15 Cheapest Graduate Schools In California | Requirements, Cost, Admission

Attending graduate school can be quite expensive. Although there are scholarships to help step down the cost, not many students actually get one. To curb this, we have a list of the cheapest graduate schools in California for you. This may come in handy if California is your dream study location.

California is actually a beautiful city housing some of the best universities and graduate schools in the world. We mean the likes of Stanford.

So, the average fees for some of these acclaimed bests are exorbitant for the ordinary graduate who wants to work his way through graduate school.

Not to worry, we have outlined the 15 cheapest graduate schools in California you can attend just in case you want to bait on the scholarships of the best.

These schools are actually not substandard per say, because one would think they’d be due to the cost.

Well, let’s get down to the main cause of our discussion. The table of content below clearly outlines all you’ll learn in this content.

Why You Need a Cheap Graduate Program?

The sad truth is that the cost of education is not equivalent to its quality in many cases.

So, don’t stress yourself trying to get a loan to see you through graduate school when there are some cheaper ones to give almost the same quality of education

To remove the mess of paying off a student loan, you need to attend a cheap graduate program.

Also, the cost of attending a graduate school is always on the rise, which means that your high-paying school will still continue to increase its tuition. Wouldn’t it be better to just attend what you can afford?

What are the Cheapest Graduate Schools In California Admission Requirements?

Using the CSU as a guide, we will outline some of the basic requirements to get admission into the cheapest graduate schools in California.

You also need to understand that each school might have specific requirements peculiar to them.

The minimum requirements for admission to graduate or postbaccalaureate studies at a CSU campus are in accordance with university regulations. Specifically, you will qualify for admission if you:

  • have completed a four-year college course of study
  • are in good academic standing at the last college or university attended;
  • have attained a grade point average of at least 2.5 in an acceptable earned baccalaureate degree;
  • have attained a grade point average of at least 2.5 (A = 4.0) in the last 60 semester (90 quarter) units attempted;
  • meet the professional, personal, scholastic, and other standards for graduate study, including qualifying examinations and specific course and/or grade prerequisites, as appropriate campus authorities may prescribe.
  • English language requirement. On a normal day, a TOEFL score of 550 and 213 for a computer-based test

In unusual circumstances, a campus may make exceptions to these criteria. Graduate students must apply to the university and to a specific graduate program.

If you meet the minimum requirements for graduate and postbaccalaureate studies, you will be considered for admission.

How to Apply

You will submit your applications directly to each graduate program you are considering. If you’re applying to more than one program, even on the same campus, you’ll have to submit an application to each one.

Also Read: Masters Scholarships – Kiiky.com

Cheapest California Graduate Schools in 2023

There are many high-value schools in California, but many of them are for a combination of reasons not necessarily tuition costs.

This post focuses on those graduate schools in California that won’t tear your budget.

Hence, here are the Cheapest California Graduate Schools;

  • California State University Northridge
  • San Diego State University Imperial Valley Campus
  • California State University – East Bay
  • California State University Maritime Academy
  • San Francisco State University
  • California State University-Fresno
  • California State University-Long Beach
  • Tufts University
  • California State University-San Bernardino
  • California State University-Stanislaus
  • University of the West
  • California State Polytechnic University-Pomona
  • California State University Dominguez Hills
  • Humboldt State University
  • California State University Bakersfield
  • California State University Los Angeles

#1. California State University Northridge

Tuition: $4,223

California State University has 23 campuses each with different tuition.

The Northridge campus fees differ in categories of graduate students based on the units and program type.

So, for graduate post-baccalaureate fees, 0-6 units you will pay $2,717. 6+ pays $4,223. Other graduate degrees have maximum tuition of $9,233.00.

According to the school’s website, she makes conscious efforts to keep the tuition low.

CSUN’s graduate programs focus on real-world issues, our students can readily apply what they have learned to their future workplace

Do you now see that low tuition doesn’t equate to value? This is one of our cheapest graduate schools in California.

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#2. San Diego State University Imperial Valley Campus

Tuition: $3,588

The San Diego State University Imperial Valley Campus is one of the Cheapest United States Graduate Schools.

San Diego State University (SDSU) is a public research university in San Diego, California. Founded in 1897 as San Diego Normal School, it is the third-oldest university in the 23-member California State University (CSU) system.

The campus originally served only upper-division, teacher certification, and graduate students but now serves a selection of freshmen and sophomores pursuing degrees in criminal justice, liberal studies, or psychology.

As one of the most applied to universities in California, SDSU is among the best schools and among the cheapest graduate schools in California. With its renowned graduate school of public health.

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#3. California State University – East Bay

Tuition: $5,919

CSUEB is a public university in Hayward, California. Basically, it offers 60 post-baccalaureate areas of study, with over thirty professional and research graduate programs for its graduate students.

The university is best known for its College of Business and Economics.

