There are not many more-fulfilling and rewarding jobs in the world today than being an educator. As an educator, not only can you change a person's life for the better and build lifelong connections with them, but you can also provide them with the knowledge and skills they need to be successful in life and have a positive impact on the future generation that will help lead our world.
With a Master's of Education, you can take on a large number of jobs that range from being a teacher in the classroom to being a literacy coach or Exceptional Student Educator to being a principal or superintendent who oversees the operation of a school or a school district. Teachers with a master's degree get paid much more than those with a bachelor's degree.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, teachers with a master's degree are paid an average of $58,000 per year, more than $11,000 per year more than those with only a bachelor's degree. However, there are a lot more rewarding salary jobs you can receive with a Master's degree in Education. Special Education teachers with a master's degree make between an average of $60,000 and $65,000 per year. With a specialization in leadership, graduates position themselves for the role of principal or even higher. Most school districts require at least a master's degree to be eligible in the principal pool.
According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, principals make an average salary of just over $95,000 a year. Superintendents make an average salary of anywhere between $100,000 and $200,000 a year. The more leadership you are willing to take on, the more rewarding the salary. Each state has different salaries for its educators, with New York, California, and Massachusetts having the highest salaries, according to EdWeek.org. An average salary for a teacher in New York is just under $86,000 a year and requires a master's degree in order to teach.
Most curricula in our Best 20 Master's Degrees in Education Online for 2020 require anywhere from 30 to 36-semester credits, with the average completion time being anywhere from 18 months to 24 months. By taking the curriculum online, you are able to work around your busy schedule, and if you already have a position in the classroom, you are able to practice your studies and research as you go.
With online technology, professors will communicate through virtual sessions and Skyping, requiring you to demonstrate and apply the practices they teach. Some courses may require you to record and upload videos of yourself teaching in a sample or actual classroom.
There are several concentrations that will be offered for M.Ed degrees depending on where you want to work in the school system. Most of the concentrations will include early childhood education, content-area secondary education, special education, exceptional student education, leadership and administration, and adult education. Classes will focus on curriculum and planning, behavior analysis, leadership and development, educational theory and practice, and classroom management.
In applying to programs, it will help to compile letters of recommendation from those who can describe your work as an educator and what you will bring to the teaching field. With this degree, you are well on your way to a successful future where you are not just elevating your career but also elevating the career of those you are helping.
Best College Reviews provides degree rankings, such as the 20 Best Master's in Education Online for 2020, from carefully researched data sets published from government and non-profit organizations across the United States. Five primary factors affect how we rank degrees:
- 25% Student Satisfaction
- 30% Earning Potential
- 15% Retention Data
- 20% Affordability
- 10% Acceptance Rates
For an in-depth breakdown of how we calculate each ranking, check out our Methodology page.
#20 UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA—LINCOLN
MA IN SPECIAL EDUCATION
"There is no place like Nebraska." It's a phrase you will hear often if you take on a master's degree at the University of Nebraska—Lincoln. Ranked No. 39 in the nation for Best Education Graduate Schools, according to U.S. News & World Report, UNL provides its students the opportunity to learn the critical skills to work with and assist students of special needs by studying a Master of Arts in Special Education. The 30- to 36-credit curriculum offers specializations in Early Childhood Education, Education of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and Visual Impairments. Of the three concentrations offered through the program, one involves a thesis track and 30-semester credits, while the other two are 36-semester-credit options that involve a non-thesis track and the choice of studying for a minor. For those who choose not to take on a thesis, they will be required to complete an oral and written comprehensive examination that will be assessed and graded by three members of the College of Education's examination committee. The office of admissions requires applicants to submit several documents, including a resume, three recommendation letters, official transcripts, GRE test scores, and a statement of personal and professional goals.
