Best Online Master’s in Education Programs of 2022

Many teachers choose to pursue a master's degree while working in the classroom and an online program can offer the flexibility needed to learn new skills while teaching. Read on to see the programs that our higher education experts have ranked as the top options.

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Published on December 22, 2021 · Updated on March 4, 2022

Edited by Taylor Gadsden
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Teachers who regularly upgrade their skills and knowledge can better serve their students. Many teachers seek a master's in education online, which provides in-depth study of a specific facet of education, examines the latest research-based education practices, and prepares graduates for leadership and administrative roles.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 5% growth in education, training, and library occupations between 2019 and 2029. Job titles include classroom teacher, early childhood specialist, and instructional coordinator. The BLS reports that education professionals earn a median salary of $52,380.

Learn more about online master's in education programs and check out our StudyMatch™ sponsored schools to compare offerings.

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

Teachers need good communication skills to speak to groups of students. They also need strong interpersonal, active listening, and organizational skills. According to James Bacon, who holds an MSEd in Education Entrepreneurship from the University of Pennsylvania and a BS in Business from Wake Forest, the ability to connect with students is a key soft skill in the educational field

"Specifically I think that building relationships and being able to influence others to take action is important, whether working with adults or students. I also think that thoughtful communication is really important given its interpersonal nature," Bacon says.

Teachers also will typically use various software and technological tools to track student progress, communicate with parents and administrators, and enhance instruction, so they should also be comfortable working with technology.

"I think we will continue to see a reliance on technology to better do the jobs we are tasked with and to provide additional opportunities to students."

A master's in education online program provides advanced study in instructional methods, educational leadership, and curriculum development. Programs build on skills gained through an undergraduate program and professional teaching experience. Some master's in education online programs also provide a path to teaching licensure for career changers.

Education programs may offer different types of degrees, such as a master of arts, master of science, master's in teaching online, or master of education.

"Specifically I think that building relationships and being able to influence others to take action is important, whether working with adults or students."

A master's in teaching online degree typically serves career changers needing to complete state teaching licensure requirements, while a master of arts or science may focus on a particular subject area. An online master's in education provides specialized study in a specific area of education; participants of these programs often include licensed teachers with a few years of experience.

The curriculum in a master's in education online program is flexible and allows students to tailor their education to match their career goals. Popular concentrations include specific content areas (like English and history), curriculum and instruction, educational leadership, and educational technology.

Most online master's in education programs require 30-36 credits and take 1-2 years to complete. Many programs allow teachers to continue working while enrolled, taking 1-2 classes each term during the school year and attending full time during summer breaks.

Most students also complete a capstone project, which involves writing a thesis, conducting research, or compiling a professional portfolio. Some programs may require a practicum or internship.

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What Courses Will I Take in an Online Master's in Education Program?

While courses vary from program to program, most master's in education curricula cover similar core topics. The following section delves into five common courses in these programs.

Instructional Strategies and Models

This course helps learners develop and define their instructional style, covering topics like classroom management and student assessment. Discussions of various pedagogical approaches help inform these decisions. Research-based strategies help teachers integrate technology and differentiate instruction to meet student needs. The course often includes collaborative projects with other educators.

Research in Education

Educators must understand research methods and analysis techniques to evaluate proposed strategies, instructional practices, and education policies. This course introduces students to tools for finding and analyzing data, different rationales for methodological choices, and techniques for interpreting conclusions. Assignments also discuss research ethics and respect for research subjects.

Differentiating Curriculum and Instruction

While teachers must help all learners achieve defined learning outcomes, not all students learn the same way. Differentiating instruction helps teachers develop modifications that best meet students' individual learning needs. These modifications can increase student engagement and provide multiple methods of instruction.

Planning for School Improvement

This course equips school leaders with the skills needed to evaluate school effectiveness and reflect on changes that support learning programs. Covered topics include data assessment; developing school goals and vision; and reflecting on how a school meets the educational, social, and cultural needs of all students.

Teacher Leadership

This course explores opportunities for teacher leadership in the classroom, school, and school district, helping educators develop and achieve leadership goals. Assignments explore how teachers can impact students and other teachers, emphasizing communication and teamwork. Degree-seekers develop an understanding of their leadership style and motivations.

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Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

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

Earning admission into an online master's in education program typically requires an undergraduate degree in education and two or more years of teaching experience.

Additional requirements may include taking an entrance exam, such as the GRE or GMAT, and a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.75 or higher. You might also be asked to provide recommendation letters and a statement of purpose or teaching philosophy.

Visit our Graduate Admissions Guide for help putting together your application.

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

Career Outlook

Education remains an in-demand field, as the BLS projects the addition of 441,000 new education jobs between 2019 and 2029. Earning an online master's in education can help you improve your instruction technique in the classroom and prepare you for promotions and career growth.

