Fastest Online Master’s Degrees 2024

Author: Adam Birch
Reviewed by: Melissa Anderson
Reading Level: Grade 9
Read Time: 20 minutes, 22 seconds
Original Publication Date: December 2019
Updates: 5

With improvements in online learning technology, getting a fast online master’s degree fast has never been easier. It used to be that to earn a master’s, students would have to consider relocating. This could mean leaving their jobs to go to school full-time. This might result in financial hardship during the period they earned their degree. Fortunately, this is no longer the case, thanks to these fastest online master’s degrees. Even top universities have started offering accelerated online master’s programs! And with online learning, students worldwide can pursue their degrees.

students graduating from quickest master's degrees online

One of the most compelling advantages of fast online degrees is their flexibility for adult learners. However, the key to understanding the power of an accelerated degree program is that these tend to be among the most flexible programs you can find. At the bottom of the article, you will find some answers to frequently asked questions regarding such graduate degree programs.

Featured Programs

Quickest Masters Degree Online Methodology

The methodology for ranking fast online master’s degrees was simple: Organize the universities by the fastest online master’s degree they offer, then break the ties with how many degrees are offered by the schools. Ties were also broken by who had the lowest tuition. Tuition numbers were taken from the National Center for Education Statistics: College Navigator site.

Ranking the Quickest Master’s Degree Programs Online

#1. Colorado State University

Fort Collins, CO

Website
Graduate Tuition and Fees: $13,490
Fastest Program: 9 Months

Colorado State University offers many accelerated options, including short master’s degree programs that can be completed in under 12 months. It is home to the fastest degree program featured in this ranking of best 1-year masters programs online. The Tourism Management degree at CSU requires 30 credit hours of coursework; this program is a 9-month master’s degree online, meaning it can be completed in less than a year. Moreover, the online master’s programs in Teacher Education and the Master’s in Applied Statistics can also be completed in just a year. The university also offers a robust Master’s in Computer Information Systems, which can be completed in 18 months. Additional online master’s degree programs offered by this nationally ranked school include:

  • Master of Science in Horticulture and Human Health
  • Master of Science in Microbiology-Immunology
  • Master of Business Administration (MBA)
  • Master’s in Project Management
  • Master of Organizational Leadership

The school also offers some of the shortest online doctoral programs.

Pros:

  • Has been called the “Harvard of the West”
  • Highly rated online programming

Cons:

  • Faculty apathy has been reported

#2. Louisiana State University-Shreveport

Shreveport, LA

Website
Graduate Tuition and Fees: $7,349
Fastest Online Master’s Degree Program: 10 Months

Impressively, there are a total of five accelerated online master’s degrees offered by LSU Shreveport. For example, the MBA is a “less than a year” master’s program online and can be completed in just ten months despite requiring a full 30 credit hours of study. The others are 1-year master’s programs that can be completed in 12 months of rigorous study. These include master’s degrees in:

  • Curriculum and Instruction
  • Health Administration
  • Nonprofit Administration

The MBA program offers several specializations, such as:

  • Hospitality and Casino Management
  • Human Resources Management
  • Organizational Leadership
  • Marketing
  • Project Management

If you are searching for the quickest master’s degree programs the country offers, LSU Shreveport is definitely worth a look. Additional online learning options available from the school include:

  • Master of Science in Civil Engineering
  • Master of Arts in Educational Technology
  • Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration
  • Master’s in Health Administration

Pros:

  • Highly rated online programming
  • Distance learning programs are challenging yet flexible

Cons:

  • Issues with admissions and financial aid have been reported
  • Lack of faculty communication reported

#3. St. Thomas University

Miami Gardens, FL

Website
Graduate Tuition: $14,400
Fastest Program: 10 Months

Regarding the fastest online master’s degrees, St. Thomas offers a highly sought-after one-year online master’s program. This online Master of Business Administration (online MBA program) can be completed in 12 months of diligent online study. Moreover, the school also offers an MS in Educational Leadership that can be completed in 12 months and a 10-month MS in Instructional Design and Technology. If that weren’t enough, the online Master of Science in Nursing with a Family Nurse Practitioner concentration requires 47 credit hours and can be completed in just 18 months. In addition to these accelerated options, St. Thomas University also offers other university programs at the master’s level that can be completed within two years of online education.

Pros:

  • Online and on-campus classes are taught by the same faculty
  • A wide array of online graduate-level offerings

Cons:

  • Lack of diversity
  • Some issues with online student support have been reported

#4. Gardner-Webb University

Boiling Springs, NC

Website
Graduate Tuition and Fees: $11,050
Fastest Program: 10 Months

A quick trip to its website will reveal that Gardner-Webb offers numerous degree programs online. Still, the only one it offers in an accelerated format is the Master of Business Administration. In fact, this renowned MBA can be completed fully online in just ten months. Courses offered in this accelerated online master’s program include:

  • Production Research and Operations Management
  • Business Law and Ethics
  • Strategic Management
  • Organizational Leadership
  • International Business

