August 9, 2020
QUICK DEGREE FINDER is an advertising-supported site. Featured programs and school search results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other information published on this site.

Are Graduate Programs With a Lower Acceptance Rate Usually More Expensive?

Graduate students researching graduate schools often wonder if graduate programs with a lower acceptance rate are usually more expensive. Selective colleges and universities can have acceptance rates as low as five percent, and it’s often assumed that selective schools have higher tuition and fees. Different factors affect the cost of tuition, with private universities having higher costs than public universities. Graduate programs with lower acceptance rates are usually more expensive than programs offered at schools with higher acceptance rates.

Selective Schools and Higher Tuition and Fees

Selective schools, those only accepting up to 35 percent of applicants, do have higher costs on average than schools with higher acceptance rates. The overall higher tuition and fees means that graduate programs will cost more than graduate programs at less prestigious schools. Prestige is what differentiates a selective school with strict admissions policies from an average school with less stringent admissions policies. Many Ivy League schools have low acceptance rates and high costs, but not necessarily because the programs offered are superior to competing programs at other schools. CNBC explains that to attract students, prestigious universities spend millions renovating buildings or building new facilities and also recruit top instructors that demand higher pay. Leisure and entertainment amenities are another way these universities try to attract students, and when endowments get low these costs are passed on to students through rising tuition. So when wondering are graduate programs with a lower acceptance rate usually more expensive, keep in mind that many factors affect tuition costs.

Graduate Program Cost Comparisons

Applicants will find that schools with lower acceptance rates have higher tuition rates, although selective schools may offer a set tuition rate for all students rather than utilizing in-state and out-of-state tuition options. For example, New York University is a selective school with an average acceptance rate of around 35 percent and their doctorate of physical therapy degree is over $130,000, while Florida International University, which accepts almost half of its applicants, charges a little over $75,000 for the same degree. However, the lower cost is only for residents of Florida. Those applying from out of state will pay over $130,000 for the doctorate in physical therapy degree, which is the same as the costs at New York University, a school with a proven lower acceptance rate to its graduate programs.

Costs and Quality

The cost of a graduate program at a selective school will have a higher price tag, but the quality of the program may be comparable to a graduate program offered by a less selective school. Compare in-state and out-of-state tuition with set tuition rates when comparing graduate programs. In many cases, the out-of-state tuition rates will rival the set tuition charged by a school with low acceptance rates. U.S. News provides an annual ranking of graduate programs by school, which makes it easy to research tuition and fees.
Lower acceptance rates do usually mean more expensive programs, but that doesn’t mean the quality of the program is superior to another school. Prospective graduate students will find that most selective schools have fees comparable to other schools, especially when paying out-of-state tuition. This should help answer the question about if graduate programs with a lower acceptance rate usually more expensive.

Another helpful resource:

Top 20 Master’s Degree Programs at Smaller Colleges in the North