Best Online Master’s in Secondary Education
Updated September 3, 2021
thebestschools.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.
Are you ready to discover your college program?
With a master's in secondary education, teachers can strengthen their classroom skills and increase their earning potential. An online format makes it easier to earn a master's degree.
More than 60% of public school secondary teachers hold graduate degrees, according to 2017/2018 data from the National Center for Education Statistics. Earning a master's in secondary education offers advanced training in a subject area and helps teachers stand out in the job market. In many school districts, educators with master's degrees also earn higher salaries.
An online program provides a flexible, affordable path to a teaching degree. This guide ranks the top online master's programs in secondary education. Prospective students can use these rankings to find the best fit for their interests and career goals.
Featured Online Schools
The Best Online Master's in Secondary Education
Online Master's in Secondary Education Degree Program Ranking Guidelines
We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.
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.
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.
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.
What Is an Online Master's in Secondary Education?
Teachers can pursue master's degrees to strengthen their training, specialize their skills, and advance their careers. An online master's in secondary education can offer a flexible route to a graduate degree.
This degree may appeal to current teachers and individuals looking to shift careers into education. Teachers often increase their earning potential or move into specialized career paths after earning a master's degree. Some programs offer licensure for those without prior teaching experience. Students seeking a career change can also consider bachelor's degrees in education.
During a master's degree, graduate students complete courses in education and their teaching areas. Many programs incorporate practicum hours to gain practical experience. Graduate students can also complete requirements to add certifications or endorsements to their teaching licenses.
Why Get an Online Master's Degree in Secondary Education?
A master's degree in secondary education helps educators add specializations to their teaching licenses, move into leadership roles, and increase their earning potential. The degree also helps professionals launch their teaching careers.
Educators with master's degrees often earn higher salaries. In many districts, a graduate degree qualifies teachers for higher salary schedules.
During a master's program, graduate students complete coursework in their subject areas. This degree meets the requirements for a teaching endorsement or certification.
Some programs offer initial licensure for professionals moving into education.
An online program offers flexibility for current teachers and working professionals.
How Long Does It Take to Earn an Online Master's in Secondary Education?
Earning a master's degree in secondary education online typically takes two years for full-time students. Some programs offer accelerated one-year pathways to the degree. Learners can also consider part-time enrollment options.
During a master's program, secondary education students complete online coursework and meet student teaching or practicum requirements. Learners can choose concentrations and electives to focus their coursework. For example, some programs offer courses related to online teaching. Programs may also require master's exams or master's thesis projects to graduate.
Secondary Education Concentrations and Certifications
Most middle school and high school teachers need a teaching license or certification. Educators also need an endorsement or certificate in their subject area. Students earning a master's in secondary education often choose concentrations to focus their coursework. These concentrations prepare educators for certification in their subjects.
Common secondary education concentrations include English language arts, science, history/social science, and mathematics. Educators can also specialize in special education, teaching English as a second language (TESL), gifted and talented education, and educational technology. This section introduces common concentrations in master's in secondary education programs.
A master's in science education combines graduate courses in science with classes in teaching methods and strategies. Learners take classes in their science subjects while studying classroom management, differentiated instruction, and inclusive classrooms. The program may also include practicum hours. This degree prepares educators for board certification as science teachers.
A concentration in English/language arts emphasizes teaching secondary-level reading, writing, and comprehension skills. Educators study research on English education, curriculum development, and program evaluation. The concentration may include classroom practicum hours. A master's helps teachers become board certified English Language Arts teachers.
A mathematics concentration provides graduate-level coursework in core math concepts and the best practices in math education. The concentration covers topics like algebra, geometry, and calculus. Learners also strengthen their approach to teaching math. After earning a master's degree, graduates can become board certified math teachers.
History and social studies teachers at the secondary level cover core topics like U.S. history, U.S. government, world history, and civics. This concentration combines graduate courses in history with training in education methods. Graduates can pursue board certification as social studies and history teachers.
Teaching English as a Second Language
A concentration in TESL emphasizes language acquisition education. Educators learn how to explain language structure and teach language skills to secondary students. The coursework also covers topics like technology in TESL and English immersion techniques. Graduates can work as ESL teachers in middle schools and high schools.
Prerequisites for a Master's Degree in Secondary Education
Master's programs in secondary education set prerequisite requirements for admission. Each applicant typically needs a bachelor's degree, and some programs require an education or teaching major. Certain programs may also require a current teaching license.
Applicants must also meet minimum GPA requirements and potentially submit standardized test scores from the GRE or Praxis. Finally, a program may require letters of recommendation, a resume, and a statement of purpose. Before selecting programs, prospective students should ensure that they meet the admission requirements.
How Much Does an Online Master's Degree in Secondary Education Cost?
