The 25 Best Colleges for Master’s Degree Programs Online for 2019


By BCR Staff
July 2018

Online master’s degree programs make it more convenient than ever before for professionals to advance their careers in a wide range of employment categories. Generally speaking, employees with master’s degrees make more money and experience more job satisfaction. To keep up with the growing demand for these advanced credentials, more and more colleges and universities are offering their master’s degree programs via distance education.  In this ranking, we explore our picks for the 25 best online schools for master’s degrees.

Rating and Ranking Methodology
Tuition Points:

  • Under $30,000—1 point
  • Under $25,000—2 points
  • Under $20,000—3 points
  • Under $15,000—4 points
  • Under $10,000—5 points

US News and World Report Recognition (Highest Ranking at the Graduate Level)

  • Top 5—6 points
  • Top 10— 5 points
  • Top 25 —4 points
  • Top 50 —3 points
  • Top 75 —2 points
  • Top 100—1 point

Number of Online Master’s Degrees Offered (Does not include concentrations or specializations)

  • More than 50—4 points
  • More than 25—3 points
  • More than 10— 2 points
  • More than 5 – 1 point

Our search for the top online schools for master’s degrees began with an initial pool of more than 65 schools. We narrowed this pool by consulting College Navigator, U.S. News & World Report and each school’s website to apply the rating and ranking methodology above. In cases where two or more schools earned the same number of points, we awarded the higher ranking to the more affordable college or university. 

#25 –University of Illinois-Springfield

Number of Online Master’s Programs: 13
Website
Points: 10
University-of-Illinois-at-SpringfieldThe University of Illinois-Springfield is one of the top online schools for master’s degrees in business as well as many other graduate subject areas. Sample offerings include a MA in Social Services Administration, MS in Data Analytics, MA in Liberal and Integrative Studies, MS in Management Information Systems, and MA in Political Science, for example. Numerous online certification and endorsement programs are also available. In addition, distance students may choose to pursue a number of the university’s online offerings via a hybrid format if desired.
In-State Tuition: $8,772

#24 –Concordia University-St. Paul

Number of Online Master’s Programs: 16
Website
Points: 10
Concordia State University-St. Paul is one of the best online schools for master’s degree programs, in part because of its emphasis on experiential learning. Program offerings include an MA in Criminal Justice Leadership, MA in Differentiated Instruction, MA in Family Science, MA in Human Resource Management, and MA in Sport Management, for example. The curricula for these programs are heavily career-focused, preparing students for advanced roles in their respective fields immediately following graduation.
In-State Tuition: $8,550

#23 –Bowling Green State University

Number of Online Master’s Programs: 15
Website
Points: 10
Bowling Green State University offers numerous online master’s degree options, including a MEd in Learning Design, Master’s of Food and Nutrition, MS in Criminal Justice, and MA in Media Communications, for example. These programs feature multiple start dates, making it convenient for distance students to begin their graduate studies. In addition, 8-week accelerated classes enable students to finish their degrees sooner. According to U.S. News & World Report, BGSU’s strongest online graduate options are in the areas of criminal justice and education.
In-State Tuition: $7,821

#22 –University of Central Florida

Number of Online Master’s Programs: 25
Website
Points: 10
The University of Central Florida is well-known as one of the top online colleges for master’s degree programs, particularly in the areas of criminal justice and nursing. However, robust offerings are available in other subject areas as well. Specific program offerings include an MA in Applied Learning and Instruction, MS in Digital Forensics, MS in Engineering Management, and the Executive Master of Health Administration. It is important to note that although UCF’s online degrees can be completed entirely online, not all elective classes or prerequisite courses are available via distance education.
In-State Tuition: $6,916

#21 –Lamar University

Number of Online Master’s Programs: 20
Website
Points: 10
Lamar University is one of the top online schools for master’s degrees, especially for those distance education students looking to complete their degrees quickly. The school’s accelerated options enable students to earn their credentials in as few as 14 months, depending on the chosen program. Sample offerings include the MS in Port Terminal Management, MEd in Teacher Leadership, an RN to MSN program, and an MS in Nursing Administration. U.S. News & World Report ranked Lamar in the top 50 online schools for graduate degrees in criminal justice.
In-State Tuition: $6,174

#20 –Fort Hays State University

Number of Online Master’s Programs: 17
Website
Points: 10
As one of the top online schools for masters degrees, Fort Hays State University offers many flexible degree offerings, many of which can be customizable to student’s individualized career goals and interests. Available degree programs include an MS in Health and Human Performance, MEd in Higher Education-Student Affairs, MS in Instructional Technology, Master’s in Nursing Administration, and more. According to U.S. News & World Report, the university’s strongest online graduate offerings are in the areas of education and nursing.
In-State Tuition: $3,497

