Best Online Master’s in Education Programs 2021

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Masters in Education

Education boasts a wide variety of opportunities. In the changing landscape of teaching and learning, majoring in education no longer means only teaching in a classroom. Someone pursuing a master’s degree in education may work as an education technologist, curriculum developer, ESL specialist, school counselor, or education administrator.

Students can complete many online master’s degrees in education, such as those related to technology or administration, in as few as 16-18 months. Master’s in education (M.Ed.) programs related to counseling and social work may take 20-30 months. Likewise, some education programs require teaching certification, while others do not. Schools typically require a minimum 2.5 GPA for entry.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, starting salaries for holders of a master’s degree in education can range from $55,000-$70,000, depending on the role and previous work experience. The BLS projects the job outlook for secondary teachers to grow 4% between 2019 and 2029. Postsecondary teacher positions are projected to grow 9%.

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  • What can you do with a master's degree in education?

    A master’s degree in education may qualify you to work as a school counselor, special education expert, or curriculum developer.

  • How long does it take to get a master's in education?

    Master’s degree in education programs typically last about 18 months. For students who focus on counseling or social work, completion may take 24-36 months.

  • What is the difference between a master of arts in teaching and a master of education?

    Students pursuing an MA in teaching aim to gain expertise in lesson planning, instructions, and working directly with students. Students pursuing an M.Ed. aim to advance their career outside the classroom, such as in administration or curriculum design.

  • How much does a master's in education cost?

    A master’s degree in education may cost between $6,500-$15,000 for in-state students. Out-of-state students pay as much as $40,000.

What Can I Do With an Education Degree?

Education programs at the master’s level empower educators to fill leadership, support, and specialist roles. While classroom teachers with a bachelor’s degree may teach effectively, a master’s in curriculum and instruction, for example, affords teachers even greater awareness of learning theories, design principles, and pedagogical approaches. This, in turn, makes them lead instructors or curriculum specialists in their school or district.

Likewise, earning an M.Ed. in instructional design and technology combines educators’s content expertise with technology tools. This optimizes accessibility and allows for more engaging and dynamic delivery of courses, improving learning outcomes. Educators more interested in guiding students socially and emotionally may pursue an M.Ed. in school counseling. Only with this degree can a classroom teacher transition to a human development role that coordinates in-school and community services as part of student advocacy.

Accreditation for an Education Program

Accreditation is an important consideration when choosing an education program. Schools recognize both regional and national accreditation. Credits that students receive from a nationally accredited school may transfer only to other nationally accredited schools. Credits from a regionally accredited school are typically accepted by both regionally and nationally accredited schools.

Six regional accrediting agencies oversee institutions in their particular region. Nationally accredited schools are often for-profit colleges that accumulate revenue through enrollment or selling educational products. They offer more relaxed admission standards and typically do not enjoy the prestige of regionally accredited schools.

Learners should therefore prioritize schools with regional accreditation status. Many online programs boast regional accreditation. If that fails, learners can review schools accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission and Distance Education and Training Council. Note, however, that these bodies are associated with national accreditation, and credits may not easily transfer.

What Are the Requirements for an Education Program?

Most master’s degree in education programs require a minimum 2.5 GPA for entrance. That said, requirements vary by school. Many programs no longer require a GRE score, but some schools and specializations still do.

Some programs may require learners to be currently employed in a K-12 school, an institution of higher education, or in the learning and development department of a corporation. Students often need to maintain a 3.0 GPA to stay in the program. Most programs also require a capstone course in which students synthesize their learning from all previous courses. Some education programs require comprehensive examinations at the end.

Courses in an Education Program

An education degree at the master’s level typically involves 30-36 credit hours. Some specializations require 45-60 credits. Many schools deliver classes in 5-8 week slots. Others still follow the more traditional structure.

Often, students can choose certain areas of emphasis, such as literacy, gifted education, or English as a second language. Courses include models of training, effective instruction, and adult learning. Learners focusing on administration and supervision may take leadership, finance, and policy classes. Students interested in education technology may take classes such as designing online learning and digital learning in the local and global contexts.

In all of these courses, students practice research and analysis skills by seeking out information; reflecting; and writing about past, current, and emerging theories on best practices.

