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For graduate students, apart from completing their online degrees successfully, there is always a deep desire to graduate debt-free. Unfortunately, for many, this may be a distant dream. A college that offers completely free tuition, or for that matter a bachelor’s degree or completely tuition-free graduate programs, are generally hard to come by, which is why students look for financial aid and take out student loans, often resulting in student loan debt.
Forty years ago, the cost of attending a private college was the modern equivalent of $17,680 per year, and for a public college, it was $8,250. In thirty years, it grew to $38,720 for private colleges and $16,460 for public colleges. Fast forward to 2018-19, and those costs have risen to $48,510 for private and $ 21,370 for public colleges. So, if one is to look at the cost of education over the years, it is very obvious that it has gone up by leaps and bounds.
According to Fred’s data, in 2020, college graduates’ weekly wages were approximately 84 percent more than those of high school graduates. Hence, higher education remains a very smart investment. In this environment where education is such a big business, it is very difficult to find free online degree programs, r free education in general.
This guide digs deep into the area of free tuition to see if there are any free masters degree online, walks students through how to do a school search and find free master’s programs, along with finding ways to reduce the cost of online degrees.
Types of Free College Education
There are several variants of ‘free college education’ that are available for students to explore. Many of these can either make degree programs almost completely tuition-free or at least bring down the overall costs of education. Here are a few:
Free Online Courses
Trusted Partner Programs with Free Tuition
Full Tuition Scholarships
Alternatively or additionally, some universities may offer a rebate program for military service and naval academy students, while others may run an on-campus work program for a professional studies certificate or an online master’s degree.
Factors Affecting Free Tuition
Free college tuition is relatively hard to come by. This is because several factors influence and affect tuition fees, and most colleges find it nearly impossible to mitigate costs and offer free tuition. Here are some key factors that affect free college tuition:
Student Support Services
Availability of Financial Aid for Degree Programs
Type of Accreditation
Quality and Experience of Faculty Members
Student to Faculty Ratio
Size and Influence of the Student Body
Medium and Format of Instruction for online courses (whether or not online learning is through an advertising supported site)
Checklist for Free Tuition Seekers
Prospective students looking for free post-secondary education should:
Look for a school where they will not need to apply for financial aid each year. (scholarships are automatically renewed.)
Check if they qualify for financial assistance like Pell Grants, student loans, and work-study.
Check to see if a school that offers free tuition based on work hours is available to online students.
Make sure they read program details of selected schools carefully and zero in on one that offers free classes specifically for online students.
www.onlinemasterscolleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.
Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit, accredited institution with more than 3,000 on-campus students and over 60,000 online students, making us one of the fastest-growing universities in the country. Founded in 1932, we’ve been relentlessly reinventing higher education ever since and have gained national recognition for our dedication to helping students transform their lives and the lives of those around them.
We’re proud to provide affordable, accessible education that students can pursue on our 300-acre campus in Manchester, NH, over our innovative online platform or at our regional centers in Manchester, Nashua, Portsmouth and Salem, NH, and Brunswick, ME.
SNHU has earned the GetEducated.com Best Buy and Best of Business – Best Online Degree awards and is consistently ranked as a top Military Friendly® School by G.I Jobs®.
FAQs about Free Masters Degree Online
Frequently Asked Questions
Is the free master’s degree online programs valued by employers?
In generic terms, most employers do not care about where the bachelor’s degree or master’s degree is from, as long as the candidate shows the necessary skills required for the job. If the candidate has attended some Ivy league school and not a tuition-free college, those degrees will stand out and be of more value.
How to get a master’s degree for free?
There are a few ways one can get a tuition-free master’s:
Some universities provide a full grant for a master’s program.
Some universities run tuition-free master’s courses.
Some universities offer a tuition rebate to students who work for the university.
Some employers reimburse tuition fees for deserving candidates.
How to get a tuition-free degree?
Here are a few ways of getting a tuition-free degree:
There are top universities that give financial aid through full grants to deserving students (based on SAT scores) if their family income is between $45,000 to $90,000 for a family of 4.
Students get financial aid through a full grant for tuition if their SAT is also granted free.
Do universities that offer tuition-free online master’s degrees maintain a high standard in their programs?
Educational institutions that offer tuition-free online masters programs are the same universities that offer many other online masters degrees, maintain the same student-to-faculty ratio, share the same student body, and have the same faculty. Free programs are also designed by the same team that designs regular paid programs. So, students can expect the same standards in these tuition-free masters degree programs.
