Discover More Programs

If you are hoping to jumpstart your career or even get a promotion, a one-year online master’s program is a fast, efficient way to gain the necessary educational experience.

These programs are usually designed to be flexible, with courses that students can complete according to their schedules. Before enrolling in a one-year online master’s program, students should confirm the pace. Some one-year programs are accelerated, meaning they condense two years’ worth of coursework into a single academic year, requiring more time and energy than a traditionally paced program.

One-year online master’s degree programs are popular in areas like business, information technology, criminal justice, education, marketing, and more. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that individuals with master’s degrees earn an average of $1,574 per week, with an unemployment rate of only 2.6%.

The cost of an online master’s degree is predominantly determined by the type of school a student chooses. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average cost of annual graduate tuition is $12,394 at public universities and $26,621 at private institutions.

How to Choose a One-Year Online Master’s Program

Choose your area of study

Knowing that you want a master’s degree that can be completed in one year of study is a great starting point for your search.

Next, students should determine their area of study so they can seek out programs in that field that take one year to complete. Some things to consider when deciding on an area of study include:

  • Professional short-term and long-term goals and the type of educational experience needed to achieve them
  • Educational background, including undergraduate field of study
  • Professional experience and credentials

It’s important to keep in mind that because of their fast-paced nature, many one-year master’s programs require students to have certain foundational knowledge of the subject, which can be acquired through undergraduate study or professional experience.

Students should also use this time to reflect on their personal needs in terms of course delivery method. Are students looking for a synchronous program with virtual class meetings at designated times, or do they need the flexibility of an asynchronous program with coursework that can be completed on their own schedule?

Research schools and programs

Regardless of the type of program you’re seeking, make sure that the school is accredited by a recognized regional accrediting agency. This will confirm that the institution and its programs meet the highest standards for quality in education. Students must be enrolled at an accredited school to be considered for federal financial aid, and many employers seek job applicants with degrees from accredited institutions. Many programs also have programmatic accreditation through professional organizations.

There are many ways to gather information about schools and programs. Visiting a college’s website is always a good place to start, as they usually provide information on curriculum, faculty, experiential learning opportunities, admissions requirements, and more. For remote students, many schools offer virtual open houses or information sessions. Prospective applicants can also follow schools and programs on social media to learn more about the culture and accomplishments of the department.

Gather as much information as possible, including answers to these questions:

  • How many credits are students expected to take each term?
  • Are there any experiential learning components, such as an internship or field study?
  • Who are the faculty, and what are their qualifications?
  • What networking opportunities are available with peers, faculty, and other professionals?
  • Is it a synchronous or asynchronous online program?
  • Will a one-year online master’s program provide the knowledge depth needed for particular advanced positions?
  • Can the program be accomplished completely online or as a hybrid, requiring on-campus interaction?
  • What support services, such as counseling, academic and career advising, tutoring, and technical support, do online students have access to?

Prepare for tests and applications

The application procedures and requirements will vary by school and program. Confirm these requirements with an admissions representative before beginning your application.

At a minimum, students must have a bachelor’s degree to be considered eligible for a master’s program. Some master’s programs want students to have a bachelor’s in a particular related field of study. Others may require a minimum undergraduate GPA, prerequisite coursework, or professional experience in the field.

A standard application for an online master’s degree consists of the following:

  • Completed application form and required fees
  • Official transcripts from all previous institutions attended
  • Letters of recommendation from current or former professors, employers, colleagues, academic advisors, or community leaders
  • Resume or CV highlighting relevant professional and educational experience
  • An essay or statement of intent detailing interest and suitability for the program
  • GRE or GMAT test scores

Select your program

There are varying approaches to choosing which programs to apply to. Some students submit multiple applications to boost their odds of acceptance, while others target a single program based on their interests and needs. Whatever path you choose, most schools charge an application fee. That money can add up if you’re applying to several programs. Contact the school to ask about a fee waiver if you need financial assistance with these fees.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

When researching programs, students should contact the school’s financial aid office for more details about program costs and available financial aid options.

