous. Required coursework includes human-computer interaction and human factors in engineering design. Internships are also part of the curriculum.
The program emphasizes the convergence between the disciplines of traditional psychology and the principles of contemporary human design and engineering. Such a relevant curriculum results in useful knowledge and practical skills that employers seek.
Holders of a master’s in public administration degree become qualified for management positions in the public sector, such as program managers, government analysts, and city planners. Many also become non-profit administrators and healthcare managers. Indeed, it’s a degree that pays off well, with median salaries for regional and urban planners at $75,950 per year.
Programs cover the varied challenges that come with being in a leadership position in the public sector. The courses include public policy, public laws, financial strategies, and specialized courses related to a concentration. Most programs offer multiple concentrations, such as human resources, information technology, and healthcare, as well as thesis and non-thesis tracks. Internship requirements are common.
800 E. Lancaster Ave., Villanova, PA 19085(855) 300-1473
Candidates preferably should have three years of work experience in the public, private or military sectors. But standardized test scores and minimum GPA aren’t required. Students are currently in management positions or aspire for these positions or want better skillsets for a public service role.
The program’s design encourages students to become inclusive, creative, and principled leaders through engaged faculty, relevant curriculum, and community partnerships. The coursework features a broad range of courses related to human capital management and public administration theory and practice. The electives are just as impressive, with fundraising, city management, and administrative communication being popular.
This is a 36-credit program with a 2-year completion rate and affordable tuition.
Accreditation: MSCHE and Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA)
Villanova is a top-ranked university with credentialed faculty members who are fully invested in their students’ academic success.
Texas A&M University
College Station, TX 77843-4220(979) 862-3469
Texas A&M’s program has a quite competitive admission process with candidates required to possess at least five years of public service experience. Their bachelor’s degree GPA must be at least 3.2 (preferred), and GRE or GMAT scores are recommended.
Students choose three concentrations in the 39-credit program – Non-profit Enterprises, Homeland Security, and Public Management. Foundational courses are a must for all students, including economic analysis, program evaluation, and public service. Students also submit their capstone project and participate in two weeks of on-campus activities, one week for every year of residency.
Accreditation: SACSCOC and NASPAA
The non-thesis executive degree program is considered the best in the state with its high-impact curriculum. Transfer credits are also accepted, which can shorten the study time.
Reading and Literacy Education
Master’s in reading and literacy programs come in multiple iterations – MA and MS, which offer a well-rounded education, and M.Ed. that emphasizes teaching-focused training. Non-thesis and thesis tracks are available, and we recommend the non-thesis track because it’s easier to complete. Concentrations are available, too, such as adult education, special education, and curriculum design.
The coursework emphasizes teaching reading and literacy skills and includes courses like classroom literacy assessment, teaching strategies, and diagnosis of reading difficulties. Students must possess not just prior teaching experience but also patience, problem-solving skills, and resourcefulness.
Career opportunities are in the education sector, particularly at the K-12 levels.
California State University – Fullerton
Department of Literacy & Reading Education, CP-570, PO Box 6868, Fullerton, CA 92831-6868(657) 278-3497
This is a 30-credit program that welcomes candidates with a bachelor’s degree and at least a 3.0 GPA. Students can choose between a hybrid and a 100% online format, but the curriculum is the same. The coursework includes Foundations of Literacy: Teaching and Learning, Literacy Assessment and Analysis for Instruction, and the Literacy Leader/Specialist Roles.
There are also practicum subjects and a capstone project as the culminating point. With such intensive training, graduates are likely to find professional success as reading specialists, literacy coordinators, and even community college professors.
Accreditation: (WASC) Senior College and University Commission
Thus, the class sizes are small and encourage students and faculty members to build a strong network and a tight-knit research community.
University of West Florida
11000 University Parkway, Pensacola, Florida 32514(844) 406-1357
The ideal candidates for UWF’s program are working teachers who want specialized training for career advancement and aspiring teachers looking for long-term growth. Students with a passion for lifelong learning thrive in the program, which integrates academic coursework and internship. The learning outcomes include proficiency in teaching reading and literacy, developing reading assessments, and implementing effective literacy programs.
While a master’s in reading and literacy degree is seen as an easy degree, UWF’s program stimulates effective learning. The fairly rigorous curriculum is ample preparation for professional success.
Accreditation: SACSCOC and Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) Standards
This isn’t just a program for working teachers, although that in itself is a noble goal. More importantly, it seeks to address the shortage of proficient reading and literacy experts in Florida.
