The Most Affordable Online Master's in Education Degree Programs

The Most Affordable Online Master's in Education Degree Programs

Are you ready to discover your college program?

Search Colleges is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Earning an online master's degree in education can benefit many different professionals. For instance, an individual with years of teaching experience may want to specialize in a certain type of teaching, such as special education or English as a second language (ESL). Alternatively, a teacher may hope to transition into an administrative role.

A master's in education explores advanced topics that students might not have covered during their undergraduate degree. Courses focus on leadership, school finances, curriculum design, and technology implementation in schools.

The job market for graduates of an education master's degree is projected to grow significantly over the next decade. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data projects that the number of K-12 principals to increase by 8% in the next decade, while instructional coordinators can expect 11% growth from 2018-28.

This guide outlines what you can expect from online master's in education programs, specific courses in the curricula, and potential jobs and salaries for master's graduates.

The Most Affordable Online Master's in Education Degree Programs

Affordable Online Master's in Education Degree Program Ranking Guidelines:
We selected the online education programs based on the quality of the program, the types of online classes offered in education, faculty, rankings, awards, and reputation — including the school's reputation for effectively providing quality online degree programs.

The Most Affordable Online Master's in Education Degree Programs

Sort By
Rank School Location Apply More Information

Western Governors University 

Salt Lake City, UT Apply Now

About this school

Western Governors University boasts entirely online business, education, information technology, and nursing programs, making the university an excellent choice for prospective students researching flexible and affordable online degrees. Over 100,000 students choose WGU for the university's dedication to online learning. WGU awards bachelor's and master's degrees, and master's students can graduate in two years or less with full-time study.

Students enrolled in WGU's Teachers College can select from 20 in-demand online master's in education programs. Five of these degrees confer initial teacher licensure in all states, whereas the remaining 15 programs allow licensed teachers to advance their educations and careers by specializing in subjects like special education, secondary chemistry, or learning and technology. As new courses start every month, new students do not have to wait long before starting their education.

Each online master's in education program has slightly different admission requirements. However, all applicants submit recommendation letters, official undergraduate transcripts, and a personal essay. WGU's generous credit transfer policies mean that some students can earn their degrees in just two semesters. Students may qualify for the Teachers of Tomorrow Scholarship, which awards up to $2,500. Active-duty military personnel, veterans, and their dependents qualify for additional financial aid opportunities, as well.


Purdue University 

West Lafayette, IN Apply Now

About this school

Through Purdue Global, students living all over the world can earn an associate, master's, or doctoral degree and many graduate certificates or professional development credits. At the master's level, prospective students can select from fully online or hybrid programs wherein some courses take place on the university's West Lafayette, Indiana, campus. Courses use an asynchronous learning format so that students do not have to pause their careers while earning their degrees.

The online master's in education in special education program at Purdue appeals to both aspiring and experienced teachers. The program boasts four graduation tracks: degree, degree with initial licensure, degree with additional endorsement in special education, and degree with additional endorsement in intense special education interventions. The latter two programs require that students already possess teaching licenses in their home states. The master's with initial licensure track confers an Indiana teaching license that transfers to 42 states. Full-time students can earn their degrees in just 20 months.

Admission requirements to this master's in education online program include official undergraduate transcripts, GRE scores, a phone interview, and three recommendation letters. Although the university does not award scholarships or grants to online students, it provides veterans and active-duty military personnel tuition assistance through the Yellow Ribbon Program.


University of Texas Rio Grande Valley 

Brownsville, TX Apply Now

About this school

At University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, online students can earn master's degrees in business, health science, nursing, public affairs, social work, or education. The university also awards certificates in each subject to help working professionals hone their skills and earn promotions in their current careers. UTRGV's five online education degrees and three online education certificates use an asynchronous learning format, allowing practicing teachers and administrators to earn their degrees without sacrificing their incomes or careers.

The online master's in education in curriculum and instruction with a specialization in elementary math science education appeals to prospective students who want to enter education leadership positions that do not require teacher licensure. Full-time students can complete this entirely online program in 10 months by taking accelerated seven-week courses. Unique coursework includes assessment of learning, development of laboratory and field experiences, and teaching and learning geometric concepts. Graduates go on to careers as instructional coordinators or curriculum specialists, among other administration positions.

Terms start every eight weeks, and prospective students must have a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. Applicants with lower GPAs may still apply as long as they submit GRE scores. Academically gifted students may qualify for the Dean's New Graduate Student Scholarship or up to 200 additional financial aid opportunities curated by UTRGV.