Net Price: $16,813
#19 FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY
MASTER OF SCIENCE IN SPECIAL EDUCATION
Florida International University is one of the top-ten largest universities in the U.S. and offers over 180 different degree options. With a Master of Science in Special Education, graduate students will learn how to work with special-needs children and those who require extra attention and care. With an endorsement in Autism, students will take four courses that provide special training and hands-on practice for working with autistic children. Overall, the program requires the completion of 36 semester hours, including courses in Advanced Theory and Research in Special Education, Industrial Technology, and two seminars in Special Education. Students will also take courses on how to handle behavioral issues and working with families of autistic and special needs children. Applicants must have a valid ESE certification before applying and have a minimum 3.0 GPA in their undergraduate studies. FIU ranks No. 88 on the list of Best National Universities, according to Washington Monthly.
Net Price: $12,219
#18 UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT ARLINGTON
MASTER OF EDUCATION (Ed.Md.)
The University of Texas at Arlington includes some of the most advanced and innovative learning environments of any school in the state. By pursuing a Master of Education degree online, students will enhance their teaching skills to better fit the classroom and be able to properly plan units using different models taught to them by professors. As part of the program, students can choose a concentration in Curriculum and Instruction and specialize in Mathematics, Science, Literacy Studies, or Educational Leadership and Policy Development. The coursework is completely online and requires 30 semester credits with the opportunity to earn a degree in 18 months. With the Educational Leadership and Policy Development specialization, students can earn a Principal Certification or Superintendent Certification. As part of the application requirements, UTA requires students to submit two letters of recommendation, official transcripts, and a professional resume.
Net Price: $12,533
#17 UNIVERSITY OF IOWA
IOWA CITY, IA
MS IN STEM EDUCATION
Widely respected for its teacher development, The University of Iowa is ranked at No. 5 among Best Online Education Program in the Nation, according to U.S. News & World Report. Students interested in becoming educators can choose to take on a Master's in STEM Education, which prepares teachers to effectively engage with learners through research and leadership seminars. The online program is highly innovative and touches on all aspects that a teacher needs to excel in the classroom. The 36-semester-hour curriculum includes 18 hours of core courses focusing on specific subject areas, six hours of independent research, six hours of STEM extracurricular experience and capstone work, and six hours of additional coursework. Those who take on an educational leadership specialization can receive a Principal's Certification. To learn more about the documentation needed with the application, you can contact the university on its website in the admissions section.
Net Price: $14,845
#16 UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA MAIN CAMPUS
If you study at the main campus at the University of South Florida, you will be a minute away from Busch Gardens and within driving distance of the beach, Walt Disney World, and the great nightlife in Tampa. Future educators who study the Masters of Education program will receive the skills they need to excel as teachers in the classroom. USF ranks No. 10 on the list of the Top 25 Best Online Master in Reading Degree Programs, according to TheBestSchools.org. Besides Reading, students can also specialize in Online Adult Education, Online Gifted Education, Online Autism Spectrum Disorder and Severe Intellectual Disabilities, Online Physical Education, Online Special Education, Online Secondary Education, Online Instruction Technology, or Online Career & Technical Education. The 36-credit curriculum includes a thesis and non-thesis track as well as field experience in the classroom. Applicants are required to submit three letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, GRE test scores, and official transcripts to the office of admissions.
Net Price: $11,766
#15 SAN DIEGO STATE UNIVERSITY
SAN DIEGO, CA
MA IN EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP
Ranked No. 1 in the nation for Graduation Rate Performance, according to U.S. News & World Report, San Diego State University offers students the opportunity to study an MA in Education Leadership online, which prepares them for administrative leadership positions at the school and district level. SDSU's professors are world-renowned for their work in leadership and instruction and will help guide graduates towards leading a successful school and school system. Students are required to take four seminar courses during their studies as well as courses in Professional Learning and Growth Leadership, School Improvement Leadership, Organizational and Systems Leadership, and Problem-Solving and Decision-Making. Students must also do an individual study course of six credits prior to earning a degree. Applicants must submit a resume, a statement of leadership philosophy, official transcripts, and three letters of recommendation to the university.
