With the rising costs of higher education, students struggle to find an affordable online master’s degree. Not knowing the most budget-friendly options could lead to taking on more student debt or missing out on opportunities. Identifying the cheapest accredited online master’s degree programs is key to maximizing value and minimizing financial burden.

Cheapest Master’s Degree Online

You can study an affordable master’s degree program at institutions like the American Public University, Sul Ross State University, University of the People, University of South Dakota, Ohio University, and University of the Cumberlands. These accredited programs can help you finish a cheap and flexible online master’s degree program with an average tuition under $7,500 per year.

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.

InstitutionTop ProgramsCost Per Credit
American Public UniversityBusiness, Management, Criminal Justice$270
Sul Ross State UniversityBusiness, Health Science, Animal Science$313
University of the PeopleComputer Analytics, Business, Health ScienceTuition-free
University of South DakotaArtificial Intelligence, Education, Health Sciences$427.50
Ohio UniversityEducation, Business, Engineering$510
University of the CumberlandsHealth Science, Ministry, Education $375
Amridge UniversityReligion, Divinity, Counseling$340
Georgia Southwestern State UniversityInformation Science, Business, Nursing Education$273
University of Arkansas – FayettevilleAgriculture, Environment, Social Work $489
University of Texas at El PasoFine Arts, Education, Engineering$427
Fort Hays State UniversityPsychology, Business, Nursing$302
Midwestern State UniversityBusiness, Special Education, Sports$401
University of Alaska FairbanksFisheries, Business, Communication$327
Fitchburg State UniversityBusiness, Education, Behavioral Sciences$738
Eastern New Mexico UniversityAnthropology, Sports, Communication$249
University of North AlabamaSocial Work and Community Services, Writing, Engineering$378
Minot State UniversityDisability Human Services, Pathology, Sports Management$246.75
Southeast Missouri State UniversityBusiness, Psychology, Education$331
University of Arkansas Little RockInformation Science, Health Education, Criminal Justice$396
Texas A&M University-KingsvilleBusiness, Education, Psychology$384
Aspen UniversityTechnology, Public Health, Education$375
Lamar UniversityHospitality, Marketing, Accounting$495
Western Governors UniversityAccounting, IT, Marketing$320
Oklahoma State UniversityBusiness, Agriculture, Statistics$494
Thomas Edison State UniversityCybersecurity, Healthcare, Information Technology$444
University of North GeorgiaInternational Affairs, Public Administration, Health Science$250
Southwestern Oklahoma State UniversityHealthcare Informatics, Education, Business$360
University of Texas of the Permian BasinSpecial Education, Literacy, Finance$394
Southern Illinois UniversityAviation, Engineering, Health Informatics$479
East Tennessee State UniversityPublic Health, Digital Marketing, Human Services$601

Easy and affordable online graduate programs are out there if you know where to look. Choose one of our 15 Easiest Master’s Degree Programs Online and increase your earnings potential without disrupting your life.

See Also: Mastering the Virtual Classroom: 8 Tips for Success in Your Online Master’s Program

1. American Public University

American Public University offers the most affordable online master’s degree programs. It’s even cheaper if you are also a U.S. service member. 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. 

American Public University

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 the different graduate programs. 

Aside from a military grant, you can also access scholarships and private loans. For example, you can pursue master’s degree programs in:

  • Business Administration
  • Criminal Justice
  • Healthcare Administration
  • Homeland Security
  • Military History
  • Sports Management

2. Sul Ross State University

Sul Ross State University (SRSU) is a public university that is part of the Texas State University System. Originally founded in 1917 as a teacher’s college, the school did not begin offering classes until 1920. It was named after Lawrence Sullivan Ross, a former Texas Ranger and governor.

Sul Ross University

SRSU is categorized as a Regional University in the West by U.S. News and World Report. Notable alumni include actor Dan Blocker of Bonanza fame. It offers both bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. It has several cheap online master’s programs, including business administration, criminal justice, and education.

As a long-standing public university in Texas with a focus on teacher training, SRSU provides quality education at a low cost. As approved by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the graduate programs allow working professionals to advance their careers affordably and flexibly.

