2021 Easiest Online Masters Degree [Quick Guide]
Some of the easiest online masters degree programs can help set you on a path toward a rewarding and lucrative career.
While all masters degree programs require hard work and dedication, there are some programs that offer a faster path to earning your degree. Easy master’s programs may be available in a range of topic areas, from business administration and communication to psychology and sports management.
There are a variety of factors that can make a graduate program easier to complete. For instance, some of the shortest masters degree programs available accept transfer credits, have no thesis requirement, and offer more flexible attendance formats.
Easiest Online Masters Degrees
All masters programs require work and dedication, but some online masters degrees have features that may make them more practical for some students, such as:
- No thesis requirement
- No internship requirement
- No GRE or GMAT requirement
- 100% online format
- Acceptance of transfer credits
- Less math required
- Less science required
The programs described below don’t require entrance exams or internships. They are also non-thesis and are offered 100% online or in a hybrid format. Select the program that most interests you to jump to that section of the guide:
- Criminal Justice
- Education and Teaching
- Educational Leadership
- Healthcare Administration
- Human Resources
- Human Services
- Liberal Arts
- Library Science
- Public Administration
- Sports Management
Both of these fields offer plenty of opportunity for growth, a lot of different job prospects, and plenty of job security.
Online Master of Business Administration (MBA)
Online Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs are designed to offer a holistic look at business practices in relation to areas such as leadership, ethics, finance, human resources management, marketing, and operations management.
A master’s degree in business administration can help prepare you for roles in leadership and management. This may include positions in the c-suite, such as chief executive officer, chief human resources officer, or chief operations officer.
Other management careers include operations manager, marketing manager, management consultant, director of information technology, or director of supply chain operations.
The direction of your career may be influenced by the academic area you choose to concentrate on. Examples of concentrations for an MBA program include e-commerce, accounting, real estate, international business, and leadership, among other options.
An MBA program can include courses on microeconomics, marketing management, foundations of teamwork, leadership fundamentals, statistics, and management communication.
Online Masters in Communications
Online masters in communications programs focus on providing students with an understanding of how to use verbal and nonverbal communication strategies effectively in various settings, including for business purposes.
With an online master’s in communications, you may be ready to take on various roles in the field. Some graduates pursue leadership positions like chief communications officer, director of public relations, advertising and promotions manager, or public relations manager.
Other careers in communications include marketing specialist, news media correspondent, researcher, technical writer, speechwriter, or event planner and fundraiser.
In some cases, communication masters degree programs allow you the opportunity to specialize in certain areas. Specialty areas include digital media, public relations, and intercultural communications.
Online masters in communications programs can include courses like communication theory and strategies, leadership and communication, nonverbal communication, communication in politics, global and intercultural communication strategies, and communication in a crisis.
Online Masters in Criminal Justice
Online masters in criminal justice programs are built to offer a blend of knowledge and skills stemming from different educational areas, including law, psychology, sociology, and criminology. Those with an advanced degree in criminal justice may pursue positions in law enforcement, such as police officer, detective, or corrections officer.
Other careers in the field include crime policy analyst, cybersecurity investigator, and director of emergency services. In some cases, online masters in criminal justice programs allow you to select an area of concentration, such as criminal behavior, crime prevention, or offender rehabilitation.
An online masters in criminal justice program’s curriculum can include a variety of topics, such as theories and application of crime prevention, correctional rehabilitation, theories of correction, criminal justice, criminology, and crime mapping.
Other courses can include statistics, research methods for criminal justice professionals, white-collar crime, analysis of serial offending, terrorism, and law enforcement practices.
Online Masters in Education (or Teaching)
Online masters in education programs are designed to provide an in-depth understanding of education, teaching, and leadership in academic settings. With an online masters in education, you may be qualified for a range of positions in the educational field.
Advanced careers in this field include community college teacher, school principals for K-12, instructional coordinator, or postsecondary education administrator. Other career options can include special education teacher, education consultant, or trainer within a business or organization.
Coursework in an education masters program will vary depending on the area of concentration you choose to pursue. Concentrations can include curriculum development, multicultural education, educational administration, special education, and foundations of education.
Course topics may include theories of curriculum, principles of teaching, inclusiveness in classrooms, early childhood education strategies, and curriculum design.
Online Masters in Educational Leadership
Online masters in educational leadership programs are geared toward those who have a keen interest in management positions within academic settings.
These programs aim to provide you with knowledge and skills relating to managing financial and human resources, measuring student success, and developing an effective school curriculum.
Graduates may pursue leadership or administrative roles at various educational levels, such as elementary school, middle school, high school, or postsecondary institutions. For instance, they may become K-12 principals or postsecondary education administrators.
