Best Online Master’s in Elementary Education Programs

Also known as primary education, elementary education refers to the first phase of institutionalized learning within the U.S. educational system. Most elementary schools accommodate students ranging from kindergarten (ages five to six) to fifth or sixth grade (ages 10 to 12) — although some schools may reach up to the eighth grade (ages 13 to 14). Due to the relatively young student population, elementary education focuses on fundamental areas of English reading and writing, social studies, mathematics, science, art, music and other core school subjects. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 39,339 pre-K to 8th grade students attended a U.S. school in Fall 2016; roughly 89% attended public schools, while the rest were enrolled at private institutions.

The majority of elementary teachers begin their careers at the college level by earning a degree in elementary education. The bachelor’s degree is considered the minimum requirement for elementary teachers in the U.S., but those who go on to pursue a master’s will be able to advance in their careers even further. The master’s curriculum explores more complex theories and approaches to the education of younger students. Master’s students will also be required to complete student-teaching experiences, where they assist educators in working classrooms. Many of today’s students are choosing to earn their master’s degree in elementary education online, rather than in a classroom. Web-based students follow the same rigorous curriculum as their brick-and-mortar counterparts, often leading to the same number of post-degree job opportunities. The flexible, study-from-home schedule are ideal for students with part-time jobs, childcare duties and other important commitments.

Learn more about what you can do with an online master’s degree in elementary education and what kind of career opportunities you can look forward to with this comprehensive guide.

WILL AN ONLINE MASTER’S IN ELEMENTARY EDUCATION PROGRAM PROVIDE ME WITH THE SKILLS I NEED TO ADVANCE MY CAREER?

Online master’s degrees in elementary education are geared toward teaching professionals who wish to gain advanced insights into to their occupation. Many master’s pathways allow students to pursue degree specializations in fields like educational leadership, curriculum and instruction, special education and English as a Second Language (ESL). Specializations can lead to additional employment opportunities within these niche fields. Student-teaching sessions give elementary education master’s degree-earners the chance to use their new skills and knowledge to address problems and concerns in real-world classrooms.

WILL AN ONLINE MASTER’S IN ELEMENTARY EDUCATION PROGRAM WORK WITH MY SCHEDULE?

Online master’s degree programs offer a flexible, easily accessible alternative to traditional college learning. Students are able to download course lectures and readings, participate in virtual discussions with other students, submit written assignments, take exams and communicate with their professors from the comfort of their own home. Current technology also enables them to study away from desktop computer using a laptop, tablet, smartphone and other portable Wi-Fi devices. For added convenience, students can usually coordinate student-teaching opportunities at schools and other facilities that are reasonably close to their current residence.

WHAT JOBS CAN I GET WITH MY MASTER’S DEGREE IN ELEMENTARY EDUCATION?

Job eligibility for those who earn a master’s in elementary education online will depend somewhat on their degree specialization. Those who concentrate their studies in areas like special education, leadership, administration or curriculum and instruction will likely be considered for more positions related to these fields. Master’s recipients who choose to continue teaching also enjoy more job opportunities, as schools are likelier to hire candidates with advanced degrees — and some states require a master’s as part of the licensure process. The master’s pathway may also serve as a stepping-stone for students who wish to advance into a doctoral education program.

WHAT ARE THE BEST ONLINE MASTER’S IN ELEMENTARY EDUCATION PROGRAMS?

Choosing a program is an incredibly personal decision, and only you can properly evaluate whether a target school’s strengths match your educational needs. The following ranked list of schools should serve as a helpful starting point in your search for the best online master’s degree in elementary education programs in the United States. Our ranking is based on the courses schools offer, available specializations, student outcomes, career support services, and other criteria used to determine academic excellence. If you are considering an online master’s in elementary education, be sure to contact admissions specialists at different colleges and universities to learn more their about specific requirements and offerings.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost % Enrolled Online Location Description
1 Ball State University 65.37 3/5 32% Muncie, IN

Ball State University offers an online master’s in elementary education. The BSU program is designed for teachers who aspire to take on leadership roles within their schools. After completing core courses on elementary education topics, students choose a concentration to specialize their studies. Ball State offers three concentrations in elementary education: early childhood education, enhanced teaching process, and reading and literacy instruction. There are also six focus areas outside of elementary education that offer students more ways to customize their degree. Students can also earn graduate certificates in these six focus areas while completing their MAE. As of 2017, more than 500 students are completing their elementary education master’s degree via Ball State’s learning platform. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA of 2.75 to be considered.


Program Overview
Department: Teachers College
Program Name: Master of Arts in Education in Elementary Education
Available concentrations: Early childhood education, enhanced teaching practices, reading and literacy instruction
Accrediting body: NCATE
Tuition: $394/credit hour (Indiana resident); $590/credit hour (non-resident)

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Program Requirements
Prerequisites: Bachelor’s degree
Credit requirements: 30

Program Length
Program options: Full-time or part-time
Program length: 2 years
Program start dates: August 21, January 8, May 14

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: Rolling
GPA: 2.75 minimum (or 3.0 minimum in the latter half of your bachelor’s degree)

Contact
Department phone: (765) 285-5251
Department email: tcdeansst@bsu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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2 Old Dominion University 63.49 3/5 32% Norfolk, VA

Old Dominion University offers a master’s in elementary education that was developed to help teachers who are already licensed continue their educations, take on leadership roles, and move towards greater earning potential. This online master's in elementary education is facilitated through the school's popular ODUOnline platform -- 96% of students reported that they were very satisfied with their overall experience with ODUOnline in a recent survey. Students can complete assignments, receive academic advising, and access a wide variety of online resources on ODUOnline. The 30-credit program includes fieldwork placements and a comprehensive thesis in addition to the core education curriculum. Students are organized into cohorts during admissions and stay grouped together throughout the entire program. The program can be completed in 18 months of full-time study. Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree and a Virginia Professional License (or their state’s equivalent) in elementary education to be considered.


