Best Online Master’s in Elementary Education Programs of 2021

February 17, 2021

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Regardless of what happens in the world, there will always be a need for elementary education teachers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that jobs for elementary school teachers, principals, and special education instructors will grow 3-4% between 2019 and 2029. An online master’s in elementary education degree puts graduates in a competitive position when seeking to advance their careers and boost earnings.

Whether prospective graduate students want to advance their teaching skills or have their eyes on administrative or private sector work, an online master’s in elementary education prepares them for career advancement. Read on to learn more about online master’s in education programs and potential careers.

What Are the Best Online Master's in Elementary Education Programs of 2021? Here Are Our Top 10:

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#1 Mississippi College Clinton, MS
#2 University of West Florida Pensacola, FL
#3 Saint Thomas University Miami Gardens, FL
#4 The University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, AL
#5 University of North Dakota Grand Forks, ND
#6 Lesley University Cambridge, MA
#7 Appalachian State University Boone, NC
#8 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA
#9 Ball State University Muncie, IN
#10 Western Governors University Salt Lake City, UT

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

How We Rank Schools

At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you will make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering school rankings that are transparent, inclusive, and relevant for online students.

Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our Ranking Methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.

2021 Best Accredited Online Master's in Elementary Education Programs

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Mississippi College View School Profile Clinton, MS

MC's online master's in elementary education program allows distance learners to earn a degree within 10 months. The 30-credit curriculum features coursework in teaching reading and comprehension, social studies education in elementary school, and teaching elementary mathematics. Students also master curriculum development fundamentals.

Almost 80% of MC's graduate students find employment before or shortly after graduation. Learners who work throughout the program can prepare for professional advancement by taking advantage of the college's mock interviews and resume assistance.

The program features multiple start dates throughout the year. Prospective students must hold an active teaching license with an endorsement in elementary education and submit standardized test scores. MC does not charge out-of-state tuition.

University of West Florida View School Profile Pensacola, FL

UWF offers an online M.Ed. in curriculum and instruction with an elementary education specialization. Core courses include issues in classroom management, the principles of curriculum, and exceptionalities. This 33-credit program concludes with an applied research project.

The university provides students with resume critiques, Handshake job-search software, and a career development guide. These resources help almost 70% of alumni transition to a career or another academic program immediately after graduation.

UWF admits new learners in the fall, spring, and summer semesters. Prospective education students should hold a teaching license. Additional requirements include a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA and standardized test scores. Students can apply for financial aid through UWF's scholarship portal.

Saint Thomas University View School Profile Miami Gardens, FL

Licensed teachers working throughout the U.S. can enroll in STU's online master's in elementary education program. The program's 36-credit curriculum features courses in educational measurement, effective teaching and classroom management, and multimedia in the classroom. Students can also complete field experiences at their job site.

Distance learners at STU can access career services, including Handshake, career workshops, and practice interviews. Degree-seekers can also take a Focus2Career assessment to explore different career paths.

Some out-of-state distance learners may not be able to apply to this program due to the lack of a licensure reciprocity agreement. In addition to a teaching license, admission requirements include recommendation letters. Over 90% of STU's students receive financial aid.

The University of Alabama View School Profile Tuscaloosa, AL

UA's online master's degree in elementary education appeals to practicing teachers by offering asynchronous course delivery. The 30-36-credit curriculum covers instruction in educational research, computer-based education, and the evaluation of classroom learning. Students also select two electives with an advisor's help.

UA offers several online services to distance learners, including a large library database and a writing center. These services help 90% of graduates achieve a positive career outcome.

This program accepts applications throughout the year, and applicants should have a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. The university charges all online elementary education students the same per-credit tuition. New learners can apply for institutional and departmental financial aid opportunities.

University of North Dakota View School Profile Grand Forks, ND

UND's online master's in elementary education program allows full-time students to earn a degree in two years. The program's 32-credit curriculum emphasizes multiple in-demand skills, including lesson planning, primary education, and differentiated instruction. Additionally, degree-seekers can choose between a thesis and a non-thesis track.

UND's students can improve their salary potential by using the university's informational guides, which cover interviewing tips and how to create a professional LinkedIn profile.

UND accepts applications for the fall, spring, and summer semesters. Admission requirements for the elementary education program include an active teaching license and a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. UND charges all distance learners in the program the same tuition rate, regardless of residency.

