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35 Best Affordable Master’s Degree Programs

Best Affordable Master's in Best Degree Programs

What if you could somehow make an extra $17,000? 

Best Affordable Master's in Best Degree Programs

When you earn a master’s degree, you can.

Does that sound like a lot of baloney to you? It shouldn’t—because it’s true. When you take the time to earn a master’s degree, you can, on average, earn $17,000 more per year than you already do with just a bachelor’s. 

Although $17,000 might not sound like much, consider how much it will add up over your lifetime. If you’re new to your career or fresh out of your undergraduate program, earning a master’s degree could be a financially savvy choice. 

Plus, earning a master’s can help you make a career change. Gone are the days when someone entered into a career at the beginning of adulthood and stayed in that same job until adulthood. No, now, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average person changes jobs around a dozen times in their lifetime. 

Earning a master’s degree will make it easy for you to explore other options and have a more versatile career that meets your current needs and professional goals. You’ll have the skills and expertise necessary to pursue work in a wide variety of fields. Because of this, the unemployment rate for individuals with master’s degrees is much lower than it is for people with bachelor’s or less. 

Not only that, but with a master’s degree, you’ll enjoy increased respect and credibility. It takes a lot of guts to earn a master’s—not to mention a lot of time, sacrifices, and money. Plenty of employers view a master’s degree as a testament to a person’s drive to succeed. 

Because of this, you and your unique skill set will be highly sought-after in the job market. You’ll be able to level the playing field when it’s time to apply for jobs. It will give you a greater sense of confidence and competency in your field—and the skills for your resume that will no doubt set you apart from the competition. 

It doesn’t matter what kind of master’s degree you decide to pursue. Whether you’re interested in studying business or the romance languages, anthropology or data analytics, you’ll graduate with skills in things like communication, problem-solving, leadership, writing, research, and critical thinking—skills that will prove to be invaluable regardless of where you choose to work. 

Of course, there’s the cost of attendance to be considered. Although earning a master’s degree offers a higher earning potential, possibly eliminating the need for you to live paycheck to paycheck or stress about your bills, you do have the tuition associated with higher education to consider. 

Fortunately, earning a master’s degree doesn’t have to break the bank. Not only do many graduate programs and employers offer stipends for students enrolled in graduate study, helping to significantly lower the cost of attendance, but many have programs like research and apprenticeship programs that will give you hands-on experience and pay for the bulk of your college expenses.

If you really want to advance your career and save money at the same time, you’ve come to the right place. Here are 35 of the best affordable master’s degrees for you to consider. 

Common Application and Admission Questions

Applying for a master’s program sounds like a daunting task, but really, it’s quite straightforward. You’re already familiar with the process of applying for a bachelor’s degree, and while a master’s degree is one step forward, the process is more or less the same.

First, start by making a list of the schools to which you’d like to apply. This list should include dream schools, safety schools, and target schools. A dream school, of course, is one with competitive admissions, but that you’d really like to attend. A safety school is one that you’re practically guaranteed to be admitted into, while a target school is right in the middle. 

You don’t need to make this list super long. In fact, just four or five schools is really all you need to apply to. Any more than that and you’ll find yourself overwhelmed once the letters of acceptance start rolling in (or worse, before that—when you’re trying to fill out applications and pay for costly application fees). Any fewer, and you might not have a lot of options to choose from if your top schools decide that you are not the right candidate for them. 

Once you know where you want to apply, take the time to get in touch with the admissions office at your top schools. Make a checklist or spreadsheet that includes the application requirements for each school. This will allow you to be more efficient as you move through your applications. Some require personal statements and provide prompts for your responses. Making a spreadsheet will help you keep tabs on what you need to submit, and to whom.

Not all graduate schools require GMAT or GRE scores for admission. For those who do, it’s important to take the time to research the minimum and average scores. Take note of the averages that are in the 75th percentile and 50th percentile of admitted students. This will give you a good target to shoot for as you begin working your way toward graduate school.

In general, most graduate schools will accept scores from these exams that were taken in the last five years. Don’t wait too long to take the test, though, as it can take several months for scores to become available. You should also leave yourself enough time to retake the exam if necessary. Taking practice tests is a great idea if you’re shooting for a particular score! 

There are other kinds of documentation you will need to provide, too. Official transcripts are pretty much universal, although the GPA requirement for most schools will vary. Usually, it’s around a 3.0. You will also need to supply things like a personal statement or essays, letters of recommendation, and a resume, depending on the schools you decide to apply to.

The key to applying for graduate skill is this—stay calm and stay organized. You’ve got this!

What About Financial Aid & Scholarships?

