A typical master’s degree program takes a minimum of two years, and sometimes considerably longer. For students who are looking for a way to speed up the time it takes to complete their degree, accelerated programs could be the answer. Accelerated online master’s degree programs offered through a wide array of national universities can help students gain new skills and credentials fast. Some of the quickest master’s programs out there allow students to finish their degrees online, potentially taking only half the time it would usually take to earn a masters degree.

Often, accelerated programs and online learning go hand in hand, especially at the master’s degree level. An online program that allows students to work at their own pace is also ideal for allowing ambitious students to finish more coursework in a shorter timeframe. Our list of the fastest online master’s programs identifies graduate degrees in a variety of disciplines that can be completed online at accredited colleges and universities in less than the traditional two years of study.

What Is the Fastest Master’s Degree?

There are several factors that can affect how long it takes to earn a master’s degree. Accelerated online graduate degrees commonly possess one or more of the following features: a smaller number of credits required for graduation, an accelerated course format or degree structure, a policy of accepting a considerable number of transfer credits and a subject that fits well into an accelerated format.

Smaller Credit Requirements

Progress toward a masters degree is typically measured in credits, or credit hours. Most graduate-level courses are worth three credits or four credits, but some classes – like short modules and seminar courses – may sometimes count for only a single credit hour.

One way to reduce the time it takes to earn your master’s degree online is to choose a program that requires fewer credits. Master’s degree programs typically consist of at least 30 credits of college study at the graduate level. However, some master’s degree programs, particularly those in specialized areas, may require up to 45, 50 or even 60 credit hours of graduate coursework.

Naturally, it takes significantly less time to complete 30 credits than 50 credits. If you want to earn your degree quickly, you should look for a master’s degree program in your field of study that requires only 30 credits to 40 credits. Many of the master’s degree programs on our list require 30, 32 or 36 college credits.

Accelerated Formats and Structures

Even the best student can only handle so heavy a workload at a time, especially if they have obligations outside of graduate school. Courses and programs that are offered in an accelerated format can allow students to complete their curriculum faster. Students in one of the best online accelerated master’s programs may take more than what is typically considered to be a full load of graduate-level coursework per term.

Often, students take advantage of the accelerated formats the quickest master’s programs offer by taking a smaller number of courses at a time spread over many short academic terms. Instead of taking three or four graduate courses per semester over two long semesters, a student might instead take one or two classes during each eight-week term. Under this sort of accelerated structure, a student may complete 10 to 12 classes in a year instead of just six to eight. Students may also prefer this learning format because it allows them to focus on just one or two courses at a time instead of spreading their efforts and attention too thin.

Because this program structure depends on short, frequent terms, an accelerated online master’s program is likely to offer multiple start dates throughout the academic year. This type of program enables students to start their online degree program sooner, without having to wait for traditional fall or spring start dates to enroll.

Transfer-Friendly Policies

Another way to speed up your education is by making sure you get full credit for all of your work, even prior coursework. If this isn’t your first attempt at graduate school, you should look for an institution that will allow you to transfer as many of your prior credits as possible, so you’re not stuck doing extra work to get your degree. A school with a generous transfer credit policy may allow students to transfer as many as 12 credits – a third (or more) of the credits required to earn a typical master’s degree.

Some schools also offer competency-based programs that allow you to get credit for what you already know – like the knowledge you gained on the job. Usually, colleges and universities that award credit for competency, rather than strictly for course completion, count scores on proctored exams, portfolio assessments and other methods of evaluation as progress toward graduation. Choosing a nationally ranked school that awards prior learning credits is a great choice to help working professionals who are earning a master’s degree finish their education faster.

The Best Subjects for an Accelerated Online Master of Science

Earning a master’s degree can improve your career prospects and your job security in any number of fields. However, some subjects lend themselves to accelerated online studies more effectively than others.

Naturally, a program that requires a great deal of clinical fieldwork can be more challenging to complete online and in an accelerated format than other programs. This is why many of the health sciences and health-related degrees on our list take closer to 16 months, a year and a half, or just under two years, rather than the degree plan being something students can complete in 1 year.

However, programs that require less highly technical knowledge and/or those that build upon existing knowledge and fieldwork often allow for shorter completion times. Some of the subjects in which accelerated online master’s degrees are commonly offered include:

  • Business (business administration
  • Education
  • Criminal justice
  • Computer science

This isn’t an exhaustive list of the types of online accelerated master’s program options graduate students may finish quickly. Whether you want to earn a masters degree in human sciences, policy analysis, public relations, global studies, other languages or the arts – like a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) or Master of Music degree – national universities offer accelerated learning programs that can be completed quickly online. An online accelerated master’s program can help you reach career goals in a wide array of real-world industries and occupations.

Accelerated Master’s Programs in Business Management and Administration

Business programs are some of the most common accelerated online master’s options out there. Business students pursuing a master’s degree online may opt for an online MBA, a master’s in business management, human resource management, project management, organizational performance and organizational leadership, business analytics and other specialization options.