#19 –Penn State University- World Campus

Number of Online Master’s Programs: 44
Website
Points: 11
Penn State University- World Campus has been nationally recognized as being one of the top online schools for master’s degrees in computer information technology, but online graduate degrees in numerous other areas of study are also available. Some examples include an MS in Mechanical Engineering, a Master of Professional Studies in Organizational Development and Change, a Master of Science in Nursing, a Master of Education in Lifelong Learning and Adult Education, and more. The curriculum for these programs is vocationally-focused and mimics the school’s on-campus offerings.
In-State Tuition: $20,470

#18 –Creighton University

Number of Online Master’s Programs: 16
Website
Points: 11
One of the top online schools for master’s degrees in areas such as business, healthcare, and leadership, Creighton University offers well over a dozen purely online programs as well as some hybrid options for graduate students. Sample programs include an online MBA, a Master of Science in Educational Leadership, an MS in Emergency Medical Services, an MS in Nursing, and more. Multiple annual start dates make it convenient for online master’s degree students to begin their studies. The university also offers multiple online graduate certificates and doctoral degree programs as well.
In-State Tuition: $15,300

#17 –National University

Number of Online Master’s Programs: 34
Website
Points: 11
Now one of the top online schools for master’s degrees, National University has been striving to make education more accessible since 1971. It currently offers a range of online graduate degree programs, including offerings in engineering and technology, social sciences and psychology, healthcare and nursing, business and marketing, teaching and education, and more. Specific degree programs now available include an MA in English, MEd in Secondary Education, Global Master in Business Administration, MA in Digital Journalism, and Master of Criminal Justice, for example.
In-State Tuition: $14,976

#16 –University of Massachusetts

Number of Online Master’s Programs: 44
Website
Points: 11
The University of Massachusetts is not only one of the best online schools for master’s degree programs, it has also been a leader in distance education for a quarter of a century now. The university offers over 150 online degree and certificate programs and more than 1500 online courses. Online master’s degree offerings include a Masters in Engineering Management, an MA in Criminal Justice, an MA in Science in a Changing World, and an MA in History among many others. Though most of these degree programs are offered completely online, some blended programs are also available.
In-State Tuition: $13,210

#15 –University of Alabama

Number of Online Master’s Programs: 35
Website
Points: 11
The University of Alabama is routinely ranked among the top online colleges for master’s degree programs in business, engineering, nursing, education, and more. Some of the school’s popular online graduate offerings include an MA in Management, Master of Library and Information Studies, MS in Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics, MA in Journalism, and MS in Marketing, for example. The professors who teach the university’s online programs are the same distinguished faculty members who teach on-campus classes. Some programs offer credit for prior learning or work-related projects.
In-State Tuition: $10,780

#14 –Faulkner University

Number of Online Master’s Programs: 13
Website
Points: 11
Faulkner University is best known as one of the best online schools for master’s degree programs in criminal justice, but it offers programs in a variety of other areas as well. Specific program offerings include an MA in Humanities, Master of Justice Administration, MEd in Curriculum and Instruction, and MA in Christian Ministry. Some of these programs are accelerated, allowing distance students to complete their degrees in approximately one year.
In-State Tuition: $9,450

#13 –University of Memphis

Number of Online Master’s Programs: 18
Website
Points: 11
The University of Memphis offers top online master’s degree programs in subject areas such as arts, business, education, health, humanities, social sciences, and more. Specific program offerings include an MA in Journalism and Strategic Media, Master of Public Health, Master of Science in Educational Psychology, MS in Sport Commerce, and more. All programs are offered entirely online with no required visits to campus. Credit for prior learning is available for some online degrees.
In-State Tuition: $9,054

#12 –University of Missouri

Number of Online Master’s Programs: 45
Website
Points: 11
The University of Missouri offers over 1000 online courses and more than 100 different degree programs, including top online master’s degree programs. Some of the school’s popular offerings include an MA in Architectural Studies, MS in Biomedical Studies, MA in Youth Development, and MS in Personal Financial Planning, for example. It is important to note that many of the school’s online graduate degree programs include a blend of synchronous and asynchronous elements, meaning students may be required to log on to their learning platforms at specific times.
In-State Tuition: $8,640

#11 –Ball State University

Number of Online Master’s Programs: 22
Website
Points: 11
ball-state-universityNationally recognized as one of the top online colleges for master’s degrees in the areas of business, nursing, and education, Ball State University offers nearly two dozen online master’s degree programs. Some examples include an online Master of Arts in Applied Behavior Analysis, an MA/MS in Interior Design, an MA in Emerging Media Design and Development, and an MA in Curriculum and Educational Technology. While most programs are offered completely online, some include residency components, and others are offered via a blended learning format.
In-State Tuition: $8,554

#10 –Liberty University

Number of Online Masters Program’s: 39
Website
Points: 11
Liberty University’s top online master’s degrees can be completed entirely online with no residency requirements or proctored exams requires. Programs span subject areas such as arts and sciences, education, communication, divinity, behavioral sciences, and more. Students may enroll in specific degree programs such as an MA in Professional Writing, Master of Public Administration, MS in Social Media Management, MS in Political Science, and MA in Marriage and Family Therapy, for instance. It is important to note that Liberty University is a religious school, and course topics may be approached from a Christian perspective.
In-State Tuition: $8,217

