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Top 10 Smart Choice Schools for Online Master’s Degrees 2013

Due to the enormous positive response to our Smart Choice ranking of the Best Online Colleges for Bachelor’s Degrees and the growing number of students looking to earn a master’s degree online, we decided to put together a Smart Choice ranking of the Best Online Colleges for Master’s Degrees. While many of our degree specific Smart Choice rankings highlight online master’s degree programs in particular subjects, this is the first year we’ve ranked top online schools for master’s degrees overall.

Benefits of an Online Master’s Degree

Earning a master’s degree can be a smart career choice, opening up opportunities for greater responsibility, more satisfying work, and higher pay. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics occupations requiring a master’s degree are projected to grow more than any other category and several studies have shown that people with master’s degrees typically earn significantly more money over their lifetimes than their counterparts with a bachelor’s degree or less. An online master’s degree program can be an excellent option for working students who need the extra flexibility online degree programs afford in order to maintain their responsibilities at work and at home. A degree from a top online master’s program now carries as much credibility as one earned from a traditional on-campus program, and a growing number of the best colleges and universities now offer master’s degrees online.

Online Master’s Degree Ranking Methodology

The purpose of the Smart Choice ranking of the Best Online Colleges for Master’s Degrees is to help you find an accredited online university with a quality degree program in the subject you’re interested in that will be respected on the job market and won’t saddle you with debt. Only regionally accredited universities recognized by the National Center for Education Statistics were considered. Qualifying schools were then evaluated and ranked based on publicly available information regarding program quality, reputation and prestige, tuition value, and the number of master’s programs offered online.

#1. Norwich University

Norwich University in Northfield, VT was founded as a military university in 1819. Norwich’s long, impressive history includes the creation of the ROTC, the first private engineering college, and the oldest college marching band. In addition to the Corp of Cadets, Norwich educated many traditional and adult civilian students on-campus and online through its acclaimed distance learning program.

Online Master’s Degree Programs
Norwich University offers 9 accredited online master’s degrees, including military-specific programs such as Military History and Diplomacy, as well a Civil Engineering and an MBA.

Accreditation
Norwich University is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

#2. Southern New Hampshire University

A private, nonprofit university in Manchester, Southern New Hampshire University has been offering career-oriented adult education since 1932. SNHU Online has received awards for the quality and value of its numerous online graduate degree programs.

Online Master’s Degree Programs
SNHU offers over 20 accredited online master’s degrees, most with many possible concentrations, exponentially increasing the number of possible paths. Students can choose from Business and Nursing fields, as well as exceptional offerings in the Humanities, such as Creative Writing.

Accreditation
Southern New Hampshire University is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education.

#3. Saint Leo University

The oldest Catholic institution in Florida (founded 1889), Saint Leo University is a highly-ranked liberal arts university rooted in the Benedictine tradition. Having begun its Center for Online Learning in 1999, Saint Leo has grown into a leader in online education, and a top military-friendly school with a sterling reputation and several online master’s degrees to choose from.

Online Master’s Degree Programs
Saint Leo offers nearly 20 accredited online master’s degree programs, with an emphasis on the MBA, as well as acclaimed programs in Criminal Justice.

Accreditation
Saint Leo University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

#4. Drexel University Online

Drexel University is a respected private research university in Philadelphia PA with a history stretching back to 1891 and an especially strong reputation in engineering and technology. Drexel’s cooperative education program is considered one of the best in the nation, and the school’s large online division, which includes one of the broadest selections of online master’s programs, has garnered numerous top rankings and awards.

Online Master’s Degree Programs
Drexel offers more than 40 accredited online master’s degrees, largely in engineering, business, and nursing fields.

Accreditation
Drexel University is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.

#5. Colorado State University-Global Campus

Colorado State University-Global Campus (CSU Global) is the official online-only campus of the Colorado State University system, a highly regarded public university system in the state of Colorado. Prestige combined with affordable tuition rates help place CSU-Global among the best online universities for a master’s degree.

Online Master’s Degree Programs
CSU offers online master’s degree programs in Management, Organizational Leadership, Teaching & Learning, Criminal Justice, and Healthcare Administration with several areas of specialization available for each.

Accreditation
Colorado State University is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

#6. Robert Morris University

Robert Morris University is a prestigious private university in Moon Township, PA, a suburb of Pittsburgh. Named for the financier of the American Revolution, RMU has demonstrated a commitment to quality, affordable online education. Excellent outcomes and several award-winning and highly ranked online degree programs helps make RMU a top online university for master’s degree programs.

Online Master’s Degree Programs
Robert Morris University offers over 10 different accredited online master’s degrees, including MBA, RN to MSN, and Engineering Management programs.

Accreditation
Robert Morris University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

#7. UMass Online

The University of Massachusetts land-grant research university established in 1863 and one of the most respected public university systems in the Unites States. UMass Online is the official online campus of the UMass system and since its inception in 2001 has grown into a model for other schools, and one of the top online universities in the world.

Online Master’s Degree Program
UMass Online offers 26 accredited online master’s degrees, including programs in highly-sought fields such as Public Health, Nursing, and Business, as well as unusual offerings such as Applied Linguistics and Gerontology.

Accreditation
The University of Massachusetts is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

#8. Capella University

Founded in 1991, Capella University is a private online university specializing in adult graduate education. Capella has been ranked one of the best colleges in the US and a top online schools, especially noted for its academic rigor and commitment to student support.

Online Master’s Degree Programs
Capella University offers more than 60 accredited online master’s degrees, with programs in Nursing, Public Health, Business, and many other subjects.

Accreditation
Capella University is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

#9. Penn State World Campus

Founded in 1855, Penn State is a large “public ivy” university, with many campuses and a robust online program. Penn State began mail programs in 1898, making it one of the oldest distance learning programs still in operation. Penn State’s online-learning program, The Penn State World Campus, launched in 1998 and now offers over 70 online degrees, many at the master’s level.

Online Master’s Degree Programs
Penn State World Campus offers over 20 accredited online degrees, including unusual, and highly desirable, programs in Homeland Security, Earth Sciences, and even Nuclear Engineering.

Accreditation
Pennsylvania State University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

#10. Walden University

An experimental school proposed in a paper by Harold Hodgkinson, Walden University was founded in 1970 to provide working adults an opportunity to complete their higher degrees. Since that radical beginning Walden has grown into a unique and acclaimed online university, dedicated to positive social change and consistently recognized by online university rankings as a top online school.

Online Master’s Degree Programs
Walden University offers more than 30 accredited online master’s degree programs, including numerous programs in Health, Business, and other in-demand fields.

Accreditation
Walden University is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

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