Program Overview
Department: Department of Teaching & Learning
Program Name: Master of Science in Education in Elementary Education
Accrediting body: CAEP
Tuition: $496/credit hour (Virginia resident); $538/credit hour (non-resident)

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Mostly asynchronous

Program Requirements
Prerequisites: Bachelor’s degree and professional license in elementary education
Credit requirements: 30 credits

Program Length
Program options: Full-time or part-time
Program length: 18 months
Program start dates: August, January, May

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: Rolling
GPA: 2.80 minimum

Contact
Department phone: (800) 968-2638
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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3 East Carolina University 61.93 3/5 34% Greenville, NC

The master's of arts in elementary education and middle grades education at East Carolina University is intended for current K-6 elementary teachers seeking leadership positions in their school, or who are pursuing M-level licensure. The core curriculum includes 27 credits devoted to advanced study of the field, as well as nine additional credits in one of the following concentration areas: academically gifted, content pedagogy, teacher leadership in the elementary school, early childhood, and teaching English as a second language. Students must also complete fieldwork and a culminating thesis course. After these requirements are completed, students are eligible for M-level licensure. ECU offers four different start dates throughout the year, including two summer session that are ideal for teachers on summer break. Applicants must have a current initial teaching license and current GRE or MAT scores to be considered.


Program Overview
Department: College of Education
Program Name: Master of Arts in Education (MA.Ed.) - elementary education
Accrediting body: NCATE
Tuition: $244.71/credit hour (North Carolina resident); $876.62/credit hour (non-resident)

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Program Requirements
Prerequisites: Bachelor’s degree and initial teaching license in elementary education
Credit requirements: 36 credits

Program Length
Program options: Full-time or part-time
Program length: Two years
Program start dates: August, January, May, July

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: October 15, March 15, May 1, June 1
Standardized tests: GRE or MAT

Contact
Department phone: (252) 328-5316
Department email: greeneh@ecu.edu

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4 University of North Carolina at Charlotte 61.62 3/5 18% Charlotte, NC

The University of North Carolina’s online master’s in elementary education, is open to licensed elementary educators in the state who want to pursue a graduate-level education part-time. Students from other states are welcome to apply, but they should check with their state’s board of education to ensure the credits meet state requirements. Throughout the 33-credit program, students complete studies in three sequenced phases, including developing perspectives, collaborative inquiry, and investigative leadership. Once these requirements are completed, students use the remaining 12 hours to complete a concentration in one of the following areas: academically or intellectually gifted, instructional systems technology, special education, or elementary mathematics. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited university with a minimum GPA of 3.0, have a current teaching license in elementary education, and provide test scores for the GRE or MAT to be considered.


Program Overview
Department: College of Education
Program Name: Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Elementary Education
Accrediting body: SACS
Tuition: $247/credit hour (resident of North Carolina); $893/credit hour (non-resident)

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Program Requirements
Prerequisites: Bachelor’s degree in a relevant field or relevant coursework and current teaching license in elementary education
Credit requirements: 33 credits

Program Length
Program options: Part-time
Program length: Two years or less
Program start dates: Fall

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: August 1
GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized tests: GRE or MAT
Work experience: Experience in elementary education

Contact
Department phone: (704) 687-1276
Department email: sputman@uncc.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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5 William Carey University 60.92 3/5 20% Hattiesburg, MS

William Carey University may be based in southeast Mississippi, but the school’s distance learning portal makes it possible for teachers throughout the country to continue their educations via the online master’s in elementary education. Students at William Carey have the option to navigate the program either in a cohort model, or individually. The program includes 30 credits, and students can earn their degree in as few as 15 months. Students can begin the program in any term. All courses are taught asynchronously and allow students to create a portfolio of materials that will be useful in their classrooms after graduation. The school emphasizes one-on-one attention, keeping class sizes small and providing many opportunities for peers and professors to interact online and build a rapport. William Carey offers a variety of financial aid options, including work-study programs, state grants, and scholarships.


Program Overview
Department: William Carey School of Education
Program Name: Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Elementary Education
Accrediting body: NCATE
Tuition: $350/credit

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Program Requirements
Prerequisites: Bachelor’s degree
Credit requirements: 30 credits

Program Length
Program options: Full-time or part-time
Program length: 15 months
Program start dates: August, November, February, June

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: By Monday of general registration week

Contact
Department phone: (601) 318-6051
Department email: tingram@wmcarey.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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6 Mississippi College 60.75 3/5 24% Clinton, MS

Mississippi College, a private Christian university, offers an elementary education degree online in two forms: a master's of education in elementary education, and an education specialist degree in elementary education. The program emphasizes the latest research, theories, and methodologies, and students explore topics like pedagogy, special and gifted education, and English as a second language. This 30-credit program includes nine credits in core courses, 15 credits in advanced content methods and materials, and six credits in elementary electives. The curriculum covers topics like curriculum development, history of education in the U.S., and subject-specific courses on teaching mathematics, language, social studies, and science. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree in elementary education with a minimum GPA of 2.5, as well as a valid Class A educator's license, to be considered. Students must also maintain a 3.0 GPA throughout the program.


