Best Online Masters in Education Degrees for 2023

Master’s Degree in Education Career Options & Salary

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Are you interested in pursuing a career in education? Whether you are currently teaching online, in a classroom or one of the many aspiring teachers almost finished with your undergraduate program for teacher preparation, choosing to earn an online or even traditional master’s degree in education from an early childhood education program may be beneficial and move you toward your future goals. Depending on the specific program type completed, graduate students who study to be educators will be more than qualified for teaching positions at public and private schools for children from birth to age eight (preschool), middle, and high school grade students. The coursework or core courses in these graduate student's childhood educator programs will cover literacy to education leadership skills.

Many states offer higher salaries to individuals with teaching experience and a master’s degree in education vs. an undergraduate degree. Additionally, you cannot teach at a college or university without at least a master’s degree, though those with an undergraduate degree can earn professional licensure and meet eligibility requirements for some career advancement options while also gaining a valid initial teacher license in elementary education, secondary education, science education, educational technology, or another specialty. Indeed, prospective students for an in-person or online master degrees in education program will need to have already completed their lower-level academics and have earned a valid teaching license or certificate from an educator preparation and licensure program in the state in which they wish to teach preschool, elementary and secondary schools, etc. The preliminary education degree program prepares students for their initial teaching license and classroom, but in person or online master's in education programs prepare licensed teachers for the next step in exceptional student education, curriculum development and educational research and evaluation methods.

While an online masters degree in education greatly helps individuals interested in working as public school teachers or college professors, other employment options are also available. They may choose a childhood education program administrator track, for one, which will focus even more on educational leadership content. It is not uncommon for graduates to find work in the following positions:

  • School Principal
  • School District Administrator
  • Curriculum Specialist
  • Corporate Trainer
  • Higher Education
  • Digital Learning and Classroom Technologist
  • Child Care Director
  • Educational Consultant
  • Educational Policy Analyst
  • Elementary School Teacher


Every state requires public school educators have a teaching license or certification. To attain the appropriate credentials, earning an undergraduate degree in education is essential, but earning a graduate degree in education is not. However, while it is common for educators to find work with only a bachelor’s degree, there are many reasons to consider enrolling in a Master of Education program or even completing one class at a time online while you continue working. Keep the following advantages and disadvantages in mind.

  • There many benefits to pursuing an advanced degree in education, whether online or on the evenings and weekends. One of the main and most alluring benefits is the potential for a higher salary. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, many occupations pay more to individuals with graduate degrees. Because educational institutions want to offer the best education possible, they are often willing to pay more to ensure employees are highly qualified. This makes a Master of Education a great way to provide career advancement to existing professionals.
  • An education master's degree also serves as a means to improve the educational leadership skills of teaching students and update knowledge of relevant teaching practices, as well as allowing educators to complete continuing education units for their professional licensure program. Education is a continually changing field with new and more effective methods of instruction being developed all the time. Completing another academic program not only strengthens knowledge in a specific subject area of study, such as literacy, but also enhances understanding of the process of itself.
  • Additionally, an education master's degree can lead to more employment opportunities. Employers often give preference to these education professionals when making hiring decisions and are more likely to consider them for administration positions as they become available. Jobs in administration offer higher salaries, more benefits, and a greater ability to positively impact learning environments but you must meet eligibility requirements to be offered access to them.
  • For some, earning a masters degree in education provides an alternative means of becoming certified. Those who have already completed an undergraduate degree program in an unrelated field can enroll in a graduate program that offers licensure as part of the degree. This can be immensely helpful for new educators as it ensures they have all the necessary resources and guidance while they are getting started. Though you might find some of these online, there may still be in-person requirements for certification.
  • Further, those who intend to pursue a doctorate will need to first earn a masters degree, whether they take online master's in education programs or not. Aspiring public college and university professors or education administrators should plan accordingly.


  • While there are many reasons to consider pursuing a Master of Science in Education, Master of Education, or a program administrator track, it's important to be aware of potential drawbacks as well. The most significant of them being the additional time it takes graduate students to complete graduate level courses from an accredited institution. A bachelor’s degree already takes approximately four years to complete; pursuing a masters degree from a college of education afterward adds about two more years, and individuals enrolled in online teaching master's degree programs, part-time could be in school much longer.
  • Spending more years in school taking on-site or online programs may also mean accruing more debt. Students will be responsible for paying off any loans after graduation. Those who opt to find work after earning a degree in education will likely owe less and be able to start making payments sooner.

