Best Online Master’s in Secondary Education

by TBS Staff

Updated September 3, 2021 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

  1. The University of Alabama

    Tuscaloosa, AL



    Though the school is perhaps most famous nationwide for its Crimson Tide football teams, the University of Alabama’s academics have mirrored the athletics department’s rise to prominence. As the University of Alabama has grown and invested more resources in various programs, the university has also expanded the number of degrees it offers online or through blended learning. The school’s three secondary education programs online – all which award MA degrees in secondary education – are particularly strong. Students can pursue the reading specialist (P–12 certification) and English language arts (grades six through 12 certification) degrees online without ever having to visit campus in Tuscaloosa. Online students can also enroll in the special education program, which leads to collaborative grades six through 12 certification and uses a blended learning format.

    The reading specialist program consists of 36 credits while the English language arts degree only requires 30. Each program’s curriculum consists of subject–specific coursework (course titles include literary coaching and introduction to educational research, for example) in addition to practicum experiences. Admissions requirements are comprehensive, as all applicants must hold an Alabama Class B teaching license (or a comparable license in another state). In addition, all applicants must have earned an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 and a GRE score of at least 300 (or an MAT score in at least the 50th percentile). Even though the University of Alabama is proud of its service to the Yellowhammer State, all students can pay the same tuition rate regardless of their state of residence.

  2. Ball State University

    Muncie, IN



    Based out of the city of Muncie, Indiana, Ball State University is a public research university that has historically focused on serving the residents of the Hoosier State. That focus has shifted slightly with the school’s introduction of online programs. Now, students nationwide can benefit from Ball State’s excellent master’s of arts degree in secondary education. The program does not include any concentrations and consists primarily of a broad survey of secondary education theory.

    The program’s 30–credit curriculum includes courses in classroom management, educational ethics, and the sociology of education. Coursework focuses on six primary areas: multicultural education, pedagogy, research, curriculum, foundations, and technology. Taking a more theoretical approach to the discipline, the program does not include a capstone or thesis requirement but does mandate that students complete a research project on student learning.

    Students at Ball State can earn their online master’s in secondary education in a year of full–time study. The school delivers its coursework asynchronously. Students enrolled in the online program need never visit campus in Muncie unless they would like to attend graduation. As Ball State prides itself on serving the citizens of Indiana, out–of–state students pay a higher tuition than Indiana residents. Applicants to the program must submit transcripts showing an undergraduate GPA of 2.75 or better to earn consideration for admission. Once accepted, students gain access to technology support, career support, academic support, and advising services.

  3. University of North Texas

    Denton, TX



    Traditionally a research university, the University of North Texas has also expanded into the education field. The school’s master’s of education in teaching program includes secondary education certification. Moreover, students enrolled in the 36–credit program can earn their master’s in secondary education online without ever having to set foot on campus in Denton, Texas, as the curriculum does not include any in–person requirements. However, full–time students who live near campus are eligible for graduate assistantships that can ease some of the burden of graduate tuition.

    Using an asynchronous format, the program aims to fit into the busy schedules of practicing educators, as students can graduate on time by taking a full–time schedule of courses in the summer and two courses each in the fall and spring. Required courses include studies in curriculum development, classroom discipline, and literacy development. The secondary education certification includes additional requirements in public education and the teaching profession and successful teaching in the secondary school. Furthermore, each student must complete six credits of either student teaching or practicum experiences.

    All applicants to the program must apply to UNT’s Toulouse Graduate School. Toulouse requires applicants to submit transcripts showing a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 in addition to GRE scores. As the flagship university of the UNT system and a proud public university, UNT charges out–of–state online students a higher tuition rate than Texas residents.