Other potential career paths can include curriculum designer, instructional coordinator, or educational policy analyst.
As part of an educational leadership degree program, you may complete courses that cover diversity and multicultural perspectives in education, school and community relations, human resources management, and financial management in education.
Additional courses can include ethical considerations in educational leadership, American higher education, managing student affairs, and curriculum development.
Online Masters in Healthcare Administration
Online masters in healthcare administration programs are designed to provide you with an understanding of operational management needs within healthcare settings. They can help prepare you for leadership and management positions in the field.
With a masters in healthcare administration, you may be qualified for various leadership and management roles in different healthcare settings. Various workplaces can include hospitals, physician offices, nursing homes, residential care facilities, government organizations, and nonprofits agencies.
Common careers in the field can include medical and health services manager, human resources manager, finance manager, or manager of health information. Other positions can include administrator of a nursing home or care facility, chief operations officer, or social and community services manager.
When pursuing an online master’s in healthcare administration, you may take courses on health administration, human resources management, healthcare law, financial management, ethical decision making in healthcare, or health informatics.
Other courses can include community health, health information management systems, records management, organizational leadership, or managing change in healthcare settings.
Online Masters in Human Resources
Online masters in human resources degree programs are structured to provide a comprehensive understanding of business operations through the lens of employee relations.
This type of program can help you develop skills for strategy building, policy and procedure development, and problem solving. Graduates may break in to various c-suite positions, such as chief human resources officer or chief operating officer. Director of human resources and human resources manager may be available career paths as well.
Other positions can span across the different specialties in the field, including labor relations specialist, benefits and compensation manager, job analyst, employee relations specialist, training and development coordinator, or recruitment manager.
Your coursework may cover topics like talent development, workforce planning, employment law, HR leadership strategies, and total rewards.
Online Masters in Human Services
Online masters in human services programs are designed to provide skills and knowledge related to supporting individuals who are facing challenging life circumstances. These circumstances can include housing, health, employment, and relationship issues.
Common careers in this field include marriage and family therapist, health educator, community college professor, school and career counselor, probation officer, correctional treatment specialist, and mental health counselor.
As part of a human services masters program, you can often choose to concentrate in certain areas of study, such as organizational leadership and management or social and community services. Other specialties can include criminal justice, nonprofit administration, mental health, and family studies.
Your program’s curriculum will vary depending on the specific concentration you choose to pursue. Your course topics, though, may include motivational interviewing, advocacy in social change, trauma and crisis response tactics, grant writing, and research and evaluation methods in human services.
Online Masters in Liberal Arts
Online masters in liberal arts programs are focused on offering a broad and interdisciplinary learning experience. Liberal arts programs pull from different educational streams, such as English, history, math, religion, philosophy, sports management, and political science.
With a liberal arts masters degree, you may be prepared for flexible and diverse career options. Liberal arts career paths can include writer, editor, community college instructor, news correspondent, or social services manager.
Due to the diverse nature of the program, you may be able to take on roles in various sectors or industries, including sales, education, leadership and management, and business, among others.
Your program may include courses that cover principles of workforce development, sports administration, human resource analytics, artificial intelligence in business settings, criminology, sociology of law, and interest groups in American politics.
The courses in your program’s curriculum will vary greatly depending on the specialization or educational path you choose to pursue as part of your studies.
Online Masters in Library Science
Online masters in library science programs can help prepare you to manage and create information databases in order to store and record relevant information and datasets.
Careers in the field of library science may be found in various areas, including academia, data sciences, leadership and management, media and digital services, information management, youth services, and information technology services.
Graduates may want to become community college instructors, librarians, archivists, or computer and information research scientists. A masters may also help you qualify for positions in leadership and management. Leadership positions in the field include librarian director and director of information services.
In your masters program, you may take courses on information behavior, information retrieval system design, information communities, organization of information and resources, applied research methods, government information sources, and reference and information resources.
Online Masters in Management
Online masters in management programs offer you a blend of education that covers the various areas of business. These areas include finance, marketing, operations, human resources, strategy, and general management.
Common management careers including marketing manager, human resources manager, training and development manager, public relations manager, and project manager. Additional career options may include community college instructor, operations manager, chief operations officer, data scientist, or business analyst.
Your curriculum may require you to complete a range of management-related courses, including conflict management, business ethics, human resources management, organizational theory, and managing communication.
Other courses can include business analytics, economics for management professionals, business strategy and policy development, information technology security, and marketing management.
Online Masters in Psychology
Online masters in psychology programs are built to provide an in-depth understanding of key principles in the field of psychology, including theories, research methodologies, and applied practices.