Students in this course explore theories of constructivist epistemology used to create student-centered learning environments. Learners create active and engaging learning environments that use technology to enhance learning, increase motivation for learning, and engage the learner. Aspiring educators learn to leverage technology in their classrooms to meet the needs of 21st century students.

This course teaches students about current philosophies of academic advising, broad categories of 21st century college students, and best practices in working with diverse student populations. Coursework may include scenario-based learning in which students receive feedback on responses in different situations.

This course provides an overview of the teaching profession and current educational contexts. It also focuses on historical and cultural influences on preK-12 education in the U.S. The course addresses standards-based curriculum, legal and ethical requirements, and professionalism. Students may need to take the course near the beginning of their program, as it sets the stage for an educator’s role in society.

In this course, students learn to assess behavior and incorporate developmental, ethical, legal, and gender-appropriate strategies to meet the needs of young people. Learners examine various theoretical, behavioral, and play-therapy techniques to understand and help children and adolescents. Schools need competent and sensitive school counselors to address the challenging and complex experiences of young people.

In the wake of COVID-19, more and more educators need to learn how to deliver digital content to students in an effective and engaging way. This course teaches master’s students to innovate as they create online and blended learning classes. Educators learn how to use intentional design strategies to ensure technology enhances learning. As competency-based learning grows in demand and popularity, delivering classes digitally using various tools and methods is crucial for educators at all levels.

Professional Organizations for Education Students

Professional organizations for educators provide support, resources, and knowledge related to effective teaching, continued development, and employment rights. In addition, professional organizations link educators to job prospects, mentoring programs, and networking opportunities. Membership can help ensure that education professionals stay abreast of current trends, policy changes, and new developments.

  • The Association of American Educators AAE is the largest national, non-union professional educators' organization. It offers a modern approach to teacher representation and educational advocacy. It also promotes professionalism, collaboration, and excellence without a partisan agenda. Membership is open to any employee of an educational entity. Student teachers, retired educators, and associate members may join at a reduced rate.

  • National Education Association NEA ensures that as many Americans as possible receive access to quality education. It also serves as an advocate for teachers all over the nation. It helps educators fight for fair pay and benefits, inclusive work spaces, and bargaining. The organization currently boasts 3 million members and continues to grow. Teachers and para-professionals may join as members. Friends, parents, and community members may join as allies.

  • Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development ASCD is a nonprofit that represents approximately 150,000 educators worldwide. Its members include teachers, administrators and other professionals. Membership affords people various benefits and professional development opportunities. Members also get a subscription to Educational Leadership, a magazine that reports on facts, techniques, and information regarding educating students.

  • National Association for the Education of Young Children NAEYC promotes high-quality learning and development for children up to age eight. It currently boasts 60,000 individual members and 52 affiliates. The website encourages participation in online communities to engage in rich conversation. Specialized forum topics include Asian interest, Black caucus interest, and Tribal and Indigenous early childhood network.

Scholarships for Education Students

Unfortunately, many people face financial barriers to acquiring higher education. Scholarships are available, however, for students in all fields of study. Often, scholarships require writing an original essay describing how a student plans to use their degree for a career or as a means of giving back to their community.

“Inspire Our Future” Scholarship

Who Can Apply: From, this scholarship helps pay for tuition and related school expenses. It caters to new teachers and to teachers hoping to continue their education. Applicants must be 18 years of age or older to apply, hold a minimum 3.5 GPA, and be currently enrolled at an accredited college or university. Applicants need to write a 500-700 word response to a form question.
Amount: $500

STEM Teacher Graduate Scholarships

Who Can Apply: This scholarship caters to graduate students and those seeking licensure or certification at an accredited university. Applicants must be U.S. citizens with the intent to teach STEM in K-12 schools in the United States. Recipients must be enrolled in two courses at the time of application. Those seeking licensure or certification must already hold a bachelor of science degree in a STEM field.
Amount: $2,500

George Bornoff Memorial Scholarship Fund

Who Can Apply: This scholarship offers awards annually for teachers returning to graduate school for a master’s degree in music education. Applicants must be current members of ASTA (American String Teachers Association) and be string teachers in their first five years of teaching. Applicants must submit a resume, two recommendation letters, and a 250-word essay explaining their career goals in music education.
Amount: $800

