Are you looking for the highest paying master’s degree programs for 2021? There are multiple reasons why someone would pursue a postgraduate degree. Some students might want to gain expertise in their current or a different field, some might have their sites on a doctorate degree, and some are wanting to fast-track their career into management and leadership. With the additional time and investment of a masters degree, students want to make sure that their degree choice will reward them for their investment. Looking for the best masters degrees in high paying career fields is a helpful tool in finding degrees with the most potential ROI.
An additional way to find the best investment is by looking for an accessible and flexible online masters program in a high paying career field, which allows for professional experience to coincide with educational training. Many of the online masters programs in this list deal with tangible business management training. These degrees allow for leadership training to be folded into degrees specific to a career field.
To find the highest paying online masters programs for 2021, we first referenced the Bureau of Labor Statistics. After examining the highest paying careers and their typical entry-level education, we then ranked career-specific online masters programs based on the most current median salaries recorded by PayScale.
#1 – Online Executive Masters of Business Administration (EMBA)
Business professionals who have several years of senior level or management experience, and who desire to progress in their level of leadership position, should pursue an online Executive Masters of Business Administration. This is the highest paying online masters degree obtainable as it can lead to the position of a CEO. A CEO is the top-ranked, in charge, executive decision-maker, that is responsible for the entire organization and its high-ranked employees. PayScale calculates a Chief Executive Officer’s national average salary to be $173,000. An online EMBA builds on a student’s current business knowledge and experience to cultivate upper-level abilities and expertise. Through the eyes of executive leaders, courses focus on topics, such as financial accounting & management, applied economics, communication, entrepreneurship, organizational behavior & strategy, marketing strategy, and managing the global business environment. An advantage of this high paying online masters degree is that it can be completed in as few as 18 months while working full time.
CEO – $173,000
#2 – Online Masters in Marketing
As marketing is the field of business that entirely focuses on the customer, it is an extremely important aspect of any organization. Because of this, an online Masters in Marketing is one of the highest paying online masters degrees to pursue. It helps to deepen and strengthen leadership, critical thinking, decision-making, creativity, time management, and public relations skills in the students. They complete courses of study, including internet marketing & E-commerce, marketing & sales research, product innovation, psychology behind consumer behavior, global marketing strategies, and advanced quantitative analysis. This flexible, online degree sets students up for several high-paying careers including Chief Marketing Officer and Senior Marketing Manager. A CMO is an upper-level position responsible for executing the marketing vision, direction, and achievement for an entire company. A Senior Marketing Manager is a middle-level position who researches, plans, and develops marketing campaigns. According to PayScale, the national average salary for a Chief Marketing Officer is $169,686, and a Senior Marketing Manager is $97,883.
Chief Marketing Officer – $169,686
Senior Marketing Manager – $97,883
Director, Marketing and Communications – $82,345
Marketing Managers – $63,550
#3 – Online Masters in Information Technology
Another one of the highest paying online masters degrees is an online Masters in Information Technology. In our ever-growing, technology-evolving, information-overloaded world, there is a great need for experts in this field. This degree develops abilities, expands knowledge, improves upon and deepens analytical, problem-solving, organizational, and technical skills which prepare students to compete for upper-level positions in IT. Courses of study include advanced information systems security, information analysis & modeling, principles of computer and information technology, software development for information technology, and computer architecture & information security. This degree leads to high paying, top-level careers, such as CTO and CIO. Though both of these careers have executive responsibilities and are similar, a CTO focuses on external growth while a CIO focuses on the internal infrastructure of an organization. The national average salary, according to PayScale, for a Chief Technology Officer is $168,000, and a Chief Information Officer is $155,238, proving this to be one of the highest paying online masters degrees.
