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20 Best Master’s Programs in Education Online 2022

best online masters in education

There’s a misconception that, as a teacher, your job consists solely of standing up at the front of the room and delivering a canned lecture, grading tests, and going home at 3 pm to relax.

The reality is that being a teacher requires a long list of skills and traits that, unfortunately, most of us just don’t have.

To be a good teacher, you need to be compassionate, driven, and intelligent. You need to care deeply about your students and about the subjects you’re teaching.

Most importantly, you need to have a desire to make a difference in the lives of your students.

If you have these skills and traits, then congratulations! You have everything you need to be successful in your chosen career path. An education degree may be for you. School administrators, those in early childhood special education, those in school counseling, those with a teaching license all might consider these graduate education programs. Online education might be the way to go.

However, most cities and states don’t see it that way. They also want to see that you have the credentials and educational chops to back up your innate skills and tendencies. That’s where a degree in education comes in handy.

If you’re already working as a teacher with just a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree is the next step in most places. The vast majority of states require all public school teachers to hold a master’s degree or higher in education (or in the subjects they are teaching).

For some professionals who don’t teach directly in the classroom but instead work in related fields, such as education policy or curriculum design, a master’s degree provides the extra training that is necessary for a promotion or pay raise.

As you can see, there are lots of benefits to earning a master’s degree in an education program, but it can be tough to find the time to complete your required courses. That’s why many teachers will turn to online education programs when looking at higher education.

An online master’s degree offers the same benefits as on-campus students but with maximum flexibility and convenience so you can take classes when it makes the most sense to you. Have a few minutes between classes? Need to work on assignments during your lunch break or after school? Earning your degree online makes it easier for you to squeeze your coursework into your already busy day.

See Also: 10 Best Master’s in Industrial Engineering

There’s a misconception that an online degree doesn’t confer the same sort of credibility and quality of education as one earned in the traditional sense on campus. However, this is false. Although it’s important to look for a school that has regional accreditation so you can make sure you’re getting a diploma from a credible university, the reality is that online schools are just as reputable as their on-campus counterparts. Online students can receive an excellent education. This prepares students for a successful career.

In addition to looking for a school that is accredited—this makes it possible for you to receive federal financial aid as well as to transfer credits between schools—try to find one that offers a specialization in the specific area of education in which you’re interested.

For example, if you want to teach at the elementary level, make sure your online program will provide you with the credentials you need to apply for licensure as an elementary educator in your state. Requirements vary for teaching certification between states and certain cities, so it’s important to do your research for an online master’s in education program!

We’ve taken care of the rest of the research so you don’t have to. Below, you’ll find a comprehensive list of the 20 best online master of education. Let’s get started looking at these online teaching degree programs! You can get started on an online master’s in education!

What Are the Best Education Degrees?

We know that you have educational goals that you’re itching to pursue, but you may not know where to start when considering an online master’s in education. The editors of Master’s Programs Guide utilize a unique ranking methodology based on the following five aspects:

25% Overall Degree Affordability: Average cost of undergraduate and graduate tuition per school

25% Graduation Rate: Number of students who start at the university and actually finish there

20% Earnings Potential: Average mid-career salary of school alumni

20% Selectivity: The number of students who apply versus the number who actually get accepted

10% Online Graduate Offerings: The number of programs offered online in each department

At Master’s Programs Guide, we strive to do our best to guide you and your family toward a fruitful academic career. The pursuit of knowledge is a noble one, and we want to help you reach your goals. Let us help with your school search! You can get started on an online master’s in education.

Master’s in education programs

#1. Texas A&M University 

Texas A&MMaster’s Degree in Special Education

Texas A&M University is a public land-grant research university located in College Station, TX. Founded in 1876, it is the flagship university of the Texas A&M University System. Here, you’ll find plenty of education programs to help you meet whatever kinds of career goals you might have.

There are quite a few different online degrees in education for distance learners to consider here, but one of the best is the master’s degree in special education. This best online master’s is listed as the eighth-best in the country by U.S. News & World Report.

It is best for individuals who already have a background in disability, education, behavior, or related fields. You don’t have to have a teaching license to apply, although clinical or teaching experience with initials with disabilities is preferred.

Students complete 36 credit hours of study in this two-year, fully online degree program. There are several start dates per year and no GRE is required. You will graduate with either a Master of Education or  Master of Science, depending on the specific courses you decide to pursue.

