10 Best Online Grad Schools

Written by Grad School Center Team We are a passionate team of experienced educators and advisors at GradSchoolCenter.com, dedicated to guiding students through their graduate education journey. Our experts, with advanced degrees across various disciplines, offer personalized advice, up-to-date program information, and practical insights into application processes.

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Updated: February 29, 2024, Reading time: 13 minutes

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In a professional environment that emphasizes specialized knowledge, many would argue that an undergraduate degree won’t cut it. It is, however, a stepping stone to a new and exhausting yet fulfilling graduate journey. A master’s or doctorate program isn’t for the faint of heart, and, as busy professionals would ask, “Who has time for that?”

Enter online graduate degrees that make advanced studies possible for working professionals. Online graduate students typically keep jobs and run their businesses while striving to earn a doctorate or master’s degree.

They attend online graduate colleges that present them with the option to study at their own pace in a flexible manner and make it work around their schedules without compromising the quality of education and training they obtain.

Quick audio summary:

Online Grad School Fact

Are you seriously considering obtaining a Master’s or Ph.D. in your field? First things first; choose the right online graduate college for you!

If you are just getting started with the grad school search, check this out: Grad School Must-Haves for First-Time Grad Students

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Following exhaustive research, we have rounded up the Best Online Grad Colleges in the United States. In particular, we took into account these salient features that make these online colleges stand out:

Grad School Center is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Top Online Grad Schools in the United States

University of Florida

Gainesville, Florida

University of Florida

Popular Graduate Degree Programs:

Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering
Master of Arts in Art Education
Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
Doctor of Educational Technology (Ed.D.)
Ph.D. Latin and Roman Studies

The University of Florida boasts numerous online graduate degree programs that are top-ranking. Featuring an exceptional academic curriculum, the university enables its online students to complete their master’s and doctorate programs at the same level as their on-campus counterparts.

If you’re determined to earn your master’s or Ph.D., for the best career opportunities, the University of Florida’s Online OneStop can assist you in navigating academic and administrative services. You can also ask for help in the areas of financial aid application and tutoring. U.F. Online OneStop also offers online graduate students full access to its exclusive career services. You can request a resume critique from the school’s Career Center.

University of Central Florida

Orlando, Florida

University of Central Florida

Popular Graduate Degree Programs:

Master of Science in Digital Forensics
MSAE in Aerospace Engineering
Master of Science in Criminal Justice
MSN in Nursing
Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
Ph.D. in Nursing

Being a leading online university in the U.S., the University of Central Florida (UCF) Online assists you in being fully prepared to become an industry leader through one of its online doctorate and master’s degree programs.

The UCF online graduate programs are designed not only to promote strengthened specialized knowledge and skills among students but also to cultivate proficiency in navigating an ever-changing career and professional landscape.

UCF Online offers a range of educational guides through the UCF Online experience. The school’s online graduate education system is designed to provide high-quality online degree programs for working professionals, with an emphasis on innovative learning and teaching strategies.

University of the Cumberlands

Williamsburg, Kentucky

University of the Cumberlands

Popular Graduate Degree Programs:

Ph.D. in Business Administration
Master’s in Addiction Counseling
Master’s in Justice Administration
Doctorate in Educational Leadership (Ed.D.)
Doctorate in Information Technology (Ph.D.)
Master’s in Christian Studies

The University of the Cumberlands is a private academic institution offering master’s and doctorate programs in a web-based format. The Kentucky-based university believes that every student should have access to the same quality of online education that traditional learners obtain. Online or on-campus, the school promises to maintain its “grand tradition of academic excellence” while allowing for an enriching graduate student experience.

Most online graduate students at the University of Cumberlands are adult learners who seek to progress in their professional objectives through high-quality advanced education.  Since the university has a resilient reputation and history that is deeply rooted in the conventional approach, online graduate students genuinely need to succeed in their studies.

University of Central Arkansas

Conway, Arkansas

University of Central Arkansas

Popular Graduate Degree Programs:

Master of Business Administration (MBA)
Master of Science in Instructional Technology
Masters of Library Media and Information Technologies
Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

The University of Central Arkansas (UCA)’s online programs are consistently high-ranking mainly because of the versatility and convenience that are afforded to distance learners by such programs.

UCA Online ensures that all online graduate students benefit from state-of-the-art learning platforms, complete with the resources. The school maintains a UCA Online 24/7 technical support for its online course management system, so students can reach out to a program coordinator through phone and email for any academic concerns.

