Easiest Master’s Degrees

Want to advance your career? A master’s degree can mean new job opportunities and a higher salary.

So what’s the easiest master’s degree to get? That depends on your strengths and career goals. But there’s no denying that some master’s programs are easier than others. For one, many grad students find online programs easier because of the flexible schedule. We researched the easiest online master’s degrees so you can go to grad school with less stress.

Easiest Online Master’s Degrees

Business

Business is one of the easiest master’s degrees to get online. Many business schools offer online MBAs along with other graduate degrees in business. With a master’s in business, you’ll learn problem-solving, analytical thinking, and decision-making skills.

Popular Business Master’s Degrees

  • Master’s in Business Administration (MBA)
  • Master’s in Accounting
  • Master’s in Finance
  • Master’s in Marketing
  • Master’s in Management

A master’s in business can lead to high-paying management roles. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), management jobs pay more than any other occupational group. Managers reported a median wage of $102,450 in May 2021.

Communications

You’ll learn how to craft strategic messages during a master’s in communications. With focus areas like public relations, journalism, and technical writing, a graduate degree in communications can help you specialize your career. If you have strong writing and communication skills, this can be one of the easiest master’s degrees to get.

A communications master’s degree can also mean a higher salary. For example, public relations managers earn a median salary of $125,780 per year (BLS, May 2021). Fundraising managers also report six-figure median earnings.

Criminal Justice

If you’ve got law enforcement experience, a master’s in criminal justice administration might be one of the easiest online master’s degrees. These master’s programs focus on leadership skills for roles like police captain or emergency management director. You’ll gain career-focused knowledge in protective services management.

As an emergency management director, you can expect a median annual wage of $76,730 (BLS, May 2021). Police supervisors report a median salary of $96,290 (BLS, May 2022).

Education

Educators can boost their earning potential and open new career opportunities with a master’s degree. Many districts offer salary increases for teachers with master’s degrees. Or you can become a school principal, instructional coordinator, or higher education administrator.

Popular Education Master’s Degrees

  • Master’s in Teaching
  • Master’s in Education Leadership
  • Master’s in Higher Education

Many universities offer accelerated one-year online master’s in education programs with no GRE requirement. How much can you earn with a master’s in education? K-12 principals report a median wage of $98,420 (BLS, May 2021).

Healthcare Administration

Healthcare managers are in high demand. According to the BLS, the field is projected to grow by 28% from 2021-2031. And with a master’s in healthcare administration, you can work as a hospital manager, nursing home administrator, or health information manager. These management-level roles in healthcare offer a median annual salary of $101,340.

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During a master’s in healthcare administration, you’ll learn about healthcare finance, strategic management, and health policy. You’ll also gain leadership skills as you prepare for healthcare administration careers.

Nursing

You can earn an online MSN with no GRE or standardized test score requirement. With an MSN, you can become a nurse educator, administrator, or advanced practice RN. Many nursing schools offer one-year MSN programs, making it one of the easiest online master’s degrees for nurses.

Popular Nursing Master’s Degrees

  • Master’s in Nursing Leadership
  • Master’s in Nursing Education
  • Master’s Nurse Practitioner

An MSN can also increase your earning potential. Nurse practitioners earn a median wage of $120,680 per year (BLS, May 2021). The highest-paying RN roles also report a median salary of over $120,000 (BLS, May 2021).

Psychology

Explore human behavior while earning one of the easiest online master’s degrees. During a master’s in psychology, you can focus on human development, school psychology, or industrial-organizational psychology.

While most psychologists need a doctorate, industrial-organizational psychologists can practice with a master’s degree. In this high-paying field, you’ll use psychological principles to help organizations train their workforce and improve productivity. Industrial-organizational psychologists earn a median pay of $139,280 per year (BLS, May 2022).

Social Work

Earning a master’s in social work can launch your career as a clinical social worker. And many social work programs offer flexible online MSW programs.

During an MSW program, you’ll explore social welfare policy, social work ethics, and clinical assessment strategies. You’ll also complete a supervised practicum to gain hands-on skills. If you’re in a human services role, an MSW can mean greater independence and a higher earning potential. The top-paid social workers make over $82,840 (BLS, May 2021).

Career Outlook With a Master’s Degree

Earning a master’s degree can boost your earning potential. It can also open new career paths. Professionals with a master’s degree earn a median pay of $86,372 per year, according to 2022 BLS data. That’s nearly $12,000 per year more than those with a bachelor’s degree, who earn a median of $74,464 per year.

In many fields, the salary boost with a master’s degree is even higher. Managers report six-figure median wages, and many employers prefer to hire managers with a master’s degree.

