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What Is The Cheapest Online Master’s Degree Program

By David Krug 18 minute read

You can propel your career forward with a master’s or doctoral degree. If you want a promotion, a raise in salary, or a promotion to management, a master’s degree in a relevant field can help you get there. That extra degree, on the other hand, requires a significant financial commitment.

To earn a graduate degree at one of the most expensive universities, students can easily spend $100,000 or more in tuition and fees over the course of the program.

Students can save a lot of money on an accredited degree from an accredited online school by comparing their options and finding one that offers a better deal. Where can you get a master’s degree at a reasonable price?

Learn more about the most affordable online master’s degree programs by checking out our list. They are all regionally accredited, which means they meet the high standards required by their respective accrediting agency. In addition, these schools offer an excellent education at an affordable price. If your school is accredited, you can rest assured that you’re getting a real education and not just a piece of paper.

1. The University of Graceland

On this list, the most affordable college might be especially appealing if your academic interests are in education. Online Master’s Degree Programs at Graceland University:

  • Curriculum and Instruction Master of Education
  • Distinctive Instruction Master’s Degree
  • Literacy Instruction Master’s Degree
  • Master’s degree in Quality Management for the Classroom.
  • In mild/moderate special education, a Master of Education is required.
  • M.Ed. in Technology-Integrated Education
  • A master’s degree in educational administration
  • Advanced Nursing Practice (ANP) to MSN
  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • A PhD in religious studies

It is clear that most of the school’s graduate programs are in education, but the small private institution also offers degrees in nursing and in religion. According to US News and World Report, Graceland University is ranked fifth among the nation’s best online graduate programs.

The Master of Arts in Religion program costs just $240 per semester hour, whereas online graduate programs in education can cost up to $450 per semester.

$4,320 for a year of full-time study costs $240 per semester hour. Higher Learning Commission of North Central Association of Colleges and Schools regional accreditation.

2. The second university is Winston-Salem State.

Master’s degree programs in Rehabilitation Counseling and Advanced Nurse Educator (ANE) Concentration in Nursing Science are available entirely online through Winston-Salem State University. U.S. News & World Report has ranked the school highly, giving it the following accolades:

  • Top Public Schools: Tied for 25th place
  • Regional Universities ranked 60th out of all.
  • In the top-fifty-eight percent of all graduate programs in rehabilitation counseling
  • Graduate Occupational Therapy programs ranked 100th out of all.

Despite the fact that these are distance learning programs, students from within and outside of the state pay different amounts. In-state students pay about $255.93 per credit, while out-of-state students pay about $695.10 per credit for the fully online Master of Science in Nurse Practitioner/Occupational Therapy programs.

This is still a good deal when you consider that nurse practitioner programs cost on average between $35,000 and $60,000, according to U.S. News & World Report.

In-state tuition is $256 per credit, or $4,608 for a year of full-time study at the university.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

3. The University of the West Indies

An online student at Western Governors University can expect to receive a fair amount of support from the school. In addition to an online library, the school provides online communities, including mentors, to help students get the most out of their academic experience.

Western Governors University doesn’t charge by the course, but by the term. Only $2,890 per term is charged for graduate teaching and information technology (IT) programs. Master of Science in Nursing and graduate-level business programs cost a reasonable $3,250 per semester.

Because of its competency-based units, the school is a great option for experienced professionals, especially, because it gives students credit for the knowledge they already possess.

Cost: $2,890 for each term, or $5,780 for a full-time academic year.

The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) is a regional accrediting agency.

4. The University of Capella

Capella University has a graduate degree program to fit your needs, whether you’re interested in business, public service, healthcare, or education. The school offers more than 70 master’s degree programs for current and aspiring nurses, teachers, mental health providers, businesspeople, technology specialists, and other professionals in a wide range of disciplines. Capella University’s MBA programs alone offer a dozen distinct degree paths, allowing you to concentrate on the business and technology aspects that are most important to you.

You won’t feel out of place at a school that caters to undergrads if you attend Capella. By not having to repeat what you already know, you save both time and money. Capella’s competency-based courses allow experienced professionals to receive credit for the knowledge and skills they already possess.

Although some programs are more affordable than others, with the cost per credit ranging from $387 to $737, even the most expensive program works out to a very reasonable $13,266 for the year of full-time study.