Courses in this education program for online learners will cover topics like:

  • Consultation in Special Education
  • Multicultural and Bilingual Special Education
  • Adolescent Literacy for Students with Diverse Instructional Needs

Students complete a field experience in the town of your choosing.

An affordable program, this education degree has low tuition rates. To cut costs even further, there are fellowships, graduate assistantships, and additional forms of financial assistance available to qualifying students as well.

There are plenty of reasons to put Texas A&M at the top of your list. It’s ranked one of the best universities in the world by the U.S. News & World Report and The Times Higher Education Supplement. It’s also top-ranked by Forbes and The Washington Monthly and is second-best in the country, according to The Wall Street Journal, when it comes to helping students land jobs in key careers and professions. Education students will want to consider Texas A&M.

#2.  Liberty University 

Liberty UniversityMaster of Arts in Teaching

Liberty University is a private Evangelical university located in Lynchburg, VA. However, it is best known not for its on-campus offerings but instead for its massive online appeal. The school has more than 95,000 students, the vast majority of whom (around 80,000) are enrolled online. In fact,  Liberty has enrolled more students online than any other university in the United States.

The 36-credit hour Master of Arts in Teaching at Liberty University consists of 100% online courses that last eight weeks each. Most education students can complete their studies in just a year and half, allowing them to focus their studies on the most important methodologies and best practices of theory in teaching, so they can get back into the classroom as soon as possible.

You’ll pair advanced learning theory with an evidence-based, practical approach. All Master of Arts in Teaching degrees here are accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and delivered from a Christian worldview.

When you enroll in the Master of Arts of Teaching, you can choose between a 36-, 45-, or 51-hour track. There are programs available in Elementary Education, Middle Grades, Secondary Education, and Special Education with dual endorsement and additional concentration areas (such as CTE Transition and Special Needs) available.

Students learn through classes in this master’s degree in education such as:

  • Special Education and Disability Law
  • Educational Philosophy and Theories of Learning
  • Language and Literacy for Diverse Learners

Most licensure track requirements can be completed entirely online. Even If you have limited teaching experience, you’ll be able to start your studies and get the experience you need in order to obtain licensure.

Best yet, these degree programs are incredibly affordable. Tuition starts at just $415 per credit hour—one of the lowest rates in the country for a program like this—and rates haven’t gone up in six consecutive years. This tuition freeze reflects Liberty’s commitment to providing quality, low-cost education to students all over the country. If your school search includes affordability and a best online master’s, this education degree may be for you.

#3.  North Carolina State University at Raleigh

NC State UniversityMaster of Education

A public land grant research university located in Raleigh, NC, North Carolina State University at Raleigh is one of the best schools to consider for education degree programs if you’re looking for an online program that offers a more hands-on approach to preparing you for the classroom.

This land-grant research university is known for its contributions to academic and scientific research, forming one of the corners of the famed Research Triangle with Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The Master of Education at NC State has a variety of tracks for students to consider including a popular STEM Education concentration. In this track, you’ll be able to choose from additional areas of concentration like:

  • Science Education
  • Mathematics Education
  • Engineering and Technology Education

You can choose to take electives in unique areas to add more versatility to your degree, such as biological science, horticulture, forestry, or medicine.

Choose the STEM Master of Education, and you’ll take required courses like Special Problems in Mathematics Teaching, Foundations of Science Education, and Topical Problems. You’ll take around 45 credit hours of study in total, with no field experience or practicum required. There are multiple start dates per year to make online learning even more flexible and convenient.

There are numerous scholarship opportunities for this program as well. Although it is not intended for educators who are not pursuing 6-12 teacher certification (it is a degree completion program, not a licensure pathway) it is an excellent option for already licensed teachers to consider to help them round out their degrees.

#4.  University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

 Master of Education

Another public research university to consider is the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. as the first public institution of higher education in the state, it first opened in 1795 and has been educating students in droves ever since. The school offers more than 70 degree programs within 13 separate professional schools. It is also home to an exemplary online Master of Education.

The degree has a focus on Early Childhood Intervention and Family Support, allowing you to earn your credentials while studying part-time. You’ll gain the skills and knowledge from this early childhood education program you need to help become a leader of other professionals who are dedicated to helping young children and their families.

A two-year program for early childhood education, it consists of 33 to 36 credit hours of study. You can complete it by itself or add on an optional autism concentration. It focuses on family-centered inclusive practices for young children who are most at risk due to poverty, cultural or linguistic differences, and/or developmental delays.

