Online Degrees

Most Affordable Masters Degrees in Environmental Science

Written by College Cliffs Team At, our team, comprising seasoned educators and counselors, is committed to supporting students on their journey through graduate studies. Our advisors, holding advanced degrees in diverse fields, provide tailored guidance, current program details, and pragmatic tips on navigating application procedures.

Reviewed by Linda Weems I got started researching colleges and universities about 10 years ago while exploring a second career. While my second career ended up being exactly what I’m doing now, and I didn’t end up going to college, I try to put myself in your shoes every step of the way as I build out College Cliffs as a user-friendly resource for prospective students.

Updated: April 8, 2024, Reading time: 8 minutes

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Due to ongoing inflation worldwide, the rising cost of education is a big concern for students. Let’s say you want to pursue a master’s degree in environmental science with a limited budget; choosing an affordable degree becomes crucial. 

To make things easier for you, we have compiled a list of the most affordable master’s degrees in environmental science after thorough research. It will help you pick a cost-efficient option so you can better manage your educational budget.

College Cliffs 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.

Most Affordable Master’s Degrees in Environmental Science

Here are the top picks of different universities for the cheapest master’s programs in environmental science. It will positively impact your academic journey by helping you efficiently manage your educational expenses without going bankrupt.

A woman sitting at a table with a globe and wind turbine

East Central University

The East Central University offers a master’s of science in Water Resource Policy and Management. The curriculum of this program is designed to prepare individuals for leadership positions in water policy decision-making. 

It provides in-depth knowledge of water resource management to students so they can create practical solutions for the betterment of the environment. If you have a tight budget, then you must choose this program. Its cost per credit is $377.80, and the total credit hours of the degree are 30. Furthermore, you can also get financial aid and transfer student options that can save you money and time. 

The degree’s curriculum covers a wide range of topics that help students to develop political acumen and research skills. It helps them understand the role of policy and science in water resource management. Most of the courses in the program are related to water law, environmental conflict management, water quality and treatment, and environmental toxicology. 

Utah State University

You can pick another affordable degree in environmental science from Utah State University. They offer a master’s of Natural Resources program with an in-state annual tuition of $12,691 and an out-of-state annual tuition of $15,609. 

Choose this program if you want to do outdoor work and create sustainable solutions for preserving natural resources like minerals and land. It helps students understand how human interaction with natural landscapes can impact future generations.

After earning this degree, you can work as a wetland ecologist, wildlife biologist, or forester. Seasoned faculty with real-world experiences supervise this program, significantly impacting students’ learning journey. 

Montana State University

Montana State University offers a master’s in Land Resources and Environmental Sciences degree with an average annual out-of-state tuition of $21,446. It is a public institution in Montana, and its tuition has the number one affordability index in Montana. 

This program involves research related to climate, water, microorganisms, and other relevant subjects. The in-state tuition is $6,650, so it can be a great option for students who are based in Montana. 

The environmental science department also conducts research projects on environmental microbiology, environmental risk assessment, and land-atmosphere exchange. Clearing the GRE test is another primary requirement that you need to consider. 

A diverse group of students in a classroom

Mississippi State University

If you are interested in studying forestry at a reasonable cost, opt for a master’s of Science in Forestry at Mississippi State University. You also have the option to choose between non-thesis and thesis options. 

This degree has 30 credit hours, mainly focusing on forest economics, forest management, and natural resource policies. Its average annual tuition is $14,985 for students from any state, so it can be one of the most cost-efficient options. 

With this degree, you can choose to work as a forest engineer, forester, forest fire management officer, procurement forester, and forest fire prevention manager. A forester has an average annual salary of $74,303 in the US, so it can be a rewarding position. 

Virginia Wesleyan University

Virginia Wesleyan University offers a master’s of Environmental Studies degree, and its annual average tuition is $14,970. This program perfectly suits individuals who want to contribute to environmental resilience. Most of the courses in this degree are related to water resource management and environmental problem-solving. 

After earning this degree, you can work as an environmental health practitioner, environmental specialist, landscape architect, sustainability engineer, and toxicologist. Sustainability engineers have one of the highest salaries, with an average annual salary of $95,034, so it can be an excellent career choice for you. 

University of Missouri

The University of Missouri offers a master’s of science in Natural Resources degree. This program is designed to help students enhance their knowledge and skills so they can work to improve biodiversity and soil quality. It also enables students to ensure the protection of natural resources and environment.

The average annual tuition of this program is $15,000. The degree mainly focuses on agroforestry, natural resource policy, forestry, soil, atmospheric and environmental sciences, and other relevant areas. This program is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

A man in white coat holding chemical tube

University of West Alabama

The University of West Alabama offers a master’s of science in Conservation Biology degree. Its average annual tuition is $13,185. Pursuing this degree can provide you with a wide range of career choices. You can work in relevant government organizations, environmental management, and environmental protection agencies.

Most courses in this program are related to data analysis and natural resources. After graduating, you can also become eligible to teach natural ecosystems and intricacies of biodiversity at the college level. 

North Dakota State University

If you want to pursue a master’s of Natural Resources Management degree at an affordable price, then consider North Dakota State University. The average annual tuition of their program is $14,577, and HLC accredits it.

The program does not have any requirements for an internship or thesis, and you can choose your curriculum from different areas like microbiology, communications, and environmental engineering. 

Black Hills State University

Black Hills State University offers a master’s of science in sustainability with an average annual tuition of $15,525. The program is designed to make students understand practical issues in the sustainability field. You will also learn the relationship between environmental factors and governmental policies. 

With this degree, you will be able to come up with real-world solutions to address environmental and social problems for building a sustainable society. Furthermore, it will provide an in-depth understanding of earth-system processes. The potential careers with this degree are policy analysts, environmental analysts, and city planners. 

A scientist in a white lab coat examining a specimen under a microscope

Factors Affecting the Cost of Degree

As a student, you must know what factors can impact the cost of the degree. It can help you choose the most affordable option according to your requirements. Here are some factors that you must consider before choosing the degree.

Let’s find out how some of these factors can impact your tuition.

Financial Aid

Many students rely on financial aid to cover their tuition. Filling out an FAFSA application can inform you if you are eligible for a work-study program or loan. 


The format of the programs can impact the educational cost big time. The universities may charge less for online degrees than onsite degrees because students cannot access on-campus resources. 

Type of University

In the US, there are mainly two types of universities. A public university is government-funded, and grants, alumni contributors, and endowments fund a private university. Private universities tend to be more expensive, so check the type of institution before choosing the program.

Benefits of Choosing an Affordable Degree

There are plenty of benefits to choosing an affordable master’s degree. Some of them are as follows:

A man in a lab coat holding a plant, conducting research in a laboratory

Here are some common questions for students who want to opt for an affordable master’s degree in environmental science.

What Degree Is Best for Environmental Science?

Some of the top degrees for environmental science are Environmental Law, Environmental Sustainability, Environmental Engineering, Marine Sciences, Environmental Health Sciences, and Horticulture. These degrees offer a wide range of career options, so make the final decision according to your area of interest. 

What Are the 5 Major Areas of Environmental Science?

The five main areas of environmental science are social sciences, ecology, geosciences, environmental chemistry, and atmospheric sciences. Each of these fields is made of other disciplines, and students must clearly understand these areas. 

What Jobs in Environmental Science Pay the Most?

Some of the highest-paid occupations in environmental science are:


Choosing an affordable degree in environmental science can increase your savings and also open the gates of great career opportunities. Proper research is essential to find the least expensive degree to help you stay within your educational budget.