Online M.A. & Other Master's Degrees

Masters of arts degrees often are confused with masters of fine arts. Despite similar sounding names, the two vary greatly in that MA degrees can cover a broad range of subject whereas the MFA degrees are usually focused on visual and performing arts. Below are some of the top online schools with MA degrees available.

Walden University If you are looking for an online master's degree program, Walden University offers more than 30 programs with more than 145 specializations. Career areas include: Psychology, Criminal Justice, Education, Nursing, Information Systems, Management, and Public Policy. Its programs are developed by leading industry experts and are taught by respected faculty.
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Ashford University Founded in 1918, Ashford University is built on a rich tradition of academic integrity. Ashford University is an afforable and flexible online colleges with several programs offer across the education levels and industries. Online master's degrees are offered in: business, education, healthcare, and public administration.
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University of Massachusetts If you are looking for master's degree programs, the University of Massachusetts has 73 different programs including: Accounting, Anthropology, Applied Mathematics, Art, Astronomy, Chemistry, Chinese, Civil Engineering, Communication, Comparative Literature, Computer Science, Economics, Language Studies, and Nursing. These programs nurture scholarship, research, and faculty-student collaboration.
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University of Phoenix University of Phoenix offers several online master's degree programs including: Psychology, Business Administration, Education, Information Systems, and Administration of Justice & Security. These programs can be completed entirely online and offer students and working professionals a flexible schedule. Students have the advantage of small, highly interactive classes with collaborative learning teams.
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Post University If you are looking for an online master's degree program, Post University offers over 15 programs and graduates also have the option of 6 certificate programs. Programs are in Human Services, Business, Education, Administration, and Leadership. These programs are designed for busy working professionals learning with other working adults.
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Boston University If you are looking for an online master's degree program, Boston University offers 8 programs including: Art Education, Criminal Justice, Music, IT, Health, Business, Engineering, and Social Work. These programs provide students with an in-depth theoretical foundation as well as strategies for meeting the challenges of today's marketplace.
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Kaplan University Kaplan University has 9 different schools that each offer several online master's degree programs including: Arts & Sciences, Business, Concord Law, Criminal Justice, Education, Health Sciences, Legal Studies, Nursing, and Technology. The programs foster student learning with opportunities to launch, enhance, or change careers. Kaplan is committed to general education with a student-centered approach.
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Saint Joseph's University Saint Joseph's University, a well-respected leader in today's competitive environment, has crafted online programs whose curriculum maintains a place in the field. These degrees offer a career-oriented exploration so students come away with skills and knowledge they can utilize in daily tasks and responsibility.
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Liberty University You can choose from 23 master's degree programs and more than 40 different specializations at Liberty University. Degree programs include: Business, Counseling, Education, Nursing, Public Health, Public Policy, Seminary, and Ethnomusicology. All of the programs are taught in a flexible and convenient online format from a Christian worldview.
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Northcentral University Northcentral University has several Master's degrees available through online courses with inexpensive tuition and financial aid available for those who qualify. The programs span many industries that are currently experiencing growth and need for skilled professionals for high-level positions, like Psychologists, Directors of Marketing, Business Administrators, Criminal Justice officials, or even Teachers.
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Definition of Master of Arts Degree

A Master of Arts (MA) is an upper-level degree that is awarded by universities in an array of subjects. Despite the name, MAs are issued in many non-artistic disciplines, including environmental studies, and even some branches of finance. Typically, students must have completed a four-year undergraduate degree to be accepted into a MA program. This degree is often compared to the Master of Science degree, which is also a graduate level degree. There are online MA programs in many different subjects, including English, history, geography, humanities, philosophy, social studies, fine arts, nursing, theology and more. These degrees typically involve coursework, examinations, and research with a thesis at the end of the program.

As a Master of Arts is an advanced degree, professors typically give fewer tests, but require more writing and research. They also expect you to have the ability to work independently, especially in online programs. Courses typically involve more class discussion than lectures, even in the online format, and you will discover that the connections you make in a Master of Arts programs are strong, as everyone within your program is studying the same, fairly specific subject, though research topics will obviously vary.

There are hundreds of different specializations within a Master of Arts degree at the graduate level. The different categories that these specializations fall into include:

  • Art and Architecture
  • Humanities and Cultures
  • Biological and Life Sciences
  • Law and Criminal Justice
  • Business and MBA
  • Nursing and Medicine
  • Computers and Technology
  • Physical and Earth Sciences
  • Education and Teaching
  • Public Affairs and Policy
  • Engineering
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences
  • Healthcare and Public Health

Why get a Master of Arts Degree?

There are a wide range of reasons for why people go back to get a Master of Arts graduate degree. The top reason is to get a job that requires more than a four-year undergraduate degree. People also often return for school to get a higher salary. Sometimes you may want to switch your career and need the proper training to do so. Whatever your reasons, going back for your MA degree is a smart decision that will provide you many boosts in your career, whatever that may be.

