Master’s in Education Program Guide

Interested in taking your teaching career to the next level and pursuing a high-level position? Explore what you can do with a master's in education.
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  • Current teachers often pursue a master's degree in education to further their careers.
  • M.Ed. students can choose among several concentrations like special education and school counseling.
  • Graduates often receive a pay increase with an M.Ed. and can earn well over $100,000 in some administrative roles.

2022 research found that the United States has over 160,000 teaching positions held by underqualified professionals. Elementary and high schools alike need more qualified teachers — and pursuing a master's in education can help current teachers meet that need.

Keep reading to learn more about master's in education programs, what they entail, and the careers you can land with an M.Ed.

What Is a Master of Education?

A master of education (M.Ed.) is a graduate degree program that lasts 1-2 years and includes at least 30 credits. Depending on the school, students can complete an M.Ed. online, in person, or in a hybrid format. Programs may also include an in-person practicum component.

M.Ed. degree-seekers are often current K-12 teachers looking to further their careers. Many schools offer M.Ed. concentration options like educational technology, educational leadership, and school psychology. With such diverse specialization options, M.Ed. graduates can pursue various careers in education, from teacher to guidance counselor to superintendent.

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Should I Get a Master's Degree in Education?

If you are interested in shaping the future of education, you should consider enrolling in a master's in education program. An M.Ed. can prepare you for a variety of careers in education, many of which are in high demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that, between 2021 and 2031, K-12 teaching and administrator positions will grow by 5%, and school counselor jobs will grow by 10%.

Elementary, middle, and high school teaching positions do not require a master's degree in education. However, most school districts offer higher pay for advanced degree-holders. If you are considering a career in higher education, a master's degree is a requirement for college professors teaching undergraduate courses.

What Will I Learn in a Master's in Education Program?

Students enrolled in M.Ed. programs learn instructional theories and educational best practices. Although specific courses vary by concentration, coursework often covers instructional design and differentiated learning.

Through practicum experiences and student teaching, learners develop and apply teaching strategies and implement classroom management theories.


Curriculum and Instruction

Learners pursuing this concentration often specialize in a specific area like secondary language arts or elementary education. Students learn how to evaluate different learning materials, create meaningful assessments, and interpret data.

Special Education

Students in this concentration explore the history of special education and the laws and policies governing special education services. Coursework includes instruction on behavior management, goal and objective writing, and data collection and interpretation. Graduates can work as special education teachers, resource room teachers, and individualized education program case managers.

English Language Learners

Students in this concentration learn teaching techniques and strategies to help English language learners succeed. Graduates often become ELL teachers.

Educational Technology

An EdTech concentration covers the latest technological developments in the classroom. Graduates can become technology coordinators for schools, lead a STEM team, and help determine assistive technology for students.

Educational Leadership

This concentration explores educational leadership topics such as ethics and school law, organizational leadership, and community relationships. Graduates can pursue higher-level roles like principal, assistant principal, superintendent, and content supervisor.

School Counseling

A school counseling concentration can prepare students for a job as a K-12 counselor. Graduates may consider pursuing further education in school psychology or counselor education. Coursework for this specialization may cover group counseling, crisis counseling, and ethical practices.

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What Can I Do With a Master's in Education?

Most M.Ed. graduates work in education. Practicing teachers can advance their knowledge and increase their salary by earning a graduate degree. A master's degree in education can also qualify you to enter specialized fields within education, such as school administration, school counseling, and curriculum and instruction. Note that to work as a teacher, counselor, or principal at a public school, you also need a state-issued license.

Master's in education degree-holders can work at the primary, secondary, or postsecondary levels. Graduates can also work for curriculum and textbook companies, nonprofits, and government agencies.

How Much Money Can I Make With a Master's in Education?

According to Payscale as of June 2023, M.Ed. degree-holders earn an average salary of $64,000. That said, potential salaries for M.Ed. graduates vary greatly and depend on factors like job title, experience, and location.

According to the BLS, secondary school teachers make an average annual salary of $69,480 as of May 2022. California, New York, Washington, and Massachusetts are the top-paying states.

Counselors and advisors at primary and secondary schools earn a slightly higher average salary of $72,190. In contrast, K-12 education administrators make an average salary of $106,690. Note that the above salary data includes professionals of all degree levels.

For teachers, earning a master's degree usually comes with a pay raise. The National Council on Teacher Quality reports an average salary increase of $2,760 the first year after completing a master's. That pay boost can continue to grow, but the maximum salary depends on the school district.

How Do I Get Into a Master's in Education Program?

Although requirements may vary among schools, most M.Ed. programs maintain similar admission requirements. All programs require a bachelor's degree, official transcripts, and letters of recommendation.

Most programs do not require an undergraduate degree in a specific field. Some schools require a personal statement, a minimum undergraduate GPA, and GRE scores.

Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Education Programs

Is a master's in education worth it?

For most teachers, earning a master's degree in education leads to a higher annual salary. Completing a master's degree in education may also be necessary to advance into leadership and administrative roles in education.

Is there a difference between a master's in teaching and a master's in education?

Yes. A master's in teaching, or MAT, can prepare professionals with a non-educational background to teach. The program typically includes hands-on teaching experience, and graduates often need to pass a state teacher's certification exam before they begin working in a classroom.

In contrast, an M.Ed. explores the education field more broadly. Students often already have teaching experience and certification but want to advance their careers by pursuing managerial or leadership positions.

How much does it cost to get a master's in education?

The cost to get a master's in education generally ranges $400- $800 per credit. Some schools charge a flat per-credit fee, while others change the price based on state residency and learning format.

The total cost also depends on how many credits the program includes. M.Ed programs typically require at least 30 credits, but some include up to 60 credits.

What type of teacher is in highest demand?

The most in-demand teachers include those qualified to teach math, STEM, English as a second language (ESL), and special education.

Data from The Nation's Report Card shows that students' math skills are dropping, while the U.S. Department of Labor projects a surge in STEM occupations between 2021 and 2031. Students need qualified science, technology, and math teachers who can prepare them for those jobs.

The number of English learners is increasing, as is the number of students in special education. Both groups require experienced teachers.

What is the highest-paying job I can get with a master's in education?

The highest-paying positions that require at least a master's degree include school principals and superintendents.

According to the BLS, the median salary for principals totals $98,420. Data from Payscale (June 2023) show similar average salaries: $89,310 for elementary school principals and $93,020 for high school principals. School superintendents earn $138,760 on average. 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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