Online Master’s in Education Programs
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These days it's easy to find an online master's in education program. One quick search and dozens of options pop up.
But that's also the hard part. How do you make sense of all your choices? Which fits your budget or offers the most flexibility? Which gives you the best chances to succeed in the education field?
Let us help you compare these popular options.
Benefits of Earning a Master's Degree in Education
- Tailor curriculum to a specific education specialization.
- Hone communication and interpersonal skills.
- Learn how to use educational technology (EdTech).
- Connect with other education professionals.
- Get teaching experience through a practicum or internship.
- Prepare for teaching licensure.
- Increase potential for higher salaries and leadership roles.
- Prepare for a variety of education careers — not just teaching.
Featured Online Master's in Education Programs
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
Popular Master's in Education Online Programs
We chose to highlight the following schools based on several factors, including top position in organic or paid search results (as of August 2023), relevancy of program offerings, and categorization as a nonprofit. These programs are listed alphabetically by school and not weighed against each other in our methodology.
|School||Degrees Offered||Cost per Credit||Required Credits||Number of Programs||GRE Required||Licensure Track||Months to Complete|
|Arizona State University||MA, M.Ed.||$692||30-47||18||No||18-24|
|Eastern Washington University||M.Ed., MM||$300||48-50||14||No||12-16|
|University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign||Ed.M.||$510||32||8||No||18-24|
|Western Governors University||MA, MS||$3,075 (per term)||N/A||18||No||12-36|
Arizona State University (ASU)
- Public institution in Arizona
- 18 online program options
- 30-47 credits | $692 per credit
Arizona State University's online master's in education programs provide analytical and research skills for current and future educators. ASU's degrees emphasize foundations in instructional strategies and learning methods.
Eastern Washington University (EWU)
- Public institution in Washington
- 15 online program options
- 49-50 credits | $300 per credit
Eastern Washington University online master's in education does not require recommendation letters or writing samples for admissions, unlike most programs. EWU offers 15 graduate education programs, including early childhood education, library media, and literacy.
- Private, nonprofit institution in Louisiana
- 4 online program options
- 30-33 credits | $1,210 per credit
Tulane University's online master's in education program has four specialization options. Students design their curriculum around these specializations, including learning experience design and special education, to prepare them for their chosen career path.
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC)
- Public institution in Illinois
- 8 online program options
- 32 credits | $510 per credit
The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign's online master's in education programs prepare students to navigate challenging education issues. Other focuses include teaching strategies for diverse settings, leadership, and technological applications for education.
Western Governors University (WGU)
- Private, nonprofit institution in Utah
- 18 online program options
- Competency-based | $3,975 per term
Western Governors University has a competency-based model for its online master's in education programs. WGU students progress through courses once they're ready, speeding up if they're familiar or slowing down when they need extra time.
What Is a Master's in Education?
A master's in education is a graduate degree with broad applications. Students can strengthen their teaching skills or earn the qualifications to become a principal, administrator or corporate trainer. Master's in education programs generally require a bachelor's degree.
There are several types of master's degrees in education. Each has a different scope of what you learn:
- A master of education (M.Ed. or Ed.M.) broadly focuses on education.
- A master of science (MS) in education is science or research-based.
- A master of arts (MA) in education is arts and humanities-based.
- A master of music (MM) in music education is for music educators.
Many M.Ed. programs offer specialized tracks or concentrations. These paths allow you to take courses that focus on specific areas of interest within the field.
For example, Arizona State University has concentrations in elementary education, leadership and innovation, and special education. Tulane University offers equity-centered educational leadership, learning experience design, and teaching English learners.
Common Specializations for Master's in Education Programs
- Curriculum and Instruction
- Educational Leadership
- Special Education
- Learning Experience Design
- Teaching English Learners
- Equity-Center Education Leadership
- Global Education
- Early Childhood Education
- Secondary Education
How many credits is a master's degree in education?
The number of credits to earn a master's degree in education varies depending on the institution and program. A master's degree often requires between 30-40 credit hours. But, some programs may need more or fewer credits.
For example, Arizona State University offers an assortment of certification and non-certification track programs that range from 30-47 credits. At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, all online M.Ed. programs are 32 credits.
Average Credits Required
Average Length of M.Ed. Program
1-2 Years (Full Time), 3-4 Years (Part Time)
How much does a master's in education cost?
The average tuition and fees of an online master's degree in education is $8,155 per year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). But tuition costs vary depending on the institution and program. The chart below illustrates the range of cost per credit at some of the most popular online M.Ed. programs:
Do Online Master's in Education Programs Lead to Licensure?
A teaching license, sometimes called a certificate, provides the authority to teach legally. Teachers and principals need a license to work in public schools. State governments issue licenses if you meet predetermined criteria, such as having a degree or passing a state exam. Requirements vary by state.
An online master's in education program can lead to licensure if it's approved by the state. Some programs provide recommendations for licensure to state boards of education. Others provide the necessary education and student-teaching experience to meet licensure or certification requirements. Both are pathways to licensure.
Not all education programs lead to licensure or certification. Licensure track programs often require a teaching practicum whereas non-licensure track programs do not.
For example, graduates of the M.Ed. in secondary education at Arizona State University's receive a recommendation to the Arizona Department of Education for certification to teach grades 6-12.
Meanwhile, the M.Ed. in special education at Eastern Washington University does not lead to a teaching certificate in the state; however, it meets the requirements for an add-on endorsement in special education to a student's existing certificate.
There are a few reasons why a non-licensure program may be a better choice for you, such as:
- You already have a teaching license
- You're planning to work in private schools or other settings that don't require one
- You're more interested in the skills and knowledge you gain from an M.Ed.
What Can You Do With a Master's in Education?