With an advanced degree in psychology, you may be prepared for roles in various fields, such as community services, healthcare, social services, and education, among others.
Some professionals who hold a masters degree in psychology become community college instructors, mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, correctional treatment specialists, data analysts, research psychologists, or survey researchers.
The field of psychology has a number of different disciplines or areas of specialty. Specializations include general psychology, educational psychology, applied behavior analysis, digital psychology, health psychology, forensic psychology, counseling psychology, educational psychology, and social psychology.
Depending on the concentration you choose to pursue, you may take courses that cover topics like psychology and personality, social psychology, cognitive behavior, research methods, or research theory and design.
Other courses can include culture and psychology, psychopathology, biopsychology, forensic psychology, or theories of learning.
Online Masters in Public Administration
Online masters in public administration programs are designed to provide a comprehensive overview of administrative and management functions of government and non-profit institutions. They aim to help you develop appropriate leadership and management skills for those settings.
Common roles in public administration include political scientist, budget analyst, management analyst, and community college instructor. An advanced degree in public administration can also help you prepare for management and leadership roles.
Advanced positions in this field include chief executive officer, chief human resources officer, director of operations, human resources manager, administrative services manager, and community services manager.
During your masters program, you may complete courses that cover legal issues in public administration, budgeting and financial management, research methods for public administration professionals, and techniques in program evaluation.
Online Masters in Sports Management
Online masters in sports management programs are structured to provide you with an understanding of management, leadership, and general business practices as they directly relate to the world of sport management.
With a degree in sports management, you may be qualified for various positions in the field. Common sports management careers include community college instructor, sports marketing specialist, sports agent, sports and recreation manager, data analyst, and athletic director.
In some cases, you may have the opportunity to choose an area of concentration, such as global sports, sports analytics, or digital sports media. In your online masters program, you may take courses on leadership in sports, financial management, law and ethics in sports, sports marketing and media management, and public relations in sports.
Other course topics can include data analytics in sports, sports revenue strategies, and sports sponsorships and sales.
Careers & Salaries
Depending on the accelerated master’s program and academic area you choose to pursue, you may find rewarding employment opportunities in a variety of industries.
Common workplaces that benefit from masters graduates include outpatient care, hospitals, individual and family services, offices, elementary or middle schools, state government institutions, or federal government institutions.
Some graduates pursue work in research and development, nonprofit, finance and insurance, or religious, scientific, or professional services. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a master’s degree can help qualify you for a variety of positions across a diverse spectrum of industries.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Computer and Information Research Scientists||$126,830|
|General and Operations Managers||$103,650|
|Postsecondary Education Administrators||$97,500|
|Librarians and Library Media Specialists||$60,820|
|School and Career Counselors||$58,120|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||$51,340|
A wide selection of careers that may be available to you with your degree are expected to experience positive job growth over the next several years.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, positive growth is expected for top executives (4% job growth), librarians and library media specialists (5%), school and career counselors (8%), and postsecondary teachers (9%).
Employment is also expected to grow for management analysts (11%), archivists (8%), computer and information research scientists (15%), and marriage and family therapists (22%).
Typical Graduate School Admissions Requirements
The specific admission requirements for some of the fastest masters degree programs can vary from one to the next. Here are some common criteria:
- Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
- Statement of intent
- Resume or CV
- GRE or GMAT scores (if required)
- Letters of recommendation (only some schools require them)
In some cases, schools may require that you have obtained a specific GPA throughout your undergraduate studies.
In order to earn regional accreditation status, schools and their subsequent programs must undergo a review of their offerings and the quality of their academic programs. So, the status of accreditation verifies that the offered programming meets a specific set of quality standards.
The accreditation status of the school you attend for your master’s degree can influence your ability to transfer credits into another program or enroll in a doctoral program down the road. This status can also impact the hiring decisions of potential employers, as accredited institutions are generally seen with higher regard.
For more information on the accreditation status of schools you’re interested in attending, you can visit the US Department of Education’s website.
Grad School Financial Aid
Even the quickest masters degree online programs—including one year masters programs and masters degree without thesis options—come at a cost.
Luckily, if you qualify, there are a number of resources that may be available to help you cover the costs, including loans, grants, scholarships, and work study options. Both federal and state governments have loan and grant offerings that can help you fund your graduate studies if you’re eligible.
Scholarships, provided by private businesses, nonprofits, schools, or government institutions, may be another option available to you. In some cases, government institutions offer work-study programs, which let you work while you complete your degree.
For more information on financial aid opportunities, you can visit the US Department of Education’s website and fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Should I Get a Masters Degree?
Depending on your career and education goals, earning a masters degree can offer you a number of benefits, including:
- Increased earnings potential. An employee with a masters degree typically earns more than those with a bachelor, associate, or high school education.
