Best Online Master’s in Secondary Education Programs

Our experts at BestColleges have ranked the top online master's in secondary education programs. Read on to compare schools by cost, convenience, and academic quality.

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by Doug Wintemute

Published on March 17, 2022 · Updated on April 25, 2022

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A master's in secondary education provides degree-seekers with the skills and training to help students prepare for life after high school. The training qualifies graduates for teaching licensure and many teaching and administrator positions. You can specialize your training to work with certain types of students and classrooms or teach a specific discipline.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the addition of over 78,000 new high school teachers between 2020 and 2030. The BLS also projects over 18,000 new instructional coordinator jobs and over 21,000 new school principal jobs. In addition to these occupations, master's graduates can pursue other professional and educational paths.

Here, we try to help you figure out if you should go to graduate school. We also examine the best online master's in secondary education from the top online schools. We then explore the discipline further and showcase common postgraduate options available to you.

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

Each graduate program may look a little different. But the typical master's in secondary education features 30-45 credits and takes students 1-2 years to complete. The training can cover topics in pedagogy, curriculum building, and educational research. Coursework may also cover educational technology.

When preparing for graduate school, students may encounter multiple degree types, including MA, MS, and M.Ed. options. While these degrees may provide similar outcomes, their training can differ. M.Ed. programs tend to offer more practical and teaching-based learning for current and aspiring teachers. MA and MS programs focus more on scholarly pursuits.

While many programs offer secondary education as a concentration within the education discipline, some schools allow learners to focus further. Concentrations can impact the courses students take during school and the careers available to them afterward. Possible options include special education, international education, and second language education. Curriculum and policy studies is another option.

In addition to standard coursework, projects, and tests, a master's in secondary education typically includes a substantial practical component. M.Ed. programs usually feature a practicum or internship. MA and MS programs may feature a thesis, which could require both practical experiences and extensive research.

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Popular Online Master's in Secondary 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 Secondary Education Program?

Educational Psychology

Learners in this course study the leading behavioral theories of student learning. They examine student motivation methods and instructional approaches. The training may also cover adolescent students' emotional, cognitive, and physical development.

Adolescent Learning and Development

In this course, students explore the biological and cognitive changes that occur in adolescent students and how they impact their high school experience. Learners may also look at the possible behavioral and emotional problems that arise and the best approaches for teachers.

Teaching Diverse Classrooms

This course looks at the best practices and leading theories on teaching classrooms of diverse students. Learners explore how students' differences influence their educational experience and how teachers can integrate and celebrate diversity. The training may also cover special education topics.

Interdisciplinary Instruction

In this course, students learn how teachers can enrich their lessons by taking an interdisciplinary approach. They examine methods for incorporating multiple disciplines and encouraging learners to draw from different fields in their assignments.

Teaching Methods

Students usually take many teaching methods courses. In these courses, learners examine instructional methods, curriculum-design strategies, and challenges and issues for a specific subject.

Find the Tools You Need to Get Started on Your Degree

Financial Aid Guide for Graduate Students The Student's Guide to College Loans The Student's Guide to Financial Aid and the FAFSA

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

According to our graduate admissions guide, a master's program typically requires prospective students to hold a bachelor's degree. However, an online master's in secondary education may require applicants to have an education-related bachelor's or teaching license.

Here, we highlight the most common application elements.

Application

When submitting a college application, prospective students typically have two choices. They can use a college application system, which can make applying to multiple schools much easier. They can also apply directly to the school and program of their choice, which is the most common route at the graduate level.

Test Scores

Graduate schools may request standardized test results, such as GRE or GMAT scores. Since these scores can greatly affect the admission decision, prospective students should take time to prepare, such as completing GRE prep.

Letters of Recommendation

Most graduate applications request that prospective students submit three letters of recommendation. These letters usually come from former teachers or employers who can speak to the quality of the applicant. Relevant references may have the most effective impact.

Resume and Work Experience

A college application resume can impact the admission decision by highlighting useful volunteer positions, work experience, and achievements. Some schools and programs may require a specific amount of work experience.

Essays

College application essays give admissions professionals insight into an applicant's personal history, future goals, and writing quality. At the graduate level, these essays often address what the prospective student plans to study and why they chose that particular school. Candidates can learn how to write a grad school essay to improve their chances of earning admission.