Certain business programs are tailored toward management and administration in specialized areas. For example, pursuing an online college degree in public administration prepares students to work in administrative roles in government agencies and entities, while master’s programs in engineering management and healthcare administration allow students to achieve career aspirations involving leadership roles in the engineering and healthcare industries, respectively.

What can you do with an accelerated master’s degree in business? Many of these degree programs help students develop a range of useful skills, including managerial skills, skills in conflict resolution, critical thinking skills, a working knowledge of employment law and more. An accountancy program can help you become a certified public accountant (CPA), while an accelerated master in finance can help students become senior-level financial analysts.

Some online MBA program, accountancy program and other business master degree program options have earned programmatic accreditation from organizations like the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), the International Association for Business Schools and Programs (IABSP), and the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

Accelerated Master’s Programs in Education

Many online education degree program options offered with an accelerated track are teacher education degrees intended for working teachers. Master’s in education degrees that fit into this category include master’s in early childhood education and early childhood studies degrees, K-12 education programs, special education online degrees and music education degrees. Aside from these graduate-level teacher education programs, Master of Education program options may include topics like educational leadership, higher education administration, instructional design and learning technology.

Accelerated Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice

Online masters in criminal justice programs often include a variety of specialization options ranging from criminology and law enforcement studies to emergency management and homeland security. Again, these programs are often well-suited to adult learners with considerable work experience in these fields.

Accelerated Master’s Programs in Computer Science and Computer Technology

Another category of accelerated online master’s degrees that naturally works well with computer-based learning methods is computer science and computer technology. Tech-savvy students may pursue online degrees in cyber security, information systems and data analysis.

Accelerated Master’s Programs in Health, STEM Fields and Other Areas

Some master’s degree programs in health science and other science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields are also available on an accelerated online format. Nursing, nutritional health and behavioral sciences are just a few of the health-focused online Master of Science programs students can consider. An online graduate program like one of these can prepare students for job prospects in settings like a nursing home or care facility, hospital, clinic or other type of medical or healthcare facility.

Types of Online Master’s Degree Program Options

Many master’s degrees are Master of Science (MS) programs, but these degrees aren’t the only option for online graduate students. Other programs may award a Master of Arts (MA), Master of Education (MEd) or Master of Engineering (MEng) degree, to name a few examples.

The 40 Fastest Online Programs for Graduate Students

Many of the fastest online master’s degrees are available with just a year and a half of study, one year of study or, at certain institutions, less than a full year of study. The accelerated online master’s degrees offered at each of the 40 schools listed below are among the 40 fastest online masters degrees in the nation, and they’re sure to impress students who are eager to jump right into accelerated online programs.

Whether you’re interested in a master’s in education, an online master of business degree, a master’s in engineering management or something completely different, you’re likely to find an accelerated online master’s program for you on our list below.

1. Southern New Hampshire University

Time to Degree Completion: 12-18 Months

Southern New Hampshire UniversityAt Southern New Hampshire University, online students can choose from more than 100 distance-learning master’s degree programs. Many of these programs are available in accelerated formats that allow them to be completed in as little as 18 months, 15 months or even just 12 months.

One of the shortest online programs available at Southern New Hampshire University is the one-year MBA program. Students pursuing an MBA at Southern New Hampshire University can choose from 17 distinct concentration areas, including finance, entrepreneurship, the music business and information technology management.

Numerous other degree programs at Southern New Hampshire University can be completed in just 15 months. In the area of education, these programs include the Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction and the Master of Science in Higher Education Administration.

Accelerated programs related to the fields of business and management include the 15-month Master of Science in Management, Master of Science in Sports Management, Master of Science in Applied Economics and Master of Science in Project Management and Operations. There are 15-month master’s degree programs in history, English, criminal justice and data analytics. Southern New Hampshire University even offers accelerated options in healthcare-related fields. The Master of Science in Healthcare Administration can be completed in as little as 15 months, while the Master of Science in Nursing takes 18 months to finish.

To allow students to complete their master’s degree programs faster, Southern New Hampshire State University offers five start dates throughout the school year and offers a generous transfer credit policy. Generally, students with prior graduate study can transfer up to 12 credits – a third of their curriculum – to this program. Additionally, by not requiring graduate admissions tests like the GRE or GMAT, the school removes obstacles that delay or prevent prospective students from applying.

As an institution, Southern New Hampshire University is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education. The school’s individual degree programs have earned programmatic accreditation from numerous organizations, including the following:

  • The Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
  • The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)
  • The Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH)
  • The Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology)
  • The New Hampshire State Department of Education for Teacher Certification

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2. California Baptist University

Time to Degree Completion: 12-16 Months

California Baptist University OnlineIf you don’t mind earning your online degree at a school with a strong religious mission, consider applying to California Baptist University. The Christian-founded Riverside-based institution is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

To facilitate accelerated online learning, California Baptist University offers accelerated online or hybrid courses with start dates every eight weeks. These programs are geared toward adult students, making them an even better option for full-time professionals and students with family obligations.

