Most Affordable Online Master’s in Education Degrees 2020

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Why Get a Master’s Degree in Education?

Online masters degrees in education unlock higher earning potential and career advancement for educators.

According to PayScale, a master’s degree in education leads to an average annual salary increase of $5,000 compared to a bachelor’s degree in the field. Similarly, administrative roles that require a master’s degree offer higher salaries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that K-12 principals earn a median annual wage of more than $96,000.

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An online master’s degree in education offers a flexible, accessible format designed for working teachers. By choosing an online program, teachers can arrange coursework around their schedule. Online programs also let teachers attend top programs from across the country without having to relocate or quit their job. As a result, many teachers choose an online program to advance their education.

After completing an online master’s in education, graduates can pursue roles with greater responsibilities, including as lead teachers, principals, and school administrators.

Top 10 Affordable Online Master’s in Education Degrees 2020

Rank School Location
1 University of the Cumberlands Williamsburg, KY
2 University of Colorado Denver - Anschutz Medical Campus Denver, CO
3 Wilmington University New Castle, DE
4 Concordia University - Chicago River Forest, IL
5 University of South Florida Tampa, FL
6 Nova Southeastern University Fort Lauderdale, FL
7 Carlos Albizu University Miami, FL
8 Brandman University Irvine, CA
9 University of Alabama at Birmingham Birmingham, AL
10 Lamar University Beaumont, TX

FAQ

How long does it take to earn a master’s in education?

Earning a master’s in education generally takes two years for full-time students. Students can also enroll part time, and some programs offer accelerated options to earn a degree in less time.

Is a master’s in education equivalent to a bachelor’s in education?

No. A master’s in education provides graduate-level training in teaching, educational administration, and educational leadership. Like a bachelor’s degree, a master’s meets licensure requirements.

What comes after a master’s degree in education?

After earning a master’s in education, graduates can earn a teaching, principal, or administrator license. Educators can also pursue a doctorate in education.

Can I do a master’s in education after a bachelor’s in education?

Yes. Educators with a bachelor’s degree can increase their earning potential and career opportunities by enrolling in a master’s in education program.

Accreditation for Online Master’s in Education Degrees

Prospective graduate students in education should always check a program’s accreditation status before applying. Accredited institutions meet the highest standards for academic excellence. Schools earn accreditation by undergoing a voluntary review of their student learning outcomes, graduation requirements, and faculty qualifications. At the institutional level, regional accreditation remains the gold standard.

In addition to choosing an accredited institution, educators should also look for programmatic accreditation. The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) grants programmatic accreditation to education degrees. CAEP reviews each program’s curriculum, standards, and methods to recognize education programs that adequately prepare graduates.

Accreditation benefits students. Teaching licensure requirements in many states include an accredited degree, and national board certification also requires an accredited degree. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the U.S. Department of Education maintain databases of regionally accredited institutions. CAEP also provides lists of accredited educator preparation programs.

 
 
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Most Affordable Online Master’s in Education Degrees 2020

When comparing online master’s in education programs, prospective students must look beyond tuition rates to consider factors like technology fees, financial aid, and other expenses. Our methodology incorporates these factors to rank the most affordable online master’s degrees in education. These rankings can help you find the best program for your professional goals and budget.

Top 25 Online Programs for a Master’s in Education

See our rankings methodology page.

  1. University of the Cumberlands
    Location

    Williamsburg, KY

    The University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Kentucky, offers several convenient and flexible online teaching master's programs. The school offers programs for current teachers who want to advance their careers and for professionals in other fields seeking a career change.

    The school offers an online master of arts in education with concentrations in literacy, school counseling, and teacher as a leader — as well as a master of teaching that leads to initial teacher licensure. Both programs require a student-teaching residency and 30-45 credits. Online classes span eight weeks and meet weekly at designated times, allowing students and faculty to take part in discussions.

    Cumberland accepts up to nine transfer credits toward the degree. Students planning to teach in states other than Kentucky should check with their state's department of education for degree reciprocity.

  2. University of Colorado Denver - Anschutz Medical Campus
    Location

    Denver, CO

    The University of Colorado Denver allows licensed teachers to advance their careers and improve their skills with five fully online teaching master's programs. Each degree requires 30 credits and a capstone practicum or thesis.

    Students can choose from master's degrees in learning design and technology, literacy education with reading and writing endorsements, research and evaluation methods, early childhood education, and STEM education. STEM education students can further personalize their studies through interdisciplinary concentrations in areas such as math or science.

    These degrees do not meet the requirements for initial teacher licensure. Some programs require a valid teaching license to enroll. Students take asynchronous classes through Canvas. Students work closely with an enrollment navigator that connects them to support services, such as a 24/7 librarian, an online writing center, and a student tech guide.

  3. Wilmington University
    Location

    New Castle, DE

    Located in New Castle, Delaware, Wilmington University allows students to earn a master of education online, on campus, or in a blended format. Learners can choose from specializations in school leadership, skilled and technical sciences, and elementary and secondary education.

    The program requires 30-33 credits, with most students graduating in 2-3 years while they continue to work. The core curriculum covers topics like learning theory, educational psychology, and child development. Electives include personnel administration, technology and the school environment, and classroom and school culture. Courses span eight weeks.

