Online Master’s Degree Programs: Easy and Affordable
Choose one of our 15 Easiest Master’s Degree Programs Online and increase your earnings potential without disrupting your life.
Graduate degrees can get expensive. In today’s economy, your education matters. The number of jobs that require a graduate degree has increased in recent years. Why? Because employers have many educated candidates to choose from. The U.S. Census Bureau reports a surge in the number of people with advanced degrees. These are your competitors!
By getting one of the cheapest online masters, you aren’t restricted to nearby universities. You don’t need to uproot your life to find a cost-effective program. You can take advantage of learning options from accredited colleges online. Easy and affordable programs are out there if you know where to look. Read on to compare schools offering affordable online master’s degrees.
Affordable Online Master’s Degree Programs
1. American Public University
American Public University is a cost-effective choice for graduate students. If you are also a U.S. service member, it’s even cheaper. What makes the school a good choice for those looking for an easy and affordable degree is that all textbooks and technology fees get waived for military students. With financial assistance like this offered, nearly 80% of APU’s students are service-members and veterans.
Active-duty military members get a tuition discount of $129 per credit hour. You can use the tuition discounts on one of 48 different online graduate programs. For example, you can earn a master’s degree in:
- Business Administration
- Criminal Justice
- Healthcare Administration
- Homeland Security
- Military History
- Sports Management
Learn more about Online Masters Programs at American Public University here.
2. University of the People
The University of the People is a tuition-free school. That’s right – there is no tuition! This fact makes it one of the cheapest online master’s degree options.
How does the school keep costs so low? Big donations help cut tuition costs and provide scholarships. Graduate students pay a $200 fee after completing each course. In 15 to 17 months, you can earn one of many online master’s degrees. Programs include:
- Business Administration
- Computer Science
- Health Science
Learn more about the Online Programs at the University of the People here.
3. Ohio University
Ohio University commits itself to affordable higher education. It has frozen its tuition rates in recent years. This has helped the university offer some of the cheapest online masters degree programs out there.
The school offers more than 100 online master’s degrees and certificates for graduate students. What makes these programs easy is the convenient access and affordable price. More than 7,300 students receive an OU education online each year, many of them graduate students.
Unique master’s degrees you can earn online include:
- Master of Arts in Organizational Communication
- Mast of Business Administration (MBA)
- Master of Music Education
Learn more about Online Master’s Degree Programs at Ohio University here.
4. Amridge University
Amridge University is a private, Christian school committed to online education. It offers over 20 online graduate programs for students seeking a master’s degree.
Amridge’s Turner School of Theology is a good option if you want to be a minister. Its online 78-credit-hour Master of Divinity prepares you for a leadership role in the church.
Other online graduate degree options include human services and counseling. For example, the Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy is a seven-semester program. It prepares you to get a counseling license. You can also earn degrees in business, leadership, and management.
Learn more about the online master’s programs at Amridge here.
5. University of Arkansas
When you think of the University of Arkansas, sports and Razorbacks come to mind. But what about graduate school?
U of A’s online learning system is well-tested. More than 3,000 Razorbacks study exclusively online. And over 14,000 students take online classes. You can earn 20 different kinds of master’s degrees online in areas such as:
- Master of Laws in Agricultural and Food Law
- Master of Science in Food Safety
- Master of Education in Educational Equity
- Master of Education in Educational Leadership
Learn more about Online Programs at the University of Arkansas here.
6. Fort Hays State University
Fort Hays State University offers affordable online tuition for graduate students. The rate is $319.45 per credit hour.
The school offers good programs for nurses, as it ranks as a top Kansas-based school for nursing by U.S. News & World Report. You can also earn other degrees, such as a nurse educator or nursing administration master’s degree.
With more than 60 online graduate programs, students get variety. Besides nursing, other online master’s degree programs include:
- Master of Business Administration with a Tourism and Hospitality Management concentration
- Master of Arts in Public History
- Master of Science in Health and Human Performance
- Master’s in School Psychology
Once a teacher’s college, FHSU continues to offer many programs for teachers. If you want to make a career change to education, you might choose to enroll in the Master of Science in Education, Transition to Teaching program.
Learn more about Online Programs at Fort Hays State University here.
7. University of Alaska Fairbanks
You don’t have to travel to “The Last Frontier” to graduate from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. This public university offers six fully online master’s degrees. Many of these programs reflect UAF’s unique location.
For example, an online Master of Arts in Arctic and Northern Studies looks at the communities that have braved the cold for centuries. Graduate students can also earn an online Master of Business Administration with a concentration in:
- Marine Biology
The graduate business program develops leaders with scientific and business knowledge to help industries overcome climate change.
Alaska is a remote state. But don’t underestimate the school’s academics. UAF ranks #209 among U.S. News & World Report’s Top Public Schools. Its online graduate program in justice administration ranks #49 on U.S. News & World Report’s Best Online Master’s in Criminal Justice Programs.
