What are the costs associated with an online grad school degree?

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Pursuing a graduate degree is a decision that involves a budget plan! When you want to enroll in an online degree program, an important step is to understand how tuition and fee structures differ from on-campus programs.

Prospective students should see if the overall costs of an online doctorate program fit their budget constraints. Some schools charge higher tuition rates to online learners than on-campus learners. Others put a price on technology or online access on a per-credit charge. These are only examples of how online grad school cost. There is more to the cost of an online graduate program than tuition. 

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These are the specific areas to consider when inquiring about tuition and fee:

Different Degree Program Costs
In-state vs. out-of-state tuition
Charge per credit hour
Application Fee
Technology Fees
Other student fees

Different Degree Program Costs

Many schools and universities have completely different tuition and fee structure for online students from on-campus students. For instance, the type of doctorate will dictate the cost of your program. 

In-state vs. out-of-state tuition

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If you have spent time checking grad school’s website for tuition and fees, you may have found out that out-of-state tuition is always higher than in-state tuition in a traditional setting. Students who live in the state qualify for lower tuition, while those who live outside of the state pay higher tuition. In theory, the separate in-state and out-of-state tuition costs appeal to students and families living in the state to pursue a job in the state after graduation. It aims to aid the economic development of the state. Some grad schools let online nonresident students pay for in-state tuition. Others have a different category from in-state and out-of-state tuition regardless of the state residence of the student.

Charge per credit hour

Generally, schools allocate tuition per credit hour to accrue until the student achieves a full-time status. Grad school students often charge students a per-credit basis for both on-campus and online platforms. For example, a school may charge $450 per credit but also offers a fixed rate of $6,000 per term for at least 12 but no more than 15 credit hours. A student enrolled for only 12 credits will be paying $500 per credit hour, while the student enrolled for a full load will only pay $400 per credit hour.

Application Fee

The application fee covers the price for processing your application. This is usually nonrefundable and may range from $50 to $105. However, an application fee may be waived for particular reasons like financial hardships, or an applicant is a member of a particular program or fellowship. While there are pricey grad school application fees, there’s a bunch of institutions that offer no-fee application.

Technology Fees

Technology fees may cover 24/7 tech support, online learning management systems, electronic media and databases, and security solutions to support online learning systems.

Other student fees

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  • Test Fee
  • Books
  • Student Service Fee
  • Course Drop Fee
  • Transcript Fee
  • Program Advising Fee

According to College Board, a doctorate student spent $11,380 for public university tuition and $45,380 in a private institution on average for 2019-2020. On the other hand, tuition for master’s degree programs cost $8,990 to $31,140. Combing the fees, tuition, and other expenses, the cost of an online doctorate program that you’ll end up with will be a significant one. Most doctorate students may be qualified for either a stipend or a partial or even full fee waiver. This is possible since grad schools and universities often employ doctorate students as teaching assistants or research assistants for quarter-time or half-time.

Online grad schools may offer affordability, but one has to consider that not all online grad schools are created equal. The cost may vary from being nearly the same as traditional programs to more than twice as much. So, you have to do price comparisons or estimates on how much your program’s true cost would be. If you want to make the right choice for earning an online graduate degree, you should assess the costs, identify major-specific costs, figure out residency costs and understand technology requirements.

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Dr. Jared Goff
Chief Editor