The best master’s degree for teachers to get will vary depending on the individual’s career goals. Master degree options include the MA, MEd, MAT, and MS. The Master of Arts (MA) is intended for individuals who wish to obtain an education job in the field of research. The Master of Education (MEd) program is more geared to practitioners in education who plan to take on an administrative or leadership role in an academic setting. A Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) graduate will have similar career objectives as MEd degree seekers and will have to complete hands-on teaching techniques within the curriculum. A Master of Science in Education (MS) degree track blends field experience and policy creation. The MS degree may be the best master’s degree for teachers to get if the educator wants a well-rounded program with courses that include subjects like curriculum design and classroom management. For those with a chosen specialty in mind, he or she can pursue graduate degrees in special education, instructional design, and adult education.
Although a prospective student may want to choose the cheapest online teaching degree, he or she should instead look for the best value. Along with low tuition, the college will need to offer a high return on investment. This means the college has a proven track record of post-graduation job placement and high starting salaries. Some of the lowest costs for graduate education programs will come from regional public universities. Public universities have reduced tuition rates for in-state students. Small private colleges around the country will also offer the lowest rates for traditional and online teaching courses. Remember to compare the length of each teaching program too when comparing tuition costs. For instance, accelerated programs with a higher per credit cost may actually cost less than a traditional degree track.
Methodology: Ranking the Best Online Education Master’s Programs
To rank the strongest online MEd and other education master’s degrees, Best Master’s Programs editors first did a thorough search for fully online and hybrid education master’s programs – and there are many! From our initial pool, we ranked programs according to factors that are important to a working teacher with a limited budget: Affordability, Reputation, Student Satisfaction, and Salary Potential, using data from IPEDS, College Scorecard, U.S. News & World Report, and Niche.
1. Texas A&M University
Texas A&M University has an Internet-based master’s in education with 7 online concentrations. The most unique aspect of this program is the Urban Education concentration. This focus prepares student teachers to instruct pupils from urban communities, especially socially and economically disadvantaged communities. Many teachers want to teach students from this demographic, but few graduate education programs prepare teachers for the unique challenges that they will face if they go into this area of education. Prospective teachers who want to teach kids from urban communities will want to add Texas A&M to their list of the best online education master’s programs, perhaps above some of the best online master’s in education programs that do not offer this concentration.
Texas A&M is known for its large and powerful alumni network, who call themselves “Aggies.” The alumni network is widespread in Texas and other states in the region. Alumni mentors regularly meet with students and recent grads to give them mentorship and career advice. The graduate education program also offers a concentration in STEM education, reflecting the university’s overall focus.
Options: 7 online concentrations
2. University of Florida
The University of Florida offers a Master’s in Education over the Internet that includes 9 online concentrations. The most unique concentration in this program is called Student Personnel in Higher Education. This focus prepares graduate students to work as academic advisors and the like. While this is a rapidly growing job field, few graduate education programs offer this concentration. Prospective education administration professionals should put UF right at the top of their list of the best online education master’s programs, as it is one of the best online master’s in education programs overall.
UF is a public university, and as such it offers very affordable tuition. Tuition is lower for in-state students than it is for out-of-state students, which is the case for most public universities. UF also offers a considerable amount of financial aid to offset the already-reasonable tuition. UF is known for having highly ranked online programs in many fields, including education.
Options: 9 online concentrations
3. Purdue University
Purdue University also has an Internet-based MSEd with 4 online concentrations. With this program, the most unique aspect is not an uncommon specialization. What really sets the program at Purdue apart from the rest of the pack is its brevity. Students can complete their master’s degrees in as little as one year. Prospective graduate education students who want to go to one of the best online education master’s programs and get their degree quickly should apply to Purdue because the program is only a year long and because Purdue really is one of the best online master’s in education programs.
Purdue is one of the most prestigious undergraduate universities in the country. Employers throughout the country value and respect Purdue’s degrees. An online degree from Purdue is accredited in the same way as a traditional degree, so it is just as prestigious. Purdue’s graduate education program offers a concentration in Applied Behavioral Analysis that prepares teachers to educate difficult students.
Options: MSEd – 4 online concentrations
4. North Carolina State University
North Carolina State University offers an education master’s degree over the Internet with many online concentrations. The most notable aspect of the program at NC State is a focus in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, which prepares students to be school psychologists. Few online programs prepare students specifically to be school psychologists. Prospective students who want to go into this line of work will be happy to hear that one of the best online education master’s programs offers a school psychology concentration, which many of the best online master’s in education programs do not offer.