Appalachian State University 

Boone, NC Apply Now

About this school

Appalachian State University has grown significantly since its founding as a teacher-preparation college. Over time, the university's academic offerings have grown to include over 170 undergraduate and over 40 graduate majors. Online programs use asynchronous learning and Moodle to allow students to fit their educations around their busy schedules. Students in hybrid programs receive additional support, as Appalachian boasts three satellite campuses throughout North Carolina. Typical full-time students in master's programs can earn their degrees in two years.

At Appalachian, students can choose from six online master's in education degrees: elementary education, curriculum specialist, middle-grades education, higher education, or reading specialists. The elementary education program requires at least 39 credits, and applicants should already possess a valid teaching license. The middle-grades program does not require a license; rather, it conveys initial North Carolina teacher licensure. Students can enhance their education by completing one of nine graduate certificates. The reading specialist program uses a hybrid learning model wherein students attend some courses on Appalachian's Boone, North Carolina, campus.

Prospective students can apply for the fall or spring semester. Application requirements include a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA — Appalachian makes exceptions in certain circumstances — and standardized test scores (e.g., MAT, GRE, or GMAT).


CSU Global 

Greenwood Village, CO Apply Now

About this school

CSU-Global boasts low tuition and dozens of certificates, bachelor's degrees, and master's degrees. Online students benefit from digital tutoring, career resources, and library resources that they can access at any time. In master's programs, students can study full- or part-time. Students and professors interact through online discussion boards that do not require set meeting times.

The online master of science in teaching and learning program at CSU-Global appeals to licensed teachers who want to further their educations and careers. The rigorous curriculum conveys essential skills school administrators need to develop curricula, education standards, and instructional materials. This online master's in education comprises 27 core credits with coursework in technology and innovation, action research, and evaluation and assessment. Students select from eight specializations comprising 12 credits each. The program concludes with a capstone course wherein students complete original research and write a master's thesis.

Prospective students can begin classes in the spring, fall, or summer semester. Application requirements include a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA, a resume, and a statement of purpose. CSU-Global may ask international applicants to submit TOEFL or IELTS scores. The university awards 13 scholarships to online students, and each scholarship opportunity requires a separate application.


University of Utah 

Salt Lake City, UT Apply Now

About this school

At the University of Utah, online bachelor's and master's students can advance their educations without pausing their careers or neglecting their personal responsibilities. Online courses follow the same academic schedule as on-campus courses, and some online programs require hybrid components.

The hybrid master of arts in teaching-fine arts program at the U appeals to experienced teachers and recent college graduates who want to learn vital arts education skills. The 30-credit curriculum comprises two 12-day, on-campus seminars that occur during the program's summer semesters. Online courses emphasize teaching best practices and follow an asynchronous format. Students and professors collaborate through online office hours. Most students graduate in two years, and graduates go on to careers that do not require teacher licensure, such as instructional coordinators or fine arts instructors at private schools.

Prospective students can apply for the fall semester. Application requirements include a bachelor's degree in an arts subject, a statement of purpose, and two recommendation letters. Applicants must also submit criminal background checks by the March 1 deadline. The U's College of Education awards need-based grants and merit-based scholarships to eligible online master's in education students.


University of South Florida 

Tampa, FL Apply Now

About this school

At the University of South Florida, Florida residents and out-of-state students can receive an excellent online education at an affordable price. USF boasts a plethora of fully online graduate programs that prepare the next generation of healthcare, education, and business professionals. Most full-time students can earn their master's degrees in two years.

The online master of arts in physical education at USF offers tracks for licensed physical education teachers and physical education professionals who work in nonlicensure settings. The 30-credit program follows an asynchronous format and uses the Canvas virtual learning system. Unique coursework includes foundations of measurement and foundations of educational research.

Students in both tracks can customize their educations through electives, such as grant writing or sports psychology. The curriculum features practical experiences, and USF helps students find appropriate placements in their home communities. This online master's in education program concludes with a comprehensive exam.

USF accepts new students in the summer, fall, and spring semesters. Prospective students must possess a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. International students follow the same application requirements, though USF may request TOEFL scores.


University of South Florida-St. Petersburg 

St. Petersburg, FL Apply Now

About this school

A member of the University of South Florida system, USFSP provides Floridians and out-of-state students the chance to earn degrees online or through a hybrid program. All courses use an asynchronous learning format, and students receive excellent online tutoring and information technology services.

The master of arts in exceptional student education program at USFSP prepares students to work as special education teachers in positions that do not require teacher licensure. Students can complete this program entirely online, on campus, or in a hybrid format. Many graduates pursue careers at private schools that cater to children with disabilities.

