What Types of Online Masters Degrees Exist and What are They Called?
A masters degree is a graduate degree, or in other words, given after a bachelor"s degree is earned. It is typically called a masters degree because it shows that a student has mastered whichever subject they earned it in. There are literally hundreds of types of masters degrees, both online and in person, so pace yourself when picking.
The two categories that masters degrees generally fall into are Master of Arts (M.A.) and Master of Science (M.S.), although some degrees have a category of their own. The types of some of the more common online masters degree are listed below:
- Master's in Accounting Degrees
- Master's in Counseling Degrees
- Master's in Education Degrees
- Master's in Finance Degrees
- Master's in Nursing Degrees
- Master's in Public Administration Degrees
- Master's in Public Health Degrees
- Master's in Psychology Degrees
Online Masters Degree Rankings?
The most important thing to consider when ranking an online masters degree is accreditation. Accredited schools are those that have passed the Department of Education’s test on knowledge and value per student’s dollar and are most likely to be acknowledged by a present or future employer. A good first stop is the Database of Postsecondary Education. It allows you to search for a school, college, university, or institution that has passed their scrutiny. You can also search for accredited accrediting agencies or even by state.
Although U.S. News & World Report and many other publications have loads of prestige attached to their top schools, these rankings should not be a deciding factor when choosing a masters degree. Each school has its pro’s and con’s, and ultimately the student and their family are the best judge of which school is best.
Another important thing to consider if and when looking through published rankings of online masters degrees is the type of degree you want. For example, if you want a Master of Arts and the school is recognized for its science program, it might not be the right school for you and vice versa.
Transferring Online Masters School Credits
If you already have some undergraduate or graduate education, transferring credit to your online masters degree is a huge concern. Having to retake classes you have already passed is wasteful of both time and money. Transfer credits will let you actually get credit for basic courses such as math, history, science, and English.
Transfer credits for an online masters degree do not even have to be taken at school. They can be swapped for military studies, advanced high school work, certificates, and even satisfactory test scores. Three important things to remember when transferring credit for a masters degree: 1. Generally a minimum grade of C (2.0) or better is required for each course to transfer 2. Just about every school has a maximum of transfer credits they will apply to a masters degree, and that is usually about half the time of study 3.There are many schools who transfer credits from other institutions at no charge.
An important thing to take into consideration is regionally vs. nationally accredited schools and transfer credit. Because nationally accredited schools are usually for-profit and many offer online master’s degrees, some of these transfer credits won’t be acceptable at regionally accredited schools.
Because each school is different, you should check carefully with an advisor at the college or university to which you are planning to transfer. They can tell you what can be transferred, how much, and at what level you will be put at before beginning your studies. Each school has their own admissions and counseling departments, some with 800 numbers and even the option to chat online.
What Sorts of Careers are Common for Students with an Online Masters Degree?
An online masters degree can open up the doors to a number of new careers, as well as advance the one you may already have. For example, many management positions from small non-profit to giant corporation prefer their managers to have a master’s degree or higher. Examples of possible careers are listed below:
- Teacher From elementary to college, just about every state requires a masters degree or higher to obtain a license.
- Accountant If looking to become a Certified Public Accountant, a program in MBA Accounting or related and a CPA license are required.
- Engineer Whether you work in software, mechanical, electrical, or any other sort, a graduate degree is usually helpful.
- Pastor Although youth ministers and daycare workers can get by with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, in order to serve a large community, a senior pastor is often asked to have a master’s degree.
- Healthcare Administrator These professionals work with doctors, hospitals, clinics, insurance, and even the government to do the business side of healthcare.
- Nurse Practitioner A nurse practitioner is a registered nurse who has received advanced training usually in the form of a master’s degree or higher. They get to work with patients, diagnose, and treat in a manner similar to doctors.
- Veterinary Assistant They assist veterinarians in the care of animals, which can include surgery, long term care, and other aspects of veterinary medicine.
- Psychologists In order to practice therapy, counseling, and other mental health services, many professionals earn a master’s degree or higher in one of the many areas of psychology.
- Research Assistant This position is often taken by those with an undergraduate education looking for a master’s or higher in science. They often assist professors, scientists, and other researchers in their work..
