Best Master’s in Elementary Education Degrees

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Achieve your career goals and inspire the next generation of learners with a master’s in elementary education from a top university.

If you have a passion for helping children learn, this ranking is for you. We all know that having a great teacher can make a massive impact on a child’s life – but nobody becomes a master teacher overnight.

Mastering the art of teaching takes time, experience, and preparation. Studies show that excellent teacher preparation makes a huge difference in student outcomes. By pursuing an advanced degree in education, you’ll learn evidence-based practices and experience the essential mentorship that you’ll need to excel in the classroom.

Top 10 Best Master’s in Elementary Education Degrees

Rank School Location
1 Stanford University Stanford, CA
2 Vanderbilt University Nashville, TN
3 University of Virginia Charlottsville, VA
4 University of California-Berkeley Berkeley, CA
5 University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI
6 Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD
7 University of California-Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA
8 University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA
9 College of William & Mary Williamsburg, VA
10 North Carolina State University Raleigh, NC
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What kind of Master’s in Elementary Education degree should you get?

There are a lot of options out there. This ranking covers quite a few – from degrees that provide initial licensure to those that provide advanced credentials. Some are practitioner focused, while others lead to careers in research.

One thing that all the programs on this ranking do have in common is that they are campus-based programs. But if you can’t (or don’t want to) put your life on hold to complete your master’s degree, there are excellent online options available.

The days when an online degree was a dubious achievement are well in the past. Accredited online degrees are as rigorous as their campus-based counterparts and respected by employers.

For more information, check out our ranking of the Best Online Master’s in Elementary Education Degrees.

How much money do people make with a master’s in elementary education?

Nobody goes into education to become rich. That said, getting a Master’s degree in Education can deliver huge benefits to your paycheck – even after you factor in the cost of the degree. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks a Master’s in Education among the degrees that deliver a “relatively high” payoff.

A master’s degree opens doors to the highest paying jobs in education (like school principalships), and for all other jobs it confers a significant yearly wage premium. Here are a few incentivizing numbers from the BLS:

  • Education Administrators with master’s: $23,000 average annual wage premium
  • Elementary teachers with master’s: $11,900 average annual wage premium
  • Elementary, Middle, High School Principal: $92,510 median annual salary
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What can you do with a master’s degree in elementary education?

The schools on this ranking have some of the top education programs in the country, and their Master’s in Education programs provide outstanding training in both teaching and leadership. Whether you want to teach for the rest of your life or move into another career, your master’s degree will open doors to countless job opportunities. Here are some possibilities:

  • Principal or Administrator
  • Educational Researcher
  • Instructional Specialist
  • Corporate Trainer
  • Educational Consultant

What are the requirements for a master’s degree in elementary education?

The programs on this ranking are some of the most selective in the country. These schools are looking for highly qualified and committed candidates—and it’s your job to prove that they want you in their program.

Admissions teams do look at academic performance, but good grades are only one part of the package. You will need to demonstrate your passion for educating young children in diverse and inclusive settings. Schools provide a variety of ways to do this, but here are a few common admission requirements:

  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and a pretty healthy GPA
  • GRE or other standardized test scores
  • Experience working with children in some capacity (coaching, mentoring, tutoring)
  • A personal statement outlining your career goals
  • For programs leading to advanced credentials, you may need an initial teaching license.

What are the best master’s in elementary education degrees?

Best Master's in Elementary Education Badge

So what makes for a top program? At College Choice, we are looking for schools that deliver both academic excellence and return on investment.

First of all, accreditation is critical, so all the schools on our list are regionally accredited. Additionally, many programs are accredited by the main educational accrediting bodies: NCATE, CAEP, or TEAC.

The College Choice score we give to each school takes into account a variety of factors. Our research team slogs through the data, weighing academic reputation rankings, program tuition rates, early career earnings of graduates, and student satisfaction. And we’re confident that the resulting score reflects the quality of program you’ll encounter.

2018 Ranking

See our rankings methodology page.

  1. Stanford University
    Location

    Stanford, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Located in California’s gorgeous Bay Area, Stanford University consistently ranks among the top five national universities in the country. Known for both outstanding teaching and cutting-edge research, Stanford’s top-ranking School of Education is no exception. They’ve been trailblazing excellence in education for over a century.

    Program Features

    Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education offers a Master of Arts in Elementary Education which integrates a high quality academic program with a well-supported, yearlong classroom placement. Referred to as STEP (Stanford Teacher Education Program), this 12-month, full-time program leads to a preliminary California Multiple Teaching Subject Credential. Courses include:

    • Becoming Literate in School
    • Elementary Classroom Leadership and Management
    • Quantitative Reasoning and Mathematics

    Notables

    Stanford University’s STEP Elementary program is comprised of 45 quarter-credits. In addition to wide-ranging coursework, students experience two semester-long classroom teaching placements. Class sizes are small (with around 20 students), so students have close contact with faculty. And graduate students are guaranteed housing on Stanford’s beautiful campus, as long as they apply on time!

