The Best Online Military Studies Programs
| TBS Staff
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As a distance learner, you can earn a military studies degree online to enter exciting positions both within the military and as a civilian. The military distinguishes between enlisted personnel and officers. About 82% of the armed forces are made up of enlisted personnel. The remaining 18% are military leaders, or officers, and hold specialized positions in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard. Officers typically need a degree in military studies to hold that rank.
Outside the military, civilians with a degree in military studies are often experts in military history, strategy, and intelligence. This specialized knowledge qualifies individuals to work as educators and consultants. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that positions in the military will remain stable through 2026. While the size of military branches changes with emerging conflicts and global events, the government maintains adequate personnel in the Reserve, Army National Guard, and Air National Guard.
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Online Military Studies Degree Program Ranking Guidelines
We selected the degree programs based on the quality of program and range of courses provided, as well as school awards, rankings, and reputation.
The motto of TheBestSchools.org is Finding the best school for you. Here is how we do it:
The value of any ranking list of schools and/or degree programs depends on having a methodologically sound assessment of each school’s/program’s characteristics, especially insofar as these can be objectively measured. A college or university is a complex entity, with numerous factors to consider, and distilling these down to the place where meaningful comparisons can be made to form a defensible ranking list becomes part science and part art.
To meet this challenge—and thereby provide you with the most useful and insightful educational rankings on the Internet — TheBestSchools.org formulates our rankings based on five informational categories (six, when considering online schools). The major metrics and qualities for which we rank are these (with expanded, detailed considerations and weights listed):
1. Academic excellence based on a school’s curriculum generally or within the selected discipline [weight = 25%]
- Weighs school against known leading schools in that discipline
- Weighs number of core curricula listed as advanced courses within that discipline and compares against introductory courses
- Weighs school’s curriculum against known knowledge needs of major employers in that discipline
- Considers number and types of specializations offered within that discipline
- Considers faculty expertise in that discipline
- Considers range of electives within that discipline
- Considers quality of online environment offered to students (if applicable), particularly within that discipline
2. Strength of faculty scholarship [weight = 25%]
- Considers education background of the faculty
- Considers years of faculty experience both inside and outside of academia.
- Considers faculty membership and leadership within relevant, prominent associations
- Considers academic papers published by faculty in relevant, prominent periodicals
- Considers awards and recognitions given to faculty members from prominent organizations and from other sources
3. Reputation [weight = 20%]
- Considers a school’s reputation among academic peers and employers regarding the following:
- “Freshness” of academic knowledge
- Adaptability to changes in employment sectors
- Suitability of graduates for the workplace
4. Financial aid [weight = 10%]
- Mandatory: Requires full accreditation from an agency endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education and listed on the federal register to accept student federal financial aid
- Considers range of school-sponsored financial aid such as scholarships and grants
5. Range of degree programs [weight = 20%]
- Considers range of degree levels: associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral and professional
- Considers range of degree subjects offered, such as art & design, computers & technology, education & teaching, criminal justice, and business
6. Strength of online instruction methodology (if applicable) [weight = 25%; subtract 5% from each of the above for online schools/programs]
Considers the following of the online classes:
- Types of online technology used to deliver content
- Pedagogy style: asynchronous, synchronous, or both (depending on the degree)
- Extent and quality of the online, community learning environment, including options for communication, interactivity, and collaboration between students and also between students and instructors
- Variety, breadth, and depth of coursework, and its support, including project options and online tutoring
Considers the following of instructors:
- Extent of training for teaching within an online learning environment
- Amount of timely, consistent feedback to students
- Extent of collaboration with prospective employers to ensure suitability of instructional materials for achieving desired skills
- Ratio to number of students in a class
- Number and quality of internships in a student’s geographical area for applicable degrees
Because students tend to review a variety of information when choosing a school, the weight a student gives any one criterion will vary. For instance, it’s not enough to offer a carefully constructed ranking of great schools if many are too expensive or too difficult to get into.
To better serve the needs of prospective students, we are therefore increasingly offering filters that help you better use our rankings to find the schools that match your specific needs. These supplement our ranking criteria and include:
- Public or private status
- Acceptance rate
- Retention rate
- Graduation rate
- ACT/SAT requirements
- Cost in-state / out of state
- Undergrad, grad, or both offered
Get the best rankings here AND get them to suit your personal needs. That’s TheBestSchools.org advantage!
