Best Online Master’s in Nursing MSN

Find top-ranked online master’s in nursing (MSN) degree programs for students wanting to acquire positions such as nurse practitioner, director of nursing, nursing informatics specialist, and nurse educator.

Best Online Master’s in Nursing MSN

Frequently Asked Questions About MSN Degrees

Why get a master’s in nursing?

Registered nurses looking to build their resume and earn credentials for more specialized positions should consider a master’s in nursing (MSN). This degree provides in-depth instruction for a variety of concentrations, including family nurse practitioner, healthcare policy, nurse educator, nursing informatics, pediatric acute care nurse practitioner, and nurse-midwifery.

Back to top.

How long does it take to get a master’s in nursing?

Both online and on-campus programs are available, and depending on the chosen field, required credits range from 30 to 57. Most tracks involve a capstone project or thesis and practicum hours. Students can typically fulfill these requirements in about two years.

Back to top.

What can you do with a master’s in nursing?

Some students pursue doctoral studies after graduating, but many go on to acquire positions that are in line with their specialization, such as nurse practitioner, director of nursing, nursing informatics specialist, and nurse educator.

Back to top.

Learn more about what you can do with a master’s degree in nursing.

Best Online Master's in Nursing-MSN

How do we determine the best online nursing-MSN master's degree programs?

Pursing your degree online doesn’t mean you need to settle for a inferior school. Today, most universities and colleges offer online degrees, and many respected schools are seeing significant growth in their numbers of online students.

The people affiliated with a school are ultimately what make it great. This is why influence — i.e., the academic impact of faculty and alumni associated with a school — gets at the heart of what is truly best in education. The combined influence score of a college or university’s top academic influencers is the best indicator of academic excellence. For our online degree rankings, we focus on the academic influence of faculty and alumni in the specific disciplines we’re ranking.

If you are serious about finding the best online colleges, you should be asking where the most influential professors are teaching, and whether their graduates themselves are advancing the school’s reputation for academic excellence. Most ranking sites rely on an opaque combination of reputation surveys and arbitrary performance metrics. Influence, as measured by our InfluenceRanking engine, provides a ranking that is free from bias, insulated from manipulation, and reflective of real-world educational outcomes.

Find out more about our methodology here.

50 Best Online Master’s in Nursing MSN Degree Programs

  1. #1

    Duke University

    #28 institution's historical influence
    #12 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $58K

    Acceptance

    8%

    Graduation

    96%

    Student body

    15K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1525/34

    Durham, NC

    View profile

    Online Degrees

    MSN: Master’s of Science in Nursing
    • Required Credits: None Reported
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    REQUEST INFO
  2. #2

    University of Cincinnati

    #152 institution's historical influence
    #1179 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    76%

    Graduation

    73%

    Student body

    33K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1235/26

    Cincinnati, OH

    View profile

    Online Degrees

    MSN in Nursing Systems Leadership
    • Required Credits: 36-40
    • Completion time: 2 years
    • Format: Online
    REQUEST INFO
  3. #3

    University of Southern California

    #31 institution's historical influence
    #30 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $58K

    Acceptance

    16%

    Graduation

    92%

    Student body

    40K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1445/32

    Los Angeles, CA

    View profile

    Online Degrees

    MSN in Nursing
    • Required Credits: 51
    • Completion time: 3-4 years
    • Format: Online
  4. #4

    University of Connecticut

    #207 institution's historical influence
    #1460 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $17K

    Acceptance

    56%

    Graduation

    83%

    Student body

    24K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1305/29

    Storrs, CT

    View profile

    Online Degrees

    MSN in Neonatal Nursing
    • Required Credits: 44
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    REQUEST INFO
  5. #5

    Loyola University Chicago

    #346 institution's historical influence
    #254 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $46K

    Acceptance

    71%

    Graduation

    76%

    Student body

    15K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1225/27

    Chicago, IL

    View profile

    Online Degrees

    MSN in Population-Based Infection Control & Environmental Safety, Advanced Practice Nursing
    • Required Credits: None Reported
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    MSN in Nursing and Healthcare Administration
    • Required Credits: 38
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    REQUEST INFO
  6. #6