This online master's in education comprises an 18-credit core curriculum with coursework concerning working with families and transitional programming for adolescents. Students use the program's remaining 18 credits to pursue a specialization and can choose from seven fully online specializations, such as severe disabilities or English as a second language. Students must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA to remain in good academic standing.

Prospective students can apply for the fall, spring, or summer semester; each academic term uses a different application deadline. Application requirements include a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA, but those with lower GPAs may apply with GRE scores.


Indiana University-Bloomington 

Bloomington, IN Apply Now

About this school

The state's flagship public university, Indiana University Bloomington educates more than 40,000 students, and IU Online awards associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees. Professionals can advance their careers by earning online certificates. Online programs boast asynchronous coursework taught by professors who also teach on-campus courses.

Students enrolled in the master of science in education: literacy, culture, and language education program at IU learn how to interpret education research, measure student growth, and master many other in-demand skills. The 36-credit curriculum includes major, foundation, and inquiry courses. The curriculum features coursework in instructional issues in language education and strategies for educational inquiry. Students can personalize their online master's degree in education by completing nine elective credits.

For the capstone, online master's degree in education students can select from a comprehensive exam or master's thesis. Typical students who choose the latter option plan to pursue doctoral degrees in education. Graduates who take the comprehensive exam can go on to careers that include literacy instructors, writers, and diplomats.

IU accepts new online graduate students in the summer, fall, and spring semester. Applicants must submit undergraduate transcripts that reflect a minimum 3.0 GPA, two recommendation letters, and a personal statement. IU considers applicants with 2.75-2.99 undergraduate GPAs as long as they submit GRE scores. Some graduate students may qualify for a fellowship, and active-duty military personnel and veterans automatically receive tuition assistance.


Texas Woman's University 

Denton, TX Apply Now

About this school

With dozens of online and hybrid programs in the health sciences, education, and business fields, Texas Woman's University attracts prospective students living all over the world. Online students use Canvas to turn in assignments and interact with professors and peers asynchronously. Most full-time master's students can earn their degree in two years.

The master's in reading education program at TWU offers a master of arts and a master of education. The program uses a hybrid learning model wherein students take approximately 40% of all courses on TWU's Denton campus. Courses emphasize technology's use in the classroom and prepare students for careers that require an initial Texas teaching license, such as a reading specialist. To earn this license, candidates must also pass the Texas Examination of Educator Standards.

TWU educates men and women, and applicants must have a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. TWU considers transfer credit on a case-by-case basis.


California State University-East Bay 

Hayward, CA Apply Now

About this school

From its Hayward campus, California State University, East Bay provides excellent academic programs to over 15,000 students. The university boasts a plethora of fully online bachelor's and master's programs, many offered in a hybrid format. Cal State East Bay also offers two online professional certificates in education and business management.

The online master's in education with a concentration in online teaching and learning differs from other programs on this ranking as it prepares students to become online educators. The curriculum features unique coursework in teaching models for online instruction, designing curriculum for online instruction, and research in online teaching and learning. All courses, with the exception of the capstone, last seven weeks.

The program follows an asynchronous learning format, and students can receive help from professors during virtual office hours. Students must maintain a "B" average to remain in good academic standing, and typical full-time students earn their degrees in only 16 months.

Cal State East Bay accepts new students to the online master's in education program in the spring and fall semesters. Applicants must possess a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA and some teaching experience. Cal State East Bay accepts students with lower undergraduate GPAs in certain circumstances. Online students interested in university-funded financial aid opportunities must take at least three courses each semester to qualify.


University of Houston-Clear Lake 

Houston, TX Apply Now

About this school

A member of the University of Houston system, the University of Houston-Clear Lake educates over 6,000 undergraduate and over 2,000 graduate students. The university awards bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees, many of which students can complete entirely online. Full-time students earning master's degrees online can graduate in two years.

The educational management MS online at UHCL helps experienced teachers earn a Texas principal credential. The 30-credit curriculum comprises eight-week courses, and some unique offerings include principalship, school law, and applications of technology. Students who live near the university's campus can complete the program in a hybrid format.

Beyond coursework, students complete many practica and internship experiences. Students who work full-time in schools can satisfy this requirement at their job sites. The program concludes with a capstone experience wherein students complete an action research project and write an extended essay. Though the program focuses on those who wish to pursue careers as principals, it also prepares graduates for positions as supervisors and instructional specialists.

UHCL accepts new students to the online education master's program at five points throughout the year. Out-of-state students should determine whether a Texas principal endorsement transfers to their home state before applying. Applicants must submit official undergraduate transcripts and standardized test scores (e.g., MAT, GRE, or GMAT).


