Best Online Master's In Elementary Education

A ranking of the best master's in elementary education degrees online. Programs ranked by affordability, flexibility, and academic quality. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Teachers often refer to their profession as the hardest job that everyone thinks they can do.

But anyone who has taken on the role of teacher for any extended period of time is aware of the broad base of knowledge, the carefully honed skills, and the personal commitment that it takes to do the job well.

Working with young children is not an easy task, and teachers need all the tools at their disposal to do it well. So if you’re beginning your search for a good online Master’s in Elementary Education program, College Choice has you covered with our ranking of the 25 best programs. Then again, an online degree may work better!

Top 10 Best Online Master's in Elementary Education Degrees

#1 Auburn University Auburn University, AL
#2 Western Illinois University Macomb, IL
#3 University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, AL
#4 Missouri State University Springfield, MO
#5 University of North Carolina Wilmington Wilmington, NC
#6 Southeast Missouri State University Cape Girardeau, MO
#7 Eastern New Mexico University Portales, NM
#8 Valley City State University Valley City, ND
#9 Eastern Kentucky University Richmond, KY
#10 University of North Dakota Grand Forks, ND

There are several good reasons to get a Master’s in Elementary Education. The teaching profession has changed dramatically in recent decades due to demographic and sociological changes - and for those wanting to move ahead in their profession (not to mention the pay scale), a Bachelor’s degree is no longer sufficient.

But a Master’s in Education does more than expand the possibilities for employment in teaching and administration. The U.S. Department of Education reports that high-quality teacher preparation can make a dramatic impact on student outcomes - even outweighing negative factors like poverty.

And teachers are aware of the significance of their job. In a survey of over 20,000 public school teachers, 98% agreed that teaching is more than a profession - it is how they make a difference in the world.

If you’re ready to take the plunge into a Master’s program but can’t leave your home or work to do so, there are plenty of good online options available. Online programs are both convenient and often affordable while providing a path to employment that employers will recognize.

What are the best online master's in elementary education?

This College Choice ranking takes into account several factors that reflect both program quality and return on investment. Our composite score weighs standard academic reputation rankings, program tuition rates, early career earnings of graduates, and school acceptance rates.
A couple important things to note:

  • The tuition rates we list are based on out-of-state, per-credit tuition taken from program websites. In-state tuition is often less expensive, but all would-be applicants should take note of any additional fees that are not included in the per-credit rate.
  • Accreditation is critical, and all the schools on our list are regionally accredited. Additionally, most programs are accredited by the main educational accrediting bodies: CAEP, TEAC, NCATE.

We hope our ranking helps you find the best Master's in Elementary Education program for you!


See our rankings methodology page.

  1. Auburn University

    Auburn University, AL



    Located in Auburn, AL, Auburn University is a nationally ranked public research university. Home to a highly regarded School of Education, Auburn has also garnered national acclaim for its online programs. Notably, their online graduate education program ranked tenth in the nation by US News and World Report.

    Designed for those who already have initial level certification, the School of Education at Auburn University offers an online, NCATE-accredited Masters of Education or Master of Science in Elementary Education. Both Master’s program expand upon undergraduate work, deepening students’ understanding of elementary education.

    The M.Ed. program is for those who already have initial-level teaching certification. It leads to recommendation for Class A Alabama professional educator certification.

    • 30 credit hours total, including teaching field courses
    • Content courses in Language Arts, Math, Social Studies, and Science.

    The M.S. program is intended for community-based or international educators who are not seeking teacher certification/licensure in the United States.

    • 30 credit hours total distributed between Elementary Education courses, and advisor-approved electives.
    • Includes a 2 credit capstone project.
  2. Western Illinois University

    Macomb, IL



    Founded in 1899 in the town of Macomb, IL, Western Illinois University is a public institution that has ranked highly among regional schools in the Midwest. Their robust online presence has extended the reach of their programs, and the school recently ranked among the top 100 online Bachelor’s programs in the country (US News and World Report 2016).

