Best Online Master’s in Education Programs

A ranking of the best online master's in education programs. Programs ranked by affordability, flexibility, and academic quality.

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by Bethanny Parker

Published on March 8, 2022 · Updated on July 12, 2022

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Teachers who keep their skills and knowledge up to date can better serve their students. Many teachers seek a master's in education online. This degree provides an in-depth study of a specific facet of education, examining the latest research-based education practices and preparing graduates for leadership and administrative roles.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 10% growth in education, training, and library occupations between 2020 and 2030. Job titles include classroom teacher, early childhood specialist, and instructional coordinator. The BLS reports that education professionals earn a median annual salary of $52,380.

Learn more about online master's in education programs and check out our >StudyMatch™ sponsored schools to compare offerings.

Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Education Programs

Is a master's in education worth it?

For many students, it is. Whether a master's in education is worth it depends on the salary you may earn with the degree and the fulfillment you expect to receive from your new job. For example, if you want to be a career counselor, your salary may not increase much. Still, you might enjoy that job more than your current position.

A master's in education is more likely to pay off financially for those who go into school administration, pursuing careers as school principals or superintendents.

What can I do with a master's in education?

Graduates with a master's in education may work as career counselors, school superintendents, or school principals. Some work as education program directors, policy analysts, education researchers, and training and development specialists.

Even if you don't change careers after earning an online master's in education, you may still qualify for a raise. Many school districts pay slightly higher salaries to teachers with master's degrees.

Are education graduates in demand?

Yes, relatively. The BLS projects jobs for education professionals — such as career counselors, training and development specialists, and school principals — to grow by 8-11% from 2020-2030. The average national growth rate for all occupations is 8%.

How much money can I make with a master's in education?

According to data obtained from Payscale in March 2022, individuals with a master of education (M.Ed.) earn an average base salary of $60,000 per year. Common job titles include elementary school teacher, high school teacher, instructional designer, executive director, and special education teacher.

The BLS reports the median income for kindergarten and elementary school teachers as $60,660 per year. The median income for high school teachers was $62,870 per year.

What are the highest paying jobs with a master's in education?

The highest paying jobs for someone with a master's in education are school superintendent ($123,570 as of March 2022) and high school principal ($98,490). The superintendent is the highest ranked person in the school district. These professionals work with school board members to implement plans for their school districts.

High school principals oversee the teachers and staff at a school. They also take care of disciplinary problems with students. These professionals make sure students have a safe environment that is conducive to learning. They may counsel students and talk to parents about behavioral issues.

What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Education Program?

Teachers need good communication skills to speak to groups of students. They also need strong interpersonal, active listening, and organizational skills.

James Bacon holds an MS.Ed. in education entrepreneurship from the University of Pennsylvania and a BS in business from Wake Forest. According to Bacon, connecting with students is a crucial soft skill for educators.

"Specifically, I think that building relationships and being able to influence others to take action is important, whether working with adults or students," Bacon said. "I also think that thoughtful communication is really important given its interpersonal nature."

Teachers typically use various software and technological tools to track student progress, communicate with families and administrators, and enhance instruction. Teachers should be comfortable working with educational technology to enhance instruction.

"I think we will continue to see a reliance on technology to better do the jobs we are tasked with and to provide additional opportunities to students," Bacon said.

A master's in education explores instructional methods, educational leadership, and curriculum development. This degree builds on skills gained in undergraduate programs and through professional teaching experience. Some master's in education programs provide a path to teaching licensure for career-changers.

Education programs may offer various degree types including a master of arts, master of science, master's in teaching online, or master of education.

A master's in teaching online typically serves career-changers who need to complete state teaching licensure requirements. A master of arts or science may focus on a particular subject area. An online master's in education specializes in a specific area of education, often serving licensed teachers with a few years of experience.

Master's in education degree curricula are flexible and allow students to tailor their education to match their career goals. Popular concentrations include specific content areas (like English and history), curriculum and instruction, educational leadership, and educational technology.

Most online master's in education programs require 30-36 credits and take 1-2 years to complete. Many programs allow teachers to continue working while enrolled. In these programs, learners take 1-2 classes each term during the school year and attend full time during summer breaks.

Most students also complete capstone projects, which involve writing a thesis, conducting research, or compiling a professional portfolio. Some programs may require a practicum or internship as well.

Some states require teachers to undergo continued professional development to obtain level-two certification.