Program Overview
Department: Education
Program Name: Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Elementary Education
Accrediting body: NCATE
Tuition: $383.33/credit

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Program Requirements
Prerequisites: Bachelor’s degree in elementary education and teaching license in elementary education
Credit requirements: 30 credits

Program Length
Program options: Full-time or part-time
Program length: 10 months
Program start dates: January, March, May, June, August, October

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: A week before courses start each term
GPA: 2.5 minimum

Contact
Department phone: (601) 925-3478
Department email: cmelton@mc.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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7 Troy University 58.25 3/5 52% Troy, AL

Alabama's Troy University offers a master's in elementary education online with a number of different options, including two different education specialist paths. The general master’s in elementary education online requires students to complete 36 credit hours, during which students must maintain an overall GPA of 3.0 or higher. Core courses for all students include psychological foundations of education, collaboration for inclusion, educational evaluation, and educational technology in the curriculum. Students who already hold a degree and licensure in elementary education can pursue a traditional fifth-year certification for teachers program, which can be completed in a single academic year. The fifth-year certification programs are also offered in the following instructional support areas: instructional leadership and administration, school counseling, and school psychometry. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA of 2.75, and provide proof of bachelor's level teaching certification to be considered.


Program Overview
Department: College of Education
Program Name: Master of Science in Education in Elementary Education (K-6)
Accrediting body: NCATE
Tuition: $494/credit (Alabama resident); $988/credit (non-resident)

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Program Requirements
Prerequisites: Bachelor’s level teaching certification
Credit requirements: 36 credits

Program Length
Program options: Full-time or part-time
Program length: 2 years
Program start dates: August and January

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: May 1 (fall term) and September 1 (spring term)
GPA: 2.75 minimum
Standardized tests: GRE, GMAT, or MAT

Contact
Department phone: (800) 414-5756
Department email: ask@troy.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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8 Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania 57.60 3/5 13% Slippery Rock, PA

Unlike generalist online master’s in elementary education programs, Slippery Rock University’s program is specifically designed for educators who wish to teach K-8 math and science. Students enter the program during the summer or winter term as part of a cohort. They can expect to complete coursework and graduation requirements, including fieldwork and a thesis, over the course of four semesters. The program is offered entirely online and courses are asynchronous, making it easy for teachers to pursue their education during the school year. The curriculum was recently overhauled to align to Common Core State Standards and includes coursework designed to help students understand new technologies, changing markets, and licensing requirements. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0, a current teaching certificate, and have prior teaching experience to be considered.


Program Overview
Department: Elementary Education/Early Childhood
Program Name: Master of Education in Elementary Education: K-8 Math and Science
Accrediting body: CAEP
Tuition: $351.20/credit (Pennsylvania resident); $367.20/credit (non-resident)

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Program Requirements
Prerequisites: Bachelor’s degree and teaching certificate from any state
Credit requirements: 30 credits

Program Length
Program options: Full-time or part-time
Program length: 1 year
Program start dates: Summer only

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum
Work experience: Professional teaching experience

Contact
Department phone: (724) 738-2863
Department email: suzanne.rose@sru.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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9 Liberty University 56.37 4/5 85% Lynchburg, VA

Liberty is a private Christian university and the largest provider of online education in the world, offering several degrees in a variety of disciplines. The online master’s in elementary education at Liberty is offered as a master's of arts in teaching, and is perfect for applicants who have no previous teaching experience and wish to qualify for initial licensure. While the majority of the 36 required credits can be completed online, students must visit the Lynchburg, Virginia campus three times for multi-day learning intensives. Students also need to complete a three-credit student teaching practicum, which can be done near their place of residence. The curriculum includes courses on the foundations of exceptionality, reading and language acquisition, principles of behavior management, and more. Liberty allows students to transfer up to 12 credits from a previous school.


Program Overview
Department: Education
Program Name: Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) – Elementary Education
Available concentrations: None
Accrediting body: NCATE
Tuition: $565/credit

Delivery
Format: Hybrid (online with three required in-person intensives in Virginia)
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Program Requirements
Prerequisites: Bachelor’s degree
Credit requirements: 36 credits
Field education requirements: 3-credit internship/student teaching

Program Length
Program options: Full-time or part-time
Program length: 2 years
Program start dates: 8 times a year

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: Rolling
GPA: 3.0 minimum

Contact
Department phone: (800) 424-9595
Department email: luograd@liberty.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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10 University of Alabama at Birmingham 55.23 3/5 45% Birmingham, AL

The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s master of education in early childhood and elementary education prepares graduates for careers teaching in either preschool, kindergarten, or elementary school. After taking 12 credits of courses directly related to teaching, students also study topics like curriculum development, critical pedagogy, child psychology, and teaching in a multicultural society. All told, UAB’s offering requires 31 to 34 credit hours for completion, including a three-hour practicum placement. For learners with no previous teaching education or experience in teaching elementary students, the school offers a 58-credit alternative master’s program. Graduates of the alternative master's program are prepared to become certified teachers. UAB also offers an early childhood and elementary education honors program for students looking for a more rigorous experience. Students interested in further studies may wish to pursue UAB's doctor of philosophy program in early childhood education.