    University of Central Florida

    #478 institution's historical influence
    #181 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $6K

    Acceptance

    45%

    Graduation

    74%

    Student body

    59K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1255/27

    Orlando, FL

    View profile

    Online Degrees

    MSN in Nursing
    • Required Credits: 31-36
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  7. #7

    University of Alabama at Birmingham

    #428 institution's historical influence
    #1232 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    81%

    Graduation

    61%

    Student body

    19K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1227/25

    Birmingham, AL

    View profile

    Online Degrees

    MSN in Nursing

    Concentrations

    • Maternal and Child Health
    • Required Credits: None Reported
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  8. #8

    University of Alabama

    #184 institution's historical influence
    #94 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    80%

    Graduation

    72%

    Student body

    36K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1210/27

    Tuscaloosa, AL

    View profile

    Online Degrees

    BSN/MSN in Nursing
    • Required Credits: 50-56
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  9. #9

    University of Houston

    #188 institution's historical influence
    #1064 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    63%

    Graduation

    62%

    Student body

    37K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1225/24

    Houston, TX

    View profile

    Online Degrees

    MSN in Nursing Administration
    • Required Credits: 36
    • Completion time: 2-3 years
    • Format: Online
  10. #10

    University of Arkansas

    #306 institution's historical influence
    #1356 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    78%

    Graduation

    68%

    Student body

    25K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1210/26

    Fayetteville, AR

    View profile

    Online Degrees

    MSN in Nursing
    • Required Credits: 39
    • Completion time: 2 years
    • Format: Online
  11. #11

    Excelsior College

    #2271 institution's historical influence

    Student body

    6K

    Albany, NY

    View profile

    Online Degrees

    MSN: RN to MSN

    Concentrations

    • Nursing Education
    • Nursing Informatics
    • Required Credits: 142
    • Completion time: 4-5 years
    • Format: Online
  12. #12

    William Carey University

    #2931 institution's historical influence
    #211 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $13K

    Acceptance

    55%

    Graduation

    53%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1065/24

    Hattiesburg, MS

    View profile

    Online Degrees

    MSN in Nursing
    • Required Credits: 41
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  13. #13

    Samuel Merritt University

    #2940 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $50K

    Student body

    2K

    Oakland, CA

    View profile

    Online Degrees

    MSN in Nursing
    • Required Credits: 49
    • Completion time: 2.5-3.5 years
    • Format: Online
  14. #14

    Simmons University

    #1147 institution's historical influence
    #754 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $42K

    Acceptance

    83%

    Graduation

    79%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1200/26

    Boston, MA

    View profile

    Online Degrees

    MSN in Nursing: RN to MSN
    • Required Credits: None Reported
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  15. #15

    Marshall University

    #851 institution's historical influence
    #1031 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    89%

    Graduation

    50%

    Student body

    10K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1045/22

    Huntington, WV

    View profile

    Online Degrees

    MSN in Nursing Administration
    • Required Credits: 36
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    MSN in Nursing Education
    • Required Credits: 36
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  16. #16

    Oakland University

    #859 institution's historical influence
    #587 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $15K

    Acceptance

    81%

    Graduation

    56%

    Student body

    16K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1125/23

    Rochester Hills, MI

    View profile

    Online Degrees

    MSN in Forensic Nursing
    • Required Credits: None Reported
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    REQUEST INFO
  17. #17

    Frontier Nursing University

    #7798 institution's historical influence

    Student body

    1K

    Hyden, KY

    View profile

    Online Degrees

    MSN: Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
    • Required Credits: 57
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    MSN: Family Nurse Practitioner
    • Required Credits: 61
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    MSN: Women’s Healthcare Nurse Practitioner
    • Required Credits: 58
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    MSN: Nurse Midwife
    • Required Credits: 64
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  18. #18

    Oklahoma City University

    #1463 institution's historical influence
    #1012 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $33K

