Best Online Master’s in Education 2022

by TBS Staff Writers, Sherry Christiansen
• 0 min read
reviewed by TBS Rankings Team
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Educators with a master's degree work as school principals, instructional coordinators, and lead teachers.

They can also pursue opportunities as superintendents and higher education administrators. In these roles, educators take on leadership roles in schools and improve student learning outcomes.

Earning a master's degree in education increases a teacher's earning potential and offers career advancement opportunities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, school principals earn a median salary of over $95,000 per year and college administrators make over $94,000 per year. Many practicing teachers choose an online master's in education program to continue working while earning a graduate degree.

This page also covers how to choose the right master's program, career paths for graduates with a master's in education, and common salaries for educators with a master's degree.

The Best Online Master's in Education Programs

#1 Online College in Maryland

Johns Hopkins University

School Information
Location Baltimore, Maryland
Admission Rate 11%
Graduation Rate 93%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 46% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Fast Facts

School Type: Private

Concentrations Available: No

Accredited By: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? Yes

Johns Hopkins offers an online master of science in education policy. The online degree in education emphasizes federal and state mandates. Degree-seekers learn to develop evidence-based education policies.

Students can enroll full time or part time. The online master's in education requires 33-36 credits. Learners complete a first-semester hybrid course, which requires five days of in-person studies in the District of Columbia. Students can participate in an internship to gain practical experience.

Admission requirements include a cumulative 3.0 GPA and a bachelor's degree from an accredited school.

Available Scholarships: JHU Grant

#2 Online College in North Carolina

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

School Information
Location Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Admission Rate 23%
Graduation Rate 91%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 12% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Fast Facts

School Type: Public

Concentrations Available: Autism

Accredited By: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? No

UNC-Chapel Hill offers a master of education for experienced teachers with a specialty in early childhood intervention and family support. The curriculum focuses on early childhood education, social equity, and evidence-based practices.

The university designed the program for working teachers studying part time. Learners can pursue the degree in a hybrid format, completing classes online and in person during late afternoon sessions. The online master's in education program requires 33-36 credit hours, and most students graduate in two years.

The autism specialization focuses on symbolic communication and the early intervention of autism. Participants learn to work with the family members of children who have autism and high-level needs. Learners in this track complete a practicum, working with children with autism and their family members.

Available Scholarships: General Alumni Association Scholarships

#3 Online College in California

University of Southern California

School Information
Location Los Angeles, California
Admission Rate 11%
Graduation Rate 92%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 17% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Fast Facts

School Type: Private

Concentrations Available: No

Accredited By: WASC Senior College and University Commission

Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? Yes

Learners in USC's online master of education in learning design and technology program develop the skills necessary to design and manage educational programs.

Coursework covers online instructional programs, online learning programs, and corporate training programs. The curriculum emphasizes the design and management of programs for online and hybrid learning environments.

The 21-month online master's in education program requires 30 units. Students can attend the synchronous online classes in the late afternoon, during evenings, or on weekends. Students take 2-3 classes per term.

Available Scholarships: Rockwell Dennis Hunt Scholastic Award

#4 Online College in Florida

University of Central Florida

School Information
Location Orlando, Florida
Admission Rate 44%
Graduation Rate 72%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 59% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Fast Facts

School Type: Public

Concentrations Available: Reading endorsement, ESOL endorsement, gifted education specialization, exceptional education specialization

Accredited By: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? No

UCF's online master of education in elementary education program helps elementary school teachers gain the skills necessary to specialize. The online degree in education prepares learners to sit for the Florida Teacher Certification Examinations.

The program offers endorsements in reading and ESOL and specializations in gifted education and exceptional education. Each endorsement or specialization requires 15-18 credit hours.

Applicants to the program need at least 12 months of teaching experience and a temporary K-6 teaching certificate.

Available Scholarships: Feldheim Nonprofit Management Endowed Scholarship

#5 Online College in Massachusetts

Boston University

School Information
Location Boston, Massachusetts
Admission Rate 19%
Graduation Rate 88%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 10% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Fast Facts

School Type: Private

Concentrations Available: Elementary education, English education, English as a second language, math education, science education, social studies education, special education

Accredited By: New England Commission on Higher Education

Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? Yes

BU delivers a fully online master of education in curriculum and teaching program. Practicing teachers can pursue the online master's in education to specialize in a content area. Concentration options include elementary education, special education, and math education.

The curriculum comprises asynchronous online classes, which offer flexibility for working professionals. BU accepts applications year round. Learners can begin classes in the spring, summer, or fall semester. The online degree in education requires 36 credits, which students complete in 18-24 months.