Official Transcripts

Official transcripts accompany most college applications to verify what the prospective student has already studied. These records highlight grades, prerequisites, and other academic achievements. As per our transfer guide, transfer students must provide transcripts to receive transfer credits.

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

Career Outlook

A master's in secondary education opens the door to many roles in education, including teaching, administration, and leadership. Graduates can pursue high school teaching positions, an occupational group for which the BLS projects 8% growth between 2020 and 2030.

In administration, graduates can access instructional coordinator and related positions. The BLS projects 10% growth for these occupations between 2020 and 2030. While leadership careers in education sometimes require more training, graduates may access some principal roles. The BLS projects 8% growth for principals between 2020 and 2030.

Growth in these occupations depends on local and state government budgets. However, increasing student enrollments may continue to drive demand.

Figure out how an online master's in secondary education can change your professional life. Learn more about teaching careers.

Career Paths

High School Teacher

High school teachers typically educate students in their specialization. They plan their lessons based on curriculum expectations and standards and assess student knowledge with assignments and tests. They also manage classroom personalities and behaviors. High school teachers help prepare students for life after high school, including providing counseling and support when necessary.

Median Annual Salary: $62,870

Instructional Coordinator

Instructional coordinators seek to improve curricula and educational materials and methods for teachers, schools, and school boards. They evaluate standardized test results and student outcome data to determine where to make changes and improvements. They also ensure that school staff follow all standards and policies.

Median Annual Salary: $66,970

High School Principals

High school principals manage school operations, staffing, and facility needs. They ensure that class schedules, curricula, and performances meet the proper standards and expectations. Principals also conduct counseling and disciplinary meetings with students and their families.

Median Annual Salary: $98,490

Special Education Teachers

These professionals work in classrooms helping students with disabilities. They assess learners, develop educational plans that meet their individual needs, and adapt lessons accordingly. Special education teachers also help students adjust to life and educational changes and prepare them for future transitions.

Median Annual Salary: $61,500

Career and Technical Education Teachers

Career and technical education teachers provide training in vocational fields and career-readiness programs. They develop lessons that focus on practical skills and handling tools and equipment. These teachers may also help students identify and prepare for fields that interest them.

Median Annual Salary: $59,140

Secondary Education Not For You? Check Out These Related Careers.

Teaching Careers Special Education Careers Higher Education Careers

Continuing Education

Master's in secondary education graduates can explore many continuing education options. The most direct paths include a doctorate in secondary education or a doctorate in education. Degree-holders can also pursue a more specialized path, such as a doctorate in special education.

To qualify for more leadership positions, graduates can earn a doctorate in educational leadership or a doctorate in educational administration.

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

Cost

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, graduate program tuition and fees cost $19,792 per year in 2019-20. Prospective students can get more accurate cost information by calculating their true program cost, which includes all associated costs and any loss of income. Applicants might also compare online and on-campus costs, private and public school costs, and in-state and out-of-state program costs.

Program Format

Educational experience depends heavily on the study schedule. Prospective students should compare different program formats to find the best schedule for them. For example, learners should compare asynchronous vs. synchronous and full-time vs. part-time schedules. Aspiring learners with open schedules may prefer an accelerated program to graduate sooner.

Location

When choosing between online and on-campus learning, prospective students should think about location. On-campus students must consider where they will live or need to travel to for class and how much that will cost. Online learners also need to know if their program includes on-campus requirements.

Accreditation

As per our college accreditation guide, prospective students must confirm that their school holds institutional accreditation. This ensures that students can access federal financial aid, licensure, and adequate employment opportunities. At the programmatic level, a master's in secondary education should have recognition from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.

Student Support

Student services and online student services can impact a student's education and experience in many ways. Programs like academic support, career services, and college mentors can foster student success. Students can check out our ultimate guide to internships to learn more about how these experiences can enrich students' education journeys.

Best Accredited Online Master's in Secondary Education Programs

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Best Online Master's in Secondary Education Programs

  1. New York University
    Location

    New York, NY

    Tuition

    $39935

    New York University enrolls more than 50,000 across its campus locations and online. Its online master of arts in teaching program requires a full-time or part-time student teaching experience at a partner school for one year. NYU offers student teaching positions in California, New York, Connecticut, and the District of Columbia.

