Now is a great time to pursue your online master's in secondary education. High school teachers have a projected job growth rate of 6% over the next decade. With class sizes growing larger each year, secondary teachers are in demand. The field of education incorporates the latest technologies in curriculum development, and you have the opportunity of being at the forefront of the evolving academic landscape. The following information introduces the field of secondary education and provides information on what to expect from the best online master's in secondary education programs.

What are the best secondary education programs of 2020? Here are our top 10:

Rank School Location
1 New York University New York, NY
2 University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA
3 North Carolina State University Raleigh, NC
4 Clemson University Clemson, SC
5 Mississippi College Clinton, MS
6 Georgia College and State University Milledgeville, GA
7 Harding University Searcy, AR
8 The University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, AL
9 California State University, Fullerton Fullerton, CA
10 Saint Joseph's University Philadelphia, PA

The Best Online Master's in Secondary Education Programs of 2020

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Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle
1

New York University

New York, NY Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 85%

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

Los Angeles, CA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 92%

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.

2

North Carolina State University

Raleigh, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 81%

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

Clemson, SC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 83%

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

Clinton, MS Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 53%

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

Milledgeville, GA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 64%

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

Searcy, AR Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 67%

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

Tuscaloosa, AL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 72%

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

Fullerton, CA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 68%

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

Philadelphia, PA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 80%

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.

Choosing a Program

Will This Program Provide Me With the Skills I Need to Advance My Career?

An online master's in secondary education will help advance your career in several ways. A graduate degree provides you with the knowledge and expertise to work with students in a variety of capacities, including career opportunities in teaching, curriculum development, and administration. Acquiring advanced skills in teaching subjects such as chemistry or English literature increase your marketability. Learning to teach ESL learners and special needs students allows you to fill critical roles in the educational system.

Do I Need Previous Work Experience to Get in?

Some programs require applicants to hold a valid teaching license, particularly programs that offer endorsements or specialized training in curriculum planning or special education. An online degree in secondary education does not usually require prior work experience. Students who hold bachelor's degrees in disciplines other than education often enter their master's program without prior teaching experience.

What Are the Advantages to Earning My Secondary Education Degree Online?

An online degree in secondary education can provide working students the flexibility they need to maintain employment. It allows learners to complete assignments at their own convenience. Online learning is often self-paced. Other benefits include direct access to course assignments and materials, professional networking opportunities, and online peer support.

What Else can I Expect from an Online Master's in Secondary Education Program?

The following concentrations are commonly offered by secondary education programs. While the details may vary from program to program, this table outlines the typical learning outcomes of these areas. Choosing a concentration in secondary education allows you to develop specialized skills and work with different types of students with varying needs.

Concentrations Offered for an Online Master's Degree in Secondary Education

Concentration Description Careers this concentration prepares for
Educational Leadership Educational leadership students learn how to manage learning environments, implement evidence-based instructional strategies, and communicate with stakeholders. Focal areas include ethical leadership development and decision making skills in a diverse, community-oriented context. Students are prepared for roles as assistant school principals, school principals, college instructors, and instructional supervisors.
English as a Second Language (ESL) Students learn teaching strategies for ESL learners. This concentration focuses on the psychology of learning English, and students become familiar with cognitive processes that influence language development and literacy instruction for ESL learners. This concentration prepares student for careers as ESL teachers at middle and high schools. Other career possibilities include assessment and consultation.
Special Education This concentration prepares you to work with children who have disabilities and other at-risk youth. The curriculum emphasizes teaching strategies to accommodate a variety of special learning needs and examines policies that impact special education. Students learn how to promote positive behaviors, develop IEPs, and advocate for children's educational rights. This concentration prepares students for careers teaching children and adolescents with special learning needs.

Curriculum for an Online Master's Degree in Secondary Education

While the curriculum may vary depending on the program, most online master's in secondary education programs include the following courses. These courses emphasize teaching strategies geared toward middle and high school students and focus on contemporary trends in teaching.

  • Curriculum Development: This course provides training in curriculum design and instruction. Students learn how to create engaging learning environments that reach students across cognitive levels. Best-practice instructional strategies guide curriculum decisions, and students gain skills in age-appropriate methods of teaching secondary education. Students learn how to plan lessons that require active participation.
  • Adolescent Psychology: This course prepares students to teach secondary education by familiarizing them with theories of adolescent development that emphasize learning, cognition, and social development. It explores motivational learning strategies and approaches to classroom management, introduces students to assessment techniques, and focuses on creating learning opportunities that meet individual needs and motivation levels.
  • Foundations in Secondary Education: This course provides students with an overview of the historical and contemporary issues in education. It focuses on current trends and policies that affect educational systems. Students explore how to establish inclusive learning environments in a multicultural society. Students interested in teaching, consulting, and pursuing leadership roles in education benefit from this course.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Master's in Secondary Education?

Most online master's in secondary education students earn their degree in two years. The average program consists of 36 credits. Full-time students have the ability to earn their degree in a year, while part-time students often take up to three years. Factors that influence the length of the program include concentration and student teaching requirements, the student's prior teaching experience, and initial licensure requirements.

Students complete their online degree in secondary education at their own pace or with a cohort. Self-paced learning is a common feature of distance education, and it allows students to work independently to complete assignments. Most self-paced learning courses are delivered asynchronously, and students progress through the program at their convenience. Individually-paced programs usually admit students throughout the year. Cohort learning programs admit a select number of students, typically in the fall, spring, or summer. Learners form a community and pursue their degrees together. This format is similar to traditional program and emphasizes teamwork and peer support.