Available Scholarships: Martin Luther King, Jr. Fellowship

#6 Online College in Illinois

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

School Information
Location Champaign, Illinois
Admission Rate 59%
Graduation Rate 85%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 39% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Fast Facts

School Type: Public

Concentrations Available: No

Accredited By: Higher Learning Commission

Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? Yes

Illinois delivers an online master of education global studies in education emphasizing globalizing policy and children and youth studies. Students learn about teaching methods and practice and explore online learning environments. Degree-seekers identify innovative solutions to modern education issues.

The 32-credit curriculum covers topics including sustainability and climate change, human rights, and technology's impact on education. Students gain the skills necessary to become education researchers and leaders. Illinois enrolls learners from around the world.

Available Scholarships: American Association of University Women Career Development Grants

#7 Online College in Florida

University of South Florida-Sarasota-Manatee

School Information
Location Sarasota, Florida
Admission Rate 24%
Graduation Rate 47%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 69% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Fast Facts

School Type: Public

Concentrations Available: Secondary education: teaching English speakers of other languages (TESOL)

Accredited By: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? No

USF offers an M.Ed. in secondary education with an emphasis in TESOL. The program prepares education professionals to obtain a TESOL credential. Degree-seekers explore the latest developments in the field. Students customize the curriculum based on their background and professional goals.

Learners can pursue the master's in education program online, in person, or in a hybrid format. Applicants without a graduate degree must submit two letters of recommendation, a concept paper or goal statement, or evidence of proficiency in a second language.

Available Scholarships: James Madison Fellowship

#8 Online College in Minnesota

Martin Luther College

School Information
Location New Ulm, Minnesota
Admission Rate 84%
Graduation Rate 69%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 30% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Fast Facts

School Type: Private

Concentrations Available: Educational technology, instruction, leadership, special education

Accredited By: Higher Learning Commission

Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? Yes

A private college based in New Ulm, Minnesota, MLC delivers an online master of science in education program. Degree-seekers can follow the standard curriculum or develop a customized curriculum based on their career goals.

The online master's in education features concentrations including education technology, leadership, and special education. Degree-seekers can also specialize in instruction to explore research-backed learning approaches. Students focusing on special education learn to address learning, behavior, and communication issues.

Available Scholarships: Grefe Family Scholarship

#9 Online College in Indiana

Purdue University-Main Campus

School Information
Location West Lafayette, Indiana
Admission Rate 60%
Graduation Rate 82%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 22% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Fast Facts

School Type: Public

Concentrations Available: No

Accredited By: Higher Learning Commission

Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? No

Based in West Lafayette, Indiana, Purdue offers an online master of arts in teaching. Degree-seekers gain the tools necessary to teach middle school or secondary school.

The curriculum emphasizes teaching methods. The program does not include student teaching or internships and does not lead to teacher certification. However, learners in some states can pursue certification through Purdue's partnership with the American Board.

Full-time students typically complete the fully online master's in education program in 1.5 years.

Available Scholarships: Flaningam Award

#10 Online College in Michigan

Michigan State University

School Information
Location East Lansing, Michigan
Admission Rate 71%
Graduation Rate 81%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 26% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Fast Facts

School Type: Public

Concentrations Available: No

Accredited By: Higher Learning Commission

Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? Yes

MSU delivers a master of arts in educational technology program emphasizing psychological theories and critical thinking. Degree-seekers learn to employ technologies in the teaching process.

Students pursuing the online master's in education prepare to use technology to improve learning potential in various educational settings.

MSU delivers the program in online and hybrid formats. Learners can study abroad during summer terms. Most students complete the 30 required credits in 1.5 years.

Available Scholarships: Cole Excellence Award

Best Online Programs - Master's in Education

Online Master's in Education Programs Ranking Guidelines

We selected the following programs based on academic quality, course offerings, faculty, rankings, awards, and reputation. We also considered the overall quality of the school's online programs.

Featured Online Schools

What Is a Master's Degree in Education?

A master's degree in education prepares graduate students for leadership roles in the classroom and in educational settings. Master's programs for teachers emphasize classroom management techniques, educational research, and educational technology. Master's programs for administrators train future principals and school administrators in the management and leadership skills required for their roles.

Prospective master's students can choose to earn an MA in education or an M.Ed. While both degrees prepare students for advanced roles in education, an MA track typically emphasizes research, while M.Ed. pathways focus more on practice. It generally takes full-time students two years to earn a master's in education.

Online Master's in Education Programs

An online master's in education program may appeal to working educators seeking career advancement. The flexible, accessible learning environment means teachers can attend a top program without quitting their job or relocating.