San Diego State University 

San Diego, CA Apply Now

About this school

Founded in 1897 as a teacher-preparation college, San Diego State University now offers 190 bachelor's, 91 master's, and 25 doctoral degrees. The university's College of Extended Studies brings excellent academic programs to students living all over the world. Through the Open U system, prospective students can sample online courses without formally applying to SDSU. Online graduate programs train the next generation of health, education, and business managers.

At SDSU, students in the MA in educational leadership program earn their degrees in just 12 months. Courses in visionary leadership, school improvement, and professional learning and growth convey essential skills that school- and district-level administration positions require. The curriculum also focuses on technology's use in schools.

The cohort learning model helps students — future education leaders — form strong professional bonds. Graduates qualify for a California principal endorsement, which may not transfer to all states. Prospective out-of-state students should research their state's reciprocity status before applying.

SDSU accepts new graduate students in the fall, spring, and summer semesters. Prospective students must already work as teachers or school administrators. San Diego County residents may not apply. Applicants must submit undergraduate transcripts, GRE scores, two letters of recommendation, and a statement of leadership philosophy.


North Carolina State University 

Raleigh, NC Apply Now

About this school

From its Raleigh campus, North Carolina State University provides students living all over the world undergraduate and graduate programs through online education. Students can select programs from nine colleges, and those living near campus can earn their degrees in a hybrid format. At the master's level, students can select from nearly 60 degree opportunities.

The master of education in STEM education-science program at NC State features a 45-credit curriculum with core coursework in special problems in mathematics and foundations of science education. Students customize their education by selecting five electives from 13 options, including fundamentals of climate change science, dendrology, and biochemistry of gene expression.

Full-time students can complete the program in two years, while part-time students may need 3-4 years to earn their degrees. The program satisfies North Carolina requirements for an advanced teaching license; this benefit may not extend to out-of-state students. Graduates can go on to careers as secondary school teachers, community college instructors, and other positions that involve formal or informal education.

NC State accepts new students at six points throughout the year. Application materials include a bachelor's degree in a science topic, a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA, three letters of recommendation, and a personal narrative. NC State does not require standardized test scores.


University of Texas at El Paso 

El Paso, TX Apply Now

About this school

Through UTEP Connect, students from all over their world can earn a certificate, bachelor's degree, or master's degree entirely online. Master's programs prepare aspiring educators and nurses for leadership careers, and most full-time graduate students can earn their degrees in just two years.

The online M.Ed. in curriculum and instruction with a concentration in early childhood education prepares practicing educators to use the latest research-based practices in their classrooms. The 36-credit curriculum features coursework in literacy and biliteracy development, early childhood education pedagogy, and scholarly writing for educators.

As the program focuses on career-applicable skills, students do not write a thesis or complete a capstone course. Prospective students interested in pursuing doctoral degrees should research other programs on this ranking. Graduates who do not pursue education careers often go into fields like entertainment, social work, or retail management.

UTEP accepts new students at eight points throughout the year, making the university a perfect match for prospective students who want to start their degrees as soon as possible. Application requirements to this online master's degree in education include a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA and relevant work experience. Applicants must also submit a statement of purpose. International prospective students can apply, but UTEP may request TOEFL scores.


Minot State University 

Minot, ND Apply Now

About this school

Based in Minot, North Dakota, Minot State University educates over 2,200 undergraduate and over 1,200 graduate students in three colleges and one graduate school. The university's academic offerings include dozens of undergraduate and graduate programs and certificates that help professionals advance their careers.

The master of science in special education at MSU boasts four concentrations: deaf or hard-of-hearing education, specific learning disabilities, early childhood special education, and special education strategist. Each concentration comprises 25 core credits featuring coursework in research design and methodology, clinical practice, and supervision in special education. All students also write a thesis, preparing them for both careers and doctoral study.

Concentrations require an additional 4-6 courses. In the hard-of-hearing concentration, students analyze teaching best practices, advanced audiology, and early intervention techniques. Before graduating, all students must pass the PRAXIS exam for their concentration topic. Students remain in good academic standing by maintaining a minimum 3.0 GPA.

Prospective students should possess a bachelor's degree in special education and a minimum 2.75 GPA. Other application requirements include a statement of purpose. New graduate students who take at least six credits each semester qualify for scholarship opportunities; students interested in scholarships should submit the university's scholarship application by the February 15 deadline.