  • Master of Business Administration 
  • Master of Political Science
  • Master of Science in Public Administration
  • Master of Science in Animal Science
  • Master of Science in Agriculture
  • Master of Arts in English

3. University of the People

The University of the People is a tuition-free school. This makes it one of the cheapest online master’s degree program options. However, you still need to pay a $60 application fee and a $400 assessment fee per course for graduate programs.

University of the People

How does the school keep costs so low in its master’s degree programs? Big donations help cut tuition costs and provide scholarships. Students pay a $200 fee after completing each course. 

Accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission, online students get access to lecture notes, webinars and live sessions, online forums, and open educational resources. In 15 to 17 months, you can earn one of many online master’s degrees. Distance education programs include:

  • Business Administration
  • Computer Science
  • Education
  • Health Science
  • Information Technology

4. University of South Dakota

The University of South Dakota (USD) offers 22 master’s degrees with concentrations in an affordable and flexible online format. As South Dakota’s oldest university, USD has a longstanding tradition of educational excellence and innovation. With a 16:1 student-faculty ratio, USD provides high-quality learning environments and personalized attention. 

University of South Dakota

Several colleges and schools, including Business, Fine Arts, Arts & Sciences, Education, and Health Sciences, offer cheap online master’s programs. USD’s low tuition makes it attractive for students seeking quality education on a budget. Tuition is $465.80 per credit hour, with discounted rates for the military.

USD is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, further demonstrating its commitment to academic excellence. An online master’s degree program allows working professionals to advance while balancing other responsibilities. Among the most affordable online masters programs available include:

  • Adult and Higher Education
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Counseling and Psychology
  • Interdisciplinary Studies
  • Kinesiology and Sport Management
  • Music

5. Ohio University

Ohio University commits itself to providing an affordable master’s degree program. It has frozen its tuition rates in recent years. This has helped the university offer some of the cheapest online master’s degree programs out there.

Ohio University

The school offers over 100 master’s degree programs and certificates for graduate students. What makes these distance learning 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.

An Ohio resident needs to pay up to $583 per credit hour. Short term and institutional loans are also available. Unique master’s degrees you can earn online include:

  • Master of Arts in Organizational Communication
  • Master of Business Administration
  • Master of Music Education
  • Master of Science in Athletic Administration
  • Master of Science in Chemistry
  • Master of Science in Civil Engineering

6. University of the Cumberlands

The University of the Cumberlands, established over 120 years ago in Williamsburg, Kentucky, provides quality yet affordable education for master’s degree programs. Your credit fees cover the tuition, technology fees, academic resources, books, and counseling student services. 

University of the Cumberlands

With no residency requirements and tuition averaging $315 per credit hour, the University partners with students to ensure educational goals are met affordably. Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, the University of the Cumberlands maintains affordable costs while delivering a high-quality education.

Its graduate programs allow working professionals to further their education and careers flexibly and cost-effectively. With over a century of experience providing education in Kentucky, the University strives to make master’s degree programs accessible. Here, you can take an affordable online master’s program, including:

  • Addiction Studies
  • Business
  • Education
  • Health Science
  • Ministry
  • Information Technology

7. Amridge University

Amridge University is a private, Christian school committed to online education. Amridge provides a $575 laptop fee so students can purchase a laptop. You can use this device to access Canvas, complete assignments, and use Amridge’s free Office 365 student software.

Amridge University

It offers over 20 online graduate programs for students seeking a master’s degree program. 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.

There are different scholarships available, including the Children of Fallen Heroes Scholarship and Accelerated Degree Program Grant. These are the other cheap online programs you can consider:

  • Human Services
  • Counseling
  • Marriage and Family Therapy
  • Leadership and Management
  • Divinity
  • Christian Education

8. Georgia Southwestern State University

Georgia Southwestern State University (GSW), established in 1906, is part of the University System of Georgia. It operates an affordable golf course and has been designated a Military Friendly School. Notable alumni include former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, First Lady Rosalynn Carter, and Attorney General Griffin Bell.

