Education is a diverse field with many areas of expertise, including elementary and secondary education, curriculum design and educational leadership and administration. A growing set of online colleges and universities nationwide makes it easier than ever for busy educators to increase their knowledge and expertise by earning their master’s of education degrees online.
Earning an online master’s of education can offer the same degree of expertise as an on-campus education, with the added benefits of saved tuition and commuting costs. Enrolling in an online program allows professional students to structure their weekly schedule around priorities, such as family and full-time jobs.
According to a recent study, there is little significant difference between online and face-to-face learning. Seventy-six percent of online students found that instructors were quicker to respond with feedback on assignments, while 68% of on-campus students made the same claim. A master’s of education can also make educators more valuable to employers, resulting in higher salary rates over time.
The following list ranks the top 25 online master’s in education programs for 2016. Peruse the profiles to find the online school that’s right for you.
|Rank||School Name||School Logo||City||Cost||Address & Contact Info||School Links||Acclaim for Online Programs||School Description|
|1||Western Governors University||Salt Lake City||$$$$$||4001 East 700 South, Suite 700|
Salt Lake City, UT 84107
The master of arts - science education at WGU prepares licensed teachers throughout the U.S. to become STEM educators at middle and junior high schools. The program emphasizes biology, chemistry, and physics. Students who take courses in an accelerated format can earn their degrees in just six months.
The 14-course synchronous curriculum includes coursework in introduction to biology, ecology and environmental science, and teaching in the middle school. WGU uses competency-based assessments, meaning that students can move on to new units and courses immediately after demonstrating mastery of the material. New courses start each month.
WGU requires that applicants possess an active teaching license. Students pay a flat per-term tuition rate, so full-time and accelerated students save money compared to part-time students. WGU holds regional accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
|2||Johns Hopkins University||Baltimore||$$$$$||525 North Wolfe Street|
Baltimore, MD 21205
Current and former Teach for America (TFA) educators should consider Johns Hopkins' master of science in education - educational studies degree. This unique master's in teaching online prepares students for full-time teaching careers outside of TFA.
The 39-credit curriculum uses a cohort learning model. New cohorts begin at four points throughout the year. Coursework focuses on providing educational opportunities to at-risk and underprivileged students. Cohorts graduate in two years.
Before applying, prospective students should research whether Johns Hopkins' online master's in teaching degree conveys teacher licensure or certification in their home states. TFA summer institute graduates automatically receive nine transfer credits. Students with financial need may qualify for a TEACH Grant. All students pay the same tuition rate. Johns Hopkins holds regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
|3||North Carolina State University at Raleigh||Raleigh||$$$$$||2101 Hillsborough Street|
Raleigh, NC 27695-7001
At NC State, students in the master of education program can select from three concentrations: mathematics and statistics education, science education, or engineering and technology education. Full-time students can graduate in two years. Part-time students typically need 3-4 years to earn their degrees.
The 45-credit curriculum includes 30 credits of core courses that all students take before starting their concentrations. Learners study foundational and advanced methods in science education. Concentration electives include plant breeding methods and comparative reproductive physiology.
Prospective students can apply for the fall, summer I, or summer II semester. Application requirements include a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA, three reference letters, a bachelor's degree in the sciences, and an essay. North Carolina residents save approximately 66% on tuition compared to out-of-state students. NC State holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
|4||University of Southern California||Los Angeles||$$$$$||University Park|
Los Angeles, CA 90089
Aspiring educators without teaching experience should consider USC's master of arts in teaching program. This comprehensive master's in teaching online boasts five concentrations, including secondary English and social science. The program qualifies students to receive a California teaching credential. Full-time students who follow USC's recommended course sequence graduate in four semesters.
All concentrations revolve around four competencies: foundations of education, teaching methods, language and literacy, and field experiences. Field experiences require students to observe practicing teachers in local schools. Students can access many resources throughout the program, including a virtual career center and tutoring.
Before applying, out-of-state residents should confirm whether California teaching credentials transfer to their home states. USC accepts applications for the fall and spring semesters. Application requirements include a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. All students pay the same tuition rate. USC holds regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
|5||Brandman University||Irvine||$$$$$||16355 Laguna Canyon Road|
Irvine, CA 92618
Brandman's master of arts in special education with an emphasis in teaching and learning prepares experienced educators around the nation to educate students with disabilities. Students can complete this online master's in teaching program entirely online or in a hybrid format, taking some classes on one of Brandman's 15 participating campuses. Full-time students can earn their degrees in two years.
