The 20 Best Online Degrees for Careers are organized by subject. A study by Babson College found that one out of every four students is taking at least one online course. Currently, an estimated 5.8 Million students are enrolled in online education, a 263% increase in enrollment over the past 12 years.
Given that traditional barriers to education are removed with online education, it is understandable to see the high demand and increasing popularity of online education. Students enrolled in online education no longer have to live in close proximity to the school, nor do students have to adhere to a rigid class schedule. In this way, students from all over the globe are pursuing online degrees in a wide variety of fields, such as nursing, criminal justice, social work, business, computer science, information technology, healthcare administration, engineering, art, political science, and many more.
This list of the 20 Best Online Degrees for Careers is centered around the best online degrees for getting and advancing in a rewarding career in the modern workforce. These degrees were selected based on factors such as salary in the career field, growth in the field, and relevant curriculum for education in the various careers.
Career Degrees | Jump to a Degree Program
Science, Technology, Engineering
Business Administration is the most popular online degree because it allows for so much versatility in the work place. Whether you’re getting a Bachelor’s of Business Administration, or a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA), a degree in Business Administration allows you a lot of versatility in finding a well paying job. More students are enrolled in Business Administration than any other degree program.
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A degree in Business Administration provides an in-depth study of the fundamentals of how business operates. This degree offers a competitive edge over other business degrees because of the broad spectrum of business elements covered. Students can choose a concentration in subjects such as management, human resources, information systems, finance, marketing, operations, and supply chain management. A strong appeal of this degree is the income and stability that this degree can bring. Graduates who have a bachelor’s degree in business earn an estimated $2.6 million dollars over the course of their career, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Popular career fields are Management with a growth rate of 3.9% and a median annual income of $60,076 and, more specifically, Financial Management, with a growth of 6.8% and median income of $65,082. Lastly, according to the BLS, Marketing Managers can see a median annual income of $52,066 with a growth rate of 6.5%.
Getting at least a Bachelor’s in Accounting sets graduates up for a field that has become one of the most stable in our economy.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts an impressive 13.1% growth rate by 2022, equaling 166,700 new jobs. This greatly exceeds most fields. But not only are new career opportunities developing, these jobs are also paying well above average. With a medium income in excess of $65,000, the accounting field rewards its employees with considerable compensation.
Some Accountants choose to work more independently in fields such as bookkeeping, payroll, or tax preparation. While those that prefer working in groups lean into fields like account management, investments, and consulting. Either way, the field is still driven by studious attention to detail and self-motivation. This skill set, which equips one for success as an Accountant, is the same to succeed in an online degree.
Finance is one of the more stable job fields in today’s market with an estimated growth rate of 19%, must faster than the average occupation. A career in finance could include budgeting, managing investments, annual forecasts, and even supervising a team. The average salary for this field is an impressive $78,380.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is an increased need for risk management within this field. Due to the recent financial crisis, banks have put a greater emphasis on managing risks within a company and increasing profits.
One can acquire knowledge of the stock market, Keynesian models of inflation, or the difference between an asset and a liability in your living room with a laptop just as easily as one can in a lecture hall. The growth rate, income, and career stability all make Finance one of the most stable online degrees.
Marketing combines a great deal of creativity, research, and savvy business skills. At some point, a company will need to launch a new product or generate awareness of existing services and need marketing professionals to design a plan that will bring new business and profit to their bottom line.
See our article the 10 Best Online Social Media Marketing Colleges.
Marketing experts need to study substantial data about demographics, a product’s function, and cost analysis in order to do their job. They also need to use this considerable research to anticipate what the public will need next. Given their essential role in the business world, it is not surprising that their salaries are so competitive. Marketing assistants can expect to earn between $30,000 to $60,000, while manager salaries run $50,000 to $90,000, and directors earn between $90,000 and $200,000. These impressive numbers and respectable growth expectations make studying marketing an inviting option for anyone looking to further their career with an online degree.