Designed for working professionals, it is offered fully online with the exception of a once-weekly off-campus meeting in Chapel Hill during the fall and spring semesters. The rest of the curriculum is delivered via some of the most up-to-date technology and designed according to the soundest evidence-based practices.

A highly interdisciplinary program, this program prepares students to work in collaborative teams with professionals from a variety of agencies and disciplines, along with parents from diverse backgrounds.

Another benefit of this early childhood education program? It’s incredibly affordable. Although out-of-state students will pay around $1,400 per credit hour, in-state students will pay tuition at a steep discount of just $540 per credit hour. There are options for both licensed and non-licensed teachers to complete their studies at UNC, making this education program one of the most versatile and cost-effective around.

#5. California State University, Bakersfield

M.A. in Education – Curriculum and Instruction

A public university, California State University, Bakersfield is located, as you might expect, in Bakersfield, CA. It first opened its doors as Kern State College and joined the state university system only in 1968. The school offers more than 50 different programs of study on its main campus in Bakersfield, its satellite campus in Lancaster, CA, and of course, online.

You’ll find another one of the best online master’s here at California State University, Bakersfield. The master’s degree in curriculum and instruction will not only allow you to understand how to mold a curriculum to best suit student needs, but you’ll also build your teacher leadership skills and learn more about the core concepts of educational technology integration and educational equity.

You can even earn a CTC-approved Reading and Literacy Added Authorization while you complete your master’s! If literacy education is important to you this may be the best online master’s for you.

All courses are offered in a convenient online format. You’ll learn from expert faculty—each of whom holds a doctorate degree—and have the full support of the same staff members you’d see on campus.

Financial aid is available for students who qualify. The average student takes just one year to complete the 30 required credit hours for this program, with all classes available 100% online. Tuition for this online master’s degree starts at just $430 per credit hour with multiple start dates per year.

#6.  University of Central Florida 

UCFMaster of Education in Elementary Education

When you choose to study at the University of Central Florida, you’ll have plenty of locations to choose from. The school’s main campus (which first opened its doors as the Florida Technological University) is located in Orlando, FL. However, you can also choose to study at one of 10 other regional campuses in the state.

Of course, receiving a completely online education is an option for you to pursue, too. UCF offers a variety of online education degrees, with one of the most popular being the online Master of Education in Elementary Education. It is an education program to consider if you are seeking certification as an elementary-level teacher.

You can choose from several highly sought-after endorsement and specialization options, including those in reading, ESOL, gifted education, and exceptional education. Depending on the path you choose, complete around 30 credit hours of study for this online master’s.

And if you decide that elementary education isn’t the right choice for you, the university has plenty of other fully online education programs for you to choose from, too, including those in reading education and exceptional student education learning and language.

With tuition starting at just $327.32 per credit hour, the Master of Education at the University of Central Florida is one of the most affordable in the nation. An education degree could be in your reach.

#7.  University of the Cumberlands

University of the CumberlandsMaster of Arts (M.A.) in Education

The University of the Cumberlands is a private university located in Williamsburg, KY. It was first founded as Cumberland College enrolling just a small population of students who were interested in Christian-focused education. Today, the school offers a wide variety of majors both on-campus and online, including a handful of online education degrees.

The Master of Arts in Education at the University of the Cumberlands has four distinct concentrations:

  • literacy specialist
  • principal
  • teacher leader
  • school counseling

Although the program does not lead to initial teaching licensure, it can provide additional certifications and advanced opportunities in other areas.

Depending on the concentration you select, you will take classes such as:

  • Reading in the Content Areas
  • Writing Instruction in the Content Areas
  • Personality and Psychological Assessment
  • Human Resource Leadership

There are additional options to specialize in special education and teacher leadership too.

Tuition rates at the University of the Cumberlands are among some of the lowest in the nation. When studying full-time, you’ll pay just under $10,000 per year in tuition for this education degree regardless of your residency status.

#8. Johns Hopkins University 

Johns HopkinsMaster of Science in Education

Johns Hopkins University is a private research institution located in Baltimore, MD. First founded in 1876, it was named after its first benefactor, philanthropist and entrepreneur Johns Hopkins. It is ranked among some of the world’s most prestigious universities and is considered the first research university ever in the United States. When looking at master’s in education programs you might consider this attending this top school!