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Popular Online Master's in Education Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

What Courses Will I Take in an Online Master's in Education Program?

Courses vary among programs, but most master's in education curricula cover similar core topics. The following section delves into five common courses in these programs.

Instructional Strategies and Models

This course helps learners develop and define their instructional style, covering topics like classroom management and student assessment. Discussions of various pedagogical approaches help inform these decisions. Research-based strategies help teachers integrate technology and differentiate instruction to meet student needs. The course often includes collaborative projects with other educators.

Research in Education

Educators must understand research methods and analysis techniques to evaluate proposed strategies, instructional practices, and education policies. This course introduces students to tools for finding and analyzing data. Learners also explore different types of research methods and strategies, along with various rationales for methodologies and techniques for interpreting conclusions. Assignments discuss research ethics and respect for research subjects.

Differentiating Curriculum and Instruction

Teachers must help all learners achieve defined learning outcomes, but not all students learn the same way. Differentiating instruction helps teachers develop modifications to meet students' individual learning needs. These adaptations can increase student engagement and provide multiple methods of instruction.

Planning for School Improvement

This course equips school leaders with the skills to evaluate school effectiveness and reflect on changes that support learning programs. Students learn about data assessment and how to interpret and apply what is learned from the data. The curriculum also explores developing school goals and vision and how a school can meet all students’ educational, social, and cultural needs.

Teacher Leadership

This course explores opportunities for teacher leadership in the classroom, school, and school district, helping educators develop and achieve leadership goals. Assignments explore how teachers can impact students and other teachers, emphasizing communication and teamwork. Degree-seekers develop an understanding of their leadership style and motivations.

What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Master's in Education Program?

Most schools have the same admissions requirements for their online and on-campus graduate programs. Applicants need a bachelor's degree to enroll in a master's in education program. Some master's in education programs may require applicants to hold a bachelor's in education. Otherwise, prospective students may need to complete prerequisites before starting the master's program.

In addition to the requirements listed below, some graduate schools may require interviews, writing samples, or a portfolio.

Application

Undergraduate programs often allow prospective students to apply through a college application system such as the Common App. However, most graduate applications must be submitted directly through the university. Graduate applications usually entail an application fee.

Test Scores

Some schools require a GRE score for graduate admissions. You should prepare early for the GRE to ensure you get the best possible score. Consider buying a study guide and taking some practice tests. You should strive for a combined math and verbal score of at least 310.

Letters of Recommendation

Graduate schools often require 2-3 letters of recommendation. If you have work experience, these letters should come from people who have firsthand knowledge of your work. For example, you might ask your immediate supervisor or human resources manager. If you can, ask for a referral from someone with a master's degree. They may be better able to judge whether you can withstand the rigor of a master's program.

Resume and Work Experience

Applicants may have to provide their resumes and work experience as part of the admissions process. Some programs require a minimum amount of work experience in the field. College application resumes should be one page long and include extracurricular activities and educational achievements.

Essays

Graduate schools may ask for a personal statement, a statement of purpose, a letter of intent, or another grad school essay. These essays allow applicants to show the admissions counselors that they are a good fit for the school and program. Most grad school essays are around 500 words long.

Official Transcripts

You'll need to submit your official college transcripts and possibly your high school transcripts as well. If you have taken graduate-level courses at another school, your new school will evaluate those credits to determine whether any of them should transfer toward your master's program. Most schools limit transfer credits.

What Can I Do With an Online Master's in Education Degree?

Career Outlook

An online master's in education prepares students for a variety of jobs, including career counselor, education program director, training and development specialist, high school principal, and school superintendent. Salaries range from a median of $58,120 per year for a career counselor to an average of $123,570 per year for a school superintendent, according to March 2022 Payscale data.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects an 11% job growth for career counselors and training and development specialists from 2020-30. Job opportunities for elementary, middle, and high school principals are projected to increase by 8% over that same time period.

Individuals with a master's in education typically work in elementary and secondary schools or colleges, universities, and professional schools.

See where a master's in education can take you. Learn more about teaching careers.

Career Paths

Career Counselor

Career counselors guide people in deciding which careers they would like to pursue. These professionals often work in high schools and colleges. They help students analyze their strengths and weaknesses to determine which careers might be a good match for them.

Median Annual Salary: $58,120

Education Program Director

Education program directors help develop curricula for each grade level. They select educational resources to accompany the curricula and train teachers to use the curricula in their classrooms. These professionals communicate with teachers throughout the school year to determine whether changes are needed.

