The Cost of a Master’s Degree Program
A degree may open the door to a variety of opportunities and diverse career paths. The degree programs offered at CTU will not necessarily lead to the featured careers. This collection of articles is intended to help inform and guide you through the process of determining which level of degree and types of certifications align with your desired career path.
In the United States higher education system, the master’s degree is the first level of graduate school education (doctorates being the second). Master’s degree programs have been gaining in popularity over time, and according to the U.S. Census Bureau, since 2000, the number of people aged 25 and over whose highest degree attained was a master’s degree doubled to 21 million.1 Further, according the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, occupations that typically require a master’s degree are projected to grow at a rate of 13.6 percent from 2021 through 2031—about 2.5 times the projected growth rate of 5.3 percent for all occupations.2
But just because more people are pursuing master’s degree programs, does that mean you should?
It depends. The cost of a master’s degree may involve more than just the cost of tuition and fees—you’ll want to consider how much a master’s degree costs financially and personally. Other factors to consider before committing to a graduate program might be whether you can continue to work while you study, whether you can keep up with your existing personal obligations and whether a master’s is needed to pursue your desired career path.
Master’s Degree Requirements
In general, master’s degree programs are typically designed to be completed in two years or less. At Colorado Technical University, most master’s degree programs can be completed in 18 months, while the MBA program can be completed in one year or less. Additionally, most CTU master’s programs are designed as 48-credit hour programs.
Master’s Degree Admissions Requirements
Minimum undergraduate GPA, professional experience and standardized test requirements are just some of the criteria that can differ from graduate school to graduate school, or even graduate program to graduate program. For example, CTU does not have a standardized test requirement—no GRE or GMAT scores are necessary. But although master’s degree program admissions requirements will vary by institution, most master’s degree programs require first earning a bachelor’s. Learn more about CTU’s application process for a master’s degree program.
In addition to figuring out admissions prerequisites and the nuts and bolts of any given master’s program, knowing whether your desired career path requires attainment of a master’s degree is important.
Deciding whether to take on the time commitment and cost of a master’s program might be an easier decision to make if your desired occupation requires attainment of a graduate degree. The Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupation Finder could help you determine the minimum entry-level education required for all occupations.
Master’s Degree Programs Offered at CTU
Colorado Technical University offers master’s degree programs in a number of disciplines and concentrations. For example, our Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree program offers 12 concentrations as well as a general track. But we also offer the following master’s degree programs:
- Master’s in Computer Science (MSCS)
- Master’s in Criminal Justice (MSCJ)
- Master’s in Healthcare Management (MSHCM)
- Master’s in Information Technology (MSIT)
- Master’s in Management (MSM)
- Master’s in Nursing (MSN)
Salary Increase with a Master’s Degree
Though no outcomes are ever guaranteed, available data does suggest that pursuing a master’s degree could help you earn higher wages than you would earn with only a bachelor’s degree.
That’s because, in general, there is a link between higher educational attainment and higher salary. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, usual weekly median wages increase as a worker’s formal educational attainment increases. What’s more, higher educational attainment is also associated with a decrease in the unemployment rate.
Here are just a few occupations where a master’s degree could be required:
- Medical and Health Services Manager
Although educational requirements tend to vary by facility and specific function, a bachelor’s degree is typically the minimum level of educational attainment needed to enter the field. However, master’s degrees in healthcare administration or related field are common, and employers sometimes prefer them.3
- Computer and Information Systems Manager
Although a bachelor’s degree, usually in information technology or related field, is typical for entry-level roles, many organizations may require a master’s degree. A Master of Business Administration (MBA) is common.4
- Computer and Information Research Scientist
A master’s degree in computer science or computer engineering is often required. However, some employers may prefer candidates with a doctorate, while others (like the federal government) may hire applicants who possess only a bachelor’s degree in computer and information technology.5
Financial Aid for Master’s Degree Programs
When it comes to how to pay for grad school, it’s important to do your research and make sure that you have explored all options. Financial aid for master’s degree programs is available for those who qualify. Some examples of different types of financial aid are:
- Federal loans
- State loans
- Institutional scholarships and grants
- Private loans
Visit our FAQs About Financial Aid page to learn more.
Is a Master’s Degree For You?
Whether you should pursue a master’s degree is a decision that only you can make. All of the items discussed above are certainly factors that you should consider when deciding whether a master’s degree is for you.
It’s also important to consider the time commitment that will be involved. Ask yourself: How much will a master’s degree cost professionally in the short-term—that is, can you pursue your education while continuing to work? How will you meet your existing personal and family obligations? Do you have a support network in place to help you while you work toward earning your degree?
The flexibility of an online master’s degree program, like the programs offered at CTU, may help make it more convenient for you to earn your degree without turning your whole life upside down. Check out the range of master’s degree programs we offer as you decide whether graduate school is right for you. Or, if you’re ready to make your next move, apply now.
1 U.S. Census Bureau, “Number of People with Master’s and Doctoral Degrees Doubles Since 2000,” Feb. 21, 2019, https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2019/02/number-of-people-with-masters-and-phd-degrees-double-since-2000.html.
2 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Employment Projections Program, “Table 5.2 Employment, Wages and Projected Change in Employment by Typical Entry-Level Education,” https://www.bls.gov/emp/tables/education-summary.htm (last visited 3/16/23).
3 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, “Medical and Health Services Managers,” https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm (last visited 3/16/23).
4 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, “Computer and Information Systems Managers,” https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/computer-and-information-systems-managers.htm (last visited 3/16/23).
5 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, “Computer and Information Research Scientists,” https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-and-information-research-scientists.htm (last visited 3/16/23).
Colorado Technical University cannot guarantee employment, salary, or career advancement. Not all programs are available to residents of all states. REQ1901710 3/2023