Pursuing an online master’s degree gives students more control over their learning experience. Many programs run asynchronously, allowing learners to complete coursework around work and family responsibilities. Some programs offer career-aligned specializations.
Applicants need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school. Other typical admission requirements include standardized test scores, recommendation letters, a resume, and an essay. Some programs limit applicants to those with a specific BA or BS. Online enrollees complete the same courses as their on-campus peers.
An online affordable master’s degree provides a specialized curriculum that prepares learners for career advancement or a new job. Learners work with academic and career advisors to plan their education and explore jobs.
This page highlights the most affordable master’s degrees, including costs and program options.View Our Rankings List Here
Frequently Asked Questions About Master’s Degrees
Q. How much is an online master’s degree?
Cost varies by program and school. Most public universities charge in-state students the most affordable tuition. Some private universities charge all online students the same tuition, regardless of residency.
Q. Is an online master’s the same as an in-person master’s?
Yes. Students complete the same coursework and receive the same degree. Employers do not discriminate against online degrees as long as the school awarding them holds regional accreditation. Universities with online degrees should also possess national accreditation from the Distance Education Accrediting Commission.
Q. How can I get a master’s degree for free?
Students can help fund their degree by applying for scholarships. Learners may also qualify for institutional and federal grants. Financial aid advisors work with incoming learners to research and apply for financial aid.
Why Get an Online Master’s Degree?
Many schools offer affordable master’s degrees online. Students may pursue a master’s to advance their careers. Others do so for personal fulfillment. Graduates with a master’s degree earn about $200 more weekly than those with only a bachelor’s. Master’s graduates also enjoy one of the nation’s lowest unemployment rates.
Online master’s degrees allow students to enroll in the most affordable program without relocating. Learners can also save money by not living on campus or commuting for classes.
How Much Does a Master’s Degree Cost?
As of October 2021, the cost of a master’s degree may range from $30,000-$120,000. Most students pay a per-credit tuition rate. Some schools offer full-time enrollees flat tuition. Master’s programs take 18-24 months to complete. Part-time enrollees may need an additional 12 months to graduate.
Some programs charge major-specific fees. These fees may cover lab costs or specialized equipment. On-campus learners also pay these fees. Online students can work with their school’s financial aid office to budget for these and related expenses.
Additional Online Student Fees
Students pursuing a master’s degree online should ensure they meet tech requirements. Online learners need a computer with an adequate processor, microphone, and camera. Students may need to upgrade their internet. Learners enrolled in a hybrid program should budget for commuting costs.
Schools may charge a graduation fee. They may also charge for official transcripts. Graduates who need professional certification to complement their master’s degree should budget for registration and exam fees.
Online Master’s Programs
Online master’s programs feature upper-division coursework that prepares learners for the next step in their careers. Many programs run fully online. Some programs include on-campus experiences, such as seminars or internships.
Arizona State University leads the nation with more than 100 affordable master’s degrees. As of November 2021, ASU offers the following five majors for prospective students with a bachelor’s. Keep in mind that not every school offers these online master’s programs.
ArchitectureThis 48-credit program emphasizes design, practice, and research. Learners hone their design skills in six studio courses. The program admits applicants without a bachelor’s in architecture. However, these students complete additional courses and need an extra year to graduate.
Biomedical DiagnosticsThis program trains students for careers in quality systems or clinical research. Graduates may use the degree to apply to medical school. Learners earn 30 credits over two years. Courses include translational bioinformatics and the regulation of medical diagnostics. Enrollees apply what they learned in a final-semester independent research project.
Computer ScienceThis program serves aspiring computer programmers and analysts. Core coursework includes the foundations of algorithms, applied cryptography, and information assurance. The curriculum emphasizes real-world projects professionals tackle on the job. Learners must earn a minimum “B” grade in each course to remain in good academic standing.
Emergency Management and Homeland SecurityThis interdisciplinary degree offers five concentrations, including community resilience and threat management. The required core curriculum features courses in hazards governance, integrated emergency management, and applied data analysis. Professors help students develop a capstone project. Graduates may work as risk management specialists or emergency management directors.
International Affairs and LeadershipThis 30-credit master’s program emphasizes the leadership skills students need to advise elected officials and project global trends. Learners take courses in U.S. diplomacy, the modern global economy, and the making of U.S. national security policy. Some programs feature an optional one-semester internship. Participants intern in the United States or abroad.
Most Affordable Online Master’s Degrees
University of Florida
UF offers over 200 undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs online, including 84 master's degrees in diverse areas of study. At UF's Warrington College of Business, students can enroll in a one-year or two-year online master of business administration (MBA) program. Applicants need a bachelor's degree in business from an accredited college or university. They must have earned their degree within seven years of applying.
The College of Education offers a master of education (M.Ed.) in curriculum and instruction with specializations in education technology and teacher leadership for school improvement. The college also offers an online master's degree in educational leadership. The programs accept full-time and part-time enrollees, with many students earning their M.Ed. within two years. UF's educator preparation programs have been continuously accredited since 1954.
California State University-Fresno
The Kremen School of Education and Human Development at CSU Fresno offers a fully online master's degree in reading and language arts instruction. Students enroll in one three-credit class every eight weeks.
The program includes supervised field experiences in a variety of educational settings. During these experiences, enrollees can observe actual classes, evaluate and develop reading programs, and work with specialists in the field. To culminate the degree, students can write a thesis, complete a project, or take a comprehensive exam.
CSU Fresno also offers an online master of science in water resource management. The 30-credit program consists of eight three-credit courses and an internship and final project. Applicants need an upper-division 3.0 GPA or higher. Like at many online graduate schools, applicants must also demonstrate GIS proficiency and submit their most recent GRE scores.
