Best Online Master’s in Elementary Education Programs
BestColleges ranked the top online master’s in elementary education to help you find your best fit. Evaluate programs by flexibility and cost.
Completing a master's in elementary education helps both existing teachers and career changers. They can learn about advanced educational theory, build leadership skills, and engage in meaningful research.
Programs vary in cost based on where a student attends and lives. Public in-state tuition typically costs less than tuition at out-of-state and/or private colleges. Most students pursuing master's degrees graduate within 1-2 years, depending on whether they take classes part time or full time.
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According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of jobs for kindergarten and elementary school teachers is projected to grow by 7% from 2020-2030. This can be encouraging news for prospective degree-seekers looking at top online schools and trying to decide whether to go to graduate school.
Salaries for these education professionals depend on several factors, but they earn median annual wages over $60,000.
Keep reading to learn about commonly required classes, popular career pathways after graduation, and opportunities for continuing education.
What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Elementary Education Program?
People considering an online master's in elementary education typically enjoy working with younger students and helping them learn new ideas, build relationships, problem solve, and think critically.
They enjoy working with a variety of personality types and find fulfillment in educating others. In preparing for graduate school, prospective students should make sure their interests and personalities align with this field.Most master's in elementary education programs consist of 30-40 credits and take from 1-2 years to complete. Schools commonly offer part-time, full-time, summer, and online options. So busy students can find ways to fit classes into their schedules.
In addition to general coursework, many colleges and universities provide specializations to help degree-seekers concentrate their knowledge and skills in a particular area. These can vary based on individual programs, but common offerings include:
- Curriculum and Instruction
- Special Education
- Educational Leadership
- Education Technology
- Gifted and Talented
After completing all coursework, most programs require students to do a practicum or teaching internship — especially for students who do not hold a bachelor's in education or previous teaching experience/licensure. In addition, students may need to complete a master's thesis.
Some schools provide a master of teaching (MAT) in elementary education, while others offer a master of education (M.Ed.) in elementary education. The former focuses more on leadership skills, and the latter helps prepare graduates for classrooms or for instructional coach roles.
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Popular Online Master's in Elementary 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 Elementary Education Program?
Teaching Reading at the Elementary Level
This course examines historical and contemporary approaches to teaching reading and literacy in elementary classrooms. It emphasizes common issues and challenges and data-driven approaches to solving these problems.
Research in Elementary Education
Designed to help students build their research skills, this course calls on them to investigate and interpret research in an original research report. Learners can choose their topic based on educational interests. Sometimes this is called action research, where they can conduct research in their own classrooms.
Designed for classroom educators, this course looks at ways to create effective learning environments and keep students engaged. It also touches on how to work with students who may need support with their behaviors.
Differentiation in Elementary Education
This course helps students learn the skills needed to manage differentiated teaching in classrooms. It emphasizes adapting and modifying curriculum and lessons to fit the needs of the students in the classroom.
School, Family, and Community Partnerships
This course examines the importance of family and community involvement in school settings, especially when encouraging diversity of thought and experience. Students also learn skills in building partnerships. An example of a project could be developing a plan to implement and engage the community or writing a grant.
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What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Master's in Elementary Education Program?
When reviewing graduate admission guidelines, students will likely notice that requirements for online master's in elementary education programs typically mirror those of campus-based programs.
Some master's in elementary education programs require students to have an undergraduate education degree and a teaching license. Others allow those from unrelated backgrounds to enroll in their master's program.
Competitive programs may require prospective students to participate in an interview as a way of narrowing candidates and making final decisions.
Some programs have a dual program where you can obtain your licensure and your master's degree.
College applications vary from program to program, but most usually ask for similar information. This includes the applicant's full name, mailing address, date of birth, and citizenship status. Some schools waive application fees, while others typically charge between $50-$100 for processing.
Some master's in elementary education programs require standardized test scores, while others don't. The most common required tests include the GRE or MAT. Some schools may allow learners to skip testing if their undergraduate GPA is high enough.
Letters of Recommendation
Most schools ask for letters of recommendation to better understand how current/former professors, supervisors, volunteer coordinators, or faith leaders view candidates. Letters of recommendation also provide the opportunity for admissions professionals to determine a student's preparedness for graduate education.
Resume and Work Experience
College application resumes play an essential part in the admission process and further help determine if students are ready for a master's degree program. Some master's in elementary education programs only accept candidates who already have a teaching license, while others may allow career changers into their programs.
Essays allow prospective students to differentiate themselves from other candidates. They can explain why they want to pursue a master's in elementary education. When writing a grad school essay, be sure to explain the reasoning behind earning this degree and why that particular school is the most appealing to you.
What Can I Do With an Online Master's in Elementary Education Degree?
Earning an online master's in elementary education can provide the training and qualifications needed to work in a variety of positions. The BLS projects that the number of jobs for kindergarten and elementary school teachers will grow by 7% from 2020-2030, leading to the creation of approximately 111,500 new positions.
As of May 2020, these professionals received median yearly salaries of $60,660, while those in the top 10% of earners took home more than $100,480. Graduates typically work in public or private elementary schools. But they may also work in curriculum development, nonprofit youth development settings, or even for a governmental education agency.
