Applying to grad school can get expensive, especially when you’re trying to keep your options open by sending applications to multiple schools. As the non-refundable fees add up, sending off numerous applications can total thousands. To make the application process more affordable, many schools have eliminated application fees or waived them in certain circumstances. This guide overviews graduate schools that offer this benefit and also tells you about other fees and waivers for grad students, so you can create a plan for applying to the schools willing to help you clear the initial financial hurdle associated with graduate school.
Grad Schools with No Application Fee
The most straightforward route to saving on application fees is to explore schools that allow anyone to apply for free. These schools understand that excessive fees can be burdensome, and they don’t want to discourage any prospective students from applying. Not only does this give schools a larger number of diverse, academically qualified applicants, but it saves students a lot of money. The list below highlights quality graduate schools that do not require application fees. You’ll get an overview of each school along with general information on its admissions process.
Baker University, located in Baldwin City, Kansas, is one of the state’s top universities and in the top eight percent of schools nationwide. Featuring small class sizes, Baker prides itself on fostering a personalized learning experience. Its graduate programs are offered in both hybrid and online formats, and admissions are on a rolling basis. Each program has specific admissions requirements, but the MSN and business and management graduate programs do not have application fees.
Colorado Technical University has campuses in Colorado Springs and in Denver for in-person classes but also offers online classes. Students can pursue graduate degrees in a variety of fields – computer science, engineering, healthcare, nursing, criminal justice – and do so with flexible and convenient programs designed to fit into busy lives. Admission requirements vary by program with some asking for entrance essays or interviews, but the no-fee application applies to all programs. Start dates are year-round, so graduate applications are accepted on a rolling basis.
With online, evening, and traditional in-person options, Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona offers plenty of flexibility. Featuring a wide variety of graduate programs and competitive tuition rates, GCU integrates Christian faith and practice into all areas of campus life. Generally, graduate program candidates need undergraduate degrees from approved institutions and minimum 2.8 GPAs, but some programs require higher GPA standards. Graduate applications are accepted on a rolling basis, and the process depends on the degree level, program, and modality.
Immaculata University has a rich history as Philadelphia’s first Catholic institution for women. It is a liberal arts university emphasizing public service, and it holds fast to its historic values. In addition to the online application, prospective students must submit one-page essays and résumés tailored to their program of interest. Some programs also require an interview with the department chair. Graduate applications are accepted on a rolling basis, and only the MAT has a separate portal for applying.
Indiana Wesleyan is a Christian school emphasizing liberal arts and professional education. Its main campus is in Marion, Indiana, but IWU also offers classes online, at its 11 regional education centers located throughout Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky, and in hybrid formats. Application requirements vary among their many graduate programs, but none of them have an application fee. Applications are due on June 1st for the fall semester and October 15th for the spring.
Experienced, caring faculty and an experiential learning model are central features of the student experience at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island. Flexible graduate programs are offered online, on campus, and in hybrid formats. In addition to an online application, each department has its own admission requirements. Most programs require a statement of purpose, essay, and letters of recommendation and have minimum GPA requirements.
Lasell University, a liberal arts school in Newton, Massachusetts, offers real-world, hands-on experiences through service learning, internships, and study abroad opportunities. Courses are offered in all formats (i.e., on-campus, online, and hybrid) to provide flexibility. Its more than 30 graduate degree programs focus on personal growth and professional connections and offer an extensive networking community. Graduate admission requirements include a personal statement, an official bachelor’s transcript, and a resume.
Located in Longview, Texas, LeTourneau is a nondenominational Christian university featuring in-person, hybrid, and online options with graduate programs in business, education, engineering, psychology, leadership, and more. Flexible scheduling options also include accelerated evening programs. Admissions requirements include a bachelor’s or master’s degree and a minimum 2.5 GPA. Applicants with lower GPAs must submit résumés detailing relevant work experience to be considered for admission on academic probation. Graduate application deadlines vary based on the intended semester.
Loyola, a private, non-profit Jesuit institution in Chicago, Illinois, has a strong commitment to public service and academic rigor. Its graduate programs are offered both on-campus and online and include biomedical sciences, social work, dual degrees, nursing, and education. In addition to a minimum 3.0 GPA, many graduate programs also have specific criteria (e.g., a particular undergrad degree, certain undergrad courses, etc.). The application process, therefore, includes both general application materials along with those specific to your program of interest.
St. Louis, Missouri is home to Maryville University, the second-fastest growing private university in the country for 2020. Its favorable student-to-faculty ratio gives you one-on-one attention, which means more success in achieving your goals, and its technology-driven approach makes sure you’re prepared for the modern workforce. Maryville’s graduate programs are offered both on-campus and online, and specific admission requirements vary by program. The application deadline for fall is June 1st, and spring applications are due by November 1st.
Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Michigan, originally founded to provide training to mining engineers working in the state’s copper mines, has expanded its reputation as a prominent technological school and research institution. In addition to program requirements for admissions, Michigan Tech provides a consolidated list of forms and deadlines to help you personalize your degree completion timeline. With over 125 graduate programs, there are many opportunities for advanced study through both in-person and online study.
Located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the Milwaukee School of Engineering is a private, non-profit institution offering graduate degrees in engineering, business, education, healthcare, and nursing. Though graduate admission requirements vary by program, general requirements include a bachelor’s degree, completing the free online application, and submitting transcripts from previous colleges and universities attended. Since applications are accepted for each of its three semesters, there is no single deadline to apply to MSOE.
Because of its history as the nation’s oldest private military college, Norwich University in Northfield, Vermont takes pride in providing enhanced support to students with military affiliations. Although the school has a campus, teaching and interactive discussions for all graduate programs are 100% online. In addition to the application form, candidates also need three professional references and a letter of intent. Application deadlines and tuition due dates vary.
Saint Xavier, a Catholic university in Chicago, Illinois, was founded to focus on providing education for women and the poor but is now open to everyone. It’s recognized as the most affordable Catholic institution in Illinois and ranked sixth for the best online graduate nursing program in 2022 by U.S. News & World Report. Each program has unique admission requirements, but they typically include an application, personal statement, resume, and official transcripts. Some require professional recommendations instead of a resume.
Boasting one of the lowest online tuition rates in the nation, Southern New Hampshire University offers graduate degrees online as well as in person at its main campus in Manchester, New Hampshire, and at one of two regional centers in New Hampshire and one in Maine. A minimum 2.75 GPA is required, and applications for its five graduate terms are accepted on a rolling basis. The admission process is specific to each program.
Holding the title of the #1 Catholic school for sponsored engineering research and development, the University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio offers 50 graduate programs, including bachelor’s plus master’s programs, and many have flexible online options to allow you to customize your schedule along with your career goals. Each program has its own admission requirements, but most include an online application, transcripts, recommendation letters, and a personal statement, resume, and/or writing sample. Some programs also require the GMAT or GRE.
Although it has a brick-and-mortar campus in Phoenix, Arizona, most classes offered through the University of Phoenix are available online. The minimum GPA for all of its master’s programs is 2.5. Some graduate programs require relevant work experience or access to an environment where you can apply the information and concepts you gain in your studies. Admission requirements include a free application and undergraduate transcripts, and Phoenix also boasts no out-of-state tuition.
The University of Scranton is a private liberal arts school in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Ranked #5 in regional universities in the north by the U.S. News & World Report, it has also been recognized for its engineering, nursing, and business programs. The minimum undergraduate GPA is 3.0, and applicants must submit three letters of recommendation from individuals who can attest to their academic abilities. Graduate admissions are specific to the program and study mode.
A Catholic institution located in Joliet, Illinois, the University of St. Francis adheres strongly to its Franciscan values of compassion, service, integrity, and respect. Its graduate programs include business, education, healthcare, management, social work, and nursing. Graduate admission requirements vary for each program, but the Graduate Admission Checklist provides an overview of the process. The process is individualized as well, and all applicants are assisted by a personal admissions counselor.
Walden, an online university headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, held to its original mission of providing education options to working adults by helping pioneer online education. This “university for working professionals” offers a wide selection of degree options from business and counseling to public policy and social work, each with flexible learning formats and a curriculum focused on building highly transferrable skills. Applicants need bachelor’s or master’s degrees, and each graduate program provides its own specific admissions requirements and application deadlines.
Grad Schools with Application Fee Waivers
In addition to the many schools that don’t charge an application fee, many others offer application fee waivers that are surprisingly easy to obtain if you can prove financial need. Many also offer fee waivers for active and retired military and those receiving certain scholarships or awards. Below are ten schools that provide this perk along with basic information on the school and the requirements for obtaining its admission waiver.
Baylor University, located in Waco, Texas, is a prestigious Christian research school that has won numerous awards. It’s ranked #77 nationally by U.S. News & World Report and has Research I status from the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. Admission requirements and application deadlines for its extensive graduate program, which includes everything from nursing to theatre studies, vary by program. Baylor’s application fee can be waived for active and retired military as well as for McNair Scholars.
Boston University in Boston, Massachusetts, ranked #65 nationally by U.S. News & World Report, offers an extensive graduate program (i.e., over 400 of them) that includes everything from actuarial sciences to education to urban affairs. Each program offers its own application requirements and deadlines. Although there is an application fee, U.S. citizens and permanent residents can apply for a waiver through the Common App if its cost poses a financial hardship.