    The College of Education and Human Services at Western Illinois University offers an online, NCATE-accredited Masters of Science in Education degree (Elementary Education) for candidates with a US teacher’s licensure. There are two possible specializations within the elementary education graduate program: Elementary Education or Literacy Education.

    • 100% online programming
    • Online flexible delivery system in which students are not locked into a cohort.
    • No campus attendance or residency is required.

    This flexible degree program prepares graduates to create positive learning communities and empower all students to learn. Students learn to use research-based teaching strategies that accommodate the needs of diverse learners. Please note that this program does not lead to certification in elementary education or an endorsement in reading, language arts, or any other content area.

  3. University of Alabama

    Tuscaloosa, AL



    One of the first public universities established in the southwestern frontier, the University of Alabama has consistently ranked as one of the top 50 public universities in the nation (U.S. News & World Report). Located in Tuscaloosa, AL, the school’s online Bachelor’s programs and Engineering programs have also earned national acclaim.

    For those wishing to build on their knowledge base, the University of Alabama’s College of Education offers an online, NCATE-accredited Master of Arts in Elementary Education that leads to master’s level teaching certification. A bachelor’s level teaching certificate is necessary for entrance to the program. Features of the degree include:

    • Flexible online format, designed for educators working full-time.
    • Total credits required: 30

    This program is for both new teachers and experienced teachers seeking to update their skills with the latest teaching methods. The curriculum provides grounding in educational research as it impacts schools, curriculum, and practice. In addition to coursework in curriculum and instruction, foundations, and research – students specialize in the teaching fields of their choice (Language Arts, Literacy, Mathematics, Science or Social Studies).

  4. Missouri State University

    Springfield, MO



    Founded in 1906 in Springfield, MO, Missouri State University is the second largest degree-granting institution in the state and a member of the Missouri State University System. The school ranks among the top public schools nationally (US News and World Report 2017) and has an extensive and highly regarded online education program.

    The Department of Childhood Education and Family Studies at Missouri State University offers a very affordable online Master of Science in Education, Elementary Education degree. This is a very flexible degree program designed for working teachers who desire to develop advanced knowledge and skills.

    • Flexible online delivery
    • Program takes two years to complete (or up to eight years if needed)
    • Total credits required: 27

    Students in the online Elementary Education program take the curriculum and instruction option, with one-third of the coursework chosen to fit individual needs. This program has a theoretical/research focus which emphasizes diverse approaches to instructional practices The program also includes an option for post-baccalaureate students to apply graduate courses to Missouri certification.

  5. University of North Carolina Wilmington

    Wilmington, NC



    Located in the port city of Wilmington, NC, the University of North Carolina at Wilmington is a member institution of the 17-campus University of North Carolina System. The school is home to the highly acclaimed Watson College of Education, and their online graduate education programs have ranked among the best in the country (US News and World Report).

    For students who already hold a bachelor’s degree but have little or no background in education, the Watson College of Education offers an online, NCATE-accredited Master of Arts in Teaching in Elementary Education. Unlike many Master’s in Education programs, this online program is specifically for those transitioning into a career in Education:

    • Graduates of the M.A.T. program are eligible for the NC Elementary
    • Education certification (K-6) and prepared to teach as elementary classroom teachers.
    • Students must hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university completed before graduate study begins.

    Would-be candidates to this program should note that field placements are a part of each semester of the program and during the final semester, students will complete a full-time Internship in an elementary school setting.

  6. Southeast Missouri State University

    Cape Girardeau, MO



    Situated in Cape Girardeau, MO, Southeast Missouri State University is a nationally ranked comprehensive public university. In addition to their campus-based programs, many of the school’s online programs have received national acclaim – notably, their online graduate education program ranked among the best in the nation in 2017 (US News and World Report).

    The Department of Elementary, Early, and Special Education in the School of Graduate Studies offers an affordable, online Master of Arts in Elementary Education designed to help classroom teachers deepen their teaching skills and knowledge in their field of expertise, or expand their background into a new teaching area or certification. The program is for teachers who already hold their initial teaching licensure.

    • All classes are available 100% online.
    • Total credits required: 33
    • Intended to be workable for busy classroom teachers.

