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Online Master’s Degree Programs in Washington DC

Residents of Washington DC and the Washington DC metropolitan area who are interested in pursuing graduate studies without having to relocate or commute to a college or university have many options for earning a master’s degree online. There are a number of colleges and universities in the DC area that offer online master’s programs, and there are many more schools located outside of DC that offer online master’s program and that accept out-of-state applicants. This page provides an overview of schools in Washington DC, the DC metropolitan area, and the larger region that offer online master’s programs in accounting, business administration, international affairs, finance, nursing, public policy and administration, social work, and many other of the fields most commonly studied at the master’s level by students in Washington DC.

Schools in Washington DC That Offer Online Master’s Programs

As the nation’s capital and the only American city whose administration is overseen by the US Congress rather than by a state government, Washington DC has many unique features. For example, there is no publicly funded system of colleges and universities in Washington DC. The city is home to the University of the District of Columbia (UDC), which is classified among the country’s historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and funded jointly by the city government and federal grants. But UDC, which includes the David A Clarke School of Law, is the only publicly funded, degree-granting institution of higher education in Washington DC.

Among the other prominent schools in Washington DC are several large, private, non-profit research universities, including The George Washington University (GW), Georgetown University, American University, and Howard University, which is an HBCU. The Catholic University of America and Trinity Washington University are two private, non-profit universities in DC affiliated with the Catholic Church. There are also several special-focus schools in the DC area, including the federally funded National Intelligence University and the federally chartered, privately run Gallaudet University, which specializes in undergraduate and graduate degree programs for deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

Most of Washington DC’s larger universities offer online courses and degree programs, including online master’s programs. GW offers online master’s programs through its School of Business, College of Professional Studies, and Milken Institute of Public Health; Georgetown offers online master’s programs through its School of Continuing Studies and McDonough School of Business; and American University offers online master’s programs through several of its academic divisions, including the Kogod School of Business, the Washington College of Law, and its Schools of Communication, International Service, and Public Affairs.

The table below lists the five largest accredited, non-profit, degree-granting universities located in Washington DC. The schools are ranked based on an analysis of enrollment data collected by the US Department of Education for its Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

SchoolTypeOnline Degree Programs
The George Washington University (GW)Private Non-ProfitYes
Georgetown UniversityPrivate Non-ProfitYes
American UniversityPrivate Non-ProfitYes
Howard UniversityPrivate Non-ProfitYes
The Catholic University of AmericaPrivate Non-ProfitYes

Schools in the DC Region That Offer Online Master’s Programs

The Washington DC metropolitan area, also referred to as the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area, encompasses parts of Northern Virginia and Western Maryland and is home to several schools that offer online master’s programs. One of those schools is George Mason University (GMU), a publicly funded school located in the DC-area city of Fairfax. Through GMU, residents of Washington DC can earn online master’s degrees in accounting, bioinformatics, business administration cybersecurity, engineering, data analytics, education, health systems management, social work, and a number of other fields.

Old Dominion University (ODU), a Virginia state school that is located in the city of Norfolk, also offers an array of online master’s programs that may be of interest to Washington DC residents. ODU’s online master’s programs include business administration, computer science, education, engineering, nursing, public administration, and public health programs.

There are also two state schools in nearby Maryland that offer online master’s programs: the University of Maryland’s flagship campus in College Park (UMD), and the University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC), which is headquartered in Adelphi. UMD’s School of Public Health offers an online Master of Public Health (MPH) program, and UMGC’s online offerings include master’s programs in accounting, biotechnology, business administration, cybersecurity, data analytics, environmental management, healthcare administration, information technology, management, and teaching.

Johns Hopkins University (JHU), a private, non-profit research university with its main campus in Baltimore, offers online master’s programs through several of its academic divisions, including the Krieger School of Arts & Sciences, the Carey School of Business, the Whiting School of Engineering, and the Bloomberg School of Public Health. JHU’s online master’s programs provide students with opportunities to study economics, biotechnology, communication, data analytics, engineering, finance, government, marketing, nursing, and public health.