CTO – $168,000
CIO – $155, 238
Computer and Information Scientist, Research – $110,231
Computer Systems Architect – $98,500
#4 – Online Masters in Supply Chain Management
A company’s success weighs heavily on the ability to efficiently manage the flow of goods and services. The online Masters in Supply Chain Management will increase students’ understanding of the practices, development, and implementation of supply chain strategies and operations. Being one of the highest paying online masters degrees, this sets students up for great success in many career options. A Vice President, Supply Chain Management manages, oversees, problem-solves, develops strategies, and plans all imperative facets of the supply chain method in order to maximize profitability. An Industrial Production Manager oversees the efficiency, compliance, inventory, products, and employee safety in a plant or factory. PayScale states the national average salary for a VP, Supply Chain Management is $163,523, and an Industrial Production Manager is $70,136. Students can find this high paying distance degree in online and blended formats. Some of the topics of study include logistics, global supply chain management, strategic sourcing, applied data analysis, manufacturing planning & control, and distribution fulfillment.
VP, Supply Chain Management – $163,523
Industrial Production Manager – $70,136
Purchasing Manager – $65,175
#5 – Online Masters in Human Resources
If you are looking to further your career in human resources, an online Masters in Human Resources can provide the competitive edge needed. This high paying online masters degree prepares students to manage and develop employees successfully. Through topics of study such as effective organizations, talent development, fundamentals of research and writing, human resource leadership in a global environment, strategic labor relations, and maximizing human capital, students enhance their knowledge in how to establish themselves as leaders, manage performance, train employees, resolve conflicts, and develop strategies to maximize productivity. According to PayScale, A Chief Human Resources Officer has a national average salary of $155,076, and a Manager, Compensation & Benefits is $87,274. A Chief Human Resources Officer oversees everything involving the human resources department in an organization, including recruiting, training, and retaining employees. A Manager, Compensation & Benefits is the part of the human resources department that focuses on the compensation and benefits for the employees.
Chief Human Resources Officer – $155,076
Manager, Compensation & Benefits – $87,274
Training Manager – $66,731
Human Resources Manager – $65,070
#6 – Online Masters of Engineering
A team of engineers typically create the innovations we see today. With a huge spectrum of options in engineering fields, an online Masters in Engineering can help to further diversify career opportunities. Being that it is one of the highest paying online masters degrees, graduates can become Senior Engineering Managers or a Director of Engineering, for example. This flexible, online degree is designed for working engineer professionals who wish to advance in their careers by improving their knowledge, training, credentials, and technical and practical engineering skills. Coursework can take about one to two years to complete, including business fundamentals, management, leadership, engineering specific classes and a collaborative consulting project. According to PayScale, the national average salary for a Senior Engineering Manager is $142,199, and for a Director of Engineering is $138,880. Both of these occupations are responsible for managing engineering projects and crew members. This information shows this degree to be the highest paying online masters degree in the field of engineering.
Senior Engineering Manager – $142,199
Director of Engineering – $138,880
Optical Engineer – $87,622
Sales Engineer – $71,525
#7 – Online Masters in Nursing
Nurses have a challenging, yet rewarding job and the healthcare industry could not survive without them. Another high paying online masters degree to obtain is the online Masters in Nursing. As nurses focus on providing the best care for the sick and injured, this degree sets graduates up for huge success in advancing their careers. One area of study is Nurse Midwifery. This degree builds upon the education of nursing already received and provides advanced nursing courses along with an in-depth focus on the health and wellness of women, including gynecological, prenatal, and postnatal care. In this degree, students complete the first year fully online, and the second year will be completed on campus, including clinical work. Coursework includes science development, study design and statistics of nursing, evidence-based practice, population health in a global society, and professional transitions: advanced nursing practice. According to PayScale, a Nurse Midwife has a national average salary of $92,581.
