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Cheapest Online Master’s Degrees

Earning a master’s degree can be a great way to advance your career, but it can also be expensive.

Cheapest online master's degree prgorams image of open book with a grad hat above it.

Fortunately, there are many affordable online master’s programs available that can help you save money while you study.

These programs are becoming increasingly popular, with more and more students choosing to pursue their degrees online.

In this article, we will explore some of the most affordable online master’s programs available.

We will also provide tips for finding the right program for you, discuss the cost of an online master’s degree, and answer some frequently asked questions about these programs.

Key Takeaways

  • Affordable online master’s programs are a convenient way to save money while studying.
  • There are many affordable online master’s programs available in various fields.
  • It is important to research and compare programs to find the right one for you.

Overview

RankingSchool Name
#1California State University-Dominguez Hills – Carson, CA
#2Texas A&M International University – Laredo, TX
#3University of North Florida – Jacksonville, FL
#4San Diego State University – San Diego, CA
#5The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley – Edinburg, TX
#6University of Florida – Gainesville, FL
#7Stanford University – Stanford, CA
#8John Hopkins University – Baltimore, MD
#9Georgetown University – Washington, DC
#10Duke University – Durham, NC

Cheapest Online Master’s Degrees Rankings

The most affordable accredited online master’s degree programs are listed below, based on in-state tuition.

The rankings were determined by NextGraduate and include a mix of public and private institutions.

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and California State University-Dominguez Hills are the two most affordable options, with in-state tuition under $8,000.

Stanford University and Duke University are also included in the rankings, but their in-state tuition is significantly higher than the other schools listed.

The University of Florida and San Diego State University are both public schools with in-state tuition under $11,000.

It is important to note that acceptance rates vary widely among the schools listed.

For example, Stanford University has an acceptance rate of only 4%, while the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley has an acceptance rate of 94%.

Overall, these rankings provide a starting point for students seeking affordable online master’s degree programs.

However, students should also consider factors such as program offerings, faculty credentials, and student support services when selecting a school.

Most Affordable Accredited Online Master’s Programs

1. California State University-Dominguez Hills – Carson, CA

  • Cost per Credit: $321-$600
  • Credits to Graduate: 30-36
  • Average Undergrad Tuition (In-State/Out-of-State): $5,742/$17,622
  • Average Graduate Tuition (In-State/Out-of-State): $7,176/$16,680
  • Retention Rate: 70%
  • Acceptance Rate: 90%
  • Students Enrolled: 17,837
  • Institution Type: Public
  • Percent Online Enrollment: 94%
  • Accreditation: Yes
  • California State University, Dominguez Hills offers a variety of online master’s programs designed for professionals in nursing, business, quality assurance, and more. With tuition rates the same for all students, CSUDH makes advanced education more accessible, supported by private merit scholarships.

2. Texas A&M International University – Laredo, TX

  • Cost per Credit: In-State | $367, Out-of-State | $1,030
  • Credits to Graduate: 30-36
  • Average Undergrad Tuition (In-State/Out-of-State): $3,818/$13,610
  • Average Graduate Tuition (In-State/Out-of-State): $3,350/$10,694
  • Retention Rate: 74%
  • Acceptance Rate: 54%
  • Students Enrolled: 8,455
  • Institution Type: Public
  • Percent Online Enrollment: 62%
  • Accreditation: Yes
  • Texas A&M International University provides online master’s degrees in fields like business, criminal justice, and education, with specialization options in bilingual education. The university offers numerous scholarship opportunities through the TAIMU Fund$Finder.

3. University of North Florida – Jacksonville, FL

  • Cost per Credit: In-State | $524, Out-of-State | $1,074
  • Credits to Graduate: 30-45
  • Average Undergrad Tuition (In-State/Out-of-State): $3,996/$16,799
  • Average Graduate Tuition (In-State/Out-of-State): $8,570/$19,585
  • Retention Rate: 79%
  • Acceptance Rate: 77%
  • Students Enrolled: 16,594
  • Institution Type: Public
  • Percent Online Enrollment: 77%
  • Accreditation: Yes
  • The University of North Florida offers an online master’s in American Sign Language, among other education degrees. Financial assistance is available through the Graduate Student Award for students demonstrating need on their FAFSA.

