Are you confused about the cost of an MS in the US?
Have a look at the curated list of schools offering the best value for money, and the most and least expensive cities in the US.
Let’s take a detailed look at how much a master’s in the US could cost you.
Tuition/Fee for Masters in the US
Tuition for a master’s degree in the US can depend on a range of factors. These factors include the type of program, the number of credits selected, and the extra fees charged as part of tuition.
Some of the types of extra fees universities can charge include student service fee, activity fees, sports center fees, student union fee, technology fee, library fee, sustainability fee, and fees for books and supplies, among others. These fees are usually more minimal than the overall fees charged for all the credits taken.
Master’s programs in the US require you to take a certain amount of courses so that you have enough credits to earn your degree. In most universities, each course gives you three credit hours. If you decide to take three courses in a semester, you will earn nine credit hours and pay tuition for nine credit hours for that particular semester. Generally, schools with low tuition will charge you less than $6000 per nine credit hours or semester, while schools that charge average tuition will cost you anywhere between 6000 to 7500 per nine credit hours or semester, and schools with high tuition will cost you over 7500 per nine credit hours or semester. Most universities expect you to take at least 12 courses (36 credit hours). The number of credit hours varies from university to university.
Costs for programs usually vary for different programs. There are also variations in cost for the same disciplines among universities. To help you find reasonably priced programs for various disciplines in the US, we’re listing 20 universities that are known to offer programs of good value in some of the most popular disciplines.
University of Montana (Butte, Montana)
Missouri University of Science and Technology (Rolla, Missouri)
California State University-Chico (Chico, California)
West Virginia University (Morgantown, West Virginia)
North Carolina State University at Raleigh (Raleigh, North Carolina)
University of Houston (Houston, Texas)
California State Polytechnic University (Pomona, California)
University of Michigan – Dearborn (Dearborn, Michigan)
Iowa State University (Ames, Iowa)
Oklahoma State University (Stillwater, Oklahoma)
West Virginia University Institute of Technology (Montgomery, West Virginia)
New Mexico State University (Las Cruces, New Mexico)
Texas Tech University (Lubbock, Texas)
San Jose State University (San Jose, California)
Brigham Young University (Provo, Utah)
University of Oklahoma (Norman, Oklahoma)
Oregon Institute of Technology (Klamath Falls, Oregon)
University of New Mexico (Albuquerque, New Mexico)
University of Arkansas (Fayetteville, Arkansas)
Lamar University (Beaumont, Texas)
University of Massachusetts Amherst (Amherst, Massachusetts)
Arizona State University (Tempe, Arizona)
Naval Postgraduate School (Monterey, California)
Texas A&M International University (Laredo, Texas)
Fitchburg State University (Fitchburg, Massachusetts)
Albany State University (Albany, Georgia)
West Texas A&M University College of Business (Canyon, Texas)
Augusta University (Augusta Georgia)
Tarleton State University (Stephenville, Texas)
New Mexico Highlands University (Las Vegas, New Mexico)
Valdosta State University (Valdosta, Georgia)
Texas A&M University (Killeen, Texas)
University of Nebraska (Kearney, Nebraska)
Henderson State University (Arkadelphia, Arkansas)
Northeastern State University (Tahlequah, Oklahoma)
Eastern New Mexico University (Portales, New Mexico)
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi (Corpus Christi, Texas)
Midwestern State University (Wichita Falls, Texas)
Arkansas Tech University (Russellville, Arkansas)
Georgia College and State University (Milledgeville, Georgia)
Temple University (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
Eastern Virginia Medical School (Norfolk, Virginia)
State University of New York Health Sciences Center at Brooklyn (New York City, New York)
University of North Dakota (Grand Forks, North Dakota)
Texas Tech University (Abilene, Texas)
University of Mississippi (Oxford, Mississippi)
Eastern Mennonite University (Harrisonburg, Virginia)
Ohio University (Athens, Ohio)
Marshall University (Huntington, West Virginia)
Kent State University (Kent, Ohio)
Florida Atlantic University (Boca Raton, Florida)
Montclair State University (Montclair, New Jersey)
Campbell University (Buies Creek, North Carolina)
University of Massachusetts Amherst (Amherst, Massachusetts)
State University of New York (New York City, New York)
University of Buffalo (Buffalo, New York)
Arizona State University (Phoenix, Arizona)
The University of Georgia (Athens, Georgia)
University of Utah (Salt Lake City, Utah)
University of Wisconsin (Madison, Wisconsin)
Williams College (Williamstown, Massachusetts)
Amherst College (Amherst, Massachusetts)
Pomona College (Claremont, California)
Wellesley College (Wellesley, Massachusetts)
Swarthmore College (Swarthmore, Pennsylvania)
Vassar College (Poughkeepsie, New York)
Soka University of America (Aliso Viejo, California)
Middlebury College (Middlebury, Vermont)
Principia College (Elsah, Illinois)
Washington and Lee University (Lexington, Virginia)
Grinnell College (Grinnell, Iowa)
Davidson College (Davidson, North Carolina)
Bowdoin College (Brunswick, Maine)
Colgate University (Hamilton, New York)
Colby College (Waterville, Maine)
Haverford College (Haverford, Pennsylvania)
College of the Atlantic (Bar Harbor, Maine)
Smith College (Northampton, Massachusetts)
Hamilton College (Clinton, New York)
University of Richmond (Richmond, Virginia)
Counselor Tip: You will have to select well-ranked and low-tuition / fee schools with Assistantships or Fee waivers for the best value on your investment in higher education.
