Best Online Master’s in Secondary Education

by TBS Staff

Updated October 3, 2022

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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

#1 Best Online Master’s in Secondary Education

The University of Alabama

  • Tuscaloosa, AL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The online master's in secondary education program, offered by The University of Alabama from its Tuscaloosa campus, ranks as a top program in the field. The MA in secondary education program builds specialized skills for advanced practice, preparing graduates for leadership positions with increased salary potential. After completing a master's degree, candidates advance in their current field or pursue new opportunities.

The master's curriculum explores secondary education research and methodologies. Learners prepare for focused career paths by choosing electives and concentrations. Applicants without a background in secondary education may need to complete prerequisite courses before enrolling in the master's program.

Online enrollees complement the classroom experience with internship opportunities in their local area. Graduate students expand their professional connections by attending virtual networking events.

The University of Alabama at a Glance:

Type of School: Public, four-year

Admission Rate: 83%

Total Online Master's Programs: 23

Program Name: MA in secondary education (English language arts 6-12 certification)

Graduate Tuition In State: $10,780

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $30,250

Average Tuition
In-state
$10,780
Out-of-state
$30,250
Retention Rate
87%
Admission Rate
83%
Students Enrolled
38,100
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
13% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#2 Best Online Master’s in Secondary Education

Ball State University

  • Muncie, IN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

From its campus in Muncie, Indiana, Ball State University hosts a top-ranked master's in secondary education program. The master's in secondary education program strengthens specialized skills, preparing graduates for leadership roles with a higher earning potential. Earning a master's degree can also help candidates pursue new career opportunities.

The master's curriculum covers methodological and research perspectives on secondary education. Learners take electives and other specialized courses to gain career-specific training. The master's program builds on undergraduate training or professional experience in secondary education.

Online enrollees can often complete professional internships at approved locations in their own community. Internships and other practicum activities also provide professional networking opportunities.

Ball State University at a Glance:

Type of School: Public, four-year

Admission Rate: 77%

Total Online Master's Programs: 30

Program Name: Master's in secondary education

Graduate Tuition In State: $8,850

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $21,954

Average Tuition
In-state
$9,358
Out-of-state
$26,138
Retention Rate
75%
Admission Rate
77%
Students Enrolled
22,443
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
44% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#3 Best Online Master’s in Secondary Education

University of North Texas

  • Denton, TX
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Located in Denton, the University of North Texas offers an online master's in secondary education. The M.Ed. in secondary education program emphasizes advanced practice skills, training graduates for leadership roles and an increased earning potential. With a master's degree, candidates can also pursue new career opportunities.

The master's curriculum emphasizes the best practices in secondary education. Learners individualize the course of study by selecting electives and concentrations. Applicants without a secondary education background may need to complete prerequisite courses to enroll in the program.

Online enrollees complete internship requirements at approved sites in their own community. Graduate students also build professional connections through virtual networking events and other activities.

University of North Texas at a Glance:

Type of School: Public, four-year

Admission Rate: 74%

Total Online Master's Programs: 11

Program Name: Master of education in teaching, secondary education

Graduate Tuition In State: $5,900

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $13,496

Average Tuition
In-state
$8,295
Out-of-state
$18,423
Retention Rate
79%
Admission Rate
74%
Students Enrolled
39,336
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
49% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#4 Best Online Master’s in Secondary Education

Liberty University

  • Lynchburg, VA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Graduate students interested in a master's in secondary education can earn their degree from Liberty University, located in Lynchburg. The master of arts in secondary education program strengthens specialized skills, preparing graduates for leadership roles with a higher earning potential. Earning a master's degree can also help candidates pursue new career opportunities.

The master's curriculum examines advanced theories and practices in secondary education. Learners often choose a specialized concentration, which can help them stand out in a competitive job market. Applicants with prior experience in secondary education or a related field often meet the admission requirements.

Online enrollees gain hands-on experience during professional internships in their local area. Graduate students also participate in networking events to expand their professional connections.

Liberty University at a Glance:

Type of School: Private, nonprofit, four-year

Admission Rate: 51%

Total Online Master's Programs: 67

Program Name: Master of arts in teaching - secondary education

Graduate Tuition In State: $7,980

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $7,980

Average Tuition
In-state
$15,417
Out-of-state
$15,417
Retention Rate
81%
Admission Rate
51%
Students Enrolled
85,586
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
92% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#5 Best Online Master’s in Secondary Education

Georgia Southern University

  • Statesboro, GA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The online master's in secondary education program, offered by Georgia Southern University from its Statesboro campus, ranks as a top program in the field. Graduates train for leadership roles in the field while earning their degree from the M.Ed. in secondary education program. After completing a master's degree, candidates often pursue career advancement in their current field or a new one.

The master's curriculum explores advanced methodologies and research in secondary education. Learners take specialized courses to stand out in a competitive job market. The master's program recommends a background in secondary education or a related field when applying.

Online enrollees gain real-world experience through internships offered in their local area. Graduate students grow their professional connections through internships and virtual networking events.

Georgia Southern University at a Glance:

Type of School: Public, four-year

Admission Rate: 54%

Total Online Master's Programs: 19

Program Name: M.Ed. in secondary education

Graduate Tuition In State: $4,977

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $19,890

Average Tuition
In-state
$4,371
Out-of-state
$15,425
Retention Rate
78%
Admission Rate
54%
Students Enrolled
26,054
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
41% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#6 Best Online Master’s in Secondary Education

Old Dominion University

  • Norfolk, VA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The online master's in secondary education degree at Old Dominion University, located in Norfolk, Virginia, prioritizes flexibility. The master of science in secondary education program emphasizes specialized skills, preparing graduates for increased responsibilities and a higher earning potential. A master's degree allows candidates to move up the career ladder or pursue a new professional path.

