Best One-Year Online Master’s Programs

Interested in growing your earning potential in 12 months? BestColleges spotlights ten master's programs that online students can complete in one year.
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A one-year master's program offers the fastest route to graduate education. But what are the benefits of an accelerated master's program? And can you earn a one-year master's degree online?

Typically, earning a master's degree takes two years. But many colleges and universities offer one-year master's degrees in high-demand fields like business, healthcare administration, education, and social work. Earning a master's degree in one year can save you time and money on your degree. A master's degree also often translates into a higher earning potential.

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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An online master's degree prioritizes flexibility. The distance learning format appeals to working students with busy schedules. And many of the top-ranked online universities offer accelerated programs.

But before applying to graduate school, consider the return on investment. An affordable, accelerated online program can improve your ROI. A shorter program means less time before benefiting from salary increases. And an online format makes it easier to work while pursuing a graduate degree.

What Can I Expect From a One-Year Online Master's Program?

During an accelerated master's program, graduate students take an intensive course load and complete their degree requirements in about one year. An accelerated program helps professionals earn a master's degree faster than a traditional program. Many disciplines offer one-year tracks, including business, healthcare, education, and social work.

The most common one-year master's programs include:

  • Master of business administration
  • Master of education
  • Master of social work
  • Master of health administration
  • MS in information technology or computer science
  • MS or MA in psychology
  • MS in criminal justice

Students can earn an accelerated master's degree online or in person. Online programs often design their curriculum with the needs of working students in mind. For example, asynchronous programs let graduate students schedule coursework around work and other responsibilities.

Some schools also offer hybrid accelerated programs. Before students apply to an accelerated program, they should ensure they're prepared for grad school.

Popular Online Master's Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Find the Tools You Need to Get Started on Your Degree

What Are the Admission Requirements for a One-Year Online Master's Program?

Before applying to one-year master's programs online, degree-seekers need to check the graduate admission requirements. Fortunately, one-year programs tend to set similar admission requirements as traditional programs.

However, look out for prerequisites. Some fields only admit students to accelerated programs if they complete undergraduate prerequisite courses or hold a major in the field. This section introduces the most common admission requirements for one-year programs.

Application

Most master's programs require an online application that lists students' educational background, work history, and qualifications for graduate study. Graduate schools often use one application for all of their programs. So, students considering accelerated programs generally complete the same application as those interested in traditional programs.

Test Scores

Depending on the program, learners may need to submit test scores. The most common graduate test requirements include the GRE and the GMAT. Many MA, MS, or MEd programs require GRE scores. Business programs often require the GMAT. Degree-seekers should make sure to research the requirements and invest time in test preparation.

Letters of Recommendation

Master's programs typically ask for 1-3 letters of recommendation from former professors or supervisors. Make sure to ask for letters of recommendation at least three weeks before the deadline. Students can also provide their letter writers with a current resume, a description of the program, and their admission essays.

Resume

While some graduate programs include a work history in the application, many also require a resume or CV. Some programs, including MBA and educational leadership programs, even set minimum work history requirements. Students can create their resume with graduate school in mind, listing relevant work experience and linking their skills to their graduate program when possible.

Essays

Most graduate programs ask for a statement of purpose, grad school essay, or writing sample. Some programs look for evidence of graduate-level writing skills, while others want a description of students' preparation and goals with a master's degree. Applicants can ask a friend or family member to provide feedback.

Official Transcripts

Programs typically ask for official transcripts from either every school attended or a student's degree-granting school. Generally, learners can request official transcripts online. Those with graduate credits can ask their program of interest about its transfer credit policy. Transfer credits can save learners time and money on a master's degree.

How Do I Choose a One-Year Online Master's Program?

Cost

Earning an accelerated master's degree online can save students money compared to a traditional master's program. However, learners should make sure to compare program costs and research the true program cost. Many colleges and universities charge by credit, so a one-year master's program may not cost less than a two-year program.

Program Format

Students can learn more about the program format during their search. Accelerated programs may offer a synchronous or asynchronous delivery method. Asynchronous classes offer the greatest flexibility because they do not require set meeting times. Degree-seekers can also research full-time and part-time options — though accelerated programs typically require a full-time commitment.

Location

Does location matter with an online program? Yes, location matters whether enrolling in-person or online. Some online programs include on-campus requirements. Local programs may also maintain relationships with local companies that hire graduates. Weigh these benefits against the advantages of attending a top-ranked program in another state.

Accreditation

Accredited schools meet high standards for academic excellence — and programmatic accreditation can affect your ability to find jobs in many fields. Students should make sure to look for a master's program at an accredited institution. Attending an unaccredited institution can impact education quality and job prospects. If a discipline has programmatic accrediting agencies, consider prioritizing accredited programs.

