Best Online Master’s in Education Programs

TBS Staff Writers
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Updated January 8, 2024
Earning a master's degree in education increases a teacher's earning potential and offers career advancement opportunities.

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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 Best Online Master’s in Education Programs

Johns Hopkins University

  • Location-markerBaltimore, MD
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$55,350
  • Out-of-state$55,350
  • Retention Rate97%
  • Acceptance Rate11%
  • Students Enrolled27,079
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment46%
  • AccreditationYes
#2 Best Online Master’s in Education Programs

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

  • Location-markerChapel Hill, NC
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$7,019
  • Out-of-state$34,198
  • Retention Rate96%
  • Acceptance Rate23%
  • Students Enrolled29,877
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment12%
  • AccreditationYes
#3 Best Online Master’s in Education Programs

University of Southern California

  • Location-markerLos Angeles, CA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$57,256
  • Out-of-state$57,256
  • Retention Rate96%
  • Acceptance Rate11%
  • Students Enrolled48,321
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment17%
  • AccreditationYes
#4 Best Online Master’s in Education Programs

University of Central Florida

  • Location-markerOrlando, FL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$4,478
  • Out-of-state$19,810
  • Retention Rate91%
  • Acceptance Rate44%
  • Students Enrolled69,402
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment59%
  • AccreditationYes
#5 Best Online Master’s in Education Programs

Boston University

  • Location-markerBoston, MA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$54,720
  • Out-of-state$54,720
  • Retention Rate94%
  • Acceptance Rate19%
  • Students Enrolled33,720
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment10%
  • AccreditationYes
#6 Best Online Master’s in Education Programs

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

  • Location-markerChampaign, IL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$14,188
  • Out-of-state$33,127
  • Retention Rate93%
  • Acceptance Rate59%
  • Students Enrolled51,605
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment39%
  • AccreditationYes
#7 Best Online Master’s in Education Programs

University of South Florida-Sarasota-Manatee

  • Location-markerSarasota, FL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$4,206
  • Out-of-state$15,121
  • Retention Rate81%
  • Acceptance Rate24%
  • Students Enrolled2,207
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment69%
  • AccreditationYes
#8 Best Online Master’s in Education Programs

Martin Luther College

  • Location-markerNew Ulm, MN
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$15,870
  • Out-of-state$15,870
  • Retention Rate81%
  • Acceptance Rate84%
  • Students Enrolled994
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment30%
  • AccreditationYes
#9 Best Online Master’s in Education Programs

Purdue University-Main Campus

  • Location-markerWest Lafayette, IN
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$9,208
  • Out-of-state$28,010
  • Retention Rate91%
  • Acceptance Rate60%
  • Students Enrolled45,500
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment22%
  • AccreditationYes
#10 Best Online Master’s in Education Programs

Michigan State University

  • Location-markerEast Lansing, MI
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$15,555
  • Out-of-state$40,384
  • Retention Rate91%
  • Acceptance Rate71%
  • Students Enrolled49,809
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment26%
  • AccreditationYes

Best Online Programs

Masters in Education

2023


The Best Schools

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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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