Average Cost of a Master’s Degree

Last Updated: July 12, 2021 by Melanie Hanson

Report Highlights. The cost of a Master’s degree typically ranges between $30,000 and $120,000 depending on the school, the major, and the length of the program.

  • The average cost of a Master’s degree is $66,340.
  • A Master’s degree in Education typically costs $55,200.
  • On average, the cost of a Master’s degree in Arts is usually $72,800.
  • A Master’s degree in Science typically costs $62,300.
  • The average cost of a Master’s degree in other programs is $75,100.

Related reports include Average Cost of College & Tuition | Average Cost of Community College | Average Cost of a Doctorate Degree | Average Cost of Law School | Average Cost of Private School

Tuition Varies

Master’s programs generally take up to 2 years. The price of tuition varies greatly depending on the school, the program, and the residency of the student themselves. Master’s degree students are also less likely to receive grant aid, fellowships, or tuition waivers compared to undergraduates and doctoral students.

  • The University of Michigan’s School of Public Policy costs $12,878 per year in tuition and fees.
  • Meanwhile, the University of Michigan’s School of Business: Master of Accounting program costs $22,400 per year in tuition and fees.
  • The University of California’s Master of Public Policy program is $22,702 for in-state students and $34,948 for out-of-state students.
  • Northeastern University has a 30-credit hour Master of Science in Accounting program.
  • Northeastern University also has a longer 60-credit hour Master of Business Administration program.
  • The average Master’s student spends $24,812 on school each school year.
  • The average cost of a Master’s degree is $54,500 in a public school.
  • The average cost of a Master’s degree is $81,100 in a private school.

Master of Business Administration

A Master’s degree in Business Administration may be the most popular graduate degree available. Because of its popularity, securing financial aid is a highly competitive process. Partial and full tuition coverage scholarships exist for MBA degrees; usually for disadvantaged communities or those with military service.

  • The average cost of a Master’s degree in Business Administration is $66,300.
  • The average cost of an MBA degree from 2000 to 2016 was $55,720.
  • The cost of an MBA degree from Harvard Business School for a full 2-year program is $111,542.
  • Meanwhile, the cost of an MBA degree from Binghamton University is $34,880 for a 2-year program.

Masters of Business Admin on EducationData

Master of Education

Master’s degrees in Education remain one of the cheaper if not the cheapest degree available. Federal loan forgiveness options exist for teachers who go on to use their degrees in a public setting. Better loan forgiveness options exist for graduates who go into fields where there is a lack of teachers.

  • The average cost of a Master’s degree in Education is $55,200.
  • The average cost of a Master’s degree in Education from 2000 to 2016 was $47,300.
  • A Master’s degree in Education from Buena Vista University may cost around $38,472.
  • A Master’s degree in Education from Columbia University may cost around $70,000.

Master of Education on EducationData

Master of Arts

For this data set, Master of Arts programs may include History, Literature, Languages, and more. It does not include Public Administration, Public Health, or Social Work. Because of the broad range of categories, the amount of financial aid available is program and school-specific.

  • The average cost of a Master’s degree in Arts is $72,800.
  • The average cost of a Master’s degree in Arts from 2000 to 2016 was $58,260.
  • A Master of Arts in History from Florida International University may cost $45,608.
  • A Master’s in History from Rutgers University may cost $87,338.

Master of Arts on EducationData

Master of Science

A Master of Science degree includes programs such as science, technology, engineering, and medicine (STEM). STEM graduates tend to enter the most in-demand, high-paying jobs that help offset the cost of graduate school.

  • The average cost of a Master’s degree in Science is $62,300.
  • The average cost of a Master’s degree in Science from 2000 to 2016 was $53,420.
  • Texas A&M University estimates the cost of a Master of Engineering from their school is $54,000.
  • Among the cheapest programs valued, The University of North Carolina estimates the cost of a Master’s in Engineering Management from their school is $11,411.
  • Pew trusts estimates that graduate students studying engineering in the University of Maryland pay an additional $1,400 a year compared to their liberal arts counterparts.
  • Pew trusts estimates that graduate students studying engineering at Pennsylvania State University pay an additional $1,900 a year compared to their liberal arts counterparts.