The average completion time for many online master’s degree programs at California Baptist University is just 12 months, including the Master of Science in Accounting, Master of Science in Information Technology Management and Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies.

Business- and administration-related accelerated programs include the Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership, the Master of Arts in Strategic Communication, Master of Public Administration and Master of Business Administration programs in the specializations of accounting and general management. Education is another popular field of study at this institution, where online students can pursue a Master of Science in Education with specializations in Curriculum and Instruction, Early Childhood Studies, Educational Leadership, Special Education and Transitional Kindergarten.

Healthcare-related options include the 1-year Master of Healthcare Administration and Master of Science in Kinesiology, as well as the 16-month Master of Public Health. The school’s online Master of Science in Counseling Psychology degree is unique because courses are offered in different formats like an asynchronous online format and a virtual hybrid format that allows for real-time distance-learning interactions.

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3. University of North Texas

Time to Degree Completion: 12-18 Months

University of North TexasWith eight-week accelerated course formats and five start dates throughout the year, the University of North Texas offers plenty of fast online master’s degree options.

Students seeking an online accelerated master’s degree from the University of North Texas can earn their MBA in half a dozen concentrations: marketing, marketing analytics, sport entertainment management, strategic management, supply chain analytics and organizational behavior and HR management.

In the field of education, accelerated master’s degree programs at the University of North Terxas include Master of Education in Educational Leadership and the Master of Science in Early Childhood Education.

The Master of Science in Learning Technologies program exists at the intersection between education and technology. More tech-focused programs include the Master of Science in Advanced Data Analytics and the Master of Science in Digital Communication Analytics.

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4. Saint Leo University

Time to Degree Completion: 12-24 Months

Saint Leo UniversitySaint Leo University bills itself as “one of the first universities in America to offer online degree programs,” so it’s no surprise that the Florida institution offers dozens of online master’s degree options.

The Catholic liberal arts-based university offers an MBA program with a variety of distinct concentrations, as well seven different Master of Education degree options and seven specializations of Master of Science in Criminal Justice programs. Other areas of online study include creative writing, theology, psychology and social work.

Online graduate students at this institution typically take one to two classes per eight-week term, six of which run – often, with no break in between terms – in an academic year. Students who take the maximum number of courses per term and work toward their degree non-stop may be able to complete many of these degree programs within a year, while those who take just one course per term will be closer to the two-year mark by the time they graduate.

When taken with advanced standing, the full-time Master of Social Work is one of Saint Leo University’s abundant online master’s degree programs that can be completed in as little as one year. However, for students without advanced standing, this program requires two years of full-time study, as does the school’s creative writing program that includes three summer residencies. For prospective students who haven’t yet earned an undergraduate degree, Saint Leo University offers “3+1” accelerated degree programs in three subject areas that allow students to rapidly complete both their bachelor’s and their master’s degrees in a shorter timeframe.

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5. Boston University

Time to Degree Completion: 12-18 Months

Boston UniversityBoston University has a 20-year history of offering award-winning online education programs, so this school is a solid choice for students looking for a credible online master’s degree program. Coincidentally, Boston University also happens to offer 20 online degrees at that master’s level.

These degree options range from topics like insurance management and data analytics to gastronomy, a multidisciplinary program concerned with the role of food in society. BU’s Master of Science in Project Management degree program can be completed in 12 to 20 months, while the Master of Science in Enterprise Risk Management degree program consists of one and a half years to two years of study.

Education degrees are popular options and include programs in music education, art education, higher education administration and curriculum and teaching. Business-related subjects of online graduate study at Boston University include financial management, insurance management, global marketing management, project management, supply chain management, business analytics and taxation law.

Other degree options fall under the discipline of computers and technology, including subjects such as software development and computer information systems, or healthcare, including health communication and health informatics.

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6. Indiana Wesleyan University

Time to Degree Completion: 12-20+ Months

Indiana Wesleyan UniversityIndiana Wesleyan University offers more than 80 online degrees at the master’s level. Religion is important at this Christian institution – associated with the Wesleyan Church – that is headquartered in Marion, IN, and regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. As such, several online degree programs pertain to the subjects of ministry and divinity.

However, you would be mistaken if you assumed that the only online programs the school offers at the graduate degree level are religious in nature. The Master of Business Administration degree programs are available in eight areas of specialization and generally take 18 months to just shy of two years to complete. Master of Science in Accounting programs, which include three distinct concentration areas, take 18 months to complete, as does the Master of Science in Human Resource Management. The completion time for a Master of Science in Management program, however, is listed as 15+ months.

Programs in education that can be completed in as little as 12 months include the Master of Science in Early Childhood Teaching (for licensed teachers), the Master of Science in Elementary Teaching, while education degrees in other subjects, like special education, teaching English as a new language and curriculum and instruction, take longer to complete.

Students at Indiana Wesleyan University typically focus on one five- to eight-week course at a time.

