The average cost of a two-year master’s degree is $66,340, but it can vary depending on the public ($54,500) or private ($81,100) status of the post-secondary institution. Keep in mind, too, that students in master’s degree programs are less likely to be the recipients of fellowships, grants and tuition waivers in comparison with their undergraduate and postgraduate counterparts.
But an increasing number of people still pursue master’s degrees despite the tuition, fees and other expenses that comprise the total cost of attendance! In 2020, more than 830,000 students were expected to earn their master’s degrees, a significant jump from the 58,200 graduates in 1950.
Why is this so? Earning a master’s degree brings a wide range of benefits, from increased earning potential to improved quality of life! Fortunately, some schools offer free tuition or nearly free tuition master’s degree programs, thanks to scholarships, tuition waivers, and federal aid, among other forms of financial aid.
Earning a master’s degree for free – or at least, as near to free as you can get on the tuition and mandatory fees – means that you won’t be in neck-deep student loans. But remember, too, that free tuition doesn’t automatically mean without terms and conditions, (there really isn’t any such thing as “completely free tuition”) neither does it mean without spending a single penny during your time in the master’s degree program! Demonstrated need, academic performance, and even work-for-tuition conditions are usually required.
Master’s Degrees Are the New Entry-level Degrees
In a survey, most employers increased their educational requirements for entry-level positions because of their experience with employees with graduate training being more productive, proficient and passionate about lifelong learning.
These employers report that employees with master’s degrees contribute to organizational growth through innovative ideas, increased revenues, and improved customer loyalty. Indeed, several well-paid occupations require at least a master’s degree for entry-level positions, such as education administrators, family therapists, and nurse practitioners.
20 Best Schools with Online Free Tuition Master’s Degree Programs for Undergraduate and Graduate Students
UofPeople was the first fully online university to offer free tuition for all its students without the typical conditions of demonstrated need and academic performance. Students, however, pay a $60 application fee and $240 per course as an assessment fee upon course completion. Scholarships can also cover these minimal fees for students with demonstrated needs, and it must be said that the requirements are favorable, too.
Graduate students don’t have to pay tuition, annual enrollment fees and technology fees. The free tuition arrangement is possible because UoPeople has generous donors and partners, many of which are large companies and organizations. Their donations and other arrangements shoulder the cost of tuition and other waived fees.
The Master of Business Administration (MBA) program has a 15-month completion time with an expected payment of $2,940 for its entirety. The Master of Education (MEd) in Advanced Teaching degree can be earned in 17 months, with each student shouldering its $3,180 total fees.
Every student receives full-tuition, merit-based scholarships regardless of their financial need, and thus, there is no separate financial aid application needed. Graduate students received $58,535 of free tuition for the 2020-2021 academic year, which covered their educational expenses. These merit-based scholarships are renewable every year upon the student’s matriculation in graduate programs.
Curtis also offers students with demonstrated need financial aid to cover their living expenses. The need-based financial aid has a separate application form, and it’s intended to replace the loans program. Recipient students then have a lower risk of getting into debt through student loans, with most students (92%) receiving said need-based financial aid.
With only 175 students, Curtis can sustain its generous scholarship policy, but it also means that admission into its graduate programs is highly selective. Students thrive with the hands-on instruction and one-on-one attention provided by faculty and staff members. The online, two-year, ten semester-hour Master of Music program attracts highly gifted musicians with diversified training, intensive coaching and studio classes.
Earning a master’s degree from MIT can be expensive – current full regular tuition is $27,755 per term – but it’s still possible to achieve your dream! MIT provides students from families earning less than $90,000 in annual income to earn their degrees virtually for free, thanks to scholarships, grants and work-study arrangements.
Students in master’s programs in science and engineering can apply for teaching fellowships, research grants and scholarships, meaning their degrees are tuition free! The tuition and other applicable fees are charged to these financial aid forms. Note that MBA students at Sloan School pay the full tuition. But getting their money back is possible through management consultation jobs, even from signing bonuses intended for tuition payments.
Master’s degree programs covered by financial aid include nuclear science and engineering, chemical engineering, aeronautics and astronautics. Every department has its financial aid guidelines, so check first.
