Affordable Online Graduate Programs

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Updated: April 12, 2024, Reading time: 8 minutes

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Dream of higher education? Staggering tuition fees, low quality of education, and unavailability of online learning modules might be stopping you from accomplishing this dream. Three years back, I was also at this career-defining moment of my life. 

At the crossroads, I started to dig out the high-ranked universities offering affordable online graduate programs. If you’re also struggling with it, here are my updated findings for you, which can ease your decision-making process. 

Grad School Center 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.

Top Universities Offering Affordable Online Graduate Programs

If you want to enhance your career prospects and become eligible for a higher salary, enrolling in a master’s degree is a great choice. A bachelor’s degree is potentially insufficient to command top salaries in the US.

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Whether you are a fresh bachelor or working in the industry for a few years, pursuing a master’s degree in your chosen field will give you a substantial return on investment. In this article, I have put together the top ten universities offering affordable online graduate programs without compromising the quality of education. 

The icing on the cake is that these are delivered entirely online in an asynchronous learning model. It means you can complete the degree according to your schedule anywhere. 

Fort Hays State University

Around 60 graduate programs are offered by Fort Hays State University at master’s and doctorate levels, most of which are delivered online. 

It provides a comprehensive list of concentrations in MBA degrees, including marketing, leadership, finance, digital marketing, human resource management, and international business, to name a few. US News and World Report has ranked it among the best online master’s programs several times.

Western Governors University

Western Governors University‘s graduate programs are competency-based, delivered in an asynchronous model, and entirely online. The degrees span a range of subjects like education, teacher education, IT, business, and healthcare management. The average time for completing a master’s degree from WGU is one to two years. 

Western Governors University makes higher education accessible for every student by lowering the barrier to entry. Only a 2.5 GPA is required for a bachelor’s degree without the need for standardized test results. All the online graduate degrees are accredited by the regional accreditation body NWCCU (Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities).

University of Florida

The University of Florida is ranked in the top 10 public universities nationwide. It offers master’s degrees in around 80 subjects, with various master’s programs delivered entirely online. The range of degrees covers subjects like management, pharmaceutical sciences, mass communication, and agriculture, only to name a few.

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Some other degrees require internship, fieldwork, or labs require onsite attendance. A few programs need GRE and GMAT, while many don’t have these requirements for admission. 

Arizona State University

Arizona State University offers master’s programs in around 70 subjects, including engineering, business, education, computer science, journalism, science, and health. Education and engineering fields are among the most reputed options here. 

A minimum of 3.0 GPA is required for a bachelor’s degree. One of the appealing factors is that more than 80% of the students receive financial aid to help them continue their higher studies with ease. 

Southeast Missouri State University

The Southeast Missouri State University (SEMO) offers over 50 online graduate programs. One of the differentiating factors of SEMO is that it counts credit hours for previous experience, credentials, or certificates, which can fast-track the graduation journey for various students. 

It also has partnerships with many companies in Southeast Missouri that offer professional tuition discounts, enabling students to climb the corporate ladder.

Columbia Southern University

Columbia Southern University is a for-profit private institute offering affordable master’s degrees in various subjects. It also offers concentrations within a core subject. For example, an MBA master’s degree offers healthcare management, project management, and marketing concentrations. 

56% of the students receive financial aid, making the degree even more affordable. Its online graduate degrees are accredited with DEAC. 

A newly graduate holding a diploma with ribbon

University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign

The University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign, offers 37 master’s degrees, with engineering and computer science programs being the most prominent. The minimum graduation enrollment criteria is a 3.0 GPA for a bachelor’s degree. While a GRE score is not required, it may be requested for some individual programs. 

Around 42% of graduate students are international students from over 100 countries. According to the latest US News And World Report of 2023-2024, the University of Illinois has secured the 12th spot among top-ranked public universities, and its Gies College of Business is ranked 2nd in accounting.

University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

The University of Arkansas is one of the most highly rated US universities offering online graduate programs. Its engineering master’s degree is the most celebrated one. US News and World Report have ranked the University of Arkansas in six rankings, with its master’s degrees in engineering education at 42nd and 74th spots, respectively.

North Carolina State University

North Carolina State University is a leading STEM university providing online graduate programs in various subjects. Many of its online master’s degrees prepare students for licensure to practice in Carolina.

Poets and Quants ranked its online MBA at 13th spot, and World Report and US News ranked its engineering graduate degree at seventh. These rankings greatly impacted its credibility as a world-class leader in imparting quality graduate-level education. 

University of Maryland Global Campus

There are over 40 master’s programs offered by the University of Maryland Global Campus in different subjects like healthcare management, IT, management, Biotechnology, and cybersecurity with different concentrations. 

UMGC offers virtual recruitment events for its graduate students with the help of its partner employers actively seeking qualified graduates. Moreover, active military students and their dependents can avail of a 30% discount per credit. 

Does a Master’s Degree Impact Your Earning Prospects?

Usually, a master’s degree positively impacts your income. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics research, the median weekly earnings of some with a master’s degree is 17.9% more than someone with a bachelor’s degree.

For instance, after my bachelor’s degree in accounting, I was offered a job for $50,000 annually. Now, with my master’s degree on my resume, I’m securing $100k a year. Although my bachelor’s degree pay was in 2020, it has gradually increased due to my experience; however, a significant boost was received after my graduation.  

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Are Cheaper Online Master Programs Worth It?

Yes, affordable online master’s programs can be worth your money if selected carefully. Many universities offer low-cost online graduate-level programs that are fully accredited and hold a respectful position in the industry. Students can also avail themselves of financial aid and scholarship options to reduce their education expenses further.

Are Online Master’s Programs Cheaper?

Yes, online master’s degrees are relatively cheaper than on-campus options. It’s because with an online degree, students can avoid campus fees, and there are no expenses of commuting or relocating.

Is GRE Necessary for Getting Admission to Online Master’s Degree Programs?

GRE is not a prerequisite for all online master’s degree programs. Various universities lower the barrier to entry in their graduate-level programs by giving waivers in test requirements like the GRE and GMAT. However, some institutes do require you to display test results. 


I have discussed various universities that make higher studies accessible by offering inexpensive online graduate programs. Most of these universities are ranked higher by top publications, making them the go-to choice for students who want affordable quality education. You can choose the school that matches your requirements to accomplish your dream.

We’re certain of one thing—your search for more information on picking the best graduate degree or school landed you here. Let our experts help guide your through the decision making process with thoughtful content written by experts.