Best Master’s in Secondary Education Degrees

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Educators are the bedrock of our society. Be the bridge to higher education with a top master’s in secondary education degree.

Teachers are given one of the most challenging and rewarding tasks out there — to educate and nurture our young people. Teenagers often spend more hours in a day with their teachers than with anyone else. So we need the right people on the job!

Most of us can think of an educator in our lives that made a difference. Someone who encouraged us to take a risk, or showed us our true potential. By earning a master’s in secondary education, you could be that teacher who makes a huge difference.

Top 10 Best Master’s in Secondary Education Degrees

Rank School Location
1 Stanford University Stanford, CA
2 University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA
3 Harvard University Cambridge, MA
4 Vanderbilt University Nashville, TN
5 University of Michigan Dearborn, MI
6 Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD
7 University of California Irvine Irvine, CA
8 Northwestern University Evanston, IL
9 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC
10 University of Virginia Charlottesville, VA
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What kind of master’s in secondary education degree should you get?

The schools on this list are all standouts in their own right. You’ll find Ivy League schools, Public Ivy universities, religiously-affiliated schools, and flagship universities. They really run the gamut. But they all share one thing in common: excellent master’s in secondary education degrees.

You might see a few different degree titles on this list — MA or MEd are the most common. A master of arts in teaching will likely be grouped with a specialization in a content area. This is your standard licensing degree. A master of education tends to have a broader scope and focus on a specific issue in education like curriculum & instruction or technology in the classroom.

If you’d prefer to do distance education, check out College Choice’s ranking of the 15 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Education.

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

Middle school and high school were either the best times of your life or the worst. Regardless, as secondary education teacher, your job is to try to make everyone’s middle and high school experience the best it can be. It’s true though — a side perk of the job is that you can either relive the glory days or get a second chance!

A huge number of students jump into teaching right out of their undergraduate degree. And for the record, they are some of the most innovative and forward-thinking educators out there. But with an advanced degree in secondary education, you’re able to dig deeper into curriculum, classroom dynamics, and educational policy.

You’ll also be able to specialize. Most middle school and high school teachers pick out one or two content areas that they want to teach. The four common ones are English, science, math, or social studies. When you graduate, you’ll be qualified to teach grades 7-12 in your content area.

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

It’s widely known that teacher’s often don’t get paid fairly for the huge amount of work they put into their careers. But that’s no reason to stay away from the profession! And by earning an advanced degree in education, you’re guaranteeing yourself a higher paycheck. Here are the average salary ranges for educators across the country:

Clearly, there’s quite a range in salary. Most secondary education teachers end up making around $55,000 per year. But here’s the thing — we’re always going to need dedicated folks to teach and nurture our young people. The reward in that, I’m sure many teachers would agree, is priceless.

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

Best Master's in Secondary Education Degrees Badge

The ranking below outlines the 35 best master’s in secondary education degrees. These programs have graduated literally thousands of educators who are now top teachers in their schools. Soon enough, you’ll be able to join the ranks and make a huge difference in the lives of countless young people!

Here’s what you’ll find below: a short bio of each program and school, a sampling of courses from the curriculum, a glimpse at the tuition rates and school websites, and our College Choice rating.

We’ve considered tuition rates, retention rates, post-graduation salaries, and everything in between! Our metrics come directly from the program websites, as well as the highly reputable U.S. News & World Report and Payscale.com.

Rankings

See our rankings methodology page.

  1. Stanford University
    Location

    Stanford, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    A commanding presence in the world of higher education, Stanford University is hard to beat. This California-based research university ranks #1 on our list of the Best Master’s in Secondary Education. College Choice isn’t the only one taking notice. U.S. News & World Report ranked its School of Education #2 in the nation last year.

    Features

    Stanford University offers a unique opportunity to future secondary education teachers through STEP Secondary. This 12-month program fast-tracks students to a Master of Arts in Education. Students will also leave with a California Single Subject Teaching Credential. The 45-credit curriculum incorporates both theory and hands-on learning with classes like:

    • Adolescent Development and Learning
    • Classroom Management
    • Designing Equitable Group work
    • Secondary Teaching Seminar

    Notables

    A large requirement element of this program is a classroom placement in a local middle school or high school. Students spend four hours a day teaching in these classrooms. The fieldwork placement runs alongside a weekly seminar on-campus. This capstone class makes students extremely prepared for their first year in the classroom.