4. San Diego State University – San Diego, CA

  • Cost per Credit: $543-$1,100
  • Credits to Graduate: 24-51
  • Average Undergrad Tuition (In-State/Out-of-State): $5,742/$17,622
  • Average Graduate Tuition (In-State/Out-of-State): $7,176/$16,680
  • Retention Rate: 90%
  • Acceptance Rate: 38%
  • Students Enrolled: 36,484
  • Institution Type: Public
  • Percent Online Enrollment: 64%
  • Accreditation: Yes
  • SDSU Global Campus provides online and hybrid master’s programs in fields like computer science and public health. The university supports its students with over 700 scholarship opportunities accessible through a single application.

5. The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley – Edinburg, TX

  • Cost per Credit: In-State | $741, Out-of-State | $1,161
  • Credits to Graduate: 36
  • Average Undergrad Tuition (In-State/Out-of-State): $7,857/$17,649
  • Average Graduate Tuition (In-State/Out-of-State): $7,002/$14,346
  • Retention Rate: 72%
  • Acceptance Rate: 94%
  • Students Enrolled: 31,940
  • Institution Type: Public
  • Percent Online Enrollment: 78%
  • Accreditation: Yes
  • UTRGV offers a diverse array of online master’s degrees with specialization options in health science and kinesiology. Accelerated programs allow for quicker completion, and Texas residents may qualify for financial grants.

6. University of Florida – Gainesville, FL

  • Cost per Year: In-State | $12,740, Out-of-State | $30,134
  • Credits to Graduate: 30-36
  • Average Undergrad Tuition (In-State/Out-of-State): $4,477/$25,694
  • Average Graduate Tuition (In-State/Out-of-State): $10,770/$27,335
  • Retention Rate: 97%
  • Acceptance Rate: 30%
  • Students Enrolled: 55,781
  • Institution Type: Public
  • Percent Online Enrollment: 57%
  • Accreditation: Yes
  • The University of Florida features online master’s programs in engineering and biostatistics, among others. While many scholarships are reserved for Florida residents, federal grants and competitive student loans are available for out-of-state students.

7. Stanford University – Stanford, CA

  • Cost per Credit: $1,456
  • Credits to Graduate: 45
  • Average Undergrad Tuition (In-State/Out-of-State): $55,473
  • Average Graduate Tuition (In-State/Out-of-State): $54,315
  • Retention Rate: 98%
  • Acceptance Rate: 4%
  • Students Enrolled: 17,680
  • Institution Type: Private
  • Percent Online Enrollment: 5%
  • Accreditation: Yes
  • Stanford University offers online master’s degrees in engineering and computer science fields. The university provides extensive financial aid support, including institutional loans based on need.

8. John Hopkins University – Baltimore, MD

  • Cost per Credit: $1,120-$1,737
  • Credits to Graduate: 30-60
  • Average Undergrad Tuition (In-State/Out-of-State): $58,720
  • Average Graduate Tuition (In-State/Out-of-State): $58,720
  • Retention Rate: 96%
  • Acceptance Rate: 8%
  • Students Enrolled: 32,049
  • Institution Type: Private
  • Percent Online Enrollment: 80%
  • Accreditation: Yes
  • Johns Hopkins University provides nearly 30 online master’s programs, including niche fields like museum studies. Financial aid is available through Hopkins Scholarships and merit-based awards.

9. Georgetown University – Washington, DC

  • Cost per Credit: $1,573
  • Credits to Graduate: 30-36
  • Average Undergrad Tuition (In-State/Out-of-State): $59,784
  • Average Graduate Tuition (In-State/Out-of-State): $54,672
  • Retention Rate: 98%
  • Acceptance Rate: 12%
  • Students Enrolled: 20,935
  • Institution Type: Private
  • Percent Online Enrollment: 38%
  • Accreditation: Yes
  • Georgetown University offers 13 online master’s programs through its School of Continuing Studies, covering areas like marketing and project management. Merit-based scholarships and stipends are available to support students.

10. Duke University – Durham, NC

  • Cost per Semester: $31,310
  • Credits to Graduate: 30-48
  • Average Undergrad Tuition (In-State/Out-of-State): $58,085
  • Average Graduate Tuition (In-State/Out-of-State): $57,900
  • Retention Rate: 98%
  • Acceptance Rate: 6%
  • Students Enrolled: 17,620
  • Institution Type: Private
  • Percent Online Enrollment: 24%
  • Accreditation: Yes
  • Duke University’s online offerings include master’s in engineering and nursing, with financial aid options like the DUSON Merit Scholarship for nursing students, emphasizing the university’s commitment to supporting its online learners financially.

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Finding an Online Master’s Degree That’s Right for You

When considering an online master’s degree program, it’s important to take into account several factors that will impact your education and career.

Accreditation

Accreditation is an important factor to consider when choosing an online Master’s degree program.

