What Are the Best Online Master’s Programs for Military Service Members and Veterans?

Whether you’re looking to advance your position in the military or transition to the civilian workforce, we’ve rounded up eight online master’s programs that will help you reach your career goals.

For military service members and veterans considering graduate school, it’s crucial to find a university that not only houses the proper programs to further career paths, but also has a strong community and network of military support.

USC has long had a special relationship with the United States military and veterans. In fact, during World War I and World War II, the campus even served as a military training school.

The rich history between the two organizations continues to this day with varied initiatives, such as dedicated on-campus housing for veterans, ROTC programs and a thriving Veterans Resource Center, among other actions.

Unsurprisingly, USC has become a leading institution for innovative military technologies, training, strategies and academics, including its online graduate programs.

Below, we’ve rounded up eight online master’s degrees for service members to either advance their careers in the Armed Forces or help them successfully transition to the civilian workforce.

Master of Science Criminal Justice

From USC Bovard College, the online Master of Science in Criminal Justice program can help those in the military move forward as commissioned officers or criminal investigators in the Air Force, Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.

The program focuses on guiding students as they work toward becoming true criminal justice leaders. Graduates don’t just learn about the theory of criminology — they also learn about policy design and new technologies in the field, as well as how to evaluate statistical data and research, and how to make ethical decisions.

Outside the military, potential careers include joining the police force, becoming a private investigator, entering the field of forensics and exploring the various sectors of the court system.

Master of Science in Geographic Information Science and Technology

For those who want to develop a true comprehension of spatial thinking and how it can be applied to the military and other industries, there is the online Master of Science in Geographic Information Science and Technology from USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

Students take both online courses and engage in hands-on experience, all in service of becoming better problem-solvers and understanding how spatial data impacts decision-making in the modern world. Graduates will also be trained in making these critical decisions, including creating response strategies for terrorist threats and natural disasters.

With three available tracks — Geospatial Information Management, Geospatial Programming and Software Development, and Geospatial Analytics — the program can lead to employment in the military as well as the business world and realm of academic research.

Master of Science in Human Security and Geospatial Intelligence

USC Dornsife also offers a Master of Science in Human Security and Geospatial Intelligence, which is perfect for anyone hoping to enter into or elevate their position in military contracting organizations, disaster relief and response organizations, government agencies and more.

Students learn both leadership and management skills and gain a better understanding of how political, social and environmental factors impact human security at both a local and global level.

The program is geared toward those interested in human security as well as those looking to propel their careers in military geospatial units, domestic and international humanitarian efforts, government agencies, military contracting organizations, and disaster relief and response organizations.

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Master of Social Work

Obtaining a Master of Social Work (MSW) may not immediately seem like the most natural next step for a military member, but the online program offered by the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work actually has a military track.

Social workers are a crucial part of the military: They offer services and support to active service members, veterans and military families alike who are dealing with emotional, financial and mental stress.

Students who become social workers through USC’s Military Social Work track may work in a variety of roles, including family counseling, mental health services, crisis intervention, resource navigation or advocacy for aging veterans.

It is an extremely fulfilling career choice for those looking to give back to the military community.

Master of Science in Computer Science

The USC Viterbi School of Engineering has been highlighted specifically by veterans: Its online program was ranked #2 for both the Best Online Graduate Engineering Program for Veterans and the Best Online Graduate Computer Science Programs for Veterans, according to U.S. News & World Report 2021.

Another exciting component of the Master of Science in Computer Science program is how customizable it is: Students can pick from a variety of concentrations, including Data Science, Software Engineering and Computer Security (as well as others that are only available on campus, such as Artificial Intelligence, Game Development and Intelligence Robotics).

An MS in Computer Sciences opens up doors to all sorts of fields: aerospace and defense, software design, bioinformatics, information technology and more.

Master of Science in Cyber Security Engineering

Also offered by USC Viterbi is the Master of Science in Cyber Security Engineering program, which is ideal for students who want to move forward with a career in information security or develop their computer network information skills.

The program, which can be completed on either a full-time and part-time schedule, teaches students how to navigate the challenges of secure operating systems, how to use cryptography and how to better understand the ways in which security policy drives technological decisions, among other skills.

Students are also given hands-on experience thanks to plenty of lab work, all to ensure they will be ready to tackle any situation that arises. Possible career options include jobs in Homeland Security, intelligence analysis, computer software engineering and more.

Master of Public Administration

The online Master of Public Administration (MPA) program from the USC Sol Price School Of Public Policy is a rewarding option for military-affiliated students hoping to enter the fields of politics and policy or progress their careers in the Armed Forces.

Online MPA students take courses in local government management, urban planning, public financial management and budgeting, and more with this highly flexible program, which prepares them for careers in all sorts of sectors, from nonprofits to the federal government.

With a curriculum designed for maximum flexibility, the program also includes two certificate options: City/County Management and Public Policy.

Master of Business Administration (MBA)

A Master of Business Administration (MBA) is one of the most tried-and-true degrees for those looking to excel in the world of business, teaching students how to become effective and skilled leaders.

While you can earn a top-rated online MBA through the USC Marshall School Of Business, there is also an on-campus MBA specifically designed for military veterans, active duty and reserve personnel.

In addition to providing formal business knowledge, this one-year program aims to build upon the leadership experience and management capabilities that service members previously developed throughout their time in the military.

Whether opting for the online experience or the specialized on-campus degree, military students will learn how to effectively launch and operate a business during their time in the program.

Learn more about USC’s online graduate programs today.