How to Earn an Online Master’s Degree
The first step to earning an online master’s degree is the same as any post-secondary degree: a high school diploma or equivalent. If you don’t have a high school diploma, there are many low or no cost programs that help adults earn one on their own time both in person and online. You can even check with your local high school to see what options they have for adults.
Once you have earned a high school diploma, an undergraduate degree is often required before awarding a master’s degree. A bachelor’s degree is the staple of undergraduate education and usually requires approximately 120 credit hours, or four years, to earn. However, many schools, especially online ones, offer joint bachelor’s/master’s programs, or may not even require a bachelor’s degree.
Once you have completed a bachelor’s degree, you are now free to apply for and earn a master’s degree at a wide range of schools. If the school you earned a bachelor’s degree in also offers master’s degrees, check into it. Admissions may be an easier process, but there can be a downside to having two degrees from the same school. Going to two different schools can open up opportunities, show initiative, and another school may even charge less, so be sure to explore all options.
If this is your first master’s degree, it will take approximately 60 credit hours, or two years of study, to earn. If you already have a master’s degree, transfer and joint credits can make time studying up to half as less. Those going for a doctorate degree may also earn a master’s degree along the way.
What are the average salaries of a person with an online masters degree?
The average salary of someone with an online master’s degree varies greatly on type of degree, experience, and even a little luck. Remember to choose a degree in something you enjoy doing, as the years it can take to earn one will see the market change for just about every career.
Types of online master’s degree chosen have a huge effect on average salary. Those who go into the Master of Arts side may earn less in average salary but can also enjoy benefits such as shorter hours, freelance work, and the opportunity to express themselves creatively on a regular basis. While a Master of Science pays more, especially for business administration and engineering, there may also be longer hours, required certification, licensing, and other barricades, so it is important to learn them before choosing a career.
Online Masters Degree Scholarships and Grants
If you need help paying for any of your undergraduate and graduate studies, there are loads of help. Scholarships come in the form of awarded money to a student that can show promise or need and do not have to be repaid. Grants are gifted money from the government, usually given by need, and do not have to be paid back.
Many schools also offer work for study programs that provide low or no cost education if a student is willing to work in an office or intern-like position in exchange for studying. Finally, there are school loans. Many students, especially graduate, will take out one or more school loans to help pay for their master’s degree. These loans are given at the beginning of the school year and do not have to be paid back until graduation. Once due, they can also have a low interest rate. Below is a list of financial help for those looking to earn an online master’s degree.
- FAFSA A staple of any post-secondary education, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid is standard procedure for most schools to see what aid the student qualifies for. Loads of federal aid and programs are available, and the FAFSA is the first form you should fill out. However, as with all government forms, it is a lengthy process not to be completed in a day and can often require aid. Be sure and contact your current high school or college if you need help, as those who charge for FAFSA help are not allowed to do so.
- Pell Grant This is one of the most common forms of government grants. It provides need-based grants to low-income undergraduate and certain post baccalaureate students to promote access to postsecondary education.
- Post 9/11 GI Bill This is a special scholarship/grant for military personnel who have served during the September 11 period. It covers approved programs offered in associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degree. It can also help with on the job training, apprenticeship, certification exams, and licensure.
- Yellow Ribbon Program If you don’t qualify for the above, you may still be able to get this scholarship/grant from the government for military personnel. It allows participating schools to enter into an agreement where the Department of Veteran’s Affairs will contribute up to 50 percent of school expenses, with the school matching that.
- Fastweb Scholarships This is one of the oldest sites that can put you in touch with scholarships and grants you qualify for. Because each has its own requirements such as area of study, need, race, gender, and much more, it is a good place to do a diligent search.
- Student Aid Finally, this is where graduate students should go for more information on how the federal government can help them. They have options for student aid programs, Stafford loans, PLUS loans, and more. There are also sections for school profiles, exams, and other online resources.
Be sure and discuss all of your scholarship, grant, work for study, and loan options before deciding on a school for your master’s degree. Once a school has accepted you as a student, they are required to show all the help they can give you so that you and your family can make the best decision on which online master’s degree program is right for you.