Learn more about Online Master’s Degree Programs at University of Alaska Fairbanks here.
8. Eastern New Mexico University
Become an Eastern New Mexico University “Greyhound” and zip through your graduate-level coursework. With 19 online master’s degrees, students can leverage their careers without going into debt.
Affordable tuition and flexible, fast-paced programming helps students get ahead as graduation nears. You can earn a cheap degree and finish it in less than two years. Most online courses run four and eight weeks.
Online learners can choose between to earn a degree in:
- Sport Administration
ENMU also offers online graduate certificate programs in areas like elementary education, secondary education, and financial planning.
Learn more about Online Master’s Degree Programs at Eastern New Mexico University here.
9. Minot State University
Minot State University gives online graduate students a small college experience at a public university’s cost. There’s a 10:1 student-to-faculty ratio, which is even lower for graduate-level courses. About 250 students enroll in graduate programs.
The school offers seven online master’s degree programs. If you’re a teacher, you can advance your education with a Master of Education. Want to rise the ranks of your company? You can earn a MS in Management (MSM degree). You can also earn a graduate sport management degree.
Learn more about Online Master’s Programs at Minot State University here.
10. University of Arkansas Little Rock
Thanks to The University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s location, graduate students land jobs at some of the state’s biggest employers. Serving working students is UA’s priority.
The school offers 19 graduate-level degrees. You can earn a master’s degree in:
- Criminal Justice
- Health Education and Promotion
- Information Science
At UA, you’ll pay $396 per credit and no additional fees. But if you’re a veteran or in the military, you can save more. Graduate degrees for military-affiliated cost $325 per credit.
Learn more about Online Master’s Degree Programs at University of Arkansas at Little Rock here.
11. Aspen University
Aspen University promises graduate degrees online that will fit both your budget and schedule. How does the school save you money on your graduate degree? With low tuition and no-interest monthly payment plans.
Instead of paying per credit, graduate students pay $375 per month until the balance is zero. You get a full breakdown of how much you can expect to pay before you get started. This includes estimates for tuition, fees, and books. The payment structure makes Aspen one of the most affordable colleges for an online master’s degree.
There are seven online master’s degrees and many different concentrations. You can change up your degree by earning a concentration in a specific area. Some of the degree programs include:
- Public Health
Learn more about each Online Master’s Degree at Aspen University here.
12. Western Governors University
WGU offers more than 30 online master’s programs. These programs range from business and education to health sciences and information technology. Here you get variety and affordability while earning a graduate degree.
At WGU, graduate students pay flat-rate tuition for each six-month term. The more classes you take at one time, the less you’ll pay in tuition. This payment model rewards hard workers. It also encourages you to stick with your studies. WGU makes it easy to start an online master’s degree.
Some of the areas of study to choose from include:
- Data Analytics
- IT Management
Learn more about each Master’s Degree at Western Governors University here.
13. Thomas Edison State University
Thomas Edison State University proves that academic achievements have no age limit. This New Jersey-based school provides graduate degree programs for mature adults. TESU’s average student age is 35.
TESU offers 15 online graduate programs. You can earn a master’s degree in:
- Business Administration (MBA)
- Cybersecurity (MS)
- Healthcare Management (MS)
- Information Technology (MSIT)
You can also design your own master’s degree program. This helps you learn in your preferred style. If you learn best by discussing course material with classmates, then you can choose to take interactive courses. But if you like to work alone, you can take exam prep courses. You can also take classes without a group work requirement.
No matter which degree you get, you pay as you go. TESU offers per credit tuition for graduate students. Get more information on financial aid here.
Learn more about each Online Master’s Program at Thomas Edison State University here.
14. Southwestern Oklahoma State University
At Southwestern Oklahoma State University, online graduate students have several distance education options. This puts you in control of how you want to learn.
First, SOSU offers programs delivered through Canvas. Canvas programs utilize asynchronous coursework. This means you choose when you want to study.
Degree programs using this format include:
- Healthcare informatics
Second, at SOSU, you can take one of the school’s Webinar/Zoom programs. These classes have scheduled virtual classrooms. You simply tune in for live lectures and discussions. This path is a great option if networking is critical for your future career.
Available Webinar/Zoom programs include:
- Master of Business Administration
- Master of Education in Educational Administration
Lastly, virtual Bulldogs can enroll in a blended program. This combines online and in-person coursework. Available degree programs in this track focus on psychology.
Learn more about each Online Master’s Program at Southwestern Oklahoma State University here.
15. Southern Illinois University
Never heard of a “Saluki?” Enroll at Southern Illinois University and you’ll become one. This dog breed is SIU’s mascot. In 1951, the university polled students to choose a new nickname. Saluki beat out other names like the “Rebels” and the “Marauders!”
SIU’s MBA program takes less than two years to complete. The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the gold standard in business schools, accredits the program.