The FAFSA might seem like a headache—but when it comes to financial aid and paying for graduate school, it’s something you’ve really got to make the time to complete. 

The FAFSA isn’t just a funny-sounding acronym. It stands for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. If you are reading this after already having graduated with a bachelor’s degree, you’re probably already familiar with what the FAFSA has to offer. 

Fill this form out, which is available starting January 1st of the year in which you plan to attend college, and you’ll be considered for all kinds of financial aid. All you have to do is spend a bit of time gathering your financial documents, such as your W2s and tax returns. If you’re still living at home, you’ll need your parents’ information, too. 

The FAFSA will be used to determine whether you are eligible for a variety of federal- and state-subsidized funding, such as grants, scholarships, and low-interest federal student loans. In many cases, universities use the information from the FAFSA to determine whether you might be eligible for institutional scholarships, grants, fellowships, and assistantships.

There’s a bit of a misconception out there that graduate school is far more expensive than undergraduate school. This is true in some cases, particularly depending on what program you choose to enroll in. In some cases, you may also find that there are fewer funding opportunities for graduate students than there are for undergraduates, as much of this aid is exhausted at the baccalaureate level. 

One of the biggest considerations that sets undergraduate and graduate students apart is whether you are a dependent or independent from your parents. If you file as an independent, you’ll likely earn far more financial aid than if you still rely on your parents for financial support. 

Once your dependency status is determined, the other difference is that, as a graduate student, you won’t be eligible for subsidized federal loans. You can still apply for unsubsidized loans and there are also a number of federal grants that do not have to be repaid, including the Federal Pell Grant and the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant.  

You can also consider applying for federal work-study funds. These are often given in exchange for working in the community or on campus, meaning you can gain experience while also saving money on the cost of attending college. 

There is no set amount of federal funds that graduate students can receive. You can borrow up to $20,500 in Federal Direct Stafford Loans and up to the cost of attendance in PLUS loans. Make sure you only borrow what’s realistic for you, though, and don’t borrow more than is needed. 

If you don’t qualify for any federal financial aid, don’t panic! You still have options. You can apply for local and regional scholarships, as well as national scholarships through organizations such as Educators for Fair Consideration, the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and Golden Door Scholars. Many employers offer remission plans, too. The key here is that you leave no stone unturned when it comes to finding money for college. 

How Much Can I Make With a Master’s Degree? 

Earning a master’s degree really pays off. Of the many advantages to pursuing graduate study, a bigger paycheck is one of the most significant. According to information from the 2000 U.S. Census, workers aged 21-64 who had just bachelor’s degrees earned around $42,877 per year. Those who had a master’s degree earned $55,242. Of course, the difference between those two figures has only become more pronounced in recent years. 

Of course, your average salary will vary depending on whatever it is you choose to study. Salaries vary by field as well as the level of degree you earn. The location of the company that ultimately hires you will also play a role, with workers in large metropolitan areas earning higher wages than those in rural communities. 

There are several master’s degrees you might want to consider if you’re looking for a lucrative, high-paying career. One of the most prominent is a software engineer. As a software engineer with a master’s degree, you can earn nearly $96,000, according to CareerBliss—a salary that’s nearly $20,000 more than if you just had a bachelor’s. Those two extra years will really pay off!

Management is another popular field for individuals who want to earn high salaries. Earn an MBA, or a Master of Business Administration, and you could work in just about any field. Managers and administrators are needed in all industries, so you’ll find that an MBA will help prepare you with the leadership skills and management chops you need to lead any team to success. The average MBA graduate earns well over $106,757, according to the U.S. News & World Report, with some professionals earning even more depending on where they land.

Finance is another common pathway for graduate study. If you’re thinking about becoming a financial advisor, a graduate degree is almost a given. While many companies hire individuals who only possess bachelor’s degrees, those with master’s degrees earn almost 20% more per year. How much money does that add up to? On average, you’ll earn around $78,000 per year. 

For aspiring educators, a master’s degree isn’t just a luxury that can help enhance your salary if you decide it’s the right pathway for you—no, a master’s degree is an outright necessity. Many states require educators at both the elementary, secondary, and administrative level to earn master’s degrees to show that they have the right training to handle diverse populations of students. Again, you’ll enjoy a salary increase of nearly 20%, with some program directors in education earning more than $89,000 per year.

Big tech is another field in which earning a master’s degree is a smart choice. Web designers and database administrators alike find that master’s degrees are the best pathways when it comes to drawing a bigger paycheck. Come payday, the average web designer with a master’s degree earns more than $59,000 per year—that’s compared to just $46,657 for workers who only have bachelor’s degrees.

