Best Accelerated Online Master’s Degree Programs of 2022

Want to quickly boost your resume? The best accelerated online master's programs offer flexible coursework that students complete in less than two years.

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by Doug Wintemute

Published on May 10, 2022

Edited by Colin Weickmann
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While most online master's degree programs last two years, accelerated master's degrees offer a more condensed schedule. Students can earn their degrees in less time in several ways, including bachelor's-to-master's pathways, heavier course loads, and nontraditional study schedules. In an accelerated online master's degree program, the training may be synchronous or asynchronous.

Accelerated master's degrees appeal to many types of students, but typically, they are the best fit for committed learners with flexible schedules. For example, intensive study schedules may not balance well with heavy work schedules. Degree-seekers also need a high level of dedication and perseverance to complete the intensive training.

When choosing to attend graduate school for an accelerated master's degree, prospective students need to think about these programs' unique features and requirements. Here, we look at what students can expect from these programs and what they have to offer. We also highlight the best accelerated master's online degrees from the top online schools.

What Can I Expect From an Accelerated Online Master's Program?

There is no standard accelerated master's degree program. Schools may accelerate studies by combining bachelor's and master's programs, offering heavier course loads, providing more generous transfer credits, or allowing learners to pace their studies more quickly. Compared to a traditional master's program, accelerated programs can be more intensive and more challenging.

While students can informally accelerate their studies in many ways, the most common formally accelerated online master's degree is a 4+1 program. Students earn credits toward their master's degree while still technically undergraduates in this format.

Accelerated programs can be found in nearly every track imaginable, including:

Accelerated master's degree courses can be taken online or on campus. Online master's programs may be more accommodating because of their asynchronous and self-paced course capabilities. When preparing for graduate school, find the best format for your personal scheduling needs.

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What Are the Admission Requirements for an Accelerated Online Master's Program?

The admission requirements for accelerated online master's programs vary by school and program. While some are identical to traditional programs, others may be more demanding. Schools may require prospective students to meet a higher admission standard to ensure they can be successful in a more challenging program.

According to our graduate admissions guide, prospective students need to complete the following components to qualify for entrance into an accelerated online master's program.

Application

The application for an accelerated master's degree program usually requests the same information as an application for a traditional program. Applicants need to submit their personal information and indicate which program they wish to enter. Schools may distinguish between accelerated and traditional programs for applicants, or they may offer accelerated and traditional pathways from within the same program.

Test Scores

Schools often require standardized test results for both accelerated and traditional programs. The type of test required depends on the specific discipline, with business programs requiring GMAT results and most other programs requiring GRE results. Prospective students can improve their admission chances by taking GRE or GMAT prep classes to boost their standardized testing scores.

Letters of Recommendation

Applications for traditional and accelerated online master's degrees include letters of recommendation. These letters typically come from current or former teachers and employers. Prospective students can use letters of recommendation from employers to complement their application resumes, and they can also implement many of the same tips for writing a resume while in school.

Resume

Many schools require resumes and cover letters from applicants, including both accelerated and traditional program candidates. These documents can highlight work experience, which may be required for entry into many business and clinical programs. Resumes also highlight the prospective student's skills and strengths.

Essays

Application essays can vary considerably depending on the school and program. When writing a grad school essay, prospective students might want to address their research interests and their reasons for choosing that school and faculty. They should also outline why the specific accelerated master's degree program appeals to them.

Official Transcripts

Official transcripts should be included in most applications. Many schools require prospective students to have a minimum number of transfer credits to qualify for an accelerated master's degree. Degree-seekers can look through our transfer guide for more information.

What Can I Do With an Accelerated Online Master's Degree?

Master's degree graduates earn more and get hired more often than bachelor's degree graduates. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), professionals with a master's degree earned a median of $240 more a week than bachelor's graduates in 2020. The unemployment rate for master's degree-holders was 4.1%, while the unemployment rate for bachelor's graduates was 5.5%.

Not only do master's degrees pay off more, but they also lead to more desirable positions. For example, business master's degrees often lead to management positions; social services and counseling master's degrees lead to clinical positions; and nursing master's degrees lead to practitioner positions.

While most employers view accelerated master's degrees equally to traditional degrees, fast-tracked programs may prove more beneficial. Accelerated programs can get graduates into the field quicker, and some organizations see greater value in the more challenging programs.

How Do I Choose an Accelerated Online Master's Program?

Cost

To properly evaluate cost, prospective students can start by comparing the prices of online and on-campus programs, in-state and out-of-state programs, and public and private schools. Candidates interested in accelerated programs should calculate the true program cost since they might have more difficulty working while studying.

Program Format

Traditional degree-seekers should compare full-time vs. part-time programs when evaluating learning formats. Degree-seekers in accelerated programs typically study full time, but they may have a choice between synchronous vs. asynchronous courses. These various program formats determine when learners study and what kind of work and study balance they will have.

Location

Regardless of their choice between online or on-campus programs, prospective students need to think about location. On-campus learners need to attend class in person, while online students may need to satisfy on-campus residency requirements. Accelerated online master's degrees may feature these same components.

