Average Cost Per Credit Hour

What is Cost Per Credit Hour for Graduate School?

Instead of charging a flat fee for tuition, many grad schools charge a cost per credit hour. This unit price reflects the number of classroom hours per week throughout a term. Usually it's 3 credits per course, and around 30 to 36 credits to earn a master's degree.

cost per credit for grad school

To estimate what you'll pay for a master's degree, you'll want to know three things to do the math. The formula is easy - multiply the number of credits you need to complete by the cost per credit. Make sure to then add any incidentals like books, technology and graduation fees.

A= How many credits you need to complete

B = The cost per credit

C = Any extra fees

What is the average cost per credit for a master’s degree? Recent data on average annual tuition and fees for full-time master’s students is $22,590. That’s about $627 per credit. If you’re on the hunt for an affordable way to earn a grad degree, you can do two things. Look for cheaper programs and see if you have any transferable credits to bring with you.

P.S. Military students may have a discount on cost per credit too.

written by Rana Waxman

The cheapest online colleges per credit hour may make a master's a worthwhile pursuit. Here are 20 master’s programs where the cost per credit is under $500 for full-time students.

  1. Emporia State University  - MBA (Online)                  
  2. Amberton University  - MBA (Online)                         
  3. Louisiana State University in Shreveport  - MBA (Online)                                               
  4. Georgia Southwestern State University  - MBA (Online)                          
  5. Purdue University Global - Master's in Cybersecurity                            
  6.  Saint Leo University  - Master of Education (MEd)                                    
  7.  Regent University - Master of Education (MEd)                                                
  8. American InterContinental University - Master of Education (MEd)                  
  9. Grand Canyon University - Master of Education (MEd)                                     
  10. Anna Maria College - Master of Education (MEd)                                               
  11. Queens University Charlotte  - Master of Education (MEd)                              
  12. Grantham University - Master's In Healthcare Administration                                     
  13. Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota  - Masters in Human Resource Management       
  14. Liberty University Online (BSN-MSN Dual Degree)
  15. Colorado Technical University (MSN Nursing Administration)
  16. Claremont Lincoln University Online - MA in Organizational Leadership           
  17. Indiana Wesleyan University - MA in Organizational Leadership
  18. George Mason University  - Master’s in Public Health (MPH)
  19. A.T. Still University of Health Sciences - Advanced Physician Assistant (online)
  20. Capella University - Master of Social Work (MSW)

#1: Purdue University Global

Master of Science in Cybersecurity Management

Purdue's MS in cyber security management focuses on leadership. In tandem, you'll study the ways to develop, apply, assess and update security policies.

Some of your courses will cover ethical hacking, computer and network security. Others get into computer forensics and other IT tools. Growth in this field is off the charts (28%) so a low cost Masters in Cybersecurity that you can pursue online may be a recipe for success.

More About the Program:

  • $420 cost per credit
  • 60 credits
  • 100% online

Look for other programs at this school:

MS in Homeland Security and Emergency Management

MS in Information Technology or InfoSec and Assurance

MBA in Project Management or MBA Finance or MBA Human Resources

Master of Public Health (MPA)

MS in Accounting

MSN – Family Nurse Practitioner Primary Care

#2: Emporia State University

Master of Business Administration

Emporia University's MBA is AACSB-accredited. It offers 6 start dates and a broad course plan. Pursue your degree online from the same faculty that teaches the campus program.

Some topics focus on the managerial side of accounting, finance and economics. Others may help you grow as a decision maker in areas like marketing, IT and business strategy. An MBA plus managerial experience may help you land an executive role.

  • $350 cost per credit
  • 36 credits
  • 100% online or on-campus format

Look for other programs at this school:

MS in Informatics or Library and Information Management

MS in School Psychology

MS in Forensic Science

#3: Grantham University

Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA)

Grantham's MHA studies the business side of healthcare. It may serve those who strive for higher level positions in the field of health and medical care. With 20% employment growth expected to 2026, an MHA may help you edge out competitors.

The courses focus on the skills today's healthcare managers need. Some may relate to managing people, finance, budgets and healthcare systems. Others to public health rules and regulations, leadership tactics and more.

More About the Program:

  • $350 cost per credit
  • 37 credits
  • Monthly start dates and 24 months to complete

Look for other programs at this school:

MSN – Nursing Informatics or Case Management

MBA or MBA in Project Management

MS in Business Intelligence  or MS in Information Management – Project Management

MS in Performance Improvement (MSPI)

#4: Capella University

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Capella's online MSW program is CSWE-accredited. If you already have a BSW there's a MSW- Advanced Standing program too. Both may ready you to pursue licensure and step into a general or clinical practice (in most states). The outlook in this field is great (20% growth) for health care social workers and you need a MSW for clinical roles.

Of the two programs, the advanced standing MSW entails fewer credits. It exposes you to mental health interventions and human behavior. At the same time, other courses help you build the systems thinking mindset to problem solve.

More About the Program:

  • $505 cost per credit (1 semester credit = 1.5 quarter credits)
  • 52 credits (quarter semester)
  • Online and in person format

Look for other programs at this school:

MEd – Teaching and Learning

MS in Addiction Studies

MBA – Human Resource Management (HRM) or MBA, DBA

MHA – Health Care Leadership

MPA – Nonprofit Management and Leadership

MS – Criminal Justice or MS Digital Forensics

#5: A.T. Still University of Health Sciences

Advanced Masters in Physician Assistant Studies

ATSU's APA degree is for licensed or certified PAs. A post-professional program, it offers a choice of concentrations. One is clinical medicine. The other is education/leadership.

It's an exciting time to pursue a master's degree and licensure. Current demand for physician assistants is at a record high (37% growth). This program may serve as a direct path to earning those credentials.

More About the Program:

  • $445 cost per credit
  • 100% online + 400 hours of direct patient care
  • Number of credits N/A

Look for other programs at this school:

Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)

Doctor of Athletic Training

Post-professional Doctor of Audiology (AuD)

Doctor of Medical Science

Master of Kinesiology

Master of Health Administration (MHA) or DHA

Finding a Masters Degree With a Cost Per Credit You Can Afford

Now that you understand how cost per credit works, you may want to factor it into your final decision.

There are many more master’s programs to look into other than the ones above. Some fall between $500 and $627, while others are more expensive than the norm.

Either way, higher education may be within reach. Studying online may also provide extra savings and scheduling flexibility.

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