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Best Online Secondary Education Degree Programs

Degrees in secondary education are offered online at all levels by many colleges and universities. Before enrolling in a program, there is a lot of information to be considered and many questions to ask.

Top Secondary Education Online Degree Programs

Listed below are the top 35 online degree programs in secondary education. To choose them, we looked at affordability, faculty quality, flexibility and the number of programs available that might lead to roles in secondary education. Let's take a look at the first five in more detail.

1. Auburn University

LocationTuition & Fees% Receiving Financial Aid
Auburn, AL$11,27675%

Auburn University offers three online hybrid degree programs in elementary and secondary school administration: Master of Education, Education Specialist, and Doctor of Philosophy. All of these programs prepare individuals to step into instructional and administrative leadership roles in K-12 schools. Students in these online, graduate-level programs get access to one-on-one tutoring through the Miller Writing Center.

2. University of Maine

LocationTuition & Fees% Receiving Financial Aid
Orono, ME$11,170100%

The University of Maine offers three online degrees in this field: a Master of Arts in Teaching, a Master of Education in Curriculum, Assessment, and Instruction (Elementary and Secondary Education) and an Education Specialist in Curriculum, Assessment, and Instruction (Elementary and Secondary Education). The Master of Arts in Teaching is a blended program, meaning that there are online elements in addition to traditional classroom learning. The Master of Education and Education Specialist in Curriculum, Assessment, and Instruction programs are 100% online.

3. Mississippi University for Women

LocationTuition & Fees% Receiving Financial Aid
Columbus, MS$6,940100%

The Master of Arts in Teaching allows students to take a different path toward certification as a secondary education teacher. The program is offered completely online, and there are 17 certification areas from which students can choose, including subjects such as English, chemistry, biology, social studies, and Spanish. Students in this program have a chance to participate in a paid internship. Tuition per semester is quite affordable for this type of program; students pay $3,712.50 per semester for up to 13 credits.

4. University of Southern Mississippi

LocationTuition & Fees% Receiving Financial Aid
Hattiesburg and Long Beach, MS$8,62494%

At the University of Southern Mississippi, the Master of Arts in Teaching is an alternative route to earning a certification as a secondary education teacher, which means students can teach while earning their master's degrees and licensure. The 14 specialization areas in which certification can be earned include subjects such as physical education, mathematics, home economics, and library media.

5. Chaminade University of Honolulu

LocationTuition & Fees% Receiving Financial Aid
Honolulu, HI $25,37499%

A Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education, a Master of Arts in Teaching in Secondary Education (6-12), and a Doctorate of Education are offered online through Chaminade University of Honolulu. For the bachelor's degree, students are required to successfully complete a minimum of 120 credit hours and may select one of the following specializations: science, social studies, English, or mathematics. The master's degree focuses on leadership - teacher, instructional, or educational - and the doctorate focuses on indigenous leadership, organizational development, or educational leadership.

RankInstitution NameLocationPublished in-state tuition% Receiving Financial Aid
6Missouri State University-SpringfieldSpringfield, MO$7,37695%
7University of Maine at Fort KentFort Kent, ME$8,11595%
8Georgia College & State UniversityMilledgeville, GA$9,34696%
9Western Kentucky UniversityBowling Green, KY$10,51296%
10Fort Hays State UniversityHays, KS$5,13098%
11Marshall UniversityHuntington, WV$8,12896%
12Old Dominion UniversityNorfolk, VA$10,56093%
13Southeast Missouri State UniversityCape Girardeau, MO$7,41896%
14Eastern Kentucky UniversityRichmond, KY$9,66699%
15Northern Arizona UniversityFlagstaff, AZ$11,56494%
16Harding UniversitySearcy, AR$19,84599%
17Troy UniversityTroy, AL$8,90894%
18Southwestern Oklahoma State UniversityWeatherford and Sayre, OK$7,33593%
19The University of AlabamaTuscaloosa, AL$10,78080%
20Northwestern State University of LouisianaNatchitoches, LA$7,92297%
21Ball State UniversityMuncie, IN$9,89690%
22University of Saint Francis-Fort WayneFort Wayne, IN$30,430100%
23Baker UniversityBaldwin City, KS$29,830100%
24University of Missouri-St LouisSt. Louis, MO$9,79295%
25Clemson UniversityClemson, SC$15,37493%
26University of South AlabamaMobile, AL$8,39695%
27Wisconsin Lutheran CollegeMilwaukee, WI$29,725100%
28Black Hills State UniversitySpearfish, SD$8,73391%
29University of North TexasDenton, TX$10,85281%
30DeSales UniversityCenter Valley, PA$37,400100%
31Gwynedd Mercy UniversityLower Gwynedd Township, PA$33,600100%
32University of New Mexico-Main CampusAlbuquerque, NM$7,63396%
33Georgia Southern UniversityStatesboro, GA$6,35690%
34Saint Joseph's UniversityPhiladelphia and Lower Merion, PA$44,97498%
35Aurora UniversityAurora, IL$24,260100%