Net Price: $13,363
#14 MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY
MASTER OF ARTS IN SPECIAL EDUCATION
The school with the mascot "Sparty", Michigan State was the home of Magic Johnson and is a regular national championship contender in men's basketball, men's football, and women's cross country. Academically speaking, the school is ranked No. 2 on the list of Best Master's Programs in Special Education, according to U.S. News & World Report. Its M.A. in Special Education is an online program that trains its students to work with special-needs children and those with disabilities. The degree offers an emphasis in Autism Spectrum Disorders and Learning Disabilities as well as a certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis. As part of the 30- to 36-credit curriculum, students can apply for a nine-credit practicum and internship that give students actual field experience working with ASD students. At the end of the coursework, students must take a comprehensive certification examination assessing what they've learned. Applicants are required to submit to the office of admissions three letters of recommendation, a professional and scholarly goals statement, a resume, teaching certificate, and official transcripts.
Net Price: $16,684
#13 THE UNIVERSITY OF CENTRAL FLORIDA
EXCEPTIONAL STUDENT EDUCATION, M.Ed
The University of Central Florida is just a few miles away from Harry Potter World and Universal Studios, which is one of the nation's most prime attractions. Students who study the Exceptional Student Education Master's of Education Online Program will acquire the skills necessary to teach and work with students of special needs. The 33-semester credit program prepares future teachers for jobs such as Learning Disabilities Teacher, Autistic Teacher, Exceptional Student Educator, Special Needs Teacher, Speech and Audio Therapist, and Literacy Coach. The program can be completed in as little as two years, and communication is done completely online with the faculty members. Applicants should speak with a success coach about the process and be prepared to submit official transcripts and additional documentation to the university. UCF ranks No. 25 on the list of "Best Bang For Your Buck" Universities", according to U.S. News & World Report.
Net Price: $15,341
#12 UNIVERSITY OF HOUSTON
M.Ed. IN HIGHER EDUCATION
The University of Houston is all about diversity. According to its website, the school is the second-most most ethnically diverse research university in the U.S. With an Online M.Ed in Higher Education, graduates will be trained on leadership positions in a variety of ethnic settings so they are able to work in administrative roles at a college or university. The program is for those who have busy lifestyles outside of school and are able to take coursework online at their leisure. UH ranks among the Top 20 in Best Online Education Graduate Programs, according to U.S. News & World Report. Students can meet and communicate with professors through Skype or FaceTime as they navigate the different courses. The coursework is geared towards students who wish to work at community and technical colleges, research universities, liberal arts colleges, and minority-serving colleges and universities. The 12-course curriculum includes an internship, assessment, and evaluation. For all other documentation required besides the application and official transcripts, applicants are urged to contact the university on its website.
Net Price: $15,664
#11 CLEMSON UNIVERSITY
MASTER OF EDUCATION IN TEACHING AND LEARNING
Studying at Clemson University gives students the opportunity to study at the top-ranked college football program in the country in 2019. By studying a Master of Education in Teaching and Learning online, students get a chance to advance their professional standing in the teaching industry and receive specialized training in STEAM, Experiential Learning for Early Childhood, or Instructional Coaching. Ranked No. 1 on the list of Online Education Graduate Programs, according to U.S. News & World Report, the program includes a variety of practices to use in order to excel working one-on-one with students as well as in front of a classroom. The 30-credit curriculum requires 18-core credits and 12-specialization credits. As part of the core coursework, students will take Curriculum Theory, Learning and Motivation in Context, Contemporary Issues in Assessment, Cultural Diversity in Education, Classroom-Based Research, and a Capstone Project. Applicants are required to submit to the university three letters of recommendation, transcripts, a statement of purpose, and a professional resume.
Net Price: $18,757
#10 UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS LOWELL
MASTER OF EDUCATION IN CURRICULUM AND INSTRUCTION, M.Ed
Ranked among the top-100 public universities in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report, the University of Massachusetts Lowell offers a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction that helps elevate a teachers' careers and the education they provide in the classroom. The ten-course program can be taken fully online and has specializations in Science Education and Autism Studies. As part of the coursework, all students are required to take four core classes, five specialization classes, and a capstone project. As part of the core coursework, students will learn about educating diverse populations, the changes being made in the curriculum models, and how to design a curriculum to fit their classroom. No GRE is required, but applicants are asked to submit a statement of purpose, official transcripts, three letters of recommendation, and a professional resume alongside the application.