Stanford’s graduate tuition is among the more expensive – more than $60,000 for a 45-unit master’s degree that must be earned within five years after your first registration. But Stanford also makes it possible for deserving students to earn an advanced degree without paying for the full tuition! Fellowships, grants and scholarships are among the “free money” that the university provides to ensure deserving students graduate without crippling student loans.
Students are well-advised to first consult with their respective academic departments regarding the range of financial aid options offered. Enough funds may be sourced to cover nearly all, if not all, their educational expenses. But if it isn’t the case, students can consult with the Financial Aid Office for possible education loans.
Stanford’s master’s degree programs offered online include Aeronautics and Astronautics, Applied Physics, Biomedical Informatics, and Civil and Environmental Engineering.
Columbia offers online master’s degree programs in various fields, from African-American Studies, Anthropology, and Art History and Archaeology to Biotechnology and Climate and Society. Full-time students pay $14,088 per term in tuition, meaning it can be challenging for students with modest means to sustain their graduate studies.
Fortunately, it’s still possible to finance their education without overwhelming student loans through external fellowships, research matching funds, and work-study opportunities resulting in free tuition. Federal and private loans may also be considered to fill in the gap. Some programs only have restricted fellowships and merit-based awards, but these are still useful in getting significant tuition reductions.
The Ph.D./MBA Dual Degree Program is a joint partnership between Weill Cornell and Cornell University’s Johnson School of Management. Students must first comply with the Ph.D. degree requirements by April 30 and then transfer to The Johnson School of Management by May. The accelerated MBA program has a 12-month time-to-completion, and graduates of the dual degree program assume leadership roles in medical science-related companies.
The best thing about it is that it’s possible to earn it for free! Every other year (alternating years), two graduate students will be awarded a full-tuition scholarship resulting in free tuition for those students. Recipient students will have their tuition in the accelerated MBA covered by the scholarship, thanks to the Charles R. Lee and the Lee Family Foundation. A 500-word essay is required of applicants, and said essay must highlight the reasons for enrollment in the dual degree program and aspirations after completion.
Emphasis must be made that UNC doesn’t have a zero-tuition program, but graduate students will enjoy substantial tuition reductions with the wide range of financial aid available. Plus, Chapel Hill is considered among the most livable college towns where the cost of living is concerned!
Graduate students can also apply for a stipend from assistantships and fellowships aside from the scholarships and grants. Financial aid has terms and conditions, such as faculty recommendations, academic performance, and demonstrated financial need. There are two types of stipends offered and administered separately – first, the service stipends require recipients to put in commensurate work, and second, the non-service stipend without work requirements. Qualified students may receive both types, too.
UNC’s impressive range of fellowship and scholarship programs include the Royster Society of Fellows, Weiss Urban Livability Fellowship Program, and Master’s Merit Fellowship/Assistantship. Check out the North Carolina Excellence Fellowship and Native American Incentive Fellowship. More information can be found at the Graduate Funding Information Center.
Areas of study in its master’s programs include Studio Art, City and Regional Planning, Education, Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling, and Toxicology.
Arizona residents enjoy a significantly lower graduate tuition fee ($11,720) than non-residents ($23,544) in ASU’s master’s degree programs. Furthermore, these tuition rates are affordable yet deliver an outstanding quality of advanced education! But ASU still offers its graduate students opportunities for tuition reduction, even to the point of earning their degrees virtually for free.
Students must be nominated for the fellowships, scholarships and grants awarded by the graduate programs (i.e., students cannot directly apply). These financial aid options cover both need-based and merit-based free money that the Graduate College runs and funds.
Students may apply for external funding, such as the Achievement Rewards for College Scientists (ARCS) and Gastwirth Graduate Student Loan Fellowship Program. Other options are the ASU’s Distinguished Graduate Fellowships, AAUW American Fellowships ($20,000 for a year), and Ford Foundation Fellowships (tuition waiver and $24,000 annual stipend for three years).
ASU has online masters’ degree programs in Architecture and Construction, Arts, Engineering and Technology, and Social and Behavioral Sciences.
TAMU is recognized as among the Best in Texas by Money Magazine and the Best Bang for the Buck by Washington Monthly. Indeed, with affordable costs, outstanding academics and strong career potentials for its graduates, TAMU’s inclusion in the list is justified! TAMU also strives to provide graduate students with financial aid options that remove the monetary barrier of advanced education.