5. A.T. Still College

If you plan to pursue a career in healthcare, why not consider attending a school that specializes in that field? In addition to being the first osteopathic medical school in the world, A.T. Still University offers a number of online master’s degree programs in the health sciences, including:

  • Accomplished Medical Assistant (APA)
  • Healthcare Administration Master’s Degree (MHA)
  • Master’s degree in Public Health (MPH)
  • Dental Public Health Master’s Degree (MPH-DE)
  • An M.S. in Kinesiology.
  • In school health education, a master’s degree
  • An occupational therapist (AMOT)

The school’s Mesa, Arizona, campus was ranked by U.S. News & World Report as the 40th best graduate school program for physician assistants and the 116th best graduate school program for occupational therapy.

As of the 2014-2015 school year, the Advanced Physician Assistant graduate program was the cheapest at $390 per credit. It costs $495 per credit for the Occupational Therapy master’s program.

A full year of full-time study will cost $7,020, or $390 per credit.

Higher Learning Commission of North Central Association of Colleges and Schools regional accreditation.

6. National College of Health Sciences

Master’s degree programs at National University range from teaching to engineering to business to the humanities, and they can be completed entirely online. Do you have a passion for criminal law? You could also look into digital cinema or creative writing as options.

As a result, if you know you want to pursue a master’s degree in a specialized field like gerontology or performance psychology, National University is an excellent choice.

There is no need to feel pressured to change your degree program because of the cost of tuition at this school.

Cost: $1,773 per 4.5 quarter-unit course, or $7,092 per year of full-time study.

The Western Association of Schools and Colleges is a regional organization.

7. Online Program at the University of Massachusetts

The University of Massachusetts Online is another school that offers a wide variety of programs. The school offers 34 master’s degree programs, ranging from Criminal Justice to Critical and Creative Thinking, all of which can be completed entirely on the internet.

In terms of online MBA programs, U.S. News & World Report ranks the university at its Amherst campus 12th, 15th and 78th on its list of Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs, respectively.

A full year of three classes per term equals 18 semester hours for most of these programs, but some, like those in counseling, require 60 hours of coursework. The University of Massachusetts Online charges between $1,230 and $2,250 for Master’s-level courses, which are not individual credits but courses.

The cost of one course in the MBA program is $1,830, while the cost of one course in the MA in Educational Administration program is $1,425 including the registration fee.

$7,380 for a year of full-time study: $1,230 per course

Northeast Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)

8. Baker Institute of Science and Technology

Baker College offers an affordable Master of Business Administration degree program. There are more than a dozen graduate degree programs in business and education offered entirely online by this non-profit institution.

Accounting, finance, business intelligence, marketing, and healthcare management make up the majority of the MBA programs offered online. Regardless of the program, online graduate courses cost $420 per credit.

As a “career college,” Baker prepares working students for success in the workplace. Lifetime Employment Assistance is another service the school provides its graduates, who can use it at any stage of their professional careers to assist them with networking, interview preparation, and résumé writing.

$7,560 for a year of full-time study, or $420 per credit hour

Higher Learning Commission of North Central Association of Colleges and Schools regional accreditation.

9. University of Santo Domingo

Saint Leo University Online offers more than two dozen master’s degree programs in business, education, criminal justice, social work, theology, cyber security, and instructional design, making it an excellent option for both civilians and military personnel.

Among the best regional universities in the country, the school is ranked 65th, and it is 99th on a list of the best online graduate education programs, according to U.S. News & World Report.

The cost of tuition varies depending on the type of program you are enrolled in. A master’s degree in education, social work, or theology costs just $436 per credit hour, according to our research. Costing $673 per credit, the most expensive programs like cyber security are still a good deal.

MBAs and the Master of Accounting are among the most sought-after degrees, but if you are an active member of the United States military, you can save up to $200 per credit or $600 per class.

$7,848 for a full year of full-time study: $436 per credit

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

10. University of the West Indies

American InterContinental University may be a good choice if you’re hoping to advance in your current profession through higher education. There are five online-only degree options available to students at this university, which caters to working professionals.

  • A Certified Public Accountant (MACC)
  • A degree in business administration from a reputable university (MBA)
  • In education, a doctor of education (M.Ed.)
  • Master’s degree in Healthcare Administration (MHCM)
  • Master of Science in Computer and Information Science (MIT)

In the MBA, Master of Education, and Master of Information Technology degrees, students can choose to specialize in a particular area of study. To prepare you for success in the real world, all courses are “career-focused,” not just academically.

With a per-credit cost of $442, American InterContinental University’s Master of Education program is the most reasonably priced among its peers. Students pursuing a master’s degree in accounting, business administration, healthcare management, or information technology will pay an average of $582 per credit hour for tuition.

$7,956 for a year of full-time study, or $442 per credit hour

Higher Learning Commission of North Central Association of Colleges and Schools regional accreditation.