    Students enrolled in this online program will have three options of specialization: Reading, Math/Science, and Early Childhood Education. While this program does not lead to an initial teaching licensure, it does offer the possibility of an advanced teaching certificate as a Reading Specialist.

  7. Eastern New Mexico University

    Portales, NM



    Founded in 1934 in Portales, NM, Eastern New Mexico University (ENMU) is the largest public university in the state. The school has demonstrated its commitment to both academic excellence and affordable tuition and has a reputation as one of the most affordable four-year universities in the nation (USA Today 2014).

    The Department of Educational Studies at ENMU offers an affordable, online, CAEP-accredited Master of Education with Emphasis in Elementary Education. This program does not lead to initial teacher licensing but is designed to strengthen teachers’ selected content knowledge and add depth of understanding in the areas of curriculum and instruction. This online program has a focus on differentiated instruction and working with students of diversity.

    • Content areas covered include Science, Math, and Reading.
    • Coursework is available 100% online.
    • Total credits required: 36 (12 credits of electives).

    In addition to the M.Ed. program, ENMU also offers an online Alternative Licensure in Elementary Education program. This is a 24 credit hour program which can lead to a K-8 licensure in New Mexico. All credits from the program can be applied to a 36 credit hour master’s degree in pedagogy and learning at ENMU.

  8. Valley City State University

    Valley City, ND



    Situated in the small town of Valley City, North Dakota, Valley City State University is a member of the North Dakota University System. In 2017 the school ranked as the top public regional college in the Midwest (US News and World Report), and their online graduate education program ranks among the best nationally.

    The School of Education and Graduate Studies at Valley City State University offers an online, NCATE-accredited Master of Education in Elementary Education. This degree program is intended to help P-16 educators effectively integrate technology into the classroom. Requirements of the program include:

    • 35 hours of coursework, including field experiences
    • an action research report
    • an oral defense of a comprehensive portfolio

    This online program meets the standards of both the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) and the North Dakota Education Standards and Practices Board (ESPB). A note about tuition: the tuition listed above is the out-of-state, per/credit rate – but for residents of states other than North Dakota, Valley City State University has multiple reciprocity tuition agreements that significantly lower tuition for residents of many other states and even Canadian provinces.

  9. Eastern Kentucky University

    Richmond, KY



    Situated in Richmond, KY, Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) is a public university with six branch campuses across the state, as well as a robust online program. The school has ranked highly among regional schools in the South, and in 2017, their online graduate education program ranked among the best nationally (US News and World Report).

    The College of Education at Eastern Kentucky University offers an online, CAEP-accredited Master of Arts in Education – Elementary Education. This online program is intended for teachers who already have initial licensure and are working with grades P-5. The focus of the program is on deepening teachers’ understanding of the intellectual, philosophical, and cultural foundations of effective education.

    • Coursework is offered 100% online.
    • Total credits required: 30
    • Possible to complete degree in one year.

    For students who already hold certification in their area of advanced study, there is an option to pursue the Elementary Education (P-5) with Teacher Leader Endorsement. With a focus on educational leadership, Eastern Kentucky’s MA in Education is ideal for those looking for a career as a teacher leader educator, or as specialist or coach (P-12).

  10. University of North Dakota

    Grand Forks, ND



    Founded in Grand Forks, ND, in 1883, the University of North Dakota is a public research university and the oldest institution of higher learning in the state. The school ranks among the top national universities in the country and has a strong liberal arts emphasis. Many of their online programs have also ranked among the best in the country (US News and World Report).

    The Department of Education and Human Development at the University of North Dakota offers an online, CAEP-accredited Master of Science in Elementary Education. The program prepares licensed K-6 classroom teachers to address the educational needs of elementary school children. The program is also open to non-licensed individuals who wish to follow a research-oriented program of study. Features of the degree include:

    • Total credits required: 32
    • Program may be completed in two years.
    • Online courses with a 3-Credit teaching practicum

    The online MS in Elementary Education has flexible start dates, beginning every August, January and June. And for this online degree, the University of North Dakota offers in-state tuition regardless of where students live. The MS degree does not lead to the Elementary Education Certification.

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