The 15 Most Affordable Master’s Degree Online Programs in 2021

Attending graduate school for post-bachelor’s study doesn’t have to break the bank. Many online colleges are now offering affordable master’s programs with little or no physical campus requirements. That’s excellent news because graduate degrees are required for many in-demand professions, such as epidemiologist, health administrator, mental health counselor, social worker, management analyst, economist, and school principal.

cheapest online masters degree

The projected job growth for 2022 will increase by 16% (compared to 2012) for careers that prefer a master’s education. Investing in one to three more years of higher education also pays off with a median annual income of $12,247 or more with a graduate degree. According to Payscale.com, master’s-level occupations have average annual salaries of $76,020 compared to $63,773 per year for the bachelor’s degree holder.

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Table of Contents

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is a Master’s degree?

Are you ready to take your career to the next level? Consider earning an online master’s degree in an applicable topic. This distinguished degree will help you gain the specialized skills you need for career advancement.

Who needs a Master’s degree?

If you intend to excel in your career, a master’s degree may very well get you the promotion you desire. In addition, the pay raise may be nice. But, more often than not, earning a graduate degree is a personal choice and provides an opportunity for reaching a personal goal.

What makes an online Master’s degree program affordable?

As you know, earning a graduate degree can be pricey. For the most part, our list below includes schools that offer master’s degrees under $6,000 per year (with a couple of exceptions); however, the goal is to gain your master’s degree without going into a load of debt. Consider your costs when researching the right program for you and weigh it against your potential earnings once you have graduated. You will want to be ensured of a good return on your investment!

Keep in mind that if you can attend a program in your home state… you can save a bundle!

METHODOLOGY

Let us help you find the most affordable school program that fits your educational requirements for starting a new career, a job promotion, or simply meeting your personal goals. Our researchers at PremiumSchools.org utilize these indicators of excellent academic standards to locate exceptionally cheap schools offering master’s degree programs designed just for you. 

Getting the best bang for your buck is important to avoid debilitating debt though. Therefore, we conducted research for the 15 Most Affordable Master’s Degree Programs Online. We began with the NCES College Navigator tool to filter United States colleges awarding advanced distance learning degrees. We compared online schools based on their average annual in-state graduate tuition.

While all of our picks have mean costs under $6,500, we didn’t compromise quality because each university had to be regionally accredited. Extra brownie points were given for online program rankings. We also considered schools’ range of online offerings, technology, class size, faculty strength, financial aid, and scheduling flexibility.

The following schools are listed in random order. As each and every school displays its own unique qualities and strengths, you should search our list based on your needs and career aspirations.

The following factors were considered: 

  • Offers online classes for flexible or convenient attendance without compromising hands-on training,
  • Exhibits rigorous, yet engaging and innovative training in coursework that takes into account the readiness of students in taking the next step to their budding career,
  • Taught by outstanding faculty consisting of experts in the field,
  • Held in high esteem among academic agencies, industry organizations, and journalistic resources,
  • Displays stellar reviews and feedback from school alumni and students,
  • Offers a convenient application process,
  • Provides exceptional Student Career Centers, Resource Departments, and easy-to-use Learning Management Systems, where applicable, 
  • Permits a wide range of scholarships, grants, and other financial support programs for eligible students,
  • Ensures the proper Accreditation in accordance with academic standards.

If you would like to learn more about our selection process, feel free to see our Methodology page.

The 15 Most Affordable Master’s Degree Online Programs

Western New Mexico University

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Devoted to “Transforming the Future Together,” Western New Mexico University is a public, state-funded institution established in 1893 that’s serving over 3,193 Mustangs in Silver City, Deming, Gallup, Lordsburg, and online. Online students can select from seven HLC-accredited master’s degrees. The Master of Business Administration, Master of Arts in Educational Leadership, Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies, and Master of Social Work are great examples. Most courses in these 36-credit programs are delivered asynchronously, but some include synchronous web conferences too.

Average Master’s Tuition: $3,558 In-State

Learn more about Western New Mexico University’s Affordable Master’s Degree Programs Online.


Fort Hays State University

Fort Hays State University | Overview | Plexuss.com

Endowed for $70.95 million, Fort Hays State University is the Kansas Board of Regents’ third-largest public, co-educational institution with over 15,908 Tigers studying on its rural campus off Interstate 70 in Hays and online via the Virtual College. Picked #1 by College Choice, Fort Hays State University is recognized for America’s 91st Best Online MBA and 95th Top Online MSN Programs by the U.S. News and World Report. Graduate students can focus in several concentrations and earn their Master’s in Business Administration, specifically in the fields of Digital Marketing, Finance, Health Care Management, or Corporate Communication.

Average Master’s Tuition: $3,726 In-State

Learn more about For Hays State University’s Affordable Master’s Degree Program online.


