Best Online Master’s in Elementary Education

by TBS Staff
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With an online master's in elementary education, teachers can pursue specialized roles and increase their earning potential.

Effective elementary teachers shape students' lives and teach skills that last a lifetime. A master's degree in elementary education helps teachers add specialized, graduate-level training to the classroom. This degree also allows teachers to move into leadership roles and increase their earning potential.

Why should teachers consider online master's in elementary education programs? The added flexibility of online programs may appeal to working educators. Teaching degrees from online programs help educators pursue online teaching jobs.

Our list ranks the top online master's programs in elementary education to help applicants find the best fit for their unique needs and goals.

Featured Online Programs

The Best Online Master's in Elementary Education

  1. Georgia Southern University
    Location

    Statesboro, GA

    Tuition

    $15435

    Georgia Southern's online master’s in elementary education focuses on classroom and field experiences in working with diverse student populations. The program is intended for current teachers and education professionals.

    The 36-credit degree may be completed in one year. The curriculum covers learning theories and advanced language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies teaching methods. Coursework includes communication across cultures.

    Admission requirements include a regionally accredited bachelor's degree, with a 2.5 cumulative GPA. Other requirements include a Georgia level four elementary education certification (or out-of-state equivalent) and statement of purpose.

  2. University of Louisiana at Monroe
    Location

    Monroe, LA

    Tuition

    $9455

    The master of arts in teaching, offered by ULM online, allows individuals with undergraduate degrees in non-education fields to pursue Louisiana Teacher Certification or equivalent out-of-state certification.

    Curriculum requirements include classroom behavior skills, leadership, advanced child psychology, and studies in science, math, language arts, and social studies. Graduates must earn a minimum of 39 credits. 

    Requirements for regular admission status include a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited university and appropriate test scores (PRAXIS I, ACT, or SAT).

  3. The University of Alabama
    Location

    Tuscaloosa, AL

    Tuition

    $20465

    UA's master of arts in elementary education provides full-time education professionals with quality instruction, leading to an advanced degree which leads to K-6 certification.

    Courses include educational research, early childhood and educational curriculum, and computer-based instruction. Candidates select a special option, such as literacy, mathematics, or social studies. The program includes practicum experiences to help them extend their online learning into physical classrooms.

    Admission requirements include current elementary education teaching certification and a bachelor's degree in elementary education (3.0 minimum GPA).

  4. University of North Alabama
    Location

    Florence, AL

    Tuition

    $12121

    UNA was the first state-supported teacher's college south of the Ohio River. The university's master of arts in elementary education combines learning theory and classroom management.

    Geared toward working professionals, the 33-credit program's coursework includes action research, issues in early childhood and elementary education, and learner assessments. 

    Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution (3.0 minimum GPA) and valid certification in elementary education (Alabama Class B or equivalent).

  5. Mississippi College
    Location

    Clinton, MS

    MC's master of education in elementary education targets teachers interested in gaining educational and analysis skills within a Christian curriculum.

    Requirements for the 30-credit program include core courses, advanced content method/material, and elementary electives. Classes focus on curriculum development, research, teaching and assessment skills, and diagnostic reading.

    Applicants must hold an elementary education undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution (2.5 minimum GPA) and a renewable teaching license in elementary education.

  6. Appalachian State University
    Location

    Boone, NC

    Tuition

    $10491

    Appalachian State's master of arts in elementary education meets requirements for "M"-level grades K-6 licensure in North Carolina. Candidates participating in the program gain a theoretical and philosophical foundation for elementary school curriculum practices.

    Graduates must complete a minimum of 39 credits. Topics include diversity, educational trends, and teacher leadership. Candidates select mathematics, science, social studies, and language arts field experience.

    Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, North Carolina "A" level teaching license (or out-of-state equivalent), references, and GRE or MAT scores.

  7. University of West Georgia
    Location

    Carrollton, GA

    Tuition

    $15392

    The master of education in elementary education offered through UWG focuses on research-based education and field experiences, to promote classroom learning.