    The master's in education program requires students to complete 30 credits and a research project to graduate. NYU offers classes in special education, teaching strategies, curriculum planning, and professional and social responsibility.

    Applicants must submit GRE scores and pass a faculty review to gain admission. The full-time master's track costs less than the part-time master's track for all students. NYU is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

  2. University of Southern California
    Location

    Los Angeles, CA

    Tuition

    $36161

    Based in Los Angeles, the University of California enrolls around 28,000 graduate students. The school's 28-credit online master's in teaching offers full-time and part-time tracks. Full-time learners can graduate in one year. This program requires a teaching fieldwork experience and prepares students for licensure in California.

    Students can pursue a multiple-subject teaching concentration and prepare for roles as primary school teachers or a single-subject teaching concentration and prepare to work as middle or high school teachers. Those interested in earning an online master's degree in secondary education take core courses in applications of curriculum and pedagogy, literacy development and instruction, and integrated language development.

    Applicants need a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA. All students must complete at least one state-administered basic skills test before student teaching. USC is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

  3. North Carolina State University
    Location

    Raleigh, NC

    Tuition

    $14771

    North Carolina State University enrolls over 35,000 students and partners with industry leaders like IBM and Lenovo. The university offers four hybrid master's in secondary teaching degrees, allowing students to choose from concentrations in English, mathematics, science, and social studies. Full-time students can graduate in 1.5 years.

    These 33-credit programs meet the criteria for National Board Certification. Core courses include classroom action research, inquiry and professional development, and exploring diversity in classroom and community. Participants also complete specialized classes in their concentration.

    Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. They must also have earned at least 24 credits within their target concentration. North Carolina residents pay discounted tuition. NC State is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  4. Clemson University
    Location

    Clemson, SC

    Tuition

    $19508

    Located in South Carolina, Clemson University boasts a six-year graduation rate of about 83%. The 30-credit online master of education in teaching and learning at Clemson takes 18 months to complete. Coursework includes topics like cultural diversity in education, classroom-based research, and contemporary issues in assessment.

    This online master's degree requires a capstone project and a minimum 3.0 GPA in all coursework. Students can pursue a concentration, such as experiential learning for early childhood or instructional coaching.

    Applicants with a minimum 3.0 GPA do not need to submit GRE scores. Prospective students must currently work in an education setting, and some concentrations require several years of experience. Clemson is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  5. Mississippi College
    Location

    Clinton, MS

    Tuition

    $17520

    Located in Clinton, Mississippi College enrolls almost 1,500 graduate students and is the oldest university in the state. The school's online M.Ed. in teaching arts requires 30-33 credits.

    Core coursework includes current methodologies in secondary education, teaching reading in content areas, curriculum development, and dimensions of learning. Learners also complete a student teaching internship and take a comprehensive exam. The program prepares graduates for Mississippi licensure.

    Applicants need a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution with a minimum GPA of 2.5. MC requires standardized test scores. In-state and out-of-state students pay the same tuition rate. MC is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  6. Georgia College and State University
    Location

    Milledgeville, GA

    Tuition

    $20478

    Based in Milledgeville, Georgia College and State University enrolls around 6,800 students and features a 17-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio.

    The school offers a part-time online master of arts in teaching program. The curriculum includes 36 credits and features core courses like learner development, technology for teachers, the teaching of reading, and planning for instruction. The program takes two years to complete and requires a capstone project and an internship.

    Applicants interested in earning an online master's degree in secondary education need a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution with a minimum 2.75 GPA and Georgia pre-service certification. They must also pass a background check. Georgia College charges in-state and out-of-state students the same tuition.

    Georgia College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  7. Harding University
    Location

    Searcy, AR

    Tuition

    $19580

    Harding University enrolls over 5,000 students. Located in Searcy, Arkansas, the university boasts heavy recruiting from more than 230 different organizations for students nearing graduation.

    The 35-credit master of arts in excellence in teaching program at Harding can be completed entirely online. The curriculum includes courses like school and families in a changing environment, trends in curriculum and school reform, education law and values, and instructional applications of technology.