IU currently offers 158 online programs in diverse fields of study, including library science, public affairs and administration, health and health sciences, and informatics. Most of IU's online master's degrees do not require any campus visits.
The master's in global health and sustainable development requires 30 credits and follows a curriculum based on the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals. Students can choose from six concentrations, including food, water, and sanitation; preservation and restoration of land and sea; and resilient cities and communities.
Enrollees interested in pursuing a career in the information security field can explore the 30-credit online master's in cybersecurity risk management program. The curriculum covers topics such as data intelligence and visualization, managing intellectual property in global businesses, and information privacy laws.
The University of Texas at Austin
UT's Cockrell School of Engineering offers a completely online master's degree in mechanical engineering. The 30-credit program does not require a thesis. Most students graduate within two years.
Applicants need a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering or a related field and at least one year of relevant professional experience. The program typically requires the submission of GRE scores. However, students can request a waiver for the fall 2021 semester. Currently, the program does not accept transfer credits.
The curriculum includes coursework in applied thermodynamics; modeling, simulation, and control of physical systems; fluid mechanics in industrial processes; and heat transfer in industrial systems. The school maintains a career placement center that assists online and on-campus students in finding employment opportunities after graduation.
Washington, District of Columbia
AU offers several online graduate programs that lead to master of arts (MA) and master of science (MS) degrees in a variety of fields. Students can pursue postgraduate studies in areas like education, human resources, economics, and healthcare management.
The 30-credit MA in strategic communications offers concentrations in advocacy and social impact as well as strategies and analytics in digital communication. Students enroll in two classes each semester to graduate in 20 months.
AU also offers a 36-credit online master's degree in public administration and policy. Coursework covers topics such as organizational analysis, managing human capital assets, foundations of program evaluation, and leadership in a changing workplace.
The university's Career Center offers many services for online and onsite enrollees, including employer recruiting events, career advisement, and internship and scholarship information. AU offers a $10,000 merit-based scholarship to select online students.
University of Connecticut
UConn's online master's programs cover diverse areas of study, including educational technology, special education, human resource management, and engineering.
Accounting professionals looking for an accredited postgraduate program can explore UConn's online master's in accounting program, which is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. The program offers a variety of electives that allow enrollees to customize the degree according to their academic and career objectives.
UConn also offers an interdisciplinary online master's in energy and environmental management with courses in planning and management, geographical information systems, and environment law. Required courses only make up nine credits of the 30-credit program, allowing enrollees to pursue an educational path that supports their individual goals and interests.
UConn offers two online nursing programs for nurses seeking to expand their employment options or transition to a new nursing arena. Registered nurses can pursue an online family nurse practitioner or neonatal nursing program.
John Brown University
Siloam Springs, Arkansas
JBU in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, offers online master's programs in business, counseling, cybersecurity, and education.
Students can pursue a two-year master of business administration completely online or through a combination of online and onsite coursework. The program comprises 36-45 credits, depending on enrollees' academic background. Students can choose from concentrations in cybersecurity, healthcare administration, design thinking and innovation, international business, leadership, and marketing research and consumer insights.
JBU also offers a 60-credit master's in counseling that prepares graduates for the licensed professional counselor credential in Arkansas. The program offers specializations in marriage and family therapy, play therapy, and adventure therapy. The school also offers online master's degrees in higher education and teaching, as well as an online master of education (M.Ed.) in special education. The master's in higher education program runs fully online, while the master's in teaching and the M.Ed. in special education follow a hybrid delivery format.
Clemson, South Carolina
Clemson offers online master's programs in 15 areas of study, including construction science management, athletic leadership, human resource development, and biological sciences. Students must live in states that are part of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement to qualify for the school's online programs.
Learners interested in pursuing an online master of education can choose from three specializations: literacy, special education, or teaching and learning. The school's 30-credit online master's program in engineering runs asynchronously. Applicants need at least three years of relevant professional experience.
Clemson's online master of public administration program offers specializations in emergency management, homeland defense and security, local and state government, nonprofit management, and regional sustainability. The program requires 39-42 credits, depending on the student's choice of culminating activity.
University of San Diego
San Diego, California
USD offers online master's programs in fields such as healthcare informatics, education, cybersecurity operations and leadership, and applied data science.
The school's online master of education program welcomes applications from K-12 teachers with at least two years of experience. Students can specialize in curriculum and instruction, inclusive learning, literacy and digital learning, school leadership, or STEAM education.
USD also offers a 31-credit master of science in cybersecurity operations and leadership. Students can complete the program in just 20 months. The curriculum includes courses on topics such as applied cryptology, secure software design and development, and network visualization and vulnerability detection.
IT professionals with an interest in artificial intelligence can pursue the 30-credit master's in applied artificial intelligence offered by the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering. The program focuses on the practical applications of AI in various industries.
Western Carolina University
Cullowhee, North Carolina
WCU offers a 36-credit online master of project management (MPM) that students can complete without any campus visits. The MPM program is accredited by the Global Accreditation Center for Project Management Education Programs, the accrediting branch of the Project Management Institute.
Applicants need a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and at least two years of professional experience. Students follow a pre-set course sequence that allows them to graduate within two years. The program requires summer enrollment. Each MPM course counts for six credits. Learners can begin the program in August or January.
The curriculum includes classes in project selection, initiation, and legal considerations; project execution; and project closeout, ethics, and approaches. MPM candidates must maintain a 3.0 GPA or higher in all classes.