On top of earning potential, a master’s can give you an advantage in the job market. High-paying careers like economist, nurse practitioner, and school principal require a master’s degree. And even in fields where a graduate degree is not required, it can help you stand out compared to job applicants with a bachelor’s degree.

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Highest-Paying Jobs with a Master’s Degree

What are the best-paying jobs with a master’s degree? Healthcare professionals and managers rank high among the careers that pay the most with a master’s degree. A graduate degree can also mean a significant salary increase in social sciences, education, and tech careers.

Highest-Paying Careers With a Master’s Degree Career 2021 Median Salary Computer and IT Manager $159,010 Marketing Manager $135,030 Financial Manager $131,710 Public Relations Manager $125,780 Nurse Practitioner $120,680 Economist $105,630 Industrial-Organizational Psychologist $105,310 K-12 School Principal $105,310

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Choosing the Right Online Master’s Program

Figuring out the easiest master’s degree to get online isn’t easy. The right program depends on your unique skills and career goals. So how can you choose the best program for you? Here are some of the factors to consider when researching the easiest master’s degrees.

Career Paths

How will a master’s degree advance your career? If you can’t answer that question, you might want to hold off on grad school. When researching easy master’s degrees, it’s important to look at the career paths and common job titles for graduates.

Consider your professional strengths and your job requirements. Earning an MBA online might be easy if you’ve got a background in business — but if you’re not interested in management roles, an MBA isn’t a good investment.

Cost

Earning a master’s degree isn’t cheap. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, graduate tuition hit an all-time high in 2021, with an average cost of nearly $20,000 per year. While public universities reported lower average tuition rates of around $12,400, private universities charged over $26,000 on average.

On top of tuition, you’ll need to factor in the cost of textbooks, fees, and other expenses. Some of the most competitive master’s programs can easily cost more than $100,000. Make sure to compare the total cost of the program with your projected earning potential when choosing a master’s degree.

Admission Requirements

What are the admission requirements for a master’s program? You’ll likely need an accredited bachelor’s degree, standardized test scores, a statement of purpose, and letters of recommendation. Certain programs also require prerequisite courses.

Admission requirements vary, however. It’s common for graduate programs in education and healthcare to not require GRE scores, for example. And a growing number of business schools offer test-optional admissions, so you don’t need GMAT scores.

When researching programs, make sure to check the admission requirements. An easy-looking master’s program can quickly become more difficult if you have to take prerequisite courses and a standardized test before even starting your degree.

Program Length

Earning a master’s degree generally takes a minimum of 30 credits. Most programs require two years of study for full-time students. But those requirements vary. Some master’s degrees mean earning 50 or more credits, which doesn’t sound like the easiest master’s degree.

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When researching programs, check the program length and ask about part-time options. You can also find many accelerated master’s programs that take as little as one year.

Graduate Outcomes

Do program graduates get jobs in their field? Looking at graduate outcomes can tell you a lot about a master’s program. And reputable programs will share this data with prospective students.

As you compare programs, ask about job placement records, average earnings, and employer partnership programs. It’s a great idea to talk to a current grad student or recent alumni, too. And look into the program’s alumni network. An active alumni group can help you land a job after your master’s degree.

Accreditation

Diploma mills advertise master’s degrees that sound too good to be true. For a flat fee, they promise a degree in months or even weeks. How can you avoid low-quality programs? Always check for accreditation.

Accreditation recognizes universities and programs that meet the highest standards. Look for a regionally accredited university to get the best quality. Many programs should also hold specialized accreditation. For example, choose a business school accredited by a respected business accreditor. Programs in education, social work, counseling, and nursing should also hold specialized accreditation.

Frequently Asked Questions About Easiest Master’s Degree Programs

What is the shortest time to get a master’s degree?

You can earn a master’s degree in as little as one year. Many accredited universities offer accelerated master’s programs in areas like business, education, and nursing. An accelerated option can cut the program time in half for a master’s degree, meaning you can put your degree to work faster.

What master’s degree is most in demand?

Many master’s degrees are in high demand, including degrees in business, nursing, and tech. These fields also report a significant salary increase for professionals with a master’s degree.

The most popular master’s degrees include business, which accounts for 23% of all master’s degrees, and education, which represents 18% of degrees, according to 2021 data from the National Center for Education Statistics. Healthcare, tech, and social services master’s degrees also rank among the most popular options.

Is a master’s much harder than a bachelor’s?

A master’s degree generally sets higher academic standards than a bachelor’s degree. However, some students find the interdisciplinary coursework of a bachelor’s program challenging. At the master’s level, you’ll take classes in one focused field. Upper-division courses in your major are a better comparison to the challenges of a master’s degree.

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