Best Online Master's in Education Programs 2021

  • #1 University of the Cumberlands

    Williamsburg, KY

    Master of education


    A private nonprofit institution, University of the Cumberlands offers an online master’s degree in education. UC receives its accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    The education program gives licensed educators a chance to further develop knowledge and skills to enhance effectiveness in their role. UC offers several specializations completely online, including literacy specialist, school counseling, and teacher as leader. Students may take up to two courses every eight-week term. The program permits lapses in enrollment for no longer than one year.

    With registrar, department chair, and advisor approval, incoming students may transfer up to nine graduate credits from an accredited education program. Each student receives a student success coordinator and academic advisor who oversee the student’s pathway to timely course completions and graduation.

    Tuition: $5,970

    School Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

  • #2 Concordia University Chicago

    River Forest, IL

    Master of education


    A private 4-year university located in River Forest, IL, Concordia University Chicago offers education degrees online, on campus, and in a hybrid format. Please note that the program does not provide all specializations in all formats.

    The master’s degree in education program takes 12-24 months. Students can expect to complete 30-39 credits to earn their education degree. Courses include school age curriculum for ages 6-8, differentiation and learning theory, and using technology to build learning communities. Enrollees also study teaching social studies and school finance and business management.

    Students can specialize in ESL, early childhood education, and education specialist in the district. Other options include educational technology and early childhood special education. Admission for some specializations requires a short essay describing your particular interest in the program, as well as a valid teaching license.

    Tuition: $9,180

    School Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

  • #3 Western New Mexico University

    Silver City, NM

    Master of education


    Western New Mexico University offers most of its education programs online, asynchronously. This allows students to access course assignments anytime, anywhere. Learners can get their master’s degree in education in teaching, educational leadership, or school counseling.

    A student pursuing an education degree at WNMU might take child and adolescent counseling, substance abuse counseling, or history and philosophy of education. Other courses include legal aspects of education, teaching of reading, and theoretical models of reading.

    Admission to education programs at WNMU requires admission to the graduate division and to the program within the college of education. Students need to submit their transcripts from other schools, a resume, and a statement of purpose.

    Tuition: $595,3.5

    School Type: Public, 4-year or above

  • #4 Wilmington University

    New Castle, DE

    Master of education


    A private nonprofit university located in New Castle, Delaware, Wilmington University prides itself on letting students advance their education from the comfort of their own homes and devices. WU’s online students enjoy access to the same support services as on-campus students, delivered in an accessible online format. These services include advising, tutoring, and library resources.

    Options for a master’s degree in education include education studies, education (licensure), and elementary and secondary school counseling. Wilmington also offers a graduate certificate in e-learning design and technology. Expert faculty, actively practicing in the field, teach all the courses.

    Wilmington offers open admissions. In most cases, programs do not require standardized test scores or a minimum GPA. Students may enroll to begin coursework at any one of six start dates per year: two each spring, summer, and fall.

    Tuition: $8,636

    School Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

  • #5 Lamar University

    Beaumont, TX

    Master of education


    A public 4-year university with accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, Lamar University offers master’s degrees in education. Lamar’s highly reputable programs appeal to K-12 educators who work full time and wish to complete their master’s in education degree on a schedule convenient to them.

    Students may enroll in any of the following education programs: education administration, school counseling, or digital learning and leading. They could also pursue special education, teacher leadership, or teaching gifted and talented. Most programs comprise 36 credit hours and take as few as 18 months. Some require current K-12 teaching certification and 2-3 years of classroom teaching experience.

    Sample courses in Lamar’s education degrees include creating significant learning environments, applying disruptive innovation, and school community relations. Enrollees also study diverse learners, curriculum management, and instructional leadership.

    Tuition: $9,969

    School Type: Public, 4-year or above

  • #6 Arizona State University

    Scottsdale, AZ

    Master of education


    A public 4-year university with accreditation from the Higher Learning Commision, Arizona State University offers its master’s degree in education programs completely online. Education degree options include early childhood education, educating multilingual learners, and literacy education. Students can also choose from educational leadership, global education, and indigenous education.

