10 Most Affordable Master’s in Military Studies Online

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Updated August 7, 2020

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Professionals interested in pursuing a career in government, the military, or an intelligence agency will want to consider an online Master's in Military Studies. These programs are built to prepare students for a lifetime of service to the country in a variety of capacities, including as a military officer, intelligence agent, or even as an ambassador to a foreign country. With so many professionals already working in the field, an online degree is one a great alternative to traditional programs.

Online programs, especially those that focus on military studies, are built for in-service professionals who have obligations that are mandated by law. For this reason, a traditional program is simply unfeasible. Online degrees provide the flexibility and affordability that these professionals require; in many cases, the schools listed in this rank subsidized by the United States government and military.

Most Affordable Master’s in Military Studies Online

#1 American Public University System Charles Town, WV
#2 University of Texas at El Paso El Paso, TX
#3 Columbia College Columbia, MO
#4 Austin Peay State University Clarksville, TN
#5 Southern New Hampshire University Manchester, NH
#6 Wright State University Dayton, OH
#7 Sam Houston State University Huntsville, TX
#8 Norwich University Northfield, VT
#9 Hawai'i Pacific University Honolulu, HI


The National Center for Education Statistics was the source of research when this ranking was created. The website's College Navigator database was utilized to come up with an initial pool of 13 schools. The final 10 listed below were based on in-state graduate tuition rates.

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Ranking Low-cost Online Military Studies Master's

  1. American Public University System

    Charles Town, WV



    American Public University System offers students a great cheap military studies master's degree that will help them reach their goals. This is a degree that can be completed entirely online and is designed to prepare students to work in management positions within the military and the government, work as researchers in the field of military studies, or to pursue a doctorate in this or a related field. It is also possible to earn a Master of Arts in Military History from APUS; this is also available online. The degree comes with three concentrations, including Irregular Warfare, Joint Warfare, and Strategic Leadership. Students can expect to complete 36 credit hours of coursework, a capstone project, and a comprehensive exam. Sample courses include Research Design and Methods, Great Military Leaders, and Joint Warfare Theory and Practice.

  2. University of Texas at El Paso

    El Paso, TX



    The University of Texas at El Paso offers a wholly online master's in military studies. This degree is a comprehensive plan of study that utilizes on-demand courses on a seven-week term schedule. Students often finish all the requirements for this degree in less than 15 months, making it a great choice for military personnel and intelligence professionals interested in advancing their careers. Courses are also taught by professionals and experts in national security; they are all members of the National Security Studies Institute. This is a program dedicated to current military studies, meaning that the program's curriculum varies from year to year to keep pace with changing world events. Students will find that they are required to complete 36 credit hours of coursework along with a thesis and comprehensive exam. Sample courses include Low-Intensity, Strategic Theory and Modern Warfare, and United States National Security.

  3. Columbia College

    Columbia, MO



    Professionals will no doubt be interested in the online master's in military history that is offered by Columbia College. This is a degree only offered online that focuses military history through the lenses of history, philosophy, and political science. Courses are asynchronous and can be accessed at any time via the school's virtual portal, which also offers student access to the school's online library, bookstore, and tutoring services. This degree is split into two sections; these are known as the core curriculum and the elective curriculum. The majority of the curriculum is up to the student's discretion; they may choose from a variety of courses available online to them. In order to graduate, students will be required to complete 36 credit hours of coursework, a research project as a midpoint experience, and a thesis as a final project; a comprehensive written exam is required as well. Sample courses include Economics of War and Defense, Great Leaders in the United States Military History, and Resiliency for the Military Profession.