These financial aid options include scholarships, grants and work-study arrangements that make earning a master’s degree virtually tuition-free. The Federal TEACH Grant, Texas Public Education Grant (TPEG), and Texas Aggie Graduate Grant (TAGG) are among the most popular since these have generous award amounts. TAMU only has a single scholarship application, so students’ applications are automatically reviewed for all financial aid options.
Fellowship packages may include funds for tuition, fees, and insurance and vary between $1,000 and $30,000+ with other perks. Graduate and teaching assistantships are also available with salaries paid either bi-weekly or monthly, aside from fringe benefits.
TAMU’s master’s degree programs cover areas in Agricultural Development, Biological and Agricultural Engineering, and Recreation and Youth Development, to name a few.
Rice Online Learning is a global leader in post-secondary online education, emphasizing academic excellence, hands-on experiential learning, and innovative approaches. Its current master’s degree program lineup offered online is in computer science, data science, business administration, and engineering management and leadership. These programs have the same curriculum, degree requirements, and faculty members as their on-campus counterparts.
The Master of Science in Computer Science program is notable for its merit-based scholarship with awards up to $10,000 per recipient. Students also benefit from the flexible self-paced coursework with weekly live sessions and lectures.
Qualified graduate students can also apply for stipends of up to $40,000 per year, which can be used for living expenses and other non-educational costs of attendance expenses. Recipients also receive a full-tuition scholarship, meaning their graduate education is nearly free!
Continuing students who have completed ten semesters will receive tuition reductions. Active military personnel and veterans can apply for military benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which provides tuition support and book and supplies allowance.
The Graduate College offers assistantships and scholarships intended for substantial tuition reductions. Assistantships are available for both in-state and out-of-state students, and these consist of tuition remission, health benefits and salary benefits. Scholarships further reduce the cost of attendance, with the American College Testing (ACT) scholarship being the most popular – its $23,000 per year stipend and full-tuition waiver are intended for full-time students from underrepresented populations.
Iowa allows its online students to enroll in four semester hours of on-campus courses. Master’s degree programs offered online are in Business Administration (MBA), Educational Leadership, Library and Information Science, and Nursing.
BU’s competitive tuition rate is made even more affordable through its inclusive financial aid policies. Every BU student will be provided with financial aid, although it’s in varying amounts. Many master’s degree programs offer partial scholarships, and tuition remission is a perk that BU employees enjoy.
Students must complete the FAFSA and other forms that the financial aid office may recommend. Doing so can open the doors for federal, state and institutional financial aid. The Graduate School of Arts & Sciences has merit-based scholarships for first-year master’s students and on-campus employment opportunities. The Office of Graduate Affairs maintains a database of BU fellowships and external funding sources.
Of these fellowships, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Fellowship is the most sought-after because it covers full-time tuition and provides a $23,340 annual stipend and primary health insurance. The Clare Boothe Luce Fellowship, William V. Shannon Memorial Fellowship, and African Studies Fellowship are other fellowships.
BU’s master’s degree programs available online are in Applied Business Analytics, Applied Data Analytics, Curriculum & Teaching, and many more.
The Graduate School of Education offers qualified students generous financial aid options, including scholarships that cover tuition and transportation allowances and stipends. Graduate students must first fill out the FAFSA for their financial aid applications to be considered. This is because the FAFSA collects personal information, including family income used to determine eligibility for federal aid, and it’s also used for institutional aid applications.
Fellowship and assistantship programs are available, too, and these welcome high-performing students who want to finance their graduate education with little to no debts. Examples include Arthur A. Schomburg Graduate Fellowship Program, Master’s-in-Education Teacher Incentive Scholarship Program, and Taher and Myra Razik International Fellowship. There are also funding opportunities for veterans, active military personnel and students in the information science program.
UB’s online master’s degree programs include Educational Psychology and Quantitative Methods, Information and Library Science, Rehabilitation Counseling, and School Librarianship.
Funding packages for graduate students are mostly sourced from research and teaching assistantships, fellowships and grants, and loans. The graduate assistantships may cover most of the tuition and mandatory fees, but assistants must work at least 98 hours every semester.
Graduate students who want generous tuition support should look into the Diversity of Views and Experiences program. Recipients get tuition support for up to 14 credit hours per semester aside from the $25,000 (maximum) stipend. Health and dental insurance and travel support are also part of the package. Only 15 fellowships are offered.
