Technology is a ubiquitous part of everyday life, suffusing personal, professional, commercial, and academic settings. For schools, technology provides tools to enhance teaching methods in the classroom. With an educational technology master's degree, graduates can pursue roles as pedagogy specialists and school consultants, working with teachers, administrators, and education advocates to integrate research-supported strategies to teach students and train teachers.
Instructional technology represents a rapidly growing field in the U.S. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the number of instructional coordinator positions to increase by 11% by 2026. Educational technology programs offer ample opportunities for both recent college graduates and experienced teachers. This guide provides prospective students with information about academic programs, including distance education and specialization opportunities. Readers can also find details related to career and professional development options.
Should I Get a Master's in Educational Technology?
Earning a master's in instructional technology teaches professionals how to plan and implement engaging classroom strategies. Participants also learn about the analytical tools needed to assess a student's level of knowledge and skill development as defined by state and federal testing standards. Based on research conducted by PBS LearningMedia, the need for technological integration remains strong. Of the pre-K-12 teachers surveyed, 68% expressed desire for more classroom technology. This number is even bigger among educators at low-income schools (75%).
Students pursuing a graduate degree take advanced educational technology courses, such as developing instructional materials and learner needs assessment. A master's program also provides candidates with networking opportunities through internships, fellowships, research collaboration, and academic conferences. By planning early and effectively, graduate students can translate these experiences into work opportunities. Colleges and universities support students with career guidance and placement programs, helping them pursue their career goals. Finally, a master's in educational technology offers leadership training, preparing students to manage teams, motivate employees, and facilitate every aspect of a project cycle. While professionals can apply for careers in this field with only a bachelor's degree, graduate credentials help an individual stand out from their peers.
For working professionals, distance education represents a flexible option that can help individuals better juggle school, work, and family responsibilities. Many online programs boast generous transfer policies, enabling students to turn work experience, professional training, and prior college classes into credit. Alternatively, learners who recently earned a bachelor's degree may prefer a traditional on-campus master's program, which can make it easier to collaborate with peers and professors.
What Can I Do With a Master's in Educational Technology?
With an educational technology master's degree, professionals can work for educational institutions, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and corporations. Due to their extensive skills in project planning and assessment, coupled with an ability to integrate technology into different training/teaching environments, these specialists can work as coordinators, consultants, and managers.
Some graduates use their skills to obtain high-paying teaching jobs or positions as curriculum designers, educational assessment specialists, and school principals. With additional training through professional certification programs, graduates can pursue careers as computer systems analysts, software designers, and network managers. Regardless of their specific career, educational technology professionals generally possess exceptional communication and leadership skills.
- Instructional Coordinator
These educators oversee curriculum design and teaching assessment, ensuring their schools meet government standards. They also help teachers enhance student skill acquisition and test performance by integrating technological tools into classroom instruction. Additionally, instructional coordinators conduct training workshops for teachers and school administrators. These professionals usually hold a master's degree and several years of teaching experience.
Median Annual Salary: $63,750*
- Operations Research Analyst
These professionals use data analytics and advanced mathematical techniques to locate and evaluate an organization's performance problems. Operations research analysts work with a company's employees to gather information and feedback, using predictive modeling, simulations, and statistical analysis to implement practical business solutions. While analysts can gain entry-level positions with an undergraduate degree, many employers prefer candidates who hold a master's.
Median Annual Salary: $81,390*
- Postsecondary Education Administrator
Postsecondary education administrators facilitate academic, financial, and student services. These professionals can work as part of the admissions team to promote a university and help bolster student enrollment. They may also work in the registrar's office, overseeing student records and ensuring graduation runs smoothly. To obtain high-level administrative positions, professionals need a graduate degree and relevant work experience.
Median Annual Salary: $92,360*
- High School Principal
These leaders manage all aspects of school operations, including daily activities, long-term programming, and testing initiatives. Principals work with teachers, parents, students, administrators, and educational advocates to ensure quality instruction, successful testing, and high graduation rates. In addition to a master's or doctoral degree, high school principals must usually hold classroom teaching and administration experience.
Median Annual Salary: $94,390*
- Training and Development Manager
Working with their teams, these professionals oversee the initial training and continuing development of a company's employees. Training managers help develop and implement programs that align with an organization's business philosophy and goals. They may also manage budgets, assess program effectiveness, and maintain performance records. In addition to ample professional experience, training and development managers need to hold a master's degree in educational technology or a similar field.