As you look for top one-year master’s programs online in the business niche, remember that Gardner-Webb is both affordable and fast. Additional online master’s degree programs offered by the school include:

  • Master of Arts in English
  • Master of Science in Sport Education
  • Master of Accountancy

Pros:

  • Small class sizes
  • For Christian students, the education is faith-based

Cons:

  • Some lack of communication for online students has been reported

#5. Western Governors University

Millcreek, UT

Website
Graduate Tuition and Fees: $8,444
Fastest Program: 12 Months

Western Governors University offers 32 master’s offerings online, and because of the unique format, all of these accelerated master’s degree programs can be finished as one-year online master’s programs. A unique benefit of the school’s graduate offerings is that students have full control over the pacing of their accelerated programs at WGU, which means you can get your master’s degree online in 12 months. You can also choose 18 months if that’s more comfortable. This programmatic feature enables students with busy schedules or family obligations to adjust the pacing as they go. WGU also charges tuition on a per-semester basis instead of per-credit. So, the faster you finish the degree program, the less you pay. The school offers multiple degrees and accelerated programs in categories like:

  • Business
  • Nursing
  • Information Technology
  • Behavioral Sciences
  • Special Education

Additional examples of online master’s degrees offered through WGU include:

  • Master of Science in Data Analytics
  • Master of Science in Information Technology Management
  • Master of Science in Curriculum & Instruction

Pros:

Featured Programs

  • Course mentors available for online student support
  • Rolling admission

Cons:

  • Not much face-to-face interaction with faculty and peers

#6. Regis University

Denver, CO

Website
Graduate Tuition and Fees: $16,791
Fastest Program: 12 Months

There’s a reason so many distance learners at the graduate level prefer Regis University. For one thing, most of Regis’ accelerated master’s degree programs can be completed online in around one year by completing two 8-week courses at a time via online learning. Plus, the school has a broad repertoire of online learning options. Some of the online education degrees available at an accelerated pace are:

  • Information and Cybersecurity
  • Information Technology Management
  • Marketing
  • Nonprofit Management
  • Business (MBA)
  • Organizational Leadership
  • Project Leadership and Management

Additional online master’s program offerings from Regis University include:

  • Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing
  • Master of Science in Criminology
  • Master of Science in Health Informatics
  • Master of Education in Special Education

Pros:

  • Small class sizes
  • Decent networking opportunities

Cons:

  • Lack of communication with online students reported
  • Lack of support for active military reported

#7. Wilmington University

New Castle, DE

Website
Graduate Tuition and Fees: $9,276
Fastest Program: 12 Months

One of our top national universities, Wilmington University, offers several online master’s degree options that can be completed in one year. These include high-quality programs for online students in

  • Cybersecurity
  • Homeland Security
  • Information Systems Technology
  • Management
  • Nursing Leadership
  • Accounting
  • Human Services Administration

Other accelerated learning programs, including education programs, take between 14 and 18 months. Additional online degree programs include:

  • Master of Science in Human Services
  • Master of Education in School Leadership
  • Master of Science in Environmental Science

Pros:

  • Program flexibility
  • Good online student support

Cons:

  • Financial aid process can be a challenge to navigate

#8. California Baptist University

Riverside, CA

Website
Graduate Tuition and Fees: $14,410
Fastest Online Program: Under 12 months

Almost every single master’s degree offered at California Baptist University can be completed in 12 months of online learning. Some take six additional months to complete simply because they require more credit hours. Of course, this is the average completion time for earning a master’s degree here, implying that it’s actually possible to complete some of these degrees in less than one year. The fastest master’s degrees available online include:

  • Public Health
  • Public Administration
  • Organizational Leadership
  • Business Administration
  • Kinesiology
  • Information Technology
  • Education

As an indicator of academic excellence, California Baptist University boasts full institutional accreditation from the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

Pros:

  • Excellent faculty support for online programs reported
  • Small class sizes

Cons:

  • Lack of transparency in financial aid process has been reported
  • Some find the cost prohibitive

#9. University of North Texas

Denton, TX

Website
Graduate Tuition and Fees (in-state): $8,252
Fastest Online Program: 12 Months

The University of North Texas offers an incredible variety of master’s programs, many of which can be completed in 12-14 months. These online learning programs include graduate degrees, such as: accelerated online master of:

  • Advanced Data Analytics
  • Early Childhood Education
  • Educational Psychology
  • Business Administration
  • Supply Chain Analytics MBA
  • Supply Chain Management MBA Marketing
  • Marketing Analytics
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Resource Management

Additional offerings for online master’s degree programs from the University of North Texas include:

  • Master of Science in Anthropology
  • Master of Education in Curriculum & Instruction
  • Master of Science in Hospitality Management
  • Master’s in Health Services Management

Pros:

  • A wide range of online graduate programs
  • Excellent research opportunities

Cons:

  • Financial aid process can be a challenge
  • Limited name recognition can be problematic down the road