  2. University of Pennsylvania
    Location

    Philadelphia, PA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    A private, Ivy League school in Philadelphia, the University of Pennsylvania holds both historical and academic significance. Since its founding in 1740 by Benjamin Franklin, UPenn has consistently ranked in the top 10 schools in the nation. Its Graduate School of Education enrolls around 1,300 students each year.

    Features

    The Penn Graduate School of Education designed the Urban Teaching Apprenticeship Program, which earns students an MSEd in Secondary Education. This is a three-term intensive that trains students in a specific content area for grades 7-12: math, science, English, or history. Students can also earn dual certifications in the following areas:

    • Project Based Learning
    • Language Diversity/Program Specialist in ESL
    • Special Education
    • STEM

    Notables

    This program is unique in its focus on not only specific subject areas but also specific demographics. The curriculum is crafted in a way that explores how community shapes learning. Students will also work on a web-based Inquiry Portfolio, which serves as a capstone project.

  3. Harvard University
    Location

    Cambridge, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Known as the oldest university in the United States, Harvard University has a long history of excellence. The Ivy League research university is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts and enrolls over 15,000 graduate students. U.S. News & World Report ranks it #1 in Education.

    Features

    The Teacher Education Program at Harvard University divides its curriculum into two strands: Mid-Career Math and Science or Teaching and Curriculum. The first option is geared toward teachers who have been in schools for 5+ years. The other is for recent college graduates. Both include 36 credit hours. Here’s a look into some courses:

    • Race and Power in Urban Classrooms
    • Dimensions of Diversity: English Language Learners
    • Methods in Teaching English
    • Inquiries into Adolescence

    Notables

    This program is packed into 11 months of intense study, fieldwork, and mentorship. In fact, each course integrates classroom observation or fieldwork. At the end of the program, students will have logged 850 hours of fieldwork. Each student will be paired with a field advisor to help guide that process.

  4. Vanderbilt University
    Location

    Nashville, TN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Founded right after the Civil War, Vanderbilt University is a private research institution located in Nashville, Tennessee. The Peabody College of Education is home to around 2,000 future educators. It offers 16 master’s programs, in addition to undergraduate and doctoral programs.

    Features

    The MEd in Secondary Education at Vanderbilt University is a 32-credit-hour program that students can complete in either one or two years, depending on which term they are admitted. After completing core courses, students will specialize in a subject-specific Learning and Pedagogy track. Some of these courses include:

    • Teaching Literature and Media to Adolescents (English)
    • Computers, Teaching, and Mathematical Visualization (Math)
    • Modeling in the Secondary Science Classroom (Science)
    • Human Geography (Social Studies)

    Notables

    Graduates from the program have a fantastic track record that precedes them – 98 percent of secondary education graduates find employment within four months of graduating from Vanderbilt. Part of that impressive record is the curriculum’s emphasis on field placements.

  5. University of Michigan
    Location

    Dearborn, MI

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The oldest university in the state, the University of Michigan has a strong reputation as a public research institution. Students in the School of Education learn from over 100 faculty members who are experts in their field. Last year, the Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education ranked UM as #2 in Secondary Education.

    Features

    Graduate students at the UM School of Education earn an MA in Educational Studies with Secondary Teacher Certification. The program takes just 12 months to complete. You’ll go through the year with a cohort of 20 to 25 other students. Some of the core areas in this 40-credit-hour program include:

    • Education Foundations
    • Directed Teaching
    • Educational Research
    • Educational Technology

    Notables

    In addition to the core education courses, students are required to declare a teaching major within the degree. They can choose from 15 subject areas, including Earth/Space Science, German, Mathematics, Social Studies, and many more. Students are encouraged to also declare a minor to increase their educational scope.

  6. Johns Hopkins University
    Location

    Baltimore, MD

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    A public university that is known for its research achievements, Johns Hopkins University shines in numerous areas. While it is most recognized for its medical research, the school is also a leader in the humanities. Last year, U.S. News & World Report ranked the School of Education #2 in the nation.

