Why This Matters

  • EARN $30,000 MORE PER YEAR WITH A MASTER’S

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average median wage for individuals with a bachelor’s degree is $37,690. Meanwhile, those with a master’s degree earn nearly twice as much, with a median annual wage of $68,090.

  • 33% OF EMPLOYERS REQUIRE ADVANCED DEGREES

    As the overall level of education rises, employers in multiple industries are increasingly seeking employees who have master’s degrees for entry-level and mid-career positions, according to reports from Careerbuilder.com.

  • MASTER’S-LEVEL EMPLOYMENT TO INCREASE 17%

    Many jobs within such fast-growing fields as healthcare, education, and social services require a master’s degree, making it essential for workers in these areas to pursue advanced study in a convenient, cost-effective manner.

Our Research

For this list, we did not review programs based on subject. Instead, we took a look at schools’ overall graduate program offerings, and evaluated them on the basis of cost, quality, and deliver method.

We looked at the per-credit tuition rate for programs, as well as any other fees the school charges distance learners, to find the programs that are the best value.

Programs on this list may be delivered completely online, or as on-campus/online hybrid programs. Many programs offer students the flexibility to switch between on-campus and online classes depending on their needs and schedules.

All of the listed schools have regional accreditation, which assures quality in higher education.

We also evaluated the programs based on their reputation, outcomes, and faculty, and calculated the Intelligent Score of each on a scale from 0 to 100. Our top picks for the most affordable online master’s programs are respected, affordable, and customizable. (For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.)

  • 62 hours to write this article
  • 183 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 422 education programs we compared

The Top 50 Most Affordable Online Master’s Programs

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What You Should Know About This Degree

The cost of a master’s degree is a significant consideration for most students, especially if you are still paying student loans from an undergraduate degree. Many graduate programs charge tuition on a per-credit basis. When calculating tuition for an online master’s program, look at the number of credits a program requires as well as the tuition rate, to get a clear sense of what the overall program cost is.

If you have federal student loans from your undergraduate degree, and are planning on using additional federal loans to subsidize your master’s degree, be aware that the total amount of money you can borrow from the U.S. Department of Education is limited. Make sure you understand how your current student loan balance affects the amount of money you can borrow for grad school before selecting a program.

Online programs are attractive to working professionals because they allow you to keep your job while earning your degree. However, attending school online while working full- or part-time requires excellent time management, organizational, and self-motivation skills. Online students don’t have face-to-face interaction and accountability to keep them on track, so it is up to you to make time for schoolwork and stay on track with assignments. Distance learners must also be proficient with technology, and have reliable devices and Internet connections.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching Affordable Online Master’s Degrees programs:

  • Does the program have in-person requirements? Programs that deliver all coursework online may still have in-person requirements for internships, clinical residencies, or student teaching. Other programs may require travel to campus for orientations or residencies. These requirements can affect your budget by adding travel costs or limiting your ability to work, so make sure you factor this into your decision when selecting a program.
  • What support services does the school offer to distance learners? Online students require the same support as on-campus students, including tutoring, library access, tech support, and job placement. Many schools tailor these services to online students through video conference or live chats, or online access to library materials. Also, find out how your professors will be accessible to you.

Regardless of how affordable a program is, you should explore all of your options for financing your graduate degree, including student loans, scholarships, assistantships, grants, and tuition assistance benefits from your employer, if available. Your school should have financial aid counselors available to help you understand your options and submit applications.