Attending graduate school for post-bachelor’s study doesn’t have to break the bank. Many affordable online colleges are now offering master’s programs with little or no physical campus requirements. That’s excellent news because graduate degrees are requisite for many in-demand professions, such as epidemiologist, health administrator, mental health counselor, social worker, management analyst, economist, and school principal.
According to Forbes, nearly one-fourth of job openings today prefer a master’s education. Investing in one to three more years of higher education also pays off with median monthly income of $4,772. On PayScale, master’s-level occupations have average salaries from $50,320 to $169,677 each year.
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 $6,000, 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.
1. Western New Mexico University
Devoted to “Transforming the Future Together,” Western New Mexico University is a public, state-funded institution established in 1893 that’s serving over 3,500 Mustangs in Silver City, Deming, Gallup, Lordsburg, and online. Ranked America’s 128th Best Online College by Niche, Western New Mexico University has our list’s cheapest tuition at $3,026! Online students can select from six 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: $3,026
2. Fort Hays State University
Endowed for $70.95 million, Fort Hays State University is the Kansas Board of Regents’ third largest public, co-educational institution with over 14,200 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 select from 15 online master’s degrees, including a Master of Arts in Public History, Master of Liberal Studies, Master of Science in School Counseling, and MBA in Information Assurance, centered on “Forward Thinking.”
Average Master’s Tuition: $3,205
3. Chadron State College
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 over 3,000 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 18 master’s concentrations wholly or partially online. Programs, including the Master of Education in Mathematics, Master of Organizational Management in Human Services, and Master of Business Administration in Accounting, have accelerated, eight-week online modules.
Average Master’s Tuition: $3,443
4. Texas A&M University – Commerce
Established in 1889, Texas A&M University – Commerce is the system’s third-largest public, doctoral-granting research institution with over 12,300 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 the 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
5. Midwestern State University
Belonging to the COPLAC, Midwestern State University is Texas’ sole public, four-year liberal arts institution attracting more than 6,000 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 Education in Sport Administration, Master of Science in Radiologic Sciences, Master of Health Administration, and more.
Average Master’s Tuition: $3,805
6. University of West Georgia
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 12,000 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 Early Childhood Education, M.M. in Music Education, WebMBA, and M.P.A. in Public Administration. Students could also unique credentials like a European Studies Certificate.
Average Master’s Tuition: $3,996
7. Cameron University
Named after Oklahoma’s first State Superintendent of Schools in 1908, Cameron University is a public, state-funded teaching institution enrolling approximately 5,500 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: $4,056
8. University of Wyoming
Serving more than 13,900 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 12 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.
Average Master’s Tuition: $4,176
9. Valdosta State University
Within the University System of Georgia, Valdosta State University stands as a public, four-year SACS-accredited institution teaching over 11,500 Blazers from “Azalea City” and online anywhere. As America’s 312nd 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 19 different master’s degrees online. Offerings include the M.S. in Library and Information Science, M.A.T. in Deaf and Hard of Hearing Education, Healthcare M.B.A., and M.Ed. in Middle Grades Math.
Average Master’s Tuition: $4,374
10. Arkansas State University
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 11 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: $4,572
11. University of Texas at Tyler
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 9,800 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 13 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: $4,662
12. Sam Houston State University
Building on its 137-year legacy, Sam Houston State University educates over 20,100 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 28 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.
Average Master’s Tuition: $5,139
13. Georgia College and State University
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 is the South’s 28th Best University and ninth Top Public School with the eighth Best Online MSN Degree nationwide. Bus working adults select from 12 fully and five 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: $5,184
14. Emporia State University
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 6,000 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: $5,640
15. Lamar University
Within the Southland Conference, Lamar University is a public, space-grant research institution endowed for $106.8 million to educate more than 15,000 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: $5,940