Program Overview
Department: School of Education
Program Name: Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Elementary Education
Accrediting body: NCATE
Tuition: $396/credit (resident); $935/credit (non-resident)

Delivery
Format: Online or hybrid
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Program Requirements
Prerequisites: Bachelor’s degree
Credit requirements: 31 to 34 credits

Program Length
Program options: Full-time or part-time
Program length: 2 years
Program start dates: Fall, spring, summer

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: July 1 (fall), November 1 (spring), April 1 (summer)
GPA:

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Standardized tests:

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Contact
Department phone: (205) 934-8359
Department email: emfinger@uab.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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11 Gardner-Webb University 54.98 4/5 45% Boiling Springs, NC

Gardner-Webb University in North Carolina offers a fully online master's of arts in curriculum and instruction for students who want to interpret and apply the latest research findings to existing curricula. The program is well-suited for teachers who want to become researchers themselves. The 33-credit curriculum is offered in five semesters, where students takes one module of six or seven credits. The third, fourth, and fifth semesters also require a one-credit internship. Gardner-Webb strongly suggests that applicants acquire at least three years of teaching experience before applying. Although applicants from outside the state are eligible for the program, they cannot be recommended for licensure unless they have obtained an initial professional educator’s license from the State of North Carolina’s Department of Public Instruction before completing their degree. Applicants should also hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA of 2.5 to be considered.


Program Overview
Department: School of Education
Program Name: Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction
Accrediting body: NCATE
Tuition: $429/credit

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Program Requirements
Prerequisites: Bachelor’s degree
Credit requirements: 33 credits
Field education requirements: Internship

Program Length
Program options: Full-time or part-time
Program length: 2 years

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: Rolling
GPA: 2.5 minimum
Standardized tests: GRE or MAT
Work experience: 3 years of teaching experience recommended

Contact
Department phone: (704) 406-2015
Department email: jputnam2@gardner-webb.edu

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12 University of North Dakota 54.67 3/5 29% Grand Forks, ND

The University of North Dakota offers a master's of science in elementary education degree online that prepares K-6 teachers how to address their students' educational needs through a mixture of theory and practical experience. The curriculum includes 32 credits of courses and a 3-credit teaching practicum. Most classes are offered asynchronously, and start dates are available every fall, spring, and summer. The program commonly takes two to three years to complete, depending on how many classes students take each semester. This program is designed for students who are licensed to teach, as well as non-licensed applicants who want to follow a research-oriented study path. Applicants should note that this program does not lead to certification. UND offers students with a variety of support services, including online tutoring, library access, tech support, and academic advising services.


Program Overview
Department: Education
Program Name: Master of Science in Elementary Education
Accrediting body: CAEP
Tuition: $410.12/credit

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous and synchronous

Program Requirements
Prerequisites: Bachelor’s degree
Credit requirements: 32 credits
Field education requirements: Teaching practicum

Program Length
Program options: Full-time or part-time
Program length: 2 years
Program start dates: Fall, spring, summer

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: May 15 (fall), October 15 (spring), March 15 (summer)

Contact
Department phone: (701) 777-2920
Department email: bonni.gourneau@UND.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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13 Western Governors University 54.08 3/5 100% Salt Lake City, UT

Western Governors University offers an elementary education degree online that prepares students to become highly qualified teachers, even if they have no prior experience in education. Offered as a master's of arts, this degree prepares students who hold a bachelor’s degree in a subject outside of education to gain their initial licensure as an elementary education teacher. The program generally takes two to three years to complete. WGU was the first entirely online university to receive accreditation for its teacher licensure degrees from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. The 41-credit curriculum covers key topics including foundations of teaching, mathematics content, instructional planning and presentation, elementary education methods, and research fundamentals. Students must also complete a classroom practicum and a professional portfolio. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA of 2.5, and meet the rest of the school's content requirements, to be considered.


Program Overview
Department: Teachers College
Program Name: Master of Arts in Teaching, Elementary Education (K-8)
Accrediting body: NCATE
Tuition: $2,890/6-month term

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Program Requirements
Prerequisites: Bachelor’s degree in any subject and a state-specific basic skills test prior to classroom practicum
Credit requirements: 41 credits
Field education requirements: Classroom practicum

Program Length
Program options: Full-time or part-time
Program length: 1 to 3 years
Program start dates: The first of any month

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: Rolling
GPA: 2.5 minimum

Contact
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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14 University of West Alabama 51.37 3/5 11% Livingston, AL

The University of West Alabama, located in Livingston, offers an online master's in elementary education. The 34-credit program includes 19 credits in professional courses and 15 credits of teaching field courses. The curriculum covers a variety of topics, including foundations of education, educational planning, advanced educational psychology, special education, and more. A field placement practicum and a comprehensive thesis course are also required. Students who take on a standard load of courses can expect to graduate within two years. All students are expected to maintain a GPA of 3.0 or above, and any class a student receives a “C” or lower in will need to be retaken. Those who complete all graduation requirements will qualify for proper certification from their state of residence as long as they’ve received prior written approval. Applicants must already hold a valid teaching certificate, and have recent GRE or MAT scores, to be considered.


