Online Master’s in Education Degree Programs

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What is an Online Masters in Education Degree Program?

In an online Master’s in Education (M.Ed.) degree program, you will focus on teaching and learning. As a student, you will be prepared to pursue your first teaching license. If you are currently educator, this program could also help you refine your skills and step into a niche field.

If you teach full time or work in another field, an online master’s in education program may be perfect for you. These often allow you to log into your classes when you can. You can also complete any supervised practicum in your local community. Since education is a regulated field, studying one area in depth may allow you to pursue a state license. As an online student, you could also use a M.Ed. program as a preparation for a doctoral degree such as a Ph.D. or Doctor of Education.

Four Types of Master’s in Education Programs You May Find Online

There are four main types of online master’s degrees in education. The Master of Education (M.Ed.), Master of Arts in Education (M.A. Ed.), Master of Science in Education (M.S. Ed.) and Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.). As you consider online M.Ed. programs, it’s important to understand the difference in degrees.

  • A Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) focuses more on initial teacher licensure. As such, you may learn practical ways to manage a classroom and teach specific subjects.
  • A Master’s in Education (M.Ed.) is usually for experienced educators who want to step into leadership. A key theme is understanding how to turn research into action plans for your success as a student.

A Master of Science in Education and Master of Arts in Education are like the M.Ed. If you are already a teacher, you could use this path to refine  your teaching skills. Also, you could gain a better grasp on how to teach a science (M.S.) or liberal arts (M.A). subject.

Teaching Special Education (Master of Education)

Elementary Education (Master of Science)

Educational and Policy Administration (Master of Arts)

Educators who want to teach K through 12 students who learn differently, will benefit from this program. As a teacher, you will be prepared to pursue state certification in special education. Along with the core program, you will cover areas such as behavior analysis. Or, an autism spectrum disorder endorsement.


This program paves the way to teach and shape young minds. You may learn how to create a positive setting that nurtures child growth. Plus, you could learn strategies to manage classrooms and how to craft lesson plans. In addition to taking courses, you usually take part in field based learning.


In this program, you will learn to build school leadership skills. You may discuss things like how to line up a school vision with district goals. You could also study how to make data driven decisions. Plus, you could learn how to use research to nurture positive outcomes in the P through 12 setting.


  •  Foundations and Current Issues in Special Education
  •  Diagnostic Assessment
  •  Theory and Instructional Practice
  • Creating an Effective Learning Environment
  • Elements of Literacy Content
  • Instruction and Assessment
  • School Leadership, Data, Decision Making and School Improvement
  • Education and the Law
  • P through 12 Principalship

Online Master’s in Education Programs

In a typical online master’s in education program, you would earn 30 to 36 credits. Most of these are core topics. But others may pertain to a concentration, thesis or supervised practice. As you notice, there are different kinds of master’s degrees in education you can look for. But at their core, most programs focus on building a teaching tool kit. This could include things like:

  • How to teach to a diverse student body
  • Assess student strengths, needs and learning styles
  • Maximize your classroom effectiveness
  • Plan lessons that foster positive student outcomes
  • Transform curriculums through new technology
  • Make sense of and apply current research

To reach these goals, there are a few common themes to know if you are using a master’s degree to learn how to teach.

Foundations of Teaching for Learning

Here, you will cover the basics for effective entry into the classroom as a teacher. Some topics you may touch on are human growth and learning styles. Other themes may relate to teaching and testing for a specific content area. You could also learn about the school system in general. And, ways to follow district goals.

Adolescent Development and Learning Needs

In this class, you may cover ways to teach adolescents from diverse backgrounds. Often this means you will look for a few themes and theories. These could be social, cultural, racial, and gender issues. Also, you might discuss typical and atypical growth to better understand the age group.

6 Popular Concentrations for Master’s in Education Degrees

Whether you are switching careers, or you are a current teacher, you may pursue a master’s degree in education. One way to tailor your studies to your goals is through a concentration.

For example, you may want to teach a specific subject like reading, math or science. Or teach a certain group like K through 8, autistic students, or high school. If you want to stay in education but move out of the classroom and into administration, you could do that as well.

Six of the popular areas are as follows:

Educational Leadership: This area may help teachers learn how to lead. Classes may cover areas like how to budget and manage staff. So, it is often the choice if you want to prepare to become school administrators. Like principals or superintendents. In most states, after you have your degree, you are able to take a certification exam.

Curriculum & Instruction: You will learn lesson planning for a grade level, or district. Usually, students learn how to gather and use data from education research. Then apply findings to assess and even improve study plans. Often, they also study new technology, trends and theories.

Integrating Technology in the Classroom: As a teacher, you'll learn to reach today's tech savvy students. One of the goals is to learn how to weave digital tools and computer based instruction into the class. You may learn to do this for all grade levels and content areas.