Ithaca, New York is home to Cornell University, a highly selective Ivy League school. Ranked #17 nationally by U.S. News & World Report, it’s one of the foremost research universities in the world. The admission requirements for each of its nearly 100 graduate programs are different, but all applicants likely need to take required tests, request recommendations, write a statement of purpose, and prepare transcripts. The application fee may be waived if students can prove financial hardship or are participating in the Pathways Program.
Georgia State University prides itself on its diverse student population, innovative programs, and reputation as a respected public research institution. Students can attend classes at one of its six campuses located throughout Atlanta or opt for an online or hybrid program. While conditions and deadlines for application vary by program, every applicant can expect to gather needed materials, create an application account, and submit transcripts and other materials. The application fee is waived for Ronald E. McNair Scholars.
Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts not only has comprehensive academic offerings that focus on experiential learning, but it also has a stellar reputation for interdisciplinary research. Graduate program application requirements and deadlines vary by college and program, but general requirements include an online application, transcripts, personal statements, application fee, letters of recommendation, and professional resume or curriculum vitae. Some programs also require GRE, LSAT, or GMAT scores. Need-based fee waivers can be applied for through the Common Application.
Purdue in West Lafayette, Indiana, one of the most innovative universities in the nation, offers over 160 graduate degree programs that prepare students to apply their knowledge to real-world situations. Applying to graduate school at Purdue starts with learning more about your degree program of interest before then exploring the admission requirements for that program. Fee waivers are offered to active and retired military and to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who can prove economic hardship.
Southern Illinois University, located in Carbondale, Illinois, ranks in the top five percent of all universities in the nation for its locally and globally impacting research. Programs include everything from accountancy and animal science to speech communication and zoology. A minimum 2.7 GPA is required for its master’s programs, and doctoral programs require a 3.0 GPA. Graduate school admission requirements depend on the degree level and path, but an application fee waiver is available to McNair and Fulbright Scholars.
The University of Arkansas at Little Rock is a public research university with extensive internship opportunities. It offers 130 different graduate programs ranging from art and business to mathematics and social sciences, and the general application process begins by choosing a program, contacting its coordinator, starting your application, and submitting required documents. To qualify for a fee waiver, you must meet one of the conditions listed on the waiver request form.
The University of Rochester in New York is a well-respected research university featuring a small student-to-faculty ratio. Admission to its graduate school is extremely competitive, so students with sterling academic records have an advantage. Potential candidates learn how to apply for admissions through individual programs, which range from arts, sciences, and engineering to oral health, business, and education, and can receive extensive coaching on the admissions process. Fee waivers depend upon financial need.
The University of Washington, a public school ranked seventh among best global universities has its main campus in Seattle with additional campuses in Bothell and Tacoma. Graduate admissions are broken down by types of applicants and types of students, but general admissions requirements include a bachelor’s or master’s degree, official transcripts, and minimum 3.0 GPA Application fee waivers are awarded to McNair Scholars, PPIA Fellows Program participants, and students who have financial need.
Other Fee Waivers for Grad Students
Application fees are just one example of the extra charges you may encounter with graduate school. There are many other types of mandatory fees, though, that can end up being quite a hefty sum on top of tuition. Additional fee waiver programs are detailed below to give you an idea of other ways you can save on graduate school costs.
- The University of California offers waivers of nonresident fees for any student who is the spouse, domestic partner, or child of a California law enforcement officer or firefighter killed in active duty. It extends this benefit to spouses, domestic partners, and children of U.S. military and California National Guard members disabled or killed in action.
- Florida state employees are eligible for tuition and fee waivers at any state university or Florida College System institution. However, this program is space-dependent, so students intending to use this waiver must wait until their university meets its minimum of fee-paying students. Also, some classes may not be eligible, so applicants must contact specific institutions to verify eligibility.
- The Nevada System of Higher Education offers Native Americans who are members of tribes or nations located in the state a waiver of tuition and fees. Applicants must be residents of the state for at least one year before applying.
- The state of Texas offers tuition and fee waiver programs, coordinated through the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, for students with hearing and vision disabilities as well as for students who were formerly in foster care in the state.
- The Yellow Ribbon Program in Virginia benefits veterans and active-duty service members by waiving all resident tuition and fees for students who meet certain service requirements. Benefits can be transferred to veterans’ dependents. Finding a Yellow Ribbon school is the first step, followed by learning which degree type and academic program qualify.
- The University of Washington offers fee waivers to children and spouses of resident law enforcement officers, state patrol officers, firefighters, and highway workers killed or disabled in the line of duty. The state also waives fees and tuition for individuals who were wrongly convicted of a crime. This benefit is transferrable to their children as well.