online education

The best, worst online graduate degrees for students

New infographic reveals that the most popular online graduate degrees among students are not always the best for careers.

With online learning continuing its expansion in education, graduate degree programs are no exception. But just like with on-campus programs, are there some online grad degrees that are better than others? And how can students and institutions determine which are the best and which are the worst? Is there a most popular online grad degree? Are there specific institutions that offer the best online programs?

All of this information and more is part of a new set of data presented by Online College Plan and aggregated from sources such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Forbes, Fortune, and multiple online degree offering sites and institutions.

Many working professionals and students are going back to school online for an advanced degree; but is it worth their time? asks Online College Plan. The data presented qualifies best versus worst online graduate degree programs based on the field’s:

  • Current mid-career salary,
  • Growth projection in the immediate future, and
  • Percent of reported low stress by students while in the program

Online College Plan begins by explaining that overall, earning a Master’s has merit, at least in terms of financial ROI. For example, the average annual salary for those with a Master’s is $68,000, compared to those with a Bachelor’s at $56,000. And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, many medical degrees (like nurse practitioner and physician assistant programs) will require graduate work, as opposed to simply a bachelor’s by the year 2020.

Best and Worst Online Graduate Degree Programs for Financial ROI

According to an infographic created by Online College Plan, Fortune and Forbes determined these as the best and worst online graduate degrees:

[Information presented as Master’s degree: Mid-career salary: Growth projection: Low stress]


Computer science: $125,700: 12.7%: 49%

Software engineering: $118,900: 11.9%: 51%

Information sciences: $116,100: 11.2%: 48%

Statistics: $112,000: 14%: 58%

Occupational therapy: $81,300: 16%: 30%

(Next page: Worse online graduate degrees; most popular; best institutions; infographic)