  2. Vanderbilt University
    Location

    Nashville, TN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Located in Nashville, TN, Vanderbilt University is a private research university with a reputation for excellent undergraduate teaching, research opportunities, and post-graduate employment placements. The Peabody School of Education ranks among the top ten in the country for U.S. News and World Report and is known for providing world-class programs for future educators.

    Program Features

    Vanderbilt University’s Peabody School of Education offers an NCATE-accredited Master of Education in Elementary Education. The program is comprehensive and is built around the core values of equity, access, and inclusion. Vanderbilt M.Ed. students learn to work with urban children in culturally responsive ways, connecting theory to practice through engaging coursework and extensive practice in local schools. Courses include:

    • Learning Ecologies I – Equity, Access, and Inclusion in Context
    • Social Studies Methods
    • Mathematics Concepts

    Notables

    Vanderbilt University’s M.Ed. in Elementary Education is a 32-credit program comprised of traditional coursework and student teaching experiences. The program takes 13 months to complete, beginning in June with an intensive 8-week experience. Peabody’s partnerships with local schools and community-based organizations give experiences in such initiatives as trauma-influenced practices and STEAM subjects.

  3. University of Virginia
    Location

    Charlottsville, VA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Located in Charlottesville, VA, the University of Virginia is a highly selective public research institution which was founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819. The historic university sits at the top of national rankings to the present day, and UV’s graduate schools – including the renowned Curry School of Education – rank among the best in the country.

    Program Features

    The University of Virginia Curry School of Education offers an NCATE-accredited Master of Teaching with a concentration in Elementary Education which leads to initial licensure in the State of Virginia. This program is ideal for candidates with an undergraduate degree in an area other than education and provides the necessary knowledge and experience to begin a career in teaching elementary students. Core courses include:

    • Exceptional Learner
    • Designing Technologies for Teaching
    • Contemporary Educational Issues

    Notables

    The University of Virginia’s MT in Elementary Education is a 30-credit program which includes coursework in pedagogy and content areas, as well as extensive field experiences. Upon graduation, you’ll be eligible for licensure with endorsement in Elementary Education (grades pre K-6), and you can also choose to pursue a second endorsement in special education, ESOL, Algebra I, or gifted education.

  4. University of California-Berkeley
    Location

    Berkeley, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    One of the ten research universities in the University of California System, UC Berkeley is a highly ranked public institution that overlooks San Francisco Bay. UC Berkeley is home to 14 schools and colleges, including a renowned School of Education (#19 in the nation, according to U.S. News and World Report). Their top-ranked programs prepare students to take on leadership roles in challenging K-12 settings.

    Program Features

    UC Berkeley’s visionary Graduate School of Education offers the Berkeley Educators for Equity and Excellence program which provides a Master of Arts in Education (Elementary Education) and a multiple subject teaching credential. The goal of the program is to develop ambitious, equity-focused teaching practice that is grounded in research, disciplinary, and professional content knowledge. Courses include:

    • Issues of Teaching, Learning, and Equity Pro Seminar
    • Foundations for Teaching Language Arts
    • Science in the Elementary Classroom

    Notables

    UC Berkeley’s MAT in Elementary Teaching is a 48-52 credit program comprised of classroom-based coursework and extensive fieldwork experiences (over 600 hours) in schools and local community organizations. Students complete the program over the course of four semesters, (summer, fall, spring, fall) on a full-time basis. This is an ambitious program, and UC Berkeley is renowned for producing some of the best-prepared teachers in the country.

  5. University of Michigan
    Location

    Ann Arbor, MI

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Situated in Ann Arbor, Michigan, known as one of the best college towns in the country, the University of Michigan is top-ranked public research university. The School of Education, which ranks at #14 nationally according to U.S. News and World Report, intertwines renowned research, teaching, and service to develop highly trained educational professionals who lead K-12 education.

    Program Features

    The School of Education at the University of Michigan offers an NCATE-accredited Master of Arts in Educational Studies with Elementary Teacher Certification. This intensive, one-year program combines academic courses and supported K-8 classroom experiences. Students develop a range of professional skills and disciplinary knowledge to become teachers who can engage diverse groups of children in thoughtful learning. Courses include:

    • Developmental Reading and Writing Instruction in the Elementary School
    • Teaching Students with Exceptionalities K-8
    • Digital Technologies K-8

    Notables

    The University of Michigan’s Elementary MA with certification program is an intensive, full-time, cohort-based program that begins in late June and finishes in mid-June the following year. All students take part in a full-year internship in an elementary classroom (the same classroom throughout the year). And there is also the option of completing an additional endorsement in the teaching of English as a Second Language.

  6. Johns Hopkins University
    Location

    Baltimore, MD

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Named after the American philanthropist and abolitionist, Johns Hopkins University is a top-ranked private research university and a founding member of the elite American Association of Universities. The university, which is situated in the east coast city of Baltimore, Maryland, is known for its prestigious graduate schools – and their School of Education ranks at #17 nationally for U.S. News and World Report.