University of North Georgia 

Dahlonega, GA Apply Now

About this school

The University of North Georgia's Distance Education and Technology Integration programs bring the university's academic excellence to students living all over the world. Online students benefit from virtual textbooks, online tutoring, and 24/7 information technology support. With asynchronous learning, students can complete work at any time of day and earn their degrees as quickly as possible. Finally, prospective part-time students should consider UNG for graduate programs; the university's online degrees offer all core courses each semester.

The master of education in middle grades math and science at UNG prepares licensed middle-grades teachers to earn an additional endorsement on their licenses. The 12-course, 36-credit curriculum features coursework in building professional learning communities, mathematical reasoning, and physical science for middle-grades teachers. The capstone course involves a practicum experience that students complete at their job sites. Full-time students can earn their degrees in just 16 months, and graduates go on to in-demand careers, including middle-grades STEM teachers.

UNG accepts new online master's in education students in the fall, spring, and summer semesters. Application requirements include a minimum 2.75 undergraduate GPA and a valid teaching license. Out-of-state students who live in states without Georgia teaching licensure reciprocity cannot apply.


University of Illinois at Springfield 

Springfield, IL Apply Now

About this school

The University of Illinois at Springfield first opened in1969 and became part of the University of Illinois system in 1995. Today, the university educates over 5,000 students and offers undergraduate and graduate degrees to on-campus and online students. UIS has won multiple awards for its online programs, making it a superb choice for in- and out-of-state students.

The master of arts in education at UIS prepares teachers for careers in education administration. The 32-credit curriculum emphasizes coursework in school law, principalship, and supervision of instruction. In the final semester, students complete two principal internships at their job sites. Although most students can graduate in two years, academically ambitious students can extend their education by earning a graduate certificate; some options include a learning behavior specialist certificate and educational technology certificate.

Students remain in good academic standing by maintaining a minimum 3.0 GPA. Graduates can go on to careers like teacher mentors, community college instructors, or human resources managers. Finally, the online master's in education program satisfies Illinois' requirements for a principal endorsement.

Prospective students can apply for the fall or spring semester. Applicants with 2.5-2.99 GPAs may receive conditional admission. UIS does not ask for standardized test scores or recommendation letters. Although applicants aren't required to have a teaching license, they should have some teaching experience.


Northeastern State University 

Tahlequah, OK Apply Now

About this school

NSU dates back to 1851 when the Cherokee Nation founded a seminary school in Tahlequah, a city in present-day Oklahoma. When Oklahoma became a state, it took control of the school and created satellite campuses in Muskogee and Broken Arrow. Today, the university boasts five online bachelor's programs and 10 online master's programs.

The master of education in science education at NSU boasts two cohort tracks: STEM and endeavor cohort, including endeavor STEM certificate. Both tracks use the same professional education courses featuring coursework in educational research and inquiry in science education. STEM-track students complete a specialization before selecting a capstone experience from three options: action research, science teaching portfolio, or science curriculum project. Endeavor-track students complete a specialized capstone that qualifies them for the endeavor certificate.

The degree's rigorous curriculum fully aligns with the latest teaching standards for science educators (e.g., Next Generation Science Standards). Also, both tracks in this online master's in education program prepare students for National Board Certification, which increases teachers' employability and salary potential. Cohorts graduate in two years.

Prospective students must possess a bachelor's degree in a science or education topic, currently work in a school setting, and either hold or qualify for a teaching license. Other application requirements include GRE or MAT scores. Students can fund their education by applying for a TEACH Grant, which awards up to $4,000 per year if students promise to teach in a school that educates low-income students.


East Central University 

Ada, OK Apply Now

About this school

From its campus in Ada, Oklahoma, East Central University offers out-of-state and international students five online bachelor's degrees and five online master's degrees. These programs prepare the next generation of educators, nurses, and criminal justice professionals for managerial careers, which often boast lucrative salaries. Online graduate students can complete their online degrees in an asynchronous format, which allows them to continue working full- or part-time.

Students at ECU can choose from four in-demand online master's in education programs: library media, educational leadership, educational technology, and sports administration. The library media and sports administration programs include valuable practica experiences. In educational technology, students learn the knowledge and skills necessary to become technology integration coaches or academic technology specialists. Full-time students can earn their degrees in as few as 18 months.

Prospective students can apply to one of six start dates throughout the year. Applicants to the educational leadership program must possess an active teaching license and at least two years' experience. All master's in education programs require applicants have a minimum 2.5 undergraduate GPA and GRE or MAT scores. Students who do not meet the GPA requirement can still receive conditional admission in certain circumstances.