Nurse Anesthetists – $140,591
Nurse Practitioner – $92,493
Nurse Midwife – $92,581
#8 – Online Masters of Business Administration
There is a vast array of optional career paths with a business degree, and an online Masters in Business Administration can give students a competitive edge to obtain that high paying job. Being one of the highest paying online masters degrees, graduates will develop a deeper understanding of the fundamentals of business, technical skills, and how to strategically oversee and lead an organization. Typically taught by expert faculty, this challenging, exceptional educational experience can be completed between 18 and 36 months. Coursework includes topics such as finance, communication, leadership, business strategy, entrepreneurship, and marketing, with optional concentrations of study. A Chief Operations Officer, being the second-highest ranking executive, is responsible for the successful execution of operations in an organization, and according to PayScale, brings in a national average salary of $139,929. A Senior Professional Service Consultant trains and consults with the clients to ensure knowledge of the product is accurate, and according to PayScale, brings in a national average salary of $95,529.
COO – $139,929
Senior Professional Service Consultant – $95,529
Regional Sales Manager – $80,134
Operations Manager – $63,502
#9 – Online Masters of Finance
The need for management of finances is great and on-going. This is a good career for future job security. One of the highest paying online masters degrees is the online Masters in Finance. It takes the current knowledge, education, and experience of the student and maximizes their analytical skills and understanding of how to manage the financial marketplace. Topics of study include financial modeling and accounting, capital structure and cost, multinational financial management, quantitative methods, analysis of financial markets, mergers and acquisitions, and portfolio management. The flexibility of this high paying online masters degree allows students to work full time and gain experience while earning this extensive, valuable education. PayScale states that the national average salary for a Chief Financial Officer is $129,582, and a Finance Director is $110,826. A CFO is responsible for all of an organization’s financial operations. A Finance Director; through accounting, analysis, and projections; leads a team to create and execute the organization’s financial plan.
CFO – $129,582
Finance Director – $110,826
Senior Actuarial Analyst – $83,493
#10 – Online Masters in Risk Management and Insurance
Another one of the highest paying online masters degrees is the online Masters in Risk Management and Insurance. Not managing risk well can be detrimental to an organization. In this degree path, students will learn how to identify, analyze, evaluate, treat, and monitor risk by using different kinds of insurance policies. This in-depth education will assist students in analyzing financial data, conducting analyses, developing a global understanding, examining money markets, and understanding insurance policies. The curriculum includes classes, such as financial markets, quantitative methods, life and health insurance, insurance risk management, insurance company operations, and liability and property risk management and insurance. Graduates can go into the high paying career of being a Director, Risk Management, which according to PayScale, brings in a national average salary of $114,166. This position is vital to an organization as they are responsible for ensuring the company is fully compliant with all of the laws and with auditing in all of their operations.
Director, Risk Management – $114,166
#11 – Online Masters in Cybersecurity
Since businesses are run by computers, it is extremely important to have protection to keep intruders from accessing valuable data, which is why the online Masters in Cybersecurity is a high paying online masters degree. The curriculum, built upon students’ prior knowledge and experience in IT and engineering, offers courses like information security, systems security management, cyber threat intelligence, fundamentals of computer networks, and cyber warfare. Though 100% online, students are provided with hands-on experiences to gain knowledge in how best to assess, plan, manage, prevent, and execute the security of computer systems and networks within an organization. This degree sets up students for several careers. An Information Security Manager creates strategies, finds and prevents issues, is overall responsible for the security policies and, according to PayScale, makes an average salary of $110,053. A Cyber Security Analyst is responsible for monitoring, analyzing, and solving any data-related security issues and, according to PayScale, makes an average salary of $75,908.
Information Security Manager – $110,053
Cyber Security Analyst – $75,908
#12 – Online Masters in Petroleum Engineering
Another high paying online masters degree in the field of engineering is the online Masters in Petroleum Engineering. So many of our products come from petroleum, and our energy needs are met by it, so these engineers are in demand and highly relied upon. Classes include reservoir engineering, development of oil & gas reservoirs, well logging and drilling, petroleum production operations, pressure transient testing, horizontal drilling, and petroleum fluid properties & phase equilibria. In these courses, students will understand and learn how to utilize the discovery, development, and production of natural resources such as oil, gas, and water to meet energy needs. The online option helps students to continue gaining vital experience while obtaining this degree. PayScale states that Petroleum Engineers make a national average salary of $101,000. These engineers supervise, design, and test the methods, operations, and equipment used to safely drill, gather, and retrieve oil and natural gas for production.
