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Best online master's programs: Our top picks for 2022

We've chosen the best schools for online master's programs to provide you with expertise and credibility to thrive in your career.
Written by Melissa Sartore on
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A master's degree builds on your existing education and experience to give you advanced understanding of your field. With a master's degree, you have opportunities to move into leadership and managerial roles in your current profession. Having a master's degree can lead to career advancement, and certain roles require a master's degree.

Online master's degrees have similar curricula and requirements to on-campus programs. And an online program allows you to earn a degree on a timeline that suits your personal and professional needs. Online master's programs may also be more affordable than a brick-and-mortar option. 

If you want to build up your credentials first, consider pursuing an education from the best online colleges. However, if you're already qualified for an online master's program, or if you're just curious, we've identified our top picks for 2022 below.

Top 5 online master's degrees: Quick facts

College

Program stats

How much?

University of California, Los Angeles

Los Angeles, CA

  • Acceptance rate: 14%
  • Graduation rate: 92%
  • Project or comprehensive exam options available
  • Supplemental certificate programs available

Per credit hour: $1,400

Application fee: $120

Ohio State University

Columbus, OH

  • Acceptance rate: 68%
  • Graduation rate: 77%
  • Education programs include practicum coursework
  • Four nursing specializations available

Per credit hour: $1,595 resident

$1,795 nonresident

Application fee: $60

University of Florida

Gainesville, FL

  • Acceptance rate: 31%
  • Graduation rate: 88%
  • Three forest resources and conservation specializations available
  • More than 13 pharmaceutical sciences degrees offered

Per credit hour: $525-$1,500

Application fee: $30

Duke University

Durham, NC

  • Acceptance rate: 8%
  • Graduation rate: 95%
  • Accelerated quantitative management degree available
  • On-campus requirements for some programs

Per credit hour: $3,346

Application fee: $95

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, NC

  • Acceptance rate: 23%
  • Graduation rate: 91%
  • Internship worked into digital curation and management program
  • Master of public administration includes professional work experience requirement

Per credit hour: 

$586.23 resident

$1,602 nonresident

Application fee: $95


Tori Rubloff/ZDNet

Checklist for applying to graduate school

Applying to graduate schools is an involved process, but advanced planning can help it go more smoothly.

 Departments and programs may have deadlines differing from institutional deadlines. Make sure to check deadlines for programs you're interested in and give yourself plenty of time to finish applying.

You should also gather documentation, note admission requirements, explore tuition and funding options, and contact admissions offices with any questions you have. 

  • Here's a checklist of what you need to do to prepare for and apply to graduate school.
  • Decide on a type of program
  • Choose the schools to which you plan to apply
  • Review admission criteria
  • Take the GRE, the GMAT, or other admissions exam
  • Complete the FAFSA to quality for federal student aid
  • Send transcripts from your undergraduate degree and any previous graduate coursework
  • Contact potential writers for letters of recommendation
  • Research funding options like assistantships and stipends
  • Apply for private, departmental, and field-specific scholarships. 

The best online master's programs

To produce this list, we started by collecting federally reported data, programmatic and professional outcomes, and insights from industry experts. Then we applied ZDNet's ranking methodology to find the best of the best. We've broken down the details to help you decide which college is right for you. 

Unless otherwise indicated, data is drawn from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and College Scorecard. Note that for public colleges, the average annual net price given is for in-state students.

1. University of California, Los Angeles

Los Angeles, California

About the school: With more than 14,000 graduate and professional students, UCLA's online master's degrees include one in healthcare administration and 15 engineering programs. 

  • Acceptance rate: 14%
  • Graduation rate: 92%
  • Avg. annual net price: $15,023
  • Time to completion: Two to three years
  • Minimum GRE score: No minimum
  • Minimum GPA: 3.0
  • Enrollment periods per year: Two
  • Course delivery method: Asynchronous

Accreditation: The University of California, Los Angeles is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

2. Ohio State University

Columbus, OH

About the school: OSU offers 20 online master's degrees. The online MBA is designed specifically for working professionals.

  • Acceptance rate: 68%
  • Graduation rate: 77%
  • Avg. annual net price: $16,845
  • Time to completion: Two years
  • Minimum GRE score: No minimum
  • Minimum GPA: 3.0
  • Enrollment periods per year: Three
  • Course delivery method: Synchronous and asynchronous

The Ohio State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). 