    Acceptance

    73%

    Graduation

    71%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1200/25

    Oklahoma City, OK

    View profile

    Online Degrees

    MSN in Nursing

    Concentrations

    • Community-Based Public Health
    • Education
    • Required Credits: 33
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  19. #19

    Baker University

    #1595 institution's historical influence
    #947 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $30K

    Acceptance

    93%

    Graduation

    62%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1085/22

    Baldwin City, KS

    View profile

    Online Degrees

    MSN in Nursing
    • Required Credits: 40-43
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  20. #20

    University of North Carolina at Greensboro

    #881 institution's historical influence
    #1364 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    88%

    Graduation

    59%

    Student body

    18K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1095/22

    Greensboro, NC

    View profile

    Online Degrees

    MSN in Nursing

    Concentrations

    • Nursing Education
    • Required Credits: 38
    • Completion time: 36 months
    • Format: Online
  21. #21

    Texas Christian University

    #555 institution's historical influence
    #208 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $49K

    Acceptance

    48%

    Graduation

    82%

    Student body

    10K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1250/28

    Fort Worth, TX

    View profile

    Online Degrees

    MSN in Nursing Administration and Leadership
    • Required Credits: 36
    • Completion time: 2-3 years
    • Format: Online
    REQUEST INFO
  22. #22

    Thomas Edison State University

    #2613 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Student body

    4K

    Trenton, NJ

    View profile

    Online Degrees

    MSN in Nursing
    • Required Credits: 36
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  23. #23

    Middle Georgia State University

    #5390 institution's historical influence
    #1417 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $4K

    Acceptance

    99%

    Graduation

    23%

    Student body

    6K

    Median SAT/ACT

    985/18

    Macon, GA

    View profile

    Online Degrees

    MSN in Nursing

    Concentrations

    • Nursing
    • Required Credits: 43
    • Completion time: 24 months
    • Format: Online
  24. #24

    King University

    #2735 institution's historical influence
    #1412 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $31K

    Acceptance

    60%

    Graduation

    50%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1097/22

    Bristol, TN

    View profile

    Online Degrees

    MSN in Nursing

    Concentrations

    • Nursing
    • Required Credits: 35-45
    • Completion time: 16-20 months
    • Format: Online
  25. #25

    Montclair State University

    #900 institution's historical influence
    #1365 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $13K

    Acceptance

    83%

    Graduation

    68%

    Student body

    19K

    Montclair, NJ

    View profile

    Online Degrees

    MSN in Nursing
    • Required Credits: None Reported
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    MSN in Nursing-Pre Licensure
    • Required Credits: None Reported
    • Completion time: 18 months
    • Format: Online
  26. #26

    Graceland University

    #2348 institution's historical influence
    #687 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $30K

    Acceptance

    68%

    Graduation

    41%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1020/21

    Lamoni, IA

    View profile

    Online Degrees

    BSN/MSN in Nursing

    Concentrations

    • Family Nurse Practitioner
    • Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
    • and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
    • Required Credits: 64
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  27. #27

    Wilmington University

    #3043 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Graduation

    21%

    Student body

    10K

    New Castle, DE

    View profile

    Online Degrees

    MSN in Nursing Leadership

    Concentrations

    • Executive
    • Educator
    • Legal Nurse Consultant
    • Public Health
    • Required Credits: 30
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  28. #28

    Florida A&M University

    #1165 institution's historical influence
    #122 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $6K

    Acceptance

    33%

    Graduation

    55%

    Student body

    9K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1095/21

    Tallahassee, FL

    View profile

    Online Degrees

    MSN in Nursing
    • Required Credits: 42
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  29. #29

    Georgia Southern University

    #1329 institution's historical influence
    #187 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $6K

    Acceptance

    91%

    Graduation

    54%

    Student body

    24K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1125/22

    Statesboro, GA

    View profile

    Online Degrees

    MSN: Nursing Education
    • Required Credits: 36
    • Completion time: 14 months
    • Format: Online
    MSN: Chronic Care Management
    • Required Credits: 26
    • Completion time: 12 months
    • Format: Online
  30. #30