Accreditation

No matter what type of degree or program they choose, prospective students need to pay close attention to accreditation. Our online college accreditation guide states that graduate programs must be institutionally accredited in order to offer full financial aid, licensure, and employment opportunities to students. Programmatic accreditation may also be required depending on the discipline.

Student Support

Prospective students should carefully consider the type of student services a school provides. Online student services can give learners the appropriate support for their specific needs, including academic, postgraduate, and wellness services. In-program support might include college internships and mentorship programs.

Best Accredited Accelerated Online Master's Degree Programs

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#1 Online College in Massachusetts

Brandeis University

School Information
Location Waltham, Massachusetts
Admission Rate 30%
Graduation Rate 87%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 7% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Program Format: 100% Online or Hybrid | Course Format: Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Semester
$1,766

Credits to Graduate
64

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business

Brandeis University is home to some of the best accelerated online master's programs covering topics like economics, business, and MBA coursework. Additionally, Brandeis offers several tracks where students can complete their undergraduate and graduate business degrees in just five years.

This Massachusetts-based business program offers academic specializations in areas including marketing, real estate finance, data analytics, and financial economics. Alongside standard admission requirements, applicants must submit a written essay and a video essay.

#2 Online College in Illinois

Northwestern University

School Information
Location Evanston, Illinois
Admission Rate 9%
Graduation Rate 94%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 2% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Program Format: Hybrid | Course Format: Self-Paced Classes and Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Semester
$12,091

Credits to Graduate
13 Units

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A

Chicago's Northwestern University offers a flexible master's in public policy and administration degree that students can complete in just one year. Master's students complete a composite courseload of both online and on-campus classes. Alongside core coursework, accelerated master's degree students choose from academic concentrations in public policy, public administration, and global policy.

Northwestern reviews applications holistically, and prospective students must submit a resume, letters of recommendation, and a writing sample. Due to this program's intensive nature, the school conducts an interview with promising applicants.

#3 Online College in Ohio

Cleveland State University

School Information
Location Cleveland, Ohio
Admission Rate 94%
Graduation Rate 46%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 37% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Program Format: 100% Online | Course Format: Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
$1,123

Credits to Graduate
32

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business

Cleveland State University is home to a flexible and affordable accelerated MBA that students can complete entirely online. Throughout this 32-credit accelerated master's degree, degree-seekers complete essential business coursework that includes classes such as integrative business strategy, management of innovation, and managerial accounting.

Prospective MBA students must submit an online application along with official undergraduate transcripts and standardized test scores. Depending on their undergraduate experience, some students may need to complete various business-related prerequisites.

#4 Online College in Alabama

Spring Hill College

School Information
Location Mobile, Alabama
Admission Rate 50%
Graduation Rate 56%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 21% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Program Format: 100% Online | Course Format: Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
$540

Credits to Graduate
30

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Currently seeking accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs

Based in Mobile, Alabama, Spring Hill College is a private institution that offers an accelerated MBA that students can complete in just ten months. In addition to core MBA coursework, students can select from four academic concentrations: business analytics, leadership, logistics, and project management.

Spring Hill College waives application fees and does not require applicants to submit standardized test scores. Prospective students must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.75.

#5 Online College in New York

Albany Medical College

School Information
Location Albany, New York
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 7% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Program Format: Hybrid | Course Format: Scheduled Classes and Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
$1,236

Credits to Graduate
32

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education

Albany Medical College is home to an accelerated master's degree in interdisciplinary basic medical sciences that students can use to enhance their credentials before applying to medical school. Students can finish this intensive program in one year. Core classes include medical histology, biomedical ethics, and two sections of mammalian physiology.

Prospective students must submit an online application and have a minimum 3.1 cumulative GPA. Applicants must also submit MCAT scores and complete a Zoom interview with the school's admission committee.

#6 Online College in North Carolina

Duke University

School Information
Location Durham, North Carolina
Admission Rate 8%
Graduation Rate 95%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 6% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Program Format: 100% Online | Course Format: Scheduled Classes and Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
$1,665

Credits to Graduate
27

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business

Duke University's Fuqua School of Business offers an accelerated master's degree in quantitative management with a specialization in business analytics. This online graduate program supplements core business knowledge with analytics and data science training. Throughout this one-year program, students complete classes including digital marketing, empirical analysis for business strategy, and financial risk management.

Prospective students must submit a polished application along with a resume, transcripts, and essays. Additionally, applicants must complete an admission interview and submit GMAT/GRE scores.

#7 Online College in Pennsylvania

DeSales University

School Information
Location Center Valley, Pennsylvania
Admission Rate 79%
Graduation Rate 69%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 36% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Program Format: 100% Online or Hybrid | Course Format: Self-Paced Classes or Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
$880

Credits to Graduate
36

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs

DeSales University is a Pennsylvania-based private institution that offers an accelerated online MBA program that students can complete in just one year. Alongside core classes like managerial statistics and accounting for decision-makers, master's students choose from a substantial list of academic concentrations including accounting, cybersecurity, and data analytics.

