According to the Economic Policy Institute, increasing teacher shortages point not only to a lack of teacher shortage, but a shortage of teachers with strong credentials. Although the minimum requirement to practice as a primary and secondary school teacher is a bachelor’s degree, teachers can earn a master’s in education to strengthen their credentials and provide a quality education in high need subject areas. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects consistent growth for jobs in high school, middle school, and elementary school education, making now a great time to earn a master’s in science education online.
Earning a master’s degree in science education online can provide science teachers with the skills needed to excel in K–12 teaching, with the flexibility to continue working while earning their degree. A master’s degree also provides the credentials to teach at the postsecondary level, community colleges, and lower–level undergraduate courses at four–year universities. Whatever your goals, an online master’s provides an affordable, accessible pathway to a variety of teaching careers.
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 Science Education Degree Programs
1. North 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 (SACSCOC).
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 (SACSCOC).
3. Oregon 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).
4. Nova 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 (SACSCOC).
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).
6. University 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.
University of Nebraska at Kearney is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
7. Northern 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.
Northern Arizona 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 (SACSCOC).
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 many 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 – Bozeman is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).
The Advantages of an Science Education Education
Earning a master of science in STEM education online opens doors to a variety of careers in different industries, both inside and outside of teaching. The bachelor’s serves as the primary degree for practicing teachers, as this degree qualifies graduates to earn state teaching licensure; however, teachers who earn a master’s in education not only further their education and advance their teaching career, they also gain the knowledge, skills, and credentials to pursue careers in higher education, and outside of the teaching industry.
Graduates of master’s in science education online programs go on to work in research, governmental, and administrative roles, as well as careers in the arts and humanities, such as archivists and curators. These graduates can also work in the nonprofit sector, working for healthcare organizations, or as instructional coordinators for entire school districts. Earning a master’s degree in education provides the extra credentials these graduates need to expand their career options, as well as increase their earning potential. Below, you’ll learn more about career options and salaries for graduates of master’s in science education online programs.
Science Education Degree Salary Information
Online master’s in science education graduates typically qualify for several specialized science teaching positions. There are many different science courses at the postsecondary education level, including chemistry, biology, physics, geology, and astronomy classes.
- High School Teacher
- In addition to teaching courses, high school teachers with a master’s degree may potentially earn a higher salary, and may take on leadership roles within the school, such as department head or intern supervisor.Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $40,000
- Mid-Career: $42,000
- Experienced: $48,000
- Late Career: $55,000
- Postsecondary Teacher
- A master’s degree qualifies graduates to work as teachers in higher education, often instructing lower–level undergraduate courses in their science specialization. They may work at two– or four–year institutions.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $43,000
- Mid-Career: $46,000
- Experienced: $48,000
- Late Career: $51,000
- Archivist, Curator, and Museum Worker
- Curators and archivists in museums select and organize materials for exhibits and archives. Those with master’s degrees in science education might also apply their skills toward curating educational programs for museum visitors.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $37,000
- Mid-Career: $46,000
- Experienced: $53,000
- Late Career: $67,000
- Instructional Coordinator
- Instructional coordinators oversee the curriculum for entire schools or school districts. They work with teachers and administrators to ensure school curriculum meets state and national standards. These coordinators must hold a master’s degree.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $82,000
- Mid-Career: $86,000
- Experienced: $94,000
- School Principal
- Most elementary, middle, and high school principals hold at least a master’s degree. They often have experience in teaching which, along with their degree, enables them to take on leadership positions.
Choosing an Online Science Education Degree Program
Students interested in earning their master’s in science education online should carefully consider a variety of important factors before choosing a program. Things like program cost, school transfer policies, and the type and size of the school can all influence a student’s experience and success. For example, in–state programs generally offer a more affordable option for learners, and programs with generous transfer policies may serve as a great option for students with previously earned graduate credits. Consider these factors in detail, as there is more than likely an online school that fits your exact needs.
- Program Cost
- Finding an affordable program is typically a top priority; however, you should consider quality alongside cost. Some programs may offer flat rate options for online students, while others may charge extra fees for distance learners. Consider extra costs as well, like fees and any software or technology you may need to purchase.
- Transfer policies
- Students already possessing graduate credits and seeking to transfer them to a new program should look for schools with generous transfer policies, or that have transfer agreements with other schools. Generally, schools will require students to complete a minimum amount of credits at their institution, and may cap allowable transfer credits.
- School Size and Type
- Schools often pride themselves on low student-to-faculty ratios, which generally means smaller class sizes and more individualized attention. Some private institutions have smaller student bodies than public schools.; however, this may not indicate smaller class sizes or more student attention.
- Program Length
- The length of a program may serve as a deciding factor when choosing a school. The more credits a program requires, the longer it may take to earn that degree. Some programs may also require students to enroll on a part-time basis, or complete the program alongside a cohort, which can also impact time-to-completion.
- On–campus Requirements
- Many online programs, especially those in education, require some kind of in-person or on-campus element. This may entail visiting campus for a residency, or completing an in-person internship/supervised practice hours in your home community. Consider any on-campus or in-person requirements, and weigh your ability to complete them.
Accreditation for Online Science Education Degrees
Accreditation serves as a crucial factor when researching master’s in science education online programs. When a school holds accreditation from a recognized accrediting agency, it means the academic programs at that school meet or exceed standards set by that agency. This form of quality assurance provides prospective students a way to ensure they choose a school with a high quality program. Schools may hold regional or national accreditation, with regional as the more common and popular of the two. Regional accrediting bodies oversee schools in specific geographic areas. For example, the Higher Learning Commission oversees schools in the north–central United States, in states like Arizona, Arkansas, and Colorado. A school’s online programs fall under the same accrediting bodies as their on–campus counterparts.