See where a master's in elementary education can take you. Learn more about teaching careers.
Elementary School Teacher
Elementary school teachers typically teach grades 1-5 and cover basic topics like math and reading. In addition to creating assignments and lesson plans, they grade and evaluate students' work. They also collaborate with other school professionals and students' family members to produce the best student outcomes.
Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $60,940
Special Education Teacher
Special education teachers work with students experiencing learning, emotional, intellectual, or physical disabilities. They provide educational programming appropriate to their students' skill level. These teachers also develop individualized education programs (IEPs) for their students and discuss progress with fellow staff members.
Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $61,500
Instructional coordinators use their knowledge of classroom teaching and learning outcomes to develop new instructional materials. They commonly review testing data from previous years to determine how well students understood the material presented. These coordinators make recommendations for new textbooks and materials.
Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $66,970
Working directly under principals, assistant principals help carry out their supervisor's plans. They oversee federal and state performance guidelines, manage disciplinary protocols, and work with staff, parents, and other community members to enhance and maintain school safety, among other responsibilities.
Average Annual Salary (as of February 2022): $74,020
Elementary School Principal
Principals oversee school and administrative operations, ensuring learners and staff alike receive the training and support they need. They review curriculum standards, set class schedules, provide teacher evaluations, and discuss student progress and behavior with parents. These professionals set the school's budget and work with district supervisors. They also need specific principal licensure and papers.
Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $98,490
Elementary Education Not For You? Check Out These Related Careers.
After earning their online master's in elementary education, some graduates decide to continue pursuing higher education to qualify for more advanced roles. Most do not work toward a higher degree in elementary education, but several doctorates can help them move up the career ladder.
How Do I Choose an Online Master's in Elementary Education Program?
The true cost of a master's in elementary education program can vary substantially — especially when comparing online and on-campus programs. Data from College Board shows that public colleges and universities charged an average of $9,000 during the 2021-2022 academic year, while private institutions charged an average of $29,670.
Because many learners continue working while enrolled, most programs offer flexible learning options. Classes are synchronous or asynchronous, with busy students usually choosing the latter option. Students can also choose from part-time or full-time programs, with some departments even offering accelerated paths.
Whether online or on campus, prospective students need to consider the location of their programs. Online programs do allow learners to take courses from anywhere. However, programs may have some on-campus requirements. So it would be convenient to choose a program near where they live. Check to see if the program you are considering has any on-campus requirements.
In addition to finding an online college with proper accreditation, students may want to look for a master's in elementary education program with programmatic accreditation. Within this discipline, most programs hold accreditation from either the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation or the Teacher Education Accreditation Council.
A program with top-tier student services can be the difference between a good and great experience. Look for one that provides services, such as mentorship opportunities and internship guidance. Distance learners should also look for online student services tailored to their unique needs.
Best Accredited Online Master's in Elementary Education Programs
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Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Elementary Education Programs
Is a master's in elementary education worth it?
Depending on your goals, a master's in elementary education can be worth it. Pursuing this degree may lead to a higher salary and more opportunities for leadership positions.
According to the National Council on Teacher Quality, teachers with a master's degree earn an average of $2,760 more in their first year of teaching than those with a bachelor's degree.
This pay differential continues to expand over time, with those at the final step of the pay scale earning an average of $7,360 more per year due to holding a master's degree.
With a master's degree, graduates may decide to pursue education leadership roles or specializations like curriculum and instruction, special education, or STEM.
What can I do with a master's in elementary education?
Earning an online master's in elementary education makes great sense for individuals looking to boost their career prospects.
Whether moving into the discipline after completing an unrelated bachelor's degree or upgrading existing education credentials, master's degree qualifications can lead to significant opportunities.
In addition to working in a classroom setting, some educators may decide to transition into instruction design roles that commonly require a master's degree. Others may decide to focus on building leadership and management experience, eventually qualifying to take on a job as a principal.
Are elementary education graduates in demand?
According to the BLS, the number of jobs for elementary school teachers are projected to grow by 7% from 2020-2030.
In addition to nearly 1.5 million existing positions, the BLS projects that 111,500 new jobs will be added by the end of the decade.
In addition to new jobs, approximately 124,300 jobs are projected to open each year due to teachers either transferring to a different job/industry or retiring from the workforce. Students looking for a steady career often gravitate toward elementary education.
How much money can I make with a master's in elementary education?
As of May 2020, elementary school teachers earned median annual salaries of $60,940. Those working in local public schools earned the highest median yearly wages of $62,050, while those working in private schools earned $50,050. Several factors can affect how much a master's in elementary education graduate earns, including their job title, employer, location, and how much experience they possess.
Because most schools use pay scales, teachers with more experience can earn substantially more than those who recently graduated.
What are the highest-paying jobs with a master's in elementary education?
After earning a master's in elementary education and working in the classroom for a few years, some educators may decide to apply for an administration role.
Annual salaries for elementary school principals hit a median of $98,490, as of May 2020. Those in the top 10% of earners took home median yearly salaries over $152,500.Most schools require that principal candidates have at least five years of classroom experience, so it could take a while before teachers start earning salaries nearing six figures. According to the BLS, principals working in public schools typically earn more than those in private schools.
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BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.
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