Ready to take the next step in your career and increase your earnings? According to Indeed.com, going from a bachelor’s degree to a master’s degree increases your salary by an average of 20%. That’s not the only good news: Getting a master’s doesn’t take as long as you might think.
Just a few years ago, earning a master’s degree required you to attend several years’ worth of classes on campus. Now, many master’s degrees are offered online. Not only does this provide greater learning flexibility, but it also allows you to graduate much faster. In fact, it’s common to find an online master’s degree program that you can complete in less than two years. Read on to explore top programs and learn more about what it takes to earn a master’s degree online quickly.
Top 41 Colleges with the Fastest Online Master’s Degrees
Best Career Fields to Get Your Master’s Fast
Even though the benefits of a master’s degree are clear, that doesn’t mean all professionals benefit in the same way. For some jobs, a master’s degree might be required to take on certain roles because of licensing certification rules. A master’s degree might not be a necessity in other careers, but because of what you’ll learn, it’s strongly recommended. Below is a list of some of the fields where earning a master’s degree is either required or is a necessity for advancement.
Anyone who wants to go as far as possible as an accountant will want to become a Certified Public Accountant or CPA. To become a CPA, an individual must complete at least 150 credit hours of post-secondary training. Most bachelor’s degree programs include about 120 credit hours. Therefore, earning a master’s degree in accounting online helps meet this eligibility requirement for becoming a CPA. It also provides advanced training that’ll prove helpful in practice—and helpful for passing the Uniform CPA Exam. In addition, a master’s program allows you to learn more about a specific area of accounting, such as forensics, risk management, and taxes. Having a specialty makes you more marketable.
Many people who pursue an online MBA want to gain special business skills, move into a different area of business, become more effective in their current position, or take on a new role in their organization. For example, some might take specialty courses in accounting, finance, information systems, or cyber security. If getting into management is one of your goals, a master’s is a logical step. Most MBA programs include management-related coursework. Another benefit of earning a master’s degree in business administration is the networking opportunities you’ll have. The connections you make often have as much of an impact on your career as the information you learn.
Computer Science or Management
Getting a master’s degree in computer science online opens new professional pathways because you’ll learn new skills, such as a specialized form of web development or database management. Your master’s degree can also facilitate a shift in career focus. For example, a master’s degree in computer science is the first step for anyone wishing to engage in deeper research or move into management. Students may already have technical knowledge and years of experience in the sector. Still, if they want to manage people, they’ll need additional management training.
Getting a master’s degree in education online opens career paths not available to those with a bachelor’s degree. One possibility is using the degree to teach at a community college or university. Another benefit is learning the skills necessary to teach specific groups of children, such as students with special needs.
The primary reason to earn an online master’s degree in finance is to learn more advanced skills and information. At the undergrad level, a finance degree covers general financial concepts and theories, such as investments, private and public debt, and the fundamental mathematical formulas and models used to analyze financial data. But with a master’s degree, students learn more about a particular aspect of finance, such as fintech, quantitative analysis, financial reporting, and management. Whether it’s working in a new area in the financial markets or better understanding the changing financial world, a master’s degree in finance puts your career on a new trajectory.
A master’s degree in healthcare administration is ideal for those seeking a supervisory position in a particular department or specialty area in a healthcare setting. It’s also suitable for students interested in working on the financial or budgeting aspect of a hospital or other healthcare facility. For instance, if you’d like to shift your work from hands-on care to making department-wide decisions, a master’s in healthcare administration is a good fit.
One thing to keep in mind is that a master’s degree in healthcare administration isn’t usually the same as a master’s degree in healthcare management. There’s plenty of overlap in the coursework. Still, a master’s degree in healthcare management focuses more on the management and operations of an entire organization, and a master’s in healthcare administration focuses on the financial considerations of a healthcare department.
An online marketing master’s degree can help you better understand marketing concepts and apply them to your current profession or a new area. If you work in sales or finance, but part of your job is to bring in new clients, a master’s degree in marketing will help you succeed. In addition, a master’s degree in marketing offers a way for someone already in the marketing profession to stay current in an ever-changing industry.
The direct-entry online MSN is suited for individuals with a non-nursing undergraduate degree who wish to become registered nurses. But even experienced nurses pursue MSNs to learn advanced skills, focus on a particular field of nursing (like midwifery), or take on greater responsibilities (such as becoming an advanced practice registered nurse and prescribing medications). This degree also allows a shift into nursing management. A registered nurse might want to work less with patients and more on making personnel decisions for their department. In addition, master’s-prepared nurses work as teachers and professors.
Most Popular Accelerated Online Master’s Degrees
How long it takes to earn a master’s degree depends on its academic requirements. Some subjects and fields are better suited for quicker studies. The five master’s degrees listed below are among the fastest to complete. Learn how long these degrees typically take and how much they cost.