Georgia Southwestern State University

With its military-friendly status and notable alumni, GSW provides quality and affordable online courses. The flexibility of the master’s degree programs allows working professionals to advance their education and careers. Aside from writing consultants and academic advisors, you will get hands-on experience through internships, research, and overseas studies.

As accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, GSW offers affordable bachelor’s and master’s degrees, plus certificate programs. You can choose from these low-cost online programs:

  • Business Administration
  • Computer Science
  • Nurse Educator
  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Nursing Leadership
  • Informatics

9. University of Arkansas – Fayetteville

When you think of the University of Arkansas, sports and Razorbacks come to mind. U of A’s online learning system is well-tested. Online students get access to academic support services such as tutoring, writing centers, and library assistance.

University of Arkansas

Qualified students can apply for fellowships, research funding, and graduate assistantships. You need to have a baccalaureate degree and a 3.0 cumulative GPA to qualify for the online master’s degree program.

More than 3,000 Razorbacks study exclusively online. And over 14,000 students take online classes. You can study affordable master’s degree programs 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 Science in Environmental Resiliency
  • Master of Social Work
  • Master of Human Resource Development

10. University of Texas at El Paso

The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) is a Hispanic-serving Institution founded in 1914 that is part of the University of Texas system. It has one of the largest Hispanic student populations nationwide at 80%. Over 50% are first-generation college students served through on-campus counterparts and UTEP Connect online programs.


UTEP is recognized by Forbes, Washington Monthly, and U.S. News for its national universities, business, online graduate, engineering, and nursing programs. It is a top producer of Hispanic engineers. Notable alumni include NBA player Nate Archibald and actor F. Murray Abraham.

As a Hispanic-serving institution with national recognition, UTEP provides accessible, quality education. 

With approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, UTEP’s affordable online graduate programs allow working professionals to advance their careers. UTEP offers 170 affordable degree programs, from bachelor’s to doctorate, plus certificates. Its master’s degree programs with concentration options include:

  • Defense and Strategic Studies
  • Education in Curriculum and Instruction
  • Construction Management
  • Systems Engineering
  • Fine Arts
  • Music

11. Fort Hays State University

Fort Hays State University offers affordable online tuition for master’s students. 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 program.


Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, Fort Hays State University provides military and corporate scholarships to help cover the costs of tuition, textbooks, and other supplies of a master’s degree program.

With more than 60 online graduate programs, students get variety at Fort Hays State University. Experience technology-based learning for an affordable master’s degree program in these areas.

  • Master of Science in Counseling
  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • Master of Business Administration
  • Master of Arts in Public History
  • Master of Science in Health and Human Performance
  • Master’s in School Psychology

12. Midwestern State University

Midwestern State University (MSU), founded in 1922 as a junior college, is a public university in Texas. It is one of few public schools with special out-of-state tuition rates, earning a top 10 spot in U.S. News rankings for that category.

Midwestern State University

MSU is also recognized for its public schools, regional universities, business, and engineering programs with no doctorate. Notable alumni include TV personality, Dr. Phil. With its unique tuition structure and high-ranking distance learning programs, MSU delivers quality education at an affordable price. 

Choosing an affordable master’s degree program from MSU lets you take your education and career further. With accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and Commission on Colleges, MSU provides around 90 affordable bachelor’s and master’s programs, including 9 online/hybrid master’s options with concentrations:

  • Human Resource Development
  • Business Administration
  • Teacher Education
  • Sports Administration
  • Special Education
  • Clinical Mental Health

13. 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.

University of Alaska Fairbanks

UAF ranks #209 among U.S. News & World Report’s Top Public Schools. Another advantage is that UAF’s tuition costs are well below the national average. You may even qualify for low in-state rates for a master’s degree program.