As a database administrator, you’ll earn an extra 21% if you pursue a master’s degree. The average wage for master’s-holding workers in this field is around $96,028. Now that’s an impressive increase! 

What Are the Best Affordable Master’s Degrees?

We know that you have educational goals that you’re itching to pursue, but you may not know where to start. The editors of Master’s Programs Guide utilize a unique ranking methodology based on the following five aspects:

25% Overall Degree Affordability: Average cost of undergraduate and graduate tuition per school

25% Graduation Rate: Number of students who start at the university and actually finish there

20% Earnings Potential: Average mid-career salary of school alumni

20% Selectivity: The number of students who apply versus the number who actually get accepted

10% Online Graduate Offerings: The number of programs offered online in each department

At Master’s Programs Guide, we strive to do our best to guide you and your family toward a fruitful academic career. The pursuit of knowledge is a noble one, and we want to help you reach your goals.

#1. Georgia Institute of Technology 

A member of the university system of Georgia, Georgia Institute of Technology, or “Georgia Tech,” has campuses not only in Atlanta, but also in places as far away as France, Ireland, China, and Singapore. Founded in 1885, the school was first created as part of Reconstruction plans to reboot the industrial economy in post-Civil War America.

Although this school originally only offered degrees in mechanical engineering, today it has programs in more than 31 departments—many of which are offered at the graduate level. No matter what you’re interested in studying, there’s a good chance that you’ll find it at Georgia Tech. The school offers master’s degrees in departments like business, computing, design, engineering, liberal arts, and sciences. 

A vast array of these programs are even offered online. For example, you’ll find fully-online programs in in-demand majors such as sustainability, energy, and environmental management, cybersecurity, analytics, and more. 

Choose to study at Georgia Tech’s 400-acre campus in a wooded section of Atlanta, and you’ll benefit from a close-knit, stimulating learning environment. Located in Midtown, the school combines the educational, economic, and entertainment opportunities of an international city with all kinds of opportunities for hands-on learning. You’re just a short walk away from many parks and green spaces along with multinational corporations, small businesses, museums, concert venues, restaurants, and more. 

On campus, Georgia Tech offers graduate students more than 400 student organizations to choose from. Cheer on your favorite sports team—Atlanta is home to the Atlanta Hawks, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, and the Falcons football teams—or take in a concert at Philips Arena. No matter how you choose to spend your time here, you’re sure to find an activity that is relaxing and rewarding at the same time. 

Although earning a master’s degree might be a daunting endeavor (both in regards to the time and monetary commitment required) the return on investment is there when you choose to study at Georgia Tech. You’ll be granted access to a wide range of options and opportunities to help you offset programmatic costs, including competitive scholarships, financial aid (such as loans, grants, and work-study), and even earn-while-you-learn internship and co-op programs. There are even research opportunities that will grant you stipends or class-credit. 

Let’s not forget that when you choose to study at Georgia Tech, the affordability and quality truly speak for themselves. You’ll earn a well-respected degree from one of the top-ranked institutions in the world. In fact, PayScale has ranked this school as number one in the country for its annualized return on investment in higher education. 

Ready to apply for one of the master’s degrees at Georgia Tech? To do so, you will need to complete an online graduate application along with supporting materials such as transcripts, test scores, letters of recommendation, and a variation of lawful presence. The deadlines for admission vary depending on your program of interest, so it pays to check in with your school and program before you start gathering your materials. All students are also required to pay a $75 application fee, although waivers are often available. 

#2. Texas Tech University

A residential college in Lubbock, TX, Texas Tech University is a public research institution that attracts students from all over the world. In fact, the hometown of most students here is more than 300 miles away, on average, from Lubbock. 

With more than 150 undergraduate, 100 graduate, and 50 doctoral degrees to choose from, the school is among the more than 130 schools listed in the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education’s “Very High Research Activity” category. Created in 1923, the school is the only campus in Texas that is home to a law school, medical school, and a major university alike. Although it first opened its doors as the Texas Technological College, the school now offers a variety of programs in the liberal arts and humanities as well. 

If you’re thinking about studying at Texas Tech, likely your biggest challenge will be in deciding which major to pursue! No matter what you’re interested in, there’s a good chance that Texas Tech has it as a major. From animal science to anthropology, kinesiology to public administration, this university truly offers it all.

The school offers a variety of graduate programs through noteworthy schools like the Jerry S. Rawls College of Business Administration, the School of Law, and the Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering. Ranked as one of the Top Public Schools by U.S. News & World Report, Texas Tech has a small student-to-faculty ratio of just 21:1 with the most popular majors including business, engineering, communication, and human sciences. 