Online students receive the same quality of instruction as their on-campus counterparts, and their degrees don’t indicate the online platform. Master’s degree programs can be offered fully online, partially online, or primarily online. The number of credits ranges from 31 to 52 credits, and programs are in Public Health Administration, Applied Child and Adolescent Development, Business Administration, and many more.
LUC’s commitment to upholding social justice and values are reflected in its graduate students’ competitive financial aid packages. Since the financial aid largely removes the financial burden, graduate students enjoy a better educational experience, particularly with LUC’s extensive student support services.
Graduate assistantships are sought-after because of their competitive benefits, including tuition reimbursement, stipends and travel awards. The total value for a full graduate assistantship is about $50,000 per year! Graduate assistants also thrive, thanks to the professional development opportunities initiated by LUC. Fellowships also provide tuition coverage, stipends and health insurance without the service component.
Information Technology, Pastoral Studies, Bioethics and Health Policy, and Public Service Leadership are among the fields of study in its online master’s degree program options.
UOnline ensures that none of its students pay the full price, with 50% discounts being common owing to the wide range of financial assistance programs. Every graduate student qualifies for merit-based scholarships, too, with their matriculation being the foremost requirement for eligibility. The FAFSA is a must for every student, too, since it’s the basis for federal aid and state and institutional aid.
Students choose from several master’s degree programs with tuition reductions ranging from 27% to 50%, including Applied Learning Sciences, Education Sports Administration, and Live Entertainment Management. University employees and alumni can also apply for affinity-based scholarships that further reduce their tuition payments.
UOnline also welcomes active military personnel and veterans with its military-specific financial aid options. The Yellow Ribbon Program awards veterans with scholarships that will be matched by the Veterans’ Affairs, aside from the Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty and
Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance programs.
Students may also apply for fellowships with financial aid between $23,000 and $40,000 for two years. UOnline makes it easier for students to pay their tuition via easy installment plans.
Most online programs offered at UGA have the same tuition structure for in-state and out-of-state students, not to mention that UGA’s tuition is among the most affordable in the state. Students may have limited institutional graduate scholarships that can be augmented by external scholarships and grants.
UGA welcomes corporate assistance for tuition payments, such as tuition assistance and tuition reimbursement. Active duty military personnel and veterans and their qualified spouses and dependents can get military tuition assistance. Check with your employer. Federal aid is also a large part of why a UGA master’s degree can be earned virtually for free!
UGA’s online master’s degree programs are in Business Administration with concentrations in marketing, agriculture business, and supply chain management; Disaster Preparedness/Emergency Management; and Early Childhood Education, and many others.
UND’s Scholarship Central is the hub for scholarship opportunities offered and accepted by the university. Filling in the General Application with your complete and accurate personal information will result in automatic scholarship matching. UND has a “pool and match” system where students are matched with scholarship programs based on the latter’s intent and applicable laws.
Students should also file for federal aid via FAFSA, which will be used to determine eligibility for state education aid programs. Scholarship programs may also use the FAFSA but will likely require other documents and impose conditions, such as satisfactory academic progress.
UND also provides limited financial support through the Angel Fund, an emergency fund for students in crisis and emergencies. The Open Door Scholarship program awards a one-time financial aid to students undergoing difficulties due to unforeseen dire circumstances. UND also provides its employees and their family members with tuition waivers.
Accountancy, Applied Statistics, and Athletic Training are among the fields of study covered in UND’s online master’s degree programs.
SNHU works with students to achieve academic success, mainly in earning their degrees. The online master’s degree programs are in Accounting, Applied Economics, Criminal Justice, Curriculum & Instruction, and many more. While SNHU is a nonprofit, private university, its budget-friendly cost of attendance results from its decade-long tuition freeze.
Students can save on their tuition by applying for federal aid via FAFSA and applying for external scholarships. SNHU also accepts the transfer of credits, a way to save money on tuition by applying your previous knowledge. Up to 12 credits can be transferred, meaning $7,000+ in tuition savings. Up to 30% in tuition discounts are also provided for military personnel and their spouses.
The Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid maximizes students’ options to finance their graduate-level education at the University of Texas. Of course, UT Austin has one of the most affordable tuition rates among the public universities in Texas, not to mention a competitive tuition rate among flagship public universities across the country. When the affordable tuition and financial aid options are combined, you may earn your master’s degree nearly for free!
FAFSA is the first resort since federal aid is usually the easiest to receive. Students fill in the gaps through scholarships and grants, such as the Texas Public Education Grant and the UT Grant. The individual awards vary, but they can be as high as $10,000 for an entire year. Waivers and exemptions for fellowship recipients and graduate assistants are also common.
UT Austin’s online master’s degree programs are in Creative Writing, Nursing Administration, Spanish Translation & Interpreting, and Kinesiology, among others.
Best Reasons for Pursuing a Master’s Degree
The free tuition part isn’t the only great thing about earning a master’s degree in these prestigious universities either!
Increase Your Income Potential
In the best and worst economic times, workers with higher educational levels typically enjoy higher pay and lower unemployment rates than individuals with less education. Master’s degree holders earn $1,545 in median weekly wage, a higher amount than the $1,305 median weekly wage of bachelor’s degree holders. The former also has a lower unemployment rate at 4.1% than the latter at 5.5%, not to mention that a master’s degree is the minimum for many well-paying jobs.
Once you earn a master’s degree in a field you’ve worked in for a few years, you’re more likely to be hired for supervisory or managerial positions. The higher your rank, the better your compensation package can be.
Boost Your Career Advancement Opportunities
Employers acknowledge the value of master’s degrees in their organizations’ bottom line, whether net profits or public advocacies. But the level of recognition differs depending on whether a master’s degree is a prerequisite or a preference for leadership positions. Either way, you will stand out from a crowd of individuals with a bachelor’s degree and similar work experiences as yours! You can even be justified in highlighting your master’s degree from a prestigious university in your resume.
Career change is defined as moving from one specific occupation to another, usually unrelated, such as from a computer science major to a doctor. The reasons vary widely, from wanting a new challenge to following a passion, but the career change typically requires new education and training. A master’s degree can be useful, particularly when your bachelor’s degree has zero training in the new career you’re planning on pursuing.
Gain Specialized Knowledge
Earning a master’s degree means that you’re passionate about lifelong learning, which employers look for in their employees. Doing so also means that you will gain specialist knowledge, a huge plus when applying for specialist occupations. Even when you already have specialist knowledge in your area, you will find that a master’s degree will further develop it. You may also use it as a consultant, and it usually pays better, too.
Feed Your Passion for Lifelong Learning
Pursuing a master’s degree isn’t a walk in the park, whether for free or not, on-campus or online, because students are expected to have graduate-level knowledge and skills. There will be plenty of papers to read, evaluate and write and a thesis that demands excellent communication skills. But you will also feed your passion for lifelong learning, and the challenges that come your way are well worth it. Even when you think that you’ve read every book in your field of study, there is always something new you can learn.
Be Updated About Your Field of Study
Every industry and its fields of study are always in flux, meaning new ideas, innovations and inventions are constantly introduced. This is all too true in medicine, computer science and technology, accountancy and law, among other fields with high obsolescence. Pursuing a master’s degree means being updated about your field of study while developing your specialist knowledge and research skills.
Expand Your Personal and Professional Contacts
Even if you never meet your classmates in your online master’s degree program, you can still make them part of your network! Your LinkedIn and social media accounts will not only be more extensive, but you can also request referrals that can boost your career advancement opportunities. Your professors are also great sources for letters of recommendation, job referrals, and other useful career information with their established connections.
Use It as an Educational Stepping Stone
While doctorate programs don’t require a master’s degree, it’s usually either a prerequisite or a preferred credential. A master’s degree is also excellent preparation for a doctorate program due to its intensive research requirement. Your master-level research skills will make your doctorate research easier.
Be a Smarter You
Aside from gaining specialist knowledge, you will be surprised at the depth and breadth of the new knowledge you can develop in a master’s degree program! You will also further develop your key cognitive skills, such as critical and analytical thinking skills, transferable to any industry. Your ability for self-study will also be developed beyond what you learned in college – there’s no spoon-feeding in graduate study!
Dive Into Research Opportunities
Participating in faculty-led research at a professional level is just too good to pass up for students in master’s degree programs. Your curiosity about a particular area can be satisfied but also deepened so you can engage in more research in the future.