  4. Austin Peay State University

    Clarksville, TN



    Austin Peay State University offers students the chance to create their own online Master's in Military History. Through the school's history graduate program, students will find a curriculum that requires them to choose two fields to focus on during their studies; these include Military History, United States History, and World History. All three fields are found entirely online, meaning that students will never have to step foot on campus. The courses are also taught by renown historians, academics, and researchers, ensuring that every student is offered the chance to be taught by a professional who has years of real-world experience in their career field. Students will be expected to complete 30 credit hours of coursework in the primary and secondary fields, a capstone project or thesis, and a comprehensive written and oral exam. Sample courses include The Military Revolution and State, Warfare in the Classical World, and Cold War Political Diplomatic Issues.

  5. Southern New Hampshire University

    Manchester, NH



    Students at Southern New Hampshire University have the ability to earn the online military studies master's degree. This is an online degree that was designed to be on-demand, ensuring that all students would have access to their education whenever they had time to study. This school also provides courses on ten-week terms. Finishing in 15 months requires 2 courses per term, which is full-time. Students are also given access to professors who have relevant real-world experience as either veterans, historians, or scholars. The program was designed to give students a foundation in military history that they would then use to craft their own capstone project, which would focus on research of military history. Other requirements include 36 credit hours of coursework as well as a comprehensive written and oral exam. Sample courses include History of Military Thought, Comparative History and Research, and Historical Lenses and Scholarship.

  6. Wright State University

    Dayton, OH



    Wright State University provides students with the opportunity to earn an online master's in military history. This is a 100 percent online offering that can be completed in two year when a student studies full time. Online students interested in military history will want to choose the Course Intensive Track, which focuses their curriculum entirely on War and Society. The program of study focuses on research above all else. This is the main project of the entire curriculum and was designed to ensure that a student can effectively showcase their ability to work with historical primary and secondary sources as well as master writing the academic paper. Students must also complete 33 credit hours of coursework and a comprehensive written and oral exam. Sample courses include Topics in Military History, Approaches to History, and Seminar in the United States Foreign Relations.

  7. Sam Houston State University

    Huntsville, TX



    The military studies master's online degree at Sam Houston State University is a fantastic opportunity for students who are interested in becoming academics and scholars. The degree can be entirely completed online with no residency requirements ever, or students who live close to campus can choose the hybrid option so they choose when they show up to class on campus. Courses are delivered live and are set in the traditional 16-week academic term. Students will also find small class sizes are normal at SHSU, enabling them to freely converse with their professors. The faculty for the online program also supports the traditional program; professors at this university tend to be highly respected and credentialed in their field. Students will be able to choose a final project track that includes either a thesis or a seminar. Students will also need to complete 36 credit hours of coursework as well as a comprehensive written and oral exam. Sample courses include Seminar in Military History, The American Civil War and Reconstruction, and American Historiography.

  8. Norwich University

    Northfield, VT



    Norwich University provides an extensive online Master's in Military History, which could only be possible at the country's first private military college. This degree was designed for professionals who are interested in becoming historians or scholars in the realm of military history. This is an online degree that does require residency during graduation week; the university pays for meals and accommodation, but not travel, for this residency. Students will find that a large part of the curriculum requires critical thinking and research skills. This is because as a historical degree, most of the courses require an analysis or research paper based on different war theories and historical events. Courses are delivered on demand by professional military historians and scholars, ensuring that students are given valuable feedback on their papers that could not be found anywhere else. Students will find that this degree requires 36 credit hours of coursework, a capstone project or a thesis, and a comprehensive exam. Sample courses include Military Thought and Theory, Introduction to History and Historiography, and Race and Gender in Military History.

  9. Hawai'i Pacific University

    Honolulu, HI



    Hawai'i Pacific University is the home of an excellent online Master's in Military Studies. The school's Master of Arts in Diplomacy and Military Studies is an interdisciplinary view of how both diplomacy and military intervention play a role in world affairs. This degree is found wholly online and combines synchronous and asynchronous courses for the benefit of the students enrolled. This degree follows the traditional academic format and can be earned in around two years with full-time study. Students will find that this degree will require 36 credit hours of coursework, a final capstone project, and a comprehensive written exam. Sample courses include China's National Security and Modern Military Doctrine, Modern American Cultural Diplomacy: A Diplomacy of Peoples, and History of Military Thought.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Career Options for an Online Master's in Military Studies Degree?