    The 36-credit degree consists of professional studies, research and assessment, elementary content, and electives. Candidates must pass the Georgia Certification Exam to graduate. Class topics include investigating methods, classroom management, family/community involvement, and a practicum.

    Applicants must hold an early childhood or elementary education degree, with eligibility for elementary education certification. Applicants must submit their official transcripts; previously earned credits may be transferred to the program.

  8. University of North Dakota
    Location

    Grand Forks, ND

    Tuition

    $15374

    UND's 32-credit master of education in elementary education targets licensed teachers and education professionals interested in obtaining advanced knowledge in assessment, curriculum development, and diverse populations.

    Studies include mathematics, reading instruction, social studies education, and multicultural, policy, and psychology topics. Candidates complete the program with a thesis, independent study, or an independent project focused on an educational topic.

    Applicants must hold a teacher's license and undergraduate degree from an accredited university with a cumulative 2.75 GPA. Admission materials include official transcripts and a goal statement.

  9. University of North Carolina at Charlotte
    Location

    Charlotte, NC

    Tuition

    $14987

    The master of education in elementary education offered through UNC Charlotte teaches leadership skills and specialized content knowledge. Candidates are also eligible for additional certification in certain concentration areas.

    Required coursework in the degree's 30-credit program includes issues in global and urban elementary schools, classroom management and leadership for diverse learners, and research methods. Available concentration streams include literacy, math, STEM, and anti-racism.

    Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree in elementary education from an accredited institution and an elementary education teaching license. Admission materials include transcripts, three recommendation letters, and a personal statement.

    University of North Carolina at Charlotte is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

  10. Southeast Missouri State University
    Location

    Cape Girardeau, MO

    Tuition

    $12468

    An Apple Distinguished School, the SEMO master of arts in elementary education helps education professionals add to their knowledge, or expand into a new teaching area and/or eventual certification.

    Studies focus on assessment, research, and family/child collaboration. Candidates also select from specializations in reading, math/science, or early childhood.

    Applicants must hold a valid professional teaching certificate or be in the 50th percentile of GRE scores. Other requirements include an undergraduate degree obtained with a 2.75 minimum GPA and official transcript submission.

Best Online Master's

Online Master's in Elementary Education Degree Program Ranking Guidelines

We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.

Our Methodology

Here at TheBestSchools.org, we take the trust and welfare of our readers very seriously. When making our school and program rankings, our top priority is ensuring that our readers get accurate, unbiased information that can help them make informed decisions about online education. That's why we've developed a rigorous ranking methodology that keeps the needs of our readers front and center.

Our proprietary, multi-criteria ranking algorithm analyzes key data indicators — as collected by the federal government — for each school or program. What data we use depends on the focus of each specific ranking, but in all cases, our ranking methodology is impartial: Schools cannot buy better rankings at TBS.

While specific criteria under consideration can vary by ranking, there are a few data points that we value most highly. They are affordability, academic quality, and online enrollment. Below, we break down our algorithm to help you understand what you're getting when you use one of our rankings.

  • Academics
  • Affordability
  • Online Enrollment

Data Sources

The data used in TBS rankings comes primarily from the federal government, and much of it is provided by the schools themselves. We aggregate and analyze this data to build our rankings.

The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is our primary source. Its data comes from annual surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Every college, university, or technical school with access to federal financial aid must participate in these surveys, which include questions about enrollment, graduation rates, finances, and faculty qualifications. This is publicly available data, which you can access yourself through the College Navigator.

Additionally, because we value a personal touch and the professional experience of our staff and Academic Advisory Board, we vet all results and adjust rankings as necessary based on our collected knowledge of schools and degree programs. Depending on the ranking, we may obtain additional input from AcademicInfluence.com, subject matter experts, prior TBS ranking lists, or other sources we deem relevant to a particular ranking.

Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology

About Our Ranking Factors

Here at TBS, we value what you value: quality education, affordability, and the accessibility of online education. These factors guide all of our program rankings.

Each of these factors are further broken down into weighted subfactors. For example, retention rates are weighted more heavily than availability of program options because they are a better indicator of student success.