For example, an online Master of Arts in Arctic and Northern Studies looks at the communities that have braved the cold for centuries. The graduate business program develops leaders with scientific and business knowledge to help industries overcome climate change. Students can also earn an online Master of Business Administration with a concentration in:

  • Fisheries
  • Marine Biology
  • Oceanography
  • Justice Administration
  • Security and Disaster Management
  • Communication

14. Fitchburg State University

Fitchburg State University (FSU), founded in 1894 as a women’s teaching college, is a public university in Massachusetts. It combines sciences and liberal arts with professional programs. Notable alumni include fantasy author R.A. Salvatore.

Fitchburg State University

FSU is ranked by U.S. News for its public schools, regional universities, and top online bachelor’s and graduate education programs. Originally focused on teacher training, FSU now provides diverse academic distance learning programs. Its affordable online graduate degrees allow working professionals to advance their careers flexibly. 

As a top-ranked public university, FSU delivers quality education at a low cost. FSU provides over 50 affordable bachelor’s and master’s degrees and certificates. It offers affordable master’s degree programs with concentrations in:

  • Applied Communication
  • Leadership and Management
  • History
  • Business
  • Nursing
  • Behavioral Sciences

15. Eastern New Mexico University

Become an Eastern New Mexico University “Greyhound” and zip through your graduate-level coursework. You can leverage your career without going into debt by taking an affordable online master’s program from this university.

Eastern New Mexico University

Affordable tuition and flexible, fast-paced programming help students get ahead as graduation nears. You can earn a cheap degree and finish it in less than two years. Most online courses run for four and eight weeks.

ENMU also offers online graduate certificate programs in areas like elementary education, secondary education, and financial planning. Online learners can choose master’s degree programs in:

  • Anthropology
  • Business
  • Communication
  • Bilingual Education
  • Nursing
  • Sport Administration

16. University of North Alabama

The University of North Alabama (UNA) provides affordable online master’s degrees through interest-free monthly payment plans. Partnering with Afford, UNA offers payment options spread out before and during each semester, avoiding loans.

University of North Alabama

UNA’s online graduate programs cost approximately $326 per credit hour, excluding the MBA. Additional fees may apply. Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, UNA maintains academic standards while providing financial flexibility.

With reasonable tuition rates and payment plans available, UNA offers some of the most affordable online master’s programs in the state. The interest-free monthly payments allow students to progress toward their online master’s degree programs without taking on debt.

  • Family and Community Services
  • Writing
  • Geographic Information Science
  • History
  • Early Childhood Education
  • Applied Manufacturing Engineering

17. Minot State University

Minot State University gives master’s 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.

Minot State University

MSU mainly uses Blackboard for collaborative tutorials and web classes. Student services also extend to a master’s degree online program. This means the affordable tuition covers support from the online bookstore, student health center, and internet service. 

Payment plans are available for the spring and fall semesters. You may also apply for financial aid. Consider enrolling in these online master’s degree programs.

  • Teacher Education
  • Management
  • Disability Human Services
  • Speech Language Pathology
  • Sports Management
  • Information Systems

18. Southeast Missouri State University

Southeast Missouri State University (SEMO), located in Cape Girardeau, is a public-accredited university. As one of the oldest educational institutions in the country, SEMO has a long history of providing quality education. You can transfer prior learning credits, including military or academic-related credits.

Southeast Missouri State University

With accreditation from the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, SEMO maintains academic standards while keeping costs low. Tuition at Southeast Missouri State University starts at $331 per credit for Missouri residents, excluding fees.

Its online graduate programs allow working professionals to further their education affordably and flexibly. As an established public university focused on student success, Southeast Missouri State University aims to make quality master’s degree programs accessible.

  • Elementary Education
  • Business
  • Management
  • Industrial and Organizational Psychology
  • Agribusiness
  • Applied Behavioral Analysis

19. University of Arkansas Little Rock

Thanks to The University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s location, master’s students land jobs at some of the state’s biggest employers. Serving working students is UA’s priority. Student services include a library, bookstore, food pantry, and bus pass to alleviate stress.

University of Arkansas at Little Rock

At UA, you’ll pay $396 per credit and no additional fees. Military-affiliated students only need to pay $325 per credit to get into a master’s degree program. Financial aid specialists can also advise you on scholarships, loans, grants, and work-study distance learning programs.