    Georgia Southwestern State University

    #3383 institution's historical influence
    #1065 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $6K

    Acceptance

    73%

    Graduation

    36%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1030/19

    Americus, GA

    View profile

    Online Degrees

    MSN in Nursing

    Concentrations

    • Nursing
    • Nursing Leadership/Management
    • Required Credits: 36-44
    • Completion time: 22 months
    • Format: Online
  31. #31

    Quinnipiac University

    #1313 institution's historical influence
    #804 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $49K

    Acceptance

    82%

    Graduation

    76%

    Student body

    10K

    Hamden, CT

    View profile

    Online Degrees

    MSN: RN to MSN
    • Required Credits: 140
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    REQUEST INFO
  32. #32

    Auburn University at Montgomery

    #3464 institution's historical influence
    #382 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    96%

    Graduation

    30%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1035/21

    Montgomery, AL

    View profile

    Online Degrees

    MSN in Nursing
    • Required Credits: 44
    • Completion time: 3 years
    • Format: Online
  33. #33

    University of Hartford

    #1094 institution's historical influence
    #824 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $42K

    Acceptance

    77%

    Graduation

    55%

    Student body

    6K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1130/24

    West Hartford, CT

    View profile

    Online Degrees

    MSN in Nursing
    • Required Credits: None Reported
    • Completion time: 2 years
    • Format: Online
  34. #34

    Azusa Pacific University

    #1362 institution's historical influence
    #733 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $40K

    Acceptance

    94%

    Graduation

    66%

    Student body

    9K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1145/23

    Azusa, CA

    View profile

    Online Degrees

    MSN in Nursing Education
    • Required Credits: 37
    • Completion time: 2-3 years
    • Format: Online
    REQUEST INFO
  35. #35

    Queens University of Charlotte

    #2488 institution's historical influence
    #431 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $36K

    Acceptance

    68%

    Graduation

    57%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1140/24

    Charlotte, NC

    View profile

    Online Degrees

    MSN in Nursing

    Concentrations

    • Nurse Administrator
    • Nurse Educator
    • Clinical Nurse Leader
    • Nursing Informatics
    • Required Credits: 37
    • Completion time: 2 years
    • Format: Online
  36. #36

    Florida Atlantic University

    #654 institution's historical influence
    #1363 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $5K

    Acceptance

    75%

    Graduation

    56%

    Student body

    26K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1160/24

    Boca Raton, FL

    View profile

    Online Degrees

    MSN in Advanced Holistic Nursing
    • Required Credits: 33
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    REQUEST INFO
  37. #37

    University of Bridgeport

    #987 institution's historical influence
    #577 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $35K

    Acceptance

    71%

    Graduation

    40%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1005/20

    Bridgeport, CT

    View profile

    Online Degrees

    MSN in Nursing
    • Required Credits: None Reported
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  38. #38

    Shenandoah University

    #3888 institution's historical influence
    #858 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $33K

    Acceptance

    74%

    Graduation

    61%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1100/22

    Winchester, VA

    View profile

    Online Degrees

    MSN in Nursing

    Concentrations

    • Midwifery
    • Required Credits: 49
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  39. #39

    Lourdes University

    #6017 institution's historical influence
    #276 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $24K

    Acceptance

    78%

    Graduation

    43%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1030/20

    Sylvania, OH

    View profile

    Online Degrees

    MSN in Nursing: RN to BSN
    • Required Credits: 61
    • Completion time: 3-4 years
    • Format: Online
  40. #40

    East Tennessee State University

    #1185 institution's historical influence
    #564 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    78%

    Graduation

    50%

    Student body

    12K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1075/23

    Johnson City, TN

    View profile

    Online Degrees

    MSN in Nursing

    Concentrations

    • Nursing
    • Required Credits: 36
    • Completion time: 12 months
    • Format: Online
  41. #41

    Idaho State University

    #1291 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Graduation

    34%

    Student body

    9K

    Pocatello, ID

    View profile

    Online Degrees

    MSN in Nursing
    • Required Credits: None Reported
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  42. #42