  4. Liberty University

    Lynchburg, VA



    Unlike some comparable programs that award a secondary education degree online, Liberty University’s master’s of arts in teaching — secondary education program specifically targets students who have never taught before. The program’s 36–credit curriculum includes studies in profession–specific foundational areas, such as classroom management and curriculum design. The curriculum also opts for a broad approach, as students complete coursework in mathematics, science, social studies, and literacy teaching. At the program’s conclusion, students must complete a three–credit internship or student teaching experience. Upon graduation, students are certified and ready to teach in middle or high school classrooms.

    Liberty also distinguishes itself from other online secondary education degree offerings through its flexibility regarding transfer students. Incoming students may apply up to 18 approved, previously–earned credits toward their degree. However, students are not able to complete the entire program online, as Liberty requires the completion of certain “intensives” on campus in Lynchburg, Virginia. Liberty offers its coursework asynchronously in its online programs and allows students to pursue both full and part–time courses of study. Most students complete the program in five semesters.

    In order to earn unconditional admission to Liberty’s MA in teaching program, applicants must have earned an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or better. Liberty does not require applicants to graduate programs to submit GRE scores. As a private university, Liberty charges out–of–state online students the same tuition as Virginia residents.

  5. University of Central Missouri

    Warrensburg, MO



    Although the University of Central Missouri originally focused on serving the population in and around the town of Warrensburg, Missouri, the school now enrolls students in 60 countries thanks to its slate of distance education programs. As UCM’s first iteration was a teacher’s college, the school’s online master’s of arts degree in teaching – which includes concentrations in secondary education or middle school education – is particularly strong. Requiring two years to complete, the program results in teacher certification for grades six through 12.

    In addition to certification and practical topics such as classroom discipline and curriculum development, the program consists of theory, including studies in advanced foundations of education and advanced educational psychology. The 30–credit curriculum also includes a mandatory internship and a research course. While online students in the program never need to visit campus in Warrensburg, students who prefer a blended learning model can choose to take select courses face–to–face. UCM’s online programs deliver coursework asynchronously through the Blackboard platform.

    In order to earn the chance to complete their online degrees in secondary education at UCM, all applicants must have earned an undergraduate GPA of 2.75 or better. UCM does not require applicants to submit GRE or MAT scores. Though UCM is a state school, the university’s online programs form a large portion of its identity. As such, all online students pay the same per–credit tuition rate regardless of their state (or country) of residence.

  6. Georgia Southern University

    Statesboro, GA



    The largest institution of higher learning in the southern part of Georgia, Georgia Southern University operates a diverse range of programs and enrolls an eclectic group of students from all 50 states and 102 countries. GSU’s expanding online presence has only extended the university’s national and global reach, allowing the school to serve students who live well beyond the environs of campus in Statesboro.

    GSU’s master’s of education in secondary education program requires a total of 36 credits. Unlike comparable programs, GSU’s M.Ed targets teachers who already hold a teaching certification in a major subject area (science, English, mathematics, history, etc). As such, the curriculum combines content area–specific studies with broader coursework in educational trends, issues, research, and learning methods. Each student chooses a concentration area that matches his or her certification area. Students usually complete the program in 12–24 months.

    In addition to possessing a teaching certificate, all applicants to GSU’s online M.Ed program must have earned an undergraduate GPA of 2.5 or better. In addition, all applicants must submit either GRE or MAT scores. All online students can pay the same tuition per–credit, even if they reside outside of the friendly confines of the Peach State.

  7. University of Maine

    Orono, ME



    Based in the quintessential Maine town of Orono, the University of Maine is one of the few universities nationwide to have earned sea, space, and land grant distinctions. That diversity extends to the university’s online programs, which include a variety of undergraduate and graduate options. Among these options is UMaine’s master’s of education in elementary and secondary education program, which includes a concentration in curriculum, assessment, and instruction.

    Requiring a total of 33 credits, the program consists of eight core courses and three electives. Those core courses include studies in educational assessment, curriculum dynamics, and classroom practices. There are no thesis or capstone requirements in the curriculum. As the program is primarily theory and research–based in nature, students do not have internship or student teaching experiences. Online students never need to visit campus in Orono, as there are no in–person requirements. The program uses asynchronous learning and most students earn their degree in 12–24 months.