If you have any questions about our ranking methodology, please contact us.
Citations: For a broader account of our ranking methodology, especially as it relates to TheBestSchools.org's underlying educational philosophy and, in other ranking articles, looks beyond academic excellence (as here) to such factors as return on investment or incidental benefit, see our article "Ranking Methodology: How We Rank Schools at TBS." Reputation of schools and degree programs can at least in part be gauged through the school or department's publishing activity, citations, and desirability. At TheBestSchools.org, we keep track of such social and peer validation: "Making Sense of College Rankings." For nuts-and-bolts information about colleges and universities, we look to the National Center for Education Statistics and especially its College Navigator. Insofar as salary and inflation data are relevant to a ranking, we look to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Finally, nothing beats contacting schools and degree programs directly, which our researchers often do, with the result that all the entries in this article should be considered as belonging to this citation!
The Best Online Military Studies Programs
The fully online degree requires 61 credits and features courses in military professionalism, American military history, military instructional methods, camp training, and military tactics and strategies. At least two courses acquaint learners with the intricacies of military leadership and customs, staff responsibilities, and the techniques of applied leadership. Students may use elective credits to complete an internship at a military organization, during which they acquire hands–on skills in real–world military contexts. Finally, once students complete LLC's AAS in military studies curriculum, they apply their learning through a capstone project.
Students taking six credits or fewer pay no out–of–state tuition. Admission to the military studies degree online requires a high school diploma or GED.
Rio Salado's AAS in military leadership admits members of the military who remain active, guard, reserve, or retired from the service. The 64–credit curriculum includes several general education courses and at least three in communication and public speaking. Additionally, students must choose six credits in military–specific courses approved by the American Council on Education and 18 credits for industry–specific courses approved by the department chair. Students may use CLEP and DANTES to satisfy some course requirements.
Students at Rio Salado College may complete their degrees faster by earning credits for prior learning. They receive academic support through advising, counseling services, and 24/7 online tutoring. Admission to the military studies degree online requires a high school diploma or GED.
The two–year degree requires 60 credits, with courses lasting eight weeks (six terms per year). Students fulfill their healthcare specialization requirements with credits earned for military experience in an allied health area. Active–duty military personnel must complete a minimum of 15 credits at the college. To graduate, all students in the military studies degree online must demonstrate at least 22 hours of community service.
Online learners at University of the Incarnate Word pay no out–of–state tuition. Undergraduate students and active–duty personnel receive free textbooks for the program. In addition to online tutoring, learners have access to comprehensive services such as individual and family counseling. Applicants must demonstrate three years of full–time employment and a minimum 2.5 GPA for admission.
The 120–credit degree considers world civilization, World War II military advances, and America’s rise as a global power. A notable course evaluates the impact of war on non–Western societies. In addition to the coursework, learners acquire skills in how to craft arguments that convince and persuade others. A capstone requires learners to complete a written research project that demonstrates mastery of the concepts and lessons learned.
SNHU notes that more than half of this program’s students are affiliated with the military. Once students complete the military studies degree online they pursue positions such as military analyst and civil affairs officer, and nonmilitary occupations such as researcher or museum curator.
Students at SNHU pay no out–of–state tuition and benefit from a generous transfer system of up to 90 credits for a bachelor’s degree. Furthermore, military–affiliated students and their spouses receive tuition discounts to help make learning affordable. Admission requires a minimum high school diploma and SAT or ACT scores; the school accepts transfer credits with a grade "C" or higher.
Choosing an Online Military Studies Program
The curriculum for military studies degrees online varies by school. General education requirements in military studies programs can be more flexible than other degrees. Distance learners in these programs have more say in the trajectory of their general requirements and often have the option of choosing one or two classes from a long list in areas such as languages, arts and humanities, civics, politics, social sciences, communication, history, mathematics, and natural sciences.
Additionally, students can choose a concentration to further tailor a degree to fit academic needs and career aspirations. Online military studies degrees that do not offer curriculum flexibility are not inferior programs. Some students may prefer to follow a structured curriculum.
