Best Online Master's in Education Programs

If you're considering pursuing a master's degree in education online, look at these top schools. Explore available programs and focus areas, and learn about career and certification options. Schools offering Education degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Top Universities for Online Education Master's Degrees

There are a large number of schools that offer online master's degree programs in teaching and education. When choosing these programs, we considered factors such as cost, flexibility, and time to completion. Below are 10 of the top schools that offer online programs in education and teaching.

1. Concordia University-Chicago

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state)
River Forest, IL $9,180

Concordia University-Chicago offers several types of master's degree programs in education. Students can earn a master of arts in one of 18 specialty areas including teacher leadership, education technology, early childhood, special education, and differentiated instruction. The school also has a master of science program in instructional design and technology and a Master of Education in Teaching and Learning program. Students can earn their degree in as little as one year through entirely online curriculum requirements, and are able to enjoy small classes with a student-to-faculty ratio of 11:1.

2. Nova Southeastern University

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Fort Lauderdale, FL $20,620

Nova Southeastern University has three online master of science programs: education law, medical education, and education. Students interested in the MS in Education can choose one of 11 concentrations including reading education, educational leadership, mathematics education, and curriculum, instruction & technology. The cost per credit hour for tuition varies based on the chosen program and excludes registration fees. The programs at NSU are available entirely online through asynchronous learning, enabling students to work at their convenience.

3. East Carolina University

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Greenville, NC $7,485

The online Master of Arts in Education program at East Carolina University offers asynchronous fully online learning. Students can choose from 12 concentrations including adult education, instructional technology, physical education, and special education. In-state residents have a $249 per-credit-hour tuition fee and out-of-state residents have a tuition fee of $894 per credit hour. ECU's online programs are student-centered and provide various opportunities for interaction online such as forums and group assignments.

4. Mercy College

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Dobbs Ferry, NY $16,338

Mercy College has 16 master of science programs in education. These programs include nursing education, psychology and early childhood education, educational supervision, mathematics and adolescence education, and many more. Students have 24/7 access to their coursework and can apply to the school's honors program for networking and travel opportunities. Graduate education programs at Mercy College have a per-credit tuition rate of $897.

5. Harding University

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Searcy, AK $18,260

Harding University has an entirely online Master of Arts: Excellence in Teaching program that consists of 35 credit hours. Students can choose a concentration/endorsement in gifted & talented, teaching English as a second language, early childhood/special education (birth-K), dyslexia therapist, or special education resource (K-6 or 7-12). Harding lets students individualize their degree plans and charges a per-credit fee of $491.

Rank School Name Location Tuition & Fees (in-state)
6 Holy Family University Philadelphia, PA $13,798
7 University of the Cumberlands Williamsburg, KY $5,970
8 New England College Henniker, NH $13,560
9 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA $8,333
10 Western Governors University Salt Lake City, UT $7,790

All statistics provided by the National Center for Education Statistics, tuition & fees based on the 2018-2019 school year

Learn.org's school ranking methodology categorizes and assesses data from schools and other reliable sources, such as the U.S. Department of Education, and weighs the information based on quality, cost, value and other factors critical to students' academic decisions.

How to Choose an Online Teaching Master's Program

There are several factors that you should consider when choosing a school and program for an online master's degree in teaching.

Programs Offered

Firstly, identify what program is right for you. Are you a non-educator seeking to switch careers, or do you have experience in education and want to advance in your role? Many schools offer programs for teacher advancement and non-teacher transitioning, but not all schools offer both online. Check with your school to ensure that they offer your ideal program online.

Accreditation

There are two types of accreditation to be aware of: accreditation for schools and accreditation of programs. Schools may be accredited by various agencies, and teacher education programs are often accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. This distinction means the school has met certain quality standards. It may also be important when it comes time to get a teaching license.