    Many of ASU’s education programs require 30 credit hours over 7.5 weeks. Educators interested in becoming principals or leaders in K-12 schools may opt for the educational leadership degree. The program covers courses such as the American education system, school law, and leadership in curriculum and assessment.

    When applying for ASU’s education programs, you must fulfill requirements for both the Graduate College and the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. You may need to submit the following: official transcripts, three letters of recommendation, personal statement, resume, and proof of English proficiency. While matriculating to the program, you must maintain a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA to remain in good academic standing.

    Tuition: $6,462

    School Type: Public, 4-year or above

  • #7 Brandman University

    Irvine, CA

    Master of education


    A private nonprofit university located in Irvine, California, Brandman University receives its accreditation from the Western Association of Colleges and Schools. It offers its master’s degree in education programs in a hybrid format or completely online, focusing on the nontraditional student.

    Working professionals in Brandman’s education programs enjoy course content that they can fit around employment responsibilities. At the same time, students interact with classmates and faculty a great deal.

    Brandman’s education degrees teach students to evaluate, use, and generate research to move the field of education forward. Enrollees also learn to apply pedagogical concepts to educational settings to meet the diverse needs of students. Students immerse themselves in theories of learning and various approaches to curriculum design and decision-making.

    Degree options include curriculum and instruction, instructional technology, and teaching and learning. You may need to submit official transcripts, a letter of intent, a current resume, and two letters of recommendation along with your completed application.

    Tuition: $19,450

    School Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

  • #8 St. Leo University

    Saint Leo, FL

    Master of education


    Some of the amazing courses you can take in St. Leo University’s education programs include leadership in the development of reading programs, managing the learning environment, and principalship: theory and practice. Students can choose to specialize ininstructional design, educational leadership, or exceptional student education.

    Most programs at SLU require 36-42 graduate semester credits. You must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 with no more than two C grades in required coursework. Students complete their education degree as a blended program that combines traditional in-person classes with a variety of delivery formats, including online options and video conferencing.

    A private nonprofit school, SLU receives accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The school generally accepts transfer credit from regionally accredited institutions and on a case-by-case basis from non-regionally accredited schools. For the latter, the admissions department considers the following: educational quality; nature, content, and level; and applicability in light of the student’s goals.

    Tuition: $8,498

    School Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

  • #9 Nova Southeastern University

    Fort Lauderdale, FL

    Master of science in education


    Consider Nova’s Fischler College of Education (FCE) for your master’s in education degree. A private nonprofit institution, NSU offers numerous education program specializations. You can study curriculum, instruction and technology, or elementary education. Other options include exceptional student education, Spanish language education, and science education. Courses you take may include theories and assessment of learning, teaching inquiry-based life science, and strategies for teaching calculus.

    Students may attend part time or full time, online or in the classroom. For admission, you must submit a completed application, pay a $50 non-refundable fee, and forward your original transcripts from all previously attended post-secondary institutions. The admissions department accepts applications online and on a rolling basis.

    NSU accepts up to six semester hours of transfer credits earned within the preceding five years from the first term of enrollment in the FCE program. Students need a B or better in transfer courses, and can only apply transfer credits to one NSU degree.

    Tuition: $20,620

    School Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

  • #10 Gwynedd Mercy University

    Gwynedd Valley, PA

    Master of education


    A private not-for-profit school, Gwynedd Mercy University receives accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. It features accelerated master’s degree in education programs delivered completely online. Some of these accelerated education degrees include supervisor of curriculum and instruction, educational administration, and principal certification.

    In GMU’s education programs, you will learn how to think and plan strategically to create an organizational vision focused on student success. You will also study the appropriate use of instructional materials. Courses cover the policies, statues, and rules that state and local agencies establish.

    Most programs require you to submit a completed application and fee, a current professional resume, and two letters of recommendation from a supervisor or professional contact. You also need an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0. If your GPA was lower, you may still qualify for the program based on a personal interview or other factors. GMU utilizes full-time or part-time instructors, not teaching assistants, for all courses.

    Tuition: $11,286

    School Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

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