Are there any free accredited online colleges?
Yes, the University of The People is an accredited university that offers courses for free to undergraduate and graduate students.
What are the admission requirements for the tuition-free online master’s degree programs?
All accredited universities have standard (some optional) admission requirements like GRE or GMAT scores, work experience, official transcripts, personal statement, statement of purpose, resume, etc. Tuition-free master’s programs would be no different.
Are free degrees completely free, or will I require some sort of financial aid?
When a program is called free, it is deemed to be free and costs nothing for a student. However, some free programs may have certain caveats and require financial aid, especially for student residence, or other educational expenses.
When prospective students do a school search for free online master’s degrees, they may or may not come across free offerings so easily. This is because programs in some disciplines, such as computer science, liberal arts, or business administration, may have more free programs, while other disciplines may not. Moreover, colleges providing flexible degree programs, trusted partner programs, and online courses, are bound to have a wider selection of free offerings, than those that do not.
When looking for a free online master’s degree, students should check for academic excellence and school rankings. Additionally, it is always recommended to choose an accredited college or program to qualify for better jobs and higher pay, after graduation.
Here are some universities that offer accredited free masters degree online programs:
Since the School’s founding in 1917, Stanford University’s faculty, students, and alumni have solved education’s greatest challenges and improved lives through learning, discovery, and driving change in practice and policy. Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education offers free master’s degrees online for qualifying candidates with a Master’s Degree in Policy, Organization, and Leadership (POLS) studies that can be completed for free in several ways. POLS is a nine-month, cohort-based master’s program. A diverse cohort of students gains the knowledge, theory, and hands-on experience necessary for effective leadership in a wide range of education enterprises. Through online classes, graduate coursework, and capstone field projects with partner sites, students hone critical analysis, teamwork, and problem-solving skills. Stanford takes advantage of its strategic position as a global hub of innovation to develop mission-driven professionals. Here are a few ways that qualifying students can make this into a free master’s degree online.
The Knight-Hennessy Scholars (KHS) program aims to prepare the next generation of global leaders to address the world’s increasingly complex challenges. The program selects up to 100 students each year and provides financial support for the full cost of attendance for master’s studies at Stanford. Check eligibility here.
University of Texas, Dallas, The Naveen Jindal School of Management: The School was created in 1975, following The University of Texas at Dallas in 1969. The three visionary founders of Texas Instruments sparked the University’s creation when they launched a research center in 1961. In 2011, the management school was named for an MBA graduate, Naveen Jindal, to recognize his generous giving. Currently, the Jindal School offers more than 30 programs at the undergraduate, master’s, and Ph.D. levels, has more than 9,250 students, and over 300 faculty members.
University of Texas, Dallas, offers a Masters in Business Analytics focused on Data Science and is a free online master’s degree for qualifying students. The Naveen Jindal School of Management at UT Dallas runs a master’s in business analytics where they teach cutting-edge technologies such as R, Python, SAS, Hadoop, Spark, SAP, AI, and other computer science-related courses. The program fits all types of learners; one can learn to code from scratch with any level of experience. Even if one has never coded before or one is already an expert, the program is suited for all backgrounds. This is a fully online course, and the entire course fee can be covered by scholarships worth $15,000 upon enrolling. This amount helps students fund the master’s program, potentially making this a free online master’s degree.
University of The People is the Education Revolution! It is the first nonprofit, American-accredited, tuition-free online university dedicated to opening access to higher education globally. Accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) and partnered with top universities worldwide, UoPeople offers degree programs in Business Administration, Computer Science, Health Science, and Education.
The University of People (UoPeople) offers a Master of Business Administration that uses a hands-on approach to business and community leadership as part of a cutting-edge and stimulating educational experience. The UoPeople MBA instills the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to pursue personal and professional goals and excel in today’s diverse organizations. Its graduates are positioned to thrive in business, industry, government, and nonprofit management. This is a complete tuition-free master’s degree online program. Students are just required to pay a $60.00 application fee and an assessment fee of $240.00 at the end of the course examination. Courses are nine weeks in length, and students may take as many as three courses each term. The MBA can be completed in as little as six terms or fifteen months of full-time study. Students also have the flexibility to enroll for part-time study and take one course per term.