Net Price: $18,375
#9 TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY-COLLEGE STATION
COLLEGE STATION, TX
MASTER'S DEGREE IN SPECIAL EDUCATION
Texas A&M University and its Corps of Cadets is the largest student military operation in the nation. While it's technically not a U.S. military academy, it definitely has a military atmosphere when you step on campus. The Master of Special Education that the university offers is an online degree suited for individuals with backgrounds in education, behavior, disability, or other areas related to special needs. The two-year program is for those who already have some working experience with children or in education. As part of the core curriculum, some of the courses that students will take include Behavior Management, Advanced Applied Behavior Analysis, Consultation in Special Education, Transition from School to Work, Educating Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders, and Single Case Research. While no GRE is required, applicants are asked to submit official transcripts, a statement of purpose, three letters of recommendation, and a resume that details previous experience that applies to the major. Texas A&M ranks No. 16 on the list of Best Online Graduate Education Programs, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Net Price: $19,554
#8 UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
LOS ANGELES, CA
MASTER OF ARTS IN TEACHING
The school with the famous fight song "Fight On", the University of Southern California is ranked No. 18 on the list of Best Schools in the Nation, according to Times and Wall Street Journal. The Master of Arts in Teaching degree is suited for teachers motivated to make an impact in high-needs classrooms. Using state-of-the-art technology, aspiring teaching can navigate through the coursework online and learn to blend theory and practice into their curriculum to provide the best learning environment for children. Students can choose a concentration in Multiple Subjects (Elementary), Secondary English, Secondary Mathematics, Secondary Science, or Secondary Social Science. By completing the program, students can receive a California teaching credential or earn a certification to teach in another state. The office of admissions requires applicants to submit three letters of recommendation, a resume, a statement of purpose, and official transcripts.
Net Price: $32,892
#7 UNIVERSITY OF UTAH
SALT LAKE CITY, UT
MASTER OF ARTS IN TEACHING IN FINE ARTS
The University of Utah aspires to teach its students to imagine what they want to accomplish and then make it happen. In other words, "Imagine, Then Do," as the school's motto indicates. With a Master of Arts in Teaching in Fine Arts, students will learn how to deliver high-quality lessons in the classroom. As part of the program, future teachers will learn to effectively manage a classroom, plan a curriculum that works for the students, get hands-on practice utilizing different methods given to them in the coursework, and use the latest state-of-the-art technology while communicating with the professors. As part of the 30-credit curriculum, students will take 18 credits during two 12-day summer incentives at the U campus. The other 12 hours will consist of coursework, with most of it tied into the concentration area that is chosen. Applicants must submit official transcripts, a resume, a statement of purpose, and two letters of recommendation with the application. The U ranks No. 11 on the list of Best Online Master's in Education Programs, according to TheBestSchools.org.
Net Price: $12,363
#6 UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA
MASTER OF EDUCATION IN READING EDUCATION
Among all public universities, the University of Georgia is in the top three schools known for producing Rhodes Scholars over the last 20 years, according to its website. Ranked No. 5 on the list of Best Online Education Graduate Programs, according to U.S. News & World Report, UGA's Master of Education in Reading Education with an emphasis in New and Digital Literacies is designed for certified Language Arts teachers and literacy educators. The 36-credit online curriculum places a strong focus on research-based literacy instruction, cultural and historical foundations, and research. Students are also encouraged to receive a Reading Endorsement if they don't already have one during their coursework. The program requires six core credits, nine specialization credits, and 18 elective credits. Prior to earning a degree, students must complete a capstone course and final examination. Students are asked to send GRE test scores, official transcripts, three letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and a professional resume to the office of admissions.
