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How Much Does a Master’s Degree Cost?

If you are thinking about applying to graduate school, you might be wondering, “How much does a master’s degree cost?” As you might be discovering, earning a master’s degree can be a great way to dive deeper into your studies, make connections within your field, and advance your career. In this article, we help you break down how much a master’s degree costs, what you might pay for outside of tuition, and some ways that you can find financial support to fund your degree. Let’s dive in!

How much does a master’s degree cost?

Just like an undergraduate degree, a master’s degree will vary from university to university. According to the Education Data Initiative, the average master’s degree cost is $66,340. Some will be much lower than this cost, and others will be much higher. Some factors that can change the price of your master’s degree are:

  • The college you attend (Location? Public or private?)
  • What you’re studying
  • The length of the program
  • The number of credits taken

What costs are not included in tuition?

Remember, there are costs included in a master’s degree other than tuition that are not usually covered. These can include, but are not limited to:

  • Technology fees
  • Lab fees
  • Library fees
  • Academic advising
  • Travel or lodging
  • Thesis fees
  • Graduation fees

As you can see, there are many things to consider when trying to estimate the cost of a master’s degree. It is important to weigh the pros and cons, especially before signing for student loans. The Department of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Handbook is an excellent resource to look up current data projected new jobs, growth, and salaries for nearly every career. 

Are master’s degree students eligible for financial assistance?

The short answer is, yes, master’s degree students are eligible for financial assistance. There are opportunities for federal aid, grants, graduate assistantships, scholarships, and more.

Financial aid for graduate school

Graduate students do not qualify for the same federal aid opportunities as undergraduate students. Graduate students are ineligible for need-based Pell Grants, but are eligible for federal loans (which should always be last on the list to fund any degree). 

Grants for graduate school

Through the FAFSA you can apply for the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program, Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant (for those going into education), Federal Work Study (FWS), and Federal Pell Grants.

Graduate assistantships

Graduate assistantships are a form of financial aid for graduate students. This financial assistance comes in many different forms, which can include tuition scholarships, stipends for housing, transportation, and other things related to earning a master’s degree. Most often, graduate students will work as teaching assistants or research assistants for professors in exchange for the assistantship. 

Scholarships for graduate students

While not as plentiful as scholarships for high school and undergraduate students, there are scholarships to fund your graduate education. Scholarships at this level are competitive and often dependent on the undergraduate GPA (so if you are looking ahead, keep those grades up!). Make sure that you research college/university specific scholarships at the universities you are thinking about applying to. 

Closing thoughts for aspiring master’s students

Overall, in the last five years, the number of people who are going to school for their master’s degree has risen. Ultimately, whether or not a master’s degree is right for you depends on what kind of student you are, what your goals are, and  whether or not it makes sense for your career. 

Additional resources for students

Ready to apply for a master’s program? We’ve got you covered. Check out our guide on graduate school financing options, our top scholarships for grad school students, and, when it comes time to write your application essays, don’t miss our guide on how to write an essay about yourself. Be sure also to check out our guide to the GRE and a comparison between the GRE and the GMAT. Best of luck!

Frequently asked questions about the cost of a master’s degree

Can I get tuition reimbursement for my master’s degree?

There are many ways to receive tuition reimbursement for a master’s degree. There are hundreds of companies that offer tuition reimbursement for both undergraduate and graduate programs. 

Related: Top 15 companies that offer tuition reimbursement

Is a master’s degree worth the cost?

The honest answer here is that it depends on your profession and what kind of person you are. It is all what you put into it. Whether or not your degree is worth the cost comes down to what you study. There are certain degrees that have higher salaries, and some jobs are easier to get with a master’s degree. For example, STEM related careers are more likely to require master’s degrees than others. 

Related: Is a master’s degree worth it?

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