University of People offers a Masters in Education in Advanced Teaching degree, a complete tuition-free online master’s program. Students are just required to pay a $60.00 application fee and an assessment fee of $240.00 at the end of the course examination. To increase the amount of highly skilled teachers across the world, the University of the People (UoPeople) and the International Baccalaureate (IB) have launched this tuition-free, online Master of Education (M.Ed.) program. The curriculum reflects the IB’s approaches to teaching and learning, so the program will also meet the needs of IB World Schools, which are looking to recruit teachers familiar with IB pedagogy. The M.Ed. program will produce a new generation of globally-minded educators with an in-depth knowledge of curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment, to support student-directed inquiry, interdisciplinary learning, intercultural competence, and critical thinking. Graduates of the M.Ed. programs are required to complete a minimum of 39 credits. For part-time students, this will generally take thirteen terms. Full-time students can expect to complete the program in seven terms, and accelerated track students can earn their degree in five terms.
Texas A & M University –The Bush School of Government & Public Service – The Bush School of Government and Public Service was founded in 1997 under President George H. W. Bush’s philosophy that Public Service is a Noble Calling. Since then, the Bush School has continued to reflect that notion in curriculum, research, and student experience and has become a leading public and international affairs graduate institution. The Bush School prepares students to become principled leaders in their fields and to reflect the value of public service throughout their careers.
Texas A&M University offers a Masters in Public Service and Administration (MPSA) that can be considered a free masters degree online. All students admitted full-time to the Bush School MPSA will receive funding. How much one earns is determined by one’s academic strengths, experiences/statements, interviews, and more. The school encourages students to apply by the priority deadline to be considered for the best options. Bush school funding advice students to finance their education in the following ways:
Scholarships/Fellowships – earned through merit, eligibility criteria, or need.
Grants – usually given based on financial need; often state-based.
Waivers – avoiding certain fees based on designations or qualifications; can include waiving non-resident tuition, application fees, and more.
2. Earned Money:
Work – seek on-campus or off-campus options.
Graduate Assistantships – work for faculty or staff in research, teaching, or support roles; most require 20 hours per week and may include some tuition remission and insurance benefits.
Military Benefits – utilize GI Bill, Hazelwood, and other earned support.
3. Borrowed Money
Loans (fill out FAFSA) –borrowed money that must be repaid, with interest, usually after the student graduates/leaves the university.
Subsidized – the government pays the interest until the student graduates.
Unsubsidized – the student pays the interest throughout, including while in school, and deferment periods.
The Master of Public Service and administration programs cost $8200.00 per year for in-state students and $8,500.00 for out-of-state students. The financial assistance is such that students would complete the course without borrowing money, just by free money and earned money. The MPSA program develops principled leaders for the public and nonprofit sectors, providing students the tools and knowledge they will need to perform effectively and ethically in a time when public servants face new and increased challenges. The MPSA program is fully accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration. The curriculum provides students with general knowledge and analytical skills in management, leadership, policy analysis, and research methods. In 2020, the Bush School was named the no. 1 ranked “best value” in residential MPSA programs by Value College.
Other Free Masters Degrees Online or Ways to Lower Tuition Fee
While the number of US universities offering free master’s degree online programs is very small, there are other ways students can reduce their tuition fees. Below are a few ways students can reduce the tuition or enroll in free master’s degrees online overseas.
Student Audit Class
If students decide to audit a class, they must register for the class, but they do not get to sit for the exams and do not get credits for the course. Thus, they get to complete the master’s program free of cost.
Work for a University or a College
There are universities with tuition benefits for employees. There could be some prerequisites like – employment for a certain amount of time – to avail tuition remission benefits. But this is a good way to further one’s education and pursue a master’s degree for free.
Study in Foreign Universities
France: France has quite a few very good universities. The masters are affordable at EUR 237.00 per year. These are public universities, and that is the reason the tuition is so low. Some of the universities to look for are:
Germany: The public universities in Germany offer almost free education. There is only a student fee of just EUR 100. On top of that, Germany is extremely affordable compared to other developed countries. Below are the top public universities:
Students looking for free college tuition should be careful not to get carried away with the tag ‘free’. An advertising-supported site usually does not culminate in a recognized degree, because these “free” sites tend to offer online courses and not entire graduate programs that are free of cost. Moreover, higher education programs in say liberal arts or computer science may or may not necessarily be free, in that it all depends on the discipline and college one chooses.
It is therefore prudent for students to tread carefully, analyze the free program thoroughly, see if it fits their personal and career interests, and only then proceed with enrollment.
Resources for Students looking for Free Masters Degrees Online
Students looking for free online degree programs must understand and realize that there are not many programs or universities that will allow them to graduate debt-free. Here are a few more resources, using which students can reduce their financial burden:
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