NC State is one of the most diverse public universities in the region. It has been on many lists of the most diverse public universities in the South. Students of color may feel that they are better represented and understood at such an institution. NC State’s graduate education programs offer reduced distance education tuition rates.
Options: many online concentrations
5. Michigan State University
Michigan State University has a Master’s in Education program with 8 online concentrations. One of the most unique things about this particular program is the amount of personalized attention that students can receive from faculty members. MSU caps the number of students in its online graduate education programs at just 25, which is smaller than the average class size at many similar programs. Prospective education students who value the opportunity to work one on one with well-respected faculty members can see why MSU is high on many lists of the best online education master’s programs and similar lists of the best online master’s in education programs.
Michigan State University is considered to be one of the most prestigious public universities in the country. In fact, it has historically been in competition with the University of California, Berkeley for this title. Prospective students can rest assured that MSU grads are highly sought after in many different fields. MSU allows graduate education students to focus on one or two specializations.
Options: 8 online concentrations
6. George Mason University
George Mason University has an Internet-based MEd program with 5 online concentrations. The graduate education program at GMU is a little different because it allows its students to choose multiple specializations, resulting in many potential hybrid degree tracks. Prospective graduate students who want as well-rounded an education as possible can consider GMU to be one of the best online education master’s programs, and GMU may actually be better for their ambitions than some of the other best online master’s in education programs.
GMU is known for its many online degree programs. The university has created a separate division specifically to handle the online degree programs. This allows GMU to better address the unique needs of distance education students. GMU is sometimes mistaken for a private university, but it is an affordable public institution.
Options: MEd – 5 online concentrations, many more hybrid
7. University of Nebraska – Lincoln
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln has an online Master’s in Education program with multiple concentrations. The most distinctive feature of this program is its focus on educational administration. The program at UNL is best suited not for teachers, but for administrative professionals. For prospective school principals, UNL is one of the best online education master’s programs, and it ranks highly on the overall list of the best online master’s in education programs.
UNL’s graduate education programs include multiple different doctoral degrees. Some schools do not offer doctoral education degrees. Students who want to continue their education past the master’s level may want to consider UNL. The graduate education programs at UNL incorporates several different Nebraska state certifications.
Options: multiple concentrations
8. Clemson University
Clemson University offers an online MEd in Teaching and Learning that is a little different from the majority of online graduate education programs. The program is unique in that it focuses exclusively on working teachers. Most graduate programs accept both current and future teachers, but the program at Clemson is targeted toward working teachers specifically. This focus makes Clemson arguably the best online education master’s programs for current teachers, and one of the best online master’s in education programs overall. Students have the option of personalizing their experience by selecting from one of three specialization areas: STEAM, Experiential Learning for Early Childhood, or Instructional Coaching.
Clemson offers its students a wide variety of generous financial aid. Forms of aid include grants, scholarships and more. There is an especially large number of financial aid opportunities for students of color. Clemson’s graduate education program offers a unique Experiential Learning concentration.
Options: MEd in Teaching and Learning
9. University of Missouri
The University of Missouri has a Master’s in Education that can be completed over the Internet. This program is different than the others on this list in that it offers a massive 22 online concentrations. Students who want to go into a specific niche of the field of education are likely to find just the concentration they want at Missouri. The specialization available to grad students makes Missouri one of the best online education master’s programs in many areas, and certainly one of the best online master’s in education programs overall.
Missouri’s graduate education programs are very affordable for students, no matter where they live. Most public universities charge higher tuition for out-of-state students. Missouri, however, charges in-state tuition to all of the students in their graduate education programs, even if they live in another state. One of the many hard to find specializations offered by the Missouri graduate education program is Art Education.
Options: 22 online concentrations
10. Auburn University
Auburn University has a popular Internet-based Master’s in Education program with 11 online concentrations. Perhaps the rarest concentration offered by Auburn is Agriscience education, which prepares teachers to instruct students in the agricultural sciences. Very few graduate education programs offer this specialization. Prospective teachers who want to instruct in the agricultural field may find that Auburn is one of the best online education master’s programs for their needs, even if some lists of the best online master’s in education programs omit it.
Auburn, like several of the other schools on this list, is a very prestigious public university. It combines value and cachet, making it desirable for students from all demographics. Auburn has an especially good reputation in the South, making it one of the best graduate education programs for students in this region.
Options: 11 online concentrations
11. Texas Tech University
Texas Tech University has an Internet-based MEd program with 5 online concentrations. The program at Texas Tech is unlike most other programs in this field in that it focuses on STEM education. Of course, prospective students can study education in a wide variety of different areas in this program. However, teachers in the STEM fields will want to put Texas Tech right at the top of the list of the best online education master’s programs for their needs, even if it isn’t as well-known as some of the other best online master’s in education programs.