Ultimately, if you can’t decide which major to pursue, don’t fret—because Texas Tech also offers a multitude of certificate and dual-major programs as well. Some programs that are unique to Texas Tech include the global food security graduate certificate, the autism graduate certificate and the agricultural leadership graduate certificate. 

Your learning at Texas Tech will extend far beyond the limits of the campus, too. You’ll be able to participate in sports teams that compete in the NCAA Big 12 Conference or to sign up for one of more than 450 student organizations. Texas Tech even has an extensive Greek community with 50 different sororities and institutes. Of course, you can choose to make your experience strictly academic, working to improve your resume as you work at one of the school’s many university-run research institutes and centers, like the National Wind Institute. 

If the cost of attendance has you worried about attending graduate school, don’t let it. Texas Tech offers multiple ways for you to make ends meet when it comes to financing your education. Not only is tuition extremely low, but the school also has a multitude of financial aid opportunities for you to explore. For example, you can apply for grant funding as long as you are enrolled in at least five credit hours of study per semester. 

When you are ready to apply for admission to Texas Tech, you will need to submit a formal online application along with an application fee. Unofficial transcripts for any post-secondary institutions you’ve attended are necessary, as is documentation of citizenship or similar materials for international graduate students. Other admissions requirements vary depending on the major you’ve selected as well as whether you plan to study fully online, fully on campus, or in a hybrid fashion. 

#3. University of Florida

The University of Florida is a public university that was founded in 1853. With a large enrollment of more than 52,000 students, this school is ranked as one of the best National Universities in the country by U.S. News & World Report. The only member of the Association of American Universities in Florida, the school is home to 16 academic colleges as well as more than 150 different research centers and institutes. 

If you’re hoping to study in the Sunshine State, you won’t find a better option than this Gainesville, FL-based institution. It’s just two miles from the downtown area, providing graduate students with the best possible access to a bustling college town and community. You’ll love taking in a game from the Florida Gators, sports teams who compete in the NCAA Division I Southeastern Conference. 

If sports aren’t your thing, don’t worry—you can join in while participating in one of the school’s many other student activities. In fact, the University of Florida has more than 60 different fraternities and sororities. 

But if you’ve stumbled upon this ranking in search of one of the best graduate programs, you might be wondering what the University of Florida has to offer in terms of its majors. The university has multiple well-regarded graduate programs through the College of Medicine, the Levin College of Law, the Warrington College of Business, and the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering. 

There are plenty of graduate degrees for you to choose from. With a student-to-faculty ratio of just 17:1 and more than half of its classes containing fewer than 20 students, this school is home to popular majors in the business, engineering, biological and biomedical sciences, and health professions. The school has multiple professional programs, too, including those in veterinary medicine, dentistry, engineering, law, business administration, medicine, and pharmacy. 

You’ll have access to plenty of support services to help you meet your goals. From nonremedial tutoring to a career placement service and even daycare, security services, and more, the University of Florida offers everything you could possibly need in order to be successful. 

You won’t have a hard time paying for your education, either. As a state-funded institution, the school has low tuition and fees that total just $6,380 for in-state students and $28,658 for those studying from out of state. The average student receives a need-based scholarship or grant award of more than $8,000—the return on investment here just can’t be beaten. In fact, the school is home to thousands of successful alumni including two Nobel prize winners and numerous Pulitzer Prize winners. 

Even applying is a cinch. You will need to have a recognized degree from a regionally-accredited intuition with a minimum grade point average of 3.0. For some degrees, such as the graduate degree in law, you must meet additional requirements and have certain credentials in order to be eligible for admission. 

#4. Colorado State University-Fort Collins

At Colorado State University-Fort Collins, you’ll be able to study at a location where world-class research and teaching come together to produce an educational experience that is nothing short of spectacular. The school is consistently ranked as one of the country’s top universities in many categories, including in student achievement, research, and more. A recognized doctoral university with very high research activity, it’s one of the best places to turn to if you are looking for a best affordable master’s degree. 

Founded in 1870, Colorado State is a public land-grant university that is the flagship university of the state university system. With an enrollment of more than 34,000 students studying both on-campus and online, the school is ranked as one of the best in the nation when it comes to research and medical school spending in particular. 

You’ll have plenty of options to choose from as you pursue graduate study here. There are more than 2,000 faculty teaching in eight colleges and 55 academic departments, with 55 total master’s degrees to choose from. There are also an additional 40 doctoral degrees you can consider as you are looking for a program that will best suit your fancy.

Degrees are offered online, on-campus, and in a hybrid fashion. Some featured majors include cell and molecular biology, accountancy, public health, advanced silviculture, agricultural sciences, anthropology, and arts leadership and cultural management. 

