Shannon L.
Written By - Shannon L.

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In recent years, there has been a notable surge in the popularity of online degree programs, particularly for those pursuing their master’s. Prospective students increasingly recognize the value of graduate degrees as they open doors to more significant career opportunities across various industries and professions. Online master’s programs have emerged as a remarkably convenient option, offering many choices for diverse educational needs. Affordability is crucial when selecting an online master’s degree program, especially given the financial challenges associated with traditional state universities and colleges. Luckily there are many inexpensive online master’s programs. We have created this comprehensive guide about the most affordable online master’s programs that readers can explore.

Most Affordable Online Masters Programs

Table Of Contents

Most Affordable Online Master’s Programs – Overview

Cost-effective online master’s programs continue to exhibit multiple options, presenting many prospects for pursuing higher education. These programs are specifically tailored to accommodate a wide range of individuals, such as employed individuals, international students, and students aiming to reduce their debt. Most U.S. universities have implemented dynamic pricing models to enhance the accessibility of higher education, irrespective of socioeconomic status.

Are the most affordable online master’s programs accredited?

Finding affordable online degree programs is a challenging task. When searching for an affordable master’s degree program, prospective students should consider various factors beyond tuition costs, including school rankings, partner programs, and, most importantly, accreditation. Accreditation is crucial, and it is granted by independent agencies such as the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) or the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). More information can be found in the Accreditation Guide.

How to Manage Online Master’s Program Costs

Choosing a cost-effective online master’s program will require diverse strategies to effectively handle and lower the overall cost of the program.

Part-Time vs. Full-Time Enrollment

The financial advantages of part-time enrollment are frequently disregarded by students. Enrolling part-time allows students to distribute the tuition expenses over an extended duration. They may also be able to sustain employment, thereby mitigating the financial burden of education. On the other hand, pursuing a full-time program can expedite completion, but it necessitates a greater initial commitment and may restrict working hours.

Workplace Reimbursement

Employers commonly provide tuition reimbursement programs as a form of employee benefit. Students should inquire about these advantages, as they can substantially decrease the amount of money they have to pay for tuition. Typically, eligibility necessitates that the field of study corresponds to the job position; thus, students should choose their programs accordingly.

Budgeting for Online Study

Drafting a comprehensive budget is essential for efficiently controlling expenses. When preparing their budgets, students must consider all projected expenditures, including tuition fees, textbook costs, and essential technological resources. Excluding indirect costs frequently results in underestimating the actual program cost. Budget components can include 

  • Tuition fees
  • Textbooks and materials
  • Technology requirements (laptop, software, etc.)
  • Internet costs
  • Potential loss of income due to study time

Criteria for Evaluating Affordability

Cost-effective online master’s programs continue to exhibit multiple options, presenting many prospects for pursuing higher education. These programs are specifically tailored to accommodate a wide range of individuals, such as employed individuals, international students, and students aiming to reduce their debt. Most U.S. universities have implemented dynamic pricing models to enhance the accessibility of higher education, irrespective of socioeconomic status.

To assess the affordability of online master’s programs, it is necessary to analyze various factors such as tuition fees, the availability of financial assistance, and other associated expenses.

Tuition Costs

The cost of tuition plays a pivotal role in determining the affordability of an online master’s program. Potential students should seek out programs that provide comprehensive information on the cost per credit hour and the total number of credit hours needed. For example, if a program costs $400 per credit and requires the completion of 30 credits, the overall tuition expense would amount to $12,000.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Financial aid and scholarships play a crucial role in easing the financial burden of higher education students experience. Therefore, it is critical to identify programs that provide scholarships, grants, and work-study opportunities. For example, a program that provides a scholarship amounting to $2,000 effectively mitigates the previously mentioned total tuition cost to $10,000.

Additional Expenses

It is also essential to consider supplementary expenses, including books, software, and potential residency prerequisites. The program must clearly break up these expenditures. For example, if supplementary expenditures amount to $500, the comprehensive expenditure of the program, with tuition fees and financial aid, would total $10,500 (based on the figures above).

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Financial Aid and Scholarships also a play a role in determining which programs are inexpensive. If the university is offering some kind of financial or scholarships, it helps immensely in reducing the cost of the program. Students need to check specific schools to see if they have any financial aid or scholarships for their specific situation.

Featured Online Programs

Southern New Hampshire University

PROGRAM: Online Masters Degrees

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 Best Buy and Best of Business – Best Online Degree awards and is consistently ranked as a top Military Friendly® School by G.I Jobs®.

Universities that offer the Most Affordable Online Master’s Programs – Details

The rankings of the 20 most affordable online master’s programs take into account several critical metrics, with a strong focus on the cost of the degree program. While tuition is an essential consideration in higher education, it is equally important to ensure that the university offers the specific online master’s degree a prospective student is looking for. Therefore, our criteria encompass the variety and number of online master’s degree programs available at each university, the availability of financial aid, accreditation status, admission requirements, and application fees.

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Purdue University Online

Purdue Online gives online master’s students the same curriculum as those on campus. They offer 54 online master’s programs that can be completed entirely online, except for a few that require some on-campus attendance. These online courses allow graduates to work at their own pace.Purdue focuses mainly on hard sciences, with seven engineering programs like computer engineering, electrical engineering, aeronautics, and industrial engineering. To apply, one pays a $60 fee, completes the online application, chats with an admissions counselor, provides transcripts, and gets three recommendation letters.The graduate tuition at Purdue Online can range from $11,636 to $20,766, depending on the specific program and other factors.

