If you have an interest in science and enjoy teaching others, you may want to consider pursuing a master’s in science education online. Graduates from these programs often go on to become science educators who teach at the postsecondary level, putting these individuals in a higher pay bracket than elementary, middle school, and high school teachers. Teachers in postsecondary education also tend to enjoy more flexible schedules than other teachers and have increased freedom when it comes to crafting their curriculum. Postsecondary teachers are currently in high demand in the U.S., and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects this profession to grow by 15% between 2016 and 2026; this is much faster than the growth rate of the average vocation in the nation.
Choosing an Online Science Education Master’s Program
Online master’s in science education programs offer a wide range of courses, informing distance learners about different areas of science and helping them become more effective teachers. In addition to learning about the theory and application of different areas of science, students are introduced to effective teaching techniques and strategies, enabling them to excel as science educators. Program requirements differ depending on the school but tend to feature research- and coursework-based curricula. Some common courses in this field include physics for science educators, chemistry for science educators, earth sciences for educators, evolutionary biology for educators, and design and data analysis for researchers.
Most programs culminate in a final project. Some of these projects are research-based, while others involve independent study. Independent study allows students to focus on a science-related topic from a field that interests them (e.g., biology, chemistry, or physics), letting them tailor their degree to fit their desired career path. Students work with an online advisor to write a thesis and complete their final project. Research-based projects also let students focus on a topic of their choice, but these typically require regular in-person collaboration with an advisor to produce the final project.
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Online Master’s in Science Education Degree Program Ranking Guidelines
We selected the degree programs based on the quality of program and range of courses provided, as well as school awards, rankings, and reputation.
The Best Online Master’s in Science Education Programs
1North Carolina State University
Raleigh, North Carolina
Students in NC State’s master of arts in teaching science – secondary education (MAT) earn a teaching license and complete a master’s degree in an accelerated format. This MAT program focuses on 9-12 grade science education and is not preparation for research-based doctorate educational programs.
NCSU’s online master’s in science education employs a hybrid model that includes both on-campus and online courses. The 33 credit MAT program requires students to maintain a 3.0 GPA, and courses topics include technology tools for science teaching and exploring diversity in classroom and community. All students participate in a semester-long teaching experience in which they apply their learning to real-world teaching scenarios.
To gain admission, students must provide proof of a 3.0 cumulative undergraduate GPA, and a bachelor’s degree in a scientific field from a institution recognized by a regional accreditation agency, such as Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Perspective students also must have a combined score of 300 on both verbal and quantitative sections in the GRE, with tests from within the last five years.
The state of North Carolina requires science teachers to earn a comprehensive license, and NC State delivers a broad-based curriculum that emphasizes the interdependence of the sciences.
North Carolina State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS).
2 East Carolina University
Greenville, North Carolina
Located in Greenville, NC, East Carolina University offers a completely online master of arts in education – science education. The MA prepares graduates to teach in a two-year college setting or to boost their own professional advancement. To gain admission, students must have graduated with a science-based bachelor’s degree, and provide proof of a cumulative 2.7 GPA from their undergraduate degree or a 3.0 GPA during their senior year and major courses. ECU accepts either the GRE or MAT as an entrance exam for graduate applicants. This program also requires three letters of recommendation, and a letter of intent from prospective students.
The 36 credit curriculum requires at least 18 credits in physical, biological, or earth science, and include perspectives on science education, contemporary approaches to teaching biological science, and advanced methods in science teaching and learning. Another 12 credits are completed within science education, with the remaining six credits taken via electives. Students also must complete a thesis, pass a comprehensive science education examination, and attain a 3.0 cumulative GPA throughout their coursework.
Due to state education regulations, ECU does not offer this degree to students residing in Alabama, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Maryland, and Ohio.
East Carolina University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS).
3Oregon State University
Oregon State University’s Ecampus offers a completely online master of education – advanced science and mathematics education for those wanting to teach science to K-12 students, or to simply gain further expertise in the field. This online master’s in science education also allows working educators to use their workplaces to conduct research for a required project within the degree.
Applicants must have a 3.0 cumulative GPA in undergraduate courses, a bachelor’s degree in a related field, at least a year of teaching experience, and access to an educational setting in which to conduct coursework research. This program also accepts up to 15 transfer graduate credits. This program does not provide professional licensure outside of Oregon.
OSU’s master’s degree is a two year, cohort-based program, which enables students to participate in an active learning community throughout their education. All courses are completed online — though some require locally proctored exams — and are taught by the same expert faculty as their on-campus counterparts. The 45 credit degree requires 18 credits in core courses, 12 credits for specialized courses, and the remaining 15 credits for electives. Coursework includes advanced science and mathematics education, educational leadership, and research methods in education and action research. OSU runs on a quarter system, each lasting 11 weeks. Out-of-state students pay the same in tuition as their in-state counterparts.