Learn more about education careers, and see where an online master's in education degree can take you.

Career Paths

Elementary Teacher

Teachers develop lesson plans, provide instruction, and assess student progress. Many work during the traditional 10-month school year with a two-month summer break. They may spend time outside of work developing lessons or grading. Most states set licensure requirements for public school teachers that include a minimum of an undergraduate degree, passing an exam, and passing a background check.

Librarian or Media Specialist

School librarians help students find reading materials and research new materials to purchase. These specialists also present lessons on using technology and conducting research. They often assist teachers with special research projects and classes related to media literacy. Most states require that school librarians earn a master's degree, such as a master's in education.

Childcare Center Director

These directors oversee all aspects of a childcare center. They manage the budget, hire teachers and staff, and plan maintenance and facility upkeep. The director often sets and communicates policies to staff and parents and determines standards for instructional programs. Some directors own and operate their facility, while others work as part of a school system or nonprofit organization.

Instructional Coordinator

Instructional coordinators can work in an individual school, school district, or state or federal education agency. These specialists develop curricula and recommend resources for teachers. They may provide training on new standards and evaluate teacher performance. These coordinators also review and analyze student performance data to identify a school system's needs. This position requires a master's in education (or a related field), and it may also require a state teaching license.

School Principal

Principals serve as the chief administrative officer for their school. They manage the school budget and plan for standard and preventative maintenance. Principals hire teachers, set class schedules, and evaluate staff performance. They also counsel and discipline students and communicate with parents about behavioral or academic concerns. Principals need a master's degree and classroom teaching experience.

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2022 Best Accredited Online Master's in Education Programs

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#1 Online College in Maryland

Johns Hopkins University

School Information
Location Baltimore, Maryland
Admission Rate 11%
Graduation Rate 93%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 46% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Hybrid

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $1,300
Out of State | $1,300

Credits to Graduate
33-36

In Johns Hopkins' master of science in education — education policy, students explore educational policies and their effects on inequities. Learners begin in the summer and may study for one year or two. Students must complete one week in Washington, D.C.

John Hopkins' master's in education consists of 11-12 courses, including a capstone and an optional internship. Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Degree-seekers who have not taken introduction to statistics must enroll in that course first.

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#2 Online College in California

University of Southern California

School Information
Location Los Angeles, California
Admission Rate 11%
Graduation Rate 92%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 17% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $2,035
Out of State | $2,035

Credits to Graduate
30

USC's master of education in learning design and technology prepares graduates for careers as instructional designers, curriculum designers, or corporate trainers. Students enroll in 2-3 courses per term. Larners attend class online for two-hour sessions 2-3 times per week.

This online master's in education includes courses in research design, media development, and learning and motivation. Learners complete the curriculum with a practice-oriented capstone. The school reviews applicants according to their academic preparation, work experience, and personal achievement.

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#3 Online College in North Carolina

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

School Information
Location Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Admission Rate 23%
Graduation Rate 91%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 12% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Hybrid | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $540
Out of State | $1,400

Credits to Graduate
33-36

Carolina offers a master of education for experienced teachers that emphasizes early childhood intervention and family support. This two-year program runs tracks for both licensed and unlicensed teachers. Unlicensed teachers take nine additional credits.

Courses include advanced emergent literacy and biological basis of children's development along with an internship. Applicants to this master's in education need a bachelor's degree with a 2.7 GPA or better if licensed. Unlicensed applicants need a minimum 2.75 GPA and two years of qualifying experience.

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#4 Online College in California

Northcentral University

School Information
Location La Jolla, California
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $750
Out of State | $750

Credits to Graduate
30

New students can begin NCU's master of education in educational leadership each Monday. This online master's in education requires 10 courses, including school law, school safety, and technology and a vision for the future. Each course lasts eight weeks, and the program concludes with a capstone.

Graduates can compete for jobs as education administrators at all levels or as distance learning coordinators. NCU faculty teach each course using the university's distinctive one-to-one learning model. Applicants need a bachelor's degree from a regionally or nationally accredited institution.

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#5 Online College in Massachusetts

Northeastern University

School Information
Location Boston, Massachusetts
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 52% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Course Format (i.e., Self-Paced Classes or Scheduled Classes)

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $646
Out of State | $646

Credits to Graduate
45

Northeastern offers four master's degrees in education: higher education administration, learning and instruction, special education, and learning experience design and technology. The higher education program takes 1-2 years. The other three degrees require 1.5-2 years. Coursework follows an interactive, project-based philosophy of learning.

All M.Ed. students complete e-portfolios, where they integrate their coursework with their workplace. These portfolios provide evidence of graduates' personal brands once they enter the job market. Applicants can enter their program at one of four start dates.