Median Annual Salary: $108,250*
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
How to Choose a Master's in Educational Technology Program
When researching prospective colleges and universities, students should consider a program's length, cost, location, and curriculum. Educational technology master's programs typically require around two years of study. Students may enroll in campus-based programs to take full advantage of hands-on collaboration, research opportunities, and university resources. Alternatively, for active teachers and other working professionals, distance education options may provide accessible degree plans through asynchronous coursework. Additionally, schools typically let online students complete practicum requirements at local organizations or with their current employers.
Many online educational technology degrees also come with financial benefits. For example, many distance programs charge online students the same tuition rates, regardless of where they live. Online learners can also save money by avoiding costs related to on-campus housing and commuting. However, remote programs seldom provide fellowship opportunities.
Because debt can hinder an individual's ability to complete their education or advance their career, professionals need to think practically when deciding what programs they can afford. Fortunately, most graduate students can access institutional and departmental scholarships and grants. They should also look into funding awarded by local businesses and professional organizations. Regardless of what type of program a student chooses, they also need to consider their living costs and employment opportunities. Nationwide educator shortages mean qualified professionals can find work in both big cities and rural areas.
Prospective students need to investigate a school's coursework and specialization options. Master's in instructional technology degree plans begin with training in core pedagogy and management principles. Beyond required coursework, graduate candidates can pursue topics that suit their particular career goals.
Programmatic Accreditation for Master's in Educational Technology Programs
Students -- particularly those looking at online programs -- must pay careful attention to a school's accreditation status. To grant valid certificates and degrees, schools need to earn accreditation at the national or regional level. Schools receive regional accreditation, which generally rates as the more prestigious form of accreditation, from one of six organizations depending on location.
In addition to national and regional recognition, programs can hold programmatic accreditation. Also known as specialized or professional accreditation, this stamp of approval means that a program boasts official, industry-specific backing. Educational technology master's programs can receive programmatic accreditation through the joint efforts of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) and the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). Professionals who do not earn a degree accredited by ISTE and CAEP might miss out on crucial career development and networking services. Employers may also view credentials from an unaccredited program unfavorably.
Master's in Educational Technology Program Admissions
Educational technology master's programs operate standard admission processes. Applicants can expect to submit their academic credentials, resume, personal statement, letters of recommendation, and test scores. Because success in the field also requires good communication skills, prospective students typically need to turn in writing samples that demonstrate standard English proficiency and familiarity with the academic genre. Online programs usually use flexible application deadlines or rolling admissions year-round, while more traditional programs typically employ harder deadlines and only admit students once or twice a year.
Prospective students should also consider a school's transfer credit policy; most institutions award credit through a variety of prior learning assessment methods. Students can find out what type of transfer credits they qualify for during the admission process. Schools award transfer credit for previously completed academic work at an accredited institution, and professionals may also earn credit by submitting portfolios for departmental evaluation. Additionally, they can receive credit by taking professional exams through organizations like the College Level Exam Program and the DSST Examination Program.
- Bachelor's Degree: Educational technology graduate programs require students to hold a bachelor's degree in education, information technology, business, or another relevant field. These credentials should be awarded by an accredited school.
- Professional Experience: This requirement varies by school, but most educational technology master's candidates benefit greatly from having teaching experience. Applicants usually submit a resume that details their various experiences and skills.
- Minimum GPA: A student's GPA typically influences their chances of gaining admission into a program as well their ability to obtain fellowships and other types of financial aid. Generally, graduate candidates should possess a minimum 2.5 GPA, although many programs require a GPA of 3.0 or higher.
- Application: All prospective students need to submit a general application. Graduate programs do not utilize the Common Application, although some schools do use standardized admission processes with the Interfolio software.
- Transcripts: Schools typically require applicants to submit unofficial transcripts for pre-admission evaluation, and accepted students need to turn in official documents. Applicants can access their records by contacting their registrar's office.
- Letters of Recommendation: Prospective candidates should prepare to submit three letters of recommendation. Generally, these come from professors or employers who can vouch for a student's academic and/or professional performance. Some colleges and universities explicitly specify who may write these letters.
- Test Scores: Master's in instructional technology programs commonly use GRE scores during the admissions process. Test performance does not typically make or break a student's admission chances, but it can affect the overall evaluation process.
