The Ultimate Guide to Online Graduate Programs

online graduate programs
August 28, 2023 4 min read Liaison

Here, you’ll learn about online graduate programs’ formats, tuition costs, admission requirements, and other details a distant learner should know.

Key Takeaways

Find a graduate school that offers online programs that are accredited and reputable. Check alums' reviews, ranking lists, and the school’s website for more details.

There are online and hybrid programs. Online programs may require a small portion of time on campus, while the latter requires attending classes on a more regular basis.

You can complete online programs in one to three years, depending on the program.

You’ll need to provide transcripts, recommendation letters, essays, a CV, and test scores for admission. Some schools ask for additional documentation.

Self-motivation is crucial to finishing online grad programs successfully, as you may feel isolated or overwhelmed at times. You’ll need good organizational skills to juggle school and a job.


An online graduate program might be the perfect fit if you’re a self-motivated and organized working professional. After you find accredited programs, you can choose between a fully online and a hybrid program.

This article provides general information about online programs’ formats, tuition rates, time requirements, admission requirements, and other facts that online students should consider.

Online Graduate Programs: All You Need to Know

The sections below discuss essential facts you should know if you’re interested in studying online, such details about accreditation and admission requirements, as well as programs’ formats, costs, and lengths. We also talk about self-motivation and the organization skills you need to have to succeed in an online graduate program.

Program’s Reputation

Employers value online graduate degrees and will want to know where you earned yours. As a result, it’s important to find an accredited program. Research different schools, and look at online graduate school ranking lists to see more places where you can apply.

After you find a suitable institution, you should do some research to find out which professors will be teaching your classes. Also, try get in touch with alums of the program to hear about their experiences in order to determine whether you selected the right online graduate program.


While the admission process may differ from school to school, you’ll generally need to fill out an application and provide transcripts, test scores, two to three recommendation letters, a CV or a resume, and a personal statement. More specialized programs may require additional documents and certificates.

Program’s Format

Many private and public business schools offer online programs, some of which are fully online and some of which are hybrid programs. In hybrid programs, students come to campus for exams or practical work, while fully online programs in most schools don’t require attending classes in person. However, some online programs may require students to be on campus at certain times, such as during exams, for example.

Program’s Length

Online graduate programs are generally more flexible, allowing you to earn a degree in one to three years, depending on the school and the specific program. Some business schools offer accelerated programs that consist of more frequent classes but which take less time to complete. Unlike regular graduate programs with fixed schedules, online may allow you to complete courses at your own pace and in less time.

Program’s Cost

The program’s cost varies by school and may be affected by whether you’re an in-state or out-of-state student. Yet the difference in the cost between online and regular programs may not be significant.

According to the Education Data Initiative, the average cost of a master’s degree in a public school is $59,060, and $87,950 in a private school.

On average, the cost of a master's degree in education is $59,840, while a master’s degree in arts costs $78,930, and a master's degree in science adds up to $67,590.

The average cost of a doctoral degree is $150,835, although some schools cost more than $200,000. On average, the cost of a doctorate in a public school is $93,670, compared with $129,395 in a private school.

graduate programs online

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Self-Motivation is Crucial

Regardless of where you choose to study, being self-motivated is crucial to earning a graduate degree online. Despite the flexibility and convenience of distance learning, its lack of in-person interactions with professors and colleagues on campus may cause some students to feel isolated and lose motivation.

On the bright side, as an online student you’ll be able to communicate with people all around the world. Consider joining forums, groups, or chats with the other students in your program to share ideas and individual experiences.

Aside from being self-motivated, you’ll have to be organized. Create a schedule that allows time for studying, watching video lessons, completing assignments, and taking a well-deserved break. Having all your daily tasks in one place will help you organize efficiently, especially if you have a full- or part-time job.

Technical Knowledge and Requirements

As an online student, you should have some technical knowledge. You should know how to use email, virtual classrooms, and conferencing apps such as Teams, Zoom, or Skype.

To study online, you’ll need a computer/laptop that meets minimal technical requirements regarding the CPU (processor), RAM (memory), OS (operating system), and anti-virus software. You’ll also need fast internet, a camera, headphones, and a microphone.


If you’re interested in online graduate programs, you first need to check the school’s accreditation and reputation, both of which are important to future employers. You can select the right program for you by researching the program's faculty, alumni experiences, and rankings.

There are fully online and hybrid programs available to remote learners. The former rarely require coming to campus, while the latter requires coming to campus on a more regular basis for practical work or taking exams. Depending on the program, online programs can be completed within one to three years.

After you find the online graduate programs that fit your career goals, you should check their admission and application requirements. Usually, you’ll need to submit transcripts, test scores, letters of recommendation, a CV, and a personal statement. However, more specialized programs may require additional documentation.

After reviewing all the essential information about which online graduate degree programs are right for you, it’s time to start getting ready to apply.


Popular online master's degree programs include a Master of Science in Engineering or Nursing, Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Education, and Master of Science in Information Technology. Popular doctorate degrees are in biology, computer science, and engineering.

Yes, accredited online degrees are respected by employers. Technological advancements have improved the quality of distance learning. Many accredited educational institutions offer online graduate degrees.

Yes, getting a degree online can be worth it for many individuals, particularly those who have a job and/or a family. After earning an online graduate degree, you’ll have more job opportunities.

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