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#6 Online College in Massachusetts

Boston University

School Information
Location Boston, Massachusetts
Admission Rate 19%
Graduation Rate 88%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 10% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $888
Out of State | $888

Credits to Graduate
36

BU's online master of education in curriculum and teaching equips practicing educators to support students in the classroom. Degree-seekers may choose from focused content tracks including special education, science education, math education, and elementary education. 

This program consists of asynchronous courses, plus flexible, live sessions. Applicants to the online master's in education at BU may begin in spring, summer, or fall. Admissions deadlines roll over every seven weeks. Applicants need a bachelor's degree or be on track to earn one.

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#7 Online College in Florida

University of Central Florida

School Information
Location Orlando, Florida
Admission Rate 44%
Graduation Rate 72%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 59% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Course Format (i.e., Self-Paced Classes or Scheduled Classes)

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $327
Out of State | $1,152

Credits to Graduate
30

UCF offers a master of education in elementary education for teachers with certification or one or more years of experience. Students pursuing this master's in education can gain endorsement or specialization by choosing one of four tracks: reading, ESOL, gifted education, or exceptional education.

This program can lead to a career in teacher coaching or educational consulting. Applicants begin their admissions process by speaking with an enrollment coach. Together, an applicant and their coach create an admissions plan.

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#8 Online College in Pennsylvania

Gratz College

School Information
Location Melrose Park, Pennsylvania
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 73% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $450
Out of State | $450

Credits to Graduate
30

Gratz College's master of education equips practicing educators to think broadly and critically about learning and teaching. Guided by tikkun olam, the principle of repairing the world, this program focuses on education's potential for impact, inclusion, and social action. 

Courses include teaching through movement and teaching the whole child. Each course lasts eight weeks. Students pursuing Gratz's online master's in education can specialize in Jewish instructional education. Applicants should submit a CV and transcripts. Gratz maintains a rolling admission deadline.

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#9 Online College in Illinois

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

School Information
Location Champaign, Illinois
Admission Rate 59%
Graduation Rate 85%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 39% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $490
Out of State | $490

Credits to Graduate
32

Graduate education students at U of I can pursue a master's in education in learning design and leadership or a master's in global studies in education. The first degree prepares students to create engaging learning environments using new media technology. The second program focuses on global education from critical democracy and social justice points of view. 

Global studies courses include researching global education and education and human rights. Learning design and leadership students take learning and human development with educational technology. Applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA and three letters of reference.

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#10 Online College in California

University of San Diego

School Information
Location San Diego, California
Admission Rate 49%
Graduation Rate 81%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 8% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Course Format (i.e., Self-Paced Classes or Scheduled Classes)

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $880
Out of State | $880

Credits to Graduate
30

USD's online master of education emphasizes equity, social justice, and 21st-century skill development. Students in USD's online master's in education take core courses such as social justice and educational equity and cognition and learning. The school also offers six areas of specialization. 

Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA of 2.75. Degree-seekers need two years of experience teaching in a K-12 setting, and the university welcomes applicants from a diverse array of educational environments.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Education Programs

Is an online master's in education worth it? true

Students who earn a master's in education online can enter a growing field with above-average earning potential. Many teachers find education to be a fulfilling career, and many teaching jobs come with good health insurance and retirement benefits.

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

A master's in education can provide career advancement opportunities. Graduates can become a principal or instructional coordinator or enter a new education field. Schools offer various concentrations, including tracks in adult education, early childhood education, and postsecondary education.

What is the difference between a master's in education and a master's in teaching? true

A master's in education primarily serves individuals who already have an undergraduate degree in education and some teaching experience. The degree focuses on the practical application of new skills and techniques within a specific concentration. Many schools offer a master's in teaching to students who do not have a teaching license.

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

According to the BLS education, training, and library professionals earn a median annual salary of $52,380. Salary potential varies by career, education, experience, and location. Elementary school teachers earn a median annual salary of $60,660, while principals earn a median annual salary of $98,490. Public schools often maintain salary schedules that reward teachers for years of teaching experience and advanced degrees.

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

Principals earn the highest pay in the field, making a median annual salary of $98,490, according to the BLS.

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Portrait of James Bacon

James Bacon

James Bacon began his career as a middle school math teacher in Arkansas. Since then, he’s coached teachers across almost all grades and subjects in K-12, overseen hiring for Boston Public Schools, and founded Teach For America region in northeast Louisiana. He currently oversees outreach and operations for Edficiency, where he helps middle and high schools across the country simplify logistics for flexible intervention periods by automating the daily rosters. He holds a BS in Business from Wake Forest and MSEd in Education Entrepreneurship from the University of Pennsylvania.

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