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Graduate School Debt… yikes! Prospective students are increasingly pushing off master’s degrees due to the daunting debt they will incur upon graduation. The average debt for students post-graduation is $57,000, and over a quarter of grads in the US end up owing upwards of $100,000 (Read more about the graduation debt here). The question is: How can you graduate from school for free?

Good news! Getting a master’s degree doesn’t have to be a huge financial commitment. There ARE ways to graduate debt-free! You just have to do a bit of homework to find the right path for you!

Find a Tuition-Free Master’s Degree Program, Like the Ones Below:

1. MIT Media Lab’s Program in Media Arts & Sciences

MIT accepts 50 students per year for master’s and PhD programs. Students come from a range of backgrounds, including Computer Science, Neuropsychology, and Architecture. Study topics include human-computer interaction, design, and entrepreneurship. Media Arts and Sciences students are fully funded, including tuition, stipend, and medical insurance. You can find out more about the application process here.

2. Curtis Institute of Music, Master of Music

The Curtis Institute of Music, located in Philadelphia, PA, has long maintained a policy of scholarship-only tuition. This means that all students, regardless of financial circumstances, use scholarships offered by the school to finance their education for the entirety of the Master’s program. This degree is highly selective, accepting only 4% of applicants, so make sure you read their admissions requirements thoroughly!

3. University of the People

This fully accredited, U.S. university operates completely online and has a range of tuition-free programs to choose from, including two tuition-free master’s programs, MBA and M.Ed.

The MBA program takes about one-year, and is a fully U.S. accredited online program offered to graduates of any discipline who can show two years of work experience before starting the program. Topics of study include management, accounting, marketing, and business law and ethics.

UoPeople’s Masters in Education in Advanced Teaching offers two specializations: Elementary/Middle School Education and Secondary Education. Students also have the opportunity to participate in an internship with various International Baccalaureate schools.

The great thing about UoPeople is due to it being online, it gives students full flexibility to manage their time around work or family commitments. You can do the whole course on the move or from the comfort of your home at a time that suits you. UoPeople is the perfect tuition-free university for your Masters Degree.

How About a Free Masters Degree From the Military?

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If you choose to join the military for only for free education, you may want to rethink. Joining the military has major benefits, but it is a serious life decision. Talk with your family and friends about your decision and try to ask around for people in your extended network who may have served.

In the US, should you choose that military, you will receive stipends for tuition and living expenses while you are in school under the G.I. bill. The G.I. bill gives tuition waivers to residents of certain states within the United States, so double check that your state is a part of the program. If you are not a resident of the participating states, you can still apply for various tuition assistance programs offered to veterans.

If you are living outside the US, be sure to check out your countries military options.

Look Abroad

These countries offer free (or almost free) master’s degrees to citizens of any country:

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1. Norway

If you can take the cold, Norway is the perfect place for study abroad options for a master’s degree. Completely free tuition for everyone, and no fees! Norway also has high quality, English programs at no extra cost and a superb standard of living!

2. Czech republic

Studying in the Czech Republic is completely free for all citizens, however English programs do have a very small fees. The Czech Republic also offers a high quality of life compared to a low cost of living. Perfect for students!

3. Germany

With a strong history in innovation- Germany was a leader in the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution, you will find yourself among intellectuals should you choose to study there. You will also likely come away debt-free! Tuition in Germany is free, and admin fees range from only €50-250 per semester.

4. Iceland

Studying in Iceland will incur an annual registration fee of about €600, but no admin or tuition fees to speak of! Iceland is also a beautiful place to study, with rich and unique scientific research opportunities. English also widely spoken, so no need to dust off that second or third language from high school!

5. Belgium

Belgium has French and Flemish universities, both of which have plenty of English-only options. International students will incur a fee of only €835 per year, well worth it for studying at an excellent school right in Western Europe!

6. France

Known for unique culture and deeply rooted in the arts, France is a great place to study for those on a budget as well! The average cost for a master’s degree for citizens outside the E.U. is just €265. If you know French, all the better, but most programs have English options as well.

Combining Scholarships & Grants

While time-consuming, applying for multiple scholarships could win you a big pay out, and will certainly be worth your while come graduation time. Make sure not to overlook the small scholarships either, even $500-$1000 could go a long way when combined! Check out online databases for scholarships (make sure to check what you are eligible for- some have gender, income, religious, or other eligibility requirements).

Check out these scholarship databases:

Ask Your Employer

If you currently work ask your company for tuition-assistance

If you’re already working, make sure to check in with your company for relevant and approved programs. Companies such as Intel, P&G, Fidelity, Bank of America, and BP offer full or part reimbursement on tuition for employees who have worked for 6 months or 1 year at the company.

If you are not yet employed, you can search on job sites such as for companies with tuition-assistance programs. It’s never too early to start looking ahead!

Working for the College or University

Research your school’s options for Work Study programs, Research Apprenticeships, Residence Director, Teacher’s Assistant, and more for options on reduced tuition, free classes, and paid living expenses. Most schools offer such programs, and not only will you score reduced or free tuition, you will gain valuable connections within your university and unique work opportunities!

Wrapping Up

You can graduate debt-free and get your Masters Degree paid for, if you find the right option for you! Either by choosing tuition-free programs both in the U.S. or abroad, combining scholarships, or using work and military-related tuition subsidies, you can get a free master’s degree online! Happy studying!

Madeline Bracken