- Application Fee: Colleges and universities typically charge students an application fee of about $40; these can turn into a financial burden if candidates apply to multiple institutions. Individuals who demonstrate significant financial need should contact prospective schools and ask about fee waivers.
What Else Can I Expect From a Master's in Educational Technology Program?
Through their educational technology degree plan, candidates learn to assess student and teacher performance in terms of institutional goals and government standards. Graduates also develop the ability to design, implement, and manage comprehensive training and classroom technology initiatives. By pursuing a specialization, graduate students can cultivate advanced, industry-specific skills that prepare them for careers at schools, consulting firms, nonprofits, and private companies.
|Adult Education||This concentration teaches participants to apply theoretical knowledge and practical skills to education planning for adults. Graduate students focus on meaningful and work-relevant content and delivery methods. They also study how technology affects learners through sociological and psychological assessment. An adult education concentration prepares graduates for careers in nontraditional learning and employee training.||Instructional coordinator, technical education teacher, postsecondary education administrator, career adviser|
|K-12 Education||The K-12 education concentration focuses on the design and assessment skills needed to support young learners. Candidates learn to synthesize differentiated teaching methods with relevant technological tools and software. Through coursework in developmental psychology, candidates create programs that help cultivate a desire for lifelong learning. This concentration is valuable for all educators in K-12 schools, especially those who want to assist high-need students.||Instructional coordinator, K-12 teacher, curriculum developer, educational analyst|
|Online Learning||The concentration centers on designing and delivering online curricula through accessible course platforms and collaborative software. Professionals also learn to develop supporting tools that help nontraditional students succeed, including specialized training for academic advisers. The online learning concentration prepares students to work as web instructors and distance education directors.||Instructional technology director, distance education specialist, web instructor, multimedia designer|
|Teaching||For many teachers, an educational technology master's degree provides the training needed to pursue an advanced career or higher pay at their current position. This concencentration focuses on the technology used in daily classroom teaching and lesson planning. Teachers also develop assessment and training skills, allowing them to support their colleagues.||K-12 teacher, school principal, educational advocate, course designer|
|Training and Performance Improvement||With classes in topics such as contemporary leadership challenges and strategic use of multimedia in education, this concentration trains graduate students to enhance learning in academic and corporate environments. Participants also learn to evaluative an organization's performance needs using research and data-supported methods. This concentration is especially valuable for educators who want to pursue careers outside the classroom.||Development manager, corporate trainer, business consultant, performance assessment specialist|
Courses in a Master's in Educational Technology Program
Educational technology master's students start off by taking classes in fundamental topics like instructional design, advanced research methods, and education/training assessment principles. Beyond core classes, graduate students can explore more advanced topics that let them personalize their course load to fit their interests and career goals. The list below details five popular courses in this field.
- Foundations of Instructional Technology
This course lays the conceptual groundwork for all other classes. Students learn to engage with instructional technology by studying its history, present practices, and future trajectories. The class also helps students develop their own professional philosophies. All professionals in the field benefit from exploring this topic.
- Developing Instructional Materials
Students develop an understanding of instructional best practices through research and hands-on skill development. In group and individual projects, students create their own instructional materials based on topics provided by their instructor. This course is especially valuable for learners who want to pursue careers as educational consultants and corporate trainers.
- Managing Educational Projects
Through case studies and simulation exercises, students design and implement project plans. They also learn to monitor project activities and develop personnel management techniques. Additional topics include scheduling, budgeting, cost control, and risk management. Project management represents a fundamental skill for any educator who wants to assume a leadership role.
- Instructional Computing
Learners analyze how technology and new media shape human identities. They also study how educators can combine mobile tools, social media platforms, and virtual spaces with their lesson plans and instructional methods. Course content includes research, theoretical discussion, and project implementation. Instructional computing serves as a cornerstone of online and hybrid learning.
- Blended Learning Environments
In this course, students learn about the synergy between online learning and traditional classroom instruction. They study pedagogical theory and research best practices in curriculum design, synthesizing this knowledge through discussion and projects. Aspiring instructional designers can benefit from this course, whether they plan on working in schools or corporate settings.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Master's in Educational Technology?
Students generally need two to three years (about 36 semester credits) to earn their master's in educational technology. This timeline varies based on a learner's course load. Some colleges and universities allow students to individually pace their classes, adjusting the number of credits they take each semester. Individuals seeking to expedite their graduation may also pursue coursework during optional winter and summer terms.
