How much does a master’s degree cost?

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How much a master's degree costs depends on several factors. Length of the program is one factor. Most master's degree programs can be completed in between one to two years. For most, 30 credits are required for graduation. Other factors include what program and whether a student pays in-state or out-of-state tuition.

In some cases, a master's degree is a requirement for employment, or it can mean a promotion at a current place of employment. It can also add influence to a resume with a master's degree from a prestigious institution if not already there at the bachelor's degree level, so the investment pays off in the long run.

How Much Does Graduate School Cost?

According to, the average cost of master's degree for students is between $30,000 and $120,000. The cost varies depending on the university and the master's program itself.

The cost varies by program as well. The average cost of an MBA, for example, is $40,000. At most universities, this is what master's degree graduates will pay. Some institutions have programs for less, and MBA programs at Harvard or Stanford could cost in excess of $120,000.

In-State, Out-of-State, Online, or On-Campus

How much a master's degree will cost is dependent on where you will take the courses. If you are looking at a public university, especially if paying in-state tuition, the cost will be less than paying out-of-state tuition, going to a private university, or both.

For example, the cost of full-time graduate tuition, at nine or more credit hours, per year at the University of Michigan for engineering students is $10,957 while out of state students will pay $20,616 per year, and distance learning students will pay $1,244 for first hour of courses in-state and $1,372 per first hour for out of state students with a slight decrease in cost for every hour after that.

How much does an online master's degree cost? An online master's degree program could be less expensive. This is true for some online master's programs, but research into each institution and the cost of their program should be conducted in order to determine the cost comparison.

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Return on Investment

According to the Census Bureau, in the United States, graduates with a master's degree typically earn about 15 percent higher overall lifetime income, which works out to be about $8,000 a year more, than those with bachelor's degrees. For more information, see

In most cases, master's degree graduates earn more per year than earners in the same field with only a bachelor's degree. CareerBuilder reports that computer programmers earn $72,515 with a master's degree and $50,985 with only a bachelor's degree. For a detailed comparison, visit

So, how much does a master's degree cost? How much a student will pay for a master's degree varies by program, delivery method, and institution. Overall, graduates of master's programs will earn a higher salary, and in many cases, a master's degree can open up more opportunities in the workforce.