Cost of Living Expenses
As a student in the US, you can choose from a few accommodation options. Depending on factors like budget, living preference and so on, you could choose to live on campus or off campus.
Dormitories are the most popular form of on-campus housing. Dorms, which usually house a large number of students, will have a group of students sharing a large room and bathroom (usually with a few smaller shower cubicles). Dormitories could be exclusive sometimes, as some are open to either only men, women, freshmen, or could cater to a particular theme. In terms of finance, while dormitories may appear more expensive than other accommodation options, when you break it all down, the range of services that are included in the fee you to pay for living in a dorm, could make living in a dorm well worth it. Dorm rooms are well furnished and usually have everything you need, with a cafeteria close by that is well stocked. As dorms are usually situated close to educational buildings, you wouldn’t have to spend on transport. Another advantage of opting for a dorm is that you will not be required to provide a security deposit.
With all these benefits, why would one consider off-campus housing?
Off-campus housing is an excellent option for thrifty students. Despite the security deposit and transport costs, students can really save up when it comes to food. While meal plans are still quite popular, the prices are often inflated, and this is where a lot of students, who choose to live off campus and cook their own meals save money. While universities often help students make off-campus housing arrangements, students can also opt to rent apartments and homes, privately. To cut costs further, you can always share your flat with other people. Another benefit of off-campus housing is that you get to choose your flat/ roommates, which is something you cannot do when you decide to live in a dorm.
Another option that first-year students may want to consider is homestays. As an international student, living with Americans will help you better integrate with American society, and you get a private room and hot meals to boot.
Another important factor that determines the price you will have to pay for accommodation, irrespective of whether you choose to live on or off campus, is the location of the university. Universities in smaller towns or cities can often be less expensive, while universities in larger metropolitan cities can be quite expensive.
Most Expensive Cities/areas in the US
Manhattan, New York
San Francisco, California
Brooklyn, New York
Los Angeles, California
San Diego, California
Least Expensive Cities in the US:
Wichita Falls, Texas
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
The difference in the cost of living between the most and least expensive cities in the US is a staggering 52 percent. McAllen was 38 percent cheaper than New York for personal food expenditure. Housing in New York is 61 percent more expensive when compared to McAllen, while transportation is 50 percent more expensive. People would have to spend 41, 58 and 7 percent more on personal care, entertainment, and clothes, respectively, in New York than they would in McAllen.
Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
Most programs in the US require you to have taken the GRE. The cost of the exam is $205. If you aren’t happy with your score and wish to retake it, you will have to pay an additional $205.
Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
All students hoping to pursue their higher education in the US must take TOEFL. The test is compulsory because universities need to know your proficiency in the language. It is also necessary for your VISA interview. The cost of the exam is $180.
Applying to US universities:
The application fees vary according to each university, but they will usually lie within the $40 to $200 bracket. Another factor that may contribute to your application expenses is reporting your GRE score to universities. ETS, which conducts the GRE and TOEFL, allows you to send both scores to four universities for free, but additional scoring reports would cost you extra. You will have to pay an additional $27 for GRE and $20 for TOEFL, each time you wish to send your scores to a university.
Other Expenses During Applications:
Let’s assume you are planning to apply to multiple universities. For this, you will require around 15 copies each (to be safe) of transcripts on the college letterhead, bank statements, and affidavits with the sponsor’s name on it. Dispatching these documents to the universities will also cost you money. Altogether, you would spend around Rs. 8,000. In some cases, students make multiple copies of their Letters of Recommendation (LORs) and Statement of Purpose (SOP) and unnecessarily burn an extra 500 bucks or so. While today, most universities allow you to upload these documents online, thereby cutting costs, upon admission, you will have to send them a hard copy of the transcript of your financial documents.
You need to pay the VISA Fee, which is $160, followed by the SEVIS fee, which is $200.
Single way airfares in Economy Class can range between Rs. 40,000 and Rs. 3,00,000, depending on your city, destination, airline and when you book it. According to the Vagabrothers channel on Youtube, the best time to book tickets is six weeks before your travel date.
The least expensive university- Michigan Technological University- The entire MS program costs around 24 Lakh rupees.
The most expensive university- Stanford University- The entire MS program costs around 67 Lakh rupees.
The entire cost for other universities’ MS programs ranges between 30 and 50 Lakh rupees, with the location being a significant variable along with whether the university is state-run or private.
How can you cover costs while pursuing an MS in the US?
As a student, you are allowed to work for 20 hours a week. Students can get paid anywhere between 6 and 12 $/hour.
You should also try to get fee waivers. Teaching Assistantships, Research Assistantships, and Graduate Assistantships will cover some part of your fee, and you will be paid each month, which should also help you lessen the burden of finances.