Graduate programs in education may also hold additional accreditation from a programmatic accrediting body. While not necessarily required, programmatic accreditation offers another layer of quality assurance for specific programs. Many education programs hold programmatic accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).
The Department of Education (ED) oversees all financial assistance for education programs. As such they must recognize an accrediting body for students to utilize federal aid and assistance at schools accredited by that agency. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), a nongovernmental organization, also serves as a regulatory body for accreditation agencies and accredited schools. These organizations aim to maintain high educational standards across all higher learning institutions in the country. CHEA, specifically, aims to provide the public with information on accreditation, and advocacy in higher education. Both the Department of Education and CHEA have databases of accredited schools that students may search.
Science Education Concentrations
Students in master’s in science education online programs often have the option to specialize their degree through concentrations. These concentrations allow students to tailor their degree towards their interests and career goals. The table below details some of the popular concentrations for master of science in education degrees.
- Health Education
- Health education prepares students for careers in community and social services, and secondary education. The concentration emphasizes studies in human biology and anatomy, as well as methods for improving public health through community-based programs and initiatives.
- Careers This Concentration Prepares For: Health educator; community health worker; social and community services manager; health specialties teacher
- A concentration in biology emphasizes a broad, foundational knowledge of human, cell, molecular, and organismal biology. Courses in this concentration highlight research methods in biology, pedagogy in biology, and scientific methodology. Students may also study genetics, ecology, microbiology, and immunology.
- Careers This Concentration Prepares For: High school teacher; researcher
- Curriculum Development
- Science education students can choose a curriculum development emphasis to pursue careers as teachers and curriculum coordinators. This concentration often highlights courses in pedagogy and teaching methodologies at varying levels of education, from elementary to postsecondary. Students explore education policies and national standards for science education.
- Careers This Concentration Prepares For: Elementary, middle, or high school teacher; curriculum coordinator
- Reading and Literacy
- This concentration emphasizes the process of incorporating literacy and reading instruction into content areas, such as the sciences. Courses may cover topics in literacy and phonics, as well as teaching English language learners and supporting struggling readers at all levels.
- Careers This Concentration Prepares For: Elementary, middle, or high school teacher; reading specialist
How Long Does It Take to Get a Degree in Science Education?
A variety of factors influence how long it takes to complete a master’s in science education online. These programs typically require between 30–45 credits and take around two years of full–time study to complete; however, this can vary by school and program. For example, programs that require students to enter and complete the program within a cohort may take longer to complete. Programs requiring students to enroll part–time instead of full–time can also take longer. Some programs may have extensive internship or supervised practice requirements, which may also extend a student’s time–to–completion.
The longer a program takes to complete, the more expensive a program can be. This includes semester fees, tuition, and the cost of materials. Some programs charge a flat fee per semester, regardless of how many credits students enroll in. These programs may cost less overall, depending on the course load a student can reasonably undertake. Keep in mind that each program will have different requirements that may impact your time–to–completion.
Courses in an Online Master’s in Science Education Program
Online master’s in science education programs offer a wide range of courses, informing distance learners on different areas of science, and helping them become more effective teachers. In addition to 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, such as 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.
- Curriculum Development
- Master’s programs in science education often place an emphasis on pedagogy and curriculum development. This course explores the fundamentals of building a curriculum, including adherence to state and national standards, best practices for instruction, philosophies on curriculum and theory, and issues in curriculum planning.
- Chemistry for Science Teachers
- This course examines chemistry fundamentals through instruction, offering methods and practices for teaching chemistry at different grade levels. Students look over basic concepts in chemistry, and consider ways to teach students while adhering to standards, and addressing individual student needs.
- Environmental Biology for Science Teachers
- This course is specifically tailored toward educators at certain levels, such as middle school or high school. The course offers methods for exploring concepts in environmental biology with students at varying grade levels, and may explore topics in pedagogy and practice, research in and out of the classroom, and curriculum planning.
- Research Experience
- Graduate education often emphasizes research and scholarship. This course introduces and explores different research methodologies commonly used in science education, including qualitative and quantitative methods. Students may complete a formal research project of their own, either in a classroom or independently.
- Classroom Experience
- Many teacher preparation programs include some form of classroom experience. This may entail a formal internship in a school in the student’s local community, working alongside a practicing teacher. Alternatively, students already holding a teaching license may complete formal observations by supervisors. Generally, students write about their experience in a formal report.
Science Education Membership Associations
- National Science Teachers Association
- NSTA serves as the largest organization for science teachers, administrators, scientists, and researchers to promote the field of science education. The association offers a variety of conferences and workshops, as well as continuing education opportunities and awards.
- Association for Science Teacher Education
- ASTE has served members since the 1920s, supporting science education professionals through collaboration and scholarship. Members can take advantage of regional meetings, special publications, and award opportunities. Members also may serve in leadership roles through nomination and election.
- Society for Public Health Education
- For students pursuing health education, SOPHE offers awards, fellowships, and scholarships, including a special award for graduate students. Members have access to affordable continuing education opportunities, as well as an annual conference.
- National Association of Biology Teachers
- Since 1938, NABT has championed science educators around the world. The organization offers members access to networking platforms with other educators, teaching resources, professional development, and special publications. Members may also apply for available awards and scholarships.
- National Science Education Leadership Association
- NSELA advocates for effective and high-quality science education by offering science educators access to professional development, networking opportunities, and research and teaching resources. Members may also attend a variety of events offered throughout the year.