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Teachers have one of the most important jobs in our society today, preparing young minds to lead our world into a bright future. So, it is no wonder that many states and school districts now require teachers to have a master’s degree to teach, even at the elementary and middle school levels. In addition to fulfilling teaching requirements, earning education degrees provide additional training and experience that better prepares teachers for early childhood education, special education, gifted education, distance education, etc., or become curriculum specialists who can address diverse learners. An education degree can also prepare individuals for alternative roles within a school system, such as administration, educational leadership, school counseling, support services, educational technology, and more.
Given the popularity of this particular degree, many schools have shifted their traditional programs to be online. This offers graduate students maximum flexibility to learn and continue teaching full-time or meet other personal obligations or career goals.
www.onlinemasterscolleges.com 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.
Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit, accredited institution with more than 3,000 on-campus students and over 60,000 online students, making us one of the fastest-growing universities in the country. Founded in 1932, we’ve been relentlessly reinventing higher education ever since and have gained national recognition for our dedication to helping students transform their lives and the lives of those around them.
We’re proud to provide affordable, accessible education that students can pursue on our 300-acre campus in Manchester, NH, over our innovative online platform or at our regional centers in Manchester, Nashua, Portsmouth and Salem, NH, and Brunswick, ME.
SNHU has earned the GetEducated.com Best Buy and Best of Business – Best Online Degree awards and is consistently ranked as a top Military Friendly® School by G.I Jobs®.
Choosing the best education program is highly dependent upon the college student’s needs and goals. One particular program or school characteristic might be important for one student, but not another. However, there are several program traits that the vast majority of master’s in education students will value when choosing the best program for them. Factors such as accreditation, tuition fees, graduation rates, teacher-to-student ratio, the quality and reputation of the program, etc., play an important role in determining which education programs are the best. The team at OMC has considered all these factors and created a list of the best online master’s degree in education list below.
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Before applying and enrolling in education degree programs with the lowest tuition costs, college students must remember that there are additional costs involved in all online master degree programs, such as materials and fees, that determine the total amount of attendance. Master’s students should also check if special tuition rates apply to online students, regardless of state residency. Experts at OMC have considered some of these and other factors, and created a list of the most affordable education degrees available:
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Understanding Online Master’s in Education Programs
It is easy for graduate students to get confused about the many online master programs available to them. Therefore, before choosing an online master’s in education program, it would be helpful to understand this graduate degree fully. The following sections, deep dive into the full details of education degree.
Why Earning a Degree Online is a Master’s Student Best Option
Online learning makes sense for education master’s programs because of the flexibility it provides. The ability to self-pace is essential for graduate students who are working full-time or have familial obligations and is most beneficial when they can choose the number of courses they take at a time. Learning can also be accelerated through the online master’s degree as time allows, as well as slowed if the student’s schedule is busier than anticipated. In addition, graduate students of education programs can often “attend” class anytime they want, even if it is in the middle of the night.
But, “What about the in-person curriculum requirement?” Graduate students of an education online master can achieve this through alternative means such as fieldwork or supervised instruction within a classroom. Fortunately, there are also options where this requirement can be through day-to-day teaching without disrupting the student’s schedule.
Accreditation is a process that a graduate school and graduate programs go through to ensure their curriculum meets certain minimum standards of quality. For online master’s education programs, the primary accrediting body is the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). It must be noted that, when confirming a program’s accreditation, many graduate programs may have received their accreditation from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), which is what the CAEP used to be known as.
Before applying and enrolling in a program with the lowest tuition price, one should note that there are additional costs, such as materials and fees, that determine the total amount of attendance. To help offset the financial burden, graduate students may be able to apply for financial aid, scholarships, grants, and loan forgiveness programs. Students may also have access to financial aid through employer-sponsored tuition reimbursement programs available through their current employer. It is advisable to check if special tuition rates apply to students who study online, regardless of state residency.