Chadron State College

Chadron State College Reviews | GradReports

Regionally accredited by the HLC-NCA, Chadron State College is a public, co-educational member of the Nebraska State College System that’s located on the Panhandle to educate 2,407 Eagles on-site and online. Graded B+ for diversity on Niche, Chadron State College was ranked the 23rd Best for Vets College in America by Military Times Edge magazine. With flat-rate tuition, graduate students can pursue several master’s concentrations wholly or partially online. Programs, including the Master of Arts in Education, Master of Education, Master of Organizational Management, and Master of Business Administration, has accelerated, eight-week online modules with 24 pathways so you can find a degree that fits your needs.

Average Master’s Tuition: $4,185 In-State

Learn more about Chadron State College’s Affordable Master’s Degree Programs Online.


Texas A&M University – Commerce

Texas A&M Commerce releases return plan for fall semester | cbs19.tv

Established in 1889, Texas A&M University-Commerce is the system’s third-largest public, doctoral-granting research institution with over 12,100 Lions luckily studying in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and online globally. Honored as America’s 107th “Best College with No Application Fee” on Niche, Texas A&M University-Commerce is named the 186th Best Southern School by Forbes. Across four colleges, scholars can pursue 20 fully online and 10 partially online master’s programs. Flexibility is paramount for earning a Master of Science in Business Analytics, Master of Science in Higher Education, Master of Arts in Applied Linguistics, Master of Science in Technology Management, and more.

Average Master’s Tuition: $3,630 In-State

Learn more about Texas A&M University – Commerce’s Affordable Master’s Degree Programs Online.


Midwestern State University

MSU Texas to use remote learning after Thanksgiving Break

Belonging to the COPLAC, Midwestern State University is Texas’ sole public, four-year liberal arts institution attracting 5,969 Mustangs to its physical headquarters in Wichita Falls and Electronic Campus. Declared America’s 216th “Best College for Nursing” on Niche, Midwestern State is the 28th Top Public School in the South according to the U.S. News and World Report. With the D2L platform, MSU confers 11 SACS-accredited online master’s degrees. Affordable online education could grant a Master of Criminal Justice, Master of Educational Leadership, Master of Education in Sports Administration, Master of Science in Radiologic Sciences, Master of Health Administration, plus several concentrations in Business Administration, and more.

Average Master’s Tuition: $4,145 In-State

Learn more about Midwestern State University’s Affordable Master’s Degree Programs Online.


University of West Georgia

University of West Georgia Reviews & Tours - CampusReel

Formerly called the Fourth District Agricultural and Mechanical School until 1933, the University of West Georgia is a public, state-funded research institution educating over 13,000 students in Carrollton, Dalton, Rome, Newnan, and beyond. Named to the Princeton Review’s “Best Southeastern” list for a decade, the University of West Georgia is ranked the country’s 115th Most Conservative University by Niche. Holding SACS accreditation, West Georgia offers 11 master’s degrees fully online through CourseDen. Available programs include the M.Ed. in Elementary Education, M.M. in Music Education, and M.P.A. in Public Administration, plus many more. Students could also earn unique credentials like a European Studies Certificate.

Average Master’s Tuition: $4,338

Learn more about the University of West Georgia’s Affordable Master’s Degree Programs Online.


Cameron University

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Named after Oklahoma’s first State Superintendent of Schools in 1908, Cameron University is a public, state-funded teaching institution enrolling approximately 4,100 Aggies in weekday, evening, and online courses from Lawton. Recognized for America’s 131st Best Online MBA on the U.S. News and World Report, Cameron is picked as the 358th “Most Diverse College” on Niche. The Electronic Campus maintains SACS accreditation and proctored testing to deliver five online master’s programs. Offerings include a Master of Business Administration, Master of Science in Organizational Management, Master of Education in Reading, and Master of Science in Educational Leadership. Free, one-on-one personalized support is available through Tutor.com.

Average Master’s Tuition: $3,564

Learn more about Cameron University’s Affordable Master’s Degree Programs Online.


University of Wyoming

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Serving more than 12,9200 Cowboys and Cowgirls, the University of Wyoming is a public, land-grant research institution positioned in Laramie adjacent to the Snowy Range Mountains. Picked as America’s 74th “College with the Best Professors,” UWY is deemed the 90th Top Public University by the U.S. News and World Report. The Outreach School currently delivers 41 degrees through online and video conferencing to rural Wyomingites, including 15 master’s programs. Graduate students could affordably pursue the Master of Science in Nursing Education, Master of Arts in English, Master of Education in Instructional Technology, and Master of Science in Family & Consumer Sciences, and many others.

Average Master’s Tuition: $5,076 In-State

Learn more about the University of Wyoming’s Affordable Master’s Degree Programs Online.


Valdosta State University

Valdosta State University | University System of Georgia

Within the University System of Georgia, Valdosta State University stands as a public, four-year SACS-accredited institution teaching over 11,270 Blazers from “Azalea City” and online anywhere. As America’s 312th top public school on Niche, Valdosta State is acclaimed for the 69th Best Online MBA and 83rd Best Online Graduate Teaching Degrees by the U.S. News and World Report. A competency-based, YOUSucceed curriculum allows online students to finish 22 different master’s degrees online. Offerings include the M.S. in Library and Information Science, Healthcare M.B.A., M.P.A. in Public Administration, and M.Ed. in Middle Grades Math, and many more.

