The 5 Best Master’s in Elementary Education Online

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Getting an online master’s in elementary education is a great way to advance your career, especially if you would like to become a principal, administrator, curriculum coordinator, or school counselor. Principals, for example, make a median salary of more than $94,000, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 8% growth in the field over the next 10 years.

Now is an exciting time to be a school leader. Education professionals drive student learning using innovative technologies and best practices.

In this ranking, our editors examine our picks of the top 5 Online Master’s for Elementary Education programs. For more generalized information regarding distance learning visit our ranking of the top online colleges.

Rating and Ranking Methodology
Tuition Points:

  • Under $35,000—1 points
  • Under $30,000—2 points
  • Under $25,000—3 points
  • Under $20,000—4 points
  • Under $15,000—5 points
  • Under $10,000—6 points
  • Under $5,000—7 points

US News and World Report Recognition as a Top Online School for Master’s in Engineering Programs

  • Top 5— 5 points
  • Top 10— 4 points
  • Top 25 —3 points
  • Top 50 —2 points
  • Top 75 —1 point

Customization Options

  • Format Customizations (e.g. Hybrid/Online, Full-time/Part-Time, Accelerated, Degree Completion, etc.)—1 Point Per Customization Option
  • Content Customizations (e.g. Minors, Concentrations, Specializations, etc.)—1 Point Per Customization Option (5-point cap)

Wow Factor

  • 1 point awarded for each unique feature or program that “wowed” us

Our editor started with a list of 35 colleges and then used our customized ranking methodology to shortlist the TOP 5. We were able to narrow these initial findings by applying a few factors such as affordability (average net price is capped at $35,000), program customization, return-on-investment, and career prospects. Finally, we used information from U.S. News & World Report as well as from each school’s website to apply the rating and ranking methodology above. In the event of a tie in points, the school with the lower tuition receives the higher ranking.

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Featured Online Schools

  • #1 – North Carolina State University

    Online Master’s in Elementary Education

    POINTS – 14


    NC State hosts a mostly online master’s in elementary educationonline in a hybrid format. Aimed at students seeking their first license to work in K-12 classrooms, the program consists mostly of web-based courses but also requires distance learners to travel to Raleigh for face-to-face classes. The university created the program for initial licensure and not for practicing teachers seeking advanced credentials or pre-doctoral studies.

    The program’s competencies include the integration of technology into the classroom, the ability to work with families and communities, and sensitivity to cultural diversity. The school constructed the curriculum around 15 credits of core courses. Degree seekers must complete an additional 18 credits in electives and in a specialty area. Specialties include language arts, elementary reading, elementary science, and instructional practice.

    The program follows an accelerated schedule, and full-time students earn their degrees in a year and a half.

    Tuition Fee:$452.88 per credit hour

  • #2 – East Carolina University

    Online Master’s in Elementary Education

    POINTS – 14


    East Carolina University established its online master’s degree inelementary educationfor working teachers. Not a licensure program, it serves as an advanced degree for educators who already hold a K-6 elementary teacher’s license. The 36-credit curriculum includes focused study in one of three concentration areas: content pedagogy, gifted education, and English as a second language. Graduates leave eligible for M-level licensure in North Carolina. Teachers should check with their own states to find out the requirements for advanced licensing.

    Program participants can enroll on a part- or full-time basis and complete all credits through the web. Most coursework runs asynchronously, though some professors hold real-time sessions. The curriculum splits into three parts: students must complete 12 credits in the professional core, 15 credits in the elementary core, and nine in their focus area.

    Tuition Fee:877.35 per credit hour

  • #3 – Oregon State University

    Online Master’s in Elementary Education

    POINTS – 13


    Students in Oregon State University’smaster of arts in teaching with an option in clinically based elementary educationprogram enroll in a cohort and complete most of their academic work online. In the first year, they teach as substitutes in Beaverton schools while taking classes. During the second year, participants teach full time in the classroom, earning a stipend. Graduates leave with an accumulated 650 hours of internship and practicum experience.

    The program requires three prerequisite courses: civil rights and multicultural issues; purpose, structure, and function of education in a democracy; and learning across the lifespan. Students must complete fingerprinting and background checks before working in classrooms.

    Admission requires a bachelor’s degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. OSU admits one cohort per year and offers a flat tuition rate for all distance learners.

    Tuition Fee: $538 per credit hour

  • #4 – Troy University

    Online Master’s in Elementary Education

    POINTS – 13


    The university offers amaster’s in elementary educationonline that gives students the option of taking some classes on campus. Optimized for working teachers, the program allows educators to continue in the classroom while furthering their career goals. Distance learners can earn all 36 credits through the web on a full- or part-time basis, or take classes on campus. Most classes run asynchronously in accelerated, nine-week terms.

    Troy recommends the elementary education master’s to teachers who want advanced credentials or want to continue on to a doctorate. Many graduates take leadership roles after completion of the program. The curriculum emphasizes lesson planning, student assessment, and development of research proposals. The program divides the curriculum between required core classes and teaching field courses.

    Tuition Fee: Resident –$494 per credit hour | Non-resident – $988 per credit hour

  • #5 – University of North Carolina – Charlotte

    Online Master’s in Elementary Education

    POINTS – 12


    UNC Charlotte created itsmaster of education in elementary educationfor veteran North Carolina teachers who want to add an advanced license to their list of credentials. Available entirely online, the program promotes a global, culturally sensitive educational philosophy. Distance learners enroll part-time and complete the program in three years or less. Educators select from among a variety of focus areas, including anti-racism, academically and intellectually gifted, English as a second language, and instructional systems technology.

    UNC Charlotte breaks the curriculum of its online master’s degree in elementary education into four parts. Phase I develops perspectives in cultural diversity. Phase II revolves around collaborative inquiry and research. Phase III includes investigative leadership. The final phase consists of electives and the concentration area. Most classes run asynchronously, but some may require real-time components.

    Tuition Fee: $872 per credit hour

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