University of Alaska Fairbanks 

Fairbanks, AK Apply Now

About this school

Since its founding in 1917, University of Alaska Fairbanks has brought excellent higher education programs to Alaska residents. Its six campuses in and around Fairbanks offer 190 certificate and degree options. UAF stands apart from others on this ranking by boasting a School of Natural Resources and College of Fisheries, both of which perform research into Alaska's natural habitats. Online students can choose from dozens of entirely online certificates, bachelor's programs, and master's programs.

The online master of education in special education program at UAF attracts recent college graduates and practicing teachers who already possess licensure. Unlicensed students complete a 39-credit curriculum that confers initial Alaska teacher licensure, whereas licensed teachers complete a 36-credit curriculum that confers a special education endorsement. Both tracks feature coursework in the assessment of students with disabilities, teaching mathematics to special learners, and introduction to applied social science research. All students take a comprehensive exam at the conclusion of the program.

Application requirements include a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA, a passing score on the Praxis I test, and experience working with children with physical or mental disabilities. Applicants must also submit three letters of recommendation.


University of West Florida 

Pensacola, FL Apply Now

About this school

University of West Florida brings rigorous certificate, bachelor's, and master's programs to students living in the U.S. and beyond. Online students receive virtual tutoring and access to library and career resources. The school's Military and Veterans Resource Center helps active-duty military personnel earn their degrees by offering 24/7 academic and technical support.

The online MA in exceptional student education comprises a 30-credit core curriculum. Students also complete a 15-credit cognate in special and alternative education or applied behavior analysis. In the applied behavior analysis cognate, students analyze behavioral assessments, supervision and management fluency, and single-case design. The special and alternative education program emphasizes integrated curriculum and best practices in teaching challenging students. Students must remain in good academic standing by earning a minimum "C" grade in all courses.

UWF accepts new students in the spring, summer, and fall semesters; each start date uses a different application deadline. Application requirements include an active teaching license, a bachelor's degree that reflects a minimum 3.0 GPA, and GRE or MAT scores.


End of list, bravo!

The Advantages of an Education Education

Earning an online master's degree in education can make a big difference in a professional's career opportunities salary potential. States typically require individuals to earn a bachelor's degree if they wish to apply for teacher certification, so associate degree-holders may be limited with their job opportunities. While an associate degree can lead to a career as a preschool teacher, daycare worker, child service provider, or teaching assistant, it does not allow graduates to work as teachers in public schools.

A master's degree in education is usually a requirement for many higher level positions in the field. For instance, state certification standards for specialized education roles require a graduate degree, while school administrators, such as principals, instructional coordinators, and superintendents, usually need a master's degree in addition to significant work experience. Along with finding jobs in leadership roles, master's degree-holders also receive higher salaries. The chart below illustrates the difference between the average salary of an education professional with an associate degree compared to a professional with a master's degree.

Average Salary by Degree Level

Degree Level Average Salary
Associate Degree in Education $48,000
Bachelor's Degree in Education $56,000

Source: PayScale

Education Degree Salary Information

Many learners pursue a master's in education online because they want to work in a specialized role within schools, such as an administrative position. Education graduates can pursue careers as instructional coordinators, principals, and other non-teaching positions in schools. On the other hand, some people earn their master's degree because they need certification to teach within a specific field like special education. The list and table below provide more information about common post-master's careers and salary expectations.

K-12 Principal
Elementary, middle, and high schools need principals to oversee school operations. These professionals supervise teachers and make sure classes run smoothly. They may also implement curriculum standards, manage school finances, and discipline students. Public schools require principals to hold state licensure, in addition to teaching experience and a master's degree.
Instructional Coordinator
Instructional coordinators set the curriculum for school districts. They plan the curriculum based on education standards set at the local, state, and federal levels. They must also assess student performance to determine the effectiveness of the curriculum plans. These professionals need a state license if they work in public schools, which they can usually obtain with a master's degree and teaching or education administration experience.
Special Education Teacher
These educators work specifically with students dealing with learning and mental disabilities. They assess student abilities and develop lesson plans specific to each child's needs. Special education teachers must hold at least a bachelor's degree, but a master's degree and previous teaching experience can give job candidates an advantage in the job market.
School Superintendent
Superintendents oversee entire school districts. These administrators implement policies determined by the school board, hire principals, and manage the district's budget. Superintendents usually need a master's degree in education administration or leadership to gain state licensure.
English as a Second Language (ESL) Teacher
These educators instruct children for whom English is not their primary language. They may also teach students about American culture and customs. ESL teachers need a bachelor's degree, although often school districts prefer job candidates with master's degrees. ESL teachers must also hold state certification.