We chose the following factors for our rankings because of their influence on learning experiences and graduate outcomes. However, students should always balance our rankings against their personal priorities. For instance, a learner who needs a fully online program may prioritize online flexibility more than our rankings do. Our rankings are designed to help you make a decision — not to make a decision for you.

Academics - 75%
Affordability - 15%
Online Enrollment - 10%

In all our school rankings and recommendations, we work for objectivity and balance. We carefully research and compile each ranking list, and as stated in our advertising disclosure, we do NOT permit financial incentives to influence rankings. Our articles never promote or disregard a school for financial gain.

If you have questions about our ranking methodology, please feel free to connect with our staff through contact page.

We thank you for your readership and trust.

Featured Education Programs

What Is an Online Master's in Elementary Education?

A master's degree in elementary education builds advanced teaching skills. Some programs also offer initial licensure for students who do not possess teaching experience. With master's-level training in elementary education, graduates can take on leadership roles.

Enrollees in an elementary education graduate program study instructional techniques, assessment methods, and classroom management approaches. Many master's programs also offer concentrations for educators seeking focused career paths. For example, an elementary teacher interested in moving into special education or second language acquisition can take specialized graduate courses to prepare for an endorsement on their teaching license that indicates what subjects they are qualified to teach.

In addition to education programs focused on classroom careers, students can also pursue degrees in educational leadership or curriculum and instruction to move into administrative roles.

Why Get an Online Master's Degree in Elementary Education?

An online master's in elementary education helps teachers advance their skills and increase their earning potential. With a master's degree, many educators earn higher salaries and move into leadership roles.

  • A master's degree lets teachers specialize in areas like special education, gifted and talented education, or STEM education.
  • An online teaching degree helps working professionals balance their education with other commitments.
  • Graduates can pursue specialized certifications, endorsements, and credentials. For example, a master's degree builds the skills required for national board certification.
  • Educators improve their teaching and leadership skills during a master's program. Many offer coursework in educational leadership, instructional assessment, and curriculum management.

Elementary Education Concentrations

Enrollees in an online master's in elementary education program can often choose a concentration to focus on. This section introduces common elementary education concentrations.

Reading and Literacy

Educators in this concentration study literacy assessment, comprehension strategies, and research-based literacy approaches. Educators learn to apply reading and literacy theories in the classroom while strengthening their pedagogical skills. This focus builds advanced reading education abilities.

Gifted and Talented

A gifted and talented education concentration trains educators to meet the needs of exceptional children. Coursework explores topics in educational research, prepares educators to evaluate programs, and examines educational assessment methods. Learners can also study educational psychology, learning theories, and instructional applications. Graduates can then apply their knowledge in K-5 classroom settings.

Educational Leadership

Master's students in an educational leadership concentration examine leadership theories in school settings and the best practices in school management. Courses in instructional supervision, educational administration, and school budgeting prepare graduates for leadership positions. A master's in educational leadership may meet the requirements for a principal license.

Special Education

A special education concentration trains educators to teach students with disabilities. Many special education programs offer coursework in behavior challenges, autism, or learning disabilities. Educators also study federal regulations governing special education. Graduates can apply for board certification as exceptional needs specialists.

STEM Education

Elementary educators incorporate science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education into their K-5 lessons. This concentration trains teachers in STEM education through courses in problem-based mathematics, strategies for solving science problems, and STEM creativity. Graduates integrate STEM education best practices into their classroom instruction.

Teaching English as a Second Language

Educators who focus on English language learners can strengthen their second language acquisition training. Coursework focuses on strategies for teaching English at the elementary level, building literacy, and content area instruction. Teachers explore curriculum diversity, cultural contexts, and integrating home languages into lessons. Graduates can pursue board certification in English as a new language.

Enhanced Teaching Practices

This concentration emphasizes effective methods of educating students. Master's students take courses in classroom assessment, differentiated instruction, and classroom management. The curriculum may also cover technology use in education.