Student Support

Online graduate programs should offer various student support services. Prospective students can research a school's student services, like academic advising, online tutoring, and career services. A strong alumni network, mentorship opportunities, and a program for graduate internships can also impact education and job prospects.

Best Accredited One-Year Online Master's Programs

Rankings compiled by the BestColleges Ranking Team

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At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you can make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering transparent, inclusive, and relevant school rankings.

Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our ranking methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.

#1 Best One-Year Online Master’s Programs

Liberty University

  • Lynchburg, VA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

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

Avg. Cost per Credit
$565

Credits to Graduate
30

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A

Liberty University's 100% online master's in aeronautics allows graduate students the chance to complete the program in just one year. In addition to core classes like aviation law and ethics in aerospace decision-making, degree-seekers choose from academic concentrations including aviation education, leadership, and safety.

Prospective students must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA. Applicants must submit an online application along with application fees and official transcripts.

Average Tuition
In-state
$15,417
Out-of-state
$15,417
ROI Score

ROI Value Score: Medium

We’ve reviewed hundreds of schools to find the ones that give you the best bang for your buck.

We compared how much you could earn in 10 years with a degree from this school versus only having a high school diploma. Then we compared that amount against school costs and financial aid opportunities. A higher return for your investment results in a higher score for this school.

Our Methodology
Medium
Retention Rate
81%
Admission Rate
51%
Students Enrolled
85,586
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
92% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#2 Best One-Year Online Master’s Programs

New York University

  • New York, NY
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

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

Avg. Cost per Semester
$28,170-$29,170

Credits to Graduate
30

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A

Established in 1831, New York University is home to a master's in health law and strategy that experienced health professionals can complete in just one year. This program takes an interdisciplinary approach to a mix of complex healthcare issues. Core classes include topics like healthcare economics, health law and regulation, and healthcare innovation. 

Before graduation, graduate students complete a group-based capstone project. NYU applicants typically have eight years of relevant healthcare experience and submit an online application with two essays, a resume, and two letters of recommendation.

Average Tuition
In-state
$50,684
Out-of-state
$50,684
ROI Score

ROI Value Score: Medium

We’ve reviewed hundreds of schools to find the ones that give you the best bang for your buck.

We compared how much you could earn in 10 years with a degree from this school versus only having a high school diploma. Then we compared that amount against school costs and financial aid opportunities. A higher return for your investment results in a higher score for this school.

Our Methodology
Medium
Retention Rate
94%
Admission Rate
16%
Students Enrolled
52,885
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
10% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
#3 Best One-Year Online Master’s Programs

Brandeis University

  • Waltham, MA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

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

Avg. Cost per Credit
$1,837

Credits to Graduate
48

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

Brandeis University is a Massachusetts-based private research institution that offers an accelerated MBA program. Full-time students can complete this program in just one year and typically complete an academic concentration in areas such as data analytics, finance, marketing, and real estate.

Alongside their academic concentration, graduate students complete core classes such as financial management, fundamentals of organizational behavior, and marketing management. Applicants must submit an online application along with both a written and video essay. The average applicant has about six years of professional business experience.

Average Tuition
In-state
$55,340
Out-of-state
$55,340
ROI Score

ROI Value Score: Low

We’ve reviewed hundreds of schools to find the ones that give you the best bang for your buck.

We compared how much you could earn in 10 years with a degree from this school versus only having a high school diploma. Then we compared that amount against school costs and financial aid opportunities. A higher return for your investment results in a higher score for this school.

Our Methodology
Low
Retention Rate
93%
Admission Rate
30%
Students Enrolled
5,825
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
7% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
#4 Best One-Year Online Master’s Programs

Northwestern University

  • Evanston, IL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

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

Avg. Cost per Quarter
$12,351

Credits to Graduate
39

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A

Chicago's Northwestern University is home to an accelerated, full-time master's in public policy and administration that students can complete in one year. Throughout this one-year program, students complete three courses per semester — two in person and one online. Core classes include topics such as fundamentals of public administration, statistics for research, and public organization theory and management.

Prospective students must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. Applicants must submit a resume, two letters of recommendation, official transcripts, and a writing sample. Applicants also submit a statement of purpose outlining their academic and career goals.

Average Tuition
In-state
$56,232
Out-of-state
$56,232
ROI Score

ROI Value Score: Medium

We’ve reviewed hundreds of schools to find the ones that give you the best bang for your buck.

We compared how much you could earn in 10 years with a degree from this school versus only having a high school diploma. Then we compared that amount against school costs and financial aid opportunities. A higher return for your investment results in a higher score for this school.

