Home Editor’s Picks: The 11 Best 1-Year Online Masters in Education Programs

Editor’s Picks: The 11 Best 1-Year Online Masters in Education Programs

Professor lecturing class students

A master’s degree in education can open doors and fast-track careers in the field, along with giving you the deep and broad knowledge of theories and techniques in instruction, leadership, and specific subjects that would put you at the cutting edge of education.

A master’s degree in education goes by many names with many different acronyms, whether it’s a Master of Education (M.Ed. or Ed.M.), Master of Arts in education (M.A.Ed. or M.A.E.), or Master of Science in education (M.Sc.Ed. or M.S.E.). Any one of those sets of letters after your name can position you to move ahead in education as an educator, administrator, counselor, or in other roles.

Which master’s in education program is right for you depends on what you want out of it, with majors ranging from teaching to school psychology to leadership. What’s best for one person may not be best for another, and what one school does best could be entirely different from what another is great at accomplishing.

How We Selected the Best 1-Year Online Master’s in Education Programs

Selecting a list of the “best” programs is a subjective exercise, not a science. What truly matters is your unique interests and goals and how the right program for you lines up exactly with what you want to do with your teaching career. Your graduate experience will be an individual one, and so choosing your school will be a very individual decision.

Is it an ESL add-on endorsement that you’re interested in? Do you want to be able to serve special needs students better? Are you interested in curriculum development or preparing yourself for a higher-level view of educational quality with a degree that focuses on leadership?

Those questions are up to you to answer. Where we step in is to help make sure that you’re able to choose from a list of programs that have been carefully reviewed and vetted as having the general characteristics anyone would expect from a top quality one-year master’s in education:

  • Individualized mentorship
  • Career guidance, career fairs and other job placement services
  • Close connections with the school community to ensure diverse placements for student teaching
  • Experienced and dedicated instructors with research and publication credits
  • Hosts keynote speakers in education and other enriching events for educators
  • Strong student teacher community, including student clubs and organizations
  • Supportive and successful alumni network that you will become a part of yourself after graduation

Some of these programs are teacher prep options for initial licensure designed for career changers that already hold bachelor’s degrees in other fields, but most are designed for existing teachers looking to advance in their careers, qualify for advanced licensure, and get the education they need for add-on endorsements in high-needs areas like ESL and special education.

But they all have two things in common: All offer a top-quality education that checks all the boxes listed above, and all can be completed at an accelerated pace.

A Master’s in Education in Just One Year

Graduate student with diplomaCan you do a master’s in education in one year? Yes, many accelerated online master’s in education programs are offered throughout the country at well-respected universities.

Some programs may take a bit longer than a year, with degrees earned in about 18 months, while others will wrap-up even quicker and have you ready to begin or advance your career in education at that one-year mark.

To discover the 1 year online master’s in education programs best for you, look no further than the schools right here on this list.


Liberty University–Master’s in Education

Degree: Master’s in Education (M.Ed.)

Time to complete: 18 months

Accreditation: National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education through the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation


Also offers M.Ed. programs in:

  • Curriculum and Instruction: Elementary Education
  • Curriculum and Instruction: Leadership
  • Curriculum and Instruction: Middle Grades
  • Higher Education: Educational Leadership
  • Religious Education (MA)

Programs available with advanced licensure and add-on licensure in:

  • Administration and Supervision
  • Math Specialist Endorsement
  • Reading Specialist Endorsement
  • School Counseling
  • Curriculum and Instruction: Gifted Education
  • Curriculum and Instruction: Early Childhood Education

Liberty University offers online master’s in education degrees for teachers in elementary, secondary, and higher education classrooms. Liberty University is an accredited liberal arts college with an evangelical Christian affiliation. Liberty University isn’t new to distance education; they began a distance learning program back in 1985 and have seen their online programs continue to grow.


Walden University–Master of Science in Education

Degree: Master of Science in Education (M.S.Ed.)

Time to complete: 12 months

Accreditation: Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation


Concentration Options Include:

  • Curriculum Instruction and Assessment
  • Educational Leadership Administration
  • Educational Leadership Administration (International Non-Licensure)
  • Elementary Reading and Literacy
  • Elementary Reading and Mathematics
  • Integrating Technology in the Classroom
  • Mathematics (5-8)
  • Mathematics and Science (K-8)
  • Mathematics (K-6)
  • MSED One-Credit Elementary Education (Non-Licensure)
  • Science (K-8)
  • Self-Designed
  • Special Education (Non-Licensure) (K-12)
  • STEM Education (K-8)
  • Teacher Leadership

In addition to the Master of Science specializations, Walden University also offers a Master of Arts in Teaching–Special Education.

Walden University is an online institution that has been around for more than 50 years. A university that was established by two teachers, Bernie and Rita Turner, to offer advanced degree programs to working adults and teachers was set up from the start to be ideal for educators to pursue master’s degrees and beyond in education. The Master of Science in Education degree was designed specifically for working teachers and implements an evidence-based approach to solving educational challenges.


Notre Dame College–Master of Education

Degree: Master of Education (M.Ed.)