UA uses Blackboard support for virtual classes and online forums. The school offers cheap online master’s programs with specialization in:

  • Criminal Justice
  • Education
  • Health Education and Promotion
  • Information Science
  • Applied Communication Studies
  • Professional and Technical Writing

20. Texas A&M University-Kingsville

Texas A&M University-Kingsville (TAMUK), established in 1925, is a distinguished member of the Texas A&M University System. Renowned for its diversity, TAMUK is recognized as one of the leading Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) in the United States and is a significant contributor to Hispanic bachelor’s degree attainment.

Texas A&M University

The university has garnered acclaim from various college review publications such as Forbes, Washington Monthly, and U.S. News & World Report, particularly for its national university ranking, business and engineering programs, as well as its master’s degree programs. 

TAMUK offers a wide range of affordable degree programs spanning from bachelor’s to doctorate levels, along with certificate programs, totaling over 100 offerings. Following accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the university provides cost-effective online master’s degree programs.

  • Education 
  • Kinesiology with Sport Management
  • Business
  • Industrial Engineering
  • Accountancy
  • Psychology

21. Aspen University

Aspen University will let you finish a master’s degree 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.

Aspen University

Instead of paying per credit, 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 degree. You can change up your degree by earning a concentration in a specific area. Some of the master’s degree programs include:

  • Business
  • Education
  • Nursing
  • Public Health
  • Technology
  • Psychology

22. Lamar University

Lamar University, founded in Beaufort, Texas, is dedicated to delivering high-quality education to non-traditional students through its affordable and flexible online master’s degree programs. LU Online provides 24 options for students seeking advanced degrees while balancing personal and professional commitments. 

Lamar University

The university utilizes the Blackboard platform to facilitate online coursework, ensuring accessibility to learning materials at any time. With an average net price of $9,727, Lamar University offers flexible payment options for students ineligible for financial aid. 

Even when you’re taking online access, you get access to the school’s fitness facilities, dining options, recital halls, and library centers. Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission, Lamar University assures quality education for its online master’s degrees.

  • Engineering Management
  • Accounting
  • Hospitality Leadership
  • Applied Digital Learning
  • Music
  • Marketing

23. Western Governors University

Western Governors University has instructors and mentors who can provide tailored classes based on their areas of expertise. Online classes include student-focused assessments and virtual forums. At WGU, master’s students pay flat-rate tuition for each six-month term. 

Western Governors University

The more online 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 offers financial aid to eligible students. You may also consider applying for institutional scholarships. Once approved, you can take your master’s degree online in these specializations:

  • Health Sciences
  • Accounting
  • Data Analytics
  • IT Management
  • Marketing
  • Teaching

24. Oklahoma State University

Oklahoma State University (OSU), a land-grant public research institution, serves over 35,000 students across five campus locations and online. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, OSU ensures quality education and accessibility for its students.


Tuition fees are $230.45 per credit hour for resident graduates and $360 per credit hour for non-resident graduates enrolled in the online program. OSU also offers financial aid opportunities, including scholarships, associateships, employment options, and grants.

You can build your professional network through the school’s internships and research projects. OSU provides students with flexible and affordable options for earning their master’s degrees online, offering master’s degree programs in various fields such as:

  • Agricultural Education
  • Applied Education Statistics
  • Business Administration
  • Health Care Administration
  • Business Analytics and Data
  • Development and Family Science

25. Thomas Edison State University

Thomas Edison State University proves that academic achievements have no age limit. This New Jersey-based school provides graduate degrees for mature adults. TESU’s average student age is 35. 

Thomas Edison State University

You can also design your own online master’s degree program to learn in your preferred style. Take interactive courses if you learn best by discussing course material with classmates. Meanwhile, you may take exam prep coursesif you like to work alone.

No matter which degree you get, you pay as you go. TESU offers per credit tuition for students, along with financial aid and grants. TESU offers the following online master’s degree programs.