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7. Ball State University

Time to Degree Completion: 12-20 Months

Ball State UniversityBall State University in Muncie, IN, offers 25 online master’s degree options. Many of these programs can be completed in less than two years, but certain programs are even faster to finish. The Master of Arts in Business Education takes just one year to complete. Students can earn the Master of Arts in Educational Psychology degree in less than a year if they take a full course load every semester, but most students take closer to 18 months to complete this program.

The Master of Arts in Educational Administration and Supervision degree at Ball State University can be completed in as little as 18 months, as can the Master of Arts in Foundational Mathematics Teaching in the Community College and the Master of Arts in Secondary Education.

Students in a variety of undergraduate majors at Ball State University can also speed up their graduate education through the school’s Accelerated Master’s Program.

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8. Trine University

Time to Degree Completion: 12-15 Months

Trine UniversityTrine University in Angola, IN, is a private Midwest university that dates back to 1884 and is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Outside of degrees in the health sciences, which typically require considerable clinical fieldwork, most of Trine University’s online master’s degrees can be completed in 12 months. Some of the degrees you could earn from Trine University in just one year include the Master of Science in Business Analytics, the Master of Science in Criminal Justice, the Master of Science in Engineering Management, the Master of Education in Early Childhood Education and the Master of Business Administration with seven specialized tracks.

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9. Northcentral University

Time to Degree Completion: 12-20 Months

Northcentral UniversityNorthcentral University is an online nonprofit institution that is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) and is affiliated with the National University System based in La Jolla, CA. Accelerated online master’s degrees at Northcentral University that can be completed in just 12 months include the Master of Science in Organizational Leadership and the accelerated MBA program. Students can earn a Master of Arts in Teaching in just 13 months.

If you’re willing to spend a little more time on your studies, your options are more varied. In a year and three months, you could earn a Master of Education in Educational Leadership or a Master of Science in Technology Management. A 16-month completion time is possible for the Master of Education and Master of Human Resource Management degrees, as well as for Master of Science degrees in Cybersecurity, Computer Science, Information Technology, Accounting, Industrial-Organizational Psychology, Forensic Psychology, Child and Adolescent Developmental Psychology and Health Psychology.

Three psychology master’s degree programs – the Master of Arts in Psychology, the Master of Science in Sport Psychology and the Master of Science in Educational Psychology, take 18 months to complete. In 19 months, you could earn a Master of Public Administration degree. The Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis is a 20-month program.

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10. Concordia University System

Time to Degree Completion: 12-16 Months

Concordia University ChicagoThe Concordia University System is a system of higher education that was founded in the Lutheran Christain tradition and today has campuses in Michigan, Texas, California, Illinois, Nebraska, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Each campus offers its own set of online programs. The Accelerated MBA program at Concordia University Chicago is a 1-year program. At Concordia St. Paul, the Master of Science in Athletic Administration and Coaching can be completed in 18 months. Concordia University Texas offers a 16-month Master of Education in Instructional Leadership. This is just a sampling of the numerous online master’s degree programs offered by the Concordia University System.

View general online master’s program information for each campus:

11. Benedictine University

Time to Degree Completion: 12-18 Months

Benedictine UniversityBenedictine University is a Roman Catholic-affiliated institution located in Lisle, IL, that aims to serve an “inclusive academic community” while still holding true to its Benedictine tradition and its religious mission and values.

Benedictine University offers a one-year accelerated MBA program that includes potential areas of study like entrepreneurship, accounting, marketing management, financial management, international business and healthcare administration. Students in the accelerated MBA program take two courses per eight-week academic term. Another fast master’s degree program is the online Master of Science in Nutrition and Wellness degree, which can be completed in just 18 months.

If you can’t decide on just one master’s degree, why not go for both with a dual degree program? Two of the dual master’s degrees offered by Benedictine University, the online Master of Business Administration/Master of Public Health (MBA/MPH) and the Master of Public Health/Master of Science in Management and Organizational Behavior, can be completed in the shortened timeframe of three and a half years.

Benedictine University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

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12. Mercy College

Time to Degree Completion: 12-15 Months

Mercy CollegeAt Mercy College in New York, students will find more than 30 total fully online degree programs, including both graduate and undergraduate options. Online course formats include both traditional asynchronous classes that have no set meeting times, online synched courses that utilize real-time meetings in a virtual classroom and online hybrid courses.

One-year master’s programs at Mercy College include the Master of Business Administration degree with nine concentration options, the Master of Science in Computer Science and the Master of Science in Organizational Leadership. The school also offers 15-month programs for registered nurses: the Master of Science in Nursing Administration and the Master of Science in Nursing Education. Another option for undergraduate students at Mercy College is a five-year combined bachelor’s degree and master’s degree program, which the school offers in subjects like cybersecurity and psychology.

Mercy College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

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13. Gwynedd Mercy University

Time to Degree Completion: 12*-20 months

Gwynedd Mercy UniversityGwynedd Mercy University in Gwynedd Valley, PA, offers an array of accelerated programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, online and on campus, in the fields of education, business, nursing and counseling.

For students interested in earning a master’s degree online in less than two years, a program of particular interest is the 20-month Master of Science in Educational Administration. Students who start their undergraduate coursework at Gwynedd Mercy University can also take advantage of a fast-track 4+1 combined bachelor’s in business and MBA program to earn both degrees in a total of five years.