The goals of master’s in special education programs will differ, so it’s best to take a closer look into the learning outcomes. Some programs are designed for non-teaching professionals to earn an initial teaching license; some provide training for general educators to teach pupils with learning disabilities. The coursework will depend on the students’ overall goals, too.
The coursework, nonetheless, includes foundational courses like behavior analysis, lesson planning for students with mild to advanced disabilities, and special education policy. Most programs require an internship, a student teaching practicum, and a thesis, although there are also plenty of non-thesis programs.
Take note that all special education teachers must have a valid, unencumbered state license to practice their profession in any capacity. Licensed teachers with a master’s in special education degree can become behavior intervention specialists, among other occupations.
University of Washington
2012 Skagit Lane, Miller Hall, Seattle, WA 98195-3600(206) 543-1847
With a stellar faculty and relevant curriculum, UW’s program attracts experienced teachers whose career development trajectory is rising. This is a research-centric program that prepares students for leadership positions in the education sector and their future careers as Board-certified behavior analysts.
The synchronous online classes allow students to experience in-person education virtually and, thus, enjoy the best of both worlds. Students and professors engage in lively, dynamic class discussions that reflect the vibrant work environment of special education.
The program was awarded Best ABA Curriculum based on academic quality, affordability, and student success, and that’s a good enough reason for us.
Indiana University – Bloomington
201 N. Rose Avenue, Bloomington, IN 47405-1006(812) 856-8500
The 36-credit M.S.Ed. in Special Education program prepares students to effectively teach individuals with mild to advanced disabilities in various settings. A licensure option for Exceptional Needs: Mild Intervention is available for students, and it’s a popular option considering the salary boost and social impact.
Students can choose between a master’s thesis or a capstone project in a special education-related topic of their choice. Professors deliver tough love, so to speak since student success is a top priority.
Accreditation: HLC and CAEP
The university only hires the best teachers and, thus, ensures that students thrive under their guidance. Bloomington has established a reputation as a school for teachers for this reason.
Sports is as much a business as, say, the manufacturing and retail industries. Thus, a master’s degree in sports management is a business degree, which also pays well if you know how to maximize it. Concentrations include sports law, college athletics, coaching, event, and facilities management, most of which involve behind-the-scenes, business-related work.
Coursework differs depending on concentration, although common courses cover marketing and media, management strategies, finance, and economics. Many students see the master’s degree as a terminal degree since a doctoral degree is uncommon. A capstone project is a common graduation requirement, but there may or may not be a thesis requirement.
Sports team manager, athletic director or coach, and recruiter are a few of the career opportunities.
University of Miami
5050 Brunson Drive, Coral Gables, FL 331461-800-411-2290
Approachable faculty with academic credentials and professional experience led the online program, among the best in the state. Students are trained for careers in diverse sectors, including youth sports, professional athletics, and college sports. Opening doors of opportunities even as a student is possible through the connections made during the UM Sport Conference.
The 30-credit program consists of 10 compulsory courses that emphasize sports leadership skills, financial management, and ethics in decision-making. The completion time is 20 months.
The university is a recognized leader in sports, both on and off the court. Its online program isn’t just accredited but also has deep roots in collegiate sports and professional sports franchises.
Arkansas State University
2105 East, Aggie Rd, Jonesboro, AR 72401(866) 621-8096
Influential leadership roles in diverse sports, recreation, and leisure settings are on students’ minds at ASU’s online program. These leadership positions are well within reach, too, considering the impressive range of internship and networking opportunities.
Candidates to the 36-credit program don’t have to submit standardized test scores but must have a 3.0 GPA. Most students complete it in 12 months of full-time study. Required courses include sports communications, sports finance and budgeting, research design, and internship in sports-related organizations.
Accreditation: HLC and The Commission on Sport Management Accreditation (COSMA)
Graduates become recognized leaders in the sports industry, and their networks and internship during their student days is a big part of their professional success.
Theater and Performance Studies
Fun and fulfilling are among the first words that come to mind with a master’s in theater and performance studies. Of course, there’s also the pleasure of performing and entertaining in many forms that bring joy to others. A host of careers can open up with such a degree, from teaching theater to being on stage.
Students learn the skills to succeed in the fields of drama, dance, and music, as well as in theater and film. The coursework includes acting, singing and dancing, oral literature, and direction. The chance to shape the next generation of theater and performance artists is also a compelling reason for this profession.