3. University of Florida

Gainesville, Florida

About the school: With more than 80 online master's degrees available, UF also offers academic programs at dozens of locations statewide.

  • Acceptance rate: 31%
  • Graduation rate: 88%
  • Avg. annual net price: $5,135
  • Time to completion: Two years
  • Minimum GRE score: Varies
  • Minimum GPA: 3.0
  • Enrollment periods per year: Three
  • Course delivery method: Asynchronous

Accreditation: The University of Florida is accredited by the Southern Commission on Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

4. Duke University

Durham, North Carolina

About the school: Affiliated with the United Methodist Church, Duke hosts nearly 10,000 graduate students annually, including those enrolled in the institution's 10 online master's programs.

  • Acceptance rate: 8%
  • Graduation rate: 96%
  • Avg. annual net price: $32,459
  • Time to completion: One to two years
  • Minimum GRE score: Required in some departments; no set minimum
  • Minimum GPA: N/A
  • Enrollment periods per year: Three
  • Course delivery method: Asynchronous, synchronous, and hybrid

Accreditation: Duke University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

5. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

About the school: Alongside online doctoral, undergraduate, and certificate programs, UNC-Chapel Hill offers 12 online master's degrees. 

  • Acceptance rate: 25%
  • Graduation rate: 90%
  • Avg. annual net price: $12,469
  • Time to completion: Two years
  • Minimum GRE score: 50th percentile or better recommended
  • Minimum GPA: 3.0 recommended
  • Enrollment periods per year: Four
  • Course delivery method: Asynchronous and synchronous programs available

Accreditation: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). 

6. University of Michigan

Ann Arbor, Michigan

About the school: With 19 schools and colleges, U-M offers 15 online master's degrees among its over 275 online programs through Michigan Online. Through U-M, students can earn an online master's in health infrastructures and learning systems.

  • Acceptance rate: 26%
  • Graduation rate: 92%
  • Avg. annual net price: $14,878
  • Time to completion: One to two years
  • Minimum GRE score: No minimum; average is 80th-90th percentile
  • Minimum GPA: Varies
  • Enrollment periods per year: One
  • Course delivery method: Asynchronous

Accreditation: The University of Michigan is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

7. Stanford University

Stanford, California

About the school: Stanford offers 13 online master's degrees. Alongside extensive engineering options, programs include education, statistics, physics, and informatics master's degrees. 

  • Acceptance rate: 5%
  • Graduation rate: 96%
  • Avg. annual net price: $12,894
  • Time to completion: Two to five years
  • Minimum GRE score: Varies
  • Minimum GPA: N/A
  • Enrollment periods per year: Four
  • Course delivery method: Asynchronous and synchronous programs

Accreditation: Stanford University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

8. Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore, Maryland 

About the school: Established in 1876, Johns Hopkins houses nine academic divisions. Johns Hopkins accommodates part-time and full-time students alike with more than 50 online master's degrees.

  • Acceptance rate: 11%
  • Graduation rate: 93%
  • Avg. annual net price: $23,428
  • Time to completion: Two to five years
  • Minimum GRE score: Varies
  • Minimum GPA: 3.0
  • Enrollment periods per year: Three
  • Course delivery method: Asynchronous and synchronous programs available

Accreditation: Johns Hopkins University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

9. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

About the school: Through Penn's online learning initiative, students can complete one of four online master's degrees. Programs include nonprofit leadership, computer and information technology, animal welfare and behavior, and healthcare innovation.

  • Acceptance rate: 9%
  • Graduation rate: 97%
  • Avg. annual net price: $25,046
  • Time to completion: Two to five years
  • Minimum GRE score: Varies
  • Minimum GPA: Varies
  • Enrollment periods per year: Varies
  • Course delivery method: Asynchronous and synchronous

Accreditation: The University of Pennsylvania is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). 

10. New York University

New York, New York

About the school: With three campuses and 11 academic centers and research programs worldwide, NYU offers 24 online master's degrees through nine of its academic schools. 

  • Acceptance rate: 21%
  • Graduation rate: 84%
  • Avg. annual net price: $38,569
  • Time to completion: Two to five years
  • Minimum GRE score: Varies
  • Minimum GPA: Varies
  • Enrollment periods per year: Varies
  • Course delivery method: Asynchronous and synchronous

Accreditation: New York University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

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