Our Methodology
Medium
Retention Rate
98%
Admission Rate
9%
Students Enrolled
22,448
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
2% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#5 Best One-Year Online Master’s Programs

Cleveland State University

  • Cleveland, OH
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

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

Ohio's Cleveland State University offers a 100% online accelerated MBA program that students can complete in just 12 months. Throughout this asynchronous program students tackle core business classes that include topics like management of innovation, human resources management, and IT for competitive advantage. 

Prospective MBA students must submit an online application along with official transcripts from all prior undergraduate and graduate coursework. Applicants also submit GMAT or GRE scores.

Average Tuition
In-state
$10,745
Out-of-state
$15,290
ROI Score

ROI Value Score: Medium

We’ve reviewed hundreds of schools to find the ones that give you the best bang for your buck.

We compared how much you could earn in 10 years with a degree from this school versus only having a high school diploma. Then we compared that amount against school costs and financial aid opportunities. A higher return for your investment results in a higher score for this school.

Our Methodology
Medium
Retention Rate
74%
Admission Rate
94%
Students Enrolled
15,433
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
37% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

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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#6 Best One-Year Online Master’s Programs

University of Dayton

  • Dayton, OH
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

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

Avg. Cost per Credit
$1,400

Credits to Graduate
30-31.5

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

For working professionals with at least eight years of experience, the University of Dayton offers an accelerated MBA that students complete in just 12 months. MBA degree-seekers complete a foundational curriculum of business classes that includes topics like business analytics, organizational behavior, and operational effectiveness. Before graduating, students also complete a degree-culminating project.

Throughout this degree, students complete a mix of synchronous and asynchronous classes and also attend two in-person experiences on campus. The University of Dayton's accelerated MBA program does not consider GMAT or GRE scores when making admission decisions.

Average Tuition
In-state
$44,100
Out-of-state
$44,100
ROI Score

ROI Value Score: Medium

We’ve reviewed hundreds of schools to find the ones that give you the best bang for your buck.

We compared how much you could earn in 10 years with a degree from this school versus only having a high school diploma. Then we compared that amount against school costs and financial aid opportunities. A higher return for your investment results in a higher score for this school.

Our Methodology
Medium
Retention Rate
89%
Admission Rate
72%
Students Enrolled
11,473
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
15% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#7 Best One-Year Online Master’s Programs Best Value

Florida International University

  • Miami, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

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

Avg. Cost per Credit
$455

Credits to Graduate
30

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A

Florida International University is home to a fully online M.A. in African and African diaspora studies that learners can complete in one year. This program uses a cohort model and only accepts students during the fall semester. 

Master's degree-seekers spend three semesters completing the 30 required credits. Course examples include health issues in the African world, music of the Caribbean, and theology and liberation movements. In addition to possessing a 3.0 or higher GPA, applicants must also provide three recommendation letters and writing samples.

Average Tuition
In-state
$4,721
Out-of-state
$16,529
ROI Score

ROI Value Score: High

We’ve reviewed hundreds of schools to find the ones that give you the best bang for your buck.

We compared how much you could earn in 10 years with a degree from this school versus only having a high school diploma. Then we compared that amount against school costs and financial aid opportunities. A higher return for your investment results in a higher score for this school.

Our Methodology
High
Retention Rate
89%
Admission Rate
58%
Students Enrolled
58,711
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
68% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#8 Best One-Year Online Master’s Programs

Spring Hill College

  • Mobile, AL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

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

Avg. Cost per Credit
$540

Credits to Graduate
30

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A

Spring Hill College offers a fully online accelerated MBA program that takes 10 months to complete. In addition to general MBA studies, learners can choose from concentrations in project management, leadership, logistics and supply chain management, and business analytics. 

This online program does not require GRE or GMAT scores and does not have an application fee. Spring Hill College's online MBA program is currently seeking accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). Newly admitted students can select from six different start dates each year.

Average Tuition
In-state
$38,190
Out-of-state
$38,190
ROI Score

ROI Value Score: Low

We’ve reviewed hundreds of schools to find the ones that give you the best bang for your buck.

We compared how much you could earn in 10 years with a degree from this school versus only having a high school diploma. Then we compared that amount against school costs and financial aid opportunities. A higher return for your investment results in a higher score for this school.

Our Methodology
Low
Retention Rate
70%
Admission Rate
50%
Students Enrolled
1,290
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
21% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#9 Best One-Year Online Master’s Programs

Southern New Hampshire University

  • Manchester, NH
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

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

Avg. Cost per Credit
$627

Credits to Graduate
30-36

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

Southern New Hampshire University revamped its curriculum in 2021, creating a fresh and innovative plan of study that addresses current business challenges and opportunities. Students can choose from 15 different concentrations, including innovative options such as engineering management, healthcare management, and music business. Other options are sport management and sustainability and environmental compliance. 