Its graduate school programs are divided into; Master of Arts, Science, Online Degree Programs, Business Administration, Public Administration, Social Work, Education Programs, and Credentials.

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Also Read: 7 Important places to find grad school scholarships and grants

#4. California State University Maritime Academy

Tuition:$5,200.00 per semester

The tuition for this school among our list of cheapest graduates in California is $5,200.00 per semester. Textbooks and supplies were all added. $27,000 for the whole program of 5 semesters, inclusive of a $1000 security fee.

CSU Maritime Academy launched its first graduate degree program – a Master of Science in Transportation and Engineering Management – on September 4, 2011.

You will agree that new schools inculcate new technologies to outstand the already-established schools and programs.

This is another school on our list of graduate schools in California.

Consequently,  they offer a ten-course degree program (30 credit hours) completely online. Current students report that the support enjoyed 24/7 online access which is beneficial for those juggling careers and families with graduate coursework.

The graduate programs include Transportation, Engineering Management, and Humanitarian Disaster Management.  Finally, students complete a Capstone course designed to help them demonstrate their learning through an extensive project in their work setting.

Graduate students – $405 per unit. Teacher credential – $378 per unit.

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Check this out: 10 Cheapest Colleges In Pennsylvania PA | 2023 UPDATED

#5. California State University-Fresno


California State University-Fresno is a Public school located in Fresno, CA.

The university offers 47 graduate degree programs which include a Doctorate in Educational Leadership, a Doctorate in Physical Therapy, a Doctor of Nursing Practice, an Educational Specialist degree, and multiple master’s degree programs. The university also offers 13 certificates of advanced study.

California State University-Fresno offers online graduate programs and 130 out of 3,012 graduate students have enrolled online exclusively.

The online studies are in the following areas Business Administration (MBA), Communicative Disorders (MA) Deaf Education Option, Teaching MA (Online), and Water Resource Management (MS).

Actually, the graduate school tuition in units, 0.0 to 6.0 units is $4,164, and 6.1 or more units are $7,176.

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#6. California State University-Long Beach


California State University, Long Beach, is one of the nation’s most vibrant and successful public universities.

Here you will benefit from an exciting, rigorous learning environment that promotes global engagement and prepares you for the challenges and opportunities of tomorrow.

CSULB is characterized by exceptional academic programs, outstanding support services, dedicated faculty, and a diverse student population.

The graduate programs include 67 master’s degrees, four teaching credential programs(including 10 single subject areas), and four doctoral degrees at CSULB.

The following doctoral programs:

  • Ph.D. in Engineering and Computational Mathematics (offered jointly with The Claremont Graduate University.)
  • Ed.D. in Educational Leadership
  • Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) and
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) (offered jointly with Cal State Fullerton and Cal State Los Angeles

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#7. California State University-San Bernardino


The total tuition for 0-6 units is $1799.76 whereas that of 6+ units is $2803.77.  Just the independent tuition is $1388.00 and $2392.00.

 At CSUSB, postbaccalaureate students can choose from more than 42 master’s degree programs and concentrations, as well as a wide range of credential and certificate programs.

CSUSB is also one of the few California State University campuses to offer a doctoral program in Educational Leadership. Most classes are offered at convenient hours for working students.

Graduate programs at the university are designed to serve a variety of needs. Some students pursue an advanced degree or a credential program in a professional area to enhance their careers, others, to expand their knowledge and understanding and to pursue research in a chosen discipline. 

Whichever is your reason CSUSB has got you covered! Part-time and full-time students are welcomed. A school of this capacity is included in our list of cheapest graduate schools in California.

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#8. California State University-Stanislaus State


Stan State offers graduate programs that appeal to a variety of schedules, including a hybrid Master of Social Work program, and a fully online MBA program. She also maintains a friendly and small campus feel while providing many of the amenities of a larger campus.

Its Graduate Programs include master’s, doctoral, credential, and graduate certificate programs. Along long with 16 master’s degree programs, seven credential programs, and a doctorate in educational leadership.

Also Read: Cheapest United States Graduate Schools in 2023 | Programs, Requirements, Cost

In addition, the tuition fee charged is $9,018, however, this is exclusive of other educational fees like books and supplies.

You can agree that it should be among the cheapest graduate schools in California.

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#9. San Francisco State University


So, why should I attend San Francisco State University for my graduate studies? We have the answer right below.

From the moment you step into the campus, you immerse yourself in endless opportunities like jobs, internships, scholarships, community service adventures, social justice activism, etc.

Graduate students seeking degrees in this cheap graduate school in California in the fields of science develop their skills with many facilities in the school including but not limited to the Conservation Genetics Laboratory, the Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies, and lots more.

Our Graduate Business Program prepares leaders for careers in the growing innovative industries and global marketplace.