Average Annual Salary (March 2022): $62,680

Training and Development Specialist

Training and development specialists often work in professional, scientific, and technical services; healthcare; educational services; and finance. They use surveys and employee interviews to determine what training is needed and create course materials to provide that training. Training and development specialists then train the employees who need it.

Median Annual Salary: $62,700

High School Principal

High school principals manage teachers, support staff, and school activities. They oversee scheduling, maintain curriculum standards, and evaluate teachers' performance. They meet with, counsel, and determine discipline for students who misbehave as well. Principals also meet with parents to discuss their children's behavior. Keep in mind that school principals must earn special certification.

Median Annual Salary: $98,490

School Superintendent

The superintendent heads the school system and reports to the school board. They hire principals and decide when employees need to be disciplined. These professionals have the authority to fire teachers and create the annual budget for the school district. School superintendents typically work year round, even during the summer. Note that superintendents need special certification.

Average Annual Salary (March 2022): $123,570

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Continuing Education

Graduates with a master's in education may go on to pursue a doctorate in education, a doctorate in special education, a doctorate in educational administration, a doctorate in higher education, or a doctorate in educational leadership. A doctoral degree in education may help graduates move into administrative positions in the education field.

Doctor of education graduates may qualify to work as college presidents, chief learning officers, provosts, school superintendents, or principals. Other careers that typically require advanced degrees include academic dean, professor, and executive director of education.

How Do I Choose an Online Master's in Education Program?

Cost

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the average cost of graduate tuition and fees was $12,410 for public schools and $26,597 for private schools for the 2019-20 academic year. The actual cost of tuition varies among schools. Required credits also affect program cost. Some online programs may be cheaper, but make sure to consider the true program cost, which includes the cost of housing and missed work.

Program Format

Before applying to a program, see if it offers synchronous or asynchronous classes. Synchronous classes require you to log in for lectures or other activities at specific times. Asynchronous courses allow learners to study at their own pace. If you want to keep working while attending school, a part-time program may be best for you.

Location

When deciding whether to attend college online or on campus, you should consider the distance you would have to commute to attend on-campus classes. Location may not matter if you pursue an online master's in education. Some online programs have in-person requirements, so make sure to ask whether your prospective program is 100% online.

Accreditation

Accreditation verifies that a school meets certain academic standards. The most credible schools hold regional accreditation. Credits from regionally accredited schools transfer more easily to other institutions.

Student Support

Also consider the availability of student support services when choosing a school. Many schools offer online student services for their distance learners. Student services can include tutoring, mentorship, career services, internship placement, academic advising, alumni networking events, and disability services.

Best Accredited Online Master's in Education Programs

Rankings compiled by the the BestColleges Ranking Team

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Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our ranking methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.

#1

Johns Hopkins University

School Information
Location Baltimore, Maryland
Admission Rate 11%
Graduation Rate 93%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 46% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Hybrid

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $1,300
Out of State | $1,300

Credits to Graduate
33-36

In Johns Hopkins' master of science in education — education policy, students explore educational policies and their effects on inequities. Learners begin in the summer and may study for one year or two. Students must complete one week in Washington, D.C.

John Hopkins' master's in education consists of 11-12 courses, including a capstone and an optional internship. Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Degree-seekers who have not taken introduction to statistics must enroll in that course first.

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#2

University of Southern California

School Information
Location Los Angeles, California
Admission Rate 11%
Graduation Rate 92%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 17% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $2,035
Out of State | $2,035

Credits to Graduate
30

USC's master of education in learning design and technology prepares graduates for careers as instructional designers, curriculum designers, or corporate trainers. Students enroll in 2-3 courses per term. Larners attend class online for two-hour sessions 2-3 times per week.

This online master's in education includes courses in research design, media development, and learning and motivation. Learners complete the curriculum with a practice-oriented capstone. The school reviews applicants according to their academic preparation, work experience, and personal achievement.

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#3

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

School Information
Location Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Admission Rate 23%
Graduation Rate 91%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 12% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Hybrid | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $540
Out of State | $1,400

Credits to Graduate
33-36

Carolina offers a master of education for experienced teachers that emphasizes early childhood intervention and family support. This two-year program runs tracks for both licensed and unlicensed teachers. Unlicensed teachers take nine additional credits.