The 30- to 36-credit curriculum stresses research and evaluation methods, advanced assessment and program evaluation in special education, and collaboration in special education. The university excuses students from the teaching and learning emphasis courses if they already possess an education specialist clear induction credential. The program concludes with a special education capstone course.
Application requirements include an active teaching license or credential with a special education endorsement. A private university, Brandman charges the same per-credit tuition rate to all students. Brandman holds regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
|6||University of West Alabama||Livingston||$$$$$||Station One|
Livingston, AL 35470
The MA in teaching program at the University of West Alabama allows licensed teachers to further their education and earn certification in a new academic subject. This program appeals mainly to Alabama residents, although out-of-state students can apply if their states have teacher licensure reciprocity agreements with Alabama. Full-time students typically earn their degrees in two years.
The certification track requires 37 credits, while the non-certification track requires 33 credits. Students earning licensure take two additional core courses. All students can customize their education by selecting a specialization, such as biology, history, or mathematics. Specializations require 12-24 graduate-level credits in that subject. The program does not require a practicum or capstone.
Students can transfer up to nine credits toward their online master's in teaching degree. Although a public university, UWA charges the same per-credit tuition rate to all students. UWA holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
|7||University of St Thomas||Saint Paul||$$$$$||2115 Summit Ave|
Saint Paul, MN 55105-1078
Experienced Texas educators who plan to enter administrative positions should consider the master of education program at UST. This rigorous program prepares graduates to take the Texas Principal Exam, which qualifies holders to work as vice principals and principals in Texas public schools. Full-time students can earn their degrees in two years.
The 30- to 48-credit program boasts 14 resource areas, including counselor education, Catholic private school leadership, and instructional technology. Each resource area features a unique curriculum and graduation requirements. Students living near UST's Houston campus can complete the program in a hybrid format. Students need a minimum 3.0 GPA in all courses to remain in good academic standing.
Application requirements include an active Texas teaching certificate and two years of experience. All students pay the same per-credit tuition rate. UST holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The master of arts in teaching online program boasts accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.
|8||University of Utah||Salt Lake City||$$$$$||201 Presidents Circle, ROOM 201|
Salt Lake City, UT 84112-9008
Licensed and non-licensed arts educators from around the country can earn their master of arts in teaching with an emphasis in fine arts degree from the University of Utah. This hybrid master's program requires two, 12-day residencies on the U's Salt Lake City campus. Full-time students earn their degrees in two years. Although most graduates enter teaching positions, many pursue careers as curriculum designers or arts education scholars, among other professions.
The 30-credit curriculum emphasizes teaching instruction and fine arts electives. The U provides students with tremendous flexibility to select fine arts courses that match their interests and career plans. Courses do not use set meeting times.
Applicants to this master's in teaching online program must possess a bachelor's degree in the arts and some teaching experience. Application materials include two recommendation letters. Utah residents save approximately 75% on tuition compared to their out-of-state peers. The U holds regional accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
|9||Concordia University - Saint Paul||Saint Paul||$$$$$||1282 Concordia Ave|
Saint Paul, MN 55104-5494
The fully online master of arts in education - early childhood program prepares students to work with young children in education settings that do not require teacher licensure or certification. As classes do not use set meeting times, students can continue working while earning the degree. Full-time students can graduate in two years.
The 33-credit master of arts in teaching online program uses an asynchronous curriculum. Unique courses include educational research and applications, curriculum and instruction in early childhood education, and ethics for educators. All courses last seven weeks. In the capstone course, students perform original research in an early childhood education topic and write a master's thesis.
Prospective students must currently work or volunteer at a childcare setting. Other application requirements include a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA and a personal statement. Online graduate students do not qualify for university-funded scholarships or grants at this time. CSP holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
|10||The University of West Florida||Pensacola||$$$$$||11000 University Parkway|
Pensacola, FL 32514-5750
UWF created its exceptional student education program to address Florida's extreme teacher shortage. Although the program mainly attracts Florida residents, out-of-state students can earn degrees from UWF if their states hold teacher licensure reciprocity agreements with Florida.
New students can start this master's in teaching online program in the fall, spring, and summer semesters. Students can specialize in either applied behavior analysis — students in this specialization do not need a teaching license to apply — or special and alternative education. Both specializations feature coursework that prepares students to work with children with mental and physical disabilities.
Prospective students need a teaching license or certificate and a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. UWF also requires GRE or MAT scores. Out-of-state students spend approximately 500% more on tuition than Florida and Alabama residents. UWF holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
|11||Mississippi College||Clinton||$$$$$||200 South Capitol Street|
Clinton, MS 39058
Prospective students seeking a program that offers a teaching education with a Christian worldview should consider the master of education in special education online program at MC. This accelerated program allows students to graduate in just 10 months. The program qualifies Mississippi residents to add a special education endorsement to their teaching licenses.