In an online program, graduate students complete coursework requirements at their convenience. Some online programs offer courses with an asynchronous format, meaning there are no set course times. Other programs use a synchronous format, where students meet for class at scheduled times. Many synchronous programs set meeting times in the evenings or weekends to fit a teacher's schedule.

By choosing to earn an online master's degree in education, teachers can advance their careers while working full time. Nevertheless, an online learning environment requires a self-motivated approach. Many programs offer online advising and career support to help online learners.

What Can You Do With a Master's in Education?

Earning a master's degree in education helps teachers advance their careers and increase their earning potential. Many roles in education require a master's degree, including administrative positions like school principal and higher education administrator. Teachers with a master's degree often earn higher salaries and take on leadership roles in their schools.

While a bachelor's degree meets the requirements for a teaching license, roles like instructional coordinator, lead teacher, principal, and superintendent often require a master's degree. Teachers can also strengthen their classroom skills by pursuing a master's degree.

An accredited online master's degree in education meets the requirements for a school administrator license in every state. Prospective master's students can explore different career paths with an education degree for more information on the roles that require a master's degree in education. After completing a master's in education, some individuals choose to further advance their careers by earning an online doctorate in education.

Featured Online Schools

Choosing an Online Education Graduate Program

Prospective education graduate students should consider several factors when choosing an online program. In addition to weighing the total cost of a master's in education, students should also consider the program's curriculum, the length of the degree plan, and any on-campus requirements.

By researching the following factors, educators can find the best online master's degree in education for their career goals and needs.

  • Program Cost - The associated with earning a master's in education varies. In general, public, in-state schools charge the lowest tuition rates, but some programs offer a flat rate for all online learners, regardless of residency.
  • Transfer Policies - Educators with prior graduate-level credits should review a program's transfer policies to see if they can lower the cost of their degree and shorten the length of time required to complete the program by transferring in credit.
  • School Size and Type - In addition to considering the benefits of public versus private schools, some students prefer a program that offers smaller class sizes, while others prefer a larger cohort of education graduate students.
  • Program Length - The length of a master's in education degree track can vary depending on the total credits required, internship requirements, and the program's enrollment options.
  • On-campus Requirements - Online master's in education programs may incorporate on-campus requirements, while others offer a fully online curriculum where students meet field experience requirements locally.
  • Thesis, Fellowship, and Work Requirements - Programs with a stronger research focus may incorporate a thesis requirement, while master's programs for teachers may require a certain amount of teaching experience for admission.

Accreditation for Online Education Degrees

Educators considering a master's degree should always choose an accredited school. Colleges and universities that hold regional accreditation meet the highest standards for educating students. Accrediting agencies review schools to determine whether they meet accreditation standards. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation reviews accrediting agencies and maintains a database of accredited schools.

In addition to regional accreditation, programs can hold specialized, programmatic accreditation. The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) accredits master's programs. CAEP evaluates education programs in terms of student learning outcomes, faculty qualifications, and graduation requirements. Programs must regularly undergo review to maintain their CAEP accreditation.

The best online education master's programs hold CAEP accreditation. Programmatic accreditation benefits students in several ways. In many states, only accredited education degrees meet the requirements for an educator license. Employers may also prefer to hire educators with an accredited degree.

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

Earning a master's degree in education generally takes two years, although some programs offer an accelerated, one-year master's degree. Several factors can influence the length of a master's in education degree track, including a student's enrollment status and graduation requirements. For example, many programs incorporate field experiences, but the length of an internship can vary depending on the program.

Master's programs for teachers generally require a more extensive practicum, while programs with a school administration or higher education focus often require less field experience. Many master's in education online programs design the degree plan for working educators, prioritizing flexibility around a teacher's schedule.

Courses in an Online Master's in Education Program

While earning an online master's degree in education, graduate students take courses designed to strengthen their teaching and/or administrative abilities, depending on the program.

Classroom Management

Classroom management courses explore best practices in classroom and behavior management. Participants learn strategies for managing student behaviors, organizing classroom space, and time management. Graduate students also examine regulations and laws governing teachers in the classroom.

Technology in Education

This course explores the relationship between pedagogy and technology, methods to promote information literacy, and theoretical frameworks for understanding how students learn with computer-based technology.

Issues in Education

Many programs include a course on current trends and issues in the field, including the role of technology in education, data-driven decision-making, school inclusiveness, and demographic shifts that impact education.

Educational Research

In this course, students explore methods and procedures for conducting research in education, including how to evaluate research reports. With a focus on qualitative and quantitative research, the course prepares graduates to apply current research in education.