All statistics provided by the National Center for Education Statistics, tuition based on 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.

Considerations When Choosing an Online Secondary Education Program

As with any other type of college program, it's important to look at some of the practical considerations when it comes to choosing a program in secondary education. Let's look at aspects such as program length, practical experience, online readiness, and other important elements of secondary education programs.

What is Secondary Education?

Secondary education is usually defined as grades 6-12 or 7-12, depending on the state, and the teachers specialize in specific subjects. Their college education includes many courses in teaching at the secondary school level in addition to their academic subject of choice.

How Long Does It Take to Complete a Secondary Education Program?

Typically, a bachelor's degree is the minimum credential needed to become a middle or high school teacher. Bachelor's degrees often take about four years to complete. For individuals pursuing a graduate certificate or degree in secondary education, it can take as little as 12 months to complete online but typically takes around 2 years.

Will I Need Practical Experience to Complete a Secondary Education Program?

Usually, individuals who enroll in secondary education programs will conduct numerous observations of experienced teachers. They will also 'student teach,' which is usually completed near the end of the program and places the student with an experienced teacher who will help the student learn and practice presentation skills and lesson design and delivery. The student-teacher will also participate in all activities in which teachers engage, such as grading papers, attending meetings, and other administrative tasks.

Other Questions to Ask

Let's look at some questions you might want to ask when choosing an online program.

  • Do I have the hardware and software I'll need? - Online learning has minimum technology requirements. For example, students need reliable Internet access and a computer with enough specs to meet the software and streaming requirements.
  • Does the school's coursework cover what I need? Secondary education is a bit more specialized and so states often include special licensure exams for teachers who will be teaching subjects like math, social studies or technology. Make sure your school's curricula cover the topics that will be on your state's exams.
  • Do I have enough time to take online classes? - It's common for online courses to take from 9-12 hours a week in reading, writing, and studying. It's important to understand how much time you can fit into your schedule of work and family.
  • Are the classes hybrid, blended, or completely online? - Hybrid courses place a portion of what is usually presented in the physical classroom online for students to view, while blended courses use online enrichment materials to supplement the curriculum. Both hybrid and blended courses sometimes meet in traditional classrooms but have online components.

What Types of Online Degrees are Available in Secondary Education?

Online degrees in secondary education are available at all post-secondary levels. Specializations include the 'core' topics of mathematics, science, and English as well as more 'niche' subjects such as foreign languages, industrial education, and physical education. At the graduate level, specializations often include leadership or management tracks for secondary education.

What Are Some Common Courses in Online Secondary Education Programs?

Students in secondary education programs take a number of core courses that relate directly to the art of teaching. Some of the most common courses are listed below:

  • Leadership - Many graduate programs in secondary education focus on leadership in the classroom, department, and school. These courses help prepare educators for the challenges of modern education.
  • Supervision - Supervision courses typically focus on the classroom. They help students practice their classroom management and discipline skills.
  • Legal and Ethical Issues - There are many legal and ethical issues facing today's educators. These courses help them recognize when issues arise and how best to deal with them.
  • Assessment - These courses help educators develop various methods for evaluating student progress. This, in turn, helps educators as they develop lesson plans.
  • Curriculum Development - While some educators are handed curricula that have already been developed by either an in-school team or an outside source, many educators supplement the curricula. These courses help the educator understand how curricula are planned, developed, and delivered.

What Job Options are Available With an Online Degree in Secondary Education?

There are many careers where a degree in secondary education may be helpful or required. Let's take a look at a few of them.

