Tuition And Fees For Graduate Students


Updated April 12, 2023 · 2 Min Read

Tuition And Fees For Graduate Students is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Pursuing a graduate degree requires time, focus, and money. Some graduate programs offer assistantships or fellowships for qualifying students. These awards provide graduate school tuition remission and living-expense stipends in exchange for research or teaching work. Graduate students can also qualify for institutional or federal financial aid. Learners may receive loans, grants, and scholarships. Working students in certain fields may qualify for tuition reimbursement through their employer or government programs.

Most graduate-level enrollees pay at least some tuition and fees out of pocket. The following guide explains common types of tuition and fees. A student's graduate school cost depends on school and program type, geographical location, and year. This guide also explores additional graduate school expenses.

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Graduate school costs vary widely by school and program type. The table below features data from the National Center for Education Statistics. Average graduate tuition and fees at private nonprofit institutions is nearly double the average at public schools. Program type also impacts tuition rates.

Public institutions' tuition rates vary based on the student's residency status. State residents pay significantly lower rates at these schools. Attending an in-state, public institution is typically the most cost-effective choice. However, learners can receive substantial scholarships from private institutions. Some schools charge distance learners in-state or otherwise discounted tuition rates.

In addition to tuition, graduate school costs include various fees. Learners may need to pay matriculation fees, which cover costs such as placement testing and career services. On-campus learners may pay campus fees for facilities, student orientation, and activities. Additional fees may cover parking and student health insurance.

Average Cost of Graduate Tuition and Fees, 2018-2019
Public Institutions Private For-Profit Institutions Private Nonprofit Institutions
$12,171 $14,208 $27,776

Source: National Center for Education Statistics


Grad school costs vary by program type and level. According to Sallie Mae's national study, professional degrees typically cost considerably more than other graduate degrees. For example, learners pursuing a medical degree or MBA can expect to pay higher tuition rates than other graduate students. According to Sallie Mae's study, education students pay average tuition rates about half those of medical students.

According to Poets&Quants, the overall cost of earning an MBA degree exceeds $200,000 at several top schools. However, many less prestigious schools offer more affordable MBA programs.

Doctoral programs take longer and require more credits than master's programs. According to Sallie Mae's data, doctoral programs cost an average of $30,960 for the 2016-17 academic year, nearly 40% more than master's programs. Many Ph.D. students receive tuition remission and stipends in exchange for research or teaching work. Learners can consider online Ph.D. programs to save money on living expenses.

Average Cost of Tuition and Fees, 2020-2021
Type of School Public Institutions Private Institutions
Law School $29,074 $51,268
Medical School $41,438 $61,490

Source: USNews and the Association of American Medical Colleges

Room and Board

The cost of room and board can considerably increase overall graduate school costs. According to, students living on campus at public schools pay an average of $11,451 per year for room and board. Those living off campus pay an average of $10,781 annually. On-campus housing options may include dormitories or student apartments. Off-campus residents may live in rented or purchased apartments, condos, or homes.

Some grad students save on room and board by pursuing online degrees. Distance learning often eliminates moving and campus housing costs. Off-campus housing usually costs less than on-campus options, and online learners often live with their families while earning their degree. Distance students can also choose areas with lower costs of living.

Graduate students can reduce food expenses by cooking at home. While campus meal plans can be convenient, they typically cost more. The ideal housing arrangement depends on the student's preferences and needs.


Graduate school programs typically focus on academics rather than extracurricular activities. However, graduate students can participate in recreational or professional activities. Learners may join student clubs related to their discipline or field of study. Clubs often charge dues, and activities and trips can add to grad school costs.

Many graduate students take advantage of networking opportunities, such as conferences, which may require travel. Learners can also join professional organizations to connect with peers and professionals in their field. Most professional organizations charge membership fees, although some offer student discounts.

Other Expenses

For graduate students, the overall cost of attendance includes graduate school tuition, fees, and room and board. However, learners may also need to pay relocation or commuting costs. Students may buy monthly transit passes. Car commuters must cover fuel costs and parking fees. Parents of young children may need to pay for childcare. Some schools require enrollees to purchase health insurance.

Additional graduate school costs include internet service, computer equipment, and school supplies. Textbooks may cost several hundred dollars per year, depending on the student's discipline. Learners can save money by purchasing used books, borrowing library books, or finding online versions. Most graduate school applications require a fee. Applicants may also need to take the GRE, GMAT, or MCAT, which cost $200-$400, depending on the test.

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