Certifications and Licenses a Master's in Secondary Education Prepares For

  • Teacher Licensure: Some programs include initial licensure in the curriculum, and students complete the exam as part of their program. Teacher licensure varies by state, and students often have to take the Praxis exam as part of the certification process. Once licensed, teachers can pursue careers in public and private schools. Licensure must be renewed every few years.
  • Instructional Leadership Licensure: Many states require an instructional leadership license for professionals who seek administrative careers in education. The process of earning this certification is similar to teacher licensure, and applicants must take the Praxis or a related exam to demonstrate knowledge in instructional leadership. Many states require school principals to hold this or a similar license.

Accreditation for Online Master's in Secondary Education Degrees

Accredited universities and colleges offer the best online master's in secondary education programs. These schools participate in peer review processes and are held accountable by their regional or national accrediting bodies. Regionally accredited universities are members of one of six accrediting bodies across the U.S. and adhere to the standards set forth by their region's accreditor. Nationally accredited schools usually offer vocational or distance learning programs and generally have lower tuition rates than regionally accredited institutions. Students pursuing advanced degrees may find that undergraduate credits earned from nationally accredited universities are not accepted by regionally accredited graduate programs. Many online programs are accredited by the DEAC, which requires accredited distance learning programs to adhere to the commission's standards and policies. The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) accredits teacher training programs. CAEP ensures that education programs provide students with knowledge and skills comparable to national standards.

The Department of Education (DOE) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) play important roles in the standardization process of accrediting bodies. The DOE is a federal organization that recognizes accrediting bodies and sets the standards to which they and their programs adhere to. CHEA promotes academic quality through its accreditor recognition process. Accrediting bodies recognized by these organizations demonstrate accountability and participate in self studies and peer reviews to maintain academic quality. Students can access databases of all accredited schools in the U.S. whose accrediting bodies are recognized by CHEA and DOE.

Employment Outlook for Master's in Secondary Education Graduates

Master's in Secondary Education Careers

An online master's in secondary education prepares students for careers as teachers, educational administrators, support staff, and more. An advanced degree allows secondary teachers to focus on the instruction of a specific subject or to pursue leadership roles within the school system. Educators who hold a master's degree can teach undergraduate courses at community colleges and universities. Teaching careers require patience, resourcefulness, and communication skills. They work with parents and the community to promote students success. Successful principals are effective leaders who possess strong interpersonal skills. Listed below are examples of possible careers for graduates.

High School Teacher

High school teachers provide 9th-12th grade students with academic instruction. An advanced degree allows them to teach a single subject, such as science or math, or multiple subjects. High school teachers plan lessons, communicate with parents, and incorporate standardized testing preparation into their class curriculum. They are qualified for careers in public and private education.

Median Annual Salary: $58,030
Projected Job Growth: 6%

Special Education Teacher, Secondary School

Secondary school special education teachers work with adolescents who have learning and developmental disabilities. They create IEPs and adapt lesson plans to meet the diverse needs of their students. Special education teachers help traditional classroom teachers accommodate students with disabilities and assist special-needs students in the transition to life after graduation.

Median Annual Salary: $57,910
Projected Job Growth: 6%

School Principal

Secondary school principals work in middle schools and high schools. They design and implement the school's curriculum and monitor teacher and staff performance. They establish the school culture and manage student behavior.

Median Annual Salary: $92,510
Projected Job Growth: 6%

Instructional Coordinator

Instructional coordinators develop curriculums, analyze test data, and work with teachers to implement new learning techniques and strategies. They hold teacher training workshops and coach teachers to help improve their skills. Instructional coordinators recommend educational material, including textbooks and new technologies. A master's degree is required for a career as an instructional coordinator.

Median Annual Salary: $62,460
Projected Job Growth: 7%

Master's in Secondary Education Salary

Factors that influence annual earnings in secondary education include degree level, employer type, and work experience. Data retrieved from PayScale indicates that years on the job positively impact annual earnings. The following table demonstrates the relationship between professional experience and salary.

Secondary Education Careers by Experience

Job Title Overall Median Salary Median Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 years) Median Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 years) Median Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ years)
High School Teacher $48,072 $41,000 $47,000 $60,000
Middle School Teacher $45,879 $40,000 $45,000 $60,000
Curriculum Specialist $54,025 $50,000 $54,000 $61,000
Special Education Teacher, Secondary School $49,087 $42,000 $48,000 $63,000
Assistant Principal $69,995 $65,000 $68,000 $76,000

Professional Organizations

Professional organizations provide students and recent graduates with valuable resources, including networking opportunities, access to job postings, and the latest in educational research. Many professional organizations offer teaching strategies and tools for developing lesson plans, communicating with parents, and motivating students. They often provide insurance and debt services to their members. Students who become members of professional organizations learn how to advocate for the profession and those they serve.

Financing Your Online Master's in Secondary Education Program

The field of education is ripe with scholarship and funding opportunities, including grants for teachers earning their master's. The federal government offers a variety of financial aid options, and students must complete the FAFSA to determine what types of assistance they are eligible to receive. The Institute of International Education offers the Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program that covers the cost of studying and teaching abroad. Other financial assistance programs include graduate assistantships and work-study programs.

An Overview of Financial Aid

Approximately two-thirds of today's college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.

Understanding the FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.

Financial Aid for Online College Students

Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you'll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn't always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.

Scholarships for Women

Online programs can provide an affordable and flexible option for women trying to balance the demands of work, family, and earning their degree. We've curated a list of valuable scholarships specifically for women.

Scholarships for Single Parents

Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family's financial future. We've compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.

Financial Aid for Veterans and Active Military

Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.

Scholarships and Financial Aid for Online Students

Students who pursue online degrees will be eligible for scholarships, grants and other financial aid that is unavailable to their brick-and-mortar counterparts. Learn more about these financial opportunities for web-based learners.