11. Pennsylvania State College in California

More than two dozen graduate degree programs are available entirely online at the California University of Pennsylvania, located in Pennsylvania. To earn a degree, students can choose from a variety of academic tracks, including:

  • Social Science Master’s Degree
  • Master’s degree in Business Administration
  • Master of Arts in Teaching
  • An M.S. in Exercise Science Promotion of Health and Science
  • Law School Graduate with a Master’s Degree
  • Master of Nursing Science
  • Studies for a Doctorate in Sport Management
  • Master’s degree in a scientific field of expertise

Graduate online programs at California University of Pennsylvania have received high ratings from U.S. News & World Report. According to the publication’s Best Online Graduate Programs list, the university came in at number 35, and at number 54 in the Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs category.

At least once a year, Princeton Review publishes its annual “Best in the Northeast” rankings.

For example, the cost of attending California University of Pennsylvania’s master’s programs varies based on where you live. Most master’s degree programs in Pennsylvania start at $454 per credit, while out-of-state students pay an average of $681 per credit.

The cost per credit is $454.00, or $8,172 for a full-time student.

Mid-States Association of Colleges and Schools Accreditation

12. The New England School of Medicine and Health Sciences

Aspiring business management students should look no further than New England College. The following four graduate degrees are available entirely online through the university:

  • Writing for the Professions: A Master’s Degree
  • Master’s degree in Public Administration
  • MBA: Master of Business Administration
  • Business Administration Master’s Degree

Project management, digital and social media, nonprofit leadership, and sports and recreation management are just some of the specialties available to MBA students at New England College. Banking, healthcare, nonprofit, and real estate management are just some of the concentrations available to management students.

American Business School ranks New England College at 61st on its list of Best Online Graduate Business Programs (Excluding an MBA), 125th on its list of Best Online Graduate Education Programs, and 126th on its list of the best online MBA programs.

The cost of attending New England College varies depending on the course of study. The Master of Education is the cheapest degree, costing $461 per credit. Master of Science and MBA degrees cost $666 per credit.

cost per credit: $461; full-time tuition and fees: $8,298

Northeast Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)

13. Eastern Kentucky University’s online programs

There are schools that offer a variety of benefits. Additionally, Eastern Kentucky University has done well in college rankings and offers an accelerated course schedule to allow students to complete their degrees faster without having to divide their attention between three or four classes at a time. There are seven different master’s degree options available, all of which can be completed entirely online.

  • Adult, Juvenile, and Community Corrections Administration Leader
  • Management of Construction
  • Education
  • Studying in a Library
  • Providing Health Care (MSN)
  • “Administrative Services” (MPA)
  • Emergency Management & Safety

According to U.S. News & World Report, the school has achieved the following distinctions:

  • A total of 25th among the best colleges for veterans, 27th among the best public schools, and 62nd among the best regional universities rank this institution.
  • The publication’s Best Grad School rankings place Eastern Kentucky University in the top 30 for occupational therapy, the 138th spot for public affairs, and the 181st spot for speech-language pathology.
  • At 61st on the Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs Ranking, the school was 47th on the Best Online Graduate Education Programs Ranking.

In addition to being ranked highly, Eastern Kentucky University offers an accelerated schedule for students to earn their degrees. Two eight-week terms are offered each semester, with six-week terms available for students who want to continue their studies over the summer.

Eastern Kentucky University’s master’s degrees in education and library science are the most affordable, with credits costing only $490 each. Each credit for the remaining graduate degree programs costs only $595.

$8,820 for a year of full-time study at $490 per credit hour

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

14. Fielding Graduate School of Education

Fielding Graduate University offers graduate and doctoral degrees to working adults who already have a bachelor’s degree and wish to further their professional development. The university is divided into three faculties:

  • The Master of Arts in Collaborative Educational Leadership program is offered by the School of Educational Leadership for Change.
  • The Master of Arts in Organizational Development & Leadership program is part of the School of Human & Organizational Development.
  • Online Master’s in Media Psychology at the School of Psychology

“Blended” education at Fielding Graduate University combines online courses with face-to-face activities via the “distributed learning model,” which the university calls “blended learning.” While some programs may require more face-to-face interaction than others, all are designed to allow you to continue your work and personal life from the comfort of your own home location without having to relocate.

Self-directed study is an option for students pursuing a Master of Arts in Organizational Development and Leadership, which means they are only required to attend two in-person sessions. In-person attendance is not required for the Master of Arts in Media Psychology program, which is entirely online.

