University finances

Fees for graduate study can vary significantly from university to university, department to department, and degree to degree.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average yearly fees for a private graduate degree are $23,266. Because there are so many programmes available, some will cost much more and some will cost much less.

Even if a university seems very expensive, there might be very generous funding opportunities available, so the net cost of attendance becomes much lower than the ‘sticker price’.

Public universities usually have lower fees than private institutions, but private institutions might have more funding available.

Full details of the cost of attendance can be found on a university or graduate school's website. When calculating the sticker price of a graduate programme, it's important to find out if the fees are expressed on a:

  • Per year basis
  • Per semester basis
  • Per credit basis

Graduate school funding for programmes is usually prioritised and allocated in the following order:

  1. PhDs (competitive PhD programmes include full tuition waivers and generous stipends)
  2. Master's degrees (different types of funding might be available for academic or professional master's)

PhD students will have access to more assistantship, fellowship and grant opportunities, whereas master's students might have to compete for merit-based funding. The most competitive programmes will have the most generous merit and need-based funding.

There are lots of external scholarship bodies for master's and PhD programmes, including the Fulbright Awards, details of which can be found in the Funding section.

If affordability is a key consideration for you, think about the following options:

  • Making sure the programme offers funding to international students
  • Public universities with lower fees
  • Locations with a lower cost of living (rural, suburban, the South and Midwest)
  • Being flexible with your choices and applying to institutions where you'll be a top applicant