#10. University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley

Edinburg, TX

Website
Graduate Tuition and Fees (in-state): $8,333
Fastest Program: 12 Months

To be clear, UT-Rio Grande Valley is one of the country’s leading national universities. In terms of quick online master’s degrees, the school’s renowned online Master’s in Education requires 30 credit hours and can be completed in just ten months; the university’s other master’s degrees can be completed in 12 months. This includes master’s degrees in:

  • Nursing Administration
  • Public Affairs
  • Social Work
  • Health Sciences
  • Curriculum and Instruction
  • Educational Leadership

Another important note is that the MBA program has a Spanish language version that can be completed in 12 months. Additional online master’s degree options offered via the university’s distance learning program include:

  • Master of Science in Mathematics
  • Master of Science in Bioethics
  • Master of Medical Science
  • Master of Nutritional Health Sciences

Pros:

  • Strong academic programming
  • Small class sizes/good faculty support

Cons:

  • Limited resources

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the secret to making accelerated online master’s degree programs so flexible?

As you might imagine, accelerated online graduate degrees are incredibly flexible by nature. The same traits that allow the degree to be completed quickly are the traits that allow you to shape the schedule of the degree to fit your life. These programs generally feature short, five- to ten-week terms instead of the traditional sixteen-week semester. During each term, you can take up to two courses, meaning if you work in a job where some seasons are busier than others (like the holidays for retail, tax season for accountants, or the end of the school semester for teachers), you can take fewer, or even no classes during that time. True, you won’t be able to complete the degree program as quickly, but it still allows you to complete the degree faster than a semester-based system. You aren’t forced into completing the program part-time due to the busyness of a few months.

Are the quickest master’s degree programs online really cheaper than the typical master’s degree program?

This type of degree program can actually be cheaper, especially if you look at the cost in broader terms than just tuition. For instance, some universities offer unique pricing structures for online graduate students, like Western Governors University, where the faster you complete the degree, the less it costs. In addition, state universities often offer out-of-state students discounted tuition, sometimes even going as far as to offer them the same tuition as in-state students. However, the overall affordability of your degree program will depend on the precise university you select, not the degree type. Take the universities in our ranking as an example; you have schools where you can earn an entire degree for under $10,000, while others will cost you $50,000-$75,000, depending on your financial aid.

The real distinguishing element of these degrees that make them more affordable is the time that you save while earning your credential. An accelerated program can save you time in your career, from expensive moves and the time of commuting to and from classes. At the end of the day, all of these time-saving benefits add up to genuine monetary savings for your graduate program.

Are accelerated master’s programs online really the same quality as traditional programs?

You may be wondering, “Are online master’s degrees respected?” Most universities, especially non-profits, live and die by their hard-earned reputations. The only way to protect their reputation is to make sure their degrees turn out quality graduate students, whether classes are delivered online or via on-campus programs. This is one reason why so many schools have taken their time developing the necessary curriculum to offer a wide range of graduate degrees online. Each degree presents a unique set of problems that must be solved when transitioning to a remote delivery method. Some degrees, especially those that use labs heavily for learning and research, may never be offered online. You may notice that you don’t see many graduate programs in chemistry or physics offered online, for instance.

Conversely, other programs involving the social sciences, liberal arts, business, computer science, technology, engineering, mathematics, education, and many other subjects are quite amenable to the online delivery method. With these programs, the quality of the programs can be preserved, even with all the convenience offered by an online accelerated delivery method. That’s why these are often some of the fastest online master’s programs that exist in higher education.

How do I pay for my one-year master’s program online?

If you’re interested in these accelerated graduate programs but aren’t sure how to pay for them, you’ll be happy to learn that the usual methods of paying for a graduate program are all on the table. This includes a combination of scholarships, federal student loans, and federal grants for graduate students. As an initial step, you can visit the FAFSA website for a good summary of your options. Be advised to max out your federal aid options before resorting to private student loans.

Many quality programs are available from affordable universities, so if one of the more expensive programs is out of reach, consider an affordable state university. You’ll likely find quite a few high-quality state universities with great prices on their online graduate programs. Check with your company or organization about tuition assistance programs. Some will pay for your entire degree program, while others will cover at least part of it. If you make enough money and federal loans, grants, scholarships, and tuition assistance programs don’t get you there, consider financing the remainder out of pocket rather than resorting to higher-interest private loans or credit cards.

Will current/future employers respect accelerated master’s degrees earned online?

If you survey 21st-century employers, you’ll find that many of the fastest online master’s degree programs are also very well-respected. In order to evaluate the perspective of your current company, you could inquire directly about the overall attitude toward accelerated online degrees, including one-year master’s programs. These perspectives vary from workplace to workplace, but distance learning degrees are certainly much more common and accepted now than they were even five to ten years ago. The current trend seems to be toward online graduate programs in many fields. Your current company would obviously know if you earn a degree online, if it’s from a school far away. However, future employers wouldn’t know unless you told them specifically because your diploma and transcripts won’t specify the degree was earned online. Schools don’t distinguish between online and traditional degrees on transcripts or diplomas because they are confident that there is no difference in quality.

CVO staff

Sources

  • National Center for Education Statistics: College Navigator

This concludes our ranking of the fastest online master’s degree programs.