Strong Student Resources
Online learning can present additional challenges that on-campus master’s students may take for granted. For example, access to technical support, career services, and special advising for certification or licensing of education professionals are useful resources most students will want to take advantage of, whether they are on-campus or online.
A Good Reputation
The reputation of a graduate school can play an important part in deciding which program to attend. Name recognition can help with employment prospects, especially when networking. Some schools will have a strong reputation nationally and others will be well-known regionally, so it will be up to the student to identify which type of recognition matters to them.
Training for Education in Each State
Like many other professions that are regulated at the state level, the specific requirement for becoming a teacher or achieving a specific certification will depend on the state education graduates expect to teach in. Most programs for teaching focus on preparing students to become teachers in a particular state or region of the country. But because distance learning allows students from almost anywhere to attend a particular program, online master’s in education students should ensure that the school they enroll in will adequately prepare them for licensure or certification in the state where they will work.
Curriculum in Master’s in Education Programs
The curriculum for an education online master’s program will vary depending on the type of program and concentration. The following are examples of the types of courses master’s students can expect during their graduate program:
Supervised and Instructional Leadership
Subject Methods and Assessment
Teaching Linguistically and Culturally Diverse Children
Utilizing the framework of federal and state mandates, students learn how to prepare effective teaching plans within the K-12 education setting, using conventional methods, and educational technology
Students will learn how to systematically evaluate teaching decisions and curricula within the classroom setting. There is also a special emphasis on how to interpret results to modify a teaching approach to make it more effective.
The influence of leadership on education outcomes will be taught in this course. Instruction will include example educational leadership models and analysis of current research on academic leadership, and educational leadership concepts.
Students will focus on improving teaching skills based on assessment techniques and how they interact and how educational technology can be leveraged in assessment.
This class recognizes a good number of students in the classroom where English is not their first language and teaches how these students can prepare themselves to modify their curriculum.
An education program will focus on a variety of other areas and topics as well, some examples of which are:
Education in Local and Global Contexts
Additionally, an education program can extend the teaching profession to a wide range of work settings, such as:
Exceptional Student Education
Early Childhood Education
Education in Middle Grades
FAQs for Online Master’s in Education Students
Some of the most common questions about achieving a master’s degree in education online are detailed below to help students quickly assess if this degree option is a good fit for their aspirations and goals:
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the key reasons someone should earn this degree?
Though a bachelor’s degree is the primary education requirement to become a teacher, more states and school districts are requiring new teaching recruits to have a master’s degree before they can earn a valid teacher’s license or become fully certified teachers. Even when a master’s degree is not required, many teachers will want to earn one due to the professional prospects it provides, including higher pay, and the potential of becoming better qualified elementary school teachers, secondary school teachers, or teaching to high school students, and taking up special education. There is also the prospect of moving into administration and education policy.
How does one get into a program?
As with any other online master’s degree, admissions requirements for a master’s degree in education vary widely among programs, but the primary requirement is that the applicant possesses a bachelor’s degree from an accredited postsecondary institution with a minimum GPA. From there, programs may recommend applicants already have a valid teaching license or achieve certain test scores on the GRE, SAT, or PRAXIS I.
How long does it take?
For the typical full-time student, most education programs online will take two years to complete. However, some master’s in education students can graduate in as little as a year, given the right circumstances. Prior certifications can also cut down on the time it takes to get the degree. For instance, some schools will award transfer credit for some courses if the student is already a National Board-Certified Teacher.
What are the career benefits?
Many online programs that lead to a Master of Arts, Master of Science, or Master of Education degree do not directly lead to a specific certification or license. Although most programs prepare students to gain their initial teacher certification while they earn their master’s degree, some programs will also help students meet the educational eligibility requirements for their state’s specific certification or licensing process to become licensed teachers, or to enable them to work in non-teaching roles such as administration.
What does it cost?
