The following is a collection of the top masters degrees programs from accredited colleges. You can look for more schools offering Masters degrees or other related degrees by using the widget to the left or further down. By filling out the “Request Information” forms with the links provided, you can get free information from each school.
1) What Types of Masters Degrees Exist and What Are They Called?
Master’s degrees are generally awarded after one to three years of graduate study and can be earned online or from a traditional, on person campus. Admission to a master’s program is usually granted to those holding a bachelor’s degree.
- Master of Accounting (M. Acc.) If interested in becoming a Certified Professional Accountant, this degree is one of the most common and can qualify the holder to take the C.P.A. exam.
- Master of Arts (M.A.) This master’s degree can be awarded in any of the arts including history, literature, women’s studies, and many more.
- Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) Different from the above degree in that it centers more around the practice of the art studied, rather than focusing on academic or critical study.
- Master of Architecture (M. Arch.) Learn architecture, engineering, drawing, and design as part of this degree.
- Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) One of the more popular of the graduate degrees, it is awarded to those interested in business and is offered in loads of specialties.
- Master of Education (M. Ed.) Whether for K-12 or higher education, teachers in many states are required to have this degree or higher.
- Master of Health Administration (M.H.A.) Enter the world of healthcare administration with this graduate degree including managerial, directorial, and other leadership positions in the field of health.
- Master of Science (M.S.) Those looking to go into one of the sciences such as engineering, biology, chemistry, and others will often get an M.S. in that area.
- Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.) This degree prepares students to go into the executive branch of non-profit organizations or the federal, state, or local government.
- Master of Science in Nursing (M.S.N.) If looking to become a nurse practitioner, advanced practice registered nurse, clinical specialist, or other advanced health professional, this degree is a common choice.
The above are just a few examples of the types of master’s degrees. There are literally hundreds more and include just about every area imaginable from agriculture to technology.
2) Where Can I Find Master’s Degree Rankings?
There are many factors to consider before choosing where to get your master’s degree from. An important first step is to make sure the school offering it is accredited by the U.S. Department of Education. Click here to view their Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs. Then just type in the name of your school, or even state, to see if your school is accredited and what schools in your state are accredited.
Now that you know which schools are accredited, choosing between them can be difficult. Many publications come out with a yearly list of top colleges, and one of the best known is USA Today. They list the best colleges in liberal arts, business programs, engineering, and even the best graduate schools. Another publication that has also jumped into the fold of ranking colleges is Forbes. They list the best of both public and private schools from the student’s point of view. You can also sort the list by state, size, and cost.
While these rankings hold some value, the ultimate ranking system is the one made by the student. Things such as tuition, available financial aid, flexible class times, and location can all be critical factors when getting a master’s degree. The best course of action is to narrow the choices to a few, apply to them all, and see which you are accepted into, along with what the out of pocket costs will be before deciding on a school.
3) Can I Transfer Master’s Degree Credits?
Many students are concerned about whether their credits will transfer from one school to another. This is an important factor when getting a master’s degree, as transfer credits can take the place of college courses you have already taken. Both money and time saving, transfer credits should be asked about as soon as possible before deciding on a school. Contact the counseling office of the school you are attending and/or plan to attend to get the latest information on transfer credits.
One of the main obstacles to getting transfer credits is accreditation. If the credits are earned in a school that is not accredited, chances are the classes won’t transfer. If both the schools transferring from and to are accredited, there is still the issue of nationally versus regionally accredited schools. For example, if getting a degree from a nationally accredited university and transferring from a regionally accredited one, classes may not transfer because different agencies have accredited them.
Because students need a bachelor’s degree before getting a master’s, having an undergraduate degree can help bypass many transfer credit issues. Those who hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university are likely to be able to begin studies for a master’s degree right away. Depending on full-time or part-time education, students can get a master’s degree in three years or even as little as 18 months, depending on the school.
If you already have a bachelor’s degree and some graduate courses completed, check with the school you are transferring to before enrolling to see how many transfer credits, if any, they will allow. This can be a deciding factor in picking a graduate school.
4) What Sorts of Careers Are Common With a Master’s Degree?
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, over 600,000 students earned a master’s degree in 2007-2008, with more expected in the following years. Below are just some of the career choices available with a master’s degree.
- K-12 Teacher Teach everything from kindergarten to high school with this degree. Teachers also get perks such as six hour workdays and summers off.
- Physician’s Assistant Work alongside doctors in the healthcare field as a nurse or on the administrative side.
- Nurse Practitioner Usually requiring an M.S.N. and license, these advanced nurses can work in clinics, hospitals, or even their own private practice.
- Hospital Administrator Work on the managerial and administrative side of medicine to manage patients, staff, and costs.
- Certified Public Accountant With a master’s degree and a C.P.A. certification, these accountants can work for anyone from large corporations to contract work.
- Information Technology Specialist This career is possible with a master’s degree in computer science, engineering, software design, or related degree.
- Engineer Whether in mechanical or biology, engineers usually have a master’s degree or higher in their preferred area of engineering.
- Human Resources Manager An M.B.A. or other master’s in business degree is often asked of a manager in human resources.
- Financial Analyst Another career that requires an M.B.A. or similar degree, portfolio and asset management are the focus of this career.
- Architect Most architects have a master’s or bachelor’s degree from an accredited program and are required to have a license in all 50 states which involves passing the Architect Registration Examination.