UCA Online adopts a ‘Students First’ policy, emphasizing support and assistance to online students, including those on their graduate journey.

Florida International University

Miami Florida

Florida International University

Popular Graduate Degree Programs:

Master of Arts in African and African Diaspora Studies
Master of Science in Computer Engineering: Network Security
Master of Arts in Disaster Management
Professional Science Master in Forensic Science
Master of Science in Special Education
Master of Public Administration

Florida International University (FIU) is a recipient of the R1 Carnegie ranking, the highest research rank granted by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Through the combination of forward-thinking technical innovations and excellent teaching and learning methods, FIU Online guarantees excellent and experiential learning.

FIU Online takes pride in its excellent services for online graduate students. The school offers I.T. assistance, virtual tutoring, and success coaches. The school’s first-rate student resources, online support groups, software resources, and student complaint process make it a highly preferred online academic institution.

FIU Online is recognized as one of the prominent universities in the country, producing over 200,000 online graduates in 33 countries.

See Also: How to Succeed in Grad School

Colorado State University- Global

Greenwood Village, Colorado

Colorado State University- Global

Popular Graduate Programs:

Master of Science in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Master of Science in Data Analytics
Master of Science in Professional Accounting
Master of Science in Project Management
Master of Science in Human Resource Management

Colorado State University-Global (CSU-Global) promises an outstanding learning experience for its online graduate students. Options for online graduate studies are master’s degree programs that equip students with an advanced set of skills.  As the first 100% online state university that is fully accredited, CSU Global is the choice of some 200,000 alumni—including successful online graduate students—from all corners of the globe.

CSU’s graduate standard admission rules dictate that to be accepted, you need to have an undergraduate or graduate GPA of at least 3.00. Otherwise, you will have to apply for provisional admission, which would essentially require documentation for application for graduate studies.

Student services for online graduate students include around-the-clock technical support and academic tutoring, in addition to career navigation services.

Arizona State University- Skysong

Scottsdale, Arizona

Arizona State University- Skysong

Popular Graduate Programs:

Master of Science in Aging
Doctorate in Behavioral Health (Management)
Master of Arts in Biosecurity and Threat Management
Master of Science in Clinical Research Management
Master of Arts in Community Resilience
MCS Cybersecurity

Arizona State University (ASU)-Skysong is a top online academic institution that presents students with a wide range of master’s and doctorate program options in various disciplines. Did you know that 87% of ASU-Skysong’s recent graduates receive job offers within three months after earning their degree? At ASU, students become equipped for real-world career settings, ready to take on the evolving nature of their chosen specialization.

ASU Online sets itself apart as an institution by continually upholding academic excellence. ASU Online offers essential student support services, including the Pitch application that allows them to work closely with their advisors and professors in addressing their graduate program coursework. The Career and Professional Development Service also provides online career workshops.

University of Illinois

Springfield, Illinois

University of Illinois

Popular Graduate Programs:

Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering
Master of Science in Engineering
Doctoral Degree in Learning Design & Leadership (Ed.D.)
Doctoral Degree- Global Studies in Education (Ed.D.)
Doctoral Degree- Doctor of Public Health (DrPH in Leadership)

The University of Illinois (UIS) Online features 54 online master’s degree programs and five online doctorate programs. These web-based graduate programs allow students to earn an academic minor in a different area of discipline while pursuing their graduate studies. UIS graduate students are urged to engage in scholarly research projects to further their expertise.

Online students can access the student resources of this top online academic institution anytime. The career development center at UIS provides essential student services like test preparation, career counseling appointments, and resume critiques.

Northeastern University

Boston, Massachusetts

Northeastern University

Popular Online Graduate Programs:

Master of Science in Analytics
Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis
Master of Science in Applied Nutrition
Master of Arts Administration and Cultural Entrepreneurship
Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy
Professional Doctorate in Education

Northeastern University Online boasts a wide variety of emerging and industry-aligned master’s and doctorate programs. Advisors and faculty are committed to supporting graduate students since they understand their unique needs and demands. Students can perform short-term tasks in prominent companies online, which enables them to make vital contributions to the development of useful skills.

Being one of the high-ranking universities in the world, Northeastern University provides significant, real-world experience for most online graduate degrees through its Experiential Network. Aside from student services, the university also has specific resources for veterans, which include the Yellow Ribbon Program.