Lesley University View School Profile Cambridge, MA

Lesley offers a master's degree in elementary education with a hybrid curriculum; degree-seekers must take some courses on the university's campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The 40-credit program includes courses in inclusive schooling, sheltered English instruction, and literacy in the disciplines. The program qualifies graduates for initial Massachusetts teaching licensure.

Lesley alumni achieve an employment rate that is above 90%. The university provides students with instructional videos and library resources. Other useful services include job boards exclusive to professionals in the education field.

Admission requirements include two recommendation letters, a personal statement, and a resume. Lesley does not charge out-of-state tuition. The university awards merit-based scholarships to qualifying students who submit FAFSA results.

Appalachian State University View School Profile Boone, NC

Appalachian's online master's in elementary education program qualifies graduates to apply for an elementary education endorsement. The program's 39-credit curriculum features courses in teacher leadership, recent trends in education, and advanced curriculum design. Most full-time learners can graduate within two years.

Nearly 100% of Appalachian graduate alumni find a job or enroll in another graduate program. The university facilitates students' professional success by offering Big Interview and Handshake software, as well as links to numerous job boards.

Applicants must submit three references, official undergraduate transcripts, and an updated resume. North Carolina residents save over 60% on tuition compared to out-of-state learners. Appalachian's College of Education awards multiple scholarships each year to graduate students.

Liberty University View School Profile Lynchburg, VA

Students at Liberty can earn an online master's degree in elementary education and prepare for a Virginia teaching license. This license also transfers to 46 states. The program's 36-credit curriculum includes coursework in tests and measurements, teaching science, and language acquisition. Additionally, students complete two practica and one student teaching experience.

Liberty's teachers-in-training can curate a professional portfolio and explore teaching careers. They can also attend a virtual workshop that covers topics such as LinkedIn profiles, resume writing, and remote work. Liberty's commitment to alumni's professional success results in 75% of elementary education graduates finding a teaching position.

This program accepts up to 12 transfer credits and does not require GMAT or GRE scores. Active-duty military personnel save over 50% on tuition. Other financial aid options include tuition payment plans.

Ball State University View School Profile Muncie, IN

Ball State's master's in elementary education program features an entirely online curriculum and small class sizes. The 30-credit degree emphasizes discipline and classroom management, effective use of technology, and understanding data to inform teaching and learning.

Although distance learners may never set foot on Ball State's campus in Muncie, Indiana, they can still access many helpful resources online, including virtual counseling sessions and career inventories. Learners can also use VMOCK — software that critiques a resume draft in seconds.

Admission requirements for elementary education students include a minimum 2.75 undergraduate GPA. Ball State admits new learners during the summer, spring, and fall semesters. Financial aid opportunities include three departmental scholarships.

Western Governors University View School Profile Salt Lake City, UT

Recent college graduates may be interested in earning WGU's online master's degree in elementary education. This degree prepares graduates for initial teaching licensure, and most students can complete the program within two years. During the program, learners take courses in educational assessment, elementary disciplinary literacy, and instructional planning and presentation.

On average, WGU alumni receive an $11,800 raise within two years of graduation. Students can attain a higher-paying position by using the university's self-service tools, which include advice on negotiating salaries.

WGU does not require recommendation letters or standardized test scores. The university charges tuition on a per-term basis (rather than by credit) and uses self-paced, competency-based learning. Elementary education degree-seekers may qualify for one of many institutional scholarships.

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

Online master's in elementary education programs allow graduate students to narrow their academic focus while also completing core coursework. Common concentrations include curriculum and instruction, special education, and educational leadership. Students also often focus on STEM education and gifted and talented education.

Online coursework traditionally allows students to complete program requirements at their own pace, providing space for working teachers to complete academic work while keeping up with personal and professional obligations.

Online coursework traditionally allows students to complete program requirements at their own pace, providing space for working teachers to complete academic work while keeping up with personal and professional obligations. Most online master's in elementary education require the 30-36 credits. Full-time students often graduate in about two years. Part-time students take longer, but many programs offer summer courses.

Some programs encourage collaborative work within cohorts. They also promote platforms encouraging dialogue, which more closely mirrors an in-class experience.