Prospective accelerated master's degree students must submit an application with a current resume, three letters of recommendation, and a personal statement outlining academic and career goals. Applicants also complete an admission interview and must hold a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA. DeSales does not require the submission of GMAT/GRE scores.

#8 Online College in Ohio

Mount Vernon Nazarene University

School Information
Location Mount Vernon, Ohio
Admission Rate 73%
Graduation Rate 68%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 41% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Program Format: 100% Online | Course Format: Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
$498

Credits to Graduate
36

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs

Mount Vernon Nazarene University is home to a flexible and affordable online MBA that working professionals can complete in about 12 months. This 36-credit accelerated master's degree allows working students the chance to complete coursework while keeping up with personal and professional obligations. Students complete core classes such as ethical leadership and managerial economics and choose from nine academic concentrations.

In addition to academic support, master's students have access to various networking and professional development opportunities. Prospective students must hold an undergraduate degree, submit an online application, and send all relevant transcripts.

#9 Online College in Minnesota

Crown College

School Information
Location Saint Bonifacius, Minnesota
Admission Rate 50%
Graduation Rate 50%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 68% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Program Format: 100% Online | Course Format: Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
$600

Credits to Graduate
36

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A

Minnesota's Crown College offers a flexible accelerated MBA program that working students can complete entirely online through the Canvas online learning platform. Core requirements include classes such as strategic human resource management, business analytics, and strategic planning for leaders. As a Christian institution, MBA students explore how to apply spiritual principles to business and leadership topics.

Prospective MBA students must submit an online application along with academic transcripts and a professional resume. Crown College does not require applicants to submit GRE/GMAT scores.

#10 Online College in Vermont

University of Vermont

School Information
Location Burlington, Vermont
Admission Rate 67%
Graduation Rate 77%
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 15% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Program Format: 100% Online | Course Format: Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
$678 (in-state) / $970 (out-of-state)

Credits to Graduate
42

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Council on Education for Public Health

The University of Vermont offers an online master of public health program that features a practical curriculum preparing graduates for public health practice. This 42-credit, 100% online program covers core topics such as biostatistics, epidemiology, and environmental public health. Full-time students can complete this public health generalist program in just 15 months.

Prospective public health students must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. Applicants must submit a completed application with a statement of purpose, resume, and three letters of recommendation. This public health program does not require applicants to submit GRE scores.

Frequently Asked Questions About Accelerated Online Master's Degree Programs

Is a one-year master's degree valid? true

Yes. In many cases, a one-year master's degree provides the same level of education as a two-year program. An accelerated master's degree, for example, may condense a traditional two-year program into one year. Some accelerated programs provide transfer credits to shorten the program length to one year.

While some one-year programs may feature fewer credits and less-intensive training, they may also feature lower tuition costs. Prospective students can ensure their program is valid by checking for the appropriate accreditation.

Are there one-year master's programs in the U.S.? true

Yes. There are many one-year master's programs in the U.S. Schools regularly offer 4+1 bachelor's-to-master's pathways, one-year accelerated MBA programs, and other accelerated master's degrees.

Students may even be able to informally accelerate traditional programs by taking a heavier course load than normal or adding summer sessions or intersession courses. Since transcripts and diplomas typically do not highlight the length of the degree, employers are unable to distinguish between the type of master's programs in most cases.

What is the easiest master's degree to get online? true

The easiest master's degree to get online depends entirely on the individual student and the program. Even programs that many perceive as difficult — such as a master's program in engineering — can be easy for learners who excel in those fields. Generally, however, programs like education, business, and communication are easy to access online.

These fields tend to build on previous training and experience in such a way that many learners can succeed. Though every school and program is different, these programs also tend to keep workloads to a manageable level, avoiding overly intense requirements.

Are one-year master's programs worth it?

Yes. One-year master's programs offer great value for students. Not only can learners complete their training more quickly via an accelerated online master's degree program, but they can also save money as a result of the shorter study timelines. According to the BLS, master's degrees lead to higher earnings and more employment opportunities.

An accelerated online master's degree can provide additional value in the flexibility online learning offers. For example, online students can easily accelerate asynchronous programs and balance traditional work schedules.

Why are some master's degrees one year and some two years?

Master's degrees have varying lengths for many reasons. An accelerated master's degree may feature fewer courses and credits or a more condensed study schedule. Some programs allow students to apply more transfer credits, while others expedite the transition between a bachelor's and master's program.

By offering master's degrees of differing lengths, schools can appeal to a more diverse student body. Some learners thrive in accelerated master's degree programs, whereas others need a more traditional full-time or part-time schedule. Accelerated programs can prove challenging and require a high level of commitment from students.

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As master's degree programs have grown in popularity, graduate student loan debt has increased substantially. Learn about some of the fastest-growing jobs that require a master's degree in 2022, including a variety of positions in the healthcare industry. Attending graduate school allows you to conduct research and gain critical skills for your career. Learn about the pros and cons of earning a graduate degree.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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