Of course, your personal growth will also get a boost! Whatever professional knowledge and skills you acquired in earning a master’s degree will translate into your personal growth, from making new friends to making more discoveries about yourself.
The Best Time to Pursue a Master’s Degree
Should you enroll in a master’s degree program straight from college or wait until you have gained relevant work experience?
When You Should Go Right After College
If you register in a master’s degree college the year after your graduation, you’re more likely to make a smoother transition with a summer break in between. You’re leveraging your momentum with your effective study habits still going strong, meaning you won’t find it difficult to transition from college-level to graduate-level life.
If you take a break, your study habits may not be as effective, and your transition from working life to a working-and-studying life can be extremely challenging for the first semester. Your life may also undergo significant changes that will make it more difficult to balance work, studies and personal responsibilities, such as getting married and raising children. Your decision to pursue a master’s degree without these additional responsibilities may be the best thing!
There’s also the matter of repaying your federal student loan as an undergraduate student being postponed since you’re continuing your education. But remember that you may also rack up more student debt for your graduate studies, and you must still repay your undergraduate loans after earning your master’s degree.
Note that if you want to avail federal aid as a graduate student, you’re still going to file FAFSA but this time as an independent student. You are eligible for the Direct PLUS and direct unsubsidized loans only and the paid federal work-study program. You can also apply for state, institutional, and private scholarship programs, perhaps even avail of your employer’s tuition support program.
But going right after college has its disadvantages, too. You may not have the maturity, life and work experiences, and time management skills yet! You may not be equipped to meet the admission requirements of programs that require relevant real-world experience for a minimum number of years (e.g., executive MBA programs).
When It’s Better to Wait
If you wait for a few years before pursuing a master’s degree, you will enjoy several benefits, too. You will get a break from the all-nighters, hours-long exams and cold pizzas that characterized your college life. You can establish your career first, perhaps settle down in a specific place or travel extensively, and find your place under the sun.
While at it, you will build your professional experience and develop your skills to contribute to your success in graduate school. Your work and life experiences will enhance, if not change, your opinions and perspectives as a college student, which will contribute to a more enriching graduate experience. You will also have more time to complete creative projects, volunteer in community work and build a portfolio, which results in personal enrichment and looks good on your resume, without the extra burden of graduate studies.
Your interests and ambitions may also evolve in your work, and thus, your plans for a specific master’s degree may also change. You may want to discover your true calling before making plans for a master’s degree or risk making a substantial investment in a graduate degree in a field you’re not interested in. Besides, graduate schools will be there whether you wait for a year or ten years!
And then there’s also the matter of finances! You can first pay your undergraduate student loans, stabilize your finances, and save for graduate school if you wait. Even if you don’t pay 100% of your undergraduate student loans, making a significant dent in it can mean fewer graduate loans. You’re better positioned to finance your graduate education through scholarships, assistantships and tuition support from your employer.
The bottom line: pursue your master’s degree when you’re ripe and ready for it! You must have effective time management skills, possess the emotional maturity for adulting responsibilities, and be as financially stable as possible. You should also be committed to completing the program, and it can be a challenge in itself.
Planning Tips For Grad School Success
Regardless of your decision regarding when to plunge into the life of a graduate student, you will benefit from keeping these tips in mind.
Determine Your Goals
You must have clear goals, including your reasons and motivations for pursuing a master’s degree. What do you want to achieve with an advanced degree? What are your expectations for graduate school, including its didactic and research components? What are your aspirations for your career with a master’s degree?
The clearer your goals, the greater your chances of earning a master’s degree in your chosen field! You don’t have to write everything down, but a list can become a good source of motivation. Your goals don’t have to mirror everybody else’s either because it has to be your own! You may, for example, make it your goal to earn an MBA because you want to make your private medical practice more results-effective, cost-efficient and patient-responsive.
Get Your Dollars in Line
While there are numerous personal and professional benefits in earning a master’s degree, the costs are daunting! If you’re patient and persistent – and with a little bit of luck – you can finance your education with scholarships, grants and fellowships. But there are living costs and other unexpected expenses that must be planned.
If you have a family, you must also consider the impact of your advanced studies on your family’s financial health. Even with full coverage for tuition and other educational expenses, the additional costs can be a challenge to overcome. You have to factor in technology costs, such as the computer and Internet setup, among other possible expenses.