With a main campus in Fort Collins, a city that’s nestled at the base of the Rocky Mountains, Colorado State offers one of the best locations for students who want their education to take place not just in the classroom, but in the world. CSU is one of the country’s top research universities so you’ll be able to work closely with faculty and staff as you explore innovative concepts in a variety of fields. 

It’s not all work and no play, though. The school has more than 350 campus organizations and 35 fraternities and sororities. Not only that, but there are plenty of sports you can choose from, too, with teams at the varsity, club, and recreational level. Known as the Aggies, a testament to CSU’s agricultural school past, the sports teams here compete in the NCAA Division I Mountain West Conference. 

It’s easy to see why Colorado State is ranked as a Best Value School and a Best College for Veterans by U.S. News & World Report. The class sizes are small, typically featuring a student-to-faculty ratio of just 14:1. You’ll have access to all kinds of student services, including tutoring, a women’s center, and career placement services. 

Tuition is incredibly affordable, coming in at just $12,495 for in-state students. Numerous financial aid opportunities, including grants, fellowships, and scholarships, are available for qualifying students, too. 

To apply, you’ll need to first choose between fall or spring admission dates. This will determine your deadline. An online application is required as is an application fee. GMAT or GRE scores are required for many programs, though not all. You will need to also submit official transcripts, three letters of recommendation, and other documents as requested by the program to which you are applying. 

#5. University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus

With two campuses to choose from, one in downtown Denver and the other at Anschutz Medical Campus in nearby Aurora, CO, the University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus has a reputation for being one of the most research-focused graduate schools in the nation. In fact, the National Science Foundation reports that this school granted more graduate degrees than any other school in the state and spent more than half a billion dollars on research and development in 2018 alone.

Founded in 1912, this school was first opened as a nursing and medical school before rapidly expanding its offerings to other programs in the health sciences and beyond. Today, UC Denver has a variety of graduate offerings including those for students who wish to continue their education after earning a bachelor’s degree at the university. You can choose from a variety of master’s and doctoral programs along with graduate certificates and accelerated degrees. 

You can study on campus or online, with plenty of 100% online programs through CU online. There are doctoral degrees in 14 programs, six different MBAs, and ten master’s of science degrees in the business school alone. Other degrees can be pursued through the College of Engineering, Design, and Computing; the School of Public Affairs; the College of Architecture and Planning; and more. 

In fact, the University of Colorado Denver is the only school in Colorado with accredited degrees in landscape architecture, urban planning, and architecture. You can also choose a more interdisciplinary pathway by pursuing a degree in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The opportunities are endless!

No matter which program you choose, you will be supported in your endeavors by faculty who rank among some of the best in the nation. Class sizes here, particularly at the graduate level, are extremely small. The student-to-faculty ratio is just 17:1!

You’ll have access to plenty of support services here, too, including tutoring, a career placement service, health services, daycare, and more. The school is home to more than 100 different campus organizations, volunteer opportunities, and various publications. Although there aren’t any varsity athletic teams on campus, there are plenty of intramural sports and fitness classes you can pursue to stay active.

Let’s not forget about this school’s affordability, either. At the University of Colorado Denver, you’ll pay just $8,017 as an in-state student and $23,821 if you’re coming in from out of state. Provided that you complete a FAFSA and submit any supplementary materials, you can also be considered for numerous types of financial aid, including scholarships and grants. 

When you’re ready to apply, you will need to submit an online application for admission along with a $50 application fee. Transcripts from any college you have attended are required, too. Some programs may have additional application requirements, such as standardized test scores, letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, a resume, portfolio, or essays. 

#6. University of Nebraska-Lincoln

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln was founded in 1869 under the 1862 Morrill Act. It opened its doors just two brief years after Nebraska became a state and is, as a result, the oldest university in the state and the largest in the state university system.

Today, this public land-grant research university offers a variety of programs that conduct groundbreaking research and involve students in hands-on training every single day. You can pursue all kinds of majors here, including those at the graduate level.

You’ll have no shortage of options when it comes to master’s degrees. Just to name a few, you can pursue a Master of Science for teachers, a Master of Professional Accountancy, a Master of Legal Studies, a Master of Fine Arts, a Master of Engineering Management, a Master of Community and Regional Planning, and much, much more.

For most graduate degrees, you can choose a program of study with one of three options. You can pursue a thesis track, a non-thesis track with additional classes outside of the major, or a non-thesis, non-minor track that requires you to focus on advanced courses in your chosen field of study. Depending on the program, most students take just two years to complete their graduate degrees, but you’ll be given up to ten regardless.