The total cost of a master’s in education or teaching program will depend on several factors, such as the type of school (public versus private), school location, the student’s state of residency, and whether or not they can obtain transfer credits before enrollment. It is important to remember that for those looking for an online master’s degree in education, the cheapest might not always translate to the “best.” One must take a hard look at what the school offers, the reputation of the school, and quality of the program, and much more. While in most cases, the cheapest options will cost around $10,000, most programs are around $20,000 to $25,000, although some schools have a cost of attendance that can exceed $65,000.
Most programs consist of 30 to 54 credit hours and take around 15 months to two years to complete. However, 1-year online master’s degrees in education do exist. It is important to note that students will only meet this timeline if they can fully devote themselves to accelerated coursework and come into the program with at least some transfer credits. This might mean that during that year, they are not actively teaching – rather, they are taking time away from teaching others to fully focus on educating themselves. Here are few schools that offer a 1-year education program:
With FlexPath, students must complete 35 courses, with each course lasting 12 weeks. During these 12-week periods, master’s students can take as many courses as they wish, yet still, pay the same tuition rate. Flexpath is ideal for grad students who want to save as much time and money as possible on their master’s degree, and need the ability to self-pace. By using the FlexPath track, master’s in education students can potentially complete their degree in one year and for less than $10,000.
The GuidedPath track provides grad students with an additional structure for completing their curriculum. Although students maintain the ability to attend class whenever and wherever they want, there are weekly deadlines they must meet. The school year is divided into quarter terms, where students take between one and three courses per 10-week term. The cost of tuition will depend on how many courses the student chooses to register for. Regardless of which path a student chooses, they may save time and money by transferring coursework from another postsecondary institution.
2. Clemson University
Clemson University might be better known for its athletics programs, but it still offers a robust number of academic programs, a growing number of which are available online. One program, in particular, is its Master of Education in Teaching and Learning. Comprising 30 credit hours over five semesters, most master’s students will take 1.5 years to earn their degree. During this process, grad students can choose from one of three concentrations:
Experiential Learning for Early Childhood
STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics)
The coursework is 100 percent online and is delivered through Canvas. But unlike many other such programs, the ability to self-pace is somewhat limited. Within most courses, learning is asynchronous. However, there will be deadlines where students must complete critical learning modules, with all students entering the program as a single cohort that begins in the summer.
Interested students must possess a bachelor’s degree with at least a 3.0 GPA (on a 4.0 scale). If this GPA is not achieved, students may apply if they score in the top 50 percent on the GRE or GMAT. While possession of a teaching license is not required, this program does not provide graduates with an initial teaching certification.
3. Louisiana State University
Louisiana State University (LSU) offers its Master of Education in Educational Leadership to help current teaching professionals take the next step in their professional development into school administration. Specifically, this program is intended for grads who want to move into a leadership position and bring about positive changes in their existing school system. This program, designed for individuals who are already teachers, consists of 39 credit hours. Depending on the student’s schedule, the degree can be obtained in 1.3 years.
To gain admission, students must score at least a 297 on the GRE, have a valid teaching license, be currently employed as a teacher, and have at least two years of teaching experience. Additionally, applicants must demonstrate at least one of the following:
National Board Certification
Teacher of the Year Nomination
Mentor Teacher for LA TAAP
Presenter at a Local, State or National Conference
Teacher Leader Endorsement
Once admitted, grad students will complete the 13 courses in this program’s curriculum, with each course lasting seven weeks. Some of these courses include:
Understanding and Applying Research in Education
Ethics and Educational Leadership
Administration of School Personnel
Introduction to School Improvement/Action Research
Best Practices of Principal Leadership I
Online Masters in Education for Non-Teachers
There are two reasons why someone who is not currently a teacher might want to earn a master’s degree in education. The most likely reason is that they want to go into teaching, and the master’s program will help provide their initial teaching certification at the same time. The next likely reason is that the individual wants to work in the education field, but does not want to teach. What careers does that open up? Some administration openings at a school may not require prior teaching licensing or experience, but prefer applicants to have an educational background. Examples include admissions officers, instructional technologists, instructional designers, and career services administrators. In either case, online degree programs in education help. An online master’s in education will help aspirants to become teachers or to get into administrative roles related to teaching. And many universities will let students get admitted into an online master’s in education without a teaching background at a professional level, or without a bachelor’s degree in teaching. Here are a few such universities that offer an education program for non-teachers:
Certifications for Master’s in Secondary Education Online Graduates
After completing an online master’s degree in education, there are several potential certifications or licenses available. First, there is the initial teacher certification, which allows the graduate to begin teaching in the classroom. Many graduates will already have this, but there are several programs devoted to online master’s in education for non-teachers who wish to begin a career in teaching.
