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Inside the Best Online Master’s Programs in Pennsylvania (PA)

Pennsylvania boasts some of the most revered educational institutions in the country. Learn more about the online master’s programs in Pennsylvania to determine which is the best fit for your career and educational aspirations.

Obtaining a master’s degree can help you fine-tune your career trajectory after earning a more generalized undergraduate degree. It can also help you further your chosen career path and hone your skills. Either way, you’ll have plenty of desirable options when choosing an online master’s program in Pennsylvania, thanks to the state’s wide array of reputable higher ed institutions that recognize the value of convenient (and in many cases, affordable) online master’s programs.

Not sure where to start? This guide will help you narrow down your choices among the 113 Pennsylvania colleges and universities that offer master’s programs.

Top-Rated Online Master’s Programs in Pennsylvania for 2024

Online master’s programs in Pennsylvania are widely available, offered by some of the top universities not just in the state, but in the country. Pennsylvania is also home to one of the first all-online degree campuses, the Penn State World Campus, which launched in 1998 and today offers 175 degree programs.

Depending on the degree program you choose, you may be required to attend in-person classes or travel to campus on occasion. It’s not the case for every single degree program though, and you can find completely remote learning options for graduate study if you prefer.

The following three school spotlights showcase the three best Pennsylvania universities for earning your master’s degree online. Though you’ll have to decide for yourself what suits your specific needs, these universities promise high-quality master’s programs to fit an array of career goals and lifestyles.

Read on to learn about our top three choices and use the information as a starting point to compare other options throughout the state.

Penn State World Campus

Penn State’s World Campus (the entirely online arm of Pennsylvania State University) offers one of the most respected online master’s programs in Pennsylvania. The university has offered distance learning options since 1892, allowing you to benefit from Penn State’s breadth of expertise without a single trip onto campus (though if you ever do need/want to visit campus, you’ll be glad to know that Penn State boasts a range of convenient satellite locations around the state).

Online students enjoy a suite of services like on-campus students, including academic advising, disability and mental health services, research library access, career counseling, leadership opportunities, financial aid, and more.

The World Campus offers 56 master’s programs taught by top faculty, with focus areas ranging from accounting to industrial engineering, nutritional sciences to turfgrass management. And, after you get your master’s degree, if you want to continue your online studies, Penn State World Campus offers four doctoral degrees!

Temple University

Philadelphia-based Temple University offers online master’s programs in Pennsylvania that are fully online and asynchronous, so you can pursue your education on your own schedule. You can also choose hybrid and synchronous options, if you prefer to work in tandem with your peers or want a mix of both.

Choose from 11 online master’s programs, with degree options ranging from travel and tourism to business administration to music. Online doctoral programs are also offered.

Online students have access to a variety of students resources, including the student success center, disability services, and the Temple library system with over 600 research databases and the opportunity to interact digitally with library staff.

Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania

The Ohio State University offers 23 online master’s degree programs in a wide variety of disciplines including engineering, healthcare, education, social work, science, and more. Programs are accredited and built with working professionals in mind, providing flexibility to complete the program on the student’s terms. You’ll experience engaging online courses that are created by a team of instructional designers.

Students learn from a world-class faculty who also teach on campus, completing coursework at their own pace, with program offerings full- or part-time. All students are encouraged to build community and network with faculty and fellow students. In addition, affordability is part of Ohio State’s mission. There are no additional or hidden fees, and there are several scholarship and financial aid options.

Types of Online Master’s Programs Available in Pennsylvania

Before you decide which university to attend, make sure the online master’s programs offered fit your lifestyle and needs. For example, there are full-time online master’s programs that require a greater time commitment, part-time programs that are less demanding but take longer to complete, no-GRE programs, and accelerated programs that allow you to graduate in as little as one year.

Here’s what you need to know:

Full-Time Online Master’s Programs in Pennsylvania

A full-time master’s program requires a commitment of nine or more credit hours per semester, which is equivalent to about three classes per semester. You’ll graduate faster with full-time study but will need to commit more hours to coursework per week to complete your degree program.

Many universities throughout Pennsylvania offer full-time online master’s programs, including Penn State World Campus and Drexel University.

Part-Time Online Master’s Programs in Pennsylvania

Most universities offering online master’s programs understand that many students pursuing master’s degrees are already engaged in their careers to some level and need a certain amount of flexibility. They may not be able to devote quite as much time to their studies as others, necessitating part-time online master’s programs.

Typically, a part-time program requires a minimum of 4.5 credit hours per semester and a maximum of nine credit hours, which usually works out to two classes per term. As you might expect, this doubles the time it will take to obtain your degree, but you do get the added flexibility of part-time study.

You can find part-time online master’s programs offered by a range of universities in Pennsylvania, including Penn State World Campus and Shippensburg University.

No-GRE Online Master’s Programs in Pennsylvania

A no-GRE online master’s program allows you to skip the GRE process before enrolling in your master’s program. The GRE is a standardized test that master’s programs use to determine whether you have the base knowledge necessary to do well within the program’s field of study.

Luckily, if the idea of taking a standardized test makes you anxious, you can find no-GRE online master’s programs in Pennsylvania. For example, you can obtain your MBA through Penn State World Campus without a GRE, and you can do the same at the Villanova School of Business.

In some instances, certain requirements apply. With some no-GRE programs, you may be required to show proof of your GPA in undergraduate studies or show relevant work experience.

Accelerated Online Master’s Programs in Pennsylvania

An accelerated online master’s program is a good fit for savvy students currently pursuing their bachelor’s degrees, but who already know that they want to get their master’s degree. Through these accelerated programs, undergraduate students can earn credits toward a master’s degree simultaneously, allowing them to spend less time in graduate school.