Prerequisites for a Master's Degree in Elementary Education

Master's programs in education typically require a bachelor's degree for admission. However, applicants do not necessarily need a bachelor's in elementary education. Some programs admit students who do not possess current teaching licenses. Other programs may require bachelor's degrees in education.

Applicants must also meet minimum GPA requirements. Some programs require GRE scores, letters of recommendation, teaching experience, and a personal statement. Prospective students should research prerequisites and admission requirements for their potential programs.

Featured Elementary Education Programs

How Much Does an Online Master's Degree in Elementary Education Cost?

The cost of an online master's degree typically ranges from $8,000-$20,000. Costs vary depending on the school, credit requirements, and tuition policies.

Graduate students can lower their costs by researching scholarships and other forms of financial aid. The TEACH Grant, for example, offers up to $4,000 per year for educators, including teachers pursuing master's degrees. Many universities also offer scholarships, grants, and fellowships to support graduate students. Finally, teachers can research scholarships through their districts or professional associations.

Choosing an Online Master's in Elementary Education Program

Prospective students should weigh multiple factors when choosing an online master's in elementary education program. For many students, cost, program length, and learning format rank at the top of their lists. Teachers may prefer the flexibility of an online program or an accelerated one-year master's degree.

Many universities offer tuition discounts for distance learners, which helps teachers save money while earning their master's degrees. Applicants can also consider specialization options and required student teaching hours to find the right fit. Prospective enrollees should research each program's accreditation status — earning an unaccredited teaching degree can negatively affect an educator's career.

Accreditation for Online Master's in Elementary Education Degrees

Educators considering master's degrees should choose accredited universities and programs. Accredited schools meet the highest standards for educating students and granting degrees.

In addition to institutional accreditation, prospective graduate students should seek out accredited education programs. The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation grants accreditation to online master's in elementary education programs. In many states, only an accredited degree meets the requirements for teaching licensure.

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

A master's degree in elementary education prepares graduates for careers in the classroom or administrative roles. Elementary teachers, special education teachers, and instructional coordinators often earn more with master's degrees.

Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers
Median Salary (2020):$60,660

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers educate young learners in foundational subjects, including reading, writing, and mathematics. They create lesson plans that assess student learning, identify areas for improvement, and align with district curriculum goals. Kindergarten and elementary school teachers also communicate with parents, provide differentiated instruction, and enforce classroom rules. Teachers at public schools typically need state-issued licenses.

Special Education Teachers
Median Salary (2020):$60,620

Special education teachers educate learners with disabilities. They assess each student's abilities and modify lessons to meet those needs. Special education teachers also develop individualized education programs (IEPs) for their students. These professionals carry out IEPs, track progress, and report performance to parents and administrators. Special education teachers generally need coursework in special education to receive teaching licensure.

Instructional Coordinators
Median Salary (2020):$70,270

Instructional coordinators create educational materials that align with the school curriculum. They also evaluate the effectiveness of the curriculum and train teachers in meeting core standards. By evaluating test data, instructional coordinators determine modifications in the curriculum or teaching methods. Instructional coordinators typically bring teaching experience and hold master's degrees. Jobs in public schools typically require state-issued licenses.

Childcare Workers
Median Salary (2020):$25,460

Childcare workers care for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. They encourage basic skills like emotional regulation and number recognition. Childcare workers at the pre-K level prepare children for kindergarten. A childcare worker typically does not need a college degree, but pre-K teachers and preschool directors often hold degrees. Licensure requirements vary depending on location.

Common Questions About Master's in Elementary Education Programs

true Is a Master's Degree in Education Worth it?

A master's in education helps educators increase their earning potential and move into administrative roles. With a master's degree in elementary education, educators can qualify for higher salaries and lead teacher positions.

Do Teachers Get Paid More With a Master's Degree?

Yes. Teachers with master's degrees generally earn higher salaries. In many school districts, educators with graduate degrees can advance in the salary schedule.

What Is the Difference Between a Master of Arts and a Master of Education?

Both a master of arts in teaching and a master of education in elementary education develop graduate students' pedagogical and instructional skills. Both degrees prepare learners for classroom teaching careers.

Featured Special Education Programs

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