Special Needs: Here, you will cover meeting the needs of students with disabilities. One often studies human growth patterns to begin. Then the focus may shift to how to adapt lessons to special needs students. You may also learn different theories and interventions. Plus, social, legal and ethical issues. Many people pursue a master's in special education as a path to licensure.

Elementary Education: In this topic, you will learn the teaching methods used to instruct K-8 learners. Often, one learns how young minds form and learn different concepts. Other topics may touch on how to create lesson plans, test students and observe progress. There is usually a practical student teaching component too.

Secondary Education: Cover the teaching methods used to reach high school students. Things like how to discipline a class of adolescents. Also, ways to communicate and present material suitable to these grades.

How Long Does It Take to Earn a Master’s Degree in Education?

As a full time online student, you may earn a master’s degree in education in 1.5 to 2 years. Because this is an average, you could need longer depending on your course load. Or, you may be able to speed up their progress by transferring in credits.

Master’s in Education Programs That Could be Completed in 91 weeks

SchoolDegree Level# of Credits RequiredStart DatesMinimum Months to Complete
University of PhoenixM.A.40 to 44Every 6 weeks21 months
Southern New Hampshire UniversityM.S.36Every 10 weeks15 months
Northcentral UniversityM.A.T.33Every week18 months

How much does it cost to earn an Online Master’s Degree in Education?

Your tuition cost for an online master’s degree in education varies from one school to the next. If you attend an in state public university, the average tuition is $7,387. The average cost at a private out of state university is $33,670.

SchoolDegree Level# of Credits RequiredCost Per CreditTotal Tuition Cost
Capella UniversityM.S.46$455$20,930
Walden UniversityM.S.30$580$17,400
Ashford UniversityM.A.30$635$19,050

Top Schools that offer Master’s in education degree programs

According to the NCES, there were over 100 schools that offer Education degrees or programs. From those schools, there were 327,412 education degrees or programs awarded to students. The majority (52.7%) of these programs were master’s degrees.

School2022 Grads total/degrees awarded2023/2024 Tuition (Out of State)
Grand Canyon University8,555$17,450
Western Governors University12,454$8,300
Concordia University – Nebraska341$39,330
Walden University1,914$12,498
Ashford University1,527$13,160
Liberty University4,042$21,222
University of Phoenix – Arizona1,520$9,552
National University2,026$13,320
Capella University1,075$14,436
Touro College1,026$21,170
Nova Southeastern University740$37,080

How Do You Choose an Accredited Master’s in Education Degree Program?

When you are choosing an online education master’s program, one thing to weigh is accreditation. Accreditation is voluntary and happens at a regional, national and sometimes, program level. Remember, accreditation involves a set of standards set in place by the accreditor. These aim to ensure the quality of schools, departments and their programs.

You will find that many schools with regional accreditation offer online M.A.’s in education. Studying at one of these schools may enable you to get federal aid. It also lets employers and state license boards know your school is reputable. Since a school needs to show it improves, accreditation status lasts for a set period of time. Then, the school must apply again to the accrediting agency for another review.

Usually, accreditors keep a current database. This is so you can check where a school stands in the process. Reviews usually take place every 7 to 10 years.

Beyond the school’s accreditation, there’s another quality measure in place. You will find it applies to individual programs in already accredited schools.

What is program accreditation? It speaks to curriculum standards. The skills, ethics and knowledge students take away. Are they enough to get you, as a student, workforce ready?

Top Salaries by State for Principals

StateEmploymentAnnual Mean Wage
New York19,010$142,810
New Jersey11,160$136,650

Education Career Paths and Potential Salaries

There are many career paths you might want to pursue after earning a master’s degree in education online. You can weigh a few of these options, along with potential salaries and job growth.

Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals

Elementary, middle, and high school principals manage school activities and operations. In these roles, part of what you would do is set academic goals and make sure teachers meet them. Other duties include setting a budget and overseeing staff. Principals are also the public face of the school. So, they often interact with the school board, community, parents and students.

According to 2023 BLS data:

Median Salary: $103,460 per year

Job Growth Through 2032: 1% (Little or no change)

Typical Entry Level Education: Master’s degree

Special Education Teachers

Special education teachers work with students who learn in different ways. They may have a wide range of learning, mental, emotional, and physical disabilities. So, to teach them means you as a teacher would understand their issues, how they learn and how to adapt to their needs. Then, you would craft  the child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP).

According to 2023 BLS data:

Median Salary: $65,910 per year

Job Growth Through 2032: 0% (Little or no change)

Typical Entry Level Education: Bachelor’s degree

Instructional Coordinators

Instructional coordinators oversee the material taught in schools. They also set standards for teaching and train teachers. In this role, part of what you would do is develop curriculums. This may be for a specific grade level and/or subject. Once created, you would put the curriculum to test and check results and student outcomes.

According to 2023 BLS data:

Median Salary: $74,620  per year

Job Growth Through 2032: 2% (As fast as average)

Typical Entry Level Education: Master’s degree

© Education Connection 2024. All Rights Reserved.


Sources for school statistics is the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics.

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