The master's curriculum emphasizes research methods and analytical skills. Learners choose electives or a specialization to gain focused career training. Applicants without a background in secondary education may need to complete prerequisite courses before enrolling in the master's program.

Online enrollees work with the program to identify internship opportunities at approved sites in their local community. Internships and other practicum activities also provide professional networking opportunities.

Old Dominion University at a Glance:

Type of School: Public, four-year

Admission Rate: 89%

Total Online Master's Programs: 16

Program Name: Master of science in secondary education (6-12) with initial Virginia licensure

Graduate Tuition In State: $10,207

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $29,851

Average Tuition
In-state
$7,029
Out-of-state
$26,664
Retention Rate
80%
Admission Rate
89%
Students Enrolled
23,675
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
54% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#7 Best Online Master’s in Secondary Education

Western Kentucky University

  • Bowling Green, KY
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The master's in secondary education degree at Western Kentucky University, located in Bowling Green, uses a flexible distance learning format. The MAE in secondary education for teacher leaders program helps graduates increase their salary potential and take on more professional responsibilities. Earning a master's degree helps candidates move into a new career path or advance in their current field.

The master's curriculum explores advanced methodologies and research in secondary education. Learners prepare for the job market by choosing a specialty through electives. Admission requirements include a background in secondary education or a related field.

Online enrollees complete internship programs in their local area to gain hands-on experience. Graduate students also build professional connections by attending networking events.

Western Kentucky University at a Glance:

Type of School: Public, four-year

Admission Rate: 97%

Total Online Master's Programs: 27

Program Name: MAE in secondary education for teacher leaders

Graduate Tuition In State: $12,140

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $18,340

Average Tuition
In-state
$10,802
Out-of-state
$26,496
Retention Rate
73%
Admission Rate
97%
Students Enrolled
18,171
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
41% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#8 Best Online Master’s in Secondary Education

Mississippi State University

  • Mississippi State, MS
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The master's in secondary education program at Mississippi State University offers a flexible online format. The master's in secondary education program builds specialized skills for leadership roles in the secondary education field and related industries. Earning a master's degree helps candidates move into a new career path or advance in their current field.

The master's curriculum examines advanced theories and practices in secondary education. Learners choose electives and concentrations to prepare for focused career paths. The master's program recommends that applicants bring a background in secondary education or a related field.

Online enrollees work with the program to find internship opportunities in their local area. The program encourages graduate students to attend networking events to expand their professional connections.

Mississippi State University at a Glance:

Type of School: Public, four-year

Admission Rate: 54%

Total Online Master's Programs: 13

Program Name: Master of science in secondary education

Graduate Tuition In State: $8,800

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $23,840

Average Tuition
In-state
$8,800
Out-of-state
$23,840
Retention Rate
82%
Admission Rate
54%
Students Enrolled
22,226
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
18% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#9 Best Online Master’s in Secondary Education

University of South Alabama

  • Mobile, AL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The online master's in secondary education degree at University of South Alabama, located in Mobile, prioritizes flexibility. The M.Ed. in secondary education program draws on a rigorous curriculum that prepares graduates for leadership responsibilities. A master's degree can also prepare candidates for opportunities in new fields.

The master's curriculum emphasizes both practical and theoretical approaches to secondary education. Learners focus their training by choosing electives based on their interests and career goals. The master's program builds on prior secondary education experience gained during a bachelor's program.

Online enrollees coordinate with the program to complete internships at approved sites in their local area. The program encourages graduate students to participate in hands-on experiences and networking events to grow their professional connections.

University of South Alabama at a Glance:

Type of School: Public, four-year

Admission Rate: 79%

Total Online Master's Programs: 9

Program Name: Secondary education M.Ed.

Graduate Tuition In State: $7,956

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $15,912

Average Tuition
In-state
$7,896
Out-of-state
$15,792
Retention Rate
74%
Admission Rate
79%
Students Enrolled
14,397
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
49% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#10 Best Online Master’s in Secondary Education

California University of Pennsylvania

  • California, PA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

California University of Pennsylvania enrolls master's students in its top-ranked online secondary education program. Graduates prepare for advanced roles in the field during the rigorous M.Ed. in advanced studies in secondary education and teacher leadership program. Earning a master's degree can also help candidates pursue new career opportunities.

The master's curriculum emphasizes both practical and theoretical approaches to secondary education. Learners focus their training by choosing electives based on their interests and career goals. Applicants with prior experience in secondary education or a related field often meet the admission requirements.

Online enrollees complement the classroom experience with internship opportunities in their local area. Graduate students also build professional connections by attending networking events.

California University of Pennsylvania at a Glance:

Type of School: Public, four-year

Admission Rate: 97%

Total Online Master's Programs: 13

Program Name: M.Ed. in advanced studies in secondary education and teacher leadership

Graduate Tuition In State: $9,288

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $13,932

Average Tuition
In-state
$7,716
Out-of-state
$11,574
Retention Rate
72%
Admission Rate
97%
Students Enrolled
6,842
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
64% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Best Online Master's

Online Master's in Secondary 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.

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.

Science

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.

English/Language Arts

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.

Mathematics

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/Social Studies

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.

Instructional Coordinators

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

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