With a total enrollment of nearly 26,000 students, it might seem as though, at this school, you’ll be just another face in the crowd. That’s far from the case. While taking classes in one of the school’s highly ranked graduate schools, like the College of Law or the College of Education and Human Sciences, you’ll be part of a close-knit learning environment. In fact, the student-to-faculty ratio here is just 17:1. 

This public school is ranked as one of the Best National Universities, Best Colleges for Veterans, and Best Value Schools by U.S. News & World Report. You’ll have access to all the help you could possibly want, including tutoring, health services, career placement, alumni networking, and more.

Not only that, but if you choose to study on campus (the online programs are noteworthy, too) you can choose from a variety of student organizations. The university is home to more than 400 student organizations, including an extensive Greek network of more than 40 fraternities and sororities. 

Tuition here is some of the lowest in the country, making this school one of the most affordable you will find. On average, you’ll pay just $7,588 per semester as an in-state graduate student. The Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid here does a wonderful job of helping to keep the cost of attendance affordable. You’ll have access to all kinds of programs, including scholarships, fellowships, grants, loans, and more. 

When you’re ready to apply to this graduate school—which is ranked as ninth-best in the country when it comes to its online graduate education programs by the U.S. News & World Report, we might add—you will need to complete an online application and submit academic transcripts from any schools you have attended.

#7. Texas A&M University-Commerce

As the fourth-oldest state university in the entire state of Texas, Texas A&M University-Commerce is a public research university with plenty to offer potential graduate students. Founded in 1889, this historic and groundbreaking school is situated just 65 miles from downtown Dallas with a premier location on the edge of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. 

Commerce is a city of roughly 8000 people. Here, you’ll enjoy a unique combination of rural life with festivals, local music, dining, and plenty of other opportunities to pursue. You’ll also have nearby access to one of the country’s largest metropolitan areas. 

The Graduate School at Texas A&M University-Commerce offers aspiring and current students plenty of guidance when it comes to finding the right pathway for study. As a student here, you’ll gain the skills you need to conduct original research, become an independent thinker, and forge the way for your own successful career.

Not sure what you want to study? Don’t worry. At Texas A&M University-Commerce, you’ll have plenty of majors to choose from. With more than 40 accredited, nationally-recognized programs at the doctoral and master’s level, you’ll have your hands full just in deciding what you want to study! There are numerous graduate certificates and educator certification programs available, too.

The best affordable master’s degrees are administered through the College of Business; the College of Education and Human Services; the College of Agricultural Science and Natural Resources; the College of Science and Engineering; and the College of Humanities, Social Sciences, and Arts. 

There are dozens of programs to choose from, but some unique titles include applied criminology; educational administration; health, kinesiology, and sports studies; and physics. Of the university’s many graduate certificates, popular options include business analytics, film studies, chemical dependency counseling, and sustainable food systems. 

In these programs, you’ll not only be able to work closely with internationally-recognized instructors who are at the pinnacle of success in their respective fields, but you’ll also be able to network with other professionals. You can pursue your program on-campus, online, or at one of the school’s many branch campuses. 

You don’t have to break the bank in order to earn a degree from this award-winning school, either. The average student will pay just $6,424 in tuition when coming from the state of Texas—out-of-state students pay just over twice that amount, still an incredibly affordable sum. You will be considered for many types of financial aid, too, including scholarships and grants. The school provides multiple grant opportunities for students including the Federal TEACH Grant, the Texas Aggie Graduate Grant, the Texas Public Education Grant, and more.

If you’re convinced that Texas A&M University-Commerce might be a good choice for you, it’s time to start filling out your applications. You will need to complete an online application and submit an application fee of $50. All official transcripts for any bachelor’s degree coursework is required, as are official GRE scores. 

#8. University of the Cumberlands

A private institution founded in 1888, the University of the Cumberlands is a rural university located in Williamsburg, KY. Ranked as one of the country’s best National Universities by U.S. News & World Report, this school has an academic reputation that is just as renowned and unique as its history and background.

This private school was created by Baptist ministers and originally known as Cumberland College. The school changed its name only in 2005, adopting the mascot of the Patriots for its 13,000 enrolled students at approximately the same time.

Currently, it is home to four colleges, including Cumberland College (dedicated primarily to undergraduate programs), the Hutton Center for Leadership Studies, the Hutton School of Business/Management, and the Graduate/Professional Education school. There are 12 academic national honor societies and several master’s degrees available to students, including those in Christian studies, psychology, education, business administration, and more.

The motto of the university is “A Life More Abundant”—and abundance you will find here for sure. The University of the Cumberlands is home to a diverse student population with representation from more than 37 states and 15 countries. It’s home to numerous unique extracurricular opportunities, such as a Campus Activity Board, a forensics team, and a low-power radio station.