Professionals who earn an online Master's in Military Studies often earn the degree in order to advance their own career in the military, government, intelligence agencies, or diplomatic community. It stands to reason, then, that nearly all career options in these communities would be open to a professional who has earned this degree.

It is important to note here that professionals who earn an advanced position with one of these entities tend to already be in service to them; a civilian simply cannot earn a graduate degree in this field and then expect to become a member of the military. Likewise, professionals wishing to enter into the diplomatic, government, or intelligence communities will often find that work experience is more important than their education.

However, there are a variety of career options that will open to these professionals once they have earned their degree. Some of these include:

  • Intelligence Analyst
  • Diplomatic Aide
  • Cyberwarfare Specialist
  • Homeland Security Analyst
  • Military Strategist
  • Historian
  • Author
  • Legislative Director of Foreign Affairs
  • Intelligence Special Agent
  • Military Research and Development Manager
  • Defense Consultant
  • Strategic Communication Specialist

How Much Can You Earn in this Field?

The current average salary for this field is $61,000. This is the salary for military historians and does not take into account working for the military, the intelligence community, or the government; these are salaries that are based on a pay grade that may rise significantly with continued work for the entity that a professional works in.

Many who earn a degree in military studies become professors; the median wage for this occupation is around $95,000. This takes into account the region in the country a professional works, public and private schools, and whether they are tenured or not.

It is difficult to ascertain the actual salary range for military studies; this is because a graduate degree can significantly alter a professional's salary from position to position. It is a difficult field to enter but an incredibly rewarding one, both in work satisfaction and in salary earned.

What are the Various Disciplines of Military Studies?

The field of military studies is a group of studies that focus on all of the aspects of the military. This can include everything from history and economics to warfare and counterterrorism. It is most associated with history, philosophy, and political science.

The field also encompasses government, economics, law, theory, and even research. Because this is considered an academic field, it should come as no surprise that research is a big part of the discipline; most professionals who join the field begin as researchers and scholars who focus on the history of the military in the United States.

Does This Degree Help Earn Advanced Positions in the Military or Government?

Yes, an online Master's in Military Studies can help in-service professionals advance their careers within both sectors. Mid-level government and military officials will find that earning this degree will show a sense of commitment and loyalty to the unbiased nature of the United States government and armed forces, which can ensure their rise in the ranks.

However, advancement isn't possible for every single career. For example, a Navy officer will not be awarded the position of Rear Admiral for earning this degree. Similarly, a Department of Defense analyst will not advance to an administration-level position. Those types of advancement are only available through hard work, consistent display of morals and ethics, and other achievements.

While this degree can't work miracles for a professional's career, it can lead to moving from a mid-level position to a senior level position, particularly if a professional has other expertise areas, such as linguistics or culture studies. If, for example, an analyst with one of the intelligence agencies earns a graduate degree in military studies and focuses on a specific region of interest, they may be promoted to a senior position.

Do You Have to be in the Military or in the Government to Earn This Degree?

No. While many of these schools do prefer students who have military or government work experience, it is not a requirement for any military studies program. The only exception to this rule is the programs that are available at military academies; those schools are only open to students who are serving in the military.

While it is true that many students who decide to pursue a graduate degree in military studies are in the military themselves, many also come to the field as researchers, educators, academics, and historians. Closing the program off to only active duty or retired military members or government officials makes little sense, especially since history in America is written by academics and not by the military itself.

Military studies is a specialized field that is most often studies by in-service professionals who wish to advance their standings in their careers. Now earning that graduate degree is easier than ever. Professionals should seriously consider earning an online Master's in Military Studies if they want to achieve their government or military career goals.

This concludes our ranking of the Top 10 Most Affordable Master's in Military Studies Online.

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