Universities provide accelerated online master’s programs in some fields of study but not others. For example, Gwynedd Mercy University offers online accelerated master’s and doctoral programs in education, and Slippery Rock University offers an accelerated Master of Business Administration degree that can be completed in as little as one year.

In-Demand Master’s Degrees in Pennsylvania Available Online

Master of Business Administration (MBA)

A Master of Business Administration degree is one of the most popular and versatile master’s degrees overall, not just in Pennsylvania. For those already in just about any sort of business role, an MBA can help you move to the next step in your career and gain leadership positions that might otherwise be unobtainable, whether you want to work in finance, consulting, tech, the nonprofit sphere, etc. When we say an MBA is a versatile degree, we mean it!

Quality Examples of Online Programs

MS in Engineering

There are a range of engineering specialties and niches that you can focus on for an engineering master’s degree. Options range from acoustics engineering to systems engineering and beyond. Obtaining an engineering master’s degree can help you negotiate a better salary at your next engineering job and make you a more desirable candidate for leadership roles.

Quality Examples of Online Programs

MS in Education

Most educational leadership roles do require a Master of Science in Education degree. For example, if you ever wanted to be a principal at a school, you would need to get this degree first.

A master’s in education will help you stand out in what can feel like a crowded field. You’ll find many schools in Pennsylvania that offer education master’s programs completely online.

Quality Examples of Online Programs

MS in Psychology

Just like an engineering master’s degree, a psychology master’s degree gives you ample options when it comes to choosing a niche or specialty. Additionally, this master’s degree is required if you want to pursue a doctoral degree later. However, you can also use this type of degree in other fields that you might not immediately think of, such as social work.

Quality Examples of Online Programs

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

If you have any interest in an artistic field, you may want to pursue a Master of Fine Arts degree, which covers a broad array of topics, so you can choose the art-related specialty that most resonates with your career goals. From writing to design, music and more, you’ll have an array of options.

Quality Examples of Online Programs

How Much Does an Online Master’s in Pennsylvania Cost?

Before embarking on the pursuit of your master’s degree, understand the total cost and have a plan in place for how you’ll pay for your education. If you need financial aid, investigate your options and realistically consider what you can afford and what aid you’re most likely to receive. Note that the cost of obtaining a master’s degree can vary wildly depending on your university and degree of choice.

Here are a few examples of what you can expect to pay.

School Name No. of Credits Cost/Credit Est. Tuition Cost

30

$1,017

$30,510

37

$515

$19,055

30

$330

$9,900

Pennsylvania’s Master’s Degree Funding Opportunities

Just like your bachelor’s degree, there are similar options for funding for your master’s degree, including scholarships, work-study programs and fellowships.

For example, if you were to pursue a Penn Engineering Online degree from the University of Pennsylvania, you would be eligible for scholarships and fellowships, and if you were enrolled in at least two courses for the semester, you could apply for a federal student loan.

As another example, Penn State offers aid to graduate students in the form of loans, work-study programs, fellowships, training grants, assistantships, and more.

Top Earning Careers with a Master’s in Pennsylvania

A master’s degree can open up job opportunities and help you make you more money according to national statistics that show when leveling up from a bachelor’s degree to a master’s, professionals made nearly $250 more per week on average, which adds up to about $13,000 per year.

In Pennsylvania, some fields offer master’s degree-holders even more in entry-level salaries, as 2023 data from the Pennsylvania state government showed. The state found that some master’s degree-reliant fields pay newcomers as much as $81,000 (physician assistants) or even $171,000 (nurse anesthetists).

Nurse Practitioner

Nurse practitioners can offer a variety of services to patients, and work in a variety of settings. As one of the most versatile healthcare roles, this job choice often promises a high level of satisfaction for those who want a healthcare salary, but not necessarily the longer hours or extremely stressful environments associated with other healthcare roles.

State Median Annual Pay National Job Outlook Related Master’s Degree
$120,550 38% MS in Nursing

Sources: Pennsylvania State Center for Workforce Information and Analysis, 2022;The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 2022

Statistician

For those with a knack for numbers, a role as a statistician may be a good fit. A master’s degree is required for most high-paying statistician roles. Statisticians work in a range of industries, but their jobs basically come down to analyzing data to help organizations make the best decisions based on their goals.

State Median Annual Pay National Job Outlook Related Master’s Degree
$89,540 32% MS in Statistics

Sources: Pennsylvania State Center for Workforce Information and Analysis, 2022;BLS, 2022

Physician Assistant

A physician assistant role differs from that of a nurse practitioner in that physician assistants must work under the supervision of a doctor. Otherwise, the roles are very similar. A master’s degree is required to become a physician assistant.

State Median Annual Pay National Job Outlook Related Master’s Degree
$110,140 27% MS in Physician Assistant Studies

Sources: Pennsylvania State Center for Workforce Information and Analysis, 2022;BLS, 2022

Occupational Therapists

An occupational therapist provides physical therapy specifically to those who need it to go about their daily lives and fulfill their job duties.

State Median Annual Pay National Job Outlook Related Master’s Degree
$88,560 12% MS in Occupational Therapy

Source:Pennsylvania State Center for Workforce Information and Analysis, 2022; BLS, 2023

Computer & Information Systems Manager

Computer & IT systems managers are usually responsible for planning, coordinating, and directing a business’s computer-related activities and services while helping the organization meet its IT goals.

State Median Annual Pay National Job Outlook Related Master’s Degree
$155,290 15% MS in Computer and Information Systems

Source:Pennsylvania State Center for Workforce Information and Analysis, 2022; BLS, 2023