Most students will want to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This is what schools use to determine a student’s eligibility for federal student loans, grants, and work-study, as well as need-based institutional aid like scholarships and assistantships. Many schools also offer merit-based scholarships, fellowships, and grants to high-achieving students.

Students can also inquire if their school offers payment plans or tuition discounts for veterans or military service members.

Those who plan on working while completing their online master’s degree should check to see if their employer provides tuition assistance benefits.

Best 50 Accredited One-Year Online Master’s Programs

Best One-Year Online Master’s Programs Badge

University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

Ball State University

University of North Texas

Regent University

University of Florida

California Baptist University

University of Texas Permian Basin

Johns Hopkins University

Regis University

Nebraska Methodist College

Arkansas State University

Missouri University of Science and Technology

North Carolina State University

Auburn University

Touro University Worldwide

Anderson University

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

California State University, East Bay

Northeastern University College of Professional Studies

East Carolina University

Frostburg State University

Villanova University

Boston University

University of Illinois Springfield

Stetson University

Western Governors University

George Washington University

Maryville University

University of Findlay

Central Washington University

New Jersey Institute of Technology

Fontbonne University

Lamar University

North American University

Saint Leo University

Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Georgia Institute of Technology

Cumberland University

Liberty University

New York University

Stony Brook University

Greenville University

Brandeis University

Trine University

Northwestern School of Professional Studies

Colorado State University

Cleveland State University

Louisiana State University-Shreveport

St. Thomas University

Discover More Options

How We Rank Schools

This list features some of the best one-year online master’s programs in the country. Each school featured is a nonprofit, accredited institution — either public or private — with a high standard of academic quality for post-secondary institutions.

We evaluated each school’s program on tuition costs, admission, retention and graduation rates, faculty, and reputation. Then, we calculated the Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. Read more about our ranking methodology.

Next, we compared this comprehensive list of the best one-year online master’s programs to a list of aggregated college rankings from reputable publications, such as the U.S. News & World Report, to simplify a student’s college search. We pored through these rankings so students don’t have to.

What Can You Expect from a One-Year Online Master’s Program?

Expect a one-year online master’s program to be rigorous and fast-paced. Students should be prepared to devote a substantial amount of time to classes and assignments in order to complete the program in a single year.

Some programs use a lock-step schedule in which all students move through the courses as a cohort, while others allow students to work at their own pace and enroll in new courses as they complete others.

In some colleges, the shorter period might result in programs being more lenient and flexible with study requirements, time, and coursework. Plan courses well because some classes may only be offered once a year, and failure to enroll can add time to the program.

Potential courses you’ll take in a one-year online master’s degree program

This primarily depends on the specific area of study in which you earn your degree. Courses may include intermediate to advanced study in topics relevant to your major, a capstone project or thesis, and hands-on learning components like an internship or practicum.

One-year Online Master’s Program Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to a one-year online master’s degree program?

To apply to a one-year online master’s program, gather the following materials:

  • Official transcripts from all previous schools
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Resume or CV
  • Personal essay
  • GRE or GMAT test scores

Students can usually submit these materials, along with their applications, through the school’s website. Because each school has its own application requirements and process, it’s always wise to confirm what’s needed with an admissions representative before starting an application. Also, be mindful of deadlines. Some schools accept applications on a rolling basis, while others require students to complete their applications by a specific deadline each year.

How much does a one-year online master’s degree cost?

Public college graduate tuition averages $12,394, while at private schools the average graduate tuition is $26,621, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

However, many factors can influence the cost of a degree:

  • The type of school you’re attending (public versus private)
  • Additional fees assessed by the school for technology, labs, academic resources, and student support services
  • Personal expenses such as technology, books, and other course materials
  • Time away from work

For the most accurate information on program costs, speak directly to a financial aid counselor at the school.

How long does it take to earn a one-year master’s degree online?

If students progress through this type of program as planned, they should be able to complete the program in a single academic year (note that this may include taking classes during winter or summer break).

However, students should be aware that they may need more time contingent on a few factors, including their rate of progress, the number of credits they take each term, and unexpected life events. Most online one-year master’s degree programs have modifications available for students who need additional time to complete their degree.

Compare School Options