    Students can transfer up to 12 transfer credits toward the degree. All students take part in a noncredit electronic folio course that helps students save and track their progress toward degree competencies. Applicants must submit transcripts. Some programs may require work experience and a valid teaching license.

  4. Concordia University - Chicago
    Location

    River Forest, IL

    Established in 1864, Concordia University Chicago is a private university that offers more than 22 education master's programs, including degrees for licensed teachers advancing their careers and students seeking initial teaching licensure. 

    The master's programs feature a cohort model, meaning students take courses with the same group of peers throughout the program. Most programs require 30 credits and take 1-2 years to complete. Though courses are asynchronous, students enjoy frequent interaction with faculty and classmates.

    Students can pursue specializations in curriculum and instruction, differential instruction, educational technology, or educational administration. Most of these degrees require a valid teaching license and classroom experience. The school also offers programs that lead to initial teaching licensure. Each program requires a capstone experience, such as a thesis or a similar professional project. Applicants must hold a minimum 2.85 GPA and submit an essay.

  5. University of South Florida
    Location

    Tampa, FL

    The University of South Florida offers a variety of online teaching master's programs that help teachers advance their careers. The 33-credit programs include concentrations in autism spectrum disorder, teaching English as a second language, exceptional student education, and gifted education.

    Students can also choose from master's degrees in learning design and technology, physical education, and reading education. The programs feature synchronous courses delivered through Oasis. Class discussions, group projects, and multimedia presentations enhance the learning process. Distance students complete field assignments in their current schools. Each student must pass a comprehensive exam to graduate.

    Applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA. They must also submit GRE scores, a statement of purpose, a current resume, and letters of recommendation.

  6. Nova Southeastern University
    Location

    Fort Lauderdale, FL

    Located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Nova Southeastern University, offered its first distance education program in 1971. Today, the school offers a variety of online undergraduate and graduate programs, including more than 10 online education master's programs.

    The degrees comprise 30-36 credits and include concentrations in educational leadership, elementary education, exceptional student education, English as a second language, curriculum, instruction, and technology. Some programs require a 150-hour internship and completion of a leadership portfolio.

    Online courses feature an asynchronous format and include collaborative projects and simulation learning. Students can transfer up to six graduate credits toward the degree.

  7. Carlos Albizu University
    Location

    Miami, FL

    Based in Miami, Florida, Carlos Albizu University hosts about 2,000 distance learners through its online learning platform launched in 2013. The school offers an online master's degree in teaching English for speakers of other languages with an optional concentration in exceptional student education.

    Learners study topics like cultural diversity and exceptional student behavior. Faculty bring real-world experience in teaching language acquisition. Faculty also complete training in online teaching.

    Distance students can purchase books and access library resources online. Admission requires a bachelor's degree. Online learners can take advantage of a variety of financial aid opportunities.

  8. Brandman University
    Location

    Irvine, CA

    Based in Irvine, California, Brandman University offers an online master of education with concentrations in curriculum and instruction; educational leadership; educational administration; instructional technology; leadership in early childhood education; and education, teaching, and learning.

    Online courses feature asynchronous formats. The eight-week terms offer six start dates each year. In addition to fully online programs, students can pursue a hybrid education master's program. Hybrid classes meet online and in the evening at more than 25 locations in California and Washington.

    Applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA. However, the school considers applicants with a lower GPA and evidence of academic ability measured by the GRE, Miller Analogies Test, or California Subject Exams for Teachers. Most programs require teaching certification.

  9. University of Alabama at Birmingham
    Location

    Birmingham, AL

    The University of Alabama at Birmingham offers online teaching master's programs for current educators and aspiring teachers. The public university offers online master of arts in education degrees with concentrations in elementary education, reading, early childhood education, special education, instructional design and development, and kinesiology. Students can also pursue concentrations in school psychometry and community health.

    The programs require 30-49 credits. Students seeking initial teaching licensure must complete a residency program as part of the curriculum. Classes span seven weeks, with two class sessions each semester. Learners must complete a digital portfolio and pass a comprehensive exam.

    Rolling admissions allow applicants to start their educational journey when it's most convenient. Admission requirements vary by program. Some programs require a valid teaching license.

  10. Lamar University
    Location

    Beaumont, TX

    Based in Beaumont, Texas, Lamar University offers online teaching master's degrees in educational administration, teacher leadership, educational technology leadership, digital learning and leading, and special education.

    The programs require 30-36 credits, with some offering specializations and credentials in areas like educational diagnostician, gifted and talented education, and English as a second language. Online learners must complete a practicum in their local community.

    Admission requirements vary by program, but all applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA in their final 60 credits of coursework. Students who do not meet this requirement can submit GRE scores to bolster their application. Most of the programs also require a valid teaching license, and the educational administration program requires at least two years of teaching experience.

Teaching Certifications and Licenses

Educators typically need a teaching license to work in public schools. Some private and charter schools also require licensure. The requirements for a teaching license vary depending on the state.

In Illinois, for example, teaching license candidates must hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution, complete a state-approved teacher preparation program, and meet student teaching requirements. Illinois also requires licensure tests depending on the teacher’s endorsement areas. Candidates with a master’s degree in education meet the educational requirements for a teaching license.

Some states require teachers to complete a master’s degree within a certain amount of time after beginning their teaching career. In New York, for example, teachers must earn a master’s degree within five years. Many states also require continuing education to renew the teaching license. A master’s degree fulfills that requirement.

At the administrative level, principals and other school administrators typically need a master’s degree to earn a principal or administrator license. Most states offer some form of reciprocity for licensed educators who hold an out-of-state license.

Career and Salary Outlook for Master’s in Education Graduates

An online master’s degree in education prepares educators for career advancement and higher earning potential. After completing a master’s degree, teachers qualify for advanced positions like lead teacher. Educators with a master’s degree also earn higher salaries than those with a bachelor’s degree.

Administrative roles like school principal, instructional coordinator, and school superintendent typically require a master’s degree. In addition, a master’s in education can lead to opportunities in fields like training and development management.

Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals
Elementary, middle, and high school principals oversee operations at a school. They manage the staff, promote a productive learning environment, and implement curriculum standards. Principals must also manage budgets, meet with parents and district administrators, and oversee daily operations. Principals typically hold a master’s degree in education.

High School Teachers
High school teachers prepare students for the workforce or higher education. They specialize in fields like language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies. High school teachers plan lessons, instruct students in their subject, and assess each student’s knowledge. They grade assignments and tests, manage the classroom, and coordinate with other teachers and administrative staff.

Instructional Coordinators
Instructional coordinators oversee a school or district’s curriculum and teaching standards. They develop educational materials designed to meet the state’s standards and implement a curriculum. Instructional coordinators also train teachers on new content, analyze test data from students, and evaluate a curriculum’s effectiveness.

Training and Development Managers
Training and development managers assess a company’s training needs, develop training programs to meet those needs, and oversee the training budget. Training and development managers also select training materials, update training programs, and teach training methods to instructors. After implementing a training program, they evaluate its effectiveness.

CareerMedian Annual
Salary
Projected Growth Rate
(2018-2028)
Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals$96,4004%
High School Teachers$61,6604%
Instructional Coordinators$66,2906%
Training and Development Managers$111,3508%

Source: BLS

Scholarships and Financial Aid for Master’s in Education Students

Students enrolled in online master’s in education programs qualify for many scholarships and financial aid opportunities. For example, the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant, a federal program, supports master’s students planning to teach in high-need areas and subjects or in low-income schools. Many professional organizations also offer scholarships for graduate students in education.

By completing the FAFSA, prospective students can receive federal grants, scholarships, and loans to cover the cost of a master’s degree. The FAFSA determines a student’s expected contribution toward their program and the cost of the program to award federal financial aid.

In addition to scholarships and federal financial aid, master’s students can also receive graduate assistantships, fellowships, and employer tuition assistance to cover the cost of a degree. Graduate assistantships provide funding and tuition reimbursement for graduate students who work for the university. The following list offers scholarship opportunities for master’s students in education.

TEACH Grant
Who Can Apply: Graduate students who meet the program’s academic achievement requirements qualify for the TEACH Grant. Recipients must meet service requirements after completing their master’s in education.
Amount: $4,000 per year

STEM Teacher Graduate Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Graduate students earning a degree related to teaching STEM qualify for this AFCEA Educational Foundation scholarship. Applicants must attend an accredited program and take at least two courses per semester.
Amount: $2,500

Inspire Our Future Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Offered by Teacher.org, this scholarship supports future teachers, including graduate students in education. Applicants must submit an essay and have a minimum 3.5 GPA to qualify for the scholarship.
Amount: $500

Bright Futures Scholarship
Who Can Apply: This scholarship grants 30 awards each year to full-time and part-time learners studying early childhood education, including graduate students.
Applicants should have a minimum 2.5 GPA.
Amount: $250-$500

Bishop Charles P. Greco Graduate Fellowship
Who Can Apply: This scholarship supports full-time graduate students planning on working with students with intellectual disabilities. Applicants provide a transcript and an autobiographical statement. Applicants must be members of the Knights of Columbus or related to a member.
Amount: $500 per semester

Studying Education Online

An online master’s degree in education offers several benefits over an on-campus program. Online learning provides flexibility for working teachers seeking a graduate degree. By letting students complete coursework on their schedule and eliminating on-campus visits, these programs appeal to currently employed teachers. Online programs also let graduate students attend highly ranked schools without relocating.

Studying online also offers financial benefits. Students save money on commuting and transportation costs, and some out-of-state schools offer a tuition discount for online learners.

During an online master’s in education program, students access their course materials through a learning management system like Blackboard or Moodle. Depending on the program, professors may provide recorded lectures or live online class sessions. Many online master’s in education programs use asynchronous schedules, in which there are no set class times. As a result, a growing number of educators choose online programs for their master’s degree.

Learn More…

40 Best Online Education Doctoral Degrees

35 Best Master’s in Special Education Degrees

5 Best Online K-12 Education Degrees

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