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How to Get a Free Master’s Degree in 2024

Updated: June 19, 2024 | Published: November 7, 2018

Updated: June 19, 2024

Published: November 7, 2018


Graduate school debt can be scary, with the average post-graduation debt reaching $57,000, and over a quarter of graduates in the US owing more than $100,000. The big question is: How can you graduate for free?

Good news! Getting a master’s degree doesn’t have to be a massive financial burden. There are several paths to a debt-free degree, including free online university programs, tuition-less programs, scholarship-based options, employer-sponsored programs, military-related subsidies, and even affordable foreign university programs. With some research, you can find the right path to earn your degree without the heavy debt. 

We’ve done the research for you, let’s take a closer look at free master’s degree programs in 2024.

Find a Tuition-Free Master’s Degree Program in 2024:

Tuition-free master’s degree programs are becoming increasingly available, offering massive benefits by eliminating the financial barriers typically associated with advanced education. These programs often require candidates to meet specific eligibility criteria, such as academic excellence, relevant work experience, and sometimes financial need, to ensure that opportunities are extended to those who will benefit most. By providing free tuition, the following programs enable students to focus on academic and professional growth without a debt burden: 

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.

  • Requirements: Bachelor’s degree in a relevant field, portfolio or relevant project work, letters of recommendation. 
  • Acceptance Rate: Highly competitive, approximately 50 spots per year. 
  • Graduation Rate: High 
  • Median SAT/ACT: Not applicable for graduate programs.

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!

  • Requirements: Auditions, pre-screening materials, previous musical training/documentation. 
  • Acceptance Rate: Approximately 4%. 
  • Graduation Rate: High; exact rate not publicly disclosed. 
  • Median SAT/ACT: Not applicable for music programs

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.

  • Requirements: Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, proof of English proficiency, two years of work experience for the MBA. 
  • Acceptance Rate: 100% acceptance rate as long as admission criteria are met. 
  • Graduation Rate: Not publicly disclosed; varies by program. 
  • Median SAT/ACT: Not applicable as SAT/ACT scores are not required for admission.

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.

Free Master’s Degree Opportunities Through Military Service

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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.

  • Requirements: Must be an active duty or reserve member of the U.S. military, meet specific service requirements, and often pass security clearance checks. 
  • Acceptance Rate: Varies by specific program and military branch; generally competitive. 
  • Graduation Rate: Typically high as programs are designed for completion while serving. 
  • Median SAT/ACT: Not specifically required for entry into military education programs, but initial military acceptance often requires passing the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), not SAT/ACT.

Study Abroad for a Free Master’s Degree

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

Source: Unsplash

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!

  • University of Oslo – Offers a range of master’s programs taught in English, covering humanities, sciences, and technology. 
  • Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) – Known for engineering and technology programs, NTNU provides numerous English-taught master’s degree options. 
  • University of Bergen – Offers free tuition for international students across a wide spectrum of online master’s degree, especially strong in marine biology and other sciences.

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!

  • Charles University – The oldest and most prestigious university in the Czech Republic, offering a variety of master’s programs in English, free for all nationalities, although programs in English might have a small fee. 
  • Czech Technical University in Prague – Focuses on engineering and technical disciplines, with free tuition for programs taught in Czech and minimal fees for English-taught programs. 
  • Masaryk University – Offers numerous master’s degrees in English across various fields such as Social Sciences, Economics, and Informatics, with small fees for non-EU 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.

  • Technical University of Munich – Offers a variety of master’s programs in engineering, technology, and natural sciences that are free of tuition for all students. 
  • Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich – Provides free tuition across many disciplines, with numerous programs available in English. 
  • University of Heidelberg – Known for its research and academic excellence, offering free tuition master’s programs in fields like philosophy, physics, and more.

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!

  • University of Iceland – Located in Reykjavik, this university offers a wide range of master’s programs in English. It primarily charges an annual registration fee but no tuition fees. 
  • Reykjavik University – Known for its strong programs in computer science and engineering, it offers low-cost tuition options for international students. 
  • Agricultural University of Iceland – Offers specialized programs in agricultural sciences with minimal fees, focusing on sustainable and environmental studies.

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!

  • Ghent University – Offers a range of English-taught master’s programs with a low annual fee for international students. 
  • University of Antwerp – Provides affordable master’s programs in fields like Applied Economic Sciences, Biology, Chemistry, and more. 
  • Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) – Known for its research-oriented programs, VUB has affordable fees for international students across various disciplines.

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.

  • University of Paris-Saclay – Offers low-cost tuition for non-EU students in a wide array of disciplines, particularly strong in science and engineering. 
  • Sorbonne University – Provides affordable education with a focus on humanities and sciences. Most programs in French, but some are available in English. 
  • Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS) – Known for its rigorous academic standards, ENS has some programs that are available to international students at very low costs, especially in science and humanities.

Funding Your Free Master’s Degree with 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).

How Your Employer Can Help You Get a Free Master’s Degree

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!

Earn a Free Master’s Degree by Working at Your 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

Achieving a free master’s degree is a realistic goal with various options available. Whether you explore tuition-free online programs, secure scholarships, receive employer sponsorship, leverage military benefits, or study abroad at universities with minimal fees, there are many paths to graduate without incurring debt. 

By researching and finding the best fit for your circumstances, you can obtain a high-quality education while managing your financial future responsibly. Start your journey today and explore these opportunities to graduate debt-free!


What are the eligibility criteria for free master’s degree programs? 

Eligibility criteria vary by program and country but typically include a completed bachelor’s degree, proof of language proficiency (usually in English or the primary language of the country), and sometimes specific prerequisites related to the intended field of study. 

Can I earn a legitimate degree from a tuition-free master’s program? 

Yes, many tuition-free master’s degree online offered by reputable institutions are fully accredited and recognized globally, making the degrees obtained legitimate and comparable to paid programs. 

Are there residency requirements for free master’s degree programs? 

Some countries or institutions might require students to reside in the country during their studies, while others do not have such requirements, particularly for online programs. 

Can I transfer credits to free master’s degree programs? 

Many institutions allow the transfer of credits from accredited universities, but this is program-specific. It’s essential to check with the admissions office of the institution offering the free program. 

Do employers value graduates from free master’s degree programs? 

Employers typically value the knowledge and skills over the cost of the degree. Graduates from accredited and well-regarded institutions are often highly regarded, regardless of whether the program was tuition-free. 

Can I pursue a master’s degree online for free? 

Yes, there are options to pursue free online master’s degrees. Universities like the University of the People offer online master’s programs with no tuition fees. 

Can international students apply for free master’s degree programs? 

Yes, many free master’s degree programs are available to international students. Some are specifically designed to attract global talent, irrespective of the student’s home country. 

What support services are available for students in free programs? 

Support services vary but can include academic advising, tutoring, career services, and access to libraries and technical support, similar to what is offered in tuition-based programs. 

Are textbooks and materials included in free master’s programs? 

This depends on the program. Some institutions might include textbooks and materials at no extra cost, while others might require students to purchase or access these separately. 

At UoPeople, our blog writers are thinkers, researchers, and experts dedicated to curating articles relevant to our mission: making higher education accessible to everyone.