Affordable Online Masters Degree Programs – This ranking focuses specifically on affordable online master’s programs offered by private, not-for-profit universities.
College data comes from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) data centers managed by the US Department of Education.
Affordable Online Masters Degree Programs
Note: Tuition fees are subject to change. Check the school website or admissions department for cost and other online degree details before applying. Designated as a “Women’s University” by NCES, private universities are not included in this ranking. See our previous list of the 20 cheapest women’s colleges with online master’s degrees.
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Thomas University (Thomas, est. 1950) offers affordable online associate degrees through master’s degrees and certificate programs, offering more than 40 programs in total. Based in the north of Tallahassee, the school was originally established by a religious group that relinquished control in 1976. We serve both regular and adult students at this campus, our satellite campuses (Georgia and Florida), and online. The student-to-faculty ratio is as low as 10:1 and the average class size (across all learning levels) is 12 students. Online classes are delivered using the Canvas platform.
Note: Program requirements for graduation range from 36-60 credits. Some of these programs have online or primarily online courses and face-to-face clinical/practicum requirements. Hybrid programs follow a cohort model, while MEd programs offer concurrent online instruction. MSN programs (both tracks) have an on-campus requirement of 1/2 day per month. Alternatively, an MBA and MSN (or track) are offered together as a 2 degree option.
Claremont Lincoln University (CLU, est. 2011) offers affordable online master’s degree programs. Originally founded to provide a learning environment for all faiths, it is now secular as of 2014, although its vision statement mentions living by the Golden Rule, a concept recurring in most religions. Interfaith aspects are integrated into the academic program. We currently exclusively offer affordable master’s degrees, and GRE/GMAT scores are not required for admission. While the program is online, CLU holds two weekend get-together events a year where students and faculty can meet “for intentional networking, socializing, and shared learning time.”
Each of these low-cost degree programs consists of 30 credits and requires completion of what CLU calls the Capstone Action Project (CAP). The program is “a self-directed change management program that [students] can use to promote positive change in any situation.” A typical CAP includes attention, dialogue, and collaboration related to the program, after which the plan is implemented. Courses are delivered online through Canvas and are asynchronous, but some require online collaboration from small teams. The program schedule is at least 15 months long.
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Brandman University (BU, est. 1958) is a member of the Chapman University System and offers affordable online associates through doctoral degrees and certificate programs. It serves both traditional and non-traditional students (average age: 36 years) at more than 24 locations in California and Washington, including some military bases, and offers course-based and competency-based programs online. In addition to enjoying Military-Friendly School status by GI Jobs Magazine and Best For Vets: Colleges by Military Times, the 2019 U.S. Featured in multiple categories on the Review List. News & World Report includes: Most Innovative Schools; Best Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs; Top Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs for Veterans; Top Online Graduate Education Programs; Best online MBA programs; Best Online Graduate Business Programs – excluding MBA.
BU has over 20 affordable online/hybrid master’s and specialist programs and a variety of concentration/focus/track options.
The program requires 30-69 credits for graduation. Those at the upper end of that range usually have multiple (individual) practice requirements.
Endicott College (EC, est. 1939) offers affordable online Associate’s through Doctorate and Certificate programs, with a total of more than 80 academic programs. Originally established as a women’s college, it has been co-educational since 1994. Ghost stories abound on this picturesque campus near Boston. The college was named the 2019 Best Colleges of the U.S. Rank in multiple categories in the review list. Including News & World Report: Best Colleges for Veterans; most innovative school; Northern Regional University; Northern Regional University; best value school; Best undergraduate lectures. Notable alumni of EK include Olympic figure skater Aimee Buchanan and MTV celebrity Susie Castillo.
Nova Southeastern University
Three of the above low-cost programs offer “fifth year” (2 degree tracks): MEd-ABA; MEd-AABA; MS-HSS. Some do not require GRE or GMAT scores for admission and some may choose a full online course or a mix with in-person delivery. Program completion times vary. See the school website for more information.
