What are the Most Popular Master’s Degrees to Earn Online?

Earning a master’s degree online can enhance your career without taking over your life. The most popular online programs offer flexible scheduling, job-focused training and transferrable skills. It’s no surprise that most graduate students looking for online programs choose study paths like business or nursing that offer direct career benefits.


A master’s degree in business remains one of the most popular online degrees. An MBA is applicable in many different situations, so students with diverse career goals are attracted to these programs. You can earn an MBA with a focus on healthcare administration, human resources or leadership. You can find online business programs that emphasize group work, marketing presentations or data analysis. Plus, an MBA is a recognizable and practical degree. You know you’ll learn real world skills you can immediately apply to any job. Unlike a specialized M.A. program, your master’s in business administration can benefit you if you switch career paths.


According to U.S. News and World Report, education is the third most popular online degree. Many school districts offer increased pay to teachers who pursue an M.S. in Education. Students benefit from educators with enhanced teaching ability, and teachers benefit from an increased salary. Some schools also offer tuition assistance to encourage teachers to complete their degree. Because educators have non-flexible schedules and heavy workloads during the school year, online master’s programs are very popular. Universities offer unique options like summer classes or one-month courses over winter break.


Graduate work in nursing remains highly sought after. A master’s degree in nursing offers a clear career path for registered nurses looking to boost their prospects. You can earn a degree in nursing leadership to move into management or study a specific clinical area to improve your bedside skills. To become a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) requires a master’s degree in nursing and offers a median wage of $160,250. Anesthesia programs aren’t 100% online, but many schools are offering online courses to make it easier for working nurses to finish their master’s degree.

Criminal Justice

Law enforcement agencies are changing the way they do business. It’s still possible to enter the police force with minimal college education, but you’ll need credentials to be eligible for promotion. If you want to head a police agency or join a specialized department like homicide or vice, you need at least a bachelor’s degree. At larger agencies with more competition, a master’s degree in criminal justice is necessary. For federal jobs in the FBI or CIA, you’ll find it hard to even land an interview without a graduate-level education. Criminal justice programs remain a popular online degree for the same reason as the other choices on this list: They offer a direct boost to your career.

If you’re looking for an online degree program to move on to the next step in your career, consider this list of the most popular options. You should also talk to your boss or professional mentors about what’s necessary in your particular field. The most popular master’s degree in the world won’t help you if it’s not applicable to your long-term goals.

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Cheapest Online Colleges for Master’s Degrees