A master’s degree is the most straightforward way of gaining an advantage on the job market, qualifying for promotion in your current job, or starting a new career ahead of the competition. It’s been said many times, but in most professional fields, it’s true – the master’s in the new bachelor’s. Where a bachelor’s degree was once enough to distinguish yourself, today, with a competitive job market and the bachelor being the standard for entry-level positions, a master’s degree will make the difference.
But if you’re looking for credentials and advancement, you don’t want to linger in a master’s degree – you’re not doing it for fun, but for a purpose. Accelerated online master’s programs give busy working adults the opportunity to earn the degree they need to stand out and move forward, while keeping their current job and without sacrificing their other responsibilities. To give prospective online master’s students a better idea of what to expect, College Consensus presents this guide to the Fastest Online Master’s Degrees.
Benefits of Accelerated Online Master’s Programs
A master’s degree will typically help an individual eligible for a promotion, or an increase in pay. It takes time, though. It can take up to two years and it can be costly. But accelerated master’s degrees reduce the time and cost associated with a master’s degree, even down to a 1 year master’s program. These programs often allow students to enroll in a master’s program while in their junior or senior year of obtaining a bachelor’s degree. The student will take courses and get credit for a bachelor’s and master’s degree simultaneously. Typically, students need a 3.5 GPA to apply for an accelerated program. Schools maintain the highest standards for accelerated programs.
Accelerated online masters programs make sense for students because they allows students to earn their master’s degree while working, scheduling their learning around their existing work. Online programs allow students to focus on getting two degrees while maintaining some flexibility in scheduling. A student can receive both degrees in five years, allowing four years for a bachelor’s and one year for a master’s. Typically, master’s programs take two years to complete. This also makes graduating students more desirable for employers. It gives them an edge over those who only have a master’s degree.
What are Some In-Demand Occupations You Can Get With an Online Master’s Degree?
Online masters courses are always a great way to get to the next level with your degree, and to advance your employment. Of course, there are some degrees that are in higher demand than others, either because they are in an under-staffed field, or they have a lot of potential for growth and development.
Education and Psychology
An accelerated online masters degree in education helps students get jobs in their fields. Administrative positions in all educational levels requires master’s degrees. Principals and other leaders in education needed master’s degrees to get their positions in administration. Accelerated online programs in education are some of the fastest online master’s degrees available to students.
Students who are currently working as teachers have difficulty to find flexibility during their every day schedule. Teachers do not often have much in the way of free time throughout their teaching day. An online program allows students who are current teachers flexibility to work through the course work when it is convenient for the student. It can also be a cost savings for the student as the student can work through the course work faster. Some schools offer degree programs in early childhood that can be finished in a little as a year. The courses are offered in short eight week sections. Students can also earn additional certifications in subject areas like math, reading, and science. In some states, these additional certifications allow teachers to get an upgrade to their teaching certificates.
One year masters programs psychology degrees are a great way for students to get on the path to a better career. In the psychology field, students often need master’s degrees to get a job that is not entry level counseling and to ensure a better paying job. Online programs fit into the busy schedules of those who are currently employed, as well as current students. Accelerated online degree programs in psychology give students flexibility to work around their current life situation. Students benefit from the use of video recordings, discussion boards, instant messaging and email to interact with fellow students and instructors. The class work gives students a foundation in the role of a psychologist in today’s world. Students can focus on area such as development, behaviors and abnormalities in behavior.
There are many specializations in psychology from which students can pick. Some of them are school psychology, sports psychology, and industrial and organizational psychology. Students can also get a general master’s degree and then determine in which specific area they would like to find employment. Many programs offer students the ability to address the requirements of a practicum to get their professional license while graduating from their degree programs. Students may also decide to work on a master’s in counseling which provides to them a completely new path for licensing and employment. A master’s in psychology really opens up opportunities for students.
Financial Analyst (MBA)
The MBA is one of the most common one year master’s programs USA students can find. With an accelerated course of study, students receive degrees in just one year. The material is the same in an accelerated program, just presented in a shorter time frame. This format tends to be more rigorous. Some schools offer classes that are condensed, while others require students to take more classes per semester. Students must be prepared to commit full time, about 40 hours per week, to school. Working students may find it difficult to balance school and work. They will have to be creative and flexible. Some programs allow students to move through course work at their own speed, but have a set time frame for tests and projects. Online programs give students flexibility to schedule class work around their work schedules and other family obligations.
MBA programs tend to be expensive. The shortest online MBA programs gives students an opportunity to receive a master’s degree often at a lower cost than a traditional program. In the business field, there are various graduate programs from which to choose. An accelerated program allows students to select specialized certifications for their specific career, including financial analysis, marketing management, and sales management.
Salary for MBA graduates varies, but for a useful example, consider Financial Analysts, as this is a career that most often requires an MBA to get your foot in the door. A financial analyst can expect to make around $84,000 annually, on average, but salaries can go much higher in some industries, like banking and finance. The job market for financial analysts is strong too, expected to grow by 11% by 2026.
Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states information security and data engineering is the fastest growing field today with an expected employment growth of 28% by 2026. Hackers gain strength and knowledge everyday and their attacks become more aggressive as business do their best to stay on step ahead. An advanced degree in network and data engineering is beneficial across many fields where confidentiality is needed including health services. An online master’s in network and data engineering prepares students to enter a new, or propel their current careers and receive a higher income.
By fast tracking your degree with an accelerated master’s degree in data engineering, or data science. Students can earn both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in five years by making a full time commitment to school. Just one more year of school provides students with two degrees. The master’s program adds an additional 30 credits. Students get extensive knowledge and foundation in communication, analytics, data, visualization, communication, and business acumen.
In the era of Big Data, network and data analysts make an average of $88,000, and the field is expected to grow steadily at 9% – a little higher than average, but keeping pace with the importance of data to
Nurse Practitioner (MSN)
An accelerated online master’s in nursing is a great idea for several reasons. Students willing to dedicate themselves to studying and school work should consider an accelerated program. They will attain their degree in one year instead of two. This allows students many more opportunities within their career, as well as a higher salary. A nurse with a master of science in nursing (MSN) earns more money than a nurse with a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). The top salary for a MSN is around $95,000, well above that of a BSN. A 1 year masters programs in science can help nurses reach that earning potential much faster.
Registered nurses are able to achieve a MSN faster with an accelerated online degree, but are also able to work around their existing nursing scheduled which gives them flexibility to continue to work and get an advanced degree. Receiving a MSN gives a nurse much more job potential as it opens up jobs that aren’t available to a BSN. A MSN can pick a field specialization such as pediatric nursing, mental health, and oncology, as well as many others. MSNs can also become an educator by teaching nursing. They can become mentors for those just becoming nurses. Not only does this help new nurses, but also the community in which those nurses serve. For those not wishing to teach, MSNs can become administrators, coordinators, or managers.
Getting a MSN also gets students closer to becoming a getting a doctorate degree, or PhD. One can’t become a PhD without first becoming a MSN. As a PhD, a nurse is truly seen as an expert in the field of nursing and will be able to complete research or teach at the university level.
In addition, a registered nurse must maintain licensing through continuous education. In future years, licensing laws will become stricter about what serves as continuing education. There is some thought that as some point registered nurses may be required to obtain a MSN to continue to keep their licensing. The sooner a registered nurse with a BSN can obtain a MSN, the better off that nurse may be.
Is There Financial Aid for Online Accelerated Master’s Degrees?
There are various financial aid and scholarship options available for students enrolled in, or thinking about enrolling in an online accelerated master’s degree program. US Department of Education (ED) offers financial aid to students who are enrolled in full time programs, including accelerated online programs. The major requirement is that they programs are accredited programs. From a federal aid perspective, there is no difference between online and on campus students and programs. One of the major groups that provides funding is the federal government, with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The Department of Education has search capacities on their website that allows students to search for online colleges that accept the FAFSA. The website also provides a list of colleges that offer accredited online degree programs and courses.
With the FAFSA, the ED’s Federal Student Aid (FSA) office captures and maintains information about the student and family finances to see if the student is eligible for one of the nine federal financial aid programs, which includes grants, work study programs, and federal loans for students. The FSA helps students find out their eligibility for local state programs providing aid and financial assistance. They will also provide this information to all of the schools that the student has selected in which they want to apply. Depending on the school, or institution, they want students to fill out other forms for financial aid eligibility. Schools also have their own financial aid packages for which the student could apply.
Online graduate students are also encouraged to look for online degree scholarships; while many students may not realize that such as thing exists, scholarships for online students are becoming much more common, as so many more students are taking online programs than in the past. Many programs will also have their own scholarship opportunities.
Job Market Prospects with an Accelerated Online Master’s Degree
It is a known fact that a degree helps individuals not only obtain jobs, but helps them obtain more advanced jobs and higher salaries. As long as an institution offers an accredited program, employers will accept the degree from these programs as valuable and a prospective employee with also be a valuable addition to their business. Those with a master’s degree increase salaries and employment by about 17%. A general manager can increase salary from around $79,000 to about $97,000 with a master’s degree.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) studied six major career areas to determine the value of an accelerated online master’s program. The areas of review are community and social services, medical, including dental and nursing, as well as other healthcare areas. They also reviewed legal industries, education, and library studies. BLS included teaching at the post secondary level and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) industries. The BLS shows the average annual earnings for 2017 were around $37,690, whereas an average annual earning of $103,820 for higher level degrees, such as doctoral degrees, and including professional level jobs. Individuals with a master level degree finds an average annual income of $68,090.
A master’s degree is always a good plan for individuals looking to improve their career outlook. An accelerated online degree provides flexibility so a student can program their school work around their current work or life situation. An accelerated program allows students to achieve a master’s degree in about a year instead of two. In many cases, the accelerated program allows students to receive a bachelor’s degree and master’s in five years and essentially at the same time. If an individual can afford the programs, or can adequate financial aid and scholarships, the individual should consider an accelerated master’s degree program.