#9 –University of Florida

Number of Online Masters Program’s: 35
Website
Points: 12
University of Florida Top Online Bachelor's in Sports ManagementHighly ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the best online schools for master’s degree programs in education, the University of Florida is home to over 170 online degree and certificate programs, including those in areas such as business, engineering, agricultural and life sciences, journalism and communication, and more. Specific programs include the Master of Urban and Regional Planning, MS in Veterinary Medical Sciences, MS in Aerospace Engineering, and MA in Mass Communication, for example.
In-State Tuition: $10,770

#8 –Florida State University

Number of Online Master’s Programs: 19
Website
Points: 12
Florida-State-UniversityAmong the top online colleges for master’s degree programs as well as doctoral offerings and post-graduate certificates, Florida State University is well-known for its online master of science programs in the areas of education, criminal justice, business, social work and more. Specific program offerings include the MS Nurse Educator, MS in Risk Management and Insurance, MS in Learning and Cognition, and MS in Information Technology, for example. These and other online master’s degree programs are offered through FSU’s Office of Distance Learning.
In-State Tuition: $9,684

#7 –Colorado State University

Number of Online Master’s Programs: 38
Website
Points: 12
Colorado State University Top Online Bachelor's in FinanceKnown as one of the top online schools for master’s degrees in engineering, Colorado State University also offers online master’s programs in the areas of business, arts and music, agricultural sciences, computer science and technology, education, communications, and more. Program offerings include an MS in Dietetics, an ME in Biomedical Engineering, a Masters in Applied Statistics, an MBA program, and more. Hybrid programs are also available at the graduate level as are online Ph.D. programs.
In-State Tuition: $9,000

#6 –University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Number of Online Master’s Programs: 29
Website
Points: 12
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is well-known as one of the top online schools for masters degree programs in business administration, but it offers online master’s programs in many other subject areas as well. Specific programs include Master of Applied Science in Community Development, MS in Interior Design, and MS in Family and Consumer Sciences Education, for example. UNL’s online programs are comparable in academic rigor to their on-campus counterparts, and distance students receive many of the same resources as traditional students, including career counseling, academic advising, and library resources.
In-State Tuition: $7,518

#5 –University of Wisconsin

Number of Online Master’s Programs: 55
Website
Points: 13
The University of Wisconsin is one of the best online schools for master’s degree program in terms of the number of degrees available. The school offers over 60 online graduate offerings, the vast majority of which are master’s programs. Some of these programs include a Master of Science in Administrative Leadership, an MS in Cartography and Geographic Information Systems, an ME in Engineering, and an MS in Training and Human Resource Development. The curricula for these programs are as rigorous as the school’s on-campus programs, and many offerings are available in hybrid formats for students who desire more interactivity.
In-State Tuition: $10,728

#4 –Auburn University

Number of Online Master’s Programs: 27
Website
Points: 13
Auburn University has positioned itself among the top online schools for master’s degrees in business, education, and engineering as well as numerous other subject areas. Through the Office of Distance and Continuing Education, the school offers a Master of Accountancy, Master of Turfgrass Management, Executive Master of Real Estate, and MS in Nutrition, for example. Auburn offers these programs through various different delivery modes to accommodate the schedules and preferences of their online students.
In-State Tuition: $9,342

#3 –Arizona State University

Number of Online Master’s Programs: 54
Website
Points: 14
Arizona State University has been lauded as one of the top online schools for master’s degrees, consistently ranking in the top ten online graduate programs for business and education and the top 50 for criminal justice and engineering. Specific programs include the Master of Advanced Study (MAS) in American Media and Popular Culture, MS in Business Journalism, MS in Biomimicry, and MS in Information Management. US News & World Report has also recognized Arizona State University for its innovation in education.
In-State Tuition: $11,240

#2 –North Carolina State University

Number of Online Master’s Programs: 41
Website
Points: 14
Among the nation’s top online colleges for master’s degree programs, North Carolina State University offers over 90 online programs, including top-ranked offerings in computer information technology, engineering, business, and education. Specific masters degree programs include the Master of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, MEd in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, MS in Computer Networking, and Master of Soil Science. Although most of NC State’s online graduate degree programs are offered completely online, some require campus visits and/or proctored exams.
In-State Tuition: $8,492

#1 –Sam Houston State University

Number of Online Master’s Programs: 27
Website
Points: 14
Sam Houston State University tops U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of online master’s degrees in criminal justice, and the school ranks among the best schools for online master’s degree programs in computer information technology and education as well. Specific offerings include an MS in Criminal Justice Leadership and Management, MA in Higher Education Administration, MS in Victim Services Management, and MA in Communication Studies, for instance. It’s important to note that some of Sam Houston State’s online master’s degrees do require minimal campus visits.
In-State Tuition: $5,391

Thanks for checking out our ranking of the 25 Best Schools for Online Master’s Degree Programs!