Best Online Graduate Programs

best_online_graduate_programsA bachelor’s degree is a good starting point but typically isn’t enough to get you into management, administration, or leadership positions.

Earning a master’s degree online can help professionals advance into management roles or change fields.

EDsmart has dug through the data trenches to bring you the best online graduate programs complete with information that matters. Although we pride ourselves in offering these rankings, any college ranking should be a starting point and not end of your college search.


Schools are ranked based on four data points in three categories:

  • Affordability (financial aid, net price)
  • Student Satisfaction (retention rate)
  • Academic Quality (4-year graduation rate)
  • Student Outcome (return on investment per

Each data point is ranked with equal weight. Schools received a weighted overall ranking score for each individual point mentioned above–100 being the highest score possible.

In the case of a tie in scoring, the average net price was the determining factor for which school received the higher rank–the lower the net price, the higher the ranking.

All data was gathered from the National Center for Education Statistics website and and is accurate at the time of this writing [June 2019].

Best Online Graduate Programs for 2019-2020


Best Online Graduate Programs_West_Virginia_University

Score: 100

Financial Aid: 93%
Average Net Price: $11,486
Retention Rate: 80%
Graduation Rate: 57%
ROI: $392,000

Founded in 1867, West Virginia University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The student profile consists of just under 30,000 students, spread across a total of three campuses which are, Potomac State College, WVU Tech and Morgantown campus. West Virginia University’s stellar reputation precedes itself on many levels. Resources for students are in abundance whether it be the $320 million in scholarships and aid that were dispersed in the 2016-17 academic years or its recognition as holding one of the highest research activity positions according to the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Learning. The U.S. News and World Report’s 2019 edition of America’s Best Graduate Schools ranked several of West Virginia University’s programs in the top 100. Prospective students do not have to reside in West Virginia in order to enroll, as WVU has over 600 online courses and programs whether one is interested in earning a degree or certificate with 23 of them being offered online.


Best Online Graduate Programs_Uinversity_of_North_Dakota

Score: 97.8

Financial Aid: 91%
Average Net Price: $14,478
Retention Rate: 81%
Graduation Rate: 54%
ROI: $361,000

Founded in 1883, the 550-acre campus was established six years before the state itself. Also, there are over 225 academic programs to choose from. The University of North Dakota is also the only academic establishment in the entire state that offers graduate, law and medical schools. They pride themselves on preparing their graduates for a lifetime of success, as statistics show that 85% of UND graduates are employed in positions that are related to their field of study. UND holds over 30 accreditations with various organizations including a full accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). As of 2019, there are approximately 14,ooo students enrolled in the various programs that UND offers. The University of North Dakota also offers exclusively online degree programs, as well as mixed-mode courses. One amazing thing about enrolling in their online courses is that they are self-paced, giving you 3-9 months to complete the course. Also, online enrollment is open year-round.


Best Online Graduate Programs_Southeast_Missouri_State

Score: 97.2

Financial Aid: 96%
Average Net Price: $12,165
Retention Rate: 75%
Graduation Rate: 52%
ROI: $133,000

Southeast Missouri State University, established in 1873 and located in Cape Girardeau, offers both in person and online studies. It is a comprehensive university that holds several accreditations both nationally and internationally from organizations such as the Network of International Business Schools, and the National Association Of Schools Of Art & Design. There are currently over 40 online degree programs being offered through, Southeast Online, including a Master’s in Elementary Education and a Master’s in Criminal Justice. There are plenty of financial resources available for online students including FAFSA, work study, loans and scholarship opportunities.


best online graduate programs_South_Dakota_School_of_Mines_and_Technology

Score: 96.8

Financial Aid: 91%
Average Net Price: $19,577
Retention Rate: 80%
Graduation Rate: 51%
ROI: $629,000

Founded in 1885, South Dakota School of Mines & Technology (SD Mines) is located in Rapid City, in the Back Hills of South Dakota. They offer a range of bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees. One of their main intents is to focus on preparing their students to excel in the areas of science, research, and engineering in order to benefit society post-graduation. They offer 3 online graduate programs which are Construction Engineering and Management (CEM), Engineering Management (EM), and Mining Engineering & Management (MEM). The South Dakota school of Mines & Technology is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) as well as the American Chemical Society.


best online graduate programs_Holy_Names_University

Score: 96.6

Financial Aid: 100%
Average Net Price: $21,890
Retention Rate: 82%
Graduation Rate: 43%
ROI: $225,000

Holy Names University, founded by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary in 1868, is located in Oakland, California. In 2008, HNU celebrated its 140th anniversary in Oakland. Holy Names is a liberal-oriented university whose curriculum is rooted in the Catholic Tradition. Its campus sits on a 60-acre lot located in the woody hills of Oakland. They offer what is described as a close-knit, supportive environment that encourages students to experiment, explore, question and sharpen their professional skills that will aid in their success throughout life. There are a total of 6 graduate degree programs offered including Master of Business Administration and Master of Science in Nursing. Holy Names University is accredited by the regional body Western Association of Schools and Colleges’ Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).


best online graduate programs_Western_Kentucky_University

Score: 95.8

Financial Aid: 95%
Average Net Price: $11,817
Retention Rate: 70%
Graduation Rate: 43%
ROI: $216,000

Home of the Hilltoppers, Western Kentucky University, located in Bowling Green, coins themselves as a place of beauty and friendliness. They have regional campuses located in Glasgow, Owensboro, and Elizabethtown-Fort Knox. According to US News, WKU is considered as one of the top public schools, and one of the best colleges for veterans within the United States. They are also within the top 5 most affordable online colleges for Master’s in Social Work, Master’s in Teacher and Master’s in Education technology degrees. WKU offers more than 30 master’s degrees that can be 100% completed online. Some of the graduate degrees that can be obtained online are Master of Public Health, Master of Science in Recreation and Sports Administration and Master of Science in Instructional Design, just to name a few. Western Kentucky University is accredited with organizations such as the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS), and the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA).