Salary by Experience Level for Education Careers

Careers Entry Level
(0-12 Months)
Early Career
(1-4 Years)
(5-9 Years)
(10-19 Years)
Principal $68,000 $82,000 $87,000 $95,000
Instructional Coordinator $53,000 $53,000 $56,000 $61,000
Special Education Teacher $40,000 $42,000 $47,000 $52,000
School Superintendent $111,000 $103,000 $122,000 $118,000
ESL Teacher $41,000 $41,000 $42,000 $50,000

Source: PayScale

Choosing an Online Education Degree Program

Prospective students have several options to complete their online education degree. As a result, they can afford to be selective in their search. Learners should first outline exactly what they want from a master's program. This can include courses, concentrations, and how quickly they want to earn their degree. The list below outlines several factors to consider before choosing an online master's degree in education.

  • Program Cost: One of the most important factors in one's decision usually involves tuition costs. In-state and public universities typically charge less than out-of-state or private schools. That said, prospective students can find plenty of financial aid resources to assist them, such as federal loan programs, scholarships, and grants.
  • Transfer Policies: Students can graduate more quickly if they bring previously earned credits with them. Look for schools with generous transfer credit policies, and you could shave a semester or even a year off your degree completion time. Some universities also partner with others to make the transfer process easier.
  • School Size and Type: The type of school you attend can affect class sizes. Public universities tend to enroll more students which leads to bigger class sizes. Private colleges usually offer smaller class sizes. Even with online courses, class size can make a big difference. Professors teaching smaller classes may be more capable of giving personal attention to students through email or virtual conferencing.
  • Program Length: Students can usually complete their master's in education programs in one year, 18 months, or two years. Several elements can affect how quickly students complete their degrees, such as whether they enroll part- or full-time. Students who want to graduate more quickly should look for schools with accelerated courses and transfer credit policies.
  • On-Campus Requirements: Most distance learning programs can be completed fully online, without students ever needing to visit campus. However, some programs include an internship or supervised work experience requirement in the last semester. This means distance learners who work full-time may need to quit their jobs or switch to part-time work for a term.

Accreditation for Online Education Degrees

Students should ensure their prospective schools hold proper accreditation. Accrediting agencies evaluate universities and degree programs for quality and rigor, which certifies that they adequately prepare graduates for their future professions. Students who graduate from unaccredited programs may find difficulty in landing jobs. For example, in order to work as a teacher or administrator in a public school, education professionals need state licensure; however, states do not grant licensure to applicants with unaccredited degrees.

Schools usually hold either regional or national accreditation. Regional accreditation comes from agencies within specific geographic areas, such as the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), among others. Although not as prestigious, national accreditation agencies also offer value. Online programs sometimes receive accreditation from the national Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC).

Many education degrees also earn approval from programmatic accreditation agencies, like the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), formerly known as the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). If you are unsure about the legitimacy of a certain accrediting body, review the websites of the Department of Education (ED) or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). These organizations offer lists of all accredited institutions and grant accrediting bodies the authority to assess institutions.

Education Concentrations

An online master's degree in education may offer several concentrations to prepare graduates for state licensure and specific careers. Sometimes programs offer emphasis areas in specific grade levels, such as elementary school or middle school grades. Other programs offer specializations in different subjects like math or science. You can find other popular concentrations in the table below.

  • Education Leadership:
    Many master's programs in education include a specialization in leadership, supervision, or administration. This concentration prepares graduates to work at the top levels of schools, such as principals or superintendents. Courses focus on practical knowledge, such as finance, management, and school-community relations. Other courses cover important topics like closing the racial achievement gap.
    • Careers this concentration prepares for: Elementary, middle, or high school principal; superintendent; school administrator; university administrator
  • Educational Technology:
    This concentration trains teachers to use technology in the classroom. The curriculum includes courses on online learning that cover how to administer and teach through distance education. Students also learn to use special technological tools inside the classroom to enhance lessons through video or audio components. Plus, degree-seekers learn how they can integrate technology into student projects and assignments.
    • Careers this concentration prepares for: K-12 teacher; online instructor
  • Bilingual Education:
    Many students come to the U.S. as immigrants and enroll in schools with little to no English-speaking ability. This emphasis area explores strategies and materials to teach English. Students learn about linguistics and language acquisition and how that can help teachers develop effective methods for English language learning.
    • Careers this concentration prepares for: ESL teacher
  • Special Education:
    A concentration in special education equips teachers to work with students with mental disabilities, such as autism, dyslexia, or ADHD. Learners may explore how to implement psychoeducational interventions and literary instruction for kids who struggle with reading. Courses also cover how to manage classrooms with exceptional students.
    • Careers this concentration prepares for: K-12 teacher; special education teacher
  • Curriculum and Instruction:
    This specialization focuses on creating a standards-based curriculum that nourishes student learning and curiosity. Students also learn to implement curriculum design into instruction, and how to assess whether those methods really work. Courses examine the latest research in the field so graduates can carry out research-based instruction methods.
    • Careers this concentration prepares for: Instructional coordinator

How Long Does It Take to Get a Degree in Education?