Similar to other high-ranking universities, Northeastern University also features an online tutoring center and a virtual writing center, which significantly assists graduate students.

Penn State World Campus

University Park, Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania State University-World Campus

Popular Online Graduate Programs:

Master of Professional Accounting
Master of Education in Educational Leadership
Master of Health Policy and Administration
Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

Graduate students at Penn State University – World Campus engage in peer-to-peer engagement and self-study to facilitate online learning. Students can complete their courses at their convenience and pace so they can focus on graduate study without giving up their careers and other obligations.

Distance learners at Penn State University – World Campus—graduate students included—have access to technical support, career and academic advising, and orientation services. In facilitating online learning for graduate study, the university utilizes state-of-the-art platforms, including discussion boards, social media, email, video conferencing, and chat.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should students consider pursuing an online graduate program?

Students have several reasons to pursue an online graduate program. Some professionals are interested in returning to school for career advancement. Students’ situations vary, but the pursuit of an advanced degree is a challenge, regardless. As a graduate student, you will have to make priority adjustments, rethink your spending, and manage your time wisely.

Online graduate programs are ideal if you are comfortable with the idea of studying at your own pace, but with the same commitment and focus to earn your degree. Little do people know that in online graduate courses, students enjoy the benefits of mentorship, support, and attention that in-person classes offer.

There is a way to interact with your fellow graduate students as well, thanks to innovative online learning platforms that facilitate engagement. You can respond to questions related to your course or field of study, and express to your professor or mentor any concerns on your graduate program.

Distance learning programs typically need an extra dose of everything. You have to be willing, persevering, determined, and self-disciplined, and you need all that for online graduate study! It helps to create a schedule of your online classes and tasks so that you never miss anything! Slacking off won’t take you anywhere, because graduate study is in itself a tough undertaking!

What are some of the benefits of pursuing an online graduate school program?

An online graduate study is designed to assist students who intend to take their competencies to a greater level for career purposes. Studying while working is typical among online graduate students.

Online education enables them to pick their schedules, as opposed to the traditional classroom set-up with classes on a fixed timeframe. This translates to convenience and productivity, both of which you need to earn your master’s or doctorate!

There are online classes that are regarded as asynchronous, which means that students can access their learning management system (LMS) on their preferred schedule and complete assignments at their own pace. Similar to traditional classroom setups, online graduate students still need to comply with project deadlines within a specific timeframe, usually towards the end of the week.

Are there available financial aid options for me if I pursue an online graduate program?

Once you are already enrolled in an online graduate school program, you need to meet a few requirements for a financial aid application. Among other personal documents, you will be asked to submit your undergraduate diploma.

Online Grad School FAQ

Once you meet the requirements, you must prove that you need financial aid. Your prospective school will ask you to fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form. Your online school’s financial aid and assistance office should be able to help you complete this step.

Most financial aid options for online graduate programs are from the federal government. There are also grants and loans from the state, the college or university, and private lenders such as private foundations, credit unions, and banks.

Grants need to be paid back after a specific period, but most of them offer cash payment plans. You can also ask about your online school’s reduced tuition rewards and programs. A number of private scholarships from religious groups, organizations, and clubs also offer some form of financial assistance for online graduate study.

You will probably be required to fulfill a few obligations as soon as your financial aid application is granted. While some accept part-time attendance, most colleges and universities will require their graduate students to sign up for full-time classes. They are likely to require their students to maintain a high GPA as well.

Is a master’s degree obtained online as respected as the brick-and-mortar option?

Yes, online master’s degrees can be respected if they are obtained from accredited universities. Employers may be wary of degrees earned from online schools that are not accredited, so it is important to make sure the school is accredited before enrolling in an online master’s program.

Is it considered easier to get into an online grad school?

It depends on the program and school. Some online graduate programs may have lower admission requirements than their on-campus counterparts, while others may be more competitive. It is important to research each program and school to determine the admissions requirements and the best fit for your educational goals.

What is the biggest challenge in grad school?

The biggest challenge in grad school is often time management. With so many courses, extracurricular activities, research projects, and other commitments (like working full-time), it can be difficult to find a balance that allows you to focus on your studies and other commitments.

Additionally, the workload can be intense and the expectations high, which can be daunting for some.

Check this out: Things Only A Grad Student Would Understand

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