Net Price: $15,934
#5 INDIANA UNIVERSITY–BLOOMINGTON
MSEd in Adult Education
Indiana University–Bloomington is one of several IU campuses that has close to 20,000 students who are enrolled in graduate and professional programs. The MSEd in Adult Education is a 36-hour program that helps current or aspiring teachers move up the education ladder. The online curriculum includes two seminars; participation training; several courses related to adult educational theory, planning, and development; and five choices for electives. Students must also take Strategies for Educational Inquiry as part of their required elective courses. The program can be completed off-campus and from a distance but must meet the proper computer requirements so students can effectively communicate online with the professors and take part in virtual learning. Applicants are required to send in two letters of recommendation, a resume, a personal statement, and GRE test scores to the university. IUB ranks No. 4 on the list of Best Graduate Education Schools in Higher Education Administration, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Net Price: $12,488
#4 NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY AT RALEIGH
MASTER OF EDUCATION | STEM EDUCATION – SCIENCE
North Carolina State University at Raleigh has a history of interesting mascot nicknames that include "The Mechanics", "The Techs", "The Red Terrors", and "The Farmers". Now known as "The Wolfpack", NCSU offers future teachers an opportunity to study a STEM Education Master's Degree with concentrations in Mathematics and Statistics Education, Science Education, and Engineering and Technology Education. As part of the Science Education concentration, students must complete 30 semester hours, three credits from the STEM core course list and 27 credits from the specialty course list. Fifteen of the 27 specialty credits will be electives, while the other 12 will focus on Science Education. To be eligible for admission, applicants must provide the university with official transcripts, three references, and a written narrative personal statement. NCSU ranks No. 31 on the list of Most Innovative Schools, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Net Price: $13,442
#3 UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS AT URBANA-CHAMPAIGN
MASTER OF EDUCATION (Ed.M.)
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign puts you within a couple of hours driving distance of Chicago, Indianapolis, and St. Louis. Studying a Master of Education at UIUC prepares students to work in diverse settings and places a special emphasis on technology application. The program offers focuses in Bilingual/Bi-cultural Education and Digital Learning and concentrations in Diversity and Equity in Education, Education Administration & Leadership, Human Resource Development, Global Studies in Education, and Learning Design and Leadership. The 36-credit curriculum can be taken on-campus or online and includes special practices and fieldwork in the classroom. Applicants are required to submit a personal statement, three letters of reference, a resume, and official transcripts to the university. UIUC ranks No. 14 on the list of Best Online Graduate Education Programs, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Net Price: $16,638
#2 JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY
MASTER OF SCIENCE IN EDUCATION
One of the most well-respected universities in the world, Johns Hopkins University has graduated names such as President Woodrow Wilson, Entrepreneur Andrew Yang, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, former Attorney General Madeline Albright, and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. With a Master of Science in Education, students will engage in a program that is considered rigorous, innovative, and responsive. The 30-credit curriculum includes a Seminar in Transformational Leadership and Teaching, courses in Classroom Management and Effective Practices in Teaching and Learning, and the compilation of a teaching portfolio during the student's studies. JHU ranks No. 7 on the list of Best Education Graduate Programs, according to U.S. News & World Report. Applicants are required to submit official transcripts, three letters of recommendation, a professional resume, and a statement of purpose to the university.
Net Price: $29,066
#1 PURDUE UNIVERSITY-MAIN CAMPUS
MSEd in Special Education
By becoming a Boilermaker at Purdue University, you can attend a school ranked No. 4 on the list of Top Public Universities in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report. Purdue's Online Master of Science in Special Education gives students the opportunity to better learn how to administer exceptional children and build connections that can have a positive impact on their life. The degree offers six concentrations that range from no licensure to initial- and additional-intense licensure. As part of the online curriculum, students will submit unedited video recordings of themselves teaching in the classroom that show proper engagement and designed lessons that support students' strengths and needs. The curriculum also focuses on the tasks of planning, instruction, and assessment, which students must master prior to earning a degree. Applicants are required to submit alongside their application three letters of recommendation, a 500-word personal statement, an updated resume, proof of a bachelor's degree, and official transcripts.