  • Liberal Studies
  • Human Resources Management
  • Business Administration
  • Cybersecurity
  • Healthcare Management
  • Information Technology

26. University of North Georgia

The University of North Georgia (UNG), established in 1873, is part of the University System of Georgia and operates across five campuses as well as online. As one of the nation’s six Senior Military colleges, UNG holds the designation of State Leadership Institution, formed from the merger of two older institutions in 2013. 

University of North Georgia

Recognized for its military focus, UNG has achieved a “Best for Vets” ranking from Military Times. It features prominently in various categories of U.S. News & World Report’s 2019 Best Colleges review list, including Most Innovative Schools, Top Public Schools, and Best Colleges for Veterans. 

Offering over 100 distance programs ranging from associate’s to doctorate degrees, along with certificate programs, UNG provides affordable education options. As accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the university offers six economical online master’s degree programs with concentration options.

  • International Affairs
  • Education
  • Public Administration
  • Criminal Justice
  • Kinesiology
  • Accountancy

27. Southwestern Oklahoma State University

At Southwestern Oklahoma State University, students have several distance education options. This puts you in control of how you want to learn. SWOSU offers master’s degree programs delivered through Canvas, which utilizes asynchronous coursework, so you can choose when you want to study.

Southwestern Oklahoma State University

Virtual Bulldogs can enroll in a blended distance learning program where you can combine online and in-person coursework. SWOSU pays out over $40 million in student financial aid across 70% of its student body. This helps you save in the per credit tuition that you can allot to other resources instead.

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.

  • Master of Business Administration
  • Master of Education in Educational Administration
  • Master of Science in Psychology
  • Master of Science in Pharmacy
  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • Master of Arts in Music

28. University of Texas of the Permian Basin

The University of Texas of the Permian Basin (UTPB), established in 1973 and part of the University of Texas System, caters to students both online and its on-campus counterparts. As a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI), UTPB’s student body comprises 44% Hispanic students.

The University of Texas Permian Basin

The accredited university is recognized in various categories of U.S. News & World Report’s 2019 Best Colleges review list, including Top Public Schools, Regional Universities West, and Best Online Programs. Offering affordable bachelor’s and master’s degrees along with certificate programs, UTPB provides accessible education. 

There are typically six start dates for these master’s degree programs, yet this may vary by program. Some distance learning programs are TEACH Grant eligible per credit. As approved by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, UTPB lets you take an online master’s degree program in these concentrations:

  • Master in Business Administration
  • Master of Science in Public Administration
  • Master of Arts in Bilingual/ESL
  • Master of Arts in Educational Leadership
  • Master of Arts in Special Education
  • Master of Arts in Literacy

29. 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 accredited university polled students to choose a new nickname. To make the most out of your online master’s degree program, you can utilize the school’s research library, writing assistance services, and career development consultations.

Southern Illinois University

Developing projects with access to academic databases and journals through the university library is easy. In addition, there are multimedia resources such as videos, podcasts, and interactive simulations. You can also read peer-reviewed articles and scholarly publications.

SIU’s financial aid office provides 4.3 million dollars in donor-funded scholarships per year to help students cut back costs on per-credit courses on master’s degree programs.

  • Aviation Management
  • Quality Engineering and Management
  • Behavior Analysis and Therapy
  • Architecture
  • Health Informatics
  • Medical Dosimetry

30. East Tennessee State University

East Tennessee State University offers fully online degree programs with flexible scheduling options, allowing students to study asynchronously or synchronously with live access to courses. 

East Tennessee State University

Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, ETSU guarantees quality education and support at a cost-effective price, making it one of the most economical options for pursuing a master’s degree program. The university offers financial aid and support services, ensuring a conducive learning environment for distance learners.

With tuition rates of $601 per credit hour for in-state students and an e-rate of $841 per credit hour plus online course fees for out-of-state residents, ETSU provides affordable options for finishing an online master’s degree program.

  • Human Services
  • Public Health
  • Sport Management
  • Professional Studies in Strategic Leadership
  • Nursing
  • Digital Marketing

Why Should I Pursue an Online Master’s Degree Program?