Then for students of social sciences, humanities, and creative arts, there is a large radio and television production facility, the Design Center for Global Needs, the Poetry Center, and American Poetry Archives.

Also, the Digital Cinema Lab, the Confucius Institute, and the Graduate String Quartet Residency Program.

According to a study by the U.S. National Science Foundation, San Francisco  State ranks fourth nationally among master’s level colleges and universities for the total number of graduates who go on to Ph.D. programs.

Tuition for 6.0 units or less is $2,082.00 whereas for 6+ is $3,588.00.

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#10. California State Polytechnic University-Pomona


As one of only six polytechnic universities, Cal Poly Pomona’s hallmark is its learn-by-doing philosophy. This cheapest graduate school in California typically teaches by hands-on practice. Well, it is popular with Polytechnics.

Its eight academic colleges offer 28 Master’s programs and we offer an Ed.D program in Education Leadership.

The colleges are the College of Agriculture, Business Administration, Education and Integrative Studies, Engineering, Environmental Design, Hospitality Management, Science, College of Letters, arts, and Social Sciences.

For tuition, 6.1 & above pays $3,588.00 while 0-6.0 units pay $2,082.00.

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#11. University of the West


As one of Canada’s largest research-intensive universities, Western University boasts researchers, teachers, and graduate students who are leaders in their fields and conduct innovative research in some of the world’s most exciting and emerging areas.

The University of the West is a not-for-profit, private low-cost university in California. 

Lastly, Western University offers 160 different graduate degree programs at the Masters and Doctoral levels.

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#12. California State University Dominguez Hills


The Mission of graduate programs at California State University, Dominguez Hills is to promote advanced study, scholarly activity, and research. 

This great school on our list of cheapest graduate schools in California offers a variety of post-bachelors certificates, credentials, and graduate degrees geared to both full-time and part-time students. 

Then, for tuition per year, for 0.0 to 6.0 units  $4,164 and 6.1 or more is $7,176.

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#13. California State University Bakersfield


Cal State Bakersfield is a public graduate school in Bakersfield, California. It has a mid-size graduate student body with an enrollment of 1,448 graduate students.

Of the 18 graduate programs offered at California State University – Bakersfield, 2 are offered online through graduate distance education programs.

The most popular graduate school programs at California State University are Teaching, Social Work, and School Counseling and Guidance Services. 29% of its graduate students are part-time graduate students.

In addition, the tuition mentioned above is for 6+ units for a semester also $2,786.00 is for 0-6 units.

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#14. California State University Los Angeles


One of the cheapest college and graduate schools in California, California State University-Los Angeles is a member of the California State University System.

Cal State L.A. has over 100 graduate-level master’s, certificate, and credential programs, including two at the doctoral level. Also, nationally recognized programs include business, education, engineering, and nursing.

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#15. Humboldt State University

Tuition:$9,294 per year

This top-listed cheapest graduate school in California has 11 programs that offer graduate programs.

With tuition and fees of just $7,863 per year, Humboldt State University is a great value. HSU combines incredible academic opportunities with affordability.

 Also, this school has 12 graduate programs in three Colleges.

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#16. Tufts University

Tuition:$1,799 per-credit.

The university of Tufts is a private institution that was founded in 1852. Tufts academic calendar is a semester/credit-based calendar. Tufts University’s ranking in the 2021 edition of Best Colleges is National Universities, #29 according to USNews.

USNews also carried that it accepted 15% of the applicants for fall 2018. This goes on to show that it is a very selective school. You are getting into a top-choice school.

Its graduate programs include Arts and Sciences Programs, Engineering Programs, Masters Programs, Doctoral Degrees, Certificate Programs, and Interdisciplinary Programs.

The tuition for full-time Arts and Sciences Ph.D. students is covered by a tuition scholarship. In addition, Students enrolled in a Ph.D. program are provided the student health insurance free of charge for six years.

Consequently, the 2023-2024 tuition is $54,196 for the entire program.

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FAQ On 15 Cheapest Graduate Schools in California

What is the hardest Graduate School to get into?

Harvard University tops the list with its 5% acceptance rate. The Cambridge, Massachusetts, Ivy League university has earned a reputation for developing world leaders. According to Niche, it is the No. 1 college for biology in America and also among the highest rated for psychology and best academics.

How long is Graduate School in the USA?

Two years

Most master’s degree programs will take an average of two years from start to finish – about half of the time it takes to earn your bachelor’s degree.

What is the most popular graduate program?

Here’s a list of the top master’s degrees

Business administration
Health care administration
Computer and information sciences
Nurse anesthesia
Human resources management
Physician assistant


The benefits that accrue from attending a graduate school outweigh its cost. Settling for a major isn’t the right way to go about it.

Don’t allow lack of money to deprive you of that added knowledge gotten from a graduate school. Go through or list and I bet the fees will be somewhat affordable.

Best of luck!



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