Source – Integrated Post Secondary Education Data System & University Data
*Tuition rates are for in-state and per year. Program-specific rates may apply.
**NA – data not available

degree by subject

Find The Most Affordable Online Master’s Programs by Subject

Frequently Asked Questions About Most Affordable Online Master’s Programs

Which online master’s programs are the most cost-effective and accredited?

Several noteworthy online master’s programs are affordable and accredited. These programs are provided by reputed universities, recognized for their competitive pricing and commitment to maintaining high educational standards through accreditation. See the program list on this page.

Which universities provide the most affordable online master’s programs for students from outside the state?

Is it possible to pursue an online master’s program without taking the GRE?

What is the fastest way to get an affordable online master’s degree?

Which are the popular affordable online master’s programs?

What is the cheapest online master’s program?

What is the most inexpensive online master’s program?

Careers After Graduation From Most Affordable Online Master’s Programs

Completing an affordable online master’s program can provide access to diverse professional prospects. The affordability of a program does not diminish the value of a degree, and employers frequently acknowledge the dedication and self-control necessary to complete a master’s program, irrespective of its financial implications. Here are several potential careers you can consider after obtaining an affordable online master’s degree:

Career Advancement

A significant number of professionals choose to pursue affordable online master’s programs to progress in their existing careers. Obtaining a master’s degree can result in advancing to more senior positions that entail greater responsibilities and generally offer a higher salary. For example, an individual with a master’s degree in education can take up a career as a school principal or an instructional coordinator.


Some master’s programs allow professionals to specialize in a specific domain within their broader field, making them exceptionally valuable authorities. For example, nurses can expand their expertise in a particular field, such as family practice, anesthesia, or informatics, by pursuing an online master’s in nursing program.

Career Transitioning

An affordable online master’s program can also serve as a conduit for students seeking to transition into a different profession. For example, an individual with expertise in a distinct domain may opt to obtain a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) to shift into a managerial or consulting position.

Consulting and Freelancing

After completing a master’s program, some can use their acquired knowledge and skills as consultants or freelancers. This can be the case in industries such as business, information technology, and engineering.

Research and Academia

Students with a master’s degree can participate in research or pursue doctoral studies, resulting in careers within academia or research. Advanced degrees are often necessary for positions in fields such as psychology, sociology, and science.


A master’s degree can provide professionals with essential leadership and managerial competencies to assume executive positions across diverse industries. Graduates can assume various roles, including but not limited to chief financial officer, operations manager, or department director.

Nonprofit Sector

Those with a strong enthusiasm for serving the community and pushing for social transformation can use their master’s degree to assume important positions within the nonprofit industry, such as program directors, development managers, or executive directors.

Government Positions

An online master’s degree can also be advantageous for careers in government, as specific positions in federal, state, or local agencies may necessitate advanced education.


Some graduates can establish their own businesses based on the in-depth knowledge and expertise acquired through a master’s program. An MBA or a master’s degree in entrepreneurship, for instance, can provide the essential groundwork for effectively initiating and expanding a new enterprise.

Technology and Innovation

Individuals with a master’s degree in a technology-oriented domain, such as computer science or information technology, have various career prospects. These include positions such as IT manager, systems architect, or chief technology officer, wherein they can assume leadership responsibilities in driving innovation and formulating strategic plans within technology-driven enterprises.


Those with a master’s degree in healthcare administration, public health, or a closely related field may pursue leadership positions within healthcare organizations, such as hospital administrator, health services manager, or policy analyst.

Creative Industries

Individuals in creative industries can pursue advanced positions in art direction, creative management, or production by obtaining a master’s degree in fine arts, graphic design, or media studies.

Environment and Sustainability

A master’s degree in environmental science or sustainability can provide students with the necessary skills and knowledge to pursue careers in conservation, environmental policy, or sustainable business practices, which align with the increasing focus on sustainability and environmental protection.

Global Prospects

An online master’s degree can equip students with the necessary credentials to pursue international employment opportunities, whether it be in multinational corporations, international nonprofit organizations, or governmental organizations.

Data Analysis and Research

A master’s degree can provide opportunities in data analysis, market research, or economic planning in fields that prioritize data-driven decision-making, such as marketing, finance, and public policy.

The extensive range of career prospects available to graduates of an online master’s program is not constrained by its affordability. Online education allows students to access a wide range of programs that align with their interests and career goals while also allowing them to manage their finances effectively.

Additional Resources for Students looking for Most Affordable Online Master’s Programs

  1. Accreditation Guide: Accreditation is a crucial factor when determining which affordable online master’s program to choose. There is a difference between cheapest online master’s programs and most affordable online master’s programs. Accreditation plays an important factor in which program might cost less or more.
  2. Sync vs. Async Learning: Some programs offer students to study asynchronously and other programs want students to online in a Blackboard tool setting when classes are going on.
  3. Best Online Master’s Programs: Read about our rankings of the Best Online Master’s Programs.
  4. Fastest Online Master’s Programs: Read about our rankings of the Best Online Master’s Programs.