Program Overview
Department: College of Education
Program Name: Master of Education in Elementary Education K-6 [certification]
Accrediting body: SACSCC
Tuition: $429/credit

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Program Requirements
Prerequisites: Bachelor’s degree and teaching certificate
Credit requirements: 34 credits
Field education requirements: Teaching field courses and field placement practicum

Program Length
Program options: Full-time or part-time
Program length: 1 year
Program start dates: 6 times per year

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: May 1, October 1, March 1
Standardized tests: GRE or MAT

Contact
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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15 Marshall University 51.34 3/5 27% Huntington, WV

Marshall University offers an online master's in elementary mathematics specialist through the College of Education and Professional Development. The program was designed for currently-certified elementary teachers who are looking to add a specialist degree to their teaching license. The 36-credit program includes 15 credits of core courses and 18 credits in a student's area of emphasis, as well as a three-credit capstone requirement. The curriculum covers topics like educational evaluation, educational research and writing, technical mathematics, and a variety of subject-specific courses within mathematics. The majority of the program is taught asynchronously, but three of the core courses currently require students to attend class online at specific times. Marshall worked closely with the National Council for Teachers of Mathematics and the International Society for Technology in Education to set standards, objectives, and course content guidelines for this mathematics specialist program. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA of 2.5 and current teacher licensure in elementary education to be considered.


Program Overview
Department: College of Education and Professional Development
Program Name: Master of Arts in Education -- Elementary Mathematics Specialist
Accrediting body: CAEP
Tuition: $3,710/semester (resident); $8,955/semester (non-resident)

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Mostly asynchronous

Program Requirements
Prerequisites: Bachelor’s degree and current teacher licensure in elementary education
Credit requirements: 36 credits

Program Length
Program options: Full-time or part-time
Program length: 2 years
Program start dates: Spring and fall

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: March 1 and October 1
GPA: 2.5 minimum
Work experience: Must be a currently-certified elementary teacher

Contact
Department phone: (304) 746-8983
Department email: meisele@marshall.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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16 Missouri State University-Springfield 47.42 3/5 25% Springfield, MO

Missouri State University offers an elementary education online degree that is flexible in both curriculum and scheduling. The 36-credit program can be completed in two years, with students taking two classes each semester, including summer terms. Students can choose one-third of their courses in the program, allowing them to specialize their degree to fit their educational and professional goals. The following specialization options are available: early childhood, reading, technology, ESL, middle school, math, science, social science, special education, or an individualized combination of courses in those areas. Students must enroll in an advanced theory and practice in student assessment and evaluation course during their final semester, which involves a culminating final project. Graduates are prepared to teach college-level courses or to study at the PhD level. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA of 2.75 and provide current GRE scores to be considered.


Program Overview
Department: College of Education
Program Name: Master of Science in Education in Elementary Education
Available concentrations: Early childhood, reading, technology, ESL, middle school, math, science, social science, special education, or an individualized combination of courses
Accrediting body: CAEP
Tuition: $285/credit

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Program Requirements
Prerequisites: Bachelor’s degree
Credit requirements: 36 credits

Program Length
Program options: Full-time or part-time
Program length: 2 years
Program start dates: Fall, spring, summer

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: July 20 (fall), December 20 (spring), May 20 (summer)
GPA: 2.75 minimum
Standardized tests: GRE

Contact
Department phone: (417) 836-6065
Department email: CindyHail@MissouriState.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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17 Northern Arizona University 46.41 3/5 34% Flagstaff, AZ

Northern Arizona University offers an online master's in elementary education through its Department of Teaching and Learning that is designed for students who are currently licensed and teaching. This program does not provide K-8 teaching certification or an institutional recommendation for teaching certification. The curriculum includes 12–15 credits of core requirements and 16–18 credits in emphasis courses. Students can currently choose from the following areas of emphasis: continuing professional, elementary national board preparation, and reading K-8. The degree must be completed within six years, and students must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 throughout the program. Students will be required to complete a thesis project and provide an oral defense of their work. NAU offers a self-paced options for students who either want to accelerate their study or take their time. This program is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.


Program Overview
Department: Teaching and Learning
Program Name: Master of Education in Elementary Education
Available concentrations: Continuing professional, elementary national board preparation, and reading K-8
Accrediting body: NCATE
Tuition: $476/credit

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Program Requirements
Prerequisites: Bachelor’s degree
Credit requirements: 28 to 33

Program Length
Program options: Full-time or part-time
Program length: Must be completed in 6 years
Program start dates: Fall, spring, summer

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: Rolling
GPA: 3.0 minimum
Work experience: Current licensed teacher

Contact
Department phone: (928) 523-5644
Department email: Pamela.Powell@nau.edu

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18 Wilson College 45.24 3/5 17% Chambersburg, PA

Pennsylvania’s Wilson College offers a master’s in elementary education online for teachers who want to gain a deeper understanding of pedagogy, theory, research-based practices, and technology. The curriculum includes 10 core courses, with two additional required courses to close out the program. Courses touch on several topics, including contemporary issues in education, best practices and effective teaching, technology integration for the classroom, and more. While many classes are offered completely online, students should be prepared to take half the sessions for each of their courses at the Chambersburg campus. The program generally takes two to three years to complete, and students must earn their degree within six years of being admitted. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0 and a current teaching certification in grades PK-12 to be considered.