So, before you look into master’s degree programs, you must look at your current finances and future cash flow. You should also discuss your plans with family members, perhaps ask for emotional and financial support. Ask yourself, “Can we afford my master’s studies? Can’t we afford not to pursue it considering its numerous benefits and the tight job market?”
Understand the Difference Between Undergraduate and Graduate Studies
If you’ve sailed through your undergraduate studies because you’re an overachiever, you will likely find a different environment in your graduate studies! A difficulty that most graduate students will experience is imposter syndrome. It is the strong feeling of being a fraud and doubting your abilities. Your self-confidence will be tested more times than you care to count, and thus, it’s important to be your own strongest cheerleader to have a supportive network.
You should also expect more personal initiative and less guidance from your professors and other staff members during your graduate studies. While there are exceptional student support services in graduate school, spoon-feeding isn’t a thing here.
Develop the Traits Toward Becoming an Effective Graduate Student
Due to the greater flexibility in graduate school, you must possess maturity and its associated traits to thrive. Aside from effective time management skills, you must also possess the following traits:
- Being motivated starts from within, and it’s important to sustain your motivation levels even when it fluctuates from time to time. Having clear goals is also part of staying motivated even when things go wrong, if only temporarily.
- Optimism is the ability to focus on the bright side while maintaining realistic expectations and setting SMART goals. Positive thinking must be accompanied by meaningful decisions that result in productive actions.
- Persistence comes hand in hand with patience since these are crucial in achieving goals despite the odds. Pushing through one more draft, one more book, or one more research will be your ticket to success.
- A strong work ethic is crucial to your success because it means sticking to your schedule, even when it seems nearly impossible.
But be sure to take good care of your mind and body, too! These are your best assets toward earning your master’s degree and enjoying career success.
You must plan far ahead when you’re planning to pursue graduate studies. If you’re enrolling right after college, you should plan while still in your junior year of college. You will have ample time to decide on your field of specialization, comply with the admission requirements, and become a competitive applicant. Your decision to enroll in a bachelor-to-doctorate program also means you have to hit the ground running as early as your junior year!
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the legitimate ways to get a free online master’s degree?
Look for scholarships, fellowships and grants that offer free tuition for graduate students! While there’s a more limited number of these programs for master’s degree students than for undergraduate and doctorate students, there are still several. You will also find audience-specific free money, such as those for military personnel and veterans, aspiring teachers, and underrepresented groups. Ask about industry and employer benefits, too, and work-for-education programs.
Is a free online master’s degree acceptable among employers and industries?
Generally speaking, employers are more likely to consider whether an accredited institution issued a master’s degree. Of course, the field of study, specialization, and coursework contributing to the organization’s bottom line will also be considered a priority. Ultimately, what you bring will matter more than where you acquired it.
You may even highlight that you earned your master’s degree for free through merit-based scholarships, assistantships, and fellowships. This is an indication of your persistence, passion and patience, and leadership skills that will be valuable for the organization if you’re hired.
Do universities with tuition-free online master’s degree programs have high academic standards?
Not every school, but if you choose from one of the 20 universities featured, you have a 100% guarantee that these are among the best in the country! But even if you don’t, you can do your research about the accreditation, academic track record and graduate outcomes of whatever universities you’re considering.
Are there negative aspects to a tuition-free online master’s degree program?
None that we know of that earning an on-campus, paid-for-tuition master’s degree doesn’t have! You must choose a field of specialization that addresses your aspirations and professional goals. You should also choose an accredited university with a master’s degree program known for its academic excellence, among other factors. In this way, you can maximize your advanced studies and enjoy the benefits of it.
Is it necessary to match your master’s degree with your bachelor’s degree?
No, it isn’t necessary! Consult with an academic advisor about course prerequisites and work experiences when not matching your master’s and bachelor’s degrees. You may have a bachelor’s degree in computer science and decide to get your master’s in Accounting.
- Undergraduate and graduate students earning an online master’s degree for free – or nearly for free – is possible with scholarships, grants and fellowships.
- Be sure to plan your graduate studies because of the financial cost and the physical and mental demands that it requires for success.
- A free online master’s degree is a valuable credential but be sure to make the right choice in a program.