This university offers a variety of education degrees. One of the best is the Master of Science in Education, which has a focus on educational studies that are perfect for students who are interested in becoming full-time teachers as well as those who are interested in education careers outside of teaching.

You’ll take 39 credit hours of study, with all of your courses emphasizing a cohort-based learning model. New cohorts can begin their studies at one of four points throughout the year. Your courses will focus on the best methods for educating at-risk and underprivileged students, with all cohorts graduating in roughly two years.

Although this isn’t necessarily a licensure-track program in all states, it does offer significant financial aid for students who qualify. All online students pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency.

#9.  San Diego State University 

Master of Arts (M.A.) or Master of Science (M.S.) degree in Education

A public research university, San Diego State University is located in San Diego, CA but has a popular online campus as well. It is here that you will find another top master’s degree in education.

The College of Education at San Diego State offers a graduate degree in education that leads to either a Master of Arts or a Master of Science degree in a variety of concentrations. Some popular majors include:

  • Rehabilitation Counseling
  • Postsecondary Educational Leadership with a specialization in Student Affairs
  • Child Development
  • Critical Literacy and Social Justice
  • Special Education

These programs provide students with the same caliber of education that they’d receive from the face-to-face programs at San Diego State. However, they have added flexibility so you can complete your studies when it is most convenient for you. There is even an option to receive additional program credit if you earned your credential in the last six years.

The curriculum of all of these programs is highly focused on social justice and equity in education. If you want to be a responsive, innovative K-12 master teacher, this is the degree for you.

You’ll be able to graduate in just one year, taking around 24 units of credit. Coursework varied depending on the specific degree that you select, but in general, you’ll take courses in instructional technology and virtual learning, diversity, research-based pedagogy, and more. You’ll also conduct a significant amount of research and complete a final capstone project as well.

Tuition costs vary between years, but usually are competitive compared to other affordable online schools around the country. Not only that, but significant amounts of financial aid are available for students who qualify.

#10. Mississippi College

Master of Education in Special Education

A private Baptist college, Mississippi College is located in Clinton, MS. This school is the second-oldest Baptist college in the country as well as the oldest school in the state of Mississippi. Despite its historic past, this school has a variety of modern and updated online degree programs for prospective students to choose from.

There are countless online education programs for learners here to consider, such as those in Educational Leadership and Curriculum Instruction, but one of the most unique is the online Master of Education in Special Education. This degree at Mississippi College is designed for licensure teachers who wish to add the Mild/Moderate Special Education (K-12) to their existing educator licenses.

You’ll take a close look at the psychosocial and cognitive needs of children with mild to moderate learning disabilities in P-12 classrooms. All coursework is available completely online, allowing students to complete their studies at their own pace. You’ll complete a total of 30 credit hours of study, with core courses including:

  • Research Methods and Procedures
  • Current Education and Psychological Testing Procedures
  • Characteristics of Students with Mild/Moderate Learning Problems

Tuition starts at just $11,280 for the entire program. A unique feature of Mississippi College is its pay-by-course tuition cost options. In this, you can choose to pay just one course at a time rather than by semester or year, helping you save money and chip away at your courses as you have the time and money to do so. If you are looking for accelerated online programs this degree prepares students to be successful in the classroom.

Most students will be able to complete their studies in just 10 months, making this one of the fastest around. Plus, with rolling admissions and numerous start dates per year, Mississippi College’s Master of Education offers students some of the best opportunities for completing their degrees on their own terms.

You don’t have to take our word for it, either. This school is ranked sixteenth in the country among Best Value Schools in the South by U.S. News & World Report.


#11. Saint Leo University

Location: Saint Leo, FL

Degree: Master of Education

Net Price: $8,498


#12. University of Southern California

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Degree: Master of Education in Learning Design and Technology

Net Price: $45,561


#13. The University of Texas in Arlington

Location: Arlington, TX

Degree: Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction

Net Price: $9,672


#14. Minot State University

Location: Minot, ND

Degree: Master of Education

Net Price: $8,873


#15. The University of West Florida

Location: Pensacola, FL

Degree: Master of Arts in Exceptional Student Education

Net Price: $9,062


#16. Purdue University

Location: West Lafayette, IN

Degree: Master of Education in Special Education

Net Price: $9,662


#17. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Location: Champaign, IL

Degree: Master’s in Global Studies in Education

Net Price: $18,126


#18. University of St Thomas

Location: St. Paul, MN

Degree: Master of Education

Net Price: $21,454s


#19. Webster University

Location: Webster Groves, MO

Degree: Master of Arts (MA) in Education and Innovation

Net Price: $13,500


#20. Northeastern University

Location: Boston, MA

Degree: Master of Education in Higher Education Administration

Net Price: $24,309



Are online masters programs respected?