Whether a local or long-distance student, degree-seekers pay the same low tuition rate, regardless of location. SNHU offers a self-paced curriculum, but full-time learners typically graduate in about one year.

Average Tuition
In-state
$30,756
Out-of-state
$30,756
ROI Score

ROI Value Score: Medium

We’ve reviewed hundreds of schools to find the ones that give you the best bang for your buck.

We compared how much you could earn in 10 years with a degree from this school versus only having a high school diploma. Then we compared that amount against school costs and financial aid opportunities. A higher return for your investment results in a higher score for this school.

Our Methodology
Medium
Retention Rate
65%
Admission Rate
88%
Students Enrolled
113,514
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
94% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
#10 Best One-Year Online Master’s Programs Best Value

Albany Medical College

  • Albany, NY
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Program Format: Hybrid | Course Format: Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
$1,423

Credits to Graduate
32

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A

Albany Medical College offers a 32-credit accelerated interdisciplinary basic medical sciences program that takes two semesters to complete. Students looking to enter medical school take pre-clinical courses alongside first-year medical students to help improve their chances of getting accepted to a medical school program. 

Example courses include biomedical ethics, mammalian physiology, and medical neuroscience. Applicants must possess a 3.1 or higher GPA and an MCAT score in the 70th percentile range. They must also demonstrate clinical or research experience.

Average Tuition
In-state
Not provided
Out-of-state
Not provided
ROI Score (Estimated)

ROI Value Score: High

We’ve reviewed hundreds of schools to find the ones that give you the best bang for your buck.

We compared how much you could earn in 10 years with a degree from this school versus only having a high school diploma. Then we compared that amount against school costs and financial aid opportunities. A higher return for your investment results in a higher score for this school.

Our Methodology
High
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
828
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
7% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Frequently Asked Questions About One-Year Online Master's Programs

Is a one-year master's degree valid?

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Yes. A one-year master's degree from an accredited institution meets the same high academic standards as an in-person program. At many schools, the online and in-person programs use the same curriculum, teaching materials, and faculty. Online and on-campus students graduate with an identical diploma and walk at the same graduation ceremony.As a result, employers and licensing agencies treat one-year master's degrees the same as two-year programs. However, before applying to master's programs, research the program's accreditation status. In addition, check whether an accelerated program meets any licensure and certification requirements in your field.

Are there one-year master's programs in the USA?

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Yes. Many top-ranked colleges and universities offer one-year master's programs. In diverse disciplines like healthcare, business, and education, one-year programs are increasingly common. For example, many top business schools offer an accelerated MBA degree, which takes 12-16 months. Students can also earn a master's degree in information technology, healthcare administration, or criminal justice in one year. Before applying to a one-year master's program, make sure to check the admission requirements. Some programs set prerequisites or a minimum amount of work experience. For example, a master's program for school principals may require classroom teaching experience.

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

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Graduate students can earn their master's degree online in many different fields. The most popular online master's programs include business, healthcare, education, and social science. Many of these fields shift easily into an online format. Thanks to asynchronous class schedules, internship opportunities in the distance learner's local area, and virtual advising, graduate students can easily earn a master's degree online. The best online schools also offer support services for distance learners, including faculty mentorship opportunities, career services, library access, and academic advising. These services help students successfully complete a master's degree online.

Are one-year master's programs worth it?

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A one-year master's program can pay off for students. These accelerated programs require intensive study. However, graduate students earn their degree faster than in a two-year program. Before enrolling in an accelerated program, prospective students should carefully research the admission and graduation requirements. Some one-year master's programs require prerequisite coursework in the field. Depending on the program, graduate students may be able to work while completing an accelerated degree. Some schools also offer a 4+1 route to a master's degree. In these programs, undergraduates spend four years completing a bachelor's degree with an added year of graduate coursework to earn a master's degree.

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

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A master's degree traditionally requires 30-45 credits of coursework. Most graduate programs spread the coursework over two years, with students typically taking 2-3 courses per term. However, many programs offer an accelerated pathway to a master's degree. In an accelerated master's degree, graduate students take a higher course load or complete classes on a faster term. The schedule lets learners earn 30 credits in as little as 12-16 months. Compared to a traditional two-year master's degree, an accelerated program may require fewer credits or eliminate some graduation requirements. For example, students in one-year MBA programs often complete a shorter internship compared to two-year MBA programs.

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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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