The 30-credit asynchronous curriculum features coursework in current education and psychological test procedures, teaching students with moderate learning problems, and research methods and procedures. The program's capstone experience involves a comprehensive exam. Students stay in good academic standing by maintaining a minimum 3.0 GPA.
Applicants to the master of arts in teaching online must possess a teaching license or certificate. All students pay the same per-credit tuition rate, and new students can start their education at five points throughout the year. MC holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
|12||Nova Southeastern University||Fort Lauderdale||$$$$$||3301 College Ave|
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33314-7796
The master of science in education program at NSU boasts 14 specializations, some of which fulfill Florida and Nevada's requirements for additional subject certification. Full-time students can earn their degrees in just two years.
Credit and graduation requirements vary by program. The reading education concentration features a 36-credit curriculum with coursework in assessment in reading, educational research for practitioners, and a supervised reading practicum that students complete in their home communities. All faculty possess advanced degrees and significant teaching experience.
Application requirements vary for each specialization, but they typically include a minimum 2.5 undergraduate GPA. Prospective students who apply to a certification program must already hold a teaching license or certification. A private university, NSU charges the same per-credit tuition rate to all students in the online master's in teaching program. Incoming students with excellent academic merit may qualify for a university-funded scholarship. NSU holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
|13||Texas A&M University||College Station||$$$$$||805 Rudder Tower|
College Station, TX 77843-1244
Experienced special education teachers should consider Texas A&M's online master's degree in special education. As this online teaching master's degree does not confer licensure or certification, out-of-state and international students can enroll. Full-time students can complete this rigorous program in two years.
The 36-credit synchronous curriculum builds on students' knowledge and professional experience. Coursework includes ethical and professional conduct in special education, bilingual special education, and transition from school to work. The program ends with a comprehensive exam.
Texas A&M does not require test scores or recommendation letters, but students may submit these materials to bolster their application. In-state students save approximately 50% on tuition compared to out-of-state students. The university's Office of Graduate Studies Financial Aid provides scholarship and grant opportunities. Texas A&M holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
|14||Liberty University||Lynchburg||$$$$$||1971 University Blvd|
Lynchburg, VA 24515
The fully online master of arts in teaching at Liberty caters to experienced and aspiring teachers. The program boasts concentrations in elementary education, middle grades, secondary education, and special education. Students in any concentration can graduate in just 18 months. The program prepares students for Virginia teacher licensure, which may transfer to other states.
The 36-credit curriculum features education core courses, professional courses, and concentration courses. Coursework common to all concentrations includes learning theory, tests and measurements, and principles of behavior management. All students complete a semester-long student teaching experience, as well.
All Liberty students pay the same low tuition rate, and active military personnel and veterans receive a substantial tuition discount. Liberty holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The master of arts in teaching online program boasts accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.
|15||Colorado State University Global||Greenwood Village||$$$$$||7800 East Orchard Road Ste 200|
Greenwood Village, CO 80111-0000
The online master of science in teaching and learning program at CSU Global trains experienced teachers in the latest instructional best practices. This non-licensure program emphasizes research-based teaching methodology and how to use emerging technologies in the classroom. Full-time students can earn their degrees in two years.
The 36-credit synchronous program features coursework in the fundamentals of research and writing, theory and practice in backward design, and cultural responsiveness in the differentiated classroom. The program concludes with an action research project and a master's thesis. New students can begin their education on 12 start dates throughout the year.
Application requirements include a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA and a statement of purpose. All students pay the same per-credit tuition rate. Active-duty military students receive an approximately 12% tuition discount. CSU Global holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
|16||Morningside College||Sioux City||$$$$$||1501 Morningside Avenue|
Sioux City, IA 51106
Experienced elementary and secondary teachers should consider the master of arts in teaching: special education program from Morningside College. This entirely online program boasts affordable tuition and a flexible curriculum. Although most full-time students can graduate in two years, part-time students can take up to seven years to earn their degrees.
The 36-credit master of arts in teaching online program features professional foundation and professional teaching courses. Students can take professional teaching courses through Morningside or a partner college. Students analyze issues in education, instructional technology, and educational research, among other topics.