Indiana Institute of Technology (IIT, est. 1930) offers affordable online peers through its PhD program. Originally founded as a non-profit men’s technical college, the college changed its status to non-profit in 1948 and produced its first female graduate in 1958. We currently serve students online in 15 locations in Indiana and Kentucky. Ranked in four categories of the 2019 US edition. News & World Report in Best Colleges University Review List includes: Engineering Programs – Schools without a PhD; Best Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs; Best online MBA programs; Best Online Graduate Business Programs – excluding MBA. Notable IIT alumni include Ronald Ostrowski, an aerospace engineer and designer of several Boeing aircraft, including the 747, 767 and 777.
The affordable degree programs above require 33-42 credits for completion, including a project or other capstone experience. Multiple dual degree options are available for both dual masters and bachelor/masters pairs.
National Louis University (NLU, est. 1886) offers affordable online bachelor’s degrees through doctorate and certificate programs, with a total of 60 degree programs. Originally established as a prep school for female kindergarten teachers, the university serves students at six locations in the Chicago area, one in Florida, one in Poland, and online. In recognition of the university’s diversity (51% of visible minority students), US News & World Report (USNWR) named it to its Top 25 list of Most Diverse National Universities (2013). In 2019, USNWR also ranked the university in the National Universities category of its Best Colleges review list. Washington Monthly named them Best Bang for the Buck – Midwest, and Money magazine found that graduates are very positive about contributing to society (ranked in the top 10 nationally). Notable NLU alumni include documentary/political activist David Steiner and rap artist Asheru.
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Western Michigan University-Cooley Law School (WMU-Cooley, est. 1972) is affiliated with Western Michigan University to offer affordable online master’s and doctoral level programs. Although WMU is a public institution, WMU-Cooley (formerly Thomas M. Cooley Law School) is a private law school officially affiliated with WMU, and Cooley classes are offered on the main campus and on select WMU campuses, as well as online. Notable Cooley alumni include Michael Cohen, former attorney for US President Donald Trump.
Some of these affordable online degree programs have a requirement that students log in while streaming at the same time. The program requirement is 36 credits for graduation.
Capitol University of Technology (CTU, est. 1927) offers affordable online peers through doctoral degree and certificate programs. Originally established as a radio engineering school, it is now focused on offering technology and analytics-related programs in eight fields of study to students both on campus and online. Students range in age from 16-61, and more than half (60%) of students are from the “traditionally underserved population.” NSA/DHS recognized the university’s efforts and designated it a “Center of Academic Excellence” for its Information Assurance/Cyber Security Program. G.I. Jobs, Capitol is also included in the 2019 US Jobs Review list. News & World Report in Best Colleges category of “Engineering Programs – Schools without PhD”.
Programs range from 30-39 credits. The culminating experience can be set or chosen from a thesis, capstone project or internship.
Most Affordable Online Bachelor’s Degrees
Lasell College (LC, est. 1851) offers affordable online bachelor’s and master’s programs (more than 50 academic programs in total). Originally established as a women’s seminary, LC is now unaffiliated and co-educational, with male students enrolled since 1997. Adopted a carbon pledge with the goal of reducing carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. It is number 1 in the US. News and World. A 2019 review list of the 2019 Best Colleges Report (Northern Region Colleges, Best Online MBA Programs, Best Online Graduate Business Programs – Excluding MBA) and a list of previous year reviews from the Washington Monthly’s College Guide. Notable LC alumni include actress and fashion model Nancy Donahue and painter Elizabeth Gardner. His painting The Confidence was reinterpreted by artist-director James Herbert for the music video for the song Low by the band R.E.M.
The program is 36 credits and has a minimum duration of 12-24 months. Affordable online courses may be 8 or 16 weeks long and limited to approximately 23 students each. Some programs don’t require GRE and/or MAT scores, and you can choose from a thesis, internship, project, or other capstone. Alternatively, nearly a dozen online graduate certificate programs are offered.
Aurora University (AU, est. 1893) offers affordable online bachelor’s degrees through doctoral degrees and certificate programs, covering more than 40 majors and minors. Originally established as a seminary, the university
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