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What are the Best Online Education Master's Programs?


Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University is a private, not-for-profit university, located in Baltimore, Maryland. Johns Hopkins was founded in 1876. It’s located in a large city, where students can sightsee and visit plenty of interesting, off-campus locations. The campus itself is spacious and large - students can live in dorms and can choose to earn a certificate, bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree. And, despite being located in a large city, the school offers a 6 to 1 student-to-faculty ration, and 97% and 94% retention rate and graduation rate, respectively.

  • Net Price: $20,680
  • Retention Rate: 97%
  • Graduation Rate: 95%
  • Total Enrollment: 28,890
  • Undergrad Students: 6,331
  • Graduate Students: 22,559
  • Diplomas Awarded: 619
  • Grads Salary: $89,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 6:1
  • Johns Hopkins University

University of Washington

Tuition for Washington residents is $11,207, while out-of-state students pay $36,588. The graduation rate is 84%, with a total enrollment of approximately 47,400 students. The University of Washington at Seattle is frequently ranked amongst the top education programs in the country. Seattle is known for many things, such as their place in the tech industry, but also for their top-notch educational facilities that create engaging learning environments. With 18 colleges and schools that offer both graduate level programs and undergraduate level programs for on-site and online students, UW-Seattle is sure to have a degree program for you.

  • Net Price: $9,661
  • Retention Rate: 93%
  • Graduation Rate: 82%
  • Total Enrollment: 48,149
  • Undergrad Students: 32,244
  • Graduate Students: 15,905
  • Diplomas Awarded: 23
  • Grads Salary: $81,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 20:1
  • University of Washington

University of Virginia

University of Virginia (UVA) was founded by Thomas Jefferson to carry on the values inherent in the Enlightenment era. His vision was to create a citizenry that was fully steeped in their culture's history, sciences, and literature. University of Virginia is one of the nation's most historic universities. In fact, UVA is considered one of the nation's top public institutions and has been ranked as one of the best value public universities in the nation. UVA has a high graduation rate of 94% and a decent student-to-faculty ratio of 15 to 1. UVA offers advanced degrees in the education field.

  • Net Price: $20,401
  • Retention Rate: 97%
  • Graduation Rate: 94%
  • Total Enrollment: 25,628
  • Undergrad Students: 17,310
  • Graduate Students: 8,318
  • Diplomas Awarded: 143
  • Grads Salary: $81,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 15:1
  • University of Virginia

University of Florida

Ranked as the fifth largest school by enrollment in the nation, the University of Florida is located in the city of Gainesville, in north-central Florida. More than 52,000 students with varying educational backgrounds are enrolled at the university, with 35,247 students enrolled in undergraduate programs. Eighty-nine percent of undergraduates are full-time students, while the other 11% attend classes part-time. The other 13,000 are enrolled in graduate programs and doctoral programs. Because of the large population, class sizes are a bit larger than some schools, with a student to faculty ratio of 19:1.

  • Net Price: $9,809
  • Retention Rate: 97%
  • Graduation Rate: 91%
  • Total Enrollment: 53,372
  • Undergrad Students: 34,931
  • Graduate Students: 18,441
  • Diplomas Awarded: NA
  • Grads Salary: $75,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 17:1
  • University of Florida

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The University of Illinois main campus at Urbana-Champaign is a public land-grant university located in Champaign County, Illinois. The school was founded in 1867 and was recently ranked 14 by the U.S. News & World Report’s America’s Best Colleges. The institution pioneers innovative research and their 50,000+ students receive transformative learning experiences, both in and out of the classroom, preparing students to make a significant impact on society as a whole.

  • Net Price: $14,272
  • Retention Rate: 94%
  • Graduation Rate: 85%
  • Total Enrollment: 52,679
  • Undergrad Students: 33,683
  • Graduate Students: 18,996
  • Diplomas Awarded: 178
  • Grads Salary: $79,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 20:1
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Purdue University

Purdue is one of the top names in higher education, with their main campus located in West Lafayette, Indiana. The school is known as a pioneer in many ways, but their online platform, Purdue Global, is bringing their highly esteemed instruction to students far and wide. In-state tuition is $9,900 and out-of-state tuition is significantly higher at $28,700. It also has a high 82% graduation rate. Salaries are $77,200 on average for graduates and students can choose any degree from an associate's to doctoral degree level.