Types of Master’s Degrees Commonly Pursued by Students at Schools in Washington DC

Using IPEDS data on the number of students graduating from master’s programs offered by schools in Washington DC, OnlineEducation.com has identified the 15 most common areas of master’s-level study at the city’s colleges and universities. These fields are as follows:

  1. Business Administration and Management
  2. International Relations and Affairs
  3. Registered Nursing/Registered Nurse
  4. Public Policy Analysis
  5. Physiology
  6. Public Administration
  7. Public Relations/Image Management
  8. Public Health
  9. Advanced Legal Research/Studies
  10. Accounting
  11. Finance
  12. Human Resources Management/Personnel Administration
  13. Computer Science
  14. Social Work
  15. Tax Law/Taxation

While IPEDS classifications do not align precisely with actual online master’s programs, an analysis of the IPEDS data provides a representative overview of the types of master’s programs that are most commonly pursued by students at colleges and universities located in Washington DC. The sections below offer details on programs offered by schools in Washington DC, the Baltimore-DC metropolitan area, and the greater Washington DC region in many of the areas of study listed above.

Online Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) and Management Programs in Washington DC

The George Washington University (GW), Georgetown University, American University, Howard University, and The Catholic University of America all offer various types of online master’s program in business administration and management. GW has an online Master of Business Administration (MBA) program with a general business administration curriculum and an online Healthcare MBA program. GW’s online MBA program includes an optional four-day residency at the school’s DC campus and can be completed in three years of part-time enrollment. The online Healthcare MBA program can also be completed in three years, but it is designed for students who have three to five years of prior professional experience.

Georgetown University has an MBA program that is offered in several campus-based formats, including a flexible schedule that incorporates evening and weekend classes. In addition, Georgetown has a fully online Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Project Management program that can be completed in two years and that focuses on technical aspects of project management and leadership.

American University offers an online MBA program (MBA@American) through its Kogod School of Business. The MBA@American curriculum features 12 core courses, three electives, and two required campus-based immersions. Through the program’s elective coursework, students can specialize in six areas of business administration: Business Analytics; Consulting; Cybersecurity; Finance; International Business; and Marketing. One of the program’s immersion sessions is held annually in Washington DC; the others are typically held in foreign cities to provide students with a global perspective on business administration.

Howard University has an Executive MBA (EMBA) program that it offers online and that requires applicants to have a minimum of five years of prior business experience in a management position. The program is designed to accommodate students who are working full-time and can be completed in as few as 18 months. Finally, The Catholic University of America offers an online Master of Science (MS) in Management program with five concentrations: Human Resource Management; Project Management; Leadership and Management; Sales Management; and Federal Contract Management. The program is offered through the Busch School of Business.

Among the schools in the DC region that offer online MBA programs are George Mason University (GMU), Johns Hopkins University (JHU), and the University of Delaware. The GMU program is fully online but includes an optional Global Residency that gives participating students an opportunity to spend a week abroad studying business practices in a foreign city. The Carey Business School at JHU offers a Flexible MBA program that can be completed in three years through online coursework, campus-based classes, or a mix of the two. Online students in the JHU MBA program can choose from four specializations: Financial Business; Healthcare Management; Leading Organizations; and Marketing. The University of Delaware offers an online MBA program through its Alfred Learner College of Business and Economics. The program can be completed in 16 months and allows students to choose from among five areas of emphasis: Business Analytics; Finance; Healthcare Management; Strategic Business; and International Business.

Online Master’s in International Relations Programs in Washington DC

There are currently two schools in Washington DC that offer online master’s programs in international relations and policy. American University has an online Master of Arts in International Relations (MAIR) program and an online Executive Master of International Service (MIS) program. The MAIR program is open to applicants who hold a bachelor’s degree in any field, although the program recommends that students complete an undergraduate economics course before enrolling in the master’s curriculum. The MIS program is designed for professionals with seven or more years of experience in the field of international relations. Both programs include a weekend-long campus residency and offer five concentrations: Global Security; International Development; Social Enterprise; International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution; and United States Foreign Policy and National Security. The MAIR curriculum can be completed in 24 months, and the MIS program can be completed in as few as 12 months.

The Elliot School of International Affairs at GW offers an online Master of International Policy and Practice (MIPP) program that is designed for students who have at least eight years of relevant professional and/or military experience and undergraduate coursework in micro and macro economics. Students in the program take three core courses, six elective courses, and a leadership capstone course.

Residents of Washington DC may want to explore the online master’s in international relations programs offered by Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA, and Northeastern University in Boston, MA. Liberty University offers an online Master of Science (MS) in International Relations program that can be completed in one-and-a-half years. Northeastern University has an online MS in Global Studies and International Relations program that features a regional studies component. Students in the program can choose from among six regions to focus on: East Asia; Middle East; Sub-Saharan Africa; Europe; Southwest and Central Asia; and Latin America. The Northeastern program can be completed in one-and-a-half to two years.