Regional accreditation is the most widely recognized and respected type of accreditation, as it ensures that the institution meets or exceeds the highest educational standards in their area.

Accreditation is required for federal financial aid, licensing, and credit transfer.

Programmatic accreditation may also be required for licensure in certain fields, such as nursing or teaching.

It’s important to note that some for-profit schools may have national accreditation, which may not be recognized by all institutions and may not allow for credit transfer. Students should always research the accreditation of any institution before enrolling.

Types of Online Master’s Degree Programs

Online learning has revolutionized higher education, and there are now a wide variety of affordable online master’s programs available.

Some of the most common types of online master’s degree programs include:

  • Business Administration
  • Education
  • Nursing
  • Computer Science
  • Psychology
  • Criminal Justice

Each program has its own unique curriculum and requirements, so it’s important to research each program carefully to ensure it aligns with your career goals and interests.

What Is the Cost of an Online Master’s Degree?

Online master’s programs can be a cost-effective alternative to traditional in-person programs.

However, students still need to consider the cost of tuition, fees, and other expenses.

This section will explore the cost of an online master’s degree, how to fund it, and how affordable it is.

Funding Your Online Master’s Program

Even the most affordable online master’s programs require financial aid to fund education.

There are several types of financial aid available to students, including loans, scholarships and grants, fellowships, and work-study programs.

Loans are a popular option for students who need assistance in funding their education.

Federal financial aid packages or banking institutions offer college loans. Students who demonstrate financial need or strong financial responsibility may qualify for loans with minimal or no interest rates.

Scholarships and grants are financial aid options that recognize students with financial need and academic excellence.

These financial rewards do not require repayment, and they can be renewable.

Fellowship programs offer graduate students a stipend in return for work or research.

Fellowships provide high-achieving learners with professional development, funding, and possible career opportunities.

Federal work-study jobs offer funding in return for part-time work on or nearby the campus.

Most positions allow students to work around their study schedules. These assignments typically go to learners who demonstrate financial need.

How Affordable Is an Online Master’s Degree?

The cost of an online master’s degree program varies depending on the type of master’s degree and the institution.

However, online master’s students can save money on living expenses and transportation costs.

As an online master’s student, you can keep a job while you study because of the flexible nature of online classes.

Is Getting an Online Master’s Degree Worth It?

When considering pursuing a master’s degree, it is important to evaluate whether the investment is worth it.

While the decision is ultimately personal, several factors can help determine the value of an affordable online master’s degree.

An online master’s degree can lead to more lucrative jobs and better advancement opportunities, but it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of online and on-campus programs.

Program Length

Most affordable online master’s programs take between 1-2 years to complete.

However, online programs often offer scheduling options that can make them more accessible for some learners.

Accelerated degrees allow students to enter the workforce more quickly, while asynchronous and part-time schedules allow students to work while studying.

Cost

The cost of an online master’s program can be measured by calculating return on investment (ROI).

Sacrificing less money for the same degree that boosts earnings after graduation can lead to a greater ROI.

It’s important to consider the total cost of the program, including tuition, fees, and other expenses.

Future Earning Potential

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average master’s degree holder in 2022 made over $200 more per week compared to someone with only a bachelor’s degree.

Depending on the field, the “master’s increase” can be even higher.

While the job market can be competitive, having a master’s degree can increase salary potential and provide a competitive edge.

Which Master’s Degrees Are Most In Demand?

Here are some of the most in-demand master’s degree fields that can lead to a promising career:

Nurse Practitioner

Nurse practitioners are in high demand due to an aging population and an increasing scope of practice in healthcare settings.

They provide primary, advanced, and specialized patient care.

A master’s degree in this discipline covers assessments, diagnostics, and treatment plans and may focus on specific demographics.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics , the total number of master’s degrees in nursing conferred increased by 7% between 2010–11 and 2020–21.

The median annual salary for nurse practitioners is $125,900 with a projected job growth of 38% increase from 2022-2032 .

Information Security Analyst

As cyberattacks continue to increase in frequency and intelligence, the demand for information security analysts will also increase.

Information security analysts help organizations protect their data and computer systems from a growing number of cyber threats.

Master’s degrees in cybersecurity delve into advanced threat analysis, prevention, and protection software design.

The median annual salary for information security analysts is $112,000 with a projected job growth of 32% increase from 2022-2032 .

Mathematician and Statistician

Mathematicians and statisticians use their expertise to support and solve problems for various organizations and industries.

At the graduate level, mathematics programs may focus on different types of modeling, analyses, and research groups, such as financial and discrete mathematics.

