The Emergence of the Online Master’s Degree

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Michael Reynolds


The fastest adoption of online education within engineering has come at the master’s level. This is likely due to several factors. One, since most master’s degrees are not accredited, there are no accreditation concerns with online delivery. Second, many students who work full time cannot attend traditional master’s programs. Third, many institutions have found the online master’s program to be a good source of additional revenue. I recently conducted a study of 198 universities within the United States that offer a master’s degree in engineering. I have found that at least 52 of these schools offer at least one master’s degree online. This represents 26% of all schools offering an engineering master’s degree. That is impressive growth in a short amount of time! The 52 schools offer a total of 155 master’s degrees, so on average each school offers about 3 degrees. There are 30 unique degrees with the most popular being Electrical Engineering (21), Computer Science/Software Engineering (19), Engineering Management (16), Mechanical Engineering (16), and Industrial Engineering (12). The cost per credit hour varied from a low of $154 to a high of $2630. The median cost was $623 per credit hour for instate students and $1067 per credit hour for out of state students.

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Michael Reynolds. (2011). The Emergence of the Online Master’s Degree. Journal of Online Engineering Education, 2(1). Retrieved from