Residency Requirements

Many online master's programs in education are available entirely online without on-site requirements, but there are exceptions. Some programs may require students to attend events such as orientation or networking. In addition, programs that are more practice-focused may require students to complete teaching practice as part of their curriculum. Check with your school to see if you'll need to complete any in-person requirements.

Cost

Online education master's programs can vary greatly in costs, and may involve various other fees. For example, you might be considering a school that offers a total program tuition of $15,000 but has additional registration, technical, and other fees. Ask your school if the program cost is a flat-rate fee or if there are itemized fees in addition to the program tuition.

Flexibility

Flexibility is one of the most vital things to consider when choosing your program. You may need part-time or full-time study to work with your schedule. Decide how many courses you can manage and see if your programs allow your desired pace of study. In addition, consider if you prefer asynchronous learning, which allows you to study at your convenience, or programs with more synchronous (scheduled) features.

Online Education Master's Program Overview

Online education master's degree programs may award students one of these four common types of degrees:

  • Master of Arts in Education: These degree programs often provide students with an education-focused curriculum and some studies in other subject areas based on student interests. Graduates may be prepared for roles in teaching, curriculum design, and instructional coordinators.
  • Master of Science in Education: Similar to the MA program, MS in Education programs provide a technical approach to educational knowledge and practice.
  • Master of Education: These programs explore methods for classroom instruction but emphasize practices and theories of teaching. Graduates of these programs often pursue positions in instructional and school leadership.
  • Master of Arts in Teaching: These programs are focused on practices and implications of teaching, are well suited for students with a non-education bachelor's degree, and may lead to licensure. Graduates of MAT programs typically pursue roles in teaching.

Your previous education and work experience may make one of the above programs more well-suited than other programs. While many programs are offered 100% online, some may require students to complete some student teaching practicums as part of their curriculum. Programs that lead to licensure will typically have practicum requirements.

Most online programs offer coursework and other components through a third-party learning portal. Prior to the beginning of classes, you may be required to complete an online tutorial or orientation that helps you become familiar with the platform. These portals may contain assignments, forums, exams, messages, and lectures.

The degrees mentioned above will typically offer concentrations or emphasis areas that enable students to focus their education in a specific field or group. Some of the offered concentrations in education master's degree programs are:

  • Adult Education
  • Art Education
  • Birth-K Education
  • Curriculum and Instruction
  • Differentiated Instruction
  • Early Childhood Education
  • Early Childhood Special Education
  • Educational Administration
  • Educational Leadership
  • Elementary Education
  • English as a Second Language
  • English Education
  • Higher Education Leadership
  • Instructional Technology
  • Mathematics Education
  • Middle Grades Education
  • Physical Education
  • Reading Education
  • Science Education
  • Spanish Education
  • Special Education
  • Special Education Leadership
  • Teacher Leadership
  • Teaching and Learning

How Long Will It Take?

Program length can vary based on the experience of students, course load and the specific degree being pursued. Most programs consist of 30 to 40 credit hours and can be completed in as few as one or two years. Some programs may have more flexibility, allowing students to progress through the curriculum at a slower pace.

Common Courses in Education Master's Programs

Online education master's degree programs consist of a variety of classes. While specific topics vary with focus area, students typically take foundational courses as well as courses focused on their specific field of study. Some common foundational courses in online master's in education programs are listed below.

  • Educational Research - Students explore research methods, statistical methods, and research evaluation.
  • Leadership in Education - These courses cover communication and leadership skills in educational settings.
  • Instructional Strategies - Students learn various strategies and approaches to teaching.
  • Education Law - Education law classes discuss the regulatory and legal implications in education.
  • Trends and Issues in Education - These courses explore various issues affecting educators and schools.
  • Assessment - Assessment strategies for effective learning are discussed in these courses.

Licensure & Certification for Educators

All states require licensure for educators in K-12 and some may require licensure for early childhood as well. In order to become licensed, individuals need to complete a Teacher Preparation Program and pass applicable exams. The exams required will vary based on state and subject/role. For example, an educator who wants to teach high school mathematics may need to take exams in higher education mathematics, while someone who wants to teach elementary school may need to take a more broad-subject exam. In many cases, these will include a Praxis I exam.