    Features

    Offering a versatile and flexible program, graduate students at Johns Hopkins University can finish up their MA in Teaching in just one year. This degree qualifies you for teaching K-12 in Maryland. In addition to a core curriculum, you’ll take elective courses in the following areas:

    • Gifted Education
    • STEM
    • Mind, Brain, and Teaching
    • Urban Education

    Notables

    One element that sets Johns Hopkins apart is the hybrid option that graduate students can opt into. The first full semester of the two-semester program can be completed fully online. But the program also emphasizes hands-on learning. Students complete a year-long supervised internship.

  7. University of California Irvine
    Location

    Irvine, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    One of the ten University of California schools, UC Irvine is a public research institution that was established in 1965. It offers nearly 100 graduate programs, in addition to 80 undergraduate degrees. UC Irvine receives top marks from Forbes and other publications for being one of the Best Value Colleges in the nation.

    Features

    Graduate students must set aside 14 months to complete the UC Irvine MA in Elementary and Secondary Education. Students will earn an additional Single Subject Credential if they intend to teach middle or high school. Aside from the concentrated subject areas, students will take classes such as:

    • Theories of Development
    • Multimedia in the Multicultural Classroom
    • Adolescent Development and Education
    • Exceptional Learners

    Notables

    The final two terms of this program are devoted to student teaching. Graduate students will spend five days a week (full-time) in a middle school or high school classroom under the supervision of a teacher. Additionally, students must complete an action research project.

  8. Northwestern University
    Location

    Evanston, IL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Located in the “Windy City,” Northwestern University is one of Chicago’s finest. This private university also has satellite locations across the country, from Miami to San Francisco. Its Education Department currently ranks in the top 10 in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report.

    Features

    At Northwestern University, you’ll earn a Master of Science in Education with the option to concentrate in Secondary Teaching. Unlike other programs, you don’t need any teaching experience to apply. The curriculum covers both specific content areas and larger themes of social contexts in education. Here’s a look:

    • Childhood and Adolescent Development
    • Content Area Reading and Writing
    • Problems in the Philosophy of Education
    • Teaching with Technology

    Notables

    Students here have the flexibility to attend at their own pace. Courses are offered on both a part-time and full-time schedule. In addition, the core classes are scheduled once a week and as evening classes. This makes it easier for working students to complete their degree.

  9. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    Location

    Chapel Hill, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    One of the oldest universities in the nation, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was first chartered in 1789. Since then, it has been committed to a liberal arts education model. UNC Chapel Hill is home to nearly 30,000 students, 11,000 of whom are graduate students.

    Features

    UNC delivers a Master of Arts in Teaching degree that qualifies students for an initial teaching license in North Carolina. Students will decide on a specialization in elementary education, secondary education, or special education. This is a one-year program that includes two semesters of student teaching. Other classes cover:

    • Teaching English Language Learners
    • Classroom Assessment
    • Advanced Methods for Teaching STEM
    • Innovative and Engaging Teaching

    Notables

    For existing undergraduates at UNC, students can opt into the Pre-MAT track. This allows students to take graduate-level education courses while they are still working on their bachelor’s degree. Students may then transfer directly into the UNC Master’s of Teaching program along with 12 transfer credits.

  10. University of Virginia
    Location

    Charlottesville, VA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The University of Virginia is a historical public research university in Charlottesville, Virginia. Students enrolled in the Curry School of Education and Human Development at UVA can learn from over 127 distinguished faculty members. There are currently nearly 400 students in the Master’s of Teaching track.

    Features

    If you’re particularly interested in history, check out UVA’s Master of Teaching with a concentration in Social Studies. This is a more specialized degree program than others in that it focuses on history, civics, economics, and geography at the secondary level. Courses include:

    • Teaching Social Studies in Secondary Schools
    • Designing Technologies for Teaching
    • Languages and Literacies across Disciplines
    • Cultural Geography

    Notables

    The Curry School of Education and Human Development makes this degree available in a few different iterations. You can complete the fast-track degree in one year, or space it out to two years. Undergraduates at UVA also have the option of doing a 5-year joint bachelor’s and master’s program.

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