5 Human Resources
People who specialize in Human Resources need to both attract and train productive employees, and keep them satisfied. They need to understand salaries, benefits packages, training programs, recruiting, and how to assist employees.
See our ranking The 20 Best Online Bachelor’s in Human Resources Degree Programs.
Once a company becomes large enough to require many employees, those employees become an asset that needs to be protected and developed. This field combines an awareness of new technology, interpersonal skills, and a lot of common sense. The need for Human Resource specialists has especially grown in recent years as companies now have to comply with new healthcare regulations and seek to implement ever changing technologies into their training programs.
The median salary for an HR Manager is $106,910 per year. Graduates can enter the Human Resources profession with a bachelor’s degree. Those interested in advancing their careers with a high rate of return on their education cost should seriously consider online Human Resource programs.
The service industry is a popular industry because of flexible hours and exciting places to work, such as hotels, casinos, restaurants, and cruise ships. Hospitality/Service careers can include Hotel/Restaurant Managers, Spa Directors, and Food and Beverage buyers.
For a a breakdown of where to get your hospitality degree, see our article the 25 Best Hospitality Colleges in the US.
One of the biggest appeals to getting a degree in Hospitality is the very large diversity in career options. Some will pursue hotel management, where they will deal with great numbers of guests constantly cycling through their doors. Others will provide catering or restaurant management and an overall good dining experience. Still others will focus on care for the injured or elderly. Professional sports teams also employ Hospitality degree graduates to manage their travel. Online Hospitality programs have the added benefit of complementing a pre-existing career in a related industry.
Do you have years of experience on the lower rungs in the hotel or restaurant industry, and would now like to move into management? Why quit your job and loose valuable working connections when you can study on your own time and move ahead when you are ready? Due to the easy availability of online degrees, and the plethora of entry-level jobs that let people in this industry easily get a foot in the door, Hospitality is rapidly becoming one of the most practical online degrees available.
7 Project Management
A Project Management degree offers a wide variety of skills applicable to numerous industries, making it an ever-growing and exciting field of study. From improvement in leadership and organizational skills to creative problem solving and time management, this degree has something to offer everyone.
The knowledge from such a program can be applied to financial services, engineering, design, and any other industry of your interest. Responsibilities of Project Managers vary based on the current task at hand, but every goal accomplished makes your business more competitive and profitable.
Salary bonuses may accompany your achievements, as such, benefits and compensation will also vary depending on experience, education level, and the field of industry. The projected salary range in upcoming years for Project Management is $80,000 to over $140,000, with an 11% growth rate.
8 Industrial and Organizational Psychology
Industrial and Organizational Psychology is a field like no other because it incorporates both psychology and business. It applies psychology to how business is conducted, and takes into account the human element in the efficiency and productivity of business.
This field is one of the fastest growing occupations in America according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, growing at a rate of 53% between 2015 and 2022. It has a median income of $83,580.00 per year. Our article the 32 Best Online Industrial Organizational Psychology Colleges will give you a diverse lineup of suggested colleges to begin your education in I-O Psychology, including Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctorate degrees.
Organizational and Industrial Psychologists are hired either as in-house employees or as outside consultants. The strong appeal of employers hiring Organizational and Industrial Psychologists is due to their expertise in helping companies produce a better workplace environment, increase productivity, hire better employees, decrease turnover, and create higher efficiency–resulting in smaller labor costs. All of these improvements help companies make money and improve their bottom line.
SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, & ENGINEERING
9 Game Design and Game Art
The Video Game industry is very large, with billions of dollars spent on the industry every year.
For Game Design, Game Art, Animation, and Graphic Design school rankings, see our articles:
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- 15 Best Animation and Graphic Design Colleges Online
For students who enjoy playing video games and being creative with animation and graphic design, Video Game Design might be a natural degree choice. According to the BLS, Video Game Design is expected to grow 10% between 2016 and 2026, with a median income of $65,300 as of 2017, with a Bachelor’s degree.