The above are just some of the careers available with a master’s degree. While some jobs, such as nurse practitioner or accountant, require a master’s degree as well as a license, others such as administration and management can allow candidates to substitute relevant experience for education. For example, someone with a bachelor’s degree and two years of on the job experience might be viewed in a similar light as someone with a master’s degree who has just graduated, depending on the employer.
If you know which career you would like or even which employer you would like to work for, contact their human resources department. They can tell you what qualifications make job candidates stand out for them. If you would like to move up in your current position, ask your supervisor or HR department if a master’s degree can help towards climbing the ladder.
5) What are the Best Paying Master’s Degrees?
Having a master’s degree in any field can usually lead to higher pay. When it comes to technical areas such as science or business, a master’s degree can truly pay off. One of the best examples of this is in the career of a petroleum engineer. Hired by energy companies across the globe, they are highly in demand and make an average annual pay of $119,960 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. A master’s degree in engineering or higher is usually required and the states that hire the most petroleum engineers include Alaska, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Texas, and Louisiana.
But petroleum isn’t the only engineer that pays well. Other engineers that pay impressively according to Payscale.com, include aerospace or chemistry at $108,000 each, electrical or nuclear at $104,000 each. Even a biological engineer has an average salary of $101,000. All of these careers require a master’s degree or higher in engineering and demonstrable knowledge of the field.
But you don’t need to major in engineering to get one of the best paying master’s degrees. Business areas such as statistics and finance pay very well and have salaries of $93,400 and $91,500, respectively. Information technology is also where those who have a master’s degree can earn a great deal of money. Software engineers have an average annual salary of $91,500. In the same field, managers of information systems have a median pay of $90,300.
Although pay is an important factor, it should not be the only one considered when a student chooses to get a master’s degree. With the economy fluctuating on a regular basis, the degree chosen today may not be the one that pays the highest tomorrow. Other factors such as location, experience, and necessary certifications can also influence the pay of any job.
6) What is the Average Salary of Someone with a Master’s Degree?
According to the United States Census Bureau, those who get a master’s degree will earn an average of $2.5 million in salary over a 40 year career. The same agency estimates that those with a bachelor’s degree average $2.1 million in lifetime earnings. High school graduates earn approximately 1.2 million for the same period.
Type of master’s degree also affects pay. For example, a master’s degree in education can lead to a career as an elementary, high school, or special education teacher. Average annual salaries for all three were $41,402, $53,005, and $40,942 according to Payscale.com. The same site also examined the average annual pay of students with a Master of Business Administration. Possible careers included senior financial analyst, finance controller, and chief executive officer. Average annual pay for the three was $73,309, $84,556, and $172,022.
If there is more competition in a career, pay is also likely to be affected. The College Solution is a blog put out by CBS Money Watch that often examines issues in education. In this blog entry, they examine some of the lower paying master’s degrees. Average annual salary for those in the mid-level areas such as theology, music, and drama are all at or below the average salary for most Americans. Theology majors earned $51,500, music majors $52,000, and drama $56,600.
And these are just some of the factors determining average annual pay for those with a master’s degree. Although there are no charts for issues such as passion for the work and talent, either of these can be a huge factor when applying for and performing the task. The bottom line is: the more you enjoy doing something, the better you will be at it, the more you will be paid for it.
7) Where Can I Find Master’s Degree Scholarships and Grants?
Taking an average of six years to earn for high school graduates, four years for those with an associate’s degree, and two for those with a bachelor’s degree, paying for a master’s degree can seem overwhelming. Below we have included just a few resources for finding scholarships and grants.
- FAFSA The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is a vital step to paying for any collegiate degree. Accepted by just about every school in the United States, fill it out early and every year to see what scholarships and grants you qualify for.
- Fast Web College students, parents, and even those in high school can stop here to learn loads about paying for school including scholarships, financial aid, and more.
- Scholarships.com Similar to the above, simply sign up for a free account to get connected to billions of dollars’ worth of scholarships.
- Gates Foundation Billionaire Bill Gates is no stranger to charitable giving. His foundation aims to give out over 27,000 students scholarships by 2016. Click on “Find a Scholarship” to begin.
- UNCF This organization gives out several scholarships a year, each with its own eligibility criteria. Visit to see which is best for you.
- HACU The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities awards scholarships to students who attend an affiliate school and have an updated list on their site.
- Students.gov The student gateway to the U.S. government is featured here. Visit to help plan an education, pay for it, and even get tips for career development.
- Tax Information for Students If you have any out of pocket costs for your education, chances are they can be written off during tax time. See how and how much with a visit here.
- Student Loans 101 If you have questions about getting a student loan, visit here to get the basics on Stafford, private, and PLUS loans.
- Internships.com Get a valuable experience as well as a way to help pay for a master’s degree by taking on a position as an intern. This site has over 20,000 internships currently available all across the nation.
Be sure and know the differences between the ways to pay for a master’s degree before you agree to them. Scholarships are awarded on an academic or needs basis and generally require the student to maintain a minimum GPA, volunteer, or other form of activity. Grants are money given by the government on a needs basis and may need to be applied for every year.
Student loans are not free money and are required to be paid back upon graduation or if the student drops out. They generally have a low interest rate and should be considered carefully before being agreed on.
Internships, work for study, and other forms of employment cannot only help pay for a master’s degree, they can also give students valuable work experience. Good places to find opportunities are at your school’s counseling, financial aid, or career placement office. You can also contact a company or organization directly to see what positions they are offering to students.