- Improved advancement opportunities. A masters may help qualify you for advancement, especially into leadership and management positions.
- Reduced unemployment. This includes improved stability.
- Increased job opportunities. A masters can offer you the opportunity to find more rewarding work.
Pursuing a masters degree can be particularly valuable if it is in line with your career goals and can help you achieve the advancement you’re looking for.
How Hard Is a Masters Degree?
The easiest online masters degrees are often those that don’t require a thesis or internship as part of the degree program. These types of programs rely instead on coursework to provide the necessary knowledge and skills.
The overall ease of a masters degree program can also depend on the content being studied. For example, some students may find topics in science and mathematics harder than those in social sciences or business.
Master degree programs are geared toward higher-level education and learning. So, these graduate degree options generally require more studying at a higher intensity than a bachelor degree program. Additionally, masters degree programs generally involve more research than their undergraduate counterpart.
What Are the Most in Demand Masters Degrees?
Masters degrees can help with career advancement in several industries, including business, healthcare, information technology, public service, and education.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, some of the fastest-growing occupations require master degrees, including nurse practitioner (52% job growth) and statistician (35%).
Other positions—such as medical and health services manager (32%), operations research analyst (25%), and substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselor (25%)— only require a bachelors, but some employers prefer candidates with a masters degree.
Additional positions that either require or are more accessible with a masters degree include information security analyst, social worker, nursing instructor, and roles in management and leadership.
Can You Finish a Masters in One Year?
A 36 credit hour masters program without a thesis requirement can be completed in 1 year with full-time enrollment.
The length of time it takes for you to complete your degree can depend on a number of factors. Some common factors include whether or not you have credits to transfer into the program, the attendance structure you choose to follow, and the academic area you pursue.
Enrolling on a part-time basis will typically extend the length of time required to complete your degree. It may also take longer if your program requires you to complete a thesis or internship in order to graduate.
What Can I Do with a Masters Degree?
With a master’s degree, you may be qualified for a variety of positions in sectors such as business, healthcare, education, management, human services, or criminal justice, among others.
More senior positions can include chief executive leadership roles, computer and information research scientists, general and operations managers, postsecondary education administrators, and management analysts.
Other positions that often require a masters-level education include community college instructor, librarian, school and career counselor, archivist, and marriage and family therapist.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Masters Degree Online?
Depending on the program and school you choose to attend, earning a master’s degree online may take anywhere from 1 to 2 years.
A number of factors—such as a program’s required number of credit hours and whether there’s a thesis requirement—can impact the length of time required to earn your degree. The attendance schedule that you choose to follow, whether full-time or part-time, can also impact how long it takes for your to earn your degree.
What’s the Difference Between a Graduate Certificate vs. Masters Degree?
While both graduate certificate and master degree programs offer higher-level education than bachelor degree programs, there are key differences between the two options.
- Often less expensive than master degree programs
- Often take less time to complete than a master degree program
- Generally provide a more in-depth learning experience and focus on mastery of a particular area of study
- Can provide higher employment rates when compared to non-degree options, like graduate certificates
The option that’s right for you can depend on your career and educational goals.
Are Masters Degrees Worth It?
Yes, earning a masters degree is worth it for many professionals. In some cases, earning a master’s degree can be linked to higher earning potential and greater opportunities for career advancement.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are a number of careers that require a master’s degree as an entry-level education requirement that are expected to experience a positive job outlook over the next ten years.
These positions include top executives (4% job growth), librarian (5%), school and career counselor (8%), and management analysts (11%). Management occupations in general are expected to grow 5% over the next decade.
Universities Offering Easiest Online Masters Degree Programs
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format. In addition, the universities either do not require thesis and GRE or GMAT scores as part of the admission requirements.
Academy of Art University is accredited by WASC Senior College and University Commission.
Arkansas State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Cameron University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Clemson University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Faulkner University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Illinois Institute of Technology is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Indiana State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Louisiana State University – Shreveport is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Marist College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Ohio University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of Kentucky is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
University of Maine is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
The University of Maryland Global Campus is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
The University of Miami is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
The University of New Orleans is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The University of the Potomac is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Wayne State College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Weber State University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Western Governors University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Wilmington University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Earning Your Masters Degree Online
Some of the easiest masters degree programs can be completed in as little as 1 year. This is particularly likely for programs that don’t require a thesis in order to graduate.
Earning your master’s degree online may provide you with increased earnings potential and the opportunity for career advancement. There are many types of online programs, such as ones with flexible schedules or accelerated study options.
If you’re ready to advance your training and expertise, you can start by researching online masters programs from accredited universities to find the ones that best align with your professional goals.