  • Net Price: $14,619
  • Retention Rate: 93%
  • Graduation Rate: 83%
  • Total Enrollment: 46,655
  • Undergrad Students: 35,706
  • Graduate Students: 10,949
  • Diplomas Awarded: 116
  • Grads Salary: $79,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 13:1
  • Purdue University

San Diego State University

San Diego State University is a publicly funded, four-year university in California's beautiful southern school districts region. With over 30,000 undergraduate students, SDSU can accommodate nearly any academic, social, or cultural passion. SDSU has eight colleges that cover fields such as arts and letters, engineering, education, health and human services, business, and fine arts. In fact, the institution provides students with nearly 200 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees. Of those, undergraduate students have nearly 100 bachelor's degree options. Ambitious undergraduate students who are eager to prepare for a career can enroll in programs such as: pre-dental, pre-legal, pre-medical, and pre-physician assistant, among others.

  • Net Price: $6,867
  • Retention Rate: 89%
  • Graduation Rate: 76%
  • Total Enrollment: 36,334
  • Undergrad Students: 31,491
  • Graduate Students: 4,843
  • Diplomas Awarded: 289
  • Grads Salary: $76,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 27:1
  • San Diego State University

North Carolina State University at Raleigh

NC State’s campus also offers endless opportunities for involvement and hands-on experience to ensure academic quality and a well-rounded experience in academics, socialization, community participation, and work experience. This state school has over 36,000 students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. With more than 9,000 faculty, students have an advantage over other state schools due to the low student-to-teacher ratio of 14 to 1.

  • Net Price: $14,328
  • Retention Rate: 94%
  • Graduation Rate: 84%
  • Total Enrollment: 36,042
  • Undergrad Students: 26,150
  • Graduate Students: 9,892
  • Diplomas Awarded: 137
  • Grads Salary: $76,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 14:1
  • North Carolina State University at Raleigh

Michigan State University

Michigan State University is one of the top 50 public universities in the United States and is in the top 100 globally. MSU was founded as an agricultural college in 1855 and has evolved into a powerhouse educational institution that provides education in nearly every field, including nuclear physics, where it excels as the #1 graduate program. On campus, you'll find many bright and engaged diverse learners, each pursuing their passion in one of the school's over 200 majors.

  • Net Price: $8,738
  • Retention Rate: 91%
  • Graduation Rate: 82%
  • Total Enrollment: 49,695
  • Undergrad Students: 38,491
  • Graduate Students: 11,204
  • Diplomas Awarded: 43
  • Grads Salary: $73,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 16:1
  • Michigan State University

Boston University

Boston University (BU) is one of the largest private, not-for-profit higher learning institutions in the US with more than 35,000 students and over 300 programs. Boston University is a public research university located in Boston, Massachusetts. It was established in 1839 by former Methodists with its first campus at Newbury, Vermont. As the name suggests, BU has been a part of the Christian education movement since its beginnings. This university has a retention rate of 94% and an overall graduation rate of 89%..

  • Net Price: $25,852
  • Retention Rate: 92%
  • Graduation Rate: 89%
  • Total Enrollment: 32,718
  • Undergrad Students: 16,872
  • Graduate Students: 15,846
  • Diplomas Awarded: NA
  • Grads Salary: $80,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 10:1
  • Boston University
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Overview of a Master's in Education

What Education Master’s Degrees are Available?

There are a few different types of education master’s degrees available. It’s important to realize that specific program titles and concentrations can vary widely from institution to institution, but most colleges and universities offer one of the following, whether through online programs or not: Master of Education (MEd), Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT), or Master of Science in Education (MSEd). All three degree types help prepare graduates for employment, but there are some differences worth noting.

Master of Education (MEd)

A Master of Education (MEd) is a good option for seasoned professionals who want to enhance their knowledge and teaching skills in a broader sense. Most education degree programs are geared toward moving beyond the classroom, though it’s not a requirement. Students usually take courses on research methodologies, instructional material development, and educational material effectiveness. Graduates are often better prepared for administrative jobs.

Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT)

A Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) is often preferred by professionals who want to enhance their knowledge and teaching skills within a certain concentration, but is also ideal for people interested in entering the field. This flexible degree option has numerous concentrations and usually includes licensure. Although many education degree programs also include classes in educational philosophy, child psychology, educational ethics, and education research methods, much of the coursework will relate to the specific area of study.