    Program Features

    Johns Hopkins University’s School of Education offers an NCATE-accredited Master of Arts in Teaching with Certification in Elementary Education. As a student, you’ll experience personalized coaching from experienced faculty as well as structured clinical internships in partner schools. The dynamic curriculum includes cutting-edge studies of differentiated instruction, mind-brain research, and cultural and global understanding. Certification content areas include:

    • English
    • Mathematics
    • Science
    • Social Studies

    Notables

    Johns Hopkins’ University’s MAT program is a 39-credit program that students complete in a cohort over a one-year or eighteen month period. On graduation you’ll be eligible for initial Elementary Education certification in Maryland. This flexible program combines face-to-face courses with some online courses – and there are options for an accelerated program or a more flexible, non-cohort based program.

  7. University of California-Los Angeles
    Location

    Los Angeles, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Located on an expansive campus in the Westwood neighbourhood of L.A., the University of California Los Angeles UCLA is a top-ranked national university. UCLA ranks among the top 25 national universities in the country; and, according to U.S. News and World Report, their School of Education ranks as the very best in the country.

    Program Features

    UCLA’s School of Education offers a Master of Education in Elementary Education which provides a teaching credential. The program has a focus on social justice in urban communities, and graduates will be prepared with innovative teaching strategies and strong subject matter knowledge. As a student, you’ll also gain extensive practical experience in urban schools in L.A. in both years of the program. Courses include:

    • Principles and Methods for Teaching Reading
    • Integrated Methods for Elementary Teachers
    • Teaching in Urban Schools

    Notables

    UCLA’s M.Ed. Elementary Education is a full-time, 2-year program. Graduates are eligible for a California preliminary multiple-subject teaching credential to teach Elementary (K-5). Each year has a specific focus, with the first year of the program being devoted to coursework and student teaching. During the second year of the program, students assume paid teaching positions in partner school districts in urban LA while they complete degree requirements.

  8. University of Pennsylvania
    Location

    Philadelphia, PA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The University of Pennsylvania is a private, ivy league research university located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The school is one of the 14 founding members of the exclusive Association of American Universities and has a longstanding reputation for academic excellence and innovation. Pennsylvania’s highly ranked graduate schools include the School of Education, which offers excellent programs for urban teachers.

    Program Features

    The University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education offers an Urban Teaching Apprenticeship Program which offers a Master of Science in Education in Elementary Education. The UTAP PreK-4 program is built around educating the whole child, and that philosophy permeates the program. Teacher apprentices move through five stages of inquiry and development, with intertwined courses and mentored teaching. Courses include:

    • School and Society
    • Teaching Diverse Learners
    • Social Studies Methods in the Elementary/Middle-Level Classroom

    Notables

    The University of Pennsylvania’s MS.Ed. in Elementary Education is an intensive, one year program that leads to Pennsylvania Grades Pre K-4 Certification. This apprenticeship program  includes ten months of mentored teaching in a local school setting, with up to 800 hours of fieldwork. Coursework builds competence in core academic areas, but it also covers the urban setting, child development, and creative courses in writing, visual arts, robotics, and drama.

  9. College of William & Mary
    Location

    Williamsburg, VA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    With a history dating back into the very early colonial period, the College of William & Mary is a historic public research university in Williamsburg, Virginia. Today William & Mary is listed among the “Public Ivies” due to its consistently outstanding reputation and highly selective admissions. The School of Education is no exception, ranking among the top 70 nationally by U.S. News and World Report.

    Program Features

    The William & Mary School of Education offers an NCATE-accredited Master of Arts in Education in Elementary Education which leads to initial K-6 certification in the state of Virginia. As a student in this one year program, you’ll complete educational foundations coursework, methods courses in elementary school subject fields, and student teaching experiences. Courses include:

    • Current Issues in Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment
    • Advanced Educational Psychology & Development
    • Social & Philosophical, Cultural and Historical Foundations of American Education

    Notables

    The College of William & Mary’s MA.Ed. in Elementary Education is a 45-credit, intensive 12-month program in which students complete all requirements in a cohort group.  Field experiences lead up to the ten-week student teaching semester, and you can also earn an emphasis in Literacy by taking two additional courses in the summer semester. This program is only open to non-licensed teachers.

  10. North Carolina State University
    Location

    Raleigh, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Located in Raleigh, NC, North Carolina State University is a public research university that ranks among the top 85 national universities in the country by U.S. News and World Report. Known for their stellar graduate colleges, the university boasts a renowned College of Education which produces some of the top K-12 educators in North Carolina.

    Program Features

    The College of Education at North Carolina State University offers a CAEP-accredited, Master of Arts in Teaching: Elementary Education. This is a practitioner-focused program for individuals wanting to earn an initial teaching licensure. The program integrates essential pedagogical  theory with experience in culturally diverse and technology-enhanced classrooms. Courses include:

    • Principles of Developing and Interpreting Assessment
    • Exploring Diversity in Classroom and Community
    • Classroom Action Research

    Notables

    North Carolina State University’s MAT in Elementary Education is a 33-credit program (though credits vary with the chosen content area). Students complete the program over a year-and-a-half of full-time study – though you can take longer if you need to. Classes take place in a hybrid format, being delivered both face-to-face on the Raleigh campus, face-to-face off-campus, and online.

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