You can study on-campus in Williamsburg, or you can study online. In addition to those two options, the University of the Cumberlands also has a Northern Kentucky facility just south of Cincinnati, OH in Florence, KY. 

Not only that, but the school provides opportunities for campus ministry through Appalachian Ministries, Campus Family and Life groups, Mountain Outreach, and Baptist Campus Ministries. It’s committed to improving the lives of those in the surrounding community, so as a student here, you’ll also be able to participate in countless volunteer experiences. In fact, students are encouraged to participate in community service, and those who accumulate more than 200 hours of community service are awarded with special certificates upon graduation.

Curious about what you might be able to study here? In addition to the popular graduate programs listed above, there are dozens of majors and minors available to graduate students, both on-campus and online, including education, coaching, Christian studies, nursing, strategic management, mental health counseling, and much, much more.

With tuition rates as low as $5,970 for in-state students, there’s no reason not to consider the University of the Cumberlands on your quest for one of the most affordable master’s degrees. By completing a FAFSA with the University of the Cumberlands, you can be considered for eligibility for a variety of financial aid types, including scholarships, grants, loans, work-study, and more. 

Once you’re ready to apply for admission, you can do so by completing an online application. For most programs, graduate admissions requirements are the same, but certain competitive programs may require supplementary materials. In any case, transcripts from any university you have attended are required. 

#9. North Carolina State University at Raleigh

North Carolina State University at Raleigh was first established in 1887 as the North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts. A land-grant college, it forms one of the corners of the “Research Triangle,” a well-respected cluster of schools and academic powerhouses that includes the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University in Durham.

Classified among the “R1: Doctoral Universities-Very High Research Activity,” North Carolina State University at Raleigh offers one of the best opportunities for graduate students who really want to get their hands dirty. If you’re interested in learning by doing and want to explore opportunities for research and innovation, this is one of the best places you can be. 

With an enrollment of more than 35,000 students, NC State is one of the largest in the country. While many of these students are enrolled in the school’s 106 fields of undergraduate study, you’ll find plenty of master’s and doctoral programs to choose from, too.

The largest four-year college in the state, North Carolina State University at Raleigh offers students plenty of opportunities to get involved. There are nearly 600 clubs and organizations you can join along with a large Greek community (roughly 13% of the student body is involved in some kind of fraternity or sorority). There are plenty of events in Raleigh you can explore, too, including the North Carolina State Fair and Winterfest. 

At NC State, as it’s frequently called, you’ll gain mastery of complex ideas and acquire the skills necessary to put those ideas into practice. U.S. News & World Report ranks nearly a dozen of the school’s graduate programs among the top in their disciplines on a national level. Some of the top-ranked—and most popular—programs include textiles, statistics, veterinary medicine, engineering, and nonprofit management. 

With more than 160 master’s and 60 doctoral programs to choose from, you will have unparalleled opportunities to become a leader in education, agriculture and life sciences, natural resources, engineering, veterinary medicine—or whatever else might suit your fancy. As a graduate student, you will likely take courses in departments such as the highly ranked engineering school, the Jenkins Graduate School of Management, or the School of Education. 

Tuition at North Carolina State University at Raleigh is some of the lowest in the country, starting at just $11,495 for in-state students. As a student and applicant, you’ll be eligible for financial aid funds from federal, institutional, state, and private sources. As a result, this school isn’t just considered a top National University by U.S. News & World Report, but it’s also ranked as a Best Value School and a Best College for Veterans, too. 

To apply to the graduate school at North Carolina State University, you will need to submit an online application along with transcripts from a previously earned bachelor’s degree. Depending on the program, supplementary materials like essays or letters of recommendation are often required as well.

#10. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Home to 16 different schools and colleges and more than 100 graduate programs of study, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is the last school on our list of the best affordable master’s degrees—but it’s certainly not the least. 

A public land-grant research institution in Illinois, this school has campuses in both Champaign and Urbana. As the flagship university of the University of Illinois system, it was founded in 1867 and is a member of the Association of American Universities. 

As a graduate student here, you’ll find plenty of resources to support you on your journey toward achieving higher education. Not only is the campus library system home to the second-largest university library in the United States (it is second only to Harvard) but it also offers a Research Park that is home to innovation centers for nearly 100 different multinational corporations and start-up companies. Some of the biggest names here include Yahoo, State Farm, and Capital One. 

You will find dozens of graduate majors and concentrations to choose from here, including those in accountancy, agriculture, anthropology, architecture, and much more. You will learn from instructors who are at the top of their game. The school is home to 30 Nobel laureates, 2 Turing Award winners, 27 Pulitzer Prize winners, and more. 