The median annual salary for mathematicians and statisticians is $99,960 with a projected job growth of 30% increase from 2022-2032 .

Physician Assistant

Physician assistants support healthcare teams by providing patient examinations and completing minor procedures.

Master’s programs in this discipline feature advanced research and medicine training in various departments and specialties, plus extensive clinical rotations.

The median annual salary for physician assistants is $126,010 with a projected job growth of 27% increase from 2022-2032 .

Speech-Language Pathologist

Speech-language pathologists help people manage, overcome, and prevent various communication disorders.

In speech-language pathology master’s programs, students engage in advanced research in speech science and clinical applications of developmental and acquired language disorders.

The increased demand results from increasing health conditions that lead to communication issues and better detection and treatment methods.

The median annual salary for speech-language pathologists is $84,140 with a projected job growth of 19% increase from 2022-2032 .

Frequently Asked Questions About Affordable Online Master’s Programs

When considering pursuing an online master’s degree, there are several questions that come to mind. Here are some frequently asked questions to help guide you in your decision-making process:

What Makes an Online Master’s Program Affordable?

The cost of an online master’s program can vary greatly depending on several factors.

These factors include whether the program is offered by a public or private school, whether you qualify for in-state tuition, and the availability of scholarships and other forms of financial aid.

Generally, attending a state school where you qualify for in-state tuition will be one of the most affordable options.

However, it’s important to research all available options as many schools offer tuition reductions for groups like veterans, scholarship opportunities, and more.

Which Online Master’s Programs Are Easiest to Get Into?

The ease of acceptance into an online master’s program will depend on your academic record and personal strengths and weaknesses.

Look out for online master’s programs that offer rolling admissions, multiple start dates, and no-GRE admissions, as these may be easier to apply for and be accepted to.

How Can You Fund Your Online Master’s Program?

There are several ways to fund your online master’s program.

Saving money towards your tuition can be helpful, as can applying for scholarships and other forms of financial aid.

Filling out your FAFSA can help determine if you qualify for any government-subsidized loans or grants.

Additionally, some schools offer tuition waivers for county residents or students in specific disciplines who demonstrate critical financial need.

Are There Tuition-Free Online Master’s Programs?

Yes, some schools across the country offer tuition-free master’s programs.

These programs typically require work or military service in return for tuition waivers.

Additionally, some schools may offer tuition waivers for county residents or students in specific disciplines who demonstrate critical financial need.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Accredited Institutions Offer the Most Affordable Online Master’s Degrees?

Many accredited institutions offer affordable online master’s degree programs.

Some of the institutions that offer the most affordable online master’s degrees include Western Governors University, Fort Hays State University, and Georgia Southwestern State University.

According to Forbes, these institutions have been ranked based on their affordability, academic quality, and flexibility.

What Are the Most Cost-Effective Online Master’s Degree Programs for International Students?

International students looking for cost-effective online master’s degree programs can consider institutions such as the University of the People, Walden University, and Southern New Hampshire University.

These institutions offer affordable online master’s degree programs that are designed to cater to the needs of international students.

How Can I Find a Reputable yet Affordable Online Master’s Program in Human Resources?

Students looking to find a reputable yet affordable online master’s program in human resources can consider institutions such as Capella University, Colorado State University, and Liberty University.

These institutions offer online master’s degree programs in human resources that are both reputable and affordable.

Are There Any Online Master’s Degrees That Can Be Completed in Under a Year?

Yes, there are online master’s degree programs that can be completed in under a year.

However, it is important to note that most online master’s degree programs take between 1-2 years to complete.

Some of the institutions that offer online master’s degree programs that can be completed in under a year include Southern New Hampshire University, Capella University, and Liberty University.

What Are the Benefits of Pursuing an Online Master’s Degree Compared to Traditional On-Campus Programs?

There are several benefits to pursuing an online master’s degree compared to traditional on-campus programs.

Online master’s degree programs offer flexibility, convenience, and affordability.

Students can study from anywhere, at any time, and at their own pace.

Online master’s degree programs are also more affordable than traditional on-campus programs, as they do not require students to pay for housing, transportation, or other related expenses.

How Do Out-of-State Tuition Costs Affect the Affordability of Online Master’s Programs?

Out-of-state tuition costs can affect the affordability of online master’s degree programs. Many institutions offer online master’s degree programs at the same tuition rate for both in-state and out-of-state students. Some institutions also offer waivers or discounts for out-of-state students to help make their programs more affordable.

Students should research and compare the tuition rates of different institutions to find the most affordable option.

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