Online Master’s in Nursing (MSN) Programs in Washington DC

Registered Nurses (RNs) in Washington DC who are interested in earning a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree from a local school have several options. The Catholic University of America offers an online MSN program with a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) specialization. In addition to online courses, students in the program are required to complete 700 hours of supervised, in-person clinical experiences. The Johns Hopkins School of Nursing in Baltimore, MD offers an online MSN program with a Health Systems Management specialization. The program includes 376 hours of supervised clinical experiences.

Among the schools offering online MSN programs outside of the Washington DC area are Simmons University in Boston, MA, and Queens University of Charlotte in Charlotte, NC. Through Nursing@Simmons, Simmons University offers an online MSN program with an FNP specialization that has a track for RNs who hold a bachelor’s degree and a track for RNs who received their training at the associate degree level. The program requires students to travel to Boston for three in-person, campus-based immersion sessions and to complete 672 hours of supervised clinical experiences. Queens University of Charlotte has an online MSN program with three specializations: Nurse Educator; Nurse Administrator; and Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL). All three specializations have clinical residency requirements.

Note: Online MSN programs require students to complete clinical residencies and/or practicums under the supervision of a qualified preceptor at a site approved by the program. RNs who are considering earning their MSN degree through an online program should contact programs prior to submitting an application regarding potential sites for the completion of clinical hours. RNs who intend to add a new Advance Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) specialty after completing an online MSN program in their area of specialization should be aware that licensure requirements for APRNs vary by state and by jurisdiction. To ensure that a program’s curriculum will provide sufficient training for licensure, RNs who are considering programs offered by schools outside of Washington DC should be familiar with DC’s licensure requirements.

Online Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) Programs in Washington DC

American University and The George Washington University (GW) are two schools in Washington DC that offer students the option of earning a master’s degree in public administration online. American University has an online Master of Public Administration and Policy (MPAP) program that can be completed in as few as 24 months. The MPAP curriculum features 12 courses drawn from American University’s campus-based Master of Public Administration (MPA) and Master of Public Policy (MPP) programs, including a Policy Practicum that challenges students to perform a policy analysis project. While GW does not offer its MPA program online, it does offer an online Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Political Management program that focuses on political campaigning, lobbying, fundraising, communications, and polling. The GW program has three concentrations: Electoral Politics; Advocacy Politics; and Applied Proficiencies.

Outside of Washington DC, there are several nearby schools that offer online master’s programs in public administration. Virginia’s Old Dominion University (ODU) has an online MPA program that gives students the option of earning a certificate in Public Procurement and Contract Management. The Biden School of Public Policy and Administration at the University of Delaware offers an online MPA program that can be completed in roughly three years of part-time enrollment. Lastly, Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins University (JHU) offers several fully online master’s programs in government and public management: an online Master of Arts (MA) in Public Management; an online MA in Government; and an online Master of Science (MS) in Data Analytics and Policy that has a government analytics focus. The MA in Government has three concentrations: Democracy Studies and Governments; Political Communication; and Security Studies. All three programs require the completion of 12 online courses.

Online Master’s in Public Relations Programs in Washington DC

There are online master’s in public relations programs offered by three schools in Washington DC: The George Washington University (GW); Georgetown University; and American University. GW offers an online Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Strategic Public Relations comprised of seven core requirements and three electives. Georgetown University offers an online MPS in Public Relations and Corporate Communications program that requires the completion of ten courses, five of which may be selected from among a range of electives in areas like cause consulting, digital analytics, and personal branding. American University has an online Master of Arts (MA) in Strategic Communication program that includes coursework in public relations.

Washington DC residents may also want to explore several online master’s programs in public relations that are offered by schools outside of the DC area. Quinnipiac University in Hamden, CT, offers an online MS in Public Relations program that includes a capstone project and elective coursework in social media relations, health communications, and investor relations. Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA, has an online MA in Strategic Communication program that incorporates coursework that is similar to a master’s curriculum in public relations.