A degree in Video Game Design will involve learning disciplines such as how to create 2D and 3D video game graphics and video game storyline development. Students may develop video games for different platforms, such as mobile devices, tablets, and computers, along with stand-alone video game consoles.
10 Animation and Graphic Design
The world of art and design meet the online computer world in the creative area of Animation and Graphic Design.
See our articles the 20 Best App Development Colleges, and the 15 Best Animation and Graphic Design Colleges Online.
Animation and design opportunities are plentiful, as it is necessary for advertising, commercials, social media, websites, or any other avenue that attracts a target audience using graphics. Like most developing fields in the technology sector, Animation and Graphic design students need to study a vast repertoire of available tools.
Furthermore, they also need to learn how to regularly update their knowledge as new strategies become available. This flexible career has inspired many self employed workers and an incredible number of rising entrepreneurs. The average pay in 2016, according to the BLS, was $65,300. This number is expected to grow 10% as we go further into the digital age.
11 Computer Science
With the boom of the information age, companies, both corporate and private, are heavily in need of individuals skilled in computer science. Businesses as well as schools and government need to stay competitive and keep up with the ever-changing environment of the internet and technology.
See our ranking The Best Online Computer Science Degree Programs.
Across the board in Computer Science, the compensation is generous for both entry-level and management positions. Those with a two year Associate’s degrees can expect to start between $30,000 to $40,000 per year, while those with a relevant Bachelor’s degree will typically make in the mid $50,000 range. For those pursuing a Master’s degree in Computer Science, the median income was $111,840 in 2016 with a higher than average growth rate of 19%, according to the BLS.
Some possible occupations in computer science are Network Architects, Research Scientists, Programmers, and Software and Web Developers. One specific avenue that is growing rapidly and in high demand is Artificial Intelligence, or AI for short. AI is defined as “machine learning” which includes technology like Apple’s SIRI and Amazon’s Alexa. Even the healthcare, transportation, and manufacturing industries are branching out and using this innovative technology. To get started on a career in this cutting-edge field, read our article on the 25 Best Artificial Intelligence Colleges.
12 Sustainable and Renewable Energy
A green job is defined as a career which ‘produces goods or provides services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources’, According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
With the ever increasing need to conserve energy and protect the environment, this field is rapidly growing in demand. Our article, 22 Best Sustainable and Renewable Energy Colleges, details different areas of study and programs that will get you on your way to your green job of your dreams. One career path to consider is an Environmental Scientist which receives a median salary of $68,910 and has a growth rate of 11%.
These scientists can work with the government or businesses to reduce waste, clean polluted areas, and even advise policymakers. Foresters, Geoscientists, and Biologists are also occupations that can come from a degree in Sustainable and Renewable Energy.
13 Engineering and Engineering Management
All Engineers require extensive working knowledge of applied mathematics and physics, and benefit from time management and data analysis. Successful ones can eventually lead entire teams towards the completion of large scale projects by aggressive deadlines.
Engineers design the building and maintaining of transportation, water ways, the military industrial complex, architecture, and even the powering of homes and businesses. As might be expected, the higher the growth and development of an area, the more career opportunities and increased compensation will be available.
There are many areas of expertise in the engineering field; Electrical, Mechanical, Architectural, Civil Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Environmental Engineering, and even Marine Engineering. Overall, the average compensation ranges between $50,000 to $130,000, making it one of the best paying fields of study. Also, since engineering is so math-based, much of it can be learned through a combination of textbooks and programs, making it an ideal subject to study online.
14 Healthcare Administration
More and more colleges are offering Healthcare Administration degrees online. There is an ever-increasing demand for Healthcare Administrators who can juggle everything from paperwork to personalities.
Healthcare Administrators combine business knowledge and medical practice. This field, specifically the management level, is growing at a rate of 20% with a median income of $96,540, much higher than the national average for all other occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
See our article the 27 Best Healthcare Administration Colleges Online to start planning your career in healthcare.
15 Health Informatics
The further we move into the digital age the more information we have to organize. This is all the more true of the healthcare profession, which is constantly being reinvented by an avalanche of new developments. And all the while new data is generated, the expectation that this information will be quickly and easily accessible, rises.