Earning a master's degree in secondary education typically costs $9,000-$22,000. The total cost varies depending on the program, enrollment status, and credit requirements.
Master's students can lower the cost of their degree in several ways. Applicants should seek out affordable programs. An online learning format makes it easier to attend an affordable program in another state. Prospective enrollees should research scholarships, tuition discounts, and financial aid opportunities. Master's students qualify for the TEACH Grant and other forms of financial aid.
Choosing an Online Master's in Elementary Education Program
When researching online master's in secondary education programs, applicants should consider several factors, including cost, program length, and class formats. Some schools offer tuition discounts for fully online learners, and working educators may prefer the flexibility of an asynchronous learning format.
Applicants should also research topics like specialization options, student teaching requirements, and licensure eligibility. For instance, some master's programs offer initial licensure, while others do not. Educators interested in specific career paths should make sure the program meets the requirements in their state for a license or endorsement.
Accreditation for Online Master's in Elementary Education Degrees
Prospective master's students should research college accreditation before applying to secondary education programs. Accredited universities meet the highest standards for educating students and granting degrees. In addition to school accreditation, the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) grants accreditation to education programs. In some states, only CAEP-accredited degrees meet the requirements for an educator license.
What Can You Do With a Master's in Secondary Education?
A master's in secondary education prepares graduates for many diverse careers. Educators can pursue careers as middle school teachers, high school teachers, special education teachers, and school administrators.
|Median Salary (2020):$66,970|
Instructional coordinators manage a school's curriculum and teaching standards. These professionals develop materials to meet curriculum standards and assess their effectiveness by reviewing test data. Instructional coordinators introduce educators to teaching techniques and technologies. They also recommend changes to improve student learning. An instructional coordinator needs a master's degree. In some states, the position requires a school administrator license.
High School Teachers
|Median Salary (2020):$62,870|
High school teachers prepare learners for the workforce or college. They educate students in subjects like science, history, English, and mathematics. High school teachers prepare and deliver lesson plans, assess each learner's strengths and weaknesses, and enforce classroom policies. They usually hold a secondary education degree with coursework in their teaching field. Public school teachers generally need teaching licensure or certification.
Career and Technical Secondary Education Teachers
|Median Salary (2020):$62,460|
Career and technical secondary education teachers train high schoolers in vocational skills like automotive repair, culinary arts, and technology. They teach students how to use machinery or master techniques. These teachers also demonstrate lessons and guide students through practical assignments. Typically, career and technical education teachers need professional experience in their subjects. Many states offer separate licensure tracks for these educators.
Special Education Teachers
|Median Salary (2020):$61,420|
Special education teachers educate learners with disabilities. At the secondary level, they adapt lessons for students with mild or moderate disabilities. Special education teachers also help learners with severe disabilities learn basic skills. In addition to specialized coursework, a special education teacher often needs a teaching license with a special education endorsement. A master's in secondary education with a special education focus generally meets the requirements.
Secondary Education ESL Teachers
|Median Salary (2020):$61,410|
ESL teachers specialize in educating English language learners. At the secondary level, ESL teachers work with middle schoolers and high schoolers who do not speak English as their native language. They educate learners in core secondary subjects while strengthening their English grammar, writing, and communication skills. ESL teachers at public schools typically need teaching licenses.
Middle School Teachers
|Median Salary (2020):$60,810|
Middle school teachers prepare students for high school by educating learners in core subjects. They specialize in subjects like social studies, mathematics, science, and language arts. A middle school teacher creates lesson plans that align with their district's curriculum. They assess student learning and identify areas for improvement. At public middle schools, teachers generally need state-issued teaching licenses with endorsements in their teaching areas.
Common Questions About Master's in Secondary Education Programs
Is It Worth It to Get a Master's in Education?
A master's in education helps teachers advance their classroom skills and pursue specialized roles. Educators can add endorsements to their teaching licenses and increase their earning potential by earning master's degrees.
What Do Middle School Teachers Major in?
A middle school teacher generally holds a bachelor's or master's in secondary education. These degrees blend coursework on teaching with classes in the educator's teaching area.
What Do You Major in to Become a High School Teacher?
Most high school teachers major in education. A secondary education degree includes student teaching experience and meets the requirements for teaching licensure.
Do Teachers With Master's Degrees Get Paid More?
Yes. Educators with master's degrees typically earn higher salaries than teachers with bachelor's degrees. In many districts, a master's degree qualifies teachers for a higher salary schedule.
Header Image Credit: Getty Images
Learn more, do more.
More topic-relevant resources to expand your knowledge.
Popular with our students.
Highly informative resources to keep your education journey on track.
Take the next step toward your future with online learning.
Discover schools with the programs and courses you’re interested in, and start learning today.