There is a wide range of tuition rates at Fielding Graduate University, and these vary according to the degree you choose to pursue. It costs just $4,545 per term to earn the MA Collaborative Educational Leadership degree.

Full-time study costs $9,090 a year ($4,545 per semester).

The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) has accredited the school.

15. Bellevue University is the fifteenth university.

Online graduate degree programs at Bellevue University range from business and the arts to science and information technology, with more than two dozen available. There may be a degree program at Bellevue that meets your specific needs. Master’s degrees in Leadership and Coaching, Fine Arts, and Project Management are all available.

Both on-campus and online degrees are available through the university; however, the distance learning programs have consistently received high marks. When it comes to Best Online Graduate Business Programs (Excluding the MBA) and Best Online MBA Programs, U.S. News and World Report has Bellevue University at number 33.

At Bellevue University, you can choose from a wide range of academic programs, and the cost of attendance has no bearing on your final decision. For the 2015-2016 academic year, graduate students enrolled in both traditional and online programs will pay the same flat rate of $525 per credit hour.

In-state tuition and fees are $525 for each credit hour ($9,450 for a full academic year).

Higher Learning Commission of North Central Association of Colleges and Schools regional accreditation.

16. This school was removed at the request of its students.

17. Technical University of Colorado at Boulder

Security studies, information technology, healthcare, business and management and engineering and computer sciences all have online master’s degree programs at Colorado Technical University.

MBA students can select from a dozen concentrations to develop a specialized education that sets them apart from the rest of their peers. U.S. News & World Report places the school’s online graduate computer information technology and criminal justice degree programs, respectively, at 18th and 22nd in the nation.

Colorado Technical University’s master’s degree programs have a flat cost of $585 per credit, allowing students to select the program that best suits their needs.

Annual tuition is $10,530 for full-time study at the $585 per credit hour rate.

Higher Learning Commission of North Central Association of Colleges and Schools regional accreditation.

18. University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Master’s degree programs in education, business administration, marriage and family therapy and psychology are available online at Northcentral University. With the school’s distance learning programs, the school caters to students from all over the world, including international students, active military personnel, and working professionals.

The school’s “one-to-one teaching model,” in which students work with doctoral professors, is a major selling point. The start of classes at Northcentral University isn’t dependent on the start of the semester; instead, classes begin every week, allowing students to begin their studies whenever they want.

While the MBA program costs $2,319 per class, the school’s most affordable Master of Education degree costs $1,794 per class.

Each course costs $1,794, or $10,764 for a full year of study.

The WASC Senior College and University Commission has granted Northcentral University regional accreditation (WSCUC). In Alameda, CA 94501 at 985 Atlantic Ave. Suite 100, call 1.510.748.9001 or visit www.wascsenior.org.

19. University of California, Santa Barbara

To put it simply, Thomas Edison State College is an excellent choice if you’re searching for an advanced degree in public service or a more general master’s in liberal arts. The public college in New Jersey declares itself to be “exclusively for adults” and was one of the first in the country to specialize in adult education. In addition to education, business and management, nursing, and applied science, the school offers eight online master’s programs.

It has been said of Thomas Edison State College by the New York Times that it is “the school that paved the way for flexibility.”

All graduate students, except MBA students, pay $617 per credit hour. Those pursuing a master’s degree in business pay $660 per course.

The cost per credit is $617, which equates to $11,106 for a full academic year.

The Middle States Commission on Higher Education

20. University of St. Benedict and Mary

Benedictine University might be a good fit for you if you want to pursue a career in healthcare or business. Master’s degree programs in nursing, public health, nutrition and wellness, business administration and management, and organizational behavior are available at the private Catholic college. Ambitious students can take advantage of the four dual degree options offered by the university to further their education and professional standing.

For its Best Online Graduate Business Programs (excluding MBAs) and Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs, U.S. News & World Report has placed Benedictine University at number 86 and number 90, respectively Whatever degree program a student enrolls in, they will always pay the same price per credit hour.

In-state tuition is $11,160 per academic year, or $620 per credit hour.

Higher Learning Commission of North Central Association of Colleges and Schools regional accreditation.

21. The University of Franklin

A graduate degree from Franklin University can help you advance your career in any area of business from administration to marketing and human resources to accounting. The private, non-profit school in Ohio offers the following nine completely online degree programs in business and other fields:

  • Public Administration Master’s degree
  • Master of Science in Health Administration
  • A degree in business administration from a reputable university (MBA)
  • Graduate degree in Human Resource Management
  • Business Psychology Master’s degree
  • Accountancy Master’s degree
  • Marketing and Communication Master’s degree
  • Instructional Design and Performance Technology Master’s degree
  • In computer science, a master’s degree is required.

