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Top 10 Most Affordable Master’s Degrees Online

A master’s degree can mean as much as $400,000 in extra earnings over the course of a career compared to holders of bachelor’s degrees. Being able to earn that degree on a budget and at your own schedule while continuing to meet personal and professional responsibilities is a marvel of the modern era. This list of the top 10 cheapest online master’s degrees in 2018 will help you select the program at the school that best suits your academic needs and financial situation.

Online schooling requires a slightly different skill set than traditional brick and mortar college. You need to be more organized and independently motivated if you are not in front of a professor multiple times a week. Most school websites will have a brief online quiz where you can assess your capabilities in this department, but if you got yourself through your bachelor’s program, you are well on your way. There is also a technical component to online study, but if you accessed this ranking without assistance, you probably have that cracked, as well.

In compiling this list of the top 10 cheapest online master’s degrees, we used the out of state graduate tuition figures reported to the National Center for Education Statistics, a service of the US government. Student to faculty ratio and enrollment figures are also from this source. The ranking methodology is broken down below. In case of a tie in points, schools are ranked in order of decreasing tuition.

Rating and Ranking Methodology

Tuition Points

  1. Under $30,000—1 point
  2. Under $27,000—2 points
  3. Under $24,000—3 points
  4. Under $21,000—4 points
  5. Under $18,000—5 points
  6. Under $15,000—6 points
  7. Under $12,000—7 points
  8. Under $9,000—8 points

Student-to-Faculty Ratio Points

  1. Above 35-1 point
  2. Above 30-2 points
  3. Above 25-3 points
  4. Above 20-4 points
  5. Above 15-5 points
  6. Above 10-6 points

National Recognition

  1. Top 40-1 point
  2. Top 30-2 points
  3. Top 20-3 points
  4. Top 10-4 points
  5. Top 5-5 points

Bonus for special tuition discount for online students

  1. Has special online discount for tuition-3 points
  2. Online students charged standard tuition-0 points

Best Offerings for Cheapest Master’s Degrees Online

#10 – University of Maryland Global Campus

Adelphi, Maryland

Website
Points:11
Enrollment: 60,603
Tuition: $12,336

The University of Maryland Global Campus was founded in 1947 as a branch of the University of Maryland that was specially set up to train working adults and those serving abroad in the military. With a student-to-faculty ratio of 19 to 1, they have 43 online graduate degree options, including cybersecurity management and policy and healthcare informatics administration. The University of Maryland Global Campus charges an out-of-state graduate online tuition rate of $659 per credit hour. They are accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

#9 – University of Louisiana at Monroe

Monroe, Louisiana

Website
Points: 11
Enrollment: 9,291
Tuition: $21,074

The University of Louisiana at Monroe started out as a junior college in 1931 and is today a comprehensive, modern institution of higher learning. With a student-to-faculty ratio of 20 to 1, they have 18 online graduate programs, including gerontology and educational technology leadership. The University of Louisiana at Monroe offers an online graduate tuition rate of $500 per credit hour, regardless of residency. They are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges.

#8 – University of Arkansas

Fayetteville, Arkansas

Points: 12
Enrollment: 27,778
Tuition: $25,872

The University of Arkansas was founded in 1871, and their mascot is the razorback hog. They are a top-tier research university, the only one in the Natural State. With a student-to-faculty ratio of 18 to 1, they have twenty online master’s degree options, including electrical engineering and food safety. The University of Arkansas offers various graduate tuition rates depending on the program. The most affordable is $580 per credit hour. They are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

#7 – Georgia College and State University

Milledgeville, Georgia

Website
Points: 12
Enrollment: 6,989
Tuition: $28,710

Georgia College and State University opened as a women’s institution in 1889. Their fight song is “Here Comes the Thunder.” With a student-to-faculty ratio of 17 to 1, they offer 17 graduate degree options, including music therapy and middle-grades education. Georgia College and State University offers an out-of-state graduate tuition rate of $1,047 per credit hour. They are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges.

#6 – Western Governors University

Salt Lake City, Utah

Website
Points: 12
Enrollment: 121,437
Tuition: $6,670

western-governors-university

Western Governors University has a unique model for education. Instead of credit hours, they use “competency units” or CUs: You complete the units and test out of them, and however many CUs you complete in a term, that is how many credits you get. The more quickly you complete CUs, the more you save on tuition. With a student-to-faculty ratio of 41 to 1, they have 34 online graduate degree options, including an MBA in information technology management and an MS in nursing-leadership and management. Western Governors University offers a flat rate per term, regardless of residency. The graduate tuition fees range from $3,225 to $4,325 per term. They are accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

#5 – Wayne State College

Wayne, Nebraska

Website
Points: 13
Enrollment: 3,633
Tuition: $12,662

Wayne State College was founded in 1891. With a student-to-faculty ratio of 20 to 1, they offer 15 online graduate programs, including school administration and athletic administration. Wayne State College charges an out of state, online, graduate tuition rate of $380 per credit hour. They offer tuition discounts for residents of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin. They are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

#4 – Southeast Missouri State University

Cape Girardeau, Missouri

Website
Points: 14
Enrollment: 11,071
Tuition: $13,830

Southeast Missouri State University is an affordable choice with a large selection of available degrees. They were founded in 1873, and their mascot is Rowdy the Redhawk. With a student-to-faculty ratio of 20 to 1, they have 16 online graduate options, including programs in public administration and technology management. Southeast Missouri State University offers an online graduate tuition rate of $365 per credit hour. They are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

#3 – Fort Hays State University

Hays, Kansas

Points: 15
Enrollment: 15,523
Tuition: $15,360

fort-hays-state-university

Fort Hays State University was founded in 1902, and their mascot is Victor E. Tiger. With a student-to-faculty ratio of 18 to 1, they have sixteen master’s degree options, including school counseling and nursing education. Fort Hays State University offers an online, graduate tuition rate of $298.55 per credit hour, regardless of residency. Tuition for the online MBA program is $350 per credit hour, regardless of residency. They are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

#2 – Arkansas State University

Jonesboro, Arkansas

Points: 15
Enrollment: 13,709
Tuition: $15,860

Arkansas State University was founded in 1909, and their mascot is the red wolves. They are the economic and cultural engine of Northeast Arkansas. With a student-to-faculty ratio of 18 to 1, they have eight graduate degree options online, including sport administration and media management. Arkansas State University offers an online, graduate tuition rate of $277 per credit hour, regardless of residency. They are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

#1 – Chadron State College

Chadron, Nebraska

Points: 16
Enrollment: 2,448
Tuition: $7,586

Chadron State College was founded in 1885, and its mascot is Elmo the Eagle. They have a growing college population with the atmosphere of a small college. With a student-to-faculty ratio of 17 to 1, they offer four online graduate degree options, including an MBA and organizational management. Chadron State College offers an online graduate tuition rate of $370.75, regardless of residency. They are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

This concludes our list of the top ten most affordable online master’s degrees.

This ranking was updated in July 2020.

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