The school also offers numerous accelerated graduate certificate and certification programs that consist of as few as four courses in narrowly specialized areas of study. If you don’t necessarily need a master’s degree, these certificate options can help you build graduate-level knowledge in a matter of months, without the cost of a full degree.

Gwynedd Mercy University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. In the school’s accredited graduate programs, students take one seven-week class at a time, allowing them to focus on just one subject area.

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14. Western Governors University

Time to Degree Completion: 12-20 Months

Western Governors UniversityWestern Governors University is a fully online university established by the Western Governors’ Association – a group of U.S. governors – and accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). The school emphasizes accessibility to higher education, curricula that focus on practical application in the workforce and affordability, charging a flat tuition rate per six-month term instead of per-credit tuition costs.

The shortest time to earn an online master’s degree at this institution is 12 months, and the degrees that you can quickly earn in this timeframe include the Master of Business Administration and the Master of Science in Management & Leadership.

Several master’s degree programs at Western Governors University can be completed in 18 months, including:

Additionally, students can complete the Master of Science in Information Technology Management degree in 20 months.

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15. University of Charleston

Time to Degree Completion: 11-16 Months

University of CharlestonAt the University of Charleston in West Virginia, three of the five online master’s degree programs available can be completed in under two years. In fact, students can finish the school’s Master of Science in Business and Data Analytics in just 11 months, making this degree one of the fastest master’s program options in the country. In less than a year, you could be ready to pursue leadership roles in the areas of applied artificial intelligence and big data.

If your interests aren’t quite so technical in nature, other accelerated online degree options at this university include the Master of Business Administration and the Master of Science in Strategic Leadership, both of which can be completed in as little as 16 months.

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16. Purdue University Global

Time to Degree Completion: 12-18 Months

Purdue University GlobalPurdue University Global is the online learning hub of the well-respected Purdue University System. Online programs at Purdue are geared toward the needs of working adult students. In addition to accelerated course formats, online learning options at Purdue University include Competency-Based ExcelTrack programs and alternative pathways to earning college credits for what the student already knows.

The fastest online master’s degrees you will find at Purdue University are the one-year Master of Professional Studies and Master of Science in Legal Studies programs. Through the Purdue University System, online students can also complete a number of distinct graduate degrees in just 18 months, including:

Purdue University is located in West Lafayette, IN, and is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The public research university consistently ranks well among national universities.

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17. University of Miami

Time to Degree Completion: 16-20 Months

University of MiamiThe University of Miami is a particularly strong option for current and prospective finance professionals looking to boost their credentials quickly. The fastest online master’s degree available from this institution is the 16-month Master of Finance degree.

If you’re interested in the business side of the music and performing arts industries, a Master of Arts in Music Industry or a Master of Arts in Live Entertainment Management degree, both of which can be completed in as little as 18 months, might be the right fit for you. The University of Florida’s accelerated programs also include the Master of Science in Education Sport Administration and the Master of Science in Education Applied Learning Sciences, both of which are 20-month degrees.

The University of Miami is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

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18. Baker College

Time to Degree Completion: 12-18 Months

Baker CollegeAt Baker College in Owosso, MI, the fastest online master’s degrees include the one-year general MBA and a more specialized one-year MBA in Business Intelligence. Students can also pursue an 18-month Master of Science in Information Systems degree. Online courses at Baker College are offered through both traditional asynchronous formats and OnlineLive formats that utilize live, real-time virtual meetings.

Baker College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

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19. Central Michigan University

Time to Degree Completion: 12 Months*

Central Michigan UniversityCentral Michigan University, a public university with its main campus in Mount Pleasant, offers online learning options at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Online classes can be presented in 8-week, 12-week or 16-week formats. The quickest accelerated online master degree options at this institution are the one-year Master of Business Administration, Master of Science in Administration and Master of Entrepreneurial Ventures degrees.

For undergraduates studying at Central Michigan University, the 4+1 accelerated graduate degree program allows you to double count 9 to 18 credits toward both your bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Under this program, undergraduates complete the first courses – up to 18 credits – of their master’s degree programs as part of their bachelor’s degree curriculum. Another benefit of this option is that the master’s-level courses students complete while registered as undergraduates are cheaper, since students pay undergraduate tuition for these classes.

This university is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

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20. Thomas Edison State University

Time to Degree Completion: 12-20 Months

Thomas Edison State UniversityAt Thomas Edison State University in Trenton, NJ, online programs of study are available at every level, from associate’s degrees and undergraduate certificates to graduate certificates, master’s degrees and doctorates.

Thomas Edison State University is an adult-focused public university that offers numerous online MS and online MA options. The one-year degree options at Thomas Edison State University include the Master of Science in Management, the Master of Science in Human Resources Management and the Master of Science in Accounting, which is also available in a 20-month format. Earning a Master of Business Administration degree from Thomas Edison State University takes 15 months and prepares students to work in business roles in areas like accounting, finance, marketing, human resources management, healthcare management and data analytics.