Program Overview
Department: Education
Program Name: Master of Education
Accrediting body: Pennsylvania Department of Education
Tuition: $500/credit

Delivery
Format: Hybrid
Instruction style: Asynchronous and synchronous

Program Requirements
Prerequisites: Bachelor’s degree and a current teaching certification in grades PK-12

Program Length
Program options: Full-time or part-time
Program length: 1.5 to 3 years
Program start dates: Fall and spring

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: Rolling
GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized tests: Praxis
Work experience: A current teaching certification in grades PK-12

Contact
Department phone: (717) 262-2045
Department email: med@wilson.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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19 Delta State University 44.81 3/5 40% Cleveland, MS

Delta State University offers an innovative online master's in elementary education degree through the school's Department of Teacher Education, Leadership, and Research. The program is designed for students who have already completed a bachelor's degree in education and received teaching licensure. The 30-credit curriculum covers advanced topics such as the psychology of learning, methods of educational research and statistics, effective instruction in the elementary school, literacy instruction, and classroom management. Students must also complete a practicum within a classroom. Once all required coursework has been completed, students are required to compile a comprehensive portfolio outlining what they’ve learned and complete a self-assessment form to qualify for graduation. Classes are taught on a rotation, and new students should work closely with their advisor to ensure that they enroll in courses the correct order. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA of 2.5, a class A teaching certification, and provide satisfactory standardized test scores to be considered for admission.


Program Overview
Department: Department of Teacher Education, Leadership, and Research
Program Name: Master of Education in Elementary Education
Accrediting body: NCATE
Tuition: $3,369.50/term

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Program Requirements
Prerequisites: Bachelor's degree in education and a class A teaching licensure
Credit requirements: 30 to 36 credits
Field education requirements: Classroom practicum

Program Length
Program options: Full-time or part-time
Program length: 2 years
Program start dates: January, May, September

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: August 1
GPA: 2.5 cumulative or 2.75 on the last 64 hours of required coursework.
Standardized tests: GRE, MAT, PRAXIS, CAAP, PRAXIS I, CORE academic skills for educators, or NTE communications skills test
Work experience: Licensed teacher

Contact
Department phone: (205) 655-4878
Department email: csnow@deltastate.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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20 Western Kentucky University 43.12 3/5 32% Bowling Green, KY

Western Kentucky University offers a master's of arts in education in teacher leadership with a concentration in elementary education that is perfect for teachers looking to increase their understanding of pedagogy and leadership in the classroom. The curriculum includes a core of professional education courses, and a majority of the program's courses coming from a student's specialization. Students can choose from the following certifications: elementary education, elementary mathematics specialist, english as a second language, environmental education, gifted and talented, and instructional computer technology. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA of 2.75 and have a valid teaching license to be considered. Out-of-state applicants must also submit GRE scores. WKU also offers a non-degree planned fifth year option for students who do not meet the admission requirements of the program.


Program Overview
Department: School of Teacher Education
Program Name: M.A.E. in Teacher Leadership--Elementary Education
Available concentrations: Professional education, specialization (Elementary Education, Gifted and Talented Endorsement and Instructional Computer Technology Endorsement)
Accrediting body: NCATE
Tuition: $707/credit

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Program Requirements
Prerequisites: Bachelor’s degree and valid teaching license
Credit requirements: 30 to 37 credits

Program Length
Program options: Full-time or part-time
Program length: 2 years
Program start dates: Fall, spring, summer

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: August 1 (fall), January 1 (spring), May 1 (summer)
GPA: 2.75 minimum
Standardized tests: GRE (out-of-state students with GPA lower than 2.75 only)
Work experience: Teaching license

Contact
Department phone: (270) 745-8822
Department email: lisa.murley@wku.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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An online master’s degree in elementary education prepares candidates for licensure as an elementary school teacher, implementing a curriculum with the professional licensure available through a master’s program. The quality of instruction for the best online master’s in elementary education are usually backed by specialized accreditations, which work to ensure a standard of training and instruction. Teaching in actual classrooms gives a significant focus to a student’s capstone thesis, and participation in academic networks helps to connect future teachers with existing elementary education communities.

CONCENTRATIONS OFFERED FOR AN ONLINE MASTER’S DEGREE IN ELEMENTARY EDUCATION

Concentration Description Careers This Concentration Prepares For
Montessori Education Method Montessori education emphasizes a child-centered approach to education. It incorporates research on self-directed activity, collaborative play, and hands-on learning. Teachers learn to offer support for the development of a spirit of inquiry in elementary students and cultivate an engagement with local communities. Montessori educational standards work to provide the best physical, emotional, and social environment for learning. Montessori instructor, early elementary education teacher
Early Education A concentration in early education offers a liberal studies course load often designed in collaboration with successful elementary programs, and targets core subject areas. Early education courses conducted at a university often incorporate a specific area of focus: child psychology, growth and development, technology for children, and strategies for behavioral management for disabled and special needs cases. Early elementary education teacher, pre-school management and counseling
Literacy A literacy concentration provides an in-depth look at literacy issues, giving candidates for an online master’s in elementary education program the ability to synthesize all the best practices and available research in reading instruction. Coursework entails a focus on the written and read components of literacy instruction and provides strategies for helping elementary students gain comfort with literacy and spoken communication. Special education instructor, elementary school teacher, reading programs specialist.

CURRICULUM FOR AN ONLINE MASTER’S DEGREE IN ELEMENTARY EDUCATION

Master’s in elementary education online programs may differ, according to the established standards of a college or school. To gain an idea of what a curriculum for an online organizational leadership master’s degree program look like, consult the list below.