    Felician University

    #7520 institution's historical influence
    #280 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $35K

    Acceptance

    94%

    Graduation

    54%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    990/17

    Lodi, NJ

    View profile

    Online Degrees

    MSN in Nursing
    • Required Credits: 30
    • Completion time: 19 months
    • Format: Online
  43. #43

    Madonna University

    #3591 institution's historical influence
    #1209 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $23K

    Acceptance

    68%

    Graduation

    58%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1030/21

    Livonia, MI

    View profile

    Online Degrees

    MSN in Nursing Leadership
    • Required Credits: 34
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    REQUEST INFO
  44. #44

    Nova Southeastern University

    #990 institution's historical influence
    #678 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $32K

    Acceptance

    76%

    Graduation

    62%

    Student body

    13K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1175/24

    Fort Lauderdale, FL

    View profile

    Online Degrees

    MSN in Nursing – Non-Clinical

    Concentrations

    • Executive Nurse Leadership
    • Nursing Informatics
    • Nursing Education
    • Required Credits: 36
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  45. #45

    University of West Georgia

    #1754 institution's historical influence
    #204 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $6K

    Acceptance

    78%

    Graduation

    44%

    Student body

    12K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1000/20

    Carrollton, GA

    View profile

    Online Degrees

    MSN in Nursing

    Concentrations

    • Nursing
    • Required Credits: 35-38
    • Completion time: 24 months
    • Format: Online
  46. #46

    Sacred Heart University

    #1817 institution's historical influence
    #1133 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $43K

    Acceptance

    66%

    Graduation

    73%

    Student body

    8K

    Fairfield, CT

    View profile

    Online Degrees

    MSN in Nursing Education
    • Required Credits: 39
    • Completion time: 2 years
    • Format: Online
    MSN: RN to MSN Operational Leadership
    • Required Credits: 30-120
    • Completion time: 3.5 years
    • Format: Online
    MSN in Nursing Management and Executive Leadership
    • Required Credits: 36
    • Completion time: 2 years
    • Format: Online
    MSN in Nursing Clinical Nurse Leader
    • Required Credits: 39
    • Completion time: 2 years
    • Format: Online
    MSN in Nursing
    • Required Credits: 36-39
    • Completion time: 2 years
    • Format: Online
    REQUEST INFO
  47. #47

    Elms College

    #6400 institution's historical influence
    #907 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $37K

    Acceptance

    70%

    Graduation

    64%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1050/21

    Chicopee, MA

    View profile

    Online Degrees

    MSN in Nursing And Health Services Management
    • Required Credits: 35
    • Completion time: 2 years
    • Format: Online
    MSN in School Nursing
    • Required Credits: 42
    • Completion time: 2 years
    • Format: Online
    MSN in Nursing Education
    • Required Credits: 37
    • Completion time: 2 years
    • Format: Online
    MSN/MBA in Nursing
    • Required Credits: 64
    • Completion time: 3 years
    • Format: Online
  48. #48

    Austin Peay State University

    #1964 institution's historical influence
    #581 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    91%

    Graduation

    48%

    Student body

    11K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1065/21

    Clarksville, TN

    View profile

    Online Degrees

    MSN in Nursing

    Concentrations

    • Family Nurse Practitioner
    • Nurse Educator
    • Required Credits: 12
    • Completion time: 12 months
    • Format: Online
  49. #49

    University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

    #1704 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    82%

    Graduation

    47%

    Student body

    26K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1040/19

    Edinburg, TX

    View profile

    Online Degrees

    MSN in Nursing Administration
    • Required Credits: 36
    • Completion time: 2-3 years
    • Format: Online
    MSN in Nursing Education
    • Required Credits: 36
    • Completion time: 2-3 years
    • Format: Online
  50. #50

    Delaware State University

    #1721 institution's historical influence
    #1097 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    39%

    Graduation

    48%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    920/19

    Dover, DE

    View profile

    Online Degrees

    MSN in Nursing
    • Required Credits: 54
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    REQUEST INFO

Back to top.