Master of Science on EducationData

Other Master’s Degrees

Programs in this category include Public Administration, Public Health, Social Work, Political Science, and similar fields. Social workers are entitled to some forms of loan forgiveness if they commit to several years of public service. Because of the broad range of categories, the amount of financial aid available is program and school-specific.

  • The average cost of a degree in this category is $75,100.
  • The average cost of a degree in this category from 2000 to 2016 was $53,420.
  • Florida Atlantic University estimates their Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) program may cost around $53,672.
  • Evergreen University’s MPA program costs approximately $22,000 for a full 2 years.

Other Master Degrees on EducationData

Cost by Race

The Brookings institute created a study in 2016 showcasing the debt gap between White graduates and Black graduates pursuing their Master’s degrees. The American Council on Education also created a study in 2016 to study the student debt gap between racial groups. In general, Black Americans were the most likely to borrow and have loans. Asians as a whole had the largest amount of cumulative debt.

  • Black graduate school students are 40% likely to acquire graduate school debt.
  • White graduate school students are 22% likely to acquire graduate school debt.
  • From 2004 to 2012 Black enrollment in for-profit colleges increased by nearly 20%.
  • Hispanic students use less financial aid and rely more on money from friends and relatives than other racial groups.
  • Asian students are the most likely group to borrow from private student loan programs or use their own personal savings.
  • 50.1% of Asians surveyed took out a loan.
  • 81.3% of Black or African Americans surveyed took out a loan.
  • 72.9% of Hispanic or Latinos surveyed borrowed money to pay for school.
  • 57.3% of White students surveyed borrowed money to pay for school.
  • 54.1% of students who two or more races surveyed borrowed money to pay for school.

Masters degree costs on EducationData

Additional Costs

Graduates with a master’s degree had higher average debt in other categories besides student loans. Besides accumulating more debt, Master’s students may also pay extra in hidden school fees. Schools may charge fees like a deposit, a technology fee, or a health insurance fee. The technology fee is especially prevalent due to the surge in online learning brought on by Covid-19.

  • People with a Master’s degree held on average $46,798 in student loan debt.
  • People with a Master’s degree had on average 21% more credit card debt than the national public’s average.
  • People with a Master’s degree had on average 12% less retail card debt than the national public.
  • Master’s degree holders carry on average 26% more student loan debt than bachelor degree holders.
  • Master’s degree holders carry on average 4.5% more auto loan debt than the national public average.
  • Graduates with a Master’s degree on average held 31% more personal loan debt than the general public’s average.
  • Graduates with a Master’s degree on average held a 27% higher mortgage than the general public’s average.
  • Master degree holders carry on average 29% more debt in all categories, except retail card, when compared to the general public’s averages.
  • Schools may have additional fees like an application fee that is typically less than $200.
  • Technology fees vary from school to school but may range from $50 to $125.
Graduate Debts vs Regular Debts
Type of Debt Average with Master’s Degree National Average
Credit Card $8,115 $6,445
Retail Card $1,076 $1,205
Student Loans $46,798 $34,906
Auto Loans $20,012 $19,117
Personal Loans $23,443 $16,249
Mortgages $275,713 $201,002

 

Sources

  1. National Center for Education Statistics (NCES): Table 330.50 Average and percentiles of graduate tuition and required fees in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by control of institution 1989 – 90 through 2018 – 19
  2. NCES: Trends in Student Loan Debt for Graduate School Completers
  3. Experian: The Cost of Education How Graduate Degrees Affect Debt and Credit
  4. Brookings Institution: Black-white disparity in student loan debt more than triples after graduation
  5. Urban Institute, The Price of Graduate and Professional School: How Much Students Pay
  6. Education Next: Race, Student Debt, and For-Profit Graduate Schools
  7. Sallie Mae: How America Pays for Graduate School
  8. PEW Stateline: Why Universities Charge Extra for Engineering, Business and Nursing Degrees
  9. American Council on Education, Debt: Master’s Degree Recipients