  • Foundations of Teaching: Students gain an overview of the historical, philosophical, and sociological texts that have influenced current educational theory and practice. Common issues in education, investigation of trends, and engagement with new methods prepares educators for future coursework in their concentration. Candidates will also develop and strengthen the necessary skills to succeed as graduate students.
  • Elementary Education Methods: A fundamental part of any online master’s degree in elementary education, this course covers activities, teaching strategies, and effective classroom management techniques. The course is designed to help elementary teachers in training to develop systematic methods to lead students to cooperate with each other and with supervisors. Tasks and learning strategies are put in context, often through observation.
  • Instructional Planning and Presentation: Designed to lead teachers in training to design courses through the understanding of clear objectives and goals. Planning activities and assignments are discussed along with the various research around strategies to support student learning. Different approaches are considered, including field work, discussions, writing, and service-based collaboration.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET AN ONLINE MASTER’S IN ELEMENTARY EDUCATION?

The length of time that a student needs to complete a program may vary according to the circumstances of their application and desired licensing. Some students possess coursework from another previously attended college. In the case of a candidate having credits from another college or university, which will transfer towards the program they are applying to, their degree track would be amended to reflect the credits already completed.

A student may encounter course lengths anywhere from eight to 12-weeks long. Some elementary education master’s online programs require that students complete the program in a cohort. A cohort format has students move through the program as a synchronized group, taking classes at the same time to create an on-campus feel. Independent learning is usually quicker since it allows students to take a heavier courseload. Typically, elementary education master’s degree online students may plan to complete a 30-33 credit program in two years.

CERTIFICATIONS AND LICENSES A MASTER’S IN ELEMENTARY EDUCATION PREPARES FOR

  • Teaching Licensure: A professional license is needed in order to practice teaching. As a teacher, you’re responsible for the development, general aspirations, and standards of a student body. Licensure ensures that every person who assumes the responsibility of a teacher has the necessary knowledge and skill. Licenses are also issued at a state level, so different states have different policies.
  • STEM and Technology Integration: The STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and Technology certificate ensures that a candidate has the knowledge to interpret and utilize technology, specifically in order to enhance learning potential in the classroom. Certificate holders possesses the conceptual tools to approach technological change with confidence, as well as the ability to integrate new presentation methods and assisted learning protocols into their role as an elementary educator.

Accreditation is important in order to maintain a high standard of education in institutions of higher learning. Regional accreditation is a process undertaken by a college or school in order to demonstrate that a program meets a minimum standard of excellence; it is generally considered to be more prestigious than national accreditation. There is no specific accreditation required regarding the best online master’s degree in elementary education. However, teacher-focused groups like NCATE (the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education) and ACEI (the Association for Childhood Education International) exist to maintain training standards for teachers.

The Department of Education is a federal agency established in 1979 which was formed to regulate policies concerning all schools and colleges within the United States, and to coordinate federal assistance for education, gather data about schools, and enforce federal laws regarding education. It works to promote the success of education within the United States and has no direct hand in the accreditation process. The CHEA and works to maintain educational standards and keep universities competitive with colleges and schools within the US, and with institutions of higher learning around the world. A list of universities with national accreditation is available directly from the U.S. Department of Education.

WHAT TO EXPECT AS A STUDENT IN AN ONLINE MASTER’S IN ELEMENTARY EDUCATION PROGRAM

Like many graduate degree programs, the master’s in elementary education pathway builds on the foundational areas of undergraduate study while introducing more advanced ideas, theories and approaches to the profession. Students should expect coursework in subjects like standards-based education, educational technology and digital learning, curriculum and instructional development, advanced methods of student assessment and behavioral psychology. The curriculum will also include modules exploring research methods directly related to elementary learning. In most cases, students in master’s programs have already earned their teaching license, so certification prep is normally not part of the standard curriculum.

A wide range of degree specializations are available for master’s in elementary education degree students. Those who would like to work with students with disabilities may pursue a special education concentration, while those with an interest in the subjects students learn may be drawn to a specialization in curriculum and instruction. A focus on educational leadership is ideal for aspiring principals, senior administrators and other top-level school officials. Other common specializations include reading and literacy or early childhood education (typically pre-K to third grade). In some general education master’s programs, ‘elementary education’ is considered the degree specialization.

It’s important to research the accreditation status of a master’s in elementary education degree program before fully committing to it. In the U.S., online elementary education master’s programs receive accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). In addition to programmatic accreditation, make sure that the college or university has received regional or national accreditation.

JOB PLACEMENT: MASTER’S DEGREE IN ELEMENTARY EDUCATION

The demand for qualified, licensed teachers and administrators is quite high, which means that the job outlook for master’s degree-holding elementary educators is quite favorable. U.S. News & World Report estimates that the unemployment rate for elementary school teachers is currently set at 3.0%. The table below compares this figure to the unemployment rates of teachers at other types of public and private schools.

Occupation Unemployment Rate (2017)
High School Teacher 2.0%
Elementary School Teacher 3.0%
Middle School Teacher 3.0%

Source: U.S. News & World Report

As the table shows, elementary school teachers face comparable unemployment odds as middle school teachers — and higher unemployment rates than high school teachers. However, it’s worth noting that the rate for elementary school teachers is still much lower than the national unemployment average for all industries, which is currently set at 4.7%.

EARNING A LIVING

The salary potential of teachers and education professionals is often tied to their master’s degree area of study. How do elementary education degree-holders measure up against other education master’s degree recipients? Using data from the 2016-17 PayScale College Salary Report, the following table looks at earning expectations for different education majors at two early career benchmarks.

