How Much Does Online Degree Tuition Typically Cost?

Get information about how colleges and universities calculate tuition costs. Learn if being a state resident affects your online tuition. Read on to find out if financial aid can reduce the costs of online classes.

Tuition Overview

Tuition for an online degree program varies according to the type of degree and length of the course. Schools often have different rates, and costs at two schools located within the same physical area could widely differ. In addition, some schools may charge a premium for the convenience of online courses, while others reduce their tuition rates for online study since fewer resources are needed to offer these classes.

In addition to those factors, universities that charge higher tuition for nonresident students often also charge higher tuition for out-of-state students in the online programs. An application fee is required, and some universities charge the student for access to tools and applications needed to take an online course. For example, Michigan State University charges higher fees for out-of-state students who are enrolled in some of the university's online programs.

Important Facts About Online Degree Programs

Degree Levels Associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees available
Prerequisites High school diploma, or equivalent, is typically required for enrollment
Concentrations Anthropology, business administration, psychology, sociology, information technologies, communication, graphic design and media arts
Possible Careers Credit analyst, operations research analyst, computer programmer, interior designer, real estate broker, power plant operator, engineer

Tuition and Fees For Online Degree Programs

Tuition and fees are determined by type of degree and length of program. Degrees in specialized disciplines such as astrophysics may cost more than a 2-year associate's degree in English. For example, a Bachelor of English degree taken online through the University of Illinois could have different fees depending on which campus 'houses' that particular program. Tuition at U of Illinois - Chicago ranged from $479 to $500 per credit hour for undergraduates in 2015-16, while graduate tuition ranged from $501 to $830 per credit during that same period. In comparison, the University of Illinois - Springfield campus charged $304.50 to $358.50 per credit to undergraduates who qualified for its e-tuition in 2015-16, while graduate e-tuition was $362.25.

Tuition by Colleges

Northeastern University, located in Boston, Massachusetts, offers associate's degrees, Bachelor of Science degrees, master's degrees and doctoral degrees through distance education. Tuition for online undergraduate classes was $378 per quarter hour for the 2015-16 academic year, which was the same as on-campus classes. In comparison, tuition for graduate degree programs ranged between $505 and $1,635 per quarter hour during that same academic year.

The University of Wisconsin offers associate's degree and bachelor's degree programs that are taken entirely online. Tuition costs for these online courses were $238 per credit during the 2015-16 school year.

Financial Aid for Online Programs

Almost every university offering online courses charge a higher rate for nonresident students, even though the student will not be attending college on-campus. There is also an application fee. Financial aid is available to help students finance their education.

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