Online Degree Frequently Asked Questions

If this is your first time taking an online course, the experience may require some adjustment. While you’ll generally learn the same content and take the same exams as your on-campus peers, the medium will likely require you to manage much of this experience independently. You’ll be accountable for your own time management, your ability to harness the technology at your fingertips, and your ability to focus on the lectures, lessons, and assignments at hand. This means you’ll need to create a suitable workspace for yourself, maintain a realistic schedule, and take it upon yourself to build relationships with your instructors and classmates. With online college, your goal is to find a balance between independence and engagement.

No. The only part of online education that’s easier is actually getting there. Taking the commute out of the equation means getting to class should be a lot more manageable. But that’s where it ends. In general, your online courses will incorporate the very same materials, concepts, and testing methods as would a traditional classroom.

And in many cases, you’ll even have the same instructors as your on-campus counterparts. In fact, if you are adjusting to the experience of independent learning or working with remote learning technology for the first time, online college may even be a little more challenging for you. For a few insights on how to manage this new experience, check out our 10 Tips for Adjusting to School Online.

Accreditation is especially important when it comes to online college. This is because the online education landscape is a mix of highly-reputable institutions and less-than-reputable for-profit schools. Accreditation gives you the power to differentiate between the two. Accreditation is a stamp of approval from an independent accrediting agency which indicates that a college or university is meeting standards of quality, credibility, and currency. School-wide accreditation falls into two major categories: regional and national accreditation. Regional accreditors generally hold jurisdiction only over schools in the states comprising their region, whereas national accreditors hold jurisdiction over schools in all states. Regional accreditation is widely regarded as a more rigorous standard of quality and credibility than national accreditation.

Attending a college or university which is not regionally accredited could limit your opportunities. When seeking an online education, we strongly recommend that students opt for regionally accredited schools. Regional accreditation ensures eligibility for federal loans and grants, ensures your college credits can be transferred between schools, and ensures that your degree credits can be accepted if you wish to earn an advanced degree.

As long as your online college degree is regionally accredited, you should have little difficulty transferring most of your credits or credentials to another regionally accredited undergraduate school. Every school carries its own standards and procedures for granting a transfer. In many cases, you will be required to navigate a bureaucracy in which some of your credits will be transferred and others will be jettisoned. However, provided that you have attended an online school with the proper regional accreditation, you should have plenty of options for transfer.

In most cases, as long you graduate from a well-regarded, regionally-accredited online college, prospective employers won’t look sideways at your degree. In fact, unless you attend an exclusively online college or university, there will likely be no specific indicator on your degree, transcript or resume differentiating your school from its brick-and-mortar counterpart. This means that your employer will likely only differentiate between an online and in-person degree if you mention this distinction.

While some employers may express concern about making the adjustment from online education to in-person workplace collaboration, many other employers will view your online degree as evidence of valuable 21st Century professional skills such as independence, self-motivation, time management, and tech savvy.

If you are a student who thrives on the dynamic energy of in-person discussion, who requires the physical surroundings of a classroom to feel engaged, or who considers the social aspects of education to be of equal importance to the actual content of your courses, online education will require some adjustment.

While there is much that can be supplanted or simulated through the online medium, some students may find that there is nothing which can replace the conversation, collaboration, and motivation that occur in an actual classroom setting. As you make the adjustment to online education, one of the biggest challenges you will likely face is overcoming this difference in order to the get the most out of your classes. Fortunately, we’ve got some great Tips for Online Education Beginners.

The advantages of online classes are many. First and foremost, online courses give you the freedom and flexibility to attend class from anywhere that works for you, whether you’re at home, in a coffee shop, or in a quiet conference room at work. In many cases, you’ll also enjoy the convenience of asynchronous learning opportunities—educational experiences that you can complete on your own schedule. This may include pre-taped lectures, ongoing chat-board discussions, and 24/7 access to digital materials. And of course, just as there are some learners who prefer the energy of a live classroom, there are those who learn best when working in their own personal space, free from distractions. If this sounds like you, you might find the solitude of online learning to be a major advantage.

Resources for Prospective Grad Students