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2023 Most Affordable Online Master's Degrees in Mathematics

By OnlineU Staff Writers | Updated 12/9/2022
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An online master’s in mathematics is designed for aspiring teachers, established career professionals, and students seeking a doctoral degree. This online master’s degree covers mathematical computations, data analysis, and project management techniques. Sample courses for this program include Advanced Calculus, Statistics, and Concepts in Analysis. In addition, students can expect to complete a capstone project and comprehensive exam before graduation. 

Students with strong math and data skills may also want to consider similar programs to a master’s in mathematics, such as data science, finance, and accounting

View our methodology for details about rankings or learn about us. You can also check out our overall list of the most affordable online degrees for more inspiration.

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All tuition numbers were manually collected and verified
Rank School Locations Annual Tuition
# 1 #1 Central Methodist University Fayette (MO) $6,240
# 2 #2 Marshall University Huntington (WV) $6,675
# 3 #3 Emporia State University Emporia (KS) $7,529
# 4 #4 Sam Houston State University Huntsville (TX) $7,583
# 5 #5 PennWest California California (PA) $7,890
# 6 #6 Indiana State University Terre Haute (IN) $10,542
# 7 #7 Western Kentucky University Bowling Green (KY) $10,605
# 8 #8 University of North Alabama Florence (AL) $12,000
# 9 #9 West Texas A&M University Canyon (TX) $12,061
# 10 #10 The University of Tennessee - Knoxville Knoxville (TN) $13,658
Annual Tuition: $6,240
Annual Tuition: $6,240
Annual Tuition: $6,240

Central Methodist University is a private, nonprofit institution that's affiliated with the United Methodist Church. It offers an online Master of Science in Mathematics totaling 32 credit hours. Students studying full time may only take one year to finish the program.

At Central Methodist, online students complete their coursework on Canvas. The program’s curriculum focuses on mathematical theories and computation skills. Sample courses include Advanced Statistics, Number Theory, and Proof in Mathematics. Students are also required to take written and oral exit exams before graduation. Potential career opportunities for program alumni are accountants, GIS analysts, and college mathematics professors.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 100%
  • Average SATs: 930 -1100
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 1,734
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 159
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: HLC

Marshall University

Huntington (WV)
Annual Tuition: $6,675
Annual Tuition: $6,675
Annual Tuition: $6,675

Marshall University is a public institution that offers an online Master of Arts in Mathematics requiring 36 credit hours. Full-time students can expect to complete the program within 1-2 years. Online students can also add a Graduate Area of Emphasis in Statistics to their degree program if they choose.

Marshall facilitates asynchronous and synchronous online learning via Blackboard. The mathematics program prepares students to pursue careers in business, finance, and teaching, or they may choose to further their higher education and earn doctoral degrees. The program’s courses include Probability and Statistics, Advanced Calculus, and Modern Algebra. Students can complete a thesis or take a comprehensive oral exam to graduate. The program’s graduates can pursue careers like statisticians, actuaries, and research analysts.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 96%
  • Average SATs: 940 -1150
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 935
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 596
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: HLC
Annual Tuition: $7,529
Annual Tuition: $7,529
Annual Tuition: $7,529

At Emporia State University (ESU), a public institution, prospective students can pursue an online Master of Science in Mathematics requiring 34 credit hours. Full-time students can expect to spend 1-2 years completing this program.

ESU’s online students complete coursework on Canvas asynchronously and synchronously. An online master’s in mathematics explores the theoretical concepts and mathematical analysis of numbers. Sample core courses are Topology, Functions of a Real Variable, and Vector Spaces. A comprehensive exam is also required for graduation. The program’s graduates may go on to enter careers like budget analysts, financial managers, and accountants.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 98%
  • Average SATs: 950 -1055
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 178
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 2,070
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: HLC
Annual Tuition: $7,583
Annual Tuition: $7,583
Annual Tuition: $7,583

Sam Houston State University (SHSU) is a public institution that offers an online Master of Arts in Mathematics totaling 36 credit hours. This program can last between 1-2 years, depending on a student's courseload.