Petroleum Engineers – $101,000
#13 – Online Masters in Aeronautics
One of the highest paying online masters degrees in the field of aviation is the online Masters in Aeronautics. This flexible, online degree can assist a recent undergraduate or an aviation professional in furthering their knowledge, skills, and career opportunities. With new technology advances, including gaming technology, online students can receive virtual, hands-on experiences on certain projects as if they were there in person. Within the curriculum, students will gain advanced knowledge in all aviation areas and the business that encompass aircraft transportation. Some of the topics of study are the air transportation system, statistical analysis for aviation, research methods for aerospace, and human factors in the aviation/aerospace industry. According to PayScale, an Airline Pilot, Copilot, and Flight Engineer bring in an average salary of $100,765. An airline pilot is responsible for the success of the crew members and the flight. A copilot assists the pilot in these responsibilities, and a flight engineer monitors the operations and controls.
Airline Pilot, Copilot, or Flight Engineer – $100,765
#14 – Online Masters in Nonprofit Management
Nonprofit organizations serve communities through providing not-for-profit foundations, religious institutions, support groups, and charities. An online Masters in Nonprofit Management can produce the highly qualified leaders needed to run these organizations. This high paying online masters degree will heighten and instill skills in strategic planning, program management, leadership, team building, fund-raising, marketing, management of human resources, and entrepreneurship all relating to the area of nonprofit. Coursework can include the nonprofit sector, social entrepreneurship, grant writing in nonprofit organizations, and financial and resource management. With the flexibility of the online classroom, this degree can be completed in less than two years. Payscale’s average salary states that a Chief Operating Officer, Nonprofit makes $94,228, and an Executive Director, Nonprofit makes $65,031. A COO, Nonprofit is a high-level professional who, through leading teams, planning goals, and designating projects, is responsible for the running of the company’s operations, policies, and procedures. An Executive Director, Non-profit oversees the funding and fundraising of the organization.
COO, Non-profit – $94,228
Executive Director, Non-Profit – $65,031
#15 – Online Masters in Physician Assistant Studies
One of the highest paying online masters degrees in healthcare is an online Masters in Physician Assistant Studies. A Physician Assistant is licensed and performs many basic tasks that doctors do, such as treat sickness and injury, perform physicals and check-ups, order and interpret tests, counsel and advise patients, diagnose and prescribe medication, and conduct regular, basic procedures. PayScale states the national average salary for a Physician Assistant is $93,029. This high paying online masters degree intertwines each organ system, such as reproductive, dermatology, cardiology, and endocrine, with each topic of study to provide a collaborative education. Topics of study include human anatomy, diagnostic studies, behavioral and preventive medicine, basic science, patient assessment, clinical medicine, and pharmacology. By combining online courses with in-person clinical rotations, this blended degree prepares students with the knowledge and abilities to be a physician assistant and the administration, management, education, and research skills needed to succeed in their career.
Physician Assistant – $93,029
#16 – Online Masters in Healthcare Administration
The healthcare industry is a large employer with many jobs that are in demand and continue to rise with opportunity. Another one of the highest paying online masters degrees is the online Masters in Healthcare Administration. This degree is designed to assist healthcare professionals in increasing their knowledge and abilities to pursue management positions. Students will study topics like economics, global health & diversity, communications, strategic planning, biostatistics, healthcare quality and improvement, health policy and law, and healthcare finance and reimbursement. The education provided helps to deepen a student’s understanding of financial data, management functions, human resources, healthcare operations and environment, information management systems, and organizational development to successfully cultivate quality, effective operation and improvements of the healthcare facility. According to PayScale, a Hospital Administrator, who oversees all operations of a hospital, has an average salary of $88,676, and a Healthcare Administrator, who oversees all operations of whichever medical facility they run, has an average salary of $64,356.