best online graduate programs_Wayne_State_College

Score: 95.2

Financial Aid: 95%
Average Net Price: $12,626
Retention Rate: 69%
Graduation Rate: 51%
ROI: $100,000

Wayne State College, located in Wayne, Nebraska, was established in 1910. They were voted #1 Best Online College in Nebraska, by the SR Education Group in 2019. WSC offers more than 90 programs of study throughout a span of four colleges. There are extracurricular activities such as student organizations that online students can participate in as well, including the International Club, PRIDE, Native American Student Alliance, Latinos United, and the Interfaith Action Group. The colleges within WSC include School of Arts and Humanities, School of Business and Technology, School of Education and Counseling, and the School of Natural and Social Sciences. Wayne State College offers several graduate degree courses that can be completed online including, Master’s in Business Administration, Master’s in Criminal Justice, Master’s in Organizational Management, and a Master’s in Student Affairs and College Counseling.


best online graduate programs_Indiana_University_of_Pennsylvania_main_campus

Score: 95.2

Financial Aid: 91%
Average Net Price: $19,247
Retention Rate: 72%
Graduation Rate: 56%
ROI: $195,000

Founded in 1875, Indiana University of Pennsylvania is a research-based, teaching-focused, student-centered learning community. IUP has grown from one building sitting on 12 acres of land, to 65 buildings spread across 354 acres of land. There are affiliate campuses located in Punxsutawney, Northpointe, and Pittsburgh East. Their distance learning curriculum offers both assignments that can be completed online, as well as textbooks and assignments that are mailed to the student to study.


best online graduate programs_Wichita_State_University

Score: 95

Financial Aid: 88%
Average Net Price: $13,541
Retention Rate: 73%
Graduation Rate: 48%
ROI: $282,000

Wichita State University, or WSU, was founded in 1895. Originally operating as an all-female school, the university transitioned a few times before finally becoming Wichita State University in the year 1964. The main campus is in Wichita, Kansas, while four satellite locations are nearby. WSU prides itself on encouraging creativity, insight, and passion that leads to innovation and entrepreneurship within their students. Wichita State is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission f the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (HLC-NCA). Prospective students have several options as far as online graduate studies including a Master’s in Health Administration, Special Education, Criminal Justice, Arts Leadership and management, and many more.


best online graduate programs_Georgia_Southern_university

Score: 95

Financial Aid: 90%
Average Net Price: $16,264
Retention Rate: 79%
Graduation Rate: 50%
ROI: $227,000

Founded in 1906, Georgia Southern University focuses on learning both in and beyond the classroom. They promote student growth and life success. Some of their practices center around the faculty members’ desire to develop a fertile learning environment, promote a free exchange of ideas amongst the students, hold students to a high degree of academic expectations, and individual responsibility for students’ academic success and achievement. The student to faculty ratio is 21:1. Georgia Southern University has received several acknowledgments including a number one rank in, The Best Schools for Military Students 2019, by Best for Vets College; and 2018 Top Online Schools for Exercise Science, by The College Affordability Guide. Georgia Southern University offers affordable and flexible online curriculum in business, healthcare, and education. There are 6 colleges under Georgia Southern University that offer online graduate degrees. Some of the online degrees offered include a Master of Accounting, a Master of Science in Applied Economics, and a Master’s in Instruction Technology.


best online gradute programs_delta_state_university

Score: 94.4

Financial Aid: 97%
Average Net Price: $12,669
Retention Rate: 71%
Graduation Rate: 40%
ROI: $81,700

Established in Cleveland, Mississippi in 1924, Delta State University located in the Mississippi Delta, offers both in-person and online curriculum. Delta State has approximately 3,000 students from every state, as well as 5o countries. With a student to teacher ratio of 11:1 both in-person and online, Delta focuses on the success of their students as well as giving their students the one-on-one time that they may need to flourish to their full potential. Within its curriculum, Delta prides itself on principles that support individuality, the arts, innovation, respect for people and ideas, and commitment to health and leadership; just to name a few. When it comes to choosing an online graduate program, the options are extremely diverse. Whether one wants to study nursing, art, or even commercial aviation, there is a place for you. Delta has a total of 15 fully online degrees which include areas of study such as business, education, and social sciences.


best online graduate programs_Simpson_University

Score: 94.4

Financial Aid: 99%
Average Net Price: $27,613
Retention Rate: 68%
Graduation Rate: 57%
ROI: $58,800

Simpson University, located in Redding, California, is a Christ-centered learning community. They are the only Christian university north of Sacramento. Their mission and values focus on developing the students’ mind, faith and character, in hopes that it would lead the student into meaningful work and service to others. There is also a chapel on campus that is open to the students to attend religious services or to just pop in when they so desire. There are four graduate’s degree programs that are offered which include a Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership, a Master of Arts in Education, a Master’ of Arts in Ministry Leadership, and lastly, a Master of Divinity.


best online graduate programs_East_Stroudsburg_University_of_Pennsylvania

Score: 94

Financial Aid: 92%
Average Net Price: $15,402
Retention Rate: 70%
Graduation Rate: 48%
ROI: $137,000

Originally beginning as a private preparatory school for teachers in 1893, the university went through a few name changes and policy changes until it eventually became, East Stroudsburg University, in the year 1983. Located in northeastern Pennsylvania, East Stroudsburg offers 57 undergraduate programs, 21 master’s, and 2 Doctoral programs. There are 3 graduate degrees that are offered exclusively online. The online programs include Master of Science in Health Education, Master of Arts in Professional & New Media Writing and Master of Education in Reading.

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