Courses include advanced emergent literacy and biological basis of children's development along with an internship. Applicants to this master's in education need a bachelor's degree with a 2.7 GPA or better if licensed. Unlicensed applicants need a minimum 2.75 GPA and two years of qualifying experience.

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#4

Northcentral University

School Information
Location La Jolla, California
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $750
Out of State | $750

Credits to Graduate
30

New students can begin NCU's master of education in educational leadership each Monday. This online master's in education requires 10 courses, including school law, school safety, and technology and a vision for the future. Each course lasts eight weeks, and the program concludes with a capstone.

Graduates can compete for jobs as education administrators at all levels or as distance learning coordinators. NCU faculty teach each course using the university's distinctive one-to-one learning model. Applicants need a bachelor's degree from a regionally or nationally accredited institution.

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#5

Northeastern University

School Information
Location Boston, Massachusetts
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 52% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Course Format (i.e., Self-Paced Classes or Scheduled Classes)

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $646
Out of State | $646

Credits to Graduate
45

Northeastern offers four master's degrees in education: higher education administration, learning and instruction, special education, and learning experience design and technology. The higher education program takes 1-2 years. The other three degrees require 1.5-2 years. Coursework follows an interactive, project-based philosophy of learning.

All M.Ed. students complete e-portfolios, where they integrate their coursework with their workplace. These portfolios provide evidence of graduates' personal brands once they enter the job market. Applicants can enter their program at one of four start dates.

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#6

Boston University

School Information
Location Boston, Massachusetts
Admission Rate 19%
Graduation Rate 88%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 10% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $888
Out of State | $888

Credits to Graduate
36

BU's online master of education in curriculum and teaching equips practicing educators to support students in the classroom. Degree-seekers may choose from focused content tracks including special education, science education, math education, and elementary education. 

This program consists of asynchronous courses, plus flexible, live sessions. Applicants to the online master's in education at BU may begin in spring, summer, or fall. Admissions deadlines roll over every seven weeks. Applicants need a bachelor's degree or be on track to earn one.

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#7

University of Central Florida

School Information
Location Orlando, Florida
Admission Rate 44%
Graduation Rate 72%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 59% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Course Format (i.e., Self-Paced Classes or Scheduled Classes)

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $327
Out of State | $1,152

Credits to Graduate
30

UCF offers a master of education in elementary education for teachers with certification or one or more years of experience. Students pursuing this master's in education can gain endorsement or specialization by choosing one of four tracks: reading, ESOL, gifted education, or exceptional education.

This program can lead to a career in teacher coaching or educational consulting. Applicants begin their admissions process by speaking with an enrollment coach. Together, an applicant and their coach create an admissions plan.

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#8

Gratz College

School Information
Location Melrose Park, Pennsylvania
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 73% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $450
Out of State | $450

Credits to Graduate
30

Gratz College's master of education equips practicing educators to think broadly and critically about learning and teaching. Guided by tikkun olam, the principle of repairing the world, this program focuses on education's potential for impact, inclusion, and social action. 

Courses include teaching through movement and teaching the whole child. Each course lasts eight weeks. Students pursuing Gratz's online master's in education can specialize in Jewish instructional education. Applicants should submit a CV and transcripts. Gratz maintains a rolling admission deadline.

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#9

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

School Information
Location Champaign, Illinois
Admission Rate 59%
Graduation Rate 85%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 39% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $490
Out of State | $490

Credits to Graduate
32

Graduate education students at U of I can pursue a master's in education in learning design and leadership or a master's in global studies in education. The first degree prepares students to create engaging learning environments using new media technology. The second program focuses on global education from critical democracy and social justice points of view. 

Global studies courses include researching global education and education and human rights. Learning design and leadership students take learning and human development with educational technology. Applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA and three letters of reference.

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#10

University of San Diego

School Information
Location San Diego, California
Admission Rate 49%
Graduation Rate 81%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 8% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Course Format (i.e., Self-Paced Classes or Scheduled Classes)

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $880
Out of State | $880

Credits to Graduate
30

USD's online master of education emphasizes equity, social justice, and 21st-century skill development. Students in USD's online master's in education take core courses such as social justice and educational equity and cognition and learning. The school also offers six areas of specialization. 

Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA of 2.75. Degree-seekers need two years of experience teaching in a K-12 setting, and the university welcomes applicants from a diverse array of educational environments.

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