Online master’s degrees provide the most versatile educational experience to students who want to pursue their education beyond an undergraduate degree, and for students who have career goals that require advanced education. To enroll in an online master’s program, students must have completed a bachelor’s degree that provides them with a sufficient background to pursue graduate-level coursework in their chosen field. Online programs are especially suited for students who have family or career commitments, and find it difficult to attend traditional on-campus classes. Students facing other obstacles such as living in remote locations or having limited transportation also have the opportunity to pursue advanced education from any location, and on their schedule.
There are many accredited online schools and programs that receive high rankings, that are comparable to traditional programs and campuses. In general, the areas of study for online programs are narrower than traditional brick-and-mortar programs. Subjects that require extensive laboratory skills or research are often not available online.
Top 10 Cheapest Online Master’s Degrees
The following schools have a diverse range of master’s degree programs that offer a quality education for a reasonable price. Tuition prices are given for the 2012-2013 academic year, unless otherwise stated. A range in prices may be given, due to differences for each program.
Western Governors University
Executive Summary: WGU offers a diverse selection of master’s degree programs for individuals who are pursuing careers in technology, business, teaching and nursing. There are several programs for teachers and nurses, who are employed in the field, to further their education and advance in their career. WGU is considered one of the most innovative companies by Fast Company.
Tuition: $2,890-$3,250 per term.
Programs: Educational Leadership; Teaching; Nursing Education; Information Technology Management; Business Administration; Healthcare Management.
Executive Summary: CU is known as one of the leaders in online education, in part, due to their numerous graduate programs available to students. Programs are available in the areas of business, technology, counseling, psychology, education, healthcare, nursing and public service. Most programs offer several emphasis areas, which are beneficial to students with specific career goals that are not covered by other online schools.
Tuition: $361-$699 per credit hour.
Programs: Evaluation, Research and Measurement; Sport Psychology; Applied Behavior Analysis; Adult Education; Special Education; Enrollment Management; Nurse Educator; Accounting; Finance; Healthcare Management; Diabetes Nursing; Gerontology Nursing; Health Policy; Criminal Justice.
Executive Summary: WU offers a wide array of master’s programs which include: business, teaching, psychology, counseling, criminal justice, information systems, human services and nursing. Students also have the option of various specializations within degree programs. WU is well-known for its lengthy history in online education and diversity of program offerings.
Tuition: $410-$1,650 per semester (or quarter) credit hour (2013-2014).
Programs: Clinical Research Administration; Addiction Counseling; Forensic Psychology; Instructional Design and Technology.
Liberty University Online
Executive Summary: LU offers their master’s programs, centered on a faith-based education. Students can select programs in business, counseling, criminal justice, education, music, nursing, public health, public policy or seminary. The counseling and music degree programs offer specializations for students interested in combining their religion and career.
Tuition: $535 per credit hour part time, $490 per credit hour full-time.
Programs: Ethnomusicology; Religious Education; Pastoral Counseling; Music and Worship; Management and Leadership; Nutrition.
Columbus State University
Executive Summary: CSU offers graduate programs in education, computer science, nursing, public administration and business. Students, who are interested in computer science, have the option of pursing software development, information assurance or modeling and simulation. The graduate business program is ranked as one of the best online programs by U.S. News and World Report.
Tuition: $185-$740 per credit hour.
Programs: Applied Computer Science; Secondary Education; Educational Leadership; Business Administration.
American Public University
Executive Summary: APU offers numerous master’s degrees in a variety of fields including education, psychology, criminal justice, management, history and public health. In addition to offering many familiar graduate programs, APU offers degrees in fields such as homeland security, which is steadily emerging as a popular career field.
Tuition: $325 per credit hour.
Programs: Emergency and Disaster Management; School Counseling; Space Studies; Sports and Health Studies; Political Science.
Executive Summary: Students, who are interested in business, nursing, management or technology, may consider GU’s graduate programs. GU is noted as one of the top military-friendly schools, and is quickly becoming notable in the area of online education due to their innovative educational practices.
Tuition: $325 per credit hour.
Programs: Health Systems Management; Nursing Case Management; Project Management; Business Intelligence; Nursing Informatics.
Executive Summary: BU offers master’s programs in business, education, human resources, organizational leadership and healthcare innovation. Students pursuing the business, education or healthcare fields, can select from several specialized tracks. BU is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as having the best online business and education programs.
Tuition: $600 per credit hour.
Programs: Human Resources; Health Administration; Secondary Education; Curriculum and Instruction; Instructional Technology.
St. Leo University
Executive Summary: U.S. News and World Report ranks SLU as one of the best southern universities. SLU offers a variety of programs including business, criminal justice and social work. In addition to offering highly-regarded online programs, SLU has a long history of helping active-duty military pursue their education.
Tuition: $408-$651 per credit hour.
Programs: Social Work; Instructional Design; Criminal Justice-Forensic Science; Sports Business; Educational Leadership.
Colorado State University
Executive Summary: CSU offers several master’s programs, many of these programs are rare in the online environment. Students can select from fields of study which include: engineering, psychology, computer science, business, management and adult education. CSU provides students with the convenience of an online education, with program selections comparable to an on-campus education.
Tuition: $500-$1500 per credit hour (2013-2014).
Programs: Applied Statistics; Biomedical Engineering; Dietetics; Student Affairs and Higher Education; Tourism Management.
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