Master’s Degree Field Median Entry-Level Salary (Less than 5 Years) Median Mid-Career Salary (10+ Years)
Educational Administration $53,900 $74,400
Educational Leadership $52,700 $72,000
Education (General) $46,200 $66,500
Secondary Education $44,000 $66,300
Special Education $44,500 $60,000
Elementary Education $41,200 $55,100
Early Childhood Education $38,100 $48,400

Source: 2016-17 PayScale College Salary Report

Of the seven fields listed, the average wage premium (or salary growth) between the entry-level and mid-career stages is 37.8%. In addition to bachelor’s degree major, the salary potential of an elementary teacher will also depend on their specific job title. Other important factors include licensure status, experience level and city/state of employment. The next table looks at career salary growth expectations for four common career paths for math education master’s recipients.

Occupation Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 years) Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 years) Median Annual Salary for Experienced Employees (10-20 years) Median Annual Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ years)
Elementary Teacher $38,806 $43,909 $49,844 $57,187
Special Education Teacher (Preschool, Kindergarten and Elementary) $40,899 $44,791 $50,079 $57,133
Elementary School Principal $74,315 $79,097 $82,753 $84,277
Curriculum Developer $52,458 $60,838 $66,787 $78,619

Source: PayScale

All four occupations experience a salary growth rate of at least 13% after 20 years on the job. Curriculum developers reported the highest growth rate: a 49.9% increase in earnings between the entry-level and late-career stages. Elementary teachers ranked second (despite having the lowest salaries at all four benchmarks) with 47.4% salary growth, followed by special education teachers with 39.7% growth.

Career Opportunities

Students who leave school with a master’s in elementary education will be qualified for a wide range of positions, although their eligibility will largely depend on their area of specialization. Four common career paths for master’s in elementary education recipients are outlined below.

Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers: In most elementary school classrooms, the teacher is responsible for delivering lessons on a variety of subjects, including reading and writing, math, science, art and music. These teachers are also trained to recognize the early signs of learning disabilities, behavioral disorders and other impediments to productive learning in young students.

Elementary, Middle and High School Principals: Principals oversee the various operations and activities at public and private schools. Their day-to-day duties include monitoring and evaluating teachers and other school personnel, approving curriculum standards, meeting with other administrators and, in some cases, discussing disciplinary actions with students and their parents.

Instructional Coordinators: Instructional coordinators develop curriculum standards for different lessons taught in public and private schools. They also train teachers and other school staff how to deliver and assess student progress in different areas, and also evaluate current curriculum standards to see if there are areas for future improvement.

Special Education Teachers: Special education teachers specialize in the instruction and supervision of students with disabilities ranging from minor to severe. At most public and private elementary schools, students receive special education services in dedicated classrooms outside their primary classroom.

Profession Median Annual Salary Projected Job Growth (2014-24)
Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers $54,550 6% (+87,800 jobs)
Elementary, Middle and High School Principals $90,410 6% (+14,000 jobs)
Instructional Coordinators $62,270 7% (+10,500 jobs)
Special Education Teachers $56,800 6% (+28,100 jobs)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Professional Organizations

Making professional connections and learning about different approaches to elementary education is crucial to your success. Professional organizations offer a great entry point for students who want to learn more about their chosen career path. Below you’ll find three of the country’s most prominent organizations established for elementary teachers and education professionals. These organizations host networking events, provide online trainings, maintain active job boards, and offer other services for career-ready college graduates. Resources like these often prove invaluable as you complete your degree requirements and prepare to enter the job market.

  • The National Council on Teacher Quality: This organization works to create policies that improve the quality of classroom education and the work environments for professional educators. The council’s website features an extensive policy library, as well as information about various NCTQ projects in all 50 states.
  • The National Educational Association: Working to improve public education from preschool to graduate-level studies, the NEA provides resources on current regulations, strategies for securing financial support and tools for creating high-quality lesson plans. Membership opportunities are available for working employees, retired professionals and students.
  • National Association for the Education of Young Children: In addition to accreditation of college programs, the NAEYC offers a wide range of supportive services for professionals who teach and assist children from birth to age eight. Member benefits include discounted books and other resources, complimentary magazine and newsletter subscriptions and access to ‘Members Only’ areas of the organization’s website.

Despite the relative affordability of online master’s degree programs, most students still need financial assistance. Students should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to learn more about loans, grants, and other opportunities offered through the U.S. government. Additionally, private grants and scholarships are widely available through nonprofit organizations, companies, and other sources. Check out our collection of resources below to learn more about financial aid options.

AN OVERVIEW OF FINANCIAL AID

Approximately two-thirds of today’s college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.

UNDERSTANDING THE FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.

FINANCIAL AID FOR ONLINE COLLEGE STUDENTS

Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you’ll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn’t always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR WOMEN

Online programs can provide an affordable and flexible option for women trying to balance the demands of work, family, and earning their degree. We’ve curated a list of valuable scholarships specifically for women.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR SINGLE PARENTS

Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family’s financial future. We’ve compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.

FINANCIAL AID FOR VETERANS AND ACTIVE MILITARY

Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.

SCHOLARSHIPS AND FINANCIAL AID FOR ONLINE STUDENTS

Students who pursue online degrees will be eligible for scholarships, grants and other financial aid that is unavailable to their brick-and-mortar counterparts. Learn more about these financial opportunities for web-based learners.

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