Master of Arts (MA)

A Master of Arts (MA) degree generally offers exposure to various liberal arts subjects. In addition to education courses, online students may also be expected to complete coursework in English, social sciences, and language. These education degree programs offer flexibility and can be customized by taking a number of elective courses. Licensure is often included.

Master of Science (MS)

A Master of Science (MS) degree can vary quite drastically depending on the institution offering it. In most cases, this option is available to individuals who already have an undergraduate degree and are certified teachers, as licensure is rarely included. They are generally designed to provide enhanced knowledge and skills in the field but may also help graduates qualify for advanced positions in education.

Admission Requirements to Enter a Master’s Education Degree Program

Every college and university has standards they expect incoming graduate students to meet before enrolling. This applies for those who wish to attend online and those who are not attending online courses equally. Every institution is different, but some of the most common requirements include:

  • Bachelor’s degree in education or a relevant field
  • Minimum overall academic grade point average
  • Passing GMAT or GRE scores
  • Professional/academic resume
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement

Teaching licensure may or may not be required, depending on what degree type you’re going for and your teaching career goals. It’s also possible that the institution will stipulate that candidates have professional experience.

How Long Does it Take to Earn a Master’s Degree in Education?

Full-time students can often complete a master’s degree in education in approximately two years. Students enrolled part-time, however, are unlikely to graduate within this time frame. Taking only a few classes per semester can put graduation off for up to five years.

Master’s programs generally consist of 60 credit hours of coursework, but this can vary depending on the institution and concentration. It may be possible to find a college or university that offers an accelerated degree program. Students can also use graduate-level transfer credits to graduate sooner.

Potential Careers in Education with an Master’s Degree

There are numerous employment opportunities available to individuals who have graduated from a teaching master’s degree program in education. Some of the most popular education careers include high school English teacher, child care director, curriculum specialist, corporate trainer, and school principal.

  • High School Teacher:
    High school teachers are responsible for helping prepare students for life after graduation. They teach academic lessons as well as various skills that high school students will need to succeed in college and/or the job market. These professionals also create, administer, and grade assignments and tests specifically designed to measure student progress. According to PayScale, the average salary for high school teachers is $51,518.
  • Child Care Director:
    Child care directors are responsible for overseeing child care facilities. They supervise teachers, teaching assistants, and all other childcare associates, ensuring all standards and regulations are met. These professionals also coordinate hiring and new employee training programs. They may support educators in other ways, as needed. According to PayScale, the average salary for a child care director is $40,000.
  • Curriculum Specialist:
    Curriculum specialists are responsible for analyzing the effectiveness of teachings in the classroom. They also help design initiatives to improve instruction as well as develop and refine tests, scoring guides, and curriculum. These professionals may provide additional courses to fill academic gaps and meet known needs. According to PayScale, the average salary for a curriculum specialist is $57,600.
  • Corporate Trainer:
    Corporate trainers work for companies or organizations to develop, revise, and deliver training to employees. Depending on the situation, they may perform instruction in traditional or online settings. These professionals must also ensure all training rooms and materials are prepared, as well as track attendance, class satisfaction, and training success. According to PayScale, the average salary for a corporate trainer is $55,700.
  • Elementary School Teacher:
    Elementary school teachers are responsible for the education and well-being of their students. They create lesson plans, teach classes, assess student progress, and manage the classroom. Elementary school teachers are also be responsible for communicating with parents and guardians about their child's progress. A teaching degree is required to become a elementary school teacher as well as having empathy to care for students, the ability to control a classroom, and having strong organizational skills. According to PayScale, the average salary for a secondary school teacher is $48,373.
  • High School Principal:
    High school principals are responsible for overseeing the administration, curriculum, programming, services, and academic resources for a particular school. They create and communicate school goals to staff and parents, as well as maintain productive relations with the community and school board. These professionals also establish academic and behavioral standards, administering discipline when they are not upheld. According to PayScale, the average salary for a principal or headmaster is $93,500.
  • Secondary School Teacher:
    Secondary school teachers responsibilities will vary depending on the grade level they teach and the specific subject area. However, there are some core duties that all secondary school teachers are responsible for which include but are not limited to grading student work and providing feedback, maintaining student records, developing lesson plans and instructional materials, delivering lectures and leading class discussions, assigning and proctoring tests and exams, meeting with parents or guardians to discuss student progress, and participating in professional development activities. According to PayScale, the average salary for a secondary school teacher is $50,679.