Your life doesn’t have to focus solely on academics while you’re here, either. Although the graduate schools, including the College of Law, College of Engineering, and School of Information Sciences, are ranked as some of the best in the nation, there are plenty of extracurricular offerings here, too. You can choose from more than 1600 student organizations including political, philanthropic, and professional clubs. 

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is also home to one of the largest Greek systems in the nation. Nearly a quarter of the student population here is involved in some way! Because of the extensive opportunities for personal and professional advancement, this university is ranked as one of the top National Universities and Best Colleges for Veterans by U.S. News & World Report.

Not only that, but this school is known all over the country for its low tuition rates. On average, you’ll pay just $18,126 as an in-state student. In 2020 alone, more than $961 million in financial aid was administered with more than two-thirds of all applicants receiving some form of financial aid. You’re not going to miss out on anything just because you’re paying less money, either. Although tuition is low, class sizes are small, featuring an average student-to-faculty ratio of just 20:1. 

Once you’re ready to apply, you’ll need to start by gathering the requisite documents. Although some programs, such as those in the College of Law and College of Veterinary Medicine, have additional, separate requirements for the application, most require an online application and a bachelor’s degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0. In many cases, letters of recommendation are also required. 

OTHER NOTABLE PROGRAMS 

#11. West Texas A & M University

Location: Canyon, TX

Degree: Master’s Degree Programs

Net Price: $6,733

Website

#12. Fort Hays State University

Location: Hays, KS

Degree: Master’s Degree Programs

Net Price: $4,266

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#13. University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

Location: Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN

Degree: Master’s Degree Programs

Net Price: $18,583

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#14. Nova Southeastern University

Location: Fort Lauderdale, FL

Degree: Master’s Degree Programs

Net Price: $20,620

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#15. Clemson University

Location: Clemson, SC

Degree: Master’s Degree Programs

Net Price: $10,602

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#16. Fitchburg State University

Location: Fitchburg, MA

Degree: Master’s Degree Programs

Net Price: $3,828

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#17. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Location: Chapel Hill, NC

Degree: Master’s Degree Programs

Net Price: $12,212

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#18. Stony Brook University 

Location: Stony Brook, NY

Degree: Master’s Degree Programs

Net Price: $13,007

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#19. Maryville University

Location: St. Louis, MO

Degree: Master’s Degree Programs

Net Price: $15,646

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#20. University of Arizona

Location: Tucson, AZ

Degree: Master’s Degree Programs

Net Price: $13,044

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#21. National Louis University

Location: Chicago, IL

Degree: Master’s Degree Programs

Net Price: $12,096

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#22. Lamar University

Location: Beaumont, TX

Degree: Master’s Degree Programs

Net Price: $8,174

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#23. Concordia University-Chicago

Location: Chicago, IL

Degree: Master’s Degree Programs

Net Price: $9,180

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#24. Purdue University

Location: West Lafayette, IN

Degree: Master’s Degree Programs

Net Price: $9,992

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#25. University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Location: Greensboro, NC

Degree: Master’s Degree Programs

Net Price: $8,128

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#26. Auburn University

Location: Auburn, AL

Degree: Master’s Degree Programs

Net Price: $11,282

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#27. Missouri University of Science and Technology

Location: Rolla, MO

Degree: Master’s Degree Programs

Net Price: $11,372

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#28. University of Alabama at Birmingham

Location: Birmingham, AL

Degree: Master’s Degree Programs

Net Price: $8,100

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#29. University of Oklahoma

Location: Norman, OK

Degree: Master’s Degree Programs

Net Price: $8,577

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#30. University of Illinois at Chicago

Location: Chicago, IL

Degree: Master’s Degree Programs

Net Price: $16,792

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#31. University of Louisiana at Monroe

Location: Monroe, LA

Degree: Master’s Degree Programs

Net Price: $9,068

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#32. Texas Woman’s University

Location: Denton, TX

Degree: Master’s Degree Programs

Net Price: $7,336

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#33. Harvard University

Location: Cambridge, MA

Degree: Master’s Degree Programs

Net Price: $47,562

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#34. Augusta University 

Location: Augusta, GA

Degree: Master’s Degree Programs

Net Price: $7,064

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#35. Lehigh University

Location: Bethlehem, PA

Degree: Master’s Degree Programs 

Net Price: $27,130

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IF YOU ENJOYED THAT THEN CHECK OUT OUR ARTICLES ON THE TOP 10 REASONS TO EARN YOUR MASTER’S DEGREE & 50 MOST POPULAR ONLINE MASTER’S DEGREES!

Michael Templeton
Managing Editor

Kacey Reynolds Schedler
Contributing Editor