Your goal in attending grad school should be to gain specialized training necessary for the career toward which you are working. An MA degree is almost guaranteed to offer you enhanced qualifications for your dream job. A graduate degree is more prestigious, and companies you hope to work for will notice you more with a Master of Arts degree. A MA degree will be narrower than your undergraduate studies, delving deeper into the subject of your choice. You’ll become a master at your field, preparing yourself for an upper level position. You’ll also receive more job satisfaction and self-confidence if you’re working in an area that you’re passionate about and have above-average knowledge in. Your networking opportunities will increase through an online degree program. Those connections can also provide you with greater career opportunities.

As a graduate student you’ll also be allowed the chance to develop clearer goals. You’ll possess greater motivation and commitment to your studies since you’ll be doing more intensive work in a field that you actually care about and hopefully love. Typically graduate work offers hands-on experience to help you apply the knowledge you learn to the real world. Professors will show peer-like respect for you, and you’ll often find yourself working side-by-side in research studies. Professors also expect a higher level of work out of you in a Master of Arts degree program, as they’ll assume you’re serious and focused about your future career. Professors want to present you with concepts and ideas to encourage your individual direction.

What are the Career Advantages to Master of Arts Degrees?

As mentioned before, it’s advantageous to get a Master of Arts degree for career advancements. You’re almost guaranteed to receive a higher salary with a graduate degree compared to an undergraduate degree. The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) states that businesses, corporations, and companies are looking for employees with “soft skills” that graduate degree programs provide their students. These skills include leadership and communication, as well as a specialized focus in a certain area. The GMAC Global MBA Survey 2006 Comprehensive Report proved that those with graduate degrees, such as a Master of Arts degree, can earn a higher salary than people with just an undergrad degree. For example, MBAs can earn around $92,000 a year, which is double the median salary of undergrad business students.

Attending a graduate degree program will also give you job opportunities that you wouldn’t necessarily receive on your own. Many programs connect you with current employers in your field of interest. Through internships and fieldwork experiences you get immediately flung into the field of your choice. More often than not these opportunities can turn into employed work. Often students of graduate degree programs get offered a job before even graduating from that program. Additionally, many careers such as social worker, college professor, lawyer, doctor, psychologist, or therapist, have to get a graduate education in order to be licensed in a state.

What are Admission Requirements for Master of Arts Degree?

Admission requirements will depend on the school you attend, the program you pick, and your specialization. Since there are so many different MA degree options and areas of study, it’s impossible to clump everything together. The following is a general outline of what admission requirements may be for the MA degree of your choice. It’s important to look at each individual program’s requirements though before you apply.

  • A Bachelor of Arts or Science undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited university or college
  • 3.0 GPA in the last 60 semester units of undergraduate work (often students with a GPA between 2.5 and 3.0 can be admitted conditionally)
  • Admissions Essay or Personal Statements: Typically a 1,000 word analytical essay describing why you wish to obtain the MA degree you’re interested in. Master of Arts programs are not looking for a summary of your life or a recount of life-changing incidents that promoted personal development. You must be as specific as possible to show why you are the best fit for the program. You should focus the essay by linking the experiences you describe around a common theme or themes related to your intellectual development and interest in graduate education.
  • Transcripts from previous colleges or universities you’ve attended are required by most colleges, and must be unopened upon arrival.
  • Resume outlining work experience within the Master of Arts area of study

Narrow Down your MA Degree Options

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the number of MA online degree options that are out there. It can also be pretty consuming trying to figure out with programs and degree options are the best for you. That’s why it’s good to go into your MA degree search with a solid plan in mind. It will save you time and allow you to make the best decision possible.

If you’re not sure what kind of MA degree specialization you want, or if you’re deciding between two different concentrations, then the best thing you can do is to research the careers available, potential salaries, and job requirements. You should make a list of all the careers you would be happy going into and rank them on your first to last choices. The other set of questions you should ask yourself include: What are the online options for this degree program? Is there a specific aspect of a field that interests me the most? What degree do I want to earn and why? Through asking yourself these questions you’ll be able to better eliminate different MA degree specializations and program options.

You should also know how much money you’re willing to spend on your degree. There are many grants and scholarship options to help pay for MA degree programs. These options are available for anyone who meets eligibility requirements. Grants are given to people based on need, so if you have a great need these will be a good option for you. The money doesn’t need to be paid back either, similar to scholarships. Scholarships on the other hand are given on basis of academic merit. If you were an excellent undergraduate student and have a high GPA then you should look into available scholarships. There are also grants and scholarships that are targeted towards specific groups of people, such as women, certain ethnicities, or vocational choices.

Online degree options are great because you don’t have to move to go to your desired programs. Online learning can happen anywhere at any time. Therefore you don’t need to limit your options or program desires if you don’t live near the school of your dream. Online MA programs let you attend part-time or full-time, so it’s easy and flexible to have a job while working. Every online degree program is different so it’s important to research their requirements before you decide to attend a program. Through eliminating programs that don’t have your desired online teaching format, you can decide what MA program you want to go to.