Several graduate degree options for adult learners are available in 18-month formats, including the following:

Thomas Edison State University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

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21. Warner Pacific University

Time to Degree Completion: 7-18 Months

Warner Pacific UniversityThe single fastest online master’s degree on our list is the Accelerated Master of Arts in Teaching offered by Warner Pacific University. Full-time students who complete a full schedule of classes from May through August and a 15-week student teaching experience during the fall semester can complete this degree by December, but they must be ready to commit to taking both morning and afternoon classes throughout the summer and essentially working full-time in the classroom during their clinical teaching experience.

Students can also opt for other fast degree options in education. The Master of Education degree for licensed teachers can be completed in 18 months. There is also a 20-month part-time Master of Teaching option that consists of evening classes for students who need a less rigorous schedule.

Outside of degrees in education, Warner Pacific University offers an accelerated Master of Business Administration and a 4+1 combined degree business administration program that awards both a Bachelor of Business Administration and an MBA.

Warner Pacific University is located in Portland, OR, and is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

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22. Capella University

Time to Degree Completion: 13-14 Months

Capella UniversityCapella University, an online university headquartered in Minneapolis, MN, offers online instruction in dozens of graduate-level degree programs. The fastest online education options at the master’s level available at the school are the ones for which the institution offers its FlexPath format of study.

Under the FlexPath learning format, Capella University students take one or two courses at a time and complete their desired number of courses over a 12-week academic term for which they pay a flat tuition rate. The fastest FlexPath students can finish degrees like the following in as little as 14 months:

Even faster degree options are, surprisingly, graduate nursing programs. Capella University offers the following eight master’s degree programs in nursing that, with the FlexPath program, can be completed in just 13 months:

Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

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23. Northeastern University

Time to Degree Completion: 12-20 Months

Northeastern UniversityNortheastern University is a private research institution headquartered in Boston, MA, with campuses not only throughout the country but across the globe.

More than 30 of the master’s degree programs offered online at Northeastern University can be completed on a shorter timeline than the two years traditionally required for graduate school. In fact, more than 20 of these degrees can be completed within one year, and another seven programs can be completed in 18 months.

At Northeastern University, accelerated programs are available in a variety of specialized fields, including degrees in business, education, health, STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects and more. The breadth of online master’s degree program options makes this school a great place for students from many backgrounds to advance their education in their given field.

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24. Colorado Technical University

Time to Degree Completion: 12-18 Months

Colorado Technical UniversityOnline classes at Colorado Technical University are just five weeks long, and new terms begin nine times each year. The mobile-friendly CTU Mobile platform makes online learning truly convenient and on your terms, since you can access your educational materials from a device like a smartphone or tablet.

The fastest online master’s degree at Colorado Technical University is the Master of Business Administration. In this one-year MBA program, students can choose from a dozen concentrations, including accounting, global leadership and logistics management.

In 18 months, students at Colorado Technical University could earn a Master of Science in Management degree or branch out into fields like criminal justice or technology with a Master of Science in Criminal Justice or a Master of Science in Information Technology.

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25. National University

Time to Degree Completion: 12-18 Months

National UniversityNational University is a veteran-founded private nonprofit institution that is located in San Francisco, CA, and accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

The accelerated online master’s degrees available from National University cover a wide range of subject areas, from business to criminal justice, computer science and even health. One year of study may be enough to complete either the Center for Creative Leadership Master of Business Administration (MBA) or the Master of Criminal Justice Leadership. It takes a minimum of 14 months to earn the Master of Science in Data Analytics degree. The Master of Public Health degree program requires 18 months of full-time study to complete.

National University’s four-week classes are some of the shortest courses out there, so you’ll never feel like your courses are dragging on. New terms start nine times each year, allowing students to jump into graduate school when it’s convenient for them and to keep pushing through until they reach their educational goals.

View general online master’s program information.

26. Eastern University

Time to Degree Completion: 10-18 Months

Eastern UniversityEastern University’s two 10-month online master’s degree programs, the Master of Business Administration in Organizational Management and the Master of Science in Data Science, make the institution one of the fastest schools for online graduate study.

The school also offers seven distinct Master of Education degree programs that can each be completed in one year, as well as a 12-month Master of Arts in Theological and Cultural Anthropology. Additionally, a Master of Arts in Teaching: Classical Education degree takes at least 16 months to complete, and a Master of Education in Educational Leadership takes 18 months.

Eastern University is a Pennsylvania Christain institution that is based in St. Davids, PA, and is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

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27. University of Arkansas

Time to Degree Completion: 12-18 Months

University of ArkansasAt the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, two master’s degree programs can be completed online in as little as 12 months. The Master of Social Work degree for students with advanced standing takes one year to finish online, including a year-long internship through which students acquire real-world experience. The Master of Science in Engineering Management degree can also be completed in this short timeframe.