    Students can bring in up to six transfer credits. Applicants must have an undergraduate GPA of at least 2.5 (or a minimum 2.75 GPA over their last 60 credits) and a valid teaching license. In-state and out-of-state students pay the same tuition rate. Harding is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  8. The University of Alabama
    Location

    Tuscaloosa, AL

    Tuition

    $20465

    Located in Tuscaloosa, the University of Alabama enrolls over 38,000 students and delivers online coursework through the Blackboard platform. The school's online master of arts in secondary education includes 30 credits of courses, covering topics like introduction to educational research, computer-based instructional technologies, modern secondary school programs, and improving language arts instruction.

    Students pursuing an online master's degree in secondary education must complete a student teaching experience and a comprehensive written exam.

    Applicants need a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA, GRE scores, and an Alabama Class B teaching license (or the equivalent). The school charges all online students the same tuition rate, no matter their physical location. UA is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  9. California State University, Fullerton
    Location

    Fullerton, CA

    Tuition

    $8274

    California State University, Fullerton enrolls almost 40,000 students and features 55 graduate degree programs, including an online master's in secondary education.

    Participants in this education program choose a secondary education or secondary education with an emphasis on teaching foundational mathematics concentration. Both pathways provide hybrid and fully online options, and students can graduate in 21 months.

    Students enrolled in either online master's in secondary education track choose one of three exit options: an exam, a project, or a thesis. The thesis option is best for students who plan to eventually pursue a doctoral degree.

    Applicants need a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution with a minimum 2.5 GPA. Students may also need to submit GRE scores. CSUF is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

  10. Saint Joseph's University
    Location

    Philadelphia, PA

    Tuition

    $35344

    Located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Saint Joseph's University boasts a 97% employment rate for graduates within six months of degree completion. The school's online master's in secondary education can be completed in 1-2 years. Some core courses include literacy and learning across curricula, adolescent psychology, instructional techniques, and teaching inclusive adolescent environments.

    Students pursuing this online master's degree in secondary education complete 36 credits of coursework, including a semester of full-time student teaching as a capstone project.

    Applicants need a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution and proof of current teacher certification. However, students need not submit GRE scores. The university charges in-state and out-of-state students the same tuition. SJU is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Secondary Education Programs

Is a master's in secondary education worth it? true

Yes. A master's in secondary education can benefit students interested in education careers. The degree offers access to many teaching and administrative positions. Graduates can also continue their training with a doctoral program in various related fields.

In an online master's in secondary education, learners may receive additional online degree value. With fewer travel and scheduling restrictions, online education can be more accessible for many students. Learners can also continue working more easily, which could reduce the financial impact of their studies.

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

With a master's in secondary education, graduates can teach in traditional high school and special education classrooms. They may also access career-based and technical education teaching positions. Graduates can qualify for administrative positions as well, such as instructional coordinator roles.

Many schools offer doctoral programs in secondary education or related disciplines for those who wish to advance their training. Educational leadership or administration doctorates can lead to more leadership opportunities, such as high school principal careers. Aspiring teachers may need to earn a teaching license if they do not already have one.

Are secondary education graduates in demand? true

Yes. Rising student enrollments put master's in secondary education graduates in demand. The BLS projects the addition of over 78,000 new high school teachers between 2020 and 2030. In addition, the field will add about 77,000 yearly high school teacher openings to cover the annual turnover.

Other accessible paths offer similar growth projections. The BLS projects the addition of over 37,000 new special education teachers and over 38,000 annual openings. The BLS also projects more than 18,000 new instructional coordinators and over 21,000 new principals.

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

Education salaries depend on location, employer, experience, and credentials. According to the BLS, high school teachers made median annual wages of $62,870 in May 2020. The top 10% earned $102,130, and the bottom 10% earned $41,330.

In public schools, high school teachers made median annual wages of $63,400 in May 2020. In private schools, they made $58,550 during that same period. For teaching positions specifically, master's degree-holders may qualify for advanced positions with higher salaries.

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

One of the highest-paying positions available to master's in secondary education graduates is elementary, middle, and high school principals. According to the BLS, these professionals earned a median annual wage of $98,490 in May 2020. The top 10% in the field made more than $152,500.

Like other educational roles, the median annual salaries for this field differ depending on the school type. For example, public school principals made median annual wages of $99,690 in May 2020. Private school principals earned $89,350. Principal positions may require specialized education administration training.

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