An online master’s degree in psychology typically takes one to two years to complete. A general psychology or forensic psychology master’s degree usually is the quickest. These degrees consist of as few as 30 credit hours; in an accelerated curriculum, you could earn either of these master’s degrees in just one year. Various factors play a role in the cost, but prospective students should expect to pay anywhere from $400 to $1,300 per credit.
You can earn an MSN online in as little as one year. Students who already have a bachelor’s degree in nursing can complete the required 32 to 37 credits in an accelerated format if they focus on a master’s degree with no hands-on clinical requirements. Because many students work full-time while in school, earning an MSN often takes closer to 18 months. As for cost, an MSN runs anywhere from $300 to $1,700 per credit.
Most students earn their MBA in about two years. Accelerated programs shorten this timeframe to about 18 months. However, graduating in just one year is sometimes possible, especially if the student has credits or experience that count toward the 35 or so credits necessary to graduate. Costs vary based on the type of school and prestige of the program; prospective students should anticipate paying anywhere from $300 to $1,700 per credit.
A master’s degree in finance will normally consist of 30 to 36 credits and take two years or less to complete. Graduating in just one year is possible for students willing to take classes year-round. A more common scenario is for a student to work full-time and graduate in 18 months. The cost of a finance master’s degree ranges from $400 per credit for in-state students up to $1,200 per credit at more competitive private universities.
Dozens of master’s degrees are available in education. Many of them consist of 30 to 38 credits and normally take about two years to complete. These include degrees in adult education, elementary education, and education administration. If a program is offered in an accelerated format or has self-paced asynchronous learning, students can earn their degree in less than 18 months. When it comes to paying for the degree, expect roughly $300 to $800 per credit.
Benefits of Getting Your Master’s Quicker
For most professionals, earning a master’s degree improves their compensation and their potential for professional advancement. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that workers with a master’s degree can expect to earn an extra $200 per week and have a lower unemployment rate. Getting a master’s degree also provides an opportunity to switch careers.
What stops many potential students is the cost, both in terms of money and time. Busy professionals struggle to squeeze one more thing into the day. However, you can cut both cost and time. Most online master’s programs are set up for students to graduate in two to three years. But if you graduate in 18 to 24 months, you can potentially save tens of thousands of dollars and jump up to a new pay grade quicker.
Below are some of the benefits you’ll find with a quick master’s program.
Thanks to the flexibility available with online programs, the timing for your master’s can be fluid. Let’s use a master of business administration (MBA) degree as an example. A part-time program usually takes three to four years to complete. A traditional full-time program takes two years to complete. But if you choose an accelerated curriculum, you could graduate in as little as 12 to 18 months. And that means getting your pay raise or completing your career shift that much sooner.
The logic is simple—the less time a student spends in school, the less tuition and fees they will pay. Some programs charge a flat fee, and you can take as many classes as you want during the time frame covered by the fee.
Oftentimes, master’s programs intended for quick completion have generous transfer credit policies. This takes the form of giving credit for prior coursework or professional experiences. The more transfer credits someone has, the fewer classes they need to complete—meaning less time in school and less money for tuition.
Greater Earning Potential
A master’s degree often leads to a pay increase. In some professions, a pay raise is automatic, based on the fact that the employee now has a master’s degree. For example, teachers get a raise in some school districts once they complete a master’s.
A master’s degree also allows professionals to step into more advanced roles. Nursing is a great example of this. A registered nurse with a master of science in nursing (MSN) can earn more and provide more advanced care to patients. They can be nurse managers and advanced practice registered nurses, both of which are in demand and well paying.
A master’s degree offers a deep dive into the latest developments in your field. For example, consider computer science. A bachelor’s degree gives you a broad foundation in computer science principles and theories. These include programming, artificial intelligence, information systems, and networking. But a master’s degree in computer science often provides courses in an area of specialization, such as cyber security, big data, or machine learning. And because the field of computer science changes quickly, graduate students learn about cutting-edge developments, some of which may not yet be public knowledge.
Highly Focused Education
Unlike many on-campus bachelor’s programs where enjoying college life is part of the experience, online master’s degree coursework covers only the relevant subject matter. Of course, graduate classes still explore new ideas and delve into questions. Still, most instruction and materials are directly appropriate to the degree.
How to Succeed in an Accelerated Online Master’s Program
To make the most of an online master’s program, you’ll need to make sure you enroll for the right reason. For many students, a master’s will give their existing career a boost, and so an accelerated program makes sense. For those who want to earn a master’s simply for the sake of intellectual stimulation, looking for a non-accelerated or part-time program might be a better fit.
Another important quality you’ll need to succeed in a speedy master’s program is the ability to handle a large amount of information very quickly. A typical master’s program might require students to take two, three, or four classes during two semesters. But an accelerated program might require students to take four or five classes at a time throughout the entire year. Students must soak up a lot of information in a short amount of time with few breaks.
Finally, a key trait for success in an accelerated master’s program is self-discipline. Because many online programs are self-paced or offered in an asynchronous format, it’s easy to fall behind on your studies. And due to the expedited nature of the curriculum, you may not be able to catch up.