Upon passing the required exams, educators may be issued a preliminary (non-renewable) or permanent (renewable license). In order to keep licensure, educators will need to maintain teaching positions and may also be required to complete some professional development/continuing education.

After teaching for three years, teachers can obtain National Board Certification. This certification allows teachers to have easier state transfer processes, higher salaries, and additional networking opportunities.

What Can You Do with an Online Master's in Education?

Graduates of an education master's degree program can work in various roles in education. Depending on their chosen specialization area, they may qualify to work as educators, administrators, or coordinators. Educators in early, middle, and secondary education require licensure to teach. Many careers that are obtained by education graduates are listed below.

Adult Literacy and High School Equivalency Diploma Teachers

These educators teach adults various topics such as reading, English speaking, and writing. They may provide adult basic education, English as a second language education, or high school equivalency/secondary education.

Postsecondary Teachers

Postsecondary teachers provide instruction to students beyond high school. Those with a master's degree typically teach in their field of study. Their duties may include teaching, assessing students, and designing course content.

High School Teachers

High school teachers typically teach one or more subjects in their specialty area to high school (grades 9-12) students. They may teach subjects such as mathematics, English, art, or English as a second language.

Instructional Coordinators

Instructional coordinators help develop, implement, and maintain educational materials and curriculum. They may also plan and direct teacher training, review student assessment data, and revise curricula as needed. Instructional coordinators may work specifically with certain subjects or grade levels.

Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals

These principals typically direct and oversee most or all of their school's operations. They may manage educators and staff, coordinate educational procedures, and consult with students. Principals may also meet with parents, discipline students, and establish school security procedures.

Middle School Teachers

Middle school teachers may teach a broad range of subjects or focus on specific subjects such as science and mathematics. They create and carry out lessons, work with students to help them succeed, and develop classroom policies and rules. They may also supervise students outside of class in settings such as detention and lunchrooms.

Special Education Teachers

Special education teachers teach and work with students who have physical, learning, emotional and/or mental disabilities. They modify lessons to meet the needs of their students, as well as create student-specific activities and Individualized Education Programs. Special education teachers often work with other teachers in their school to ensure that students' educational needs are being met.

Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers usually teach a broad range of subjects to elementary and kindergarten students. Some of these teachers specialize in areas such as music, physical education, and art. Their duties typically include observing and evaluating students, instruction students, meeting with parents, and enforcing classroom rules.

Preschool and Childcare Center Directors

Preschool and childcare center directors manage and direct staff, activities, and budgets. They are responsible for the overall program/center. Their duties may include designing program goals and practices, developing standards, maintaining learning outcomes, and ensuring facility maintenance.

Career and Technical Education Teachers

Career and technical education teachers teach subjects such as cosmetology and auto repair. They typically have a bachelor's degree in their field of expertise; those with a master's degree in education and applicable licensure may have preference over their competition. These teachers may work in secondary or postsecondary schools.

Postsecondary Education Administrators

Postsecondary education administrators oversee various departments and operations within a university, depending on their role. They may manage academics, research, or student services. Their duties may include deciding how many students will be admitted to the school, reviewing student applications, plan commencements, and scheduling programs.

Job Title Median Annual Salary (2018) Estimated Job Growth (2018-2028)
Adult Literacy and High School Equivalency Diploma Teachers $53,630 -10%
Postsecondary Teachers $78,470 11%
High School Teachers $60,320 4%
Instructional Coordinators $64,450 6%
Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals $95,310 4%
Middle School Teachers $58,600 3%
Special Education Teachers $59,780 3%
Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers $57,980 3%
Preschool and Childcare Center Directors $47,940 7%
Career and Technical Education Teachers $56,750 -1%
Postsecondary Education Administrators $94,340 7%

Salary and outlook information provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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