Aim to take an affordable master’s degree program to improve salaries, make beneficial career changes, take on new roles, develop specializations, gain expertise and certifications, and learn emerging technologies and methodologies in your field. Although earning an online degree requires an investment, graduates gain advantages that make it worthwhile.

  • Increase earning potential with higher salaries
  • Qualify for new advanced roles and positions
  • Develop specialized expertise in a subject area
  • Become fully certified experts in their field
  • Learn new technologies and methodologies
  • Make positive career changes that improve well-being
Man writing down notes with a laptop beside him

While challenging, distance learning provides long-term benefits for career-driven students willing to invest in higher education and their future. The number of jobs that require education from a master’s degree program has increased in recent years. The U.S. Census Bureau reports a surge in the number of people with advanced degrees.

Plus, an online program is no longer “non-traditional.” 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 Do I Need to Apply to a Graduate Degree Program?

The application process and admissions criteria ensure incoming students are prepared for the rigor of graduate-level education. Most accredited colleges for distance learning 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
  • Common admission tests include:
    • GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) for general admission
    • LSAT (Law School Admission Test) for law programs
    • GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) for business/management degrees
    • Miller Analogies Test for some graduate programs
  • Additional qualifications or requirements may be needed depending on the specific school and graduate program

Meeting the prerequisites and test score requirements is crucial for admission into competitive online master’s degree programs.

Should You Enroll in a Low-Cost Online Master’s Degree Program?

Consider enrolling in an affordable master’s degree online if you want to cut back on costs. While cheaper online degrees reduce costs like travel and fees, the flexibility and access to out-of-state graduate schools are also advantages. However, online learning requires self-discipline and independence, with less structure than in-person programs.

So instead of only looking at price, you should evaluate your own strengths and needs first when choosing an online master’s degree program. The cheapest option may not provide the best fit. You don’t necessarily have to opt for expensive online degree programs. 

Finding a low-cost master’s degree program tailored to one’s learning style and goals is ideal. While saving money can be beneficial, quality and fit should not be sacrificed. Weigh affordability along with academic factors and learning format when selecting the best distance learning.

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 the average.

In general, public universities cost less than private graduate 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 an affordable online master’s degree program that works best for you and meets your financial needs.

See Also: How to Choose an Affordable Online Master’s Program

Can Master’s Students Get Financial Aid for Cheap Online Master’s Programs?

For financial assistance for graduate programs, search the websites of professional organizations or leading companies in your field. Similar to expensive online degree programs, you can also find scholarships for master’s students in your home state or city.

  • Because master’s students already have an undergraduate degree, they are no longer eligible for need-based financial aid, such as the Pell Grant.
  • 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 master’s degrees a possibility.
  • 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 private loans forgiven. 
  • Students can also apply for scholarships within their university and department. Non-academic organizations also offer scholarships for master’s students.
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What Are the Easiest and Most Affordable Online Masters Programs?

These are easy, affordable master’s degree programs that don’t require forty hours per week of study time. While every school is different, there are some majors that take less time to complete.

The easiest online master’s 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

What Is the Importance of Accreditation in Online Master’s Degree Programs?

Accreditation means a university has the stamp of approval from an objective third party.

Jerome L. Rekart, Ph.D. who was the Vice President of Research and Insights at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) and has over 15 years of experience in educational research stresses the importance of attending an accredited school:

“The biggest thing to be aware of is whether or not the school is accredited. A degree from a non-accredited school is essentially worthless. There is then a ranking after that, with many employers valuing degrees from regionally-accredited schools more than those that are nationally-accredited. This is an important piece, because it seems counter-intuitive, but just keep in mind that all eight members of the Ivy League have regional accreditation, not national.”

Accrediting agencies, like colleges and school commissions, have an in-depth process for evaluating a school’s performance in offering affordable online master’s degrees.

  • 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.

Program Accreditation

Accreditation keeps the door open to further academic achievements. You’ll need a degree from an accredited institution to pursue further graduate-level studies. Students benefit from program accreditation. 

Industry-focused employers look for accreditation that suits their needs. Want to finish a master’s degree program in communication? Consider getting it from a program accredited by the Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Institution Accreditation

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.

