For experienced educators, earning a master's degree in educational administration is a logical step toward career mobility and advancement. However, it can be a financially daunting endeavor. News reports commonly focus on the high cost of tuition and resulting student debt faced by many college graduates. And when you consider the possible moving expenses, childcare, cost of living increases and opportunity cost, the actual cost of earning a master's degree can be staggering.
What Is the Average Cost of Tuition and Fees for a Master's Degree?
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), tuition and fees for graduate programs at public schools averaged $11,303 in 2015-2016. At private schools that figure rises to $23,919. For a typical two- to five-year master's program, this equates to roughly $22,000 to $55,000 in total tuition and fees at a public school and $48,000 to $120,000 at a private school.
Estimates of these costs vary greatly, as do tuition and fees for different types of degree programs. And tuition is often exponentially more expensive for out-of-state students than in-state students.
However, there are affordable options for the budget conscious student. One such option is Emporia State University's (ESU) Master of Science (MS) in Educational Administration Online. The total cost of tuition and fees for this program is currently $10,296, a fraction of many similar programs. And taking advantage of the fully online design of this degree program means working professionals and parents can further reduce the real cost of earning a graduate degree.
What Makes ESU's Online MS in Educational Administration So Affordable?
Instead of charging tuition per year or semester, tuition for ESU's Online MS is charged on a per-credit-hour basis. At $312 per credit, the total tuition for this 33 credit-hour program is $10,296. Because it is an accelerated program instead of a traditional two- to five-year program, students can potentially complete their degree in one year. So, even students who take longer to complete their degree will avoid the compounding cost of paying by semester over a number of years.
And, unlike other programs, tuition for ESU's Online MS in Educational Administration is the same for in-state and out-of-state students.
Another important note: Interest paid on student loan debt can significantly compound differences in tuition costs. For example, if you take out a 20-year student loan for the total tuition of ESU's program, $10,296, at a 5% interest rate, you will pay $2,727 in total interest.
If you take out a 20-year loan at the same interest rate for $48,000, the average tuition of a two-year private school program, you will pay about $13,093 in total interest. This means you would pay more in student loan interest alone for the average two-year private school master's degree program than you would for total tuition plus student loan interest for ESU's online MS in Educational Administration.
How Else Can Earning My Degree Online Save Me Money?
Many students who must stop working to attend traditional campus-based master's degree programs face substantial opportunity costs. For instance, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for high school teachers was $60,320 in 2018. Therefore, a high school teacher, making the median salary, who stops working for two years to attend graduate school would "pay" an opportunity cost of over $120,000 in foregone wages, not to mention missed promotions or raises.
If you are a working professional, earning your degree online means you can continue working while you earn your master's and avoid this opportunity cost.
Online learning also means not having to incur moving expenses, cost of living increases if relocating to a more expensive city, and even costly childcare.
How Does ESU's MS in Educational Administration Compare to Similar Online Master's Programs?
Tuition for online degree programs also varies greatly. For instance, tuition for the University of Kansas online master's in educational administration is $595* per credit hour for the 36-credit hour program, totaling $21,420*. This is more than twice the cost of ESU's program.
In addition, some online programs still charge different amounts for in-state and out-of-state tuition.
- Ball State University's comparable 36 credit hour online program costs $442 per credit for Indiana students or $15,912* in total. Out-of-state students pay $651 per credit for this program, for a total of $23,436*.
- For Florida State University's graduate level distance learning programs, in-state students pay $444.26 per credit hour while out-of-state students pay $1,075.66* per credit hour. This does not include additional distance learning fees Florida State charges for each online course.
What About Return on Investment?
Teachers who earn a master's in educational administration are well-prepared to pursue an administrative role as a school principal. The BLS reports that the median pay for K-12 principals in 2018 was $95,310, an increase of approximately $35,000 over a high school teacher's average salary. But it could still take many years to make a decent return on your investment (ROI) in a traditional master's degree, given the tuition and fees, opportunity cost, childcare and other expenses involved.
On the other hand, with the affordable tuition and online design of ESU's MS in Educational Administration you could see a substantial ROI in just one year at a principal's salary. Considering this, the decision to advance your education and career in educational administration need not be an intimidating one.
* Tuition as of November 2019 on university websites. Tuition is subject to change.
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