Other accelerated programs at the University of Arkansas require 18 months of study. These graduate degree programs include the more technical Master of Science in Engineering, the Master of Education in Educational Technology and the Master of Science in Operations Management. E-learning students at the University of Arkansas also enjoy the benefit of getting to pay in-state tuition no matter where they live.

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28. Full Sail University

Time to Degree Completion: 12 Months

Full Sail UniversityAt many institutions, only certain degree programs can be completed on an accelerated schedule. That’s not the case at Full Sail University in Winter Park, FL. Each of the 10 master’s degree programs offered online at Full Sail University can be completed in just 12 months. The accelerated offerings include:

Full Sail University is a private for-profit institution that prizes hands-on experience and is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges.

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29. Louisiana State University

Time to Degree Completion: 9-18 Months

Louisiana State UniversityOne of the fastest graduate schools for online students is Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA. The degree with the shortest completion time here is the Master of Social Work, which students who qualify for advanced standing – those who already have a Bachelor of Social Work degree – can finish in as little as nine months.

Students can also go for a 10-month Master of Business Administration program, with MBA concentrations in 10 different fields, including data analytics, hospitality and casino management, family enterprise entrepreneurship, project management and international business. There is also an 18-month MBA degree option.

One-year master’s programs at Louisiana State University include programs in educational leadership, human resources, nonprofit administration, health administration and sport management.

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30. University of South Carolina

Time to Degree Completion: 12-18 Months

University of South CarolinaThe University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC, is a public research university that has been educating students for more than 200 years. The school offers a robust assortment of online graduate degree options from nine subject areas, including science and engineering, education, business, nursing and the arts.

Online courses at the University of South Carolina are offered in three separate 100% online formats. The fastest online master’s degrees at the University of South Carolina are the one-year full-time Master of Business Administration program and the Master of Science in Business Analytics, both offered through the Darla Moore School of Business. The school also offers an accelerated Master of Health Information Technology, an interdisciplinary program offered by the College of Engineering and Computing that can be completed in 18 months.

View general online master’s program information.

31. Indiana Tech

Time to Degree Completion: 12*-14 Months

Indiana TechAt Indiana Tech in Fort Wayne, IN, there’s an accelerated master’s degree option for both graduate and undergraduate students. The standalone graduate program that can be completed the quickest is the Master of Business Administration – Professional Studies degree program. Over the course of 14 months – or potentially even less time – graduate students complete an MBA program with a curriculum customized to their unique interests and goals.

For Indiana Tech undergraduates, the path to a graduate business degree may be even shorter. Indiana Tech offers a Fast Track program that shortens undergraduate study in subjects like business administration and accounting to just three years and puts the student on the path to complete an MBA or a Master of Science in Management in just two additional semesters of full-time study. (Although the graduate program isn’t an option, the three-year bachelor’s degree format is also available to undergraduates majoring in criminal justice, psychology, pre-law, communication and recreation therapy.)

Indiana Tech is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

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32. Grand Canyon University

Time to Degree Completion: 12-18 Months

Grand Canyon UniversityGrand Canyon University is a private, for-profit Christian institution of higher learning in Phoenix, AZ. The school is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The university’s online programs commonly have a shorter course duration and offer 52 start dates per year, so prospective students don’t need to wait long to start working toward their master’s degrees.

You can earn a graduate business degree in 12 to 18 months at Grand Canyon University, but doing so is a little tricky. Both the Online Master of Business Administration degree and the Master of Business Administration in Leadership degree are meant to take just shy of two years of study (22 months). However, if you already have a business administration background, you can get certain fundamental MBA courses waived to shorten the curriculum to 18 months. If you’re willing to double up on your courses at least three times during your studies, you could reduce the time it takes to graduate down to just 12 months.

If you’re not eager to make so many adjustments to shrink the time it takes to earn a graduate degree, Grand Canyon University does offer an online Master of Science in Information Assurance and Cybersecurity that is designed to be completed in 18 months. Like the MBA degree (assuming no waived course requirements or doubling up on classes), the Master of Science in Computer Science degree program can be completed in under two years.

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33. University of New England

Time to Degree Completion: 16-24 Months

University of New EnglandAs the largest private university in Maine, the University of New England – regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education – has some excellent options to offer online graduate students, including those looking for a quick way to improve their credentials.

This university is credited with having offered the first fully online asynchronous accredited Master of Social Work degree program in the country, but that isn’t the only reason this school’s online MSW program is special. While the traditional program requires three years of study to complete, the advanced standing MSW program is the fastest online graduate degree option at this school, with a completion time of 16 months. The next fastest master’s degree options are the Master of Public Health and the Master of Healthcare Administration degrees, both of which can be completed in as little as 18 months.

Additionally, all four of the online Master of Science in Education degree programs offered at this institution – the general MSEd as well as specializations in Educational Leadership, Reading Specialist and Inclusion Education – may be completed in just under two years of study.

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34. Rivier University

Time to Degree Completion: 12 Months

Rivier UniversityRivier University in Nashua, NH, offers three online master’s degree programs that students can complete in just one year. The Master of Science in Computer Information Systems degree combines technical and business coursework to prepare students for roles like system architect, integrated systems designer, quality assurance analyst and information technology project manager.