Second, there is theNational Board Certification. This is a prestigious and nationally recognized certification that is not easy to achieve, but can significantly advance a teacher’s career. It also makes it easier to work in other states, as it can stand in place of state-specific licensing requirements. A master’s degree doesn’t directly lead to this certification, but a state teaching licensed is required for National Board Certification and an increasing number of schools are starting to require master’s degrees.
Third, a master’s degree is often required to earn a school administrator license, which is usually necessary to become a principal or other similar academic administrator. The requirements for these licenses are state-specific and completely separate from a teaching license, which a candidate for a school administrator position will almost always already have.
How to Pay for Online Master’s in Education Programs?
The most important question for a lot of students today is, “how to pay for higher education?”. This is even more important for an online master’s degree, as tuition costs can become a big burden. The following list details financial aid options that can help graduate students reduce the cost of their education degrees:
Scholarships and Grants
These forms of gift-based financial aid are the most popular among students because they do not need to be paid back. While the terms “scholarships” and “grants” are often used interchangeably, they are technically different. Scholarships are usually given based on a student’s merit or unique characteristics, while a grant is often given based on the student’s financial need.
Loan forgiveness programs
These programs help with the bottom line, in that a teacher’s student loans will be forgiven in full or in part if they agree to work in an underserved area, or with a particular type of employer. One of the most notable of these programs is the federal government’s Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program. Through this financial aid program, master’s students can have up to $17,500 of their federal student loans forgiven, if they provide at least five years of teaching at a low-income school or educational service agency.
Unfortunately, there are not enough grants and scholarships to go around; that is where student loans come into play. This form of financial aid is still better than a traditional loan because a student loan usually has generous terms, like low interest, and additional time for repayment, before interest begins to accrue.
As a means of helping existing teachers improve their knowledge and teaching skills, some school districts will provide full or partial tuition reimbursement to teachers who go back to school and earn a more advanced degree. Each reimbursement plan is unique, so interested individuals will need to consult directly with their employer to determine the details.
After the Online Master’s in Education: What’s Next for Graduates?
After graduating with a master of science in teaching or any other online master’s degree in education, almost any career in education will be possible for graduates. Career goals can vary from person to person. Many licensed teachers will prefer the classroom teaching experience at their existing school and enjoy higher standing among their peers, teaching middle school students or high school students, which often comes with a bigger paycheck; others may choose to teach at a higher level, to college students. It is also not uncommon for individuals with an education graduate degree to work with special education students, or middle grades, and also in elementary education, special education, science education, school counseling, etc.
Some master’s in education degree holders will intend to move into a leadership or administrative position. In this case, a master’s degree will often not be enough on its own. Depending on the state, a school administrator license might be necessary. To earn this license, applicants must usually have a master’s degree, several years of relevant teaching or leadership experience, and pass a specialized licensing exam.
A few of the more common positions in education that can benefit from a master’s degree, as well as their job prospects, are detailed here:
10th Percentile wage
90th Percentile Wage
2016-2026 Projected Growth Rate
Secondary School Teacher
Education Administrators, Elementary and Secondary
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