What master's degree should I get?

February 13, 2024 · 7 min read · By ASU Online
Learn how to choose the right master's degree for you and what makes ASU Online so popular for graduate students.

You already know you want to return to the world of higher education and earn a master’s degree. That’s a big step, one that can help you advance on your professional path and build valuable new knowledge and abilities. But which master’s degree should you get?

While that’s a question only you can answer, we’ll support you as you decide by sharing:

  • Guidance for selecting a university and grad program that is accredited, established, academically challenging and personally and professionally rewarding.
  • Information about popular degrees.
  • Tips that give you valuable context for making your choice.

First, let’s look at how to choose a degree that can support your professional goals, whether you want to stay on your current path or move into an entirely different field.


Why should you pursue a master’s degree?

To earn a master’s degree from an accredited institution, you must complete a challenging program led by experienced faculty. This achievement can help you stand out to potential employers by demonstrating your knowledge and abilities. It also may help you advance your career.

In terms of employment, the value of a master’s degree from Arizona State University is clear. For the 2019-20 graduating class, 87% of ASU graduate students who indicated they were looking for work were employed, started their own business or received at least one job offer within six months of graduation.

Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows your earning potential can rise with a master’s degree as well. Professionals with a bachelor’s degree had median weekly earnings of $1,334 in 2021, while the same figure for those holding master’s degrees was $1,574.

Career progression is another factor to keep in mind. An advanced education is often a requirement for higher-level roles in many industries. You might also need to develop work experience or specific professional competencies, but a master’s degree can make you a more attractive candidate for important roles in your field.


When should you get a master’s degree?

Some students begin earning their master’s degree as they complete their bachelor’s degree in accelerated or 4+1 programs, after having applied in the third year of their undergraduate experience. Others go for an advanced degree right after they finish their undergraduate studies. You could also spend years in the workforce, parenting, traveling and following any number of other paths before returning to school.

There’s no right time to earn a master’s degree. You need to decide for yourself when you’re ready to start the next stage of your journey as a student.

Earn your graduate degree sooner with Accelerated Master’s programs

ASU Online's Accelerated Master’s programs allow you to earn your graduate degree in as little as one year after completing your undergraduate degree. By completing graduate coursework in your senior year for dual credit, you’ll streamline your educational journey and easily transition from an undergraduate degree to a graduate degree.

Aligning your bachelor’s and master’s degrees

How can you find the most relevant program for you? Consider building on your bachelor’s degree with the advanced knowledge and abilities that come from a related master’s program.

A bachelor’s degree demonstrates a certain level of competency related to your chosen field. It can also serve as a foundation that can underpin success in graduate school.

On a practical level, a related bachelor’s degree can make it easier for you to fulfill application requirements and get used to the academic rigor of a master’s program. You’ll already possess valuable context that can make it easier to understand, process and apply the new information you learn as a master’s student.

If your career and undergraduate degree align, and you’re confident you want to continue on a related professional path, start by reviewing relevant advanced degree options. Our complete list of online graduate programs is a great place to start. You can quickly narrow down your choices by filtering the list, based on specific areas of interest, to find the most relevant possibilities.

If you’re a business school graduate, for example, you might consider continuing on that path. If you hold an undergraduate degree in psychology, you could earn an advanced degree in that field.


Opportunities to change your career path

Finding a more satisfying role, along with related opportunities for advancement, is a common career goal. A master’s degree can be an opportunity to change fields and acquire the talents required for success in a new position.

While some graduate programs require students to have specific undergraduate degrees, others accept a much broader range of applicants. As long as you hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university and meet other basic requirements, you can apply to programs such as the Master of Science in biomimicry and the Master of Arts in communication, among many others.

You’ll need to define your interests, identify programs that relate to them and then weigh your options. Keep in mind that you have many potential paths available to you. You have the power to make choices that may transform your career.


The importance of accreditation and academic rigor for a master’s degree

When it comes to earning a master’s degree, finding the right university is just as important as finding the right program.

There are a few considerations you need to keep in mind to ensure you can access the benefits of a graduate degree. Find a leading university that doesn’t only address the basic needs of graduate-level education, but can also offer a truly exceptional learning environment.

In the simplest terms, accreditation ensures colleges and universities “meet acceptable levels of quality,” according to the U.S. Department of Education.

When you complete a graduate program through an accredited institution, you can count on the quality of your degree. Potential employers, colleagues and other academic institutions will recognize your achievements and the knowledge and talents you’ve developed.

If you attend an unaccredited institution to earn a graduate degree, you may not be able to rely on that benefit.

ASU Online is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), an established and recognized accreditor for colleges and universities.


Is an online master’s degree respected?

Yes! An online master’s degree from an accredited institution is just as valuable and useful as the same one earned on campus.

ASU Online’s graduate programs feature the same rigorous curriculum and are taught by the same faculty as our on-campus programs. Your diploma will list the institution as Arizona State University, same as it does for on-campus programs, and will not note that it’s an online degree.


Selecting a challenging and rewarding master’s degree

Once you know you’re prepared, it’s in your best interest to choose a graduate program that challenges you. Classes and coursework that inspire you to think in new ways, as well as learn new information and understand how you can apply it to your career, can support positive results.

Don’t be discouraged when you review program details and see unfamiliar topics and concepts. The purpose of education is to learn new information, as well as context around it and related skills. In the case of a graduate degree, this new knowledge can be crucial for career growth.


ASU Online’s most popular master’s programs

If you’re considering many programs but aren’t sure which direction to move in, consider these popular choices.

The following are the five most popular graduate programs offered through ASU Online, based on spring 2021 enrollment.


Leading faculty and distinguished colleges

ASU Online provides enriching and engaging educational experiences that support both professional and personal growth. We’re ranked as the most innovative school in the country, according to U.S. News & World Report, and our curriculum is led by world-renowned faculty. Consider these recognitions from a selection of our colleges and schools:

  • Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College ranks in the top 10 for master’s in education programs, including #2 best online education administration and supervision programs and Top 10 best online master's in education programs for veterans.
  • The Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering ranks in the top 15 for best online master’s in engineering programs, according to U.S. News & World Report, 2024.
  • The Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions ranks in the top 15 for best online master’s in criminal justice programs and top 15 for public affairs programs, according to U.S. News & World Report, 2024.
  • The W. P. Carey School of Business ranks in the top 10 for best online MBA programs and #3 for best online master’s in business programs (non-MBA), according to U.S. News & World Report, 2024.

Everything you need to know about ASU Online classes and degree programs

We’ve compiled what you need to know about online classes and degree programs at Arizona State University. Read on to learn all about what to expect from the ASU Online learning experience.


About ASU Online

Earn your degree completely online from the nation's most innovative university. ASU Online offers more than 300 degree programs and certificates in high-demand areas such as nursing, engineering, business, education and more. Explore all of our areas of study.

Our offerings include:

  • Elite expertise and research.
  • Innovative curriculum design.
  • Superior student support services.

Learn more at our about us page. And follow ASU Online on Facebook, YouTube, X and Instagram, and connect with us on LinkedIn.

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