What Are the Requirements for Most Online Master's Degrees?

The requirements for earning online master's degrees begin with getting into the program. This is because admission to most reputable online master's degree programs is somewhat competitive. To engage in courses and complete assignments in your online graduate program, you will need access to certain technologies. Both of these requirements are described in further detail below.

Requirements for Admission to Most Online Master's Degree Programs

Most master's degrees are earned after completing a bachelor's degree program. Online graduate schools typically expect that your bachelor's degree is no more than 5-10 years old and that you had an undergraduate grade point average (GPA) of 2.5-3.0 on a 4-point scale. Higher GPAs are sometimes required for subject-specific courses. The graduate school requires official transcripts of all your college work. You will also send them:

  • A completed application and fees
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • An essay, usually explaining why you chose to apply to a particular program, what you expect to gain and what special gifts or talents you bring to the program. The length may be specified: as short as 300-500 words or as long as 3-4 pages.

Important Facts About These Programs

Degree Fields Accounting, electrical engineering, public administration, supply chain management, human resources
Possible Careers Financial analyst, physician assistant, human resources director, IT project manager
Programs Graduate fellowships are available
Continuing Education Professional certification courses are available in areas such as business, allied health, and information technology

Testing Requirements for Some Online Master's Degree Programs

You'll probably need to send the graduate school the official transcripts of your Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or Graduate Management Aptitude Test (GMAT) scores. Free score reports to schools may be included with your test fee if you request them with your application or on test day. Programs that are aimed at professionals may require your resume, a copy of your professional license or both. International students may need to submit scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). The minimum score is often 550 on the paper TOEFL or 213 on computer versions.

Technology Requirements for Online Learning

Each school posts its technology equipment requirements and recommendations somewhere on its website. The specifications below are similar to those required by many schools' online degree programs, though they may change regularly to keep pace with constant technology updates.

  • Computer Equipment, Specifications and Programs
    • Computer (PC or Mac)
    • Intel Core Duo 2.5 GHz or AMD Equivalent
    • 4 GB RAM
    • 250-500 GB hard drive
    • CD-RW/DVD-RW
    • 10/100 BaseT if using network
    • Graphics: 128-256 MB Integrated Chipset (PC) or Memory Card (Mac)
    • Printer
    • Windows 7, 8 or later, Windows Vista or MAC OS X-10.4
    • Browser: Internet Explorer 7.0 or higher, Mozilla Firefox 3.6 or higher, Safari 4.0 or higher (check with your school for supported versions)
    • JavaScript enabled
    • Word processing program such as MicroSoft Word
    • Sometimes, a webcam, specialized software, or a microphone and speakers or headset
  • Internet service
    • DSL minimum
    • Cable broadband preferred
  • Sometimes, students may need a telephone, a VCR, DVD, CD or tape player.

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