Admission Requirements for Online Master's in Elementary Education Programs

Admission requirements for online master's in elementary education vary slightly from program to program. Nevertheless, prospective students should expect to submit official transcripts, letters of recommendation, and standardized test scores.

Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, often with a minimum GPA of 3.0 or higher. Certain schools also require professional experience in the classroom.

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

Courses in online master's in elementary education programs vary based on concentration and school. Nevertheless, all students must complete core coursework in similar areas. Below are five common courses in these programs.

Issues in Education

Surveying various theories and studies, this course emphasizes the biological, psychological, and social factors that influence human development and learning. Students also explore contemporary issues in education and the best classroom practices for diverse learners.

Issues in Classroom Management

In this course, degree-seekers examine competing philosophies of classroom management. Students analyze systematic models for application in classrooms and schools, recognizing challenges unique to different academic settings.

Principles of Curriculum and Instruction

Designed as a survey of curriculum and instruction, this comprehensive course explores topics like curriculum theories, educational philosophies, and social factors of academic success. Students gain practical knowledge in curriculum development, curriculum evaluation, and instructional evaluation.

Effective Teaching and Instruction

This course explores effective teaching strategies and practices to enhance and advance student performance in K-12 classrooms. Students dive into research on cognition, learning, and assessment. Learners also discover evaluation models used to assess and improve the efficacy of classroom instruction.

Literature for Children and Young Adults

Through a focus on evaluating and selecting reading materials for children and young adults, this course explores trends, issues, and critical perspectives in literature instruction. Students examine myriad contemporary genres, authors, and illustrators. Additional topics include multicultural literature and literature in school programs.

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

An online master’s in elementary education often leads to traditional teaching roles. However, graduates with a master’s degree can also pursue roles as administrators and curriculum designers. They can also begin careers at education-based nonprofits, as contractors, and in various management capacities.

true Kindergarten and Elementary School Teacher

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers instruct young students in foundational subjects like language arts and math. These professionals create lesson plans, teach subject matter, and monitor student behavior. Working with both large classes and small groups, teachers prepare students for standardized tests, grade assignments, and regularly evaluate student progress.

Special Education Teacher

Working with students who have learning, emotional, and/or physical disabilities, special education teachers adapt curricula to meet student needs. Working closely with learners, parents, and administrators, these professionals plan activities based on unique student abilities. They also develop, implement, and assess Individualized Education Programs.

Instructional Coordinator

Instructional coordinators develop, implement, and oversee school curricula and teaching standards. They conduct teacher training and workshops, analyze standardized test data, and use metrics to ensure the efficacy of teaching materials and methods. Instructional coordinators also introduce new technology that benefits teachers and students alike.

Elementary School Principal

Principals oversee school operations, daily activities, and curricula. Along with managing staff, teachers, and support personnel, elementary school principals counsel students, meet with parents to discuss behavioral issues, and ensure the safety of all students. These professionals also analyze and report standardized test scores and evaluate teacher performance.

Education Professor

Working with students interested in an education career, education professors instruct learners and conduct research in their area of expertise. They develop instructional plans, prepare lessons and assignments, and publish their work in scholarly journals. Postsecondary teachers also advise learners on academic and career opportunities.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Elementary Education Programs

Is a master's in elementary education worth it?

For practicing teachers and individuals interested in teaching, a master’s in elementary education can boost career options and increase earning potential. A master’s degree provides learners with the specialized knowledge needed to improve their teaching abilities and prepare for new roles in administrative positions.

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

While a master’s in elementary education seems like a narrow academic focus, graduates can pursue careers in several educational environments. Nonprofits, standardized testing companies, and public and private schools all value advanced degrees. Additionally, a master’s education equips working teachers with knowledge of advanced teaching trends and methodologies.

Can you become an elementary teacher without a degree?

To become an elementary school teacher, you need either a bachelor's degree in education or a bachelor's degree in a different field and additional teacher training. That said, a master’s in elementary education allows teachers to earn a higher starting salary and increase their competitiveness.

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

Salaries vary depending on experience, location, and role. In 2019, the BLS found that kindergarten and elementary teachers earned a median annual salary of $59,420, while special education teachers made a median annual salary of $61,030.

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

Like many career paths, administrative and managerial roles traditionally pay the most. Elementary school principals earned a median annual salary of $96,400 in 2019. During the same year, instructional coordinators made a median annual salary of $66,290.

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