Texas Tech is known for having a relatively large amount of funding for research projects. Grad students often have access to multiple sources of research funding, allowing them to complete projects that they may not be able to undertake at other universities. This will help their resumes stand out when they are applying for various teaching positions. Texas Tech also offers graduate education programs through hybrid and traditional instructional models.
Options: MEd – 5 online concentrations
12. University of Pittsburgh
The University of Pittsburgh has an online Master’s in Education program that offers 3 separate concentrations. What makes the education programs at Pitt unique is that the same faculty teach in the traditional graduate education program and the online program. Many schools utilize part-time instructors for their online programs, but not Pitt. Prospective graduate students who want to study with the best possible faculty should know that Pitt is one of the best online master’s in education programs when it comes to the strength of the faculty and one of the best online education master’s programs period.
Pitt’s online graduate programs use the most engaging and advanced instructional tech available. At some universities, the online programs seem more like an afterthought. The commitment to excellence that has made Pitt one of the foremost public universities in the country shows in the quality of their online instruction. Pitt’s graduate education program is ranked in the top 40 in the country by multiple sources.
Options: 3 online concentrations
13. George Washington University
George Washington University has an online Master’s in Education with 6 different concentrations available to its students. The program at GWU is unique because it focuses on the application of educational tech. It makes sense for an online education program to have this sort of a focus, but few do. Students who want to use the latest tech to better instruct their future pupils may want to put GWU on their list of the best online education master’s programs, as it really is one of the best online master’s in education programs for tech-conscious teachers.
GWU has a dual Education and Human Development Department, instead of just having an Education Department. This reflects the holistic approach to education at GWU. Teachers who want to mentor their students beyond simple educational instruction should consider GWU. GWU also offers many online certificates in niche educational fields.
Options: 6 online concentrations
14. University of Houston
The University of Houston offers one of the best online education master’s programs when you plan to pursue a higher level of education for your career goals. The degree program focuses on developing leadership skills and excellence in education that prepares students to address the needs of their future students by developing skills that enhance their abilities in the classroom environment. The University of Houston offers three concentrations to help students in the online master’s program focus on a specific area of education.
A key advantage of the program at the University of Houston is the flexibility for student education. The online master’s degree program in education allows students to focus on their career objectives by developing the skills they need to improve their situation. It also allows students to work in a full-time position and still complete their degree when it fits their schedule. Students can further enhance their online degree with certifications that give specialized knowledge and insights.
Options: 3 online concentrations
15. University of Kentucky
When you want to focus on the best online master’s in education programs, the University of Kentucky may offer the solution for your goals. The master’s in education program offers six online concentrations at the master’s level that allows you to on specific areas of education that range from working as a principal and taking on a leadership position to working in research and focusing on finding innovative solutions to address current concerns in education.
The University of Kentucky stands out from other programs by focusing on a combination of leadership and training that benefits educators throughout their long-term career goals. The school offers multiple concentrations that give students a focus on their goals and it ensures that students are learning from professors who recognize their goals and work to ensure that students are prepared to handle teaching in a modern environment. Students at the University of Kentucky also have an opportunity to get their research published or to work on their presentation skills as part of their degree program.
Options: 6 online concentrations
16. University of Alabama at Birmingham
The University of Alabama at Birmingham offers one of the best online education master’s programs for students who want to work as a teacher, principal, or a leader in their local school district. The degree programs are designed for adult students who have a full-time position and may have limited time during the normal day to work on their degree. It gives students a flexible solution to help with their long-term goals. The University of Alabama at Birmingham stands out by focusing on quality in education and ensuring that online students have access to the same benefits as students at the Birmingham campus.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham offers eight online concentrations for students focusing on a master’s degree in education. The concentrations focus on specialized areas of education that range from early childhood education and elementary education to psychometry and kinesiology designed for different areas of school education. That specialized set of skills prepares teachers for the challenges of working in particular areas of education.
Options: 8 online concentrations
17. University at Albany
The University of Albany offers an online Master’s in Education for students seeking a quality online degree. The school takes a flexible approach to online degree programs to help students keep up with personal obligations or their current job while working on their degree. It gives you an opportunity to advance in your career as a teacher or more into more leadership roles while you are working.
A key advantage available through the University of Albany is the focus on specialized aspects of education. The school offers six online concentrations for students at the master’s level. It also offers certifications that enhance your education and help you accomplish your long-term goals. Since you can work on certifications and your degree online, you have the flexibility to work around a complex schedule and find time for your education. The University of Albany was founded in 1844 and offers students the advantage of history, experience, and an excellent reputation that helps with career goals.
Options: 6 online concentrations
18. University of Alabama
The University of Alabama offers one of the best online master’s in education programs for students who want a flexible program that fits their long-term goals. The school recognizes that students may have challenges with balancing their current obligations and offers flexible solutions that work around their situation for an option that fits their personal goals. The University of Alabama offers 11 concentrations for students in their online education master’s program. That ensures that you have several options for your career.
A key way the University of Alabama stands out from other programs is its focus on preparing students for a global environment. The school recognizes that students may end up working in a variety of locations and need to understand ways of handling differences in culture when working in education. That focus on education as it applies to a global scale ensures that students are able to handle the challenges they may face as educators.
Options: 11 online concentrations
19. University of Dayton
The University of Dayton offers flexible online degree programs for students who want to obtain a master’s in education. The online programs recognize that students may have challenges when it comes to working on their coursework and completing projects. That is why it gives students a flexible solution that works around their current job responsibilities or personal obligations. The University of Dayton offers asynchronous learning that allows students to have meaningful conversations with peers. The discussions are guided by professors to keep them on track.
A key way the University of Dayton stands out is through the programs it offers to students. The school has seven concentrations for students in the education master’s program. The concentrations can be enhanced and improved with certifications that focus on advocacy and leadership or dyslexia, which ensures that students are able to handle specific areas of education.
Options: 7 online concentrations
20. University of North Carolina in Charlotte
The University of North Carolina in Charlotte’s online Master’s in Education program encourages students to accomplish their career goals by preparing them for their role as a teacher. The school offers 11 online concentrations for students seeking a master’s degree in education. The concentrations give students a clear path for their career and ensures that students are ready to handle the challenges of working with children or teenagers in a school environment.
A key way the University of North Carolina in Charlotte stands out is its focus on helping students with their goals. The school recognizes that professionals may decide to enter teaching after working in a career that is not related to teaching, or may choose to change their teaching field after years of working in a specific area of education. It gives students the opportunity to obtain a license or make a change to their career that fits their long-term goals and current situation. The University of North Carolina in Charlotte helps online students by encouraging them to work with an advisor to plan out their schedule and settle on a time frame that works for the student’s goals.
Options: 11 online concentrations
21. Oregon State University
Oregon State University offers an EdM in Adult and Higher Education that focuses on preparing students to analyze, design, and implement educational programs. It prepares students to take on a leadership role in education and work with others to ensure that a program meets the needs of students. It also ensures that you are ready to deliver an educational program.
Oregon State University differs from other programs by teaching students the practical application of theories associated with education and higher learning. It recognizes that theories are not always easy to implement and apply to actual educational programs and it strives to teach students the processes associated with applying their skills and knowledge to their career goals. Oregon State University strives to develop an equitable environment for learning that is built into every class and area of study.
Options: EdM in Adult and Higher Education
22. University of Mississippi
The University of Mississippi offers an online master’s in education that focuses on helping students prepare for their career objectives. The degree programs allow students to work at a pace that fits their current schedule and ensures that working adults are able to obtain their degree. It also recognizes the differences in areas of education that require adjustments to the coursework and schedule to ensure students are skilled and capable after graduation. The University of Mississippi offers five concentrations for students working on a master’s in education. Each concentration requires a different number of credits to complete the degree.
A key way the University of Mississippi stands out is the focus on skills and leadership throughout their master’s programs. The online degree programs focus on developing skills in students to prepare them for the specific challenges of their career goals. It ensures that students are ready for situations that may arise and can find innovative ways to address concerns as they advance in their career.
Options: 5 online concentrations
23. Kansas State University
Kansas State University offers an excellent online program for students seeking a master’s degree in education. The school offers six online concentrations for students who want to focus on a specific aspect of education and their career. It recognizes the differences in teaching adults when compared to teaching children and allows students to focus on areas of teaching based on their goals and personal interests.
A key aspect that sets Kansas State University apart is the option to enhance a degree with specialized certifications. The school offers six concentrations for the major as well as seven certifications that students can add to their degree to develop and build specialized skills. That allows students to focus on developing a long-term strategy for their career objectives. Kansas State University focuses on developing high ethical standards in students who complete the master’s degree through its online program.
Options: 6 online concentrations
24. Appalachian State University
Appalachian State University offers excellent degree programs for students who want a master’s in education. The school recognizes the value of offering students specialized skills for their degree and provides six concentrations that prepare students for their role in education. The degree programs focus on specific areas of education that range from developing curriculum as a specialist to reading education and higher education.