SHSU facilitates asynchronous and synchronous online learning through Blackboard. The program’s curriculum is designed for students who aspire to teach mathematics — at either the secondary or postsecondary level — or are preparing for a doctoral degree. The program’s courses are Research Project in Math Education, Transformational Geometry, and Concepts in Analysis. Students must also take a directed reading and research course, an oral comprehensive exam, and a 12-hour minor. Prospective careers for graduates include college mathematics professors, financial analysts, and mathematicians.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 86%
  • Average SATs: 990 -1140
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 2,120
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 1,562
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC

PennWest California

California (PA)
Annual Tuition: $7,890
Annual Tuition: $7,890
Annual Tuition: $7,890

PennWest California (PenWest) is a public institution offering an online Professional Science Master’s in Applied Mathematics. Totaling 30 credit hours, students can potentially finish this program within 13 months.

At PennWest, online students complete coursework, which is delivered asynchronously and synchronously, through D2L Brightspace. The graduate program in mathematics is comprised of coursework that concerns career development skills as well as statistical data analysis. Sample core courses are Project Management, Applied Cryptography, and Advanced Multivariate Statistics. Additionally, a capstone course is required for graduation. Alumni often pursue careers like economists, actuaries, and data scientists.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 97%
  • Average SATs: 910 -1100
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 1,141
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 1,592
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: MSCHE

Overview of an Online Master's in Mathematics

With as many as 97 subject classifications, mathematics is an extremely broad field. A master's in this discipline focuses on the study of applied, computational, and theoretical mathematics. In turn, graduates can either pursue careers as professional mathematicians and statisticians, or enroll in a doctoral graduate program in mathematics.

Distance education is becoming increasingly common, making it easier for students to pursue a master's of science in mathematics online. An online degree program allows students to pace their learning and complete courses according to their own schedule. Many universities and schools offer online master's degrees in mathematics. These programs are typically 30-36 credit hours and are designed to be completed in two years of full-time study. Part-time students, however, tend to take longer to finish.

Common Master's in Mathematics Courses

Students pursuing master's degrees in mathematics study many of the same fundamental concepts and skills regardless of whether they attend online or on campus. These include both applied and theoretical mathematical concepts, with core courses covering topics in algebra, topology, statistics and calculus. For electives, programs often expect students to take courses in STEM areas such as computer science, computer engineering, and physics. Many programs also allow students to select between a thesis track, in which students complete a research project, and non-thesis track, which typically involves examinations at the end of the program. For a specialization, students can choose interdisciplinary fields — such as biomathematics — or areas such as mathematical education, actuarial mathematics, and probability.

Below are some of the courses commonly found in master's-level mathematics programs.

  • Applied Mathematics: This class covers various uses for math in different professional fields, such as physics, finance, engineering, and medicine. Faculty discuss the models and methods appropriate for each field. Topics can include computational tools, the effects of random processes, and the use of statistics.
  • Cryptography and Cryptanalysis: Students learn how numbers can be used to encode and decode information. Key topics include ciphers, key exchange, number fields, and cryptosystems. Most sections require students to decode examples of various ciphers and also create ciphers of their own.
  • Differential Equations: Faculty illuminate how differential equations can model system behavior. Students learn the differences between ordinary and partial differential equations and initial- and boundary-value problems. Some applications may be taught, though in less detail than in an Applied Mathematics course.
  • Foundations of Advanced Mathematics: This is an introductory course that covers the basic principles of several mathematical subdisciplines. Lessons may touch on abstract and linear algebra, elementary number theory, logic, and functions. Most higher-level courses will require this as a prerequisite.
  • Topics in Algebra: This course introduces graduate-level algebra concepts. These include group theory, field theory, and commutative and noncommutative algebra. Depending on the length of the course, faculty may discuss more advanced topics such as infinite fields and vector spaces.

Funding an Online Master's in Mathematics

Tuition rates for an online mathematics master's can vary significantly. The most affordable program costs $4,723 annually, but some programs can have annual tuition fees well above $30,000. In comparison, the average in-state tuition cost of a master's degree is $19,314.

Online master's students in mathematics have a number of available financial aid opportunities. The best options are funds that students don't need to repay, such as grants, scholarships, and work-study opportunities. Online students can also apply for loans, preferably low-interest federal or state loans. Prospective students should check with each school's financial aid office to find out which aid programs the school participates in.

