Is It Easier To Get Into An Online Master’s Program?

As online graduate education becomes more accessible, more people have the opportunity to ask the question: Is getting a fast online Master’s degree right for me? For most people, the answer is a resounding YES because you can trade one short year of your life for a higher degree and a higher paycheck long-term.

But–there is another question we should be examining as well, and that’s are online master’s programs easier to get into than traditional schools?

Just because your chances of getting into an online master’s program are greater than an on-campus program does not mean that it will be easier to successfully complete the program!

The good news is that there’s a very clear answer here, and the answer is YES! Your chances of getting into grad school and attaining an easy online Master’s degree is greater than their on-campus counterparts.

And it’s not because the programs themselves are easier. It’s for one main reason, and that’s space.

On-campus programs have a cap on the number of students they can let in because, frankly, there’s a cap on physical seats in a classroom and specific limits placed on faculty members. But with online platforms, there’s no limit necessarily to how many students can access the program–so schools can admit a larger number of students if they choose to.

When analyzing admission data for on-campus vs online MBA programs, the U.S. News and World Report shares: “Full-time, on-site MBA programs often have limited space capacity and designated faculty. In an online environment, additional sections can be easily added, faculty can be recruited globally, and it’s easier to scale the volume increase than in a traditional classroom-based environment.” (quote by Susan C. Aldridge, source here).

But, let’s not get too excited. This doesn’t mean that schools will accept anyone who applies. Online master’s degrees are held to the same high standards as on-campus programs and students are still required to meet all admission requirements; there’s just additional space to let in more eligible applicants. Keep in mind that the admission requirements for online students will be as stringent as those for on-campus students. You won’t get off easy there. So if you don’t meet the requirements, there’s little chance you’re getting in, no matter how many open spots there are.

**If you’re interested in a specific school or program, the first thing you’ll want to do is check their admission details and see if your credentials line up.

When we examine admissions data for online graduate programs, the acceptance rates are typically much higher than the same on-campus programs. And while, yes, programs do admit more applicants just because of sheer space, the increased numbers aren’t solely based on eligible applicants. This article from the U.S. News and World Report says we also have to take into account the number of international students with stellar academic records who also apply and enroll, who wouldn’t necessarily apply to the on-campus programs.

Common Admission requirements:

It’s true that all online Master’s degree programs will have varying admissions requirements. But, we’ve found some common ground. Check your program for specific details. Typically, you can expect to need:

  • Bachelor’s degree in a related field
  • If your Bachelor’s degree is not in a related field, then you might need some prerequisite courses.
  • A minimum GPA (most Master’s degree programs require a GPA of 3.0 or higher–so that the most advanced, motivated students apply)
  • Standardized testing scores (like the GRE)
  • Work experience
  • Personal Essay
  • Recommendations
  • On-phone interview

*A note about standardized testing: not all schools require standardized testing for admittance, especially students who have been out of school for a long time and have been in the workforce. Generally speaking, online students, especially Master’s and Doctoral students, are already professionals and have a lot of accomplishments under their belts, in addition to extra credentials. Schools recognize that experience can mean more than a score on a standardized test.

Tips for Success:

Even though getting into online Master’s degree programs could be easier than brick and mortar programs, you still need to set yourself up for success. Online programs require a lot of intrinsic motivation and will be quite different than an on-campus program. You’ll have a ton of online student support, but you’ll also be wearing many hats. Consider these tips for success.

Create a dedicated school space

Creating a space in your home for just your academics can make it feel like you’re “going to school” and could help train your brain to be productive in that space.

A place in your space that is exclusively for study is very important!

Get organized

There’s nothing more frustrating than not knowing where things are when you need them. Now that you’ve got your learning space set up, organize it in a way that inspires you to work–and keep it that way! This will cut down on the “fringe” minutes that can add up over time.

An organized work space will not only help eliminate distractions, it can save you valuable time!

Set dedicated (but flexible) school times

Even though you might be taking asynchronous classes (with no set log in times), it still might be beneficial to create a structure for your days. This will help you stay disciplined as you try to manage multiple things. Even though structure will be helpful, try to also be flexible when “life” happens. Don’t be so rigid that it interferes with you figuring out what works for you, which could change weekly–or even daily. If you have a busy schedule or are juggling a lot, try creating a structure that works for just the day in front of you. Take it one day at a time.

The balance between dedicated study time and allowing flexibility can be a delicate one but one definitely worth striving for!

Eliminate Distractions

We all do it. We open our phone to check an email and find ourselves lost in an Instagram deep dive for 15 minutes. When you’re at school–even virtually– make sure you’re at school. Turn your phone notifications off and focus on your coursework. Unless you have an emergency, try to stay the course. Limit your social media, work in time blocks, and prioritize your precious time.

Try to avoid distractions like social media when you are studying!

Give yourself Grace

As you figure things out, you might see an area of your life slip. Give yourself grace; you’re learning how to juggle one more thing, and it’s okay for that to be a process. Make sure to reach out to your school, online advisor, or a professional if you find yourself drowning or overwhelmed for too long. You don’t have to be alone!

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