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The Best Online Degrees of 2021

5 minute read

By Andrew Silver

It has never been easier to advance your career from the comfort of your own home. Pursuing an online degree grants you the flexibility to study where, when, and how you want. They’re often more affordable than their in-person counterparts too.

The career options for online students have certainly grown exponentially, which presents a whole different problem: picking one. Today, we’re going to break down some broad strokes options to help get you on the path to a shiny new career.

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If the idea of crunching numbers for a living doesn’t make you sweat through your button-up, perhaps an online accounting degree is in your future. Accounting jobs are expected to grow indefinitely. Even better, the median pay for these jobs is $75,1550 annually.1

More than that, all businesses and industries require accountants, creating plenty of job security and movement potential. Accountants also always have the option to start their own business or go back to school to become a Certified Professional Accountant.2


One of the most challenging parts of picking an online degree is battling the feeling of closing yourself off to other opportunities. You can avoid all of that with a business degree. After all, few degrees are as versatile and practical. Holders of a business degree have gone on to be sales managers, marketing managers, accountants, and even human resources managers.

All those occupations earn a median annual salary of $69,820, which is just under double the median annual salary of $39,810. Better yet, employment in the applicable areas is expected to grow five percent from 2019 to 2029, faster than the national average.3

Criminal Justice

Are you looking to channel your passion for true-crime docs into something a little more productive? Obviously, your passion for criminal justice should be more serious than the occasional binge session. Then again, a median wage of $54,290 makes things serious.4

If you’re hoping to pursue a career as a police officer, a criminal justice degree can help your application stand out. But more than that, a career in criminal justice can also put you on the career path of a probation officer, legal assistant, and more. All are careers that are positioned to grow five percent over the coming decade.5


An alternative entry point to the legal field is opting for a career as a paralegal. Paralegals get to live and breathe the law, often specializing in a field that interests them the most. From bankruptcy law to family law to criminal law, there are plenty of career paths for a paralegal.

The law isn’t for everyone. However, if it’s for you, you’ll be happy to know that paralegals earned a median annual salary of $51,740 in 2019. Even better, the field is expected to grow 10 percent over the next decade.6


You may not have considered a cybersecurity degree before today but know that it’s a sure-fire way to increase your earning potential, job security, and career mobility exponentially.

Don’t believe it? Consider then that the global economy is set to create 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs internationally by 2021.7 Add to that the fast-growing earning potential of cybersecurity professionals and you’re left with no other option than to seriously consider this career path.8

Data Science

Data science is where math, science, programming, and statistics converge. Business, entertainment, technology, and commerce depend on data more and more with each passing day, so it’s no surprise that the demand for data scientists is also growing fast.9

The life of a data scientist is so good in fact that workplace data aggregator Glassdoor lists it as number two on their current list of Best 50 Jobs in America. You’d have to imagine that a median base salary of $113,736 has something to do with that.10

Healthcare Administration

An online degree in healthcare administration can often lead to a fulfilling career as a meaningful contributor to the operations of local hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and care facilities.

Healthcare administration is perfect for those with an affinity for the healthcare industry, but without the willingness to train for a medical practice of their own. Healthcare administrators typically manage the day-to-day operations, ensuring maximum efficiency.

For instance, medical and health services managers boast a median salary of $100,980 a year. Moreover, the projected job growth rate of a whopping 32 percent through to 2029.11


It sure can seem like nursing is a paint-by-numbers path. The truth of the matter is that a nursing degree opens the door to a variety of different applications within the healthcare field.

Attaining an online nursing degree can steer your life towards many different careers. This can include careers as a:

Your earning potential is dependant on your career path. For instance, the median pay for nurse anesthetists, midwives, and practitioners is $115,800 per year. Plus, they enjoy the benefits of a projected 45 percent growth rate from now to 2029.13


Although a successful career in psychology can sometimes feel like a far-off aspiration, completing an online degree is quite often rewarded.

Psychiatric technicians and aides, therapists, and psychologists make up a large landing pad for would-be graduates. Better yet, psychologists can expect a median annual salary of $80,370.14

When it comes down to it, a life dedicated to the psychological field is often fueled by a deep-seated passion for helping people. So, if you have that, you’re already halfway there.


Teaching is a lifestyle. To become one, you must love children as much as you love summers off. Becoming one also requires a fair bit of training. Thankfully, there are quite a few online degrees for you to choose from.

From high school to elementary school, teaching jobs are in high demand. Due to the demand, these teachers earn a median pay of $61,66015 and $59,42016 per year, respectively.

Where to Start

There are so many things to consider when diving into the online learning pool. Where do you want to live? How much do you want to make? What are you passionate about?

You may or may not have answers to all those questions, but rest assured you are on the right path. After all, you’re spending your leisure time planning your future — and that’s where everyone starts.

It’s important to note that a degree will not manifest itself into a fulfilling career all on its own. You have to do that using a combination of hard work and networking.

Andrew Silver