Students can complete an education master's degree online in two years, 18 months, or sooner, as several universities offer one-year degree programs. Master's programs typically require 36-48 credits of coursework for completion. Colleges and universities usually allow students to transfer in previous master's credit, which can help them graduate more quickly. Plus, many programs offer accelerated courses, shorter semesters, or terms that last year-round, which can also shorten the overall length of the degree.

Part-time learning is also a viable option for students with personal or professional responsibilities that preclude taking classes full-time, or for those who simply may need extra time to finish their degree. However, enrolling part-time can also increase the price of a master's program, as schools usually charge fees each semester, which can add up over time.

Courses in an Online Master's in Education Program

  • Supervision and Instructional Leadership
    This course examines how leadership from a school's administration can help teachers become more effective in their work. The course covers how to monitor curriculum implementation, make data-driven decisions, and develop a vision that guides teachers. Students also learn about best practices for leadership in schools.
  • Psychology of the Exceptional Child
    Students in this course discuss children with learning and mental disabilities. They study how children with disorders develop differently than their peers and how to handle certain behaviors appropriately. This course may also touch on instructional strategies for teaching disabled children.
  • Classroom Instruction for Language Learners
    Children for whom English is not their native language require a unique curriculum to help them with language acquisition. This course prepares future teachers with various pedagogical tools, materials, and instructional approaches to teach English as a foreign language.
  • Standards-based Curriculum Development
    Public schools need to meet certain curriculum standards set at the federal, state, and local levels. This course examines how to create curriculum plans to meet these standards. Students also explore curriculum models at different grade levels and academic disciplines, starting from needs assessment to lesson plan implementation.
  • Classroom Management
    This course covers theories, models, and ideas on how to manage classrooms. Students learn about what motivates children, how to handle behavioral problems, and effective discipline methods. In addition, course material reviews specific challenges, such as managing students with disabilities and considering student diversity.

Paying for Your Online Master's in Education Degree Program

An online master's degree in education requires a significant financial commitment. Often, students cannot pay out of pocket. Therefore, students should consider completing a FAFSA application to obtain federal funding. Potential awards include grants, loans, and work-study opportunities.

Grants do not require repayment, and work-study options provide money that students can use for any of their expenses. Student loans, on the other hand, require repayment starting six months after students graduate. The section below discusses potential scholarships for education students, which also do not have to be repaid.

Scholarships for Accounting Students

The CSDIW Native American Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The Continental Society of Daughters of Indian Wars offers scholarships to Native American students pursuing a degree in education or social service. Requirements include a minimum 3.0 GPA, a written statement expressing financial need, and official transcripts. Applicants should also hold a current membership with CSDIW.

Amount: $2,500-$5,000

Weimann Family Teaching Scholarship

Who Can Apply: This scholarship supports Pittsburgh Public School graduates striving to earn a master's degree in education. Applicants need to show proof of full-time enrollment at an accredited school. This scholarship also requires a minimum 2.0 GPA, proof of financial need, transcripts, and letters of recommendation.

Amount: $10,000

The School Superintendents Association Educational Administration Scholarships

Who Can Apply: AASA promotes academic excellence among education professionals and advocates for children. AASA honors former directors by providing seven scholarships to students earning an online master's degree in education. Applicants need a recommendation letter from their department chair.

Amount: Varies

Pi Lambda Theta Support Scholarships

Who Can Apply: Established in 1910 as a national honor society, Pi Lambda Theta supports education professionals. Students pursuing an online master's degree in education at an accredited school may qualify for this scholarship. Requirements include official transcripts, a 500-word essay, recommendation letters, and a description of extracurricular activities. Students must also hold a minimum 3.5 GPA.

Amount: $2,000

The Graduate Scholarship Program

Who Can Apply: The New York City Graduate Scholarship Program strives to reduce shortages of professionals in bilingual education, especially bilingual special education. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited school, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and two letters of recommendation. Students should also submit copies of New York teaching certificates or bilingual certificates.

Amount: Varies