Salary by Occupation

Occupations Entry-Level Mid-Career Late-Career
Middle School teacher $40,300 $48,100 $59,100
Special Education Teacher, Early Education $40,500 $49,200 $60,900
Postsecondary Professor $60,100 $69,600 $99,900
Preschool Director $34,400 $41,200 $48,300

Options to Advance

Individuals who earned their online master’s degree in education by completing their education degree programs often choose to teach at public or private K-12 schools, but may also find work as college professors at private institutions. These are not the only available courses of action, however. Graduates can choose from a wide variety of administrative positions, each with different advancement possibilities.

Those who want to become college or university professors for public institutions may need to earn a doctorate degree in education to satisfy hiring requirements. Additional academic certifications of any kind can also enhance employee appeal and marketability.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the admission requirements for an online master’s in education?

The requirements for admission to a master’s in gifted and talented education are similar to any other master’s program. The main difference online students will find is an experience requirement that you have taught in a classroom for a certain period of time. This may only be a year or two, but it means that it will be more difficult to get into these programs right after completing your undergraduate education. Some good news is that many programs have dropped the requirements for the GRE or GMAT for education master’s. This can mean it’s easier to get in once you have some experience under your belt.

Will earning a master’s increase how much I can make?

The general consensus is that earning a master’s degree will increase how much you can earn. This concept stands on solid ground in education, as many teachers are paid according to a pay scale and one of the few ways to move to the top of that payscale is to earn a mater’s degree. It’s clear that, in this field, even experience will not increase your salary the way that an increase in education will. Teachers with master’s degrees make more than those with bachelor’s,even if they have the same number of years of experience.

Can I earn a master’s degree in education online?

Yes. It’s very easy to earn an online master degree in education. In fact, you can use the courses for a master’s degree to fulfill your continued educational credit requirements each year. These are available from schools all over the country in formats that can be counted as CEU credits. However, make sure to check with your board of education if you are hoping to use these credits in this way.

Can I choose a concentration in my master’s degree in education?

There are plenty of options when it comes to concentrations in education when you are looking to earn a master’s degree in the field. Here are just some of the options, though you should check with your local department of education if you are looking to get into a field and are unsure which concentration would be the best option for you.

  • Counselor Education
  • Curriculum and Instruction
  • Special Education
  • Early Childhood
  • Educational Administration or Leadership
  • STEM
  • Educational Technology
  • Gifted and Talented Education
  • And More

What is the process of receiving a teacher certification?

The process of receiving a teacher certification can vary depending on the state in which you are seeking certification. However, there are a few steps that are generally required in order to receive certification. First, you must complete an accredited teaching program. Once you have completed your teaching program, you will then need to pass a series of exams in order to earn your certification. After passing these exams, you will be required to submit an application to the state department of education. Once your application has been approved, you will then be issued your teaching certificate and join the ranks of the currently licensed teachers around the United States.

Is there any math education requirements to become a teacher?

In order to become a teacher, one must first complete their mathematics education. While the requirements vary from state to state, most require at least a bachelor's degree in education with a specialization in mathematics. In some cases, a master's degree may also be required.

In addition to completing their mathematics education, future teachers must also pass several exams to earn their teaching license. These exams typically cover both general pedagogy and specific content knowledge. For aspiring mathematics teachers, this means demonstrating mastery of the mathematical concepts they will be teaching to their students.

With the recent focus on STEM education, many schools are now looking for teachers with strong backgrounds in mathematics. As such, those interested in becoming a teacher should make sure they have the necessary skills and knowledge by completing a rigorous mathematics education program.

Is earning an online master's in education worth it?

According to a recent study, earning an online master's in education can lead to a significant salary increase. The research, conducted by the National Education Association, found that teachers who earned their master's degree online saw a $17,500 increase in median salary. The study also found that online master's in education programs are becoming increasingly popular, with over 20% of all education graduate students enrolled in an online program. With the cost of tuition and the time commitment required for an online program, is it worth it? For many teachers, the answer is yes. The flexibility and convenience of an online program allows working professionals to continue teaching while they earn their degree.

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