    Like many comparable secondary education programs online, UMaine’s M.Ed program allows transfer students to apply up to six credits toward their degree. Students transferring from another branch of the University of Maine may bring up to 12 credits with them. As the flagship university of the Pine Tree State, the University of Maine charges out–of–state students a higher tuition rate than Maine residents. In order to earn admission, applicants must have earned an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or better. Applicants who do not meet that threshold must submit MAT (preferred) or GRE scores.

  8. Kennesaw State University

    Kennesaw, GA



    Based just outside of Atlanta in the eponymous city of Kennesaw, Kennesaw State University is one of the largest universities in Georgia and one of the 50 largest public universities in the entire nation. In recent years, the university has allocated substantial resources into its online learning department. As a result, students can now earn their master’s in secondary education online at KSU.

    KSU’s master’s of education in secondary education program is standards–based and content–focused and includes concentrations in three content areas: English, history, and mathematics. These three concentrations eschew on–campus requirements and utilize a cohort model, and students can earn their degree without ever visiting Kennesaw by completing asynchronous coursework online. Students willing to earn a hybrid degree that includes select on–campus requirements can also pursue a concentration in science.

    No matter their chosen concentration, students must complete 36 credits to earn their M.Ed degree. Transfer students may apply up to nine approved credits toward their degree. In order to earn admission to the program, applicants must already have a teaching credential in their concentration field. Applicants must also have earned a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.75. All online students at KSU can pay the same tuition rate regardless of location.

  9. Old Dominion University

    Norfolk, VA



    Originally a branch of the College of William & Mary, Old Dominion University became an independent institution in 1962, and has since grown into one of the largest universities in Virginia. The public research university is based in the city of Norfolk and enrolls nearly 25,000 students in total. Old Dominion has offered distance education for over 30 years, and now offers 89 degrees entirely online. Two such programs award an online secondary education degree: the master’s of science program in secondary education (grades six through 12) with initial Virginia licensure and its sister program, which enrolls teachers who have already earned licensure.

    While the initial VA licensure program requires students to earn a total of 34 credits to graduate, the licensed teachers program requires only 30. Students in the initial VA licensure program can choose from concentrations in a variety of content areas, including biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, English, history, and TESOL. Students in the licensed teachers program take content courses in the area in which they have already earned certification.

    Each program mixes synchronous and asynchronous elements, as students occasionally must attend live class meetings via webcam. Each program is cohort–based and typically takes students 18 months to complete. As ODU prides itself on serving Virginia’s students, out–of–state online students are not able to pay in–state tuition.

  10. Wisconsin Lutheran College

    Milwaukee, WI



    Unlike several comparable secondary education programs online, Wisconsin Lutheran University’s master’s of arts degree in transition to teaching — which can include secondary certification/licensure — caters specifically to mid–career professionals who are not satisfied with their current trade and want to switch to teaching. Students who have earned a bachelor’s degree in an unrelated field are also welcome to apply to the program.

    The program’s curriculum consists of 42 credits, which typically takes students 24 months to complete. Using both synchronous and asynchronous elements, coursework includes studies in educational research design, human relations for educators, and content area–specific offerings. Students must also complete a six–credit capstone experience which blends theory and practice to earn their master’s degree. Students who do not wish to complete the capstone can still earn their certification, but do not earn a master’s degree.

    Online students also benefit from access to WLU’s advising and Student Success Center services. WLU does not list minimum GPA or standardized test requirements for admission to the program. Once accepted, all students can pay the same per–credit tuition rate even if they don’t live in Wisconsin. In addition, teachers currently practicing in a K–12 Christian school receive a 25% discount on their tuition.

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, 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, 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.


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.


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

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.

woman in an office