Most students start by filling out the Federal Application for Student Aid (FAFSA), which is used to determine financial need and eligibility for aid. Students with undocumented immigration status may be able to complete a state-specific aid application because they may not be eligible for federal aid. These applicants should check the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administration website for financial aid programs in the state where they want to enroll.

Many colleges and private donors provide endowed scholarships and grants to mathematics students in an effort to increase nationwide math literacy. There are a number of general programs as well as opportunities for women and groups historically underrepresented in STEM fields. Below are a few of the programs available to students pursuing a master's in math.

For additional information, students can check out our resources about paying for a college degree, which include details about popular college savings plans, the student debt crisis, and more.

Careers for Graduates with a Master's in Mathematics

A master's in mathematics teaches students valuable quantitative, reasoning, and problem-solving skills. As such, it can open up careers in a variety of industries including business, research, education, and technology. The decision to specialize in a particular area, such as mathematical computer science for instance, can lead to opportunities in specific sectors such as information technology and research.

While a bachelor's may be enough to work in areas such as mathematics education, a master's degree is required to work as a professional mathematician in many settings, including those in business, healthcare, and government. Below is a list of careers graduates with a master's in mathematics can pursue.

Actuaries analyze risk to help businesses minimize their financial costs. They typically work in insurance, but also evaluate sources of uncertainty in other sectors such as government. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), actuaries can make a median salary of $111,030 and, at 24%, job growth is significantly faster than average through 2030.

Biostatisticians collect and analyze biological data. They collaborate with other data scientists to draw general conclusions about living things, and their work is often important in developing new drugs or cures. The demand for biostatisticians, who earn a median salary of $92,270, is expected to increase by 8% through 2029.

High school math teachers cover a critical component of K-12 education. They introduce students to foundational mathematical subjects, such as algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and calculus. High school math teachers need a minimum of a bachelor's degree, and all states require licensure or certification to work at public schools. According to the BLS, high school teachers earn a median salary of $62,870, and demand for these positions is expected to increase over the course of the next decade.

Mathematicians need a master's degree and work in many different industries. They use statistical concepts and software to solve problems for businesses and clients. They also communicate research findings to nontechnical audiences. Mathematicians earn a median salary of $93,230, and the job outlook for this role is expected to increase 33% by 2030.

Survey researchers use opinion polls, interviews, and other data collection techniques to discover what people think about a variety of topics. Their work can range from conducting polls during an election year, to understanding why people prefer a particular consumer product. Survey researchers earn a median annual salary of $59,870.

Is an Online Master's in Mathematics Worth it?

Whether a master's in math is worth it will depend on your career goals, previous experience, personal interests, finances, and other responsibilities. A master's degree in math can open the door to any number of highly paid jobs in finance, business, and technology. It may help to consider some of the following pros and cons of pursuing your mathematics degree online.

Potential Advantages

  • Graduates with a master's degree in math have high earning potential. Median salaries for these positions range from $86,200 to $111,030, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While a master's degree is not required for most entry-level roles in these fields, it can qualify you for higher salaries and advanced positions.
  • Math majors learn skills that are applicable for a variety of different careers. Data from Payscale shows that people who earn their master's in math also go on to become data scientists, software engineers, data analysts, and mathematics teachers. Depending on your previous education, experience, and career goals, a master's degree in math may help you secure one of these positions.
  • Online master's programs offer a range of conveniences and greater flexibility. Online courses are often more affordable than campus-based programs and can be well-suited for students who need to fit classes around a busy schedule or prefer to work independently.

Potential Disadvantages

  • Learning remotely isn't for everyone. To be successful, distance learners should be self-disciplined, able to manage their time effectively, and have the technical skills needed to operate in a remote environment.
  • There may be a more relevant master's degree that will help you better reach your professional goals. For instance, if you hope to teach mathematics, a master's of education with a concentration in this field is a better option. Alternatively, if you're interested in working with data or in a business area such as marketing - but still want an understanding of mathematical concepts - a master's in applied statistics may be a better choice for a degree.

If you hope to become a mathematician or find a career path where a master's degree will give you an edge, this degree is likely to be a good investment for you.

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