Oregon State University is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).
4Nova Southeastern University
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
NSU’s Fischler College of Education, located in Fort Lauderdale, offers a master of science in education with a specialization in science education. This master’s in science education online program prepares graduates for middle and high school level science education, and is geared specifically for educators looking to boost their expertise in their field. Applicants must possess a minimum cumulative 2.5 GPA from their undergraduate degree to apply.
Coursework in this master of science include interdisciplinary earth science for teachers, teaching comprehensive ocean studies, and teaching inquiry-based life science. Students complete 36 credits to graduate, and participate in a culminating professional experience, where they apply learned coursework to a real life teaching scenario. A 3.0 cumulative GPA is required to graduate.
The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) provides accreditation to NSU’s College of Education, and covers the online advanced educator programs, but does not cover re-licensure. Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges give accreditation to the NSU school as a whole. Students residing outside of Florida should check with their state department of education to make sure that this degree meets their state’s education requirements. Out-of-state students pay the same as their in-state counterparts.
Nova Southeastern University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS).
5 Hamline University
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Hamline offers an online master of arts in education: natural science and environmental education that features a required field research component within your community. Located in Saint Paul, MN, Hamline is the only United Methodist university in the state. Students in this online master’s in science education complete coursework asynchronously, and in as little as 18-24 months. Graduates pursue careers as teachers, naturalists, non-profit leaders, and museum directors, among many others.
This 34 credit master’s degree contains 24 credits of required courses in topics like the environment and society, history of the environment, and ecological systems. The remaining 10 credits are electives, and may be earned via finishing the school’s Environmental Education certificate, taking continuing studies courses within the graduate school, or from classes offered in any other continuing studies certificate program. Students also complete a capstone project or capstone thesis to graduate. A maximum of five graduate credits can be transferred from previous graduate work at Hamline or another outside institution. Hamline uses a blend of cutting edge online technology platforms to deliver content, including Blackboard, Lynda, Piperline, and Moodle. Professors offer one-to-one feedback through the phone or video software programs like Google Hangouts.
North American Association of Environmental Education (NAAEE) gives accreditation to this program, which is part of only seven other programs that receive the same accreditation. Out-of-state students pay the same as in-state students.
Hamline University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
6University of Nebraska at Kearney
UNK is a mid-sized, public university that makes up one of the four schools in the University of Nebraska system. The online master of science in education: science/math education is designed for educators looking to gain further expertise in their field as 7-12 grade educators. Applicants must provide proof of a bachelor’s degree and a teaching certificate in physical science, math, biology, chemistry, or physics.
Students complete 36 credits to graduate, including 12 credits in a specific focus like chemistry, physical science/physics, biology, or math. Other coursework includes natural science curriculum and curriculum development in multicultural education, each designed to build a solid foundation for science/math education. Students in this master’s in science education online program also must pass a comprehensive final exam within their field of study, while a three-credit capstone course provides an opportunity to create a new curricular unit — or recreate an old one — to use within the classroom.
The remaining curriculum consists of nine credits of general teaching courses, six credits of math or science outside the student’s area of focus, and six credits of electives. Degree seekers should expect a three-credit course to take, on average, 9-12 hours per week. Online students use Microsoft Imagine, and SmarterMeasure, which helps learners understand their strengths and weaknesses in distance learning.
Applicants from out-of-state should determine if this program fulfills their state’s educational requirements as an advanced degree in science/math education.
The University of Nebraska is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
7Northern Arizona University
NAU, located in Flagstaff, AZ, offers a master of arts in science teaching (MAST) completely online. The program is designed for secondary educators to enhance their knowledge in the field or advance their current careers, especially those who specialize in chemistry or biology. Graduates find careers in a range of educational settings, including middle schools and high schools, both private and public, as science education leaders, and are prepared for advanced study for a Phd. or Ed.D. CAEP accredits this degree program, ensuring quality in educator preparation. Students must show a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 from their undergraduate studies to be admitted.
This online master’s in science education requires students to complete 30 credits with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher. The curriculum includes 15 credits of science content courses, 12 credits of science education courses, and a three-credit thesis or non-thesis capstone project. NAU gives a maximum of six years for students to graduate from the program.
NAU offers this online MAST degree only in a synchronous format; students attend courses through video conferencing at predetermined times. For learners living in the Flagstaff area, NAU offers first year science classes on campus as well as online. For part-time students, the degree can take an average of two years to complete, with six credits taken every semester, and 3-6 credits during the summer.