  • Secondary Education Teacher - According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' May 2019 numbers, the median salary for secondary school teachers is $61,660. Teachers have many responsibilities aside from presenting material to students in a classroom. Some of those duties include lesson planning, grading student work, and completing various administrative responsibilities.
  • Secondary Education Principals - The median salary for secondary school principals was $96,400, as of 2019. Principals oversee all educational and administrative activities in their schools. Usually, additional supervisory certification or licensure is needed to fill this position.
  • Instructional Coordinator - Overseeing the planning, development, and delivery of curricula are the primary responsibilities in this position. As of 2019, the median earnings for this position were $66,290.
  • Human Resource Manager - A background in education could be a good fit in the role of human resource manager. Median earnings were $116,720 for this position. Again, the skills learned while studying secondary education are a real plus in this job.
  • Training and Development - Training and development managers earn a median salary of $113,350. Training and development specialists earned $61,210, The skills learned in curriculum development, assessment, classroom supervision, and other secondary education courses are needed in these positions.

The table below offers salaries and job outlooks for each of the careers mentioned above.

OccupationMedian Salary (2019)*Job Outlook (2018-2028)*
Human Resource Manager$116,7207%
Training and Development Manager$113,3508%
Secondary Education Principal$96,4004%
Instructional Coordinator$66,2906%
Training and Development Specialist$61,2109%
Secondary Education Teacher$61,6604%

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Is Accreditation Important?

Yes, accreditation IS important! Without accreditation by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and/or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, a school cannot offer federal financial aid to its students. Also, accreditation is a stamp of approval that shows the school has been evaluated by an outside agency and proven its ability to meet high standards.

Types of Accreditation

There are two common kinds of accreditation: institutional and programmatic. Institution accreditation is awarded when a school, in its totality, has met the standards of the accreditor.

In the U.S., there are regional and national institutional accreditors. Typically, the regional accreditors work with non-profit, public and private colleges and universities, and the national accreditors usually work with for-profit colleges and universities.

  • Regional Accreditors - The Council for Higher Education Administration recognizes six regional accreditors: Higher Learning Commission, Middle States Commission on Higher Education, New England Commission of Higher Education, Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, and WASC Senior College and University Commission.
  • National Accreditors - Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges, Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training, Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, Council on Occupational Education, Distance Education Accrediting Commission are some of the national accreditation bodies recognized by the Council for Higher Education Administration.

It's important to note that regional creditors are typically held in higher regard than national accreditors. In fact, some states require teachers to have graduated from a regionally accredited institution.

Programmatic accreditation focuses on specific programs, and there are far too many of these accreditors to list here. For teacher education programs, a body approved by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) is a good place to start.

What Types of Financial Aid Are Available for Students in Secondary Education Programs?

Loans, scholarships, and grants are the most common types of financial aid available to prospective college students. Financial aid is available from the federal government, federal agencies, and individual states.

  • Loans - Loans, whether from the federal government or a private lending source, must be paid back over time. Repayment on federal government loans starts six months after an individual has left school. The repayment of private loans is described in the loan documents.
  • Grants - Grants do not have to be paid back as long as the terms of the grant are met. The most common grants are the Pell Grant and the FSEO Grant. Prospective teachers may also qualify for TEACH grants if they are willing to take certain classes, teach in subjects where there is great need, and take teaching jobs in low-income areas; however, if the individual doesn't fulfill the terms of the TEACH grant, it will convert to a loan and will have to be paid back.
  • Scholarships - There are many scholarships available to students who are willing to apply. They can be program-specific or general in nature. Scholarships don't have to be paid back but can be rescinded if the student doesn't continue to meet the requirements.

Two additional kinds of financial aid available to graduate students are fellowships and assistantships.

  • Assistantships - It is common to find graduate assistants, or those graduate students who have been awarded assistantships, teaching freshman-level courses in their area of concentration. Usually, assistantships are paid, and some include room and board.
  • Fellowships - Fellowships are usually designed to help graduate students actively practice in their chosen profession while developing their leadership skills. While some fellowships may extend for years, most are of relatively short duration. It is common for fellowships to be paid through salary, grant, or stipend.

Are There Alternative Online Teaching Degrees?

As mentioned earlier in this article, some schools offer alternative routes that allow individuals to teach while earning their degrees. Often, these programs are designed for people who are changing careers or who already work in schools and want to move into the classroom. There may be degree-completion programs for individuals who already possess an associate's degree that puts them on track to earn a bachelor's degree in teaching. Other programs could be designed for bachelor's degree holders in education or another subject area. It is important to check with the Department of Education in the state where you will be teaching to find out what its requirements are for certification or licensure and what alternative programs are available.