Hospital Administrator – $88,676
Healthcare Administrator – $64,356
#17 – Online Masters of Nuclear Engineering
Ideal for students who have acquired an engineering bachelors degree and desire to pursue a career in nuclear engineering, the online Masters of Nuclear Engineering is a high paying online masters degree. A Nuclear Engineer develops reactivity plans, assesses risks, predicts effects, tests nuclear methods, evaluates performance, applies nuclear reactor technologies, and executes complex model interactions to successfully accomplish nuclear engineering projects within an organization. Courses such as radiation safety and shielding, nuclear fuel cycles, radioactive waste control, design principles of reactor systems, statistical thermodynamics, and power plant simulation, will prepare graduates to enter into this high paying occupation. Along with the advanced knowledge taught in these courses, students will learn the importance of following safety laws. PayScale shows the average salary for Nuclear Engineers is $84,001, proving this to be a high paying online masters degree. These engineers can work in many different types of organizations from laboratories to electrical utility companies to nuclear power plants.
Nuclear Engineer – $84,001
#18 – Online Masters in Chemistry
We will forever be observing, studying, researching, and experimenting with the properties of matter and substances. Professionals that wish to further their knowledge, abilities, and opportunities in the field of chemistry should pursue an online Masters in Chemistry. This flexible, high paying online masters degree is obtainable while working full-time where the student has control over when and how quickly they move through the coursework. Students will study topics, such as advanced analytical chemistry, advanced organic chemistry, mass spectrometry and NMR spectroscopy, advanced physical chemistry, advanced inorganic chemistry, advanced biochemistry, industrial and polymer chemistry, fundamentals of heterocycles with emphasis on pharmaceuticals, molecular modeling, and medicinal chemistry. Graduates can pursue a career as a Materials Scientist who, according to PayScale, makes an average salary of $83,464. A Materials Scientist works, often in laboratories, to identify, examine, analyze and test the chemical properties of materials and provide solutions to improve and ensure the quality of products.
Materials Scientist – $83,464
#19 – Online Masters in Aerospace Engineering
Engineers design, develop, test, and produce a vast array of different kinds of things. Those engineers interested in aircraft, spacecraft and related equipment, and desire to advance in their career should pursue an online Masters in Aerospace Engineering. This high paying online masters degree is entirely online, allowing students to continue to work and gain experience while completing coursework. Topics of study include fluid mechanics, solid mechanics and materials, dynamics and controls, mathematics, aerodynamics, aerospace systems, astrodynamics & space applications, structures & materials, and propulsion. Optional specializations also include structural mechanics, aerospace control, orbital mechanics, and spacecraft. Students will greatly increase their knowledge and understanding of everything an Aerospace Engineer needs to know for success. This includes the intricacies in the design of all things related to flight and the development, approval, testing, and manufacturing of products. According to PayScale, an Aerospace Engineer has a national average salary of $82,455.
Aerospace Engineers – $82,455
#20 – Online Masters in Computer Engineering
One of the highest paying online masters degrees relating to computers is the online Masters in Computer Engineering. Businesses cannot function without computers. Our world cannot function without computers. There is a great need for experts in the computer engineering field. This flexible, online degree will prepare students in and deepen their knowledge of hardware and software applications, internet protocols, modern modeling software, design tools, network programming, current industry trends, computer system design, creating prototypes, technology capabilities, research experience, and solutions to advanced engineering problems. Classes include digital control and digital filters, computer networks, computer organization and architecture, digital signal processing, hardware/software design, introduction to power system markets, computer architecture, optical properties in solids, robust control systems, and power distribution grids. A Computer Hardware Engineer is a part of every level of the design and developmental process of computer hardware and systems and, according to PayScale, brings in a national average salary of $81,211.