Application requirements include a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA and an active teaching license or certificate. A private college, Morningside charges the same low per-credit tuition rate to all students. Students who teach at a faith-based private school qualify for college-funded grants. Morningside holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
|17||Arizona State University - Skysong||Scottsdale||$$$$$||1475 N Scottsdale Road - Ste 200|
Scottsdale, AZ 85257
ASU boasts five master's in education programs, including curriculum and instruction: autism spectrum disorders, curriculum and instruction: early childhood education, and learning design and technologies. These programs provide a world-class education at an affordable tuition rate. Full-time students in these master of arts in teaching online programs can graduate in two years.
Aside from the educational leadership degree, all programs feature a 30-credit curriculum and 7.5-week courses. The educational leadership degree requires one additional course. All programs use a set curriculum without electives.
Prospective students must possess a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA and submit three letters of recommendation and a personal statement. All students pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency. ASU holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
|18||University of South Florida||Tampa||$$$$$||4202 East Fowler Ave|
Tampa, FL 33620-9951
The master of science - exercise science program at USF attracts aspiring and practicing school coaches and physical education teachers. The in-depth program also stresses environmental and occupational health, making it a fit for professionals who work in workplace safety.
The 33-credit curriculum boasts three concentrations: strength and conditioning, health and wellness, and exercise science. All students complete coursework in statistical analysis and research methods in exercise science. Students customize their education by selecting a thesis or non-thesis option. Students in the non-thesis option take additional elective courses. New students can start their educations in the spring, summer, or fall semester.
Application requirements for USF's online teaching master's degree include a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA and two recommendation letters. Florida residents save approximately 50% on tuition compared to out-of-state and international students. Incoming students interested in university-funded scholarships submit a separate application. USF holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
|19||Concordia University - Portland||Portland||$$$$$||2811 NE Holman Street|
Portland, OR 97211-6099
Concordia's master of education program blends the latest education research with Christian teachings. The program offers four concentrations: administration, career and technical education, curriculum and instruction, and educational leadership. Full-time students typically graduate in two years.
Each online master's in teaching degree features unique coursework and graduation requirements. All students choose between two capstone experiences: an action research project that students complete in their classrooms or a practitioner inquiry wherein students reflect on their growth as a teacher by writing an extended essay.
Concordia uses rolling admissions and accepts new students for the spring and fall semesters. Application requirements include an active teaching license or certificate and a minimum 2.8 undergraduate GPA. The university boasts multiple scholarship and grant opportunities. Scholarships do not require an additional application. Concordia holds regional accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
|20||Webster University||Saint Louis||$$$$$||470 E Lockwood Ave.|
Saint Louis, MO 63119-3194
The master of arts in special education program at Webster University offers six in-demand concentrations, including severe developmental disabilities and applied behavior analysis. Academically ambitious students can complete a double concentration in elementary content. Full-time students can earn their degrees in two years. Graduates qualify for Missouri teacher licensure.
The 33- to 36-credit program includes a general education core that covers topics such as global issues in special education and socio-emotional development. Each concentration comprises 12 credits. In the mild/moderate disabilities concentration, students analyze assistive technology best practices, language development, and behavior management for children with special needs.
Recent college graduates and experienced teachers can apply to this online master's in teaching program. Prospective students need a minimum 2.5 undergraduate GPA. All students pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency. Active-duty military personnel and veterans save approximately 40% on tuition. Webster holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
|21||University of Central Florida||Orlando||$$$$$||4000 Central Florida Blvd|
Orlando, FL 32816
At UCF's College of Community Innovation and Education, Florida residents can earn a master of education in exceptional student education entirely online. This program attracts licensed Florida teachers with a special education credential. Students can graduate in two years and pursue careers as literacy coaches and special needs teachers.
The 33-credit program features 24 core credits in areas such as teaching spoken and written language, organization and collaboration in special education, and methods of behavioral management. At the end of the program, students can either write a thesis or take two additional upper-level electives.
Prospective students can apply for the fall, spring, or summer semester. UCF does not require recommendation letters or standardized test scores. As the program only accepts Florida teachers, it charges the same per-credit tuition rate to all students. UCF holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
|22||University of the Cumberlands||Williamsburg||$$$$$||6191 College Station Drive|
Williamsburg, KY 40769
Ideal for recent college graduates, professionals looking to switch careers, and licensed teachers, the online master's in education degree at the University of the Cumberlands prepares students to work in diverse education settings. Students who already possess a Kentucky teaching license can earn one of three credentials by completing this master of arts in teaching online program.
The 30-credit curriculum boasts three concentrations: literacy specialist, school counseling, and teacher leader. Each concentration features a unique curriculum and graduation requirements. Most full-time students can earn their degree in two years.