Average Master’s Tuition: $4,572 In-State

Learn more about Valdosta State University’s Affordable Master’s Degree Programs Online.


Arkansas State University

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Based in Jonesboro with extensions in Paragould, Beebe, Newport, Mountain Home, and online, Arkansas State University is a flagship public, research institution carrying a $54.9 million endowment to “Educate, Enhance, and Enrich” over 21,900 lives. Noted for America’s 10th Best Online MBA, A-State is ranked the South’s 59th Best Regional University and 20th Top Public College by the U.S. News and World Report. With HLC-NCA approval, online learning is granted for 28 master’s degrees. Graduates could obtain the Master of Engineering Management, Master of Public Administration in Non-Profit Management, Master of Science in Special Education, or Master of Science in Sport Administration.

Average Master’s Tuition: $4,986

Learn more about Arkansas State University’s Affordable Master’s Degree Programs Online.


University of Texas at Tyler

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Founded in 1971, the University of Texas at Tyler is a public, co-educational higher learning institution holding a 20:1 student-faculty ratio to educate over 9,600 Patriots in the “Rose Capital of the World” and online. Deemed America’s 68th Most Conservative College on Niche, the University of Texas at Tyler is ranked the West’s 32nd Top Public School with the seventh Best Online Graduate Nursing Degrees by the U.S. News and World Report. The SACS-accredited university offers over 15 online and three HyFlex master’s programs. For instance, graduates may finish the M.S. in Kinesiology, M.S. in Industrial Management, M.S.N. in Nursing Administration, and M.A. in School Counseling.

Average Master’s Tuition: $6,048 In-State

Learn more about the University of Texas at Tyler’s Affordable Master’s Degree Programs Online.


Sam Houston State University

Sam Houston State University - Healthcare Management Degree Guide

Building on its 137-year legacy, Sam Houston State University educates over 21,500 Bearkats in Huntsville and online as Texas’ third oldest public, co-educational research institution. As America’s 191st “Top Public University” on Niche, Sam Houston State University is recognized by the U.S. News and World Report for the third Best Online Criminal Justice and sixth Best Online Technology Degrees nationwide. Sam Houston State University Online utilizes varied instructional media to 29 cutting-edge master’s programs. Some unique offerings include the M.S. in Victim Services Management, M.A. in Sociology, M.A. in Band Conducting, M.S. in Digital Forensics, and M.Ag. in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Environment, and many more.nce

Average Master’s Tuition: $5,765 In-State

Learn more about Sam Houston State University’s Affordable Master’s Degree Programs Online.


Georgia College and State University

Georgia College and State University | Complete College Georgia

Featuring an 86 percent retention rate, Georgia College and State University is a public, four-year liberal arts COPLA member endowed for $33.8 million to serve over 7,000 Bobcats in central Milledgeville and online. According to the U.S. News and World Report, Georgia College and State University are the South’s 28th Best University and ninth Top Public School with the eighth Best Online MSN Degree nationwide. Busy working adults select from many fully and/or partially online master’s programs. Consider the Master of Music Therapy, Master of Logistics and Supply Chain Management, Master of Education in Library Media, Master of Management Information Systems, and more.

Average Master’s Tuition: $5,292

Learn more about Georgia College and State University’s Affordable Master’s Degree Programs Online.


Emporia State University

Emporia State University joins KU, K-State suspending in-person classes  over coronavirus | KSNT News

Sitting in the scenic Flint Hills region of eastern Kansas, Emporia State University is a public, co-educational teaching institution founded in 1863 that’s enrolling over 5,873 Hornets either face-to-face and online. Graded B+ for value on Niche, Emporia State University is ranked the Midwest’s 108th Best University and 32nd Top Public School with the 30th Best Online Graduate Education Nationally. The Distance Education division holds HLC-NCA accreditation for 23 online master’s programs. Available degrees include the Master of Arts in TESOL Education, Master of Science in Rehabilitation Counseling, Master of Science in Mathematics, and Master of Arts in English.

Average Master’s Tuition: $6,547

Learn more about Emporia State University’s Affordable Master’s Degree Programs Online.


Lamar University

Lamar University faculty senate expresses 'concern' over budget, use of  funds after Harvey | 12newsnow.com

Within the Southland Conference, Lamar University is a public, space-grant research institution endowed for $106.8 million to educate more than 15,400 Cardinals in Beaumont and online. Noted for Texas’ 28th Most Diverse Campus on Niche, Lamar is recognized by the U.S. News and World Report for the 78th Best Online Teaching and 79th Top Online Nursing Programs nationwide. Across four SACS-accredited colleges, Lamar confers 22 master’s degrees online. Graduate students could obtain the MBA in Construction Project Management, M.S. in Criminal Justice, M.Ed. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, or MSN in Nursing Administration. Online courses on Blackboard feature a 16:1 student-faculty ratio.

Average Master’s Tuition: $6,397

Learn more about Lamar University’s Affordable Master’s Degree Programs Online.

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