Most programs adopt a hybrid approach, with most classes conducted online but with on-campus, in-person studio sessions. Recitals or capstone projects are the norms.
University of Idaho
875 Perimeter Drive, Moscow, ID 83844(208) 885-6111
The combination of intensive training and on-stage performances makes it among the best hybrid MFA programs in the state, if not the country. Students develop their talents in on-stage performance and behind-the-scenes activities like costumes, direction, and scenery production. Graduates then become skilled theater professionals who become part of an effective team.
Online students choose from multiple emphases, including directing, theater pedagogy, directing, design, technology, and management. Travel opportunities are also available.
Being in the Actors Theatre of Louisville and Oregon Shakespeare Festival is a joy! Students look forward to these internship opportunities and benefit from the small classroom settings and personal mentorship.
1000 Regent University Drive, Virginia Beach, VA 23464(800) 373-5504
Artists can be scholars, too, and it’s exactly the training that Regent’s MA in Theater program provides their enthusiastic students. The online program, which consists of 30 credits, has a residency requirement. The Christian-influenced coursework includes training in all aspects of theater art, from theory to production.
Students learn about the on-stage and behind-the-scenes workings of theater, from writing the scripts to audience development, too. Career opportunities include drama coach, stage director, K-12 instructor, and technical director.
Not only will a master’s degree increase your earning potential, but it will also establish a robust foundation for advanced studies and boost your expert status.
Frequently Asked Questions
What makes a master’s degree program distinct from a bachelor’s degree program?
Master’s degree programs are structured around practical experience, particularly in applying principles, philosophies, and theories in real-world scenarios. In contrast, bachelor’s degree programs emphasize theoretical concepts.
Students must then be prepared for the following:
- Adopt higher-order thinking skills characterized by the ability to create, theorize and advance principles and their applications.
- Adjust your speaking and writing styles such that information from several sources and perspectives can be incorporated into thought-provoking insights.
- Adopt a more collaborative approach to education, a must since master’s degree programs demand more peer-to-peer and instructor-student interactions.
You must also establish and maintain a support system because you will still face academic challenges no matter how easy a master’s degree program may be.
What’s the typical composition of a master’s degree program?
Most programs require 40 credit hours with a minimum GPA, typically a 3.0 or a B. The coursework and their possible percentage of the program include:
- General courses that provide the foundation for mastery of knowledge (10%)
- Major core courses that establish the workplace-relevant knowledge and skills for professional success (50%)
- Electives that personalize your education and allow for more specialization (15%)
- Capstone, a culmination of your studies that may take the form of a thesis, a comprehensive exam, or a project
What’s the typical length of master’s degree programs?
These are designed for completion within two years of full-time study, including taking classes for the fall, spring, and summer terms. But for students who can only study on a part-time basis, the time for completion can stretch from three to five years.
Be sure to ask the program administrators regarding the limit for completion since you must study within these time limitations. For example, a college may limit the time for completion to six years. Students who are past the specific period may or may not be granted an extension depending on extenuating circumstances.
Accelerated programs are also available wherein students can earn their master’s degree in less than two years. Combined bachelor’s and master’s degree programs are also an option, which lasts for five years. Students earn their bachelor’s degree with the opportunity to use some of the undergraduate credits toward their graduate degree.
What are the types of master’s degrees?
The most common types are:
- Master of Business Administration (MBA), a business-centric program for working professionals looking for a career boost
- Master of Arts (MA), among the easiest degrees with a focus on the arts and social sciences, including political science, sociology, and psychology
- Master of Science (M.Sc. or MS) programs have a more technical orientation with an emphasis on the acquisition of specialized skills
- Master of Education (M.Ed.) programs are geared toward teachers who want to pursue a more specialized field and get a career boost. Specializations are available, elementary school, middle school, and secondary education.
Alternative degrees are also available, including:
- Master of Public Administration (MPA)
- Master of Social Work (MSW)
- Master of Laws (LLM)
Will you benefit from pursuing a master’s degree?
If you want to reach the following objectives, you may benefit from a master’s degree:
- You want increased theoretical knowledge and practical skills in a specific area. You believe that your bachelor’s degree isn’t sufficient to make a difference in the world, perhaps.
- You’re eyeing a new career path that a master’s degree will become useful in.
- You want a boost in your earning potential, which can be through a promotion in your current work or another workplace.