How to Find the Right Cheap Online Master’s Degree Programs?

Selecting an online master’s degree program based on both fit and true affordability will help you maximize the value of your educational investment.

Determine Your Career Goals

When searching for the right online master’s degree program, first consider your future goals and interests. Look for specializations and faculty expertise that align with your desired career path. Those wanting to enter the workforce should find programs with practical, experiential learning. Research-heavy programs better prepare students for doctoral studies.

Approach the decision from the perspective of either advancing your current field with new skills or making a career change through a new area of study. Many pursue MBAs or business master’s to gain leadership abilities for their role. Others get a Master of Arts to develop skills further.

The ideal affordable program matches your aspirations, whether building on your background or launching a new direction. Examine the specialization, faculty, and learning opportunities to find the best fit, not just the lowest cost. Your distance education should support your career ambitions.

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Consider the Expenses and Financial Aid Options

When evaluating the affordability of online degrees, look beyond just the tuition rates. Financial aid packages, including federal aid, loans, and scholarships, also impact costs. Tuition prices vary greatly, from $300 to $2,800 per credit. For a typical 15-credit academic year, total tuition ranges from $5,000 to $37,500.

Average annual tuition is $20,015 at private colleges and $11,554 at public schools. Many of the most affordable programs fall well below those figures. However, financial aid packages significantly affect what students ultimately pay.

Research the full expenses and financing options rather than only considering the cheapest tuition. While important, tuition is not the sole factor determining affordability once financial aid is factored in. Analyze total costs and funding opportunities to determine the most economical online education for your situation.

How Did You Rank the Most Affordable Online Masters Programs?

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.

  • This list highlights the most affordable online degree programs without compromising quality education or flexibility for working professionals and busy adults.
  • The schools mentioned offer considerable cost savings with tuition rates on a per-credit-hour or average net cost basis, as disclosed by the institutions.
  • Affordability does not diminish the caliber of education, as these programs still feature high-quality online instruction from qualified professors and outstanding virtual learning platforms in 100% online or hybrid formats. 
  • The rigorous coursework leads to fully accredited online master’s degrees, and financial aid options fit every budget. 
  • With around-the-clock support from online help centers, comprehensive curricula, and flexibility for obligations outside school, these affordable online degree programs produce capable master’s degree program holders in various areas of study. 

The aim is to provide working students and adults an affordable path to a master’s degree program without sacrificing work, family commitments, or the quality of education. To learn more, visit our methodology page.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Online Master’s Degree Program Is Most in Demand?

Master’s degrees in business, nursing, information technology, engineering management, and marketing are the most in-demand, leading to careers with high growth projections and earning potential. While some online master’s degrees are always in high demand, others may become more sought after by employers as they look for candidates.

Is It Cheaper to Get a Master’s Degree Online?

Online courses are often cheaper than their on-campus counterparts, with lower tuition for out-of-state students and reduced costs from not commuting or relocating. The flexibility also allows many students to maintain employment while studying.

How Long Does It Take to Earn an Online Master’s Degree?

On average, online master’s degree programs take two years of full-time study, especially for those with traditional 30-credit-hour programs. However, some online schools offer accelerated graduate programs that will let you finish master’s degree programs in around 18 months or less.

Will My Diploma Say That I Got My Degree Online?

Your diploma may not explicitly say that you completed your master’s degree program from an online or distance learning program. A diploma will look just the same as those given to students and their on-campus counterparts.

What Jobs Require a Master’s Degree?

Most jobs don’t require diplomas from master’s degree programs, although having a graduate diploma opens more opportunities for teaching, management, and research roles. The BLS reports that 85% of workers with a master’s degree hold management or professional roles.


Knowing the most affordable online master’s programs allows students to minimize debt and maximize career advancement. By selecting the cheapest accredited options, students can achieve their goals without breaking the bank. Investigating inexpensive online masters opens doors to career growth and prosperity.

Continue Your Graduate Degree Search With These Rankings

Another resource that can help you find master’s degree programs that will help advance your career is our overview of the Accredited Online Masters Degree Programs.