Online Master’s in Public Health (MPH) Programs in Washington DC

The George Washington University (GW) is currently the only school in Washington DC that offers a fully online Master of Public Health (MPH) degree program. The GW program is offered through the Milken Institute School of Public Health and has three enrollment options. Students who enroll full-time may opt for an accelerated, one-year format or an 18-month plan of study. GW also allows students to customize their enrollment plan, taking two, three, or four years to finish their degree. In addition to a core MPH curriculum, the GW program offers six concentrations: Global Health; Health Policy; Environmental and Occupational Health; Epidemiology and Public Health Research Methods; Health Communication; and Program Planning and Evaluation. The program culminates with a public health practicum that requires students to complete a supervised internship at a local, national, or international public health organization.

Outside of Washington DC, in the neighboring city of Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University (JHU) offers an online master’s program that is similar to an MPH program. JHU’s Master of Applied Science in Community-Based Primary Health Care Programs in Global Health has a curriculum that focuses on the application of community-based healthcare practices to the implementation and administration of global health programs. JHU also offers an MPH program that is mostly online but that requires students to attend four weeks of on-campus classes. The JHU MPH program also requires the completion of a 100-hour, in-person practicum and a capstone project.

George Mason University (GMU) in the neighboring state of Virginia has an MPH program with a Public Health Practice concentration that is offered online. The program is designed for public health practitioners with at least two years of professional experience and it includes a public health practicum. The University of Maryland College Park has an online MPH program with two specialization options: Public Health Practice and Policy, and Behavioral and Community Health.

The College of Professional Studies at The George Washington University (GW) offers a Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Paralegal Studies program that can be completed entirely online or through a mix of campus-based and online classes. The program’s curriculum includes coursework in legal research and writing, administrative law, government contracts, and intellectual property law.

Residents of Washington DC may also want to explore the online master’s programs in legal studies offered by Drexel University and West Virginia University (WVU). Drexel University, a private research university located in Philadelphia, PA, offers an online Master of Legal Studies (MLS) program with concentrations in: Criminal Law; Cybersecurity and Information Privacy Compliance; Entrepreneurship and Law; Financial Regulatory Compliance; Healthcare Compliance; Higher Education Compliance; Human Resources Compliance; and NCAA Compliance and Sports Law. WVU’s online MLS program has three concentrations: Healthcare; Justice Systems; and Homeland Security. The WVU program does not require applicants to have prior work experience, but it is designed for professionals working in law enforcement, regulatory agencies, national security, social work, juvenile justice, and other fields that can require the application of legal knowledge.

Online Masters’ in Accounting and Taxation Programs in Washington DC

There are currently no accredited, non-profit schools in Washington DC that offer an online master’s in accounting program. However, George Mason University (GMU) in nearby Fairfax, VA, offers a fully online Master of Science in Accounting (MSA) program, and DC residents are eligible to apply to the online master’s in accounting programs offered by Seton Hall University, which is located in South Orange, NJ, and the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania.

The GMU online MSA program features part-time enrollment and can be completed in roughly two years. It is comprised of five core accounting courses and five electives in topics like non-profit accounting, taxation, and financial fraud investigations. Seton Hall’s online Master of Science (MS) in Accounting program is offered through the Stillman School of Business and requires the completion of nine courses, which can be done in 18 months. The University of Scranton offers an online Master of Accountancy (MAcc) program that is designed for students who have a bachelor’s degree in accounting, but that features an accounting bridge program that can prepare non-accounting majors for the master’s-level curriculum.

Note: While many online master’s in accounting programs are designed to prepare students to sit for the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensure exam, formal licensure requirements vary by state and by jurisdiction. Washington DC residents who are considering an online master’s in accounting program and who aim to apply for CPA licensure should research Washington DC’s licensing requirements prior to applying to online programs offered by schools located outside of Washington DC.

Online Master’s in Finance Programs in Washington DC

The George Washington University (GW) offers an online Master of Science in Finance (MSF) program through its McDonough School of Business. It is currently the only accredited, non-profit university in Washington DC that has a fully online master’s in finance program. The GW online MSF program begins with a two-day, on-campus orientation session in the summer and includes a one-week campus residency during the first year of the program. In addition, students in the program participate in a Global Consulting project that involves traveling abroad to examine the political and regulatory environment of a company operating in another country. The program has a 36-credit full-time track, and a 32-credit part-time track.