Teaching Math in Elementary School

Graduate students in this course learn research-based strategies for K-5 mathematics instruction, including best practices in assessment and learning. The course introduces several different content standards, and students may complete field experiences to enhance their training.

Master's in Education Jobs

Earning an online master's in education prepares graduates for a variety of roles in education. Teachers with a master's degree move into leadership roles and often earn higher salaries. A master's in education also leads to opportunities as an instructional coordinator, a school principal, or a school administrator.

Instructional Coordinator

Median Annual Salary

$64,450

Projected Growth Rate

6%

Instructional coordinators — also known as curriculum specialists — oversee the curriculum and teaching standards for schools or districts. They create educational material designed to meet curriculum standards, work with teachers and principals to implement the curriculum, and analyze data on its effectiveness. Instructional coordinators train teachers about new content and technologies and recommend different teaching techniques.

Some instructional coordinators specialize in certain grade levels or subjects, including special education or English as a second language. Instructional coordinators working in public schools may need a license.

School Principal

Median Annual Salary

$95,310

Projected Growth Rate

4%

School principals oversee daily operations and long-term planning for their school. They manage teachers and staff, coordinate the school's curriculum, and promote a productive learning environment. K-12 principals work with instructional coordinators and teachers to develop and implement curriculum standards. They observe teachers to evaluate performance. Principals also manage the school's budget, analyze data on student achievement, and set academic goals for the school.

In most states, principals at public schools must hold a license, which generally requires a master's degree in education. Additionally, principals often need prior experience as a teacher before advancing to the administrative level.

School Administrator

Median Annual Salary

$94,340

Projected Growth Rate

7%

School administrators oversee student services at K-12 schools and at colleges and universities. They may manage the admission process by determining how many students to admit and recruiting prospective students. School administrators also work in student affairs, where they manage a school's advising services and promote student activities. At the college level, school administrators oversee residential life, manage athletic programs, and lead multicultural centers.

Most school administrators hold a master's degree, such as a master's in education. Some employers prefer candidates with prior experience in education or administration — particularly for managerial positions.

College Professor

Median Annual Salary

$78,470

Projected Growth Rate

11%

College professors teach undergraduate and graduate classes in their subject area, including in education. They create a syllabus to organize the course, design lectures and assignments, and assess student learning through papers and exams. In many institutions, college professors also conduct research in their specialty and publish their results in academic journals. They often sit on academic committees and advise students.

While professors do not need a teaching license, many tenure-track positions require a doctorate. However, a master's in education may meet the requirements for positions at some community colleges.

High School Teachers

Median Annual Salary

$60,320

Projected Growth Rate

4%

High school teachers educate students in a variety of disciplines, including language arts, social studies, mathematics, and the sciences. They design and adapt lesson plans to meet student needs and assess student abilities through assignments and exams. High school teachers draw on classroom management and leadership techniques to oversee their classes and act as a leader within their school.

In public schools, high school teachers must hold a teaching license or certificate for their grade level. A master's degree in education meets the qualifications for a teaching license. In many districts, educators with a master's degree earn a higher salary.

Education Membership Associations

Professional organizations help graduate students and educators build their professional skills and advance their careers. The following organizations connect educators with professional development resources, research opportunities, and networking activities.

National Education Association Founded in 1857, NEA represents about three million members, including preschool teachers, postsecondary education administrators, principals, and K-12 teachers. The largest professional employee organization in the U.S., NEA advocates for public education and for educators. NEA offers lesson plans, classroom management tools, and teaching strategies to support educators. National Association for the Education of Young Children NAEYC connects educators and administrators with research, support, and professional development tools. NAEYC offers in-person and online training, hosts the Professional Learning Institute, and runs an annual conference to keep educators current in the field. The association also publishes a peer-reviewed journal. American Council on Education ACE represents over 1,700 colleges and universities. The council promotes effective public policy and innovative practice in higher education by offering professional learning resources, a fellowship program, and regional summits. ACE also provides student support resources, including mental health support and information for post-traditional learners. National Council of Teachers of Mathematics NCTM dates back to 1920. Today, it is the world's largest mathematics education organization. The council offers classroom resources for math teachers at all levels. NCTM also publishes research, offers professional development resources, and hosts an annual conference with networking opportunities. Education Commission of the States ECS provides research and resources on education policy issues, from early learning to postsecondary levels. The commission tracks state education policies and publishes research on funding, affordability, and workforce development in education. ECS resources can help education students and professionals make informed decisions about their profession.

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