Most of the MBA programs offered by Rivier University are two-year degree programs. However, two of these options – the MBA in Management and the MBA in Information Technology Management – can be completed in only one year.

Rivier University is embracing “open educational resources” over traditional (and expensive) textbooks, which is good news for students. Using a textb00k-free format for the MBA in Management degree program is saving students approximately $1,500 dollars, according to the school. The university is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

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35. Columbia College

Time to Degree Completion: 12 Months

Columbia CollegeColumbia College in Missouri offers online master’s degrees in the fields of business administration, education and criminal justice. With six eight-week terms per year, students only have to take two courses per term to complete all of the requirements for a master’s degree in just 12 months. It’s an intensive workload, certainly, but it’s doable, especially if you’re able to make graduate school your full-time focus.

Another option to speed up your education in business, specifically, is by applying to Columbia College as an undergraduate and taking advantage of the combined undergraduate and graduate Accelerated MBA program to start working toward your master’s-level studies early – and have your first graduate-level classes count toward both degrees.

Columbia College is a liberal arts and sciences college that has garnered national recognition. The private nonprofit institution is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

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36. South University

Time to Degree Completion: 12-18 Months

South UniversitySouth University in Savannah, GA, is a private university that dates back to 1899. The fastest program at South University is the Master of Science in Human Resources Management degree, which can be completed in as little as 12 months.

A number of other degree programs, including the Master of Public Administration, the general Master of Business Administration and the Master of Business Administration in Healthcare Administration, can be completed in as little as 16 months.

South University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

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37. Upper Iowa University

Time to Degree Completion: 12 Months

Upper Iowa UniversityUpper Iowa University in Fayette, IA, offers half a dozen online master’s degrees in various fields. For students in search of a fast online graduate degree, the standout program at Upper Iowa University is the Master of Healthcare Administration, a degree that the school advertises as taking as little as one year to complete.

Online learning at Upper Iowa University involves taking up to two courses per session, although graduate students more commonly focus on one class per session. There are two eight-week sessions in a traditional fall or spring semester, plus an accelerated six-week session in the summer.

Upper Iowa University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

View general online master’s program information.

38. George Washington University

Time to Degree Completion: 12-18 Months

George Washington UniversityGeorge Washington University in Washington, D.C., offers more than half a dozen online master’s degree options, many in subjects that are fitting for the school’s location in the nation’s capital: homeland security, cybersecurity, political management and more. The private but federally chartered research institution is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

The fastest online master’s degrees offered through George Washington University can be completed in as little as one year. These degrees include the Master in Management degree, the Master of Studies in Law degree, the Master of International Policy and Practice degree and the Master of Public Health degree, which is also available in an 18-month format. Both the Master of Professional Studies in Cybersecurity Strategy & Information Management and the Master of Professional Studies in Homeland Security degree programs can be completed in 16 months.

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39. University of Florida

Time to Degree Completion: 12 Months

University of FloridaAt the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL, online students can pursue graduate-level studies in 85 programs in a variety of subject areas. For students interested in the fastest online master’s degrees available, a program that will be of particular interest is the University of Florida’s one-year Master of Science in Management. This accelerated degree program consists of eight-week periods and involves a workload so intense that students are advised not to attempt to work full-time during their studies.

The University of Florida is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

View general online master’s program information.

40. Widener University

Time to Degree Completion: 12 Months

Widener University

Widener University in Chester, PA, offers accelerated master’s degree programs that stand on their own as well as combination master’s and bachelor’s degree options.

Among the fully online one-year master’s degree programs available are the allied health Master of Education and the Master of Arts in Organizational Development & Leadership. Online students in the one-year Master of Business Administration degree program can pursue a concentration in business process innovation, investment management and organizational leadership.

The Accelerated Advantage 4+1 program can put undergraduate students at Widener University on the path to a quick master’s degree from the start. In addition to directly corresponding master’s degrees in fields like business, engineering and social work, students in any major can leverage this program to quickly pursue a graduate degree in business administration, organizational leadership, public administration, allied health education or criminal justice.

View general online master’s program information.

The Benefits of Accelerated Master’s Degree Programs

Completing your master’s degree program quickly can be valuable in many ways. In accelerated master’s degree programs, online students generally complete the same rigorous coursework that students in a traditional, campus-based two-year degree program would. Whether students are pursuing an online MS, an online MA or another type of online master degree, they take required core courses and, often, more specialized elective courses. However, they get through these core courses faster by carrying an intense and difficult workload.

Financially, this choice to pursue one of the fastest online master’s degrees is a wise one. Spending a shorter amount of time overall in school typically translates to paying less money in tuition, and if you’re borrowing the money to get your master’s degree, it means less student debt on which to be charged ever-growing amounts of interest. There is also an opportunity cost of staying in school longer – the money that you’re missing out on each year you’re not out in the workforce putting your degree to work full-time – that you minimize when you are able to complete your master’s degree program faster than is usually expected.

 

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