Johns Hopkins University (JHU) in nearby Baltimore, MD, is one of the schools outside of Washington DC that offers an online master’s in finance program. JHU’s Master of Science (MS) in Finance program is offered in a part-time, online format through the Carey School of Business and features one on-site residency that lasts for two-and-a-half days. Washington DC residents may also want to explore the online MS in Finance offered by the University of Scranton, a private research university located in Scranton, PA. The Scranton program is 100% online and does not require campus visits. The program can be completed in as few as 12 months by full-time students but allows for part-time enrollment.

Online Master’s in Human Resource Management (HRM) Programs in Washington DC

Georgetown University and American University are two schools in Washington DC that offer online master’s programs in human resource management. Georgetown University has a Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Human Resource Management (HRM) program that allows students to take classes online or on campus. The program has two core courses and three foundation courses, after which students choose six electives in one or more of several concentrations, including: Strategic Human Capital Development; Foundational Human Resource Management; International Human Resource Management; Human Resource/Organizational Development; and Diversity and Inclusion Management. The online program offered by American University is a Master of Science (MS) in Human Resource Analytics and Management. The program’s curriculum focuses on data-driven decision making in the field of human resources, human resource information systems, and traditional management skills.

Among the online master’s in human resources offered by accredited, non-profit schools outside of Washington DC are two program residents of Washington DC may want to explore. The University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) has an online MS in Management program with a HRM specialization. The program features three core management courses, seven courses that focus on human resource management skills, and a capstone project. The University of Scranton has an online MS in HRM program that can be completed in two years but that allows students up to six years to graduate. The program is 100% online and does not require any campus visits.

Online Master’s in Computer Science Programs in Washington DC

Washington DC residents who are interested in pursuing a master’s degree in computer science may want to explore two programs offered by Johns Hopkins University (JHU) in the nearby city of Baltimore, MD. The Whiting School of Engineering at JHU has an Engineering for Professionals program through which students can earn a Master of Science (MS) in Computer Science degree online. The online MS in Computer Science program consists of ten courses that must be completed within five years of starting the program. Students in the program can choose from ten designated tracks: Bioinformatics; Cybersecurity; Data Communications and Networking; Data Science and Cloud Computing; Database Systems and Knowledge Management; Enterprise and Web Computing; Human-Computer Interaction and Visualization; Software Engineering; Systems; and Theory. JHU also offers an online MS in Information Systems Engineering program that has eight designated tracks: Cybersecurity; Data Engineering; Enterprise and Web Computing; Human-Computer Interaction; Information Management; Network Engineering; Software Engineering; and Systems Engineering. Both programs require a strong technical background and prior undergraduate coursework in mathematics and computer science.

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) in Blacksburg, VA, offers a fully online Master of Information Technology that may be of interest to Washington DC residents who are considering a master’s in computer science program. The Virginia Tech program is offered jointly by the school’s Pamplin College of Business and College of Engineering. It features courses in business intelligence systems, data science, cybersecurity, healthcare IT systems, and software development and engineering.

Online Master’s in Social Work (MSW) Programs in Washington DC

Currently, the only accredited, non-profit university in Washington DC offering an online Master of Social Work (MSW) program is The Catholic University of America. The online MSW program offered by the Catholic University of America has a clinical practice curriculum that can prepare graduates for eventual licensure in clinical social work and advanced generalist coursework that covers relevant topics in community/macro practice social work. The program can be completed in ten semesters (3.5 years) by students who enroll in two courses per semester, which includes four semesters during which students engage in on-site field education.

In addition to the online MSW program offered by The Catholic University of America, Washington DC residents may want to explore programs offered by Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and Salisbury University. VCU is located in the Virginia state capital city of Richmond. The School of Social Work at VCU has an online MSW program with a clinical practice curriculum and full-time (two-year) and part-time (four-year) enrollment options. Students in the program complete two field education practicums. Salisbury University in Maryland offers an MSW program that can be completed online or through a mix of online and campus-based classes. The program has an advanced direct-practice curriculum that prepares students for work in the field of clinical social work.

Note: There are two factors that potential applicants to online MSW programs should consider prior to submitting an application to a program located outside of Washington DC. The first concerns field education placements. Online MSW programs typically require a minimum of 900 field education hours that must be completed in person at a site approved by the program. Potential applicants should contact a program administrator about potential field education sites prior to submitting their application. Washington DC residents who intend to apply for licensure in clinical social work should also be aware that licensure requirements vary by jurisdiction and by state. It is therefore advisable to research licensing requirements carefully to ensure that an online program offered by a school located outside of Washington DC provides sufficient training for licensure in Washington DC.