Some schools -- particularly those that facilitate online learning -- offer accelerated tracks for full-time students. These enable professionals to earn their degree in fewer than 12 months, provided they complete prerequisite classes before enrolling. As students research potential colleges and universities, they should take note of which schools require cohort learning. In a cohort-based program, learners typically take one or two courses at a time, advancing through the program at the same pace as a group of their peers. Practicum and capstone projects also affect a program's overall timeline.
How Much Is a Master's in Educational Technology?
Peterson's Research reports that graduate students pay an average of $30,000 in annual tuition if they enroll in a public institution, and $40,000 if they attend a private college or university. However, exact prices can vary widely depending on the individual school or program. Distance learners who enroll in an online educational technology master's program may qualify for in-state tuition, regardless of their residency status.
In addition to tuition and related academic fees, students should factor in cost of living expenses, especially if they do not plan on working full time while in school. Graduate students attending classes in person often rent accomodations near campus. Those who plan on moving for school can consult websites like Numbeo and PayScale, which help individuals calculate and compare living expenses for different locations. Students should also make room in their budget for expenditures related to technology, research, and networking. Fortunately, colleges and universities offer grants and scholarships to help students offset many of these costs.
Certifications and Licenses a Master's in Educational Technology Prepares For
- ISTE Certified Educator
This digital certification program allows experienced professionals to demonstrate their skills in applying educational technology. The curriculum for this certification program consists of a two-day, in-person session and a five-week online portion, totaling 30 hours of coursework and related activities. Professionals must also submit an ePortfolio that shows they meet ISTE criteria.
- ISPI Certified Performance Technologist
This performance-based certification helps professionals stand out from their peers. Unlike many other programs, the ISPI option does not use a standardized test. Instead, candidates submit a portfolio of three to seven projects for peer review. To apply for this certificate, professionals need to possess at least three years of work experience and pay an initial fee.
- CoSN Certified Education Technology Leader
K-12 educational technology professionals can obtain this credential to help bolster their skill set and pursue career advancement. To become certified, individuals must pass an exam that covers three main topics: leadership and vision, understanding the educational environment, and managing technology and support resources. Candidates must hold a bachelor's degree and at least four years of relevant work experience. CoSN members and nonmembers must pay a fee to sit for the exam.
- OLC Online Teaching Certificate
The Online Learning Consortium offers certification at standard and advanced levels through asynchronous workshops. The former consists of a 10-week foundation course and includes three electives, while the latter program spans 12 weeks and features six topical units. Both programs provide educators with the tools needed to develop online and blended courses.
- The KPI Institute Certified Performance Management Professional
This on-site certification program empowers educational technology professionals who want to pursue work in corporate training and assessment. The program lasts three days and consists of six pillars, including data analysis, initiative management, and building a performance culture. Candidates apply these pillars in 12 scenarios, covering different company levels, capabilities, and stakeholder interests.
Resources for Educational Technology Graduate Students
As the oldest and largest organization for eLearning professionals, this organization offers digital networking events, a research library, and online and hybrid training courses. Professionals can also access conferences and a job board.
Boasting over 99,000 members in 45 countries, this organization advocates for educational accessibility and diversity. Professionals can access data-driven best practices through the Educause Center for Analysis and Research. They may also take advantage of scholarships, awards, mentoring programs, and volunteer initiatives.
Founded in 1999, OLC supports collaboration between higher education professionals who want to advance quality digital education for all students. In addition to conferences, OLC provides skills development opportunities through workshops, webinars, and instructional designer programs. Professionals also benefit from awards and scholarships.
CoSN supports educational technology specialists who want to create engaging and accessible learning environments. Professionals can access conferences, online courses, and microcredentials. CoSN also operates a career center and a database of essential skills and best practices.
Founded in 1916, AERA is a national society dedicated to advancing educational research and application. The association also engages in campaigns to change governmental policy. Educators can access local events, national conferences, and a virtual learning center. They can also take advantage of professional development courses and fellowships.
Professional Organizations in Educational Technology
By joining a professional organization, students can leverage the skills and opportunities gained through their educational technology master's program to strengthen their career prospects. These organizations facilitate small-scale networking events as well as massive conferences, letting students meet and collaborate with experts in the field. While membership usually entails an annual fee, common benefits include access to academic scholarships, project grants, career guidance, and professional development programs. Members can also peruse data-driven research through sources like the AACE Learning and Technology Library.