The teacher leader and school counseling concentrations require applicants to possess a teaching license or certificate. All students pay the same per-credit tuition rate regardless of residency. The University of the Cumberlands holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
|23||Purdue University||West Lafayette||$$$$$||Hovde Hall of Administration|
West Lafayette, IN 47907-2040
At Purdue, students select from four master of science in education in special education degrees. The initial licensure track qualifies graduates to earn an Indiana teaching license, which transfers to states that hold licensure reciprocity agreements with Indiana. Full-time students can graduate in as few as 20 months.
The 31- to 45-credit curricula vary by degree option. Master's in education degrees that convey teacher licensure require additional courses and student teaching. All programs include core courses in introduction to educational research, applied behavior analysis for teachers, and intervention strategies and research. All students complete at least one 7-8-week practicum, as well.
Application requirements for this master's in teaching online degree include a telephone interview, a personal essay, and GRE scores. All students pay the same tuition regardless of residency. Purdue holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
|24||The University of Texas in Arlington||Arlington||$$$$$||701 S. Nedderman Dr.|
Arlington, TX 76013
UTA's master of education in curriculum and instruction - mathematics education online program features affordable tuition and six start dates each year. The program attracts prospective students who already possess a teaching license. Full-time students can graduate in as few as 18 months.
This 30-credit master's in teaching online program uses an asynchronous curriculum with coursework in conceptual geometry, probability and statistics, and advanced teaching models for diverse learners. Some students must complete 1-2 prerequisite courses before starting the program.
Applicants submit undergraduate transcripts and two recommendation letters. UTA requires a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA and two years of work experience in a school or similar setting. UTA holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The master of education program boasts accreditation from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.
|25||Concordia University - Nebraska||Seward||$$$$$||800 N Columbia Ave|
Seward, NE 68434-1556
Students in the master of education in special education program at Concordia learn how to create productive learning environments, educate students with disabilities, and apply the latest education best practices in classroom settings. Full-time students can complete this non-licensure master of arts in teaching online program in two years.
The 36-credit curriculum features coursework in research evaluation and design, behavior management in inclusive settings, and contemporary thought in education. All courses last eight weeks, and students can view recorded lectures and complete work at convenient times.
The university does not require GRE or GMAT scores. All students pay the same tuition rate. Concordia holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission. The master of education program possesses accreditation from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.
New and veteran educators have a wider field of career options with a master’s in education. Many leadership positions, including school administrators, content or subject specialists, curriculum directors and school principals require a master’s-level education. Educators who remain in the classroom are better equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to assume teacher leadership roles for their grade level or school-wide.
A master’s in education correlates with greater chance of employment and higher salary earnings. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for professionals with a master’s degree decreases by over 1% with each level of degree earned. Additionally, average weekly salary with a master’s degree increases by about 20% compared to a bachelor’s degree, and by about 50% in contrast to an associate degree. Though salary varies widely based on position and location, the average annual salary for a classroom educator with a master’s degree is about $9,000 more than those who hold only a bachelor’s degree.
Keys to Success in an Online Master’s Program
Online learning is a more convenient option for many professionals, but it also requires added self-discipline and motivation on the part of the learner. Education students can increase their chances for success in an online master’s program by following a set of basic guidelines.
All students should immediately become familiar with their program requirements and host institution. Many colleges and universities offer or require an initial online or in-person orientation before students begin online classes. A number of institutions also offer students self-assessments or surveys to determine their readiness for online learning based on personality and skill sets.
The following keys to success in an online master’s program were adapted from University of Massachusetts’ online education guide:
- Manage your time effectively. Be aware of deadlines and timelines, and plan a schedule that works with other priorities to allow you to meet these goals.
- Become comfortable with writing your ideas. Although many online programs offer virtual learning learning classrooms, and audio and video discussion options, much of the interaction between peers and instructors is in written form in discussion threads and chat rooms.
- Equip yourself and become familiar with the technology. Determine the technical requirements for your master’s program. Many institutions list technical requirements on the program or learning management system page. Make sure to set up and test all technology before starting your first class.
- Ask for help. Online instructors often post virtual office hours when students can reach out in real-time via chat or phone, and most will respond quickly to email inquiries. Most institutions also dedicate a 24/7 help desk to resolve any technical issues for distance and online learners.
- Network. Networking with peers, faculty and outside organizations and professionals during your program of study can help open up career opportunities once you’ve earned your degree. Many institutions also offer online students access to career services, which students can utilize to help prepare a formal resume and cover letter, as well as seek out possible job openings.
While these pointers could be considered more general advice, these strategies are, nonetheless, invaluable to students whose first degree online will be a master’s in education.