In addition to its online MBA, SIU offers multiple online master’s degrees. These include:
- Master of Architecture
- Master of Health Informatics
- Master of Science in Medical Dosimetry
Learn about financial aid for the degree programs for the online masters here.
Learn more about the degree programs at Southern Illinois University here.
Frequently Asked Questions About Affordable and Easy Master’s Degrees
What makes one master’s degree easier than another? Does accreditation matter to potential employers? Where can you find an affordable online degree? Read on for answers to these questions and more.
What Does Accredited Mean?
Accreditation means a university has the stamp-of-approval from an objective third party.
Accrediting agencies have an in-depth process for evaluating a school’s performance. They examine things like the quality of faculty member’s research and teaching abilities. They also look at the average length of time it takes students to graduate. They evaluate the depth and breadth of a school’s student support services and grant accreditation when standards are met.
Enrolling in an accredited college or university is important. It guarantees you will learn quality material from qualified instructors. It also assures employers that you have a quality degree.
Accreditation keeps the door open to further academic achievements. You’ll need a degree from an accredited institution to pursue further graduate-level studies. Graduate students benefit from program accreditation. Industry-focused employers look for accreditation that suits their needs. Want to earn a communication master’s degree? Consider getting it from a program accredited by the Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communication.
Agencies like the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education ensure that schools within their regions are meeting higher educational standards across all programs. Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission (SACSCOC ) accredits degrees for higher education in the southern states.
What Do I Need to Apply to a Graduate Degree Program?
Depends on the universities to which you apply. But most accredited colleges require:
- Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
- Academic transcripts
- Statement of purpose or personal statement
- References or letters of recommendation
- Graduate school test scores (GRE, GMAT, etc.)
- Completed graduate application and fee
How Long Does It Take to Earn a Master’s?
Master’s degrees take, on average, two years of full-time study. This is true of most traditional 30-credit-hour programs.
But some online schools offer degree programs online. These programs make it easy to get started and they move at an accelerated pace. It is not unusual to find online master’s programs that take less than two years.
What Is an “Affordable” Tuition Rate for Graduate Students?
In the 2021 academic year, the average total graduate tuition for all institutions was $19,749, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics. For a 30-credit-hour graduate program, this works out to around $658 per credit hour. Many of the programs on this list offer rates far below this average.
In general, public universities cost less than private schools. The NCES reported the average graduate tuition for private schools at $26,621. Public universities averaged $11,617.
Another benefit of online learning is that you often pay in-state tuition rates no matter where you reside. It’s important to choose the online masters degree that works best for you and meets your financial needs.
Can Graduate Students Get Financial Aid For Online Masters Degree Programs?
Because graduate students already have a bachelor’s degree, they are no longer eligible for need-based financial aid, such as the Pell Grant.
Graduate students can fill out a FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, to take out federal student loans to fund their education. These loans offer lower interest rates than many private banks provide. They make cheap online masters degrees a possibility.
And there are several ways to forgo full payment of your federal loans. For example, teachers who serve full-time for five consecutive years in a low-income school can have a big chunk of their loans forgiven.
Graduate students can also apply for scholarships within their university and department. Non-academic organizations also offer scholarships for graduate students.
For financial assistance, search the websites of professional organizations or leading companies in your field. You can also find scholarships for graduate students in your home state or city. Affordable online master’s degrees are out there.
What Are the Easiest Online Masters Programs?
Every school is different. But, there are some majors that take less time to complete. These are majors that are easy, convenient, and don’t require forty hours per week of study time.
The easiest online masters degrees and the average time it takes to complete them include:
- Criminal Justice: 12-20 months
- Educational Leadership: 18 months
- Financial Management: 12-24 months
- Healthcare Administration: 18 months
- Human Resource Management: 18 months
- Marketing: 12 months
- Organizational Leadership: 18 months
- Project Management: 18-24 months
- Sports Management: 18-24 months
Will My Diploma Say That I Got My Degree Online?
No. With an online graduate program, you’ll do the same assignments and cover the same material as on-campus students. The same faculty teach many online programs. While course delivery differs, the expectations are the same. And your diploma will be the same, too.
Plus, online learning is no longer “nontraditional.” It has become the norm. According to a study by the Urban Institute, 31% of master’s students report that their programs were entirely online.
What Jobs Require a Master’s Degree?
Master’s degrees are not a requirement for a promotion. But listing one on your resumé can make you a better job candidate.
The BLS reports that 85% of workers with a master’s degree hold management or professional roles. This shows that getting a better job often goes hand-in-hand with advancing your education.
Another resource that can help you find a graduate degree that will help advance your career is our overview of the Accredited Online Masters Degree Programs.
Methodology for this Ranking
Accredited Online College uses the most recent data from the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. Each degree program has individual scores. It’s then compared to all other universities offering the same degree program. We do this to determine the final score you see by each ranking.
Accredited Online College considers the affordability, student-to-faculty ratio, and number of on-campus and online programs. To learn more, visit our methodology page.