A master's in education can lead to many in-demand careers, including K-12 teacher, school principal, administrator, curriculum consultant, and other leadership positions.
And here's more good news: Your degree opens the door to jobs outside the education setting, too.
Here are 10 popular jobs for master's in education graduates, including how much they pay and how much they're expected to grow over the next decade:
|Job||Median Salary (May 2021)||Job Growth Rate (2021-31)|
|Elementary, Middle, or High School Principal||$98,420||5%|
|Postsecondary Education Administrator||$96,910||7%|
|High School Teacher||$61,820||5%|
|Training and Development Specialist||$61,570||8%|
|Kindergarten or Elementary School Teacher||$61,350||4%|
|Middle School Teacher||$61,320||4%|
|Education Policy Analyst||$63,529*||N/A|
*Average salary, accurate as of August 2023
What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Master's in Education?
Admission requirements vary for an online master's in education. Most M.Ed. programs need you to have the following when you apply:
- Bachelor's degree
- 3.0 or higher undergraduate grade point average (GPA)
- Three recommendation letters
- Personal statement
- Proof of English proficiency
Popular M.Ed. programs at schools like Arizona State University and Tulane University do not require the GRE General Test. Many M.Ed. programs also don't require prior teaching experience.
Some programs have more flexible standards compared to others. For example, Eastern Washington University does not require GRE scores, recommendations, or writing samples.
Admissions committees often consider applicants from various professional and academic backgrounds. But admission rules can change depending on the program or type of degree you choose.
Three years of teaching experience is the minimum to apply for an MS in Educational Leadership at Western Governors University. But, non-teachers can apply to WGU's other two MS in education programs.
Does Accreditation Matter for Master's in Education Programs?
Pay attention to accreditation during your research into M.Ed. programs. It's one way to know a program meets certain standards and delivers high-quality education. Accreditation also impacts financial aid, transfer ability, professional licensure and more.
There are two types of accreditation: institutional and programmatic (sometimes called professional). Institutional accreditation recognizes overall academic quality at a college or university. Programmatic accreditation recognizes programs or departments that adequately prepare students for their careers.
Not all education programs have programmatic accreditation. Those that do have an additional marker of high quality education. There are three main programmatic accrediting bodies for education programs:
- Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP): CAEP, founded in 2013, accredits education degree programs that meet equity and excellence standards in P-12 learning.
- Association for Advancing Quality in Educator Preparation (AAQEP): AAQEP, founded in 2017, accredits programs that uphold high educator preparation standards.
- National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC): NAEYC, founded in 1985, accredits degree programs for early childhood educators.
Though its focus is music rather than education, the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM), which was founded in 1924, upholds national standards for undergraduate and graduate degrees in music-related disciplines including music education.
|School||Institutional Accreditation||Programmatic Accreditation|
|ASU||Higher Learning Commission||none|
|EWU||Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities||NASM|
|Tulane||Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges||CAEP|
|UIUC||Higher Learning Commission||none|
|WGU||Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities||AAQEP, CAEP|
Why Should You Get Your Master's in Education Online?
One of the big advantages of getting a master's in education online is that you don't have to leave the workforce. Many M.Ed. programs allow students to earn their degree part-time, allowing you to balance your studies, work, and personal obligations.
That's one positive. Other benefits of online education include:
- Freedom to learn from anywhere
- More flexible class schedules
- Ability to change careers at your convenience
- Self-paced and self-directed learning
- More neurodivergent-friendly learning methods
Is an Education Master's Degree Worth It? Grads and Instructors Weigh In
The graduates and instructors we spoke to agreed that a master's in education leads to better opportunities, better pay, and greater impact — though you need to be mindful of the reasons why you want it.
They also say the degree helped them reach specific career goals, which varied depending on their values.
What Grads Are Saying
“A master's in education gives a teacher a far wider perspective on how the system works and how students learn. A graduate with a master's in education becomes a problem-solver who can zoom in and out of a problem, seeing it at both micro and macro levels.”
— Mindy Kay Smith, M.Ed., Ohio University
“[A master's in education] has served me well. … I'm a more creative problem-solver, a more empathetic product builder, and a stronger collaborator because I have spent time deeply understanding the problems and people in my industry.”
— Lisa Jiang, MA in Education, Stanford University
“My master's degrees helped me get more leadership positions in education and helped me attain committee roles with the Ohio Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Education. In addition, I am able to provide professional development at the collegiate level because of my two graduate degrees.”
— Charesha Barrett, M.Ed., Cleveland State University
What Instructors and Administrators Are Saying
“I think that it is worth it to pursue a master's in education. Having said that, I think that it is important for students to be strategic if and when they decide to pursue it. Go through the exercise of asking yourself why you want to pursue the degree. What opportunities will a master's degree open up for you, and will it be enough to support your lifestyle?”
— Dr. Emmanuela Stanislaus, Instructor, Florida International University's MS in Higher Education Administration Program
“I consider a bachelor's degree to be like an appetizer when it comes to education. You just get a little taste and you don't have the full understanding of what it means to be an educator. After being in the classroom, having exposure to systems and structures, individuals pursuing a master's degree begin to ask better questions, challenge inequitable practices, and gain confidence in using their voice to advocate for research-based approaches to supporting students and programs.”
— Dr. Kasey Johnson, Lead Faculty, Ottawa University School of Education
“Earning a master's degree in education will help graduates be a part of a group of professionals who have the credentials, licensures, and industry-relevant skills and knowledge that current employers seek.”
— Dr. Stacey Ludwig Johnson, Senior VP and Executive Dean of the School of Education, Western Governors University
Want Even More Options? Discover Similar Programs
Page last reviewed August 29, 2023. The programs highlighted on this page were preselected by the BestColleges Team. The review of this content by Samantha Fecich, Ph.D., does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation of the aforementioned programs.