A key factor that sets Appalachian State University apart is their small class sizes. The school maintains reasonable class sizes to ensure that students are able to reach out to professors when they have questions or concerns. It gives students an opportunity to get help or to clarify information before they move forward with their studies. Appalachian State University will refund application fees to students if a class is canceled by the school due to limitations in enrollment, which allows students to consider applying to other concentrations or to consider other options for their degree.
Options: Curriculum Specialist, Educational Media, Elementary Education, Higher Education, Middle Grades, Reading Education
25. University of South Florida
The University of South Florida offers one of the best online degree programs for students who want a master’s degree in education. The online program is designed to address the needs of adult students who are working in a job and may have limitations on their time. It works around your schedule and helps you reach your career goals.
The University of South Florida stands out by offering seven concentrations for students in the master’s degree program. The concentrations prepare students to work in specific areas of education or to take on leadership roles within a school or a district. It recognizes that the role of an educator goes beyond teaching and requires leadership skills. The University of South Florida is a nationally-ranked school that gives students in the online program the same access to professors and assistance as the students going through an on-campus program.
Options: 7 online concentrations
Will I Make More Money with an Online Master’s in Education?
A teacher salary with a master’s degree will be more competitive than salaries of bachelor’s degree holders; in fact, teaching is one of the areas where a master’s degree pays off the most. In many school districts, a teacher’s base pay rate may increase based on how high of a degree he or she holds. Districts offer incentives as a way to attract graduate-level degree holders to open education positions. According to salary figures released by the National Center for Education Statistics, a master’s in education salary is upwards of $11,500 more annually than a bachelor’s in education salary. A teacher salary with a master’s degree is also typically higher because graduate school completion opens up more advancement opportunities. Job possibilities for those with a graduate degree include administrative, counseling, special education, and consulting. An average teacher salary for bachelor’s degree holders is $57,980 annually.
However, a master’s in education salary figures show a significant increase when teachers move into a position outside of the classroom. For instance, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a principal with a master’s degree earns a median wage of $95,310. Earning a master’s degree in education with a specialization is ideal for those looking to change careers and gain competitive salaries with attractive benefits packages. Besides higher salaries, school districts may offer tuition assistance and grants as a benefit for those who choose to pursue a master’s degree or higher.
Will Schools Hire Me with an Online Master’s Degree?
Compared to traditional degree tracks, accredited online teaching degree programs are not treated any differently by employers. School districts understand the busy schedules of educators and most graduate-level degrees are now earned online, while the teacher is still working. In many ways, a master’s in teaching is the new bachelor’s. A common question is, “Can you get a teacher’s degree online?” The answer is, “Yes, you can get your teaching degree online with flexible scheduling.” However, before an educator is hired, in-person student teaching experience is usually required. Additionally, some accredited online teaching degree programs request the student attend in-service days before graduation.
To ensure an educator is choosing the best online college for a teaching degree, research is required. For one, students will only want to consider accredited online teaching degree programs. Accreditation means that a governing body has reviewed the college’s academic standards and the university has proven capable of preparing job seekers for high-level careers in education. Looking at statistics can also assist with choosing the best online college for a teaching degree. Key statistics include graduation rates and student loan default figures. Other things to look at are employment rates. Low post-graduation employment rates may be a red flag and indicate poor career support services. As long as all the statistics are positive and the college has a good job market reputation, schools will have no issue hiring someone who has earned an online degree.
Can I Get a Master’s in Education for Free?
A free online teaching degree is not possible. If an organization is offering a free degree, then the college is not accredited. The only possible way to get a free online teaching degree is to receive scholarships and grant funding for master’s in education courses, or to receive tuition reimbursement from your employer. The good news is, many districts and schools will highly encourage their teachers to get a master’s, and will often have tuition assistance in place.
What Will I Learn in an Education Master’s Program?
Before enrolling in an education degree program, questions asked may include:
- How to become a school teacher?
- What education do you need to become a teacher?
- What qualifications do you need to become a teacher?
Most school districts will require at least a bachelor’s degree and teaching certification for employment. However, a master’s degree in education will put the applicant at a professional advantage. Skills needed to start a master’s in education program include organization, patience, and a strong love of learning. master’s in education requirements can be fulfilled while working for a public or private school. master’s in education requirements may include courses such as instructional design, educational assessments, classroom behaviors, inclusive classrooms, childhood development, and educational research.
master’s programs may take anywhere from one year to two years to complete. As part of the graduation requirements, a capstone project or internship may be needed. Specializations are also usually offered for either those pursuing a master’s degree in the field of education at the elementary or secondary level. Electives or experiential learning opportunities can be taken to hone any interests. Examples include STEM learning and advanced literacy practices.