North Carolina State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
8 Columbus State University
CSU’s College of Education and Health Professions, located in Columbus, GA, offers an online master of arts secondary education: science for educators looking to boost their careers. This school provides top notch teaching programs both on-campus and online. Admission to this master’s in science education online program requires a minimum 2.5 cumulative GPA on all previous undergraduate and graduate coursework, a passing score on the Georgia Assessments for the Certifications of Educators or the GRE, ACT, or SAT, and a bachelor’s degree in a related field or 26-44 hours of related coursework from a regionally accredited school. CSU allows a maximum of nine transfer credits with a C grade or higher. This program only accepts incoming students in the fall semester.
This 39 credit master’s degree includes coursework in classroom management, knowledge of students, and methods in teaching secondary science. Students also complete in-classroom teaching with either a teaching internship or student teaching course. Learners must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 throughout the program and cannot graduate with two or more courses with a C or lower grade. All students must complete this degree within seven years of their admission.
CAEP and Georgia Professional Standards Commission grants accreditation to CSU’s educator preparation programs. Out-of-state applicants must check that this online educational degree matches their state’s educational regulations by emailing the program beforehand.
Columbus State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS).
9 Western Michigan University
WMU’s Mallinson Institute for Science Education provides a fully online master of arts in science education that prepares graduates to teach science in a primary or secondary school setting, or for advancement to a doctoral program in science education. This program does not require the GRE, and individuals may submit applications any time of the year due to rolling admissions. Students may use up to six transfer credits from another graduate science teaching program.
This 30 credit online master’s in science education requires science education core courses, science content classes, and higher level science education courses. The final six credits are completed via elective courses, a thesis, or an independent project.
Diverse course offerings include cognition and teaching, evolution for teachers, and intro to astronomy. WMU also provides online students the chance to take the history/philosophy of science, the history/philosophy of science education, and models of teaching and learning courses on-campus if they live locally. Online students benefit from an array of assistance, including the ability to set up Skype appointments with the Writing Center. Out-of-state students pay the same tuition as in-state students.
WMU, located in Kalamazoo, MI, has been a leading national research university for over a century. WMU boasts three campuses throughout Kalamazoo, as well as regional locations throughout Michigan and Florida.
Western Michigan University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
10 Montana State University–Bozeman
MSU, located in Bozeman, MT, offers an online master of science in science education to educators looking to advance in their careers. MSU is Montana’s largest university and boasts a national reputation for providing excellent educational opportunities. The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities grants accreditation to MSU, as well as CAEP for the school’s educational degree programs.
This 30 credit online master’s in science education requires 12 credits of interdisciplinary science courses in a variety of related fields, including environmental science, physics, earth science, biology, chemistry, engineering, and microbiology. The remaining credits consist of 14 core education credits, and four elective credits from either science or education departments. Degree-seekers take, on average, two to three years to complete their program. Starting dates at the beginning of the fall, spring, and summer semesters provide flexibility to students who need to build their course schedules around their busy personal and professional lives.
This program features nearly 80 percent of its courses delivered online in an asynchronous format, while the remaining classes occur on the Bozeman campus, including field and lab classes offered in the summer. Students must take a minimum of a single two credit field/lab on-campus course. Students also present their final capstone project on-campus as well during the Summer Science Education Symposium.
Applicants must provide proof of a cumulative undergraduate 3.0 GPA, as well as demonstrating two years of successfully teaching science in an educational setting.
Montana State University is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).
Online Master’s in Science Education Careers
Online master’s in science education graduates typically qualify for a number of specialized science teaching positions. There are many different science courses at the postsecondary education level, including chemistry, biology, physics, geology, and astronomy classes.
- Postsecondary Chemistry Teacher: Postsecondary chemistry teachers instruct college courses in advanced and specialized areas, including organic chemistry, physical chemistry, biochemistry, and computational chemistry. They create assignments, conduct lectures, and come up with lab projects to help students learn. In addition to teaching, postsecondary chemistry teachers also conduct their own research and publish their results and findings in peer-reviewed academic journals.
- Median Annual Salary: $76,750
- Projected Growth Rate: 15%
- Postsecondary Biology Teacher: Postsecondary biology teachers teach college students advanced specialized topics in biology, including microbiology, anatomy and physiology, human and animal biology, and biostatistics. They create curricula that include assignments, projects, and exams. They also conduct lectures and host office hours where they answer one-on-one questions from students outside of the classroom.
- Median Annual Salary: $76,650
- Projected Growth Rate: 15%
- Postsecondary Physics Teacher: Postsecondary physics teachers work with college students and teach a range of advanced and specialized topics, including particle physics, optics, and quantum mechanics. They prepare and deliver lectures and create assignments and exams. They also usually manage attendance and grading and make themselves available to students outside of class for additional help.
- Median Annual Salary: $84,570
- Projected Growth Rate: 15%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics