Best Master’s in Education Programs

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Earn More Salary with a Master’s in Education

Master’s in teaching programs help current and aspiring teachers obtain state licensure and hone their specializations and classroom skills. Graduates with a master’s in teaching can begin or advance their careers with a strong foundation.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects education, training, and library occupations to increase by 5% from 2019-2029, faster than the national projected growth rate for all jobs. An uptick in student enrollment should lead to a growing demand for kindergarten, elementary, and high school teachers across the United States. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that teachers with master’s degrees earn 26% more per year than those with just bachelor’s degrees.

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Concentration | Tuition | FAQs | Top Teaching Programs

What Is Teaching?

Teaching in classroom settings dates back to the fifth century BC, most notably documented in Greece and India. Expanding into more formalized schools and institutions has led to a robust field of study that we all have benefited from in our lifetimes.

Teachers are vital to our society because they help shape future leaders.

The teaching field includes elementary, middle, and high school teachers; private tutors; museum educators; and textbook authors. A master’s in teaching degree can also lead to administrative career opportunities, such as principalship, teacher coaching and training, and curriculum writing. Teachers may work in schools and nontraditional settings, such as international military bases and volunteer programs, prisons, and corporations as talent developers.

Teachers are vital to our society because they help shape future leaders. They use finely tuned skills to impart their knowledge to students, inspiring a love of learning and ambition. Many are drawn to teaching through a love of children or a desire to help others. Those with creative backgrounds or conflict resolution abilities enter teaching with skills that support a teaching career.

A teaching career requires multiple steps, and a master’s in teaching gives you the credentials to solidify your strengths in the field.

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Why Get a Master’s Degree in Teaching?

A master’s in teaching degree offers many benefits. It opens the door to an increase in skills and credentials, a higher salary, and advancement opportunities. Teaching skills such as curriculum development and student engagement can apply in various career sectors, making this degree more than worthwhile.

  • Specializations: Specializing in a specific area of expertise allows teachers to sharpen their skills in a content or subject area, such as math or art. Teachers can also specialize in distinct grade levels, focusing on developmental strategies for particular age groups.
  • Increased Earnings: Higher salaries are common for teachers with a master’s in teaching. The average base salary for teachers with master’s degrees increases by 26%, compared to those holding only a bachelor’s.
  • Career Advancement: Leadership positions are more accessible with a master’s degree in teaching. Positions such as principal and superintendent require candidates to hold at least a master’s degree.

What to Expect From Master’s in Teaching Programs

Master’s in teaching programs focus on teacher preparation for classroom instruction. Pedagogical foundations, classroom management, and curriculum development are often pillars of a master’s in teaching program.

Most master’s in teaching programs take two years to complete. For part-time students, these programs typically take 3-4 years. Learners can often complete accelerated programs in as little as one year.

Typically, a master’s in teaching degree requires 36 credits. Optional teaching concentrations, such as special education, may impact the number of required credits.

Admission Requirements

Admission requirements for master’s in teaching programs vary for each institution. Like most graduate programs, master’s in teaching programs require a bachelor’s degree. Some schools may prefer a bachelor’s in an education-related field. Prior teaching experience can impact admission as well.

Most master’s in teaching programs require a personal statement, multiple letters of recommendation, a resume, and an application fee.

Skipping core courses based on previous bachelor’s curricula is not typically an option for master’s in teaching students. However, this may be possible at certain institutions if students attended the same school for their bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

Should I Go to Graduate School?

Concentration Options

Specializations for master’s in teaching programs focus on particular areas of expertise. Students may concentrate their studies on specific content areas, grade levels, or special learners. Specializations include student teaching opportunities, also called field seminars or practicums, in which students can practice their skills in a given area and gain valuable experience.

Most master’s in teaching programs require students to concentrate in elementary, middle, or secondary education. Subject matter concentrations allow students to gain expertise in a specific content area. Some concentrations include:

  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Art
  • Music
  • Social studies
  • Language learning (Spanish, French, German, etc.)
  • English
  • Special education
  • Acquiring specialized skills in one subject area increases the likelihood of gaining employment in the desired field. It also provides aspiring teachers with the skills to teach specific subjects.

    Special education and English as a second language (ESL) are also common specializations in master’s in teaching programs. Teaching ESL and special education students requires additional state certification.

    Popular Teaching Courses

    The master’s in teaching degree prepares students to earn licensure and teach in their desired fields. Coursework varies among institutions. Most programs feature core courses, electives, or specialty courses and a practicum to provide hands-on experience.

    The core curriculum includes classes that cover teaching strategies in elementary, middle, or high school classrooms.

    • Pedagogical Theory

      Understanding the foundations of education helps aspiring teachers build their individual teaching styles. Students learn the history of teaching and how to develop a teaching philosophy that supports classroom learning.

    • Foundations of Curriculum Development

      Students create semester- and year-long curricula that connect daily lesson plans with grade-level goals. Developing interactive and cohesive curricula allows teachers to bring creativity and structure into the classroom.

    • Practicum/Student Teaching

      The practicum allows aspiring teachers to practice their newly acquired skills in a supervised classroom setting. Students receive daily feedback to hone their teaching skills.

    How Much Will a Master’s Degree in Teaching Cost?

    Annual tuition rates for a master’s degree in teaching can range from $12,000 to over $60,000. Some factors influencing the cost of tuition include school prestige, public or private status, and eligibility as an in-state or out-of-state student. Online master’s in teaching degrees tend to come with lower price tags, while in-person programs at private institutions often charge higher tuition rates.

    Annual tuition rates for a master’s degree in teaching can range from $12,000 to over $60,000.

    Once accepted into a program, students should apply for financial aid by completing and submitting the FAFSA application. This is a first step toward obtaining funding like federal loans and grants.

    Most scholarships and grants apply directly to the cost of tuition or necessary supplies. Selecting and applying for scholarships can take time, so begin your search early. General tuition costs may not include expenses for transportation, books, and classroom materials for student teaching.

    Choosing the Right College for Teaching

    Choosing the right college for a master’s in teaching degree requires careful consideration. Important factors to consider beyond school rankings include:

    Whether you are interested in staying close to home or traveling out of state, a school’s location plays an important role. While online programs offer location flexibility, prospective students should also assess other program aspects.
    Admission Requirements
    Some schools require prior teaching experience for admission, which may hinder those seeking to change careers or acquire new skills.
    Tuition Costs
    Tuition plays a vital role in financing your educational choices. Depending on your ability to fund your education with loans, grants, or scholarships, tuition may present a roadblock at certain schools.

    Keep in mind the importance of accreditation, which recognizes institutions for quality and consistency. Teaching programs hold regional accreditation. Accreditation status is updated regularly through the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education.

    Should You Get a Degree in Education Online?

    Online degrees offer an excellent option for those seeking flexibility. Distance-learning programs offer flexible class times and the ability to take courses from any location. Many online master’s in education degrees provide quality academic experiences with the adaptability many students need.

    Online master’s in teaching and master’s in education degree programs especially suit professionals working in classroom settings or other careers. For those seeking stronger teaching skills or specializing in a subject area, online education can allow learners to take classes with little disruption to their work schedule.

    Obtaining a degree in education online is a great alternative for current and aspiring educators to boost their credentials. Remote learning allows students to work at their own pace while acquiring new skills to advance their careers.

    Frequently Asked Questions About Education Programs

    What should I major in to become a teacher

    Majoring in teaching or education offers a direct path to becoming a teacher. Majoring in a specific subject area, such as science or English, can help you become a specialized teacher after passing state licensure exams.

    Is a master’s in teaching worth it?

    A master’s in teaching strengthens classroom skills and increases the likelihood of earning a higher salary. Successful teachers increase their knowledge and credentials regularly.

    How long are master’s in teaching programs?

    Master’s in teaching programs typically take about two years to complete. Part-time programs take a bit longer. Some schools offer accelerated programs, allowing students to graduate in less than two years.

    What can you do with a master’s in education degree?

    Individuals with master’s in education degrees can pursue careers in educational administration and consulting. A master’s in education covers the education system as a whole, whereas a master’s in teaching focuses primarily on classroom teaching.

    Do teachers with a master’s degree get paid more?

    Teachers with master’s degrees earn $10,435 more on average than teachers with bachelor’s degrees. Years of teaching experience also increase teachers’ salaries. Base salaries vary for each state.

    Best Master’s in Education Program

    1. University of California-Los Angeles

      Los Angeles, CA



      Founded in 1919, and now one of the most successful and preeminent schools in the nation, the University of California-Los Angeles makes a significant impact. Located on 419 acres in Westwood, the University enrolls approximately 44,000 total students.

      Teacher Prep at UCLA is distinct. IMPACT is an innovative teacher education program developed in partnership with UCLA Center X TEP, the Los Angeles Unified School District, and the Center for Powerful Public Schools. Programs are especially STEM-focused and currently are only offered in Secondary Math, Secondary Science, and Elementary Education. The program is a mentorship model with student cohorts. Starting on day one, students are in the classroom with mentor teachers as Apprentices. After the first year, Apprentices have their California Preliminary Credentials. The next year, students have their own classroom and are supported by UCLA faculty and their peer cohort as they complete an inquiry project before their graduation from the program. The amazing part of this program is the collaboration and connection to community. On top of that, there are $20,000 fellowships for Apprentices and currently there is a 100 percent job placement rate for graduates. This unique program has gained national recognition, has been featured in the LA Times, and graduates have received outstanding accolades. Click here for more information as well as a documentary about the program. There is no doubt that the IMPACT MAT program belongs at the top of the list.

    2. University of Florida

      Gainesville, FL



      With approximately 37,000 undergraduates and 16,000 graduate students, the University of Florida is a sizable university offering ample choice and flexibility. Research is a focus with a record $724 million last fiscal year. Commendably, 56 percent of students graduate with no student loan debt.

      With the third lowest tuition and fees on our list at $6,400, and the mean salary 10 years after graduation one of the highest at $60,300, the financial consideration is a slam-dunk. Practicing teachers will be pleased to find Master of Art in Education degrees offering flexible formats at an affordable price. The MAE degree is offered in eight different concentrations designed for teachers to deepen skill and craft. To mention one, the MAE in Reading Education is an exceptional literacy program that helps teachers move up in their careers or into leadership and mentoring roles. The program is 36 total credits with a capstone research project or thesis; it can be pursued online, on-campus, or in a hybrid format. There are also programs available for those seeking certification as well. For example, a Master of Arts in Art Education is offered through Floridas Educators Preparation Institute, which allows students to earn a Masters degree and a K-12 Florida Art Teacher Certification. With so many options for continuing education and teacher licensure, the University of Florida is top-notch.

    3. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

      Champaign, IL



      With our land-grant heritage as a foundation, we pioneer innovative research that tackles global problems and expands the human experience. In step with their mission, University of Illinois does just that. Located in the twin cities Champaign-Urbana, it is the flagship campus of the University of Illinois System and home to 43,000 total students.

      There are incredible choices in multiple formats for teachers who are seeking to grow in knowledge, skill, or leadership. MA degrees in Curriculum, Aesthetics Teacher Education, Language Literacy, Mathematics, Science Engineering Education, Social Sciences Education Policy, and Teacher Leader Specialization all take students to the next level. There is also Master plus Licensure programs in Curriculum and Instruction and Special Education. All applicants apply through the Graduate Colleges online Apply Yourself Application Network. Requirements include letters of recommendation, a writing sample, and passing scores of various tests depending on the program (though a GRE is not required for MA degrees in the College of Education). Worth noting, if youre interested in early childhood or special education degrees, 100 percent of 2014 graduates were employed. Lastly, in terms of deciding, the financial aspect of UI is a draw. Tuition and fees are $15,000 and the mean salary 10 years after graduation is a respectable $65,400.

    4. Suny at Albany

      Albany, NY



      Part of the State University of New York (SUNY) system, the University of Albany was established in 1844 as the State Normal School of Albany. Today, it is known for business, criminal justice, information technology, public administration, science, and the incredible study abroad opportunities. There are 17,000 total students, over 1000 study abroad options, and 120 undergraduate and 125 graduate programs.

      With UAlbanys roots as a normal school and motto Wisdom both for its own sake and for the sake of teaching it comes as no surprise that there are exceptional teacher education programs. The School of Education has 19 outstanding Master of Arts and Master of Science programs, including popular online degrees. These masters degrees require a minimum of 30 to 67 credits of coursework beyond the bachelors degree. Specifically, UAlbany offers MA degrees for teachers looking for professional development in Curriculum Development and Instructional Technology, Educational Psychology, General Educational Studies, Childhood Education, Early Childhood Education Reading, Literacy, Special Education, and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). Many of these programs are available online, and uniquely, there is as a certificate program that prepares educators to teach online. Tuition and fees are $9,000 and the mean salary 10 years after graduation is $55,300.

    5. University of Houston Downtown

      Houston, TX



      Opening its doors in 1974, the University of Houston-Downton now offers bachelors degrees in 44 areas of study and eight masters degrees. Part of the University of Houston System, but operated independently, the School has 14,000 students and a 20:1 student to faculty ratio.

      One of the most attractive aspects of the MAT degrees at UHD is the price and the payoff. The tuition and fees are $5,800, the lowest on our list, and the mean salary 10 years after graduation is $47,800. As for the MA options at UHD, there are four MAT programs: Elementary (EC-6), Middle Level (4-8), and Secondary (7-12) leading to licensure, and the MAT in Curriculum and Instruction in six concentrations for licensed teachers; they are all a hybrid of online and traditional in delivery. The MAT Secondary options include math, English, social studies, and science. Those looking for licensure in Secondary Education must have 24 credits of undergraduate work in the content area. Both the Elementary and Middle Level degrees have concentrations and offer a Supplemental Certification in ESL (36 credits). Scholarships are possible through the Gordon and Mary Cain Graduate Academic Merit Scholarship which will pay for half the price of the program.

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