Computer Hardware Engineers – $81,211
#21 – Online Masters in Education Leadership
Any teachers or educators that desire to be leaders or principals of their schools would greatly benefit from obtaining an online Masters in Education Leadership. This high paying online masters degree allows students to continue to teach and educate while they are completing their coursework. Topics of study include school, family, and community connections; school finance and human resources; critical issues in educational leadership; administration of school personnel; data-driven decision making; educational leadership; public school law; and principalship. Graduates will walk away with a heightened knowledge and understanding of how to develop curriculum, facilitate collaboration, problem-solve, interact with parents and the community, interpret test results, manage challenges, and mentor and lead other teachers. One of the careers this degree sets students up for is an Elementary School Principal which, according to PayScale, makes an average salary of $80,083. This position is responsible for the supervision and success of the school staff and students, managing the business of the school, and ensuring safety.
Elementary School Principal – $80,083
College Administrator – $61,829
#22 – Online Masters in Geological Engineering
Another high paying online masters degree is the online Masters in Geological Engineering. This field of study takes the science of the solid features of Earth and its changes over time and applies it to the factors of engineering to ensure successful project completion. Using this knowledge and further developing it through this coursework, students learn to use geological factors to evaluate hazards and to design, construct, explore and develop geological projects and mineral and energy resources. Topics of study include geological engineering, civil engineering, rock mechanics, hydrogeology, soil mechanics, site characterization, seepage and slope stability, and tunnel design and construction. With innovative technology, the online classroom provides the flexibility to gain work experience and handle family obligations while pursuing this degree. An occupation that graduates can pursue is a Mining Engineer and, according to PayScale, makes an average salary of $75,829. A Mining Engineer is responsible for managing mine operations and projects.
Mining Engineer – $75,829
#23 – Online Masters in Electrical Engineering
Obtaining an online Masters in Electrical Engineering can open up a wide range of advanced career opportunities for current professional engineers. One path to take is to become an Electrical Engineer. They are responsible for the research, creation, design, improvement, and implementation of any electrical product, device and its components. As PayScale states that Electrical Engineers make an average salary of $73,544, this proves this degree to be a high paying online masters degree. In this course of study, students will achieve the understanding of new technologies, advanced experience in research, upgraded technical skills, and a greater knowledge of electronic components and theory, amongst many other things. Topics of study include optical properties of nanostructures, engineering concepts of high-power pulsed electronics, high-resolution metrology techniques, particle beam accelerator technology and engineering, electrical power engineering, grid integration of wind energy systems, telecommunications, and internet engineering. This flexible, online degree can be completed in two years.
Electronics Engineer – $75,739
Electrical Engineer – $73,544
#24 – Online Masters in Construction Management
Everywhere we look we see buildings, roads, arenas and other structures that were put in place by a construction team. Someone has to manage these projects, which brings us to this high paying online masters degree. An online Masters in Construction Management can prepare and equip current professionals to enter into this management position. A Construction Manager oversees the construction of a project from the very start through to completion and, according to PayScale, brings in an average salary of $74,778. They manage the time, budget, supervision, quality, design, plan, safety, construction, and successful delivery of every project. In the coursework of this high paying online masters degree, students will complete classes, such as leadership in construction, construction accounting and financial management, construction control techniques, cost estimating and bidding strategies, construction project management, and risk management in construction. Graduates will have acquired skills and advanced knowledge in leadership, decision-making, project delivery, sustainability, management, and technical competence.
Construction Manager – $74,778
#25 – Online Masters in Psychology
Psychology is the intriguing study of the mind, its functions, and behaviors. To become a respected and qualified Psychologist, an online Masters in Psychology is recommended. This high paying online masters degree is convenient, flexible, affordable, and can be completed in under two years. Courses of study include psychology research, measurement, ethics, research methods in psychology, social psychology, cognitive processes, measurement & assessment, theories of personality, and ethical practice in psychology. A few possible concentrations are child & adolescent development psychology, forensic psychology, and industrial-organizational psychology. Graduates of this degree will advance in their understanding of research methods, the application of theory, personality, ethical practice, the human mind, social issues and their effects on behavior, and psychological challenges and solutions. PayScale states that the average salary for a Psychologist is $74,656. Psychologists conduct research, tests, exams, diagnoses, and treatment of psychological behavior in therapy sessions, usually caused by crises, injury, trauma, or disease.
Psychologist – $74,656