Guide to Online Degrees and Distance Education in 2023

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The number of online degrees earned from online colleges and universities has been growing while degrees from traditional schools have been in decline. There are many reasons for this transition but it’s enough for us to focus a large portion of our site on online education. This guide focuses on online degrees at highly respected and accredited online colleges.

Below you will find our collection of rankings and lists of great online degree programs at each degree level and across various popular subjects.

Online Associate Degrees

Earning an online associate degree represents an affordable alternative to bachelor’s degree programs.

Students may also wish to earn credits in an associate’s program to transfer later into a bachelor’s program.

Online Bachelor’s Degrees

Online Bachelor’s are the most popular choice among students pursuing distance education. The flexibility and convenience offered by these programs allow students to earn a degree while maintaining employment and managing life’s many responsibilities. For the ultimate flexibility, you can even consider earning a self-paced online bachelor’s degree.

If you’re interested in learning whether or not an online Bachelor’s is a good fit for you, check out Dr. Jed Macosko’s quick and insightful breakdown:

You can also learn more with a look at our guide to the best online bachelor’s degree programs.

Online Master’s Degrees

An online master’s degree program allows students to earn an advanced degree from any location with an internet connection.

This flexibility helps to make graduate school for accessible for busy students and working adults who wish to earn a Master’s degree online. In fact, a growing number of graduate schools are offering online master’s degrees in subjects as wide ranging as occupational therapy, data science, and artificial intelligence.

The Best MBA Programs and Schools

When it comes to online master’s degrees, there’s nothing more popular than the online Master of Business Administration. Whether you plan to earn your degree at one of the best business schools in the U.S. or one of the top business schools in the world, earning an MBA can qualify you for some of the most prestigious and best-paying leadership roles in any business sector.

The number of MBA programs now available online is also growing at a rapid pace. For students who are already working in their field, the online MBA can be a great way to balance workplace and educational responsibilities. You can even get started on an online MBA with no GRE test required.

And for busy working adults, many online business schools offer accelerated options, including online MBAs that can be completed in as little as one year.

The Best Online MBA By Discipline

The MBA is by far the most popular graduate degree. One reason is because of its incredible versatility. There are numerous concentrations within the business administration discipline. You can narrow the focus of your master’s degree program by choosing an area of specialization that matches your interests and career goals.

And because so many MBA candidates are already working directly in their field, many of these MBA concentrations are available through various convenient, flexible, and accessible online formats.

Online Analytics MBAs

Information sciences and business operations are more interlinked than ever. This means that there are great opportunities for innovation and leadership in technical areas of business such as analytics, logistics, and business intelligence. There are numerous highly focused MBA concentrations that can help you advance a career in one of these high growth areas.

Online Leadership MBAs

The master of business administration is generally focused on providing practical leadership skills. But graduate students interested in narrowing the focus of their leadership role do have a number of specializations to choose from. Some leadership concentrations focus on specific industries such as healthcare while others emphasize leadership in specific types of organizations such as startups.

Online MBA Specializations

Some MBA degrees are highly specific to a particular career or field. For instance, graduate students in professions such as accounting or human resources may be required to earn an advanced degree in their field of practice to advance into certain roles. In other cases, this specialization can enhance your qualifications in competitive fields like marketing and real estate.

See our complete guide to MBAs for everything you need to know about MBA degree programs.

Online Doctorate Degrees

A growing number of accredited doctorate degree programs are now available online. In fact, many of these online PhD programs can be accessed without a GRE exam.

Online learning is also making it possible to earn a PhD at an accelerated pace so that you can advance in your career without losing momentum.

Check Out Leading Online PhDs and Doctorates

Not only are many leading universities now offering doctoral degree programs online, but many excel in specific subject areas.

Health-Related Doctoral Degrees and PhDs

Some doctoral degrees are popular because they provide clear and direct pathways toward career advancement. For instance, in areas such as healthcare, social work, and mental health care, earning an advanced degree can qualify you to provide services in a clinical setting.

Technical Online Doctoral Degrees and PhDs

Earning a doctorate in a technical subject can qualify you to lead research in a field like computer science, information technology, business analytics, or cybersecurity. Likewise, these online doctoral degrees can qualify you to provide consultation for private organizations, publicly-traded companies, and government agencies.

Highly Specialized Online Doctoral Degrees and PhDs

Some online doctoral programs are highly prestigious, but limited in availability. Certain areas of specialization like Economics and Criminal Justice can lead to highly focused programs and career paths. There may be only a few accredited online doctoral degrees to choose from in these areas, but completing one of these programs can lead to a role as a top educator or expert in your field.

Research-Based Online Doctoral Degrees and PhDs

Many doctoral degree programs are research intensive—especially for students who enter into PhD programs. Such doctoral degree programs will typically help candidates refine and use practical research skills. Candidates in these disciplines will usually be required to complete a dissertation based on original research. Graduates will be prepared to lead research teams in some of the following areas:

Featured Online Degree Articles

Sometimes the best place to start a search is with the best of the best. Check out our rankings below and begin exploring the best degrees and schools across various categories and subjects.

Or jump to our student resource library for tips on everything from studying to starting on your career path.