Military history and science are the two most popular subfields available in military studies degrees online. Most schools with military studies programs offer one subfield. Distance learners explore conflicts and major events in online military history courses, including U.S. wars, weaponry, international relations, and U.S. government history. Students pursuing a military science degree online take classes in applied leadership, team development, decision–making, and other professional competencies.
Accredited Online Schools
What Else Can I Expect From an Online Military Studies Program?
From the core curriculum and electives to faculty members and online student resources, every school has something unique to offer distance learners. Concentrations, available courses, and other details vary between programs. In the guide below we provide details on concentrations, courses, and commonly pursued careers for students earning a military degree online.
Concentrations Offered for an Online Program in Military Studies
- Military Science
- Students in this concentration study military processes and behaviors as well as warfare and the application of organized strategies and coercive force. Learners explore personal development strategies, Army ethics, and learn to function on a team in stressful scenarios. In most cases, military science concentrations teach applied theory and methods to be used in military careers.
- Careers This Concentration Prepares For: Combat specialty officers, combat specialty personnel, administrative personnel, protective service personnel, support service personnel, transportation and material–handling personnel, and military intelligence specialist
- Military History
- A military history concentration explores the history of armed conflict in the U.S. and around the globe. Students learn about the impact of war and military action on societies, cultural production, the economy, and international governmental relationships. Most military history online degrees include courses on each major U.S. war.
- Careers This Concentration Prepares For: Military analyst, military intelligence specialist, historian, author, columnist, military history detachments, museum worker, tour guide, and educator
- Military Studies (with specialty focus)
- This concentration exists in programs with flexible curricula and significant course offerings. A specialty focus in human resources, media and public affairs, healthcare, engineering, science, or management will prepare you for numerous positions in the military. Some of these specialized careers require additional training or advanced degrees.
- Careers This Concentration Prepares For: Healthcare officer, managerial officer, engineering officer, media and public affairs officer, and administrative personnel
Curriculum for an Online Military Studies Program
- Leadership and Decision–Making
- Students learn professional ethics within the Army through training in leadership tactics with small units and personal development. Learners also assess risk in operational environments.
- This course leads you through effective planning of complex operations commonly encountered by Army officers. Students further develop written and oral communication skills and learn to lead troops in different scenarios.
- Causes of War
- Students learn about the basic historical and theoretical concepts involved in armed confrontation and international politics through cases studies and historical texts. Learners also consider historical patterns, religious influence, and natural resources in armed confrontations.
- Modern Security Issues
- Students learn different uses and interpretations of the concept of safety and security and explore conceptual debates and academic research on the topic. Learners investigate a range of contemporary issues, from nuclear threat to migration.
- American Military History
- Distance learners examine military history in the context of broader U.S. history. Students take written exams and give presentations on historical topics such as military strategies and global military interactions in the 20th century.
Accredited Online Schools
Careers with an Online Military Studies Degree
For military careers, a degree qualifies you for jobs as an officer, including support services officers and combat specialty officers. Civilians who earn a military studies degree online and do not work within the military are often experts in military history or intelligence, and hold positions as educators, writers, and consultants.
- Emergency Management Director
- Comparable to protective service officers in the military, emergency management directors prepare plans and procedures for surviving and responding to natural disasters and other emergencies. In the military, these individuals are responsible for the safety of personnel on bases and military vessels. In some cases, these professionals oversee the investigation of crimes with law enforcement and military security officers.
- Median Annual Salary: $72,760
- Projected Growth Rate: 8%
- Human Resource Managers
- These professionals coordinate an organization's workforce, serve as a consultant and advisor on workplace and staffing issues, mediate disputes, and enforce disciplinary procedures. In the military, human resource development officers carry out these duties.
- Median Annual Salary: $110,120
- Projected Growth Rate: 9%
- Archivists, Curators, and Museum Workers
- Museum workers assist curators with preserving and maintaining documents and objects. Individuals with specialized expert–level knowledge in areas such as military history are instrumental in creating exhibits, writing educational materials, and leading informational tours and talks at museums.
- Median Annual Salary: $47,360
- Projected Growth Rate: 13%
Source: Bureau of Labor StatisticsReturn to the top
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