Let’s face it—as a student and teacher, you live a busy life. You don’t necessarily have the time to schlep to campus to take classes five nights a week. Therefore, an online master’s might be especially appealing to you. But is it just as respected as a degree you might earn on campus?

Absolutely. Online degrees aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution, but as long as your degree is accredited, you’ll be able to access the same learning material as you would if you were studying on campus.

The only potential downfall to learning online versus on-campus is the lack of personal interaction and hands-on learning experiences, but online instructors are finding a way around even that. You can now complete all of your student teaching, practicum, and internship requirements right in your own town. Graduate education programs can help even experienced teachers have a successful career.

Can I get my master’s in teaching online?

You can earn a master’s degree in teaching online, studying from the comfort of your own home. The average online teaching degree will require 30 to 42 credit hours of study, meaning that you can graduate in two years or less if you study full-time.

That said, if you’d prefer to take things at a slower pace, you can always take longer to complete your education degrees online, too (most schools allow up to six years). The exact curriculum that you will pursue will vary depending on your chosen field of education as well as what kind of career goals you have.

For example, if you want to pursue an educational leadership degree, you’ll probably find yourself taking classes in things like cultural proficiency, organizational theory, school law and ethics, and public relations.

An aspiring special education teacher, on the other hand, might take classes like Behavioral Disorders in Children, the Law and Special Education, and Psychology.

Regardless of your chosen path, you’ll be required to complete a variety of hands-on learning experiences, such as internships, practicums, and student teaching placements. This will give you the skills you need to manage a classroom and plan lessons effectively.

How do you apply for a master in education programs online?

Admissions requirements for education programs online vary widely, due in part to nuances between individual schools. However, requirements also vary depending on the state in which you plan on attending school, since each will have different standards as far as teaching licensing goes.

You’ll usually need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution to apply. This can often be in any field as long as it is related to the area you’d like to teach. You will need to furnish official transcripts, typically with a GPA that is no lower than 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.

Plan on taking the GRE, or Graduate Records Imminent, prior to completing your applications as well. This isn’t a requirement enforced by all schools, but it’s good to have your scores ready to go in case you need them. You’ll also need to supply letters of recommendation, scholarly writing samples, an essay, and a resume.

Again, the requirements for admission do vary between schools. It pays to touch base with your school’s education department or admissions office before completing your applications to make sure you have everything you need to be eligible.

What kind of jobs can I get with an online master’s in education?

Earn an online master’s in education and you’ll open the door to a wide variety of career prospects.

Working as a teacher is the most obvious career path. A master’s degree in teaching will provide you with the skills you need for classroom management, curriculum development, educational technology and basic pedagogy.

That’s not your only option, of course. You could also work in an administrative role, perhaps working as an administrator, curriculum designer, or policymaker.

The options are endless! Don’t be afraid to consider your professional goals and aspirations as you consider which program will help you to best meet those goals.

Is it worth it to get a masters in education?

Earning a master’s degree in education will provide you with the skills and credentials you need to earn a reliable salary for the remainder of your career. Although teaching isn’t regarded as one of the best paying professions, teachers are always in high demand and you’ll gain a deep level of respect from those within the school and the broader community.

A teacher with a master’s degree will enjoy a significant pay raise over one with just a bachelor’s, too. On average, earning a master’s degree can help you earn a pay bump of up to 14%, depending on where you live. Plus, since some states (such as New York) mandate that all teachers be educated at the graduate level, earning a master’s in education is worth it if only because it means you’ll be able to keep your job! Online graduate education programs are well worth it.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, high school teachers and beyond tend to earn a slightly higher salary than those who teach at the elementary level. Secondary and postsecondary teachers tend to earn salaries in excess of $62,870 per year, on average, while those who teach elementary education earn around $60,660. Regardless of the grade level, if you choose to specialize in an in-demand area, like special education or STEM, you could earn a higher salary, too.

Again, however, you won’t have to worry about finding or keeping a job. These positions are in consistently high demand, with new positions expected to grow at a rate of around 12% by 2030.


Michael Templeton
Managing Editor

Kacey Reynolds Schedler
Contributing Editor