Those who work in the health informatics profession are tasked both with organizing and utilizing this massive sea of data. They are also the ones responsible for keeping this sensitive material private. Common titles for this occupation are Medical Records Clerk or Health Information Technician. Numbered among their many tasks are updating and retrieving patient records, completing accurate reports, implementing specialized programs and equipment, and placing patients in the correct treatment programs.
People in Health Informatics need to be diligent and pay careful attention to detail. The median income for this area of expertise is $38,040 and an Associate’s Degree or post degree certification is required. Since the focus for this degree is computer skills and research, it makes a perfect degree to acquire online.
16 Health Education
The role of a Health Educator is to influence and educate others on healthcare basics as well as improve the health standards of their home and work environments.
Teaching health to individuals, families, and communities, Health Educators can work in a variety of settings. The most employed positions include General Medical and Surgical Hospitals, Local Government, and working for individual and family services.
According to the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics), the median income for a Health Educator is $44,390 per year. Health Educators’ employment is expected to increase 16% between 2016 and 2026, according to the BLS. As health becomes more important, and preventive measures are taken more seriously, Health Educators are the future of not only individual healthcare but also community well-being and satisfaction.
Education degrees, ranging from the Associate’s to Doctorates, focus on the education and formation of young minds. What children are taught, from polite manners and appropriate hygiene to reading, writing, and arithmetic, will influence their decisions as adults.
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- The 25 Best Online Master’s in Educational Leadership Degree Programs
- The Best Online Early Childhood Education Bachelor’s Degree Programs
- 25 Best Online Master’s in Special Education
Thus, we have all the more reason to address such topics from a well informed perspective. This degree, perfect for those with a love for children, is not limited in its application to teachers, but also to social workers, daycare center employees and childhood psychologists.
One specific area of study, Special Education, can bring a median income of $57,910.00, and can be a rewarding work environment.
18 Criminal Justice
Whether debating freedom of speech, women’s rights, animal cruelty, environmental protection, and a host of other hot button topics, civilization is filled with conflicting viewpoints. A Criminal Justice degree will make you engage with a wide range of social debates with real world consequences.
See our ranking article Criminal Justice Degree: Best Programs.
This versatile degree, that can often be completed in less than 2 years, takes its students into the legal profession. Research, reporting, team collaboration, data analysis, and law enforcement are skills that will be developed and applied in various settings in not only the court room, but also in any other government agency or law firm.
This field is expected to grow by at least 17% according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Average salary for a Police Officer is $61,600 and $50,160 for Probation Officers. Beyond the work and salary is a passion for social issues that can change the world. Such advocates will always be needed.
19 Homeland Security
From Federal Government to local government, there is always an opportunity for those willing to keep our nation safe. See our article the 26 Best Homeland Security Colleges Online if you are interested in starting a career in such an important industry.
A Homeland Security degree offers theories of public safety, counter-terrorism, crisis management, natural disaster preparedness, and other necessary responses critical to the survival of the people. Homeland Security is a relatively recent field, becoming its own department after 9/11/2001.
Students with this training can pursue careers working for the Transportation Security Association, Customs and Boarder Control, Immigration, or the Secret Service. Homeland Security also extends to private and non-profit organizations.
Good communication is key to any healthy relationship, whether in business or personal life. And in the information age when people are now constantly communicating with others all around the world in a variety of mediums, the need to communicate, and do it well, has never been more important.
This is the focus of the Communication degree. There are countless theories and points of view to consider that all influence how we communicate–from gender and race to social and economic status. The Communication student will learn to navigate these differences and foster conflict resolutions.
The median for Communication salaries start at $3o,830 and range up to $61,240 according to The BLS. Although it should be noted that these salaries vary broadly depending on what branch of Communication is pursued. Graduates can potentially find careers in news-related media, radio, television, public speaking, politics, spokesperson for private or public industry, film, reporting, preaching, and many other careers.