All students at Franklin University pay a flat tuition rate of $625 per hour, no matter what degree they pursue. Students interested in business, in particular, will be pleased to learn that their degree programs have received high marks. In its Best Online Graduate Business Programs (Excluding MBA) and Best Online MBA Programs lists, U.S. News & World Report has Franklin University at 49th and 133rd place, respectively.

Per credit hour: $625; $11,250 per year of full-time study: $625 per credit hour

Higher Learning Commission of North Central Association of Colleges and Schools regional accreditation.

22. Norfolk State University (NSU)

Norwich University is a great option for those who want to pursue a degree in business, history, or the sciences via distance learning. The following graduate degree programs are available entirely online through the private Vermont-based institution:

  • Diplomacy Master’s degree
  • History Master’s Degree
  • Military History Master’s degree
  • MBA: Master of Business Administration
  • Civil Engineering Master’s
  • Public Administration Master’s degree
  • Information Security and Assurance Master’s Degree
  • A degree in leadership from an accredited university
  • Master of Nursing Science

Overall, Norwich University and the school’s online offerings have been ranked highly. It was ranked as the 29th best college for veterans by U.S. News & World Report, and the 74th best regional university. Additionally, Norwich University was listed as the 48th best online engineering program, the 83rd best online nursing program, and the 84th best online MBA program by a leading publication. In order to accommodate working adults, the school offers online master’s degree programs that can be completed at their own pace.

The price of attending Norwich University is determined by the course of study you select. Per credit, Master of Science in Nursing tuition costs $626. This is the most affordable graduate program. The Master of Science in Information Security & Assurance program, which is the most expensive at the university, costs $791 per credit.

The cost per credit is $626, which equates to $11,268 for a full-time year of study.

Northeast Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)

23. [This institution has been delisted]

24. Herzing College of Business

In addition to business professionals and nurses, Herzing University’s online graduate programs are designed for students. There are two concentrations for nursing students at the private, non-profit college: Family Nurse Practitioner and Nursing Education. The school’s MBA concentrations for business students include:

  • A degree in business administration from a reputable university (general)
  • Master’s degree in accounting administration
  • Master of Science in Business Administration
  • Dual Concentration Option in the Master of Business Administration (MBA)
  • Healthcare Administration Master’s Degree
  • Master of Science in Human Resource Management
  • Master of Science in Project Management
  • Public Safety Leadership Master of Business Administration
  • Technology Management Master of Business Administration

Herzing University’s online degree programs have consistently been ranked among the best in the country by respected publications like U.S. News & World Report.

Herzing University’s MBA concentrations all cost $650 per credit, as do nursing education courses for MSN students. With the Family Nurse Practitioner concentration, students will pay an additional $750 per credit for their MSN degree.

Cost:$14,200

Higher Learning Commission of North Central Association of Colleges and Schools regional accreditation.

25. College of the Holy Cross

As a working professional, Champlain College may be an excellent option for pursuing a master’s degree in the liberal arts and sciences while saving money. nine fully online graduate degree programs are offered by the school.

  • MBA
  • Ed.D. in Early Childhood Development
  • Digital Forensics Management Master of Science
  • Master of Science in Digital Forensics
  • Executive Leadership Master’s Degree
  • Masters of Science in Health Care Administration
  • Master of Laws
  • Master’s Degree in Innovation and Information Technology Management
  • MS in Conflict Resolution and Mediation

According to U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of the best regional colleges, the Vermont-based private school came in at number 14. Champlain College is known for its “career-focused” academic programs, which aim to place students in jobs related to their fields of study as quickly as possible after graduation. Small class sizes and a student-to-faculty ratio of just 12 to one are the norm at the small college. It’s a big draw for working professionals because the school’s online master’s programs give students credit for their work experience.

How much you’ll have to pay in tuition depends on the degree program you select. It costs just $660 per credit to earn a Master of Education in Early Childhood Education from Champlain College. However, even a Master of Science in Law degree costs only $799 per credit.

Full-time study costs $11,880 per year, or $660 per credit.

Northeast Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)

Bottom Line

Choosing a graduate school is a significant life decision. You need to take into account both the cost and the value. When searching for a master’s degree program, use this guide as a starting point to help you narrow down your options. Consider the following questions:

  • What kind of assistance can you expect from the school?
  • What is the school’s reputation in your field?
  • What will the final price be once all fees and expenses have been tacked on?

Even if you have to do some research to find the right school, one of the 25 lowest-cost online master’s degree programs can provide you with an excellent education at an exceptional price.

David Krug

Author