Time to complete: 1 to 2 years

Accreditation: Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation


Concentration Options Include:

  • Curriculum and Instruction
  • Intervention Specialist Licensure for Mild/Moderate Needs (K-12)
  • Educational Leadership
  • Reading and Literacy

Notre Dame College is a Catholic liberal arts institution. Founded in 1922, Notre Dame College began its Master of Education program 30 years ago to prepare students for teaching and administrative careers and lead to licensure and enhancements of licensure.


The University of West Alabama–Master of Education

Degree: Master of Education in Learning, Design, and Technology (M.Ed.)

Time to complete: 1 to 2 years

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges


Also Offers M.Ed. Programs in:

  • Early Childhood Development
  • Early Childhood Education (P-3)
  • Elementary Education (K-6)
  • High School (6-12)
  • Instructional Leadership
  • Library Media
  • Physical Education (P-13)
  • School Counseling
  • Special Education Collaborative Teacher (6-12)
  • Special Education Collaborative Teacher (K-6)
  • Student Affairs in Higher Education

Founded in 1835, the University of West Alabama has a long history of education reform and teacher education. The Master of Education in Learning, Design, and Technology is unique in that it prepares graduates for careers in learning and corporate environments in positions such as instructional technology director, technology coach, course design specialist, or professional development and training facilitator.


Southern New Hampshire University-Master’s in Education in Curriculum and Instruction

Degree: Master’s in Education in Curriculum and Instruction (M.Ed.)

Time to complete: 15 months

Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education


Concentration Options Include:

  • Dyslexia and Language-Based Disabilities
  • Educational Leadership
  • Online Teaching
  • Reading
  • Special Education
  • Technology Integration

Southern New Hampshire University has over 135,000 online students, making it one of the fastest growing universities in the country and is known for its innovation and excellence in distance learning. SNHU’s Master of Education program readies graduates for leadership in the field who can design outcome-driven and culturally inclusive learning experiences.


Northcentral University-Master of Education

Degree: Master of Education (M.Ed.)

Time to complete: 12-16 months

Accreditation: Council on Higher Education Accreditation, WASC Senior College and University Commission


Concentration Options Include:

  • Adult Learning and Workforce Education
  • Athletic Coaching
  • Corporate Wellness
  • Curriculum and Teaching
  • E-Learning
  • Early Childhood Education
  • English Language Learning
  • General Education
  • Global Training and Development
  • Instructional Leadership
  • International Education
  • Leadership in Higher Education
  • Organizational Leadership
  • Reading Education
  • Special Education
  • Sport and Athletic Management
  • Social Emotional Learning
  • School Safety, Security, and Emergency Management
  • Trauma-Informed Educational Practices

Northcentral University is a young institution founded in 1996 that serves working professionals around the world. Northcentral’s Master of Education program focuses on leadership skills for roles with increased responsibilities in positions from preschool through 12th grade as well as in higher education.


University of Washington-Master of Education

Degree: Master of Education (M.Ed.)

Time to complete: 1-2 years

Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities


Concentration Options Include:

  • BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst) Pathways
  • Curriculum and Instruction: Excellence in Content Instruction
  • Early Childhood Special Education
  • Education Policy
  • Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership Studies
  • High Incidence Teacher Education
  • Instructional Leadership
  • Intercollegiate Athletics
  • Leadership
  • Leadership in Higher Education
  • Learning Sciences and Human Development
  • Low Incidence Teacher Education
  • Teacher Education
  • Measurement and Statistics
  • Multicultural Education
  • Social and Cultural Foundations

One of the oldest universities on the West Coast, the University of Washington offers intermediate-level graduate training in its Master of Education programs preparing students for either professional advancement or further graduate studies. In addition to the degree programs, the university offers valuable mentoring and networking opportunities.


Colorado State University–Master of Education in Education and Human Resource Studies

Degree: Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Education and Human Resource Studies and teacher licensure

Time to complete: 12 months

Accreditation: The Higher Learning Commission


Classes in the program include:

  • Curriculum Development
  • Models of Teaching
  • Interdisciplinary Methods
  • Action Research
  • Teacher Licensure Seminar
  • Teacher Licensure Internship

Colorado State University offers flexible learning plans with a dedication to supporting its online students. The university’s master’s degree program in education, offered by their Center for Educator Preparation, focuses on strengthening pedagogical skills and teaching theories of learning. The intensive program lets you complete a master’s degree and Colorado teacher licensure in just 12 months and to focus on either early childhood education or secondary education.


St. Thomas University–Master of Science in Educational Leadership

Degree: Master of Science in Educational Leadership (M.S.E.L.)

Time to complete: 12 months

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges


A Catholic college established 60 years ago, St. Thomas University offers an online master’s degree in Educational Leadership that teaches students how to review, analyze, and apply concepts in leadership to their careers in education. The program focuses on competency in leadership skills, problem solving, implementing change, and ethical decision making.


Louisiana State University Shreveport–Master of Education in Educational Leadership

Degree: Master of Education in Educational Leadership (M.ED.L.)

Time to complete: 12 months

Accreditation: Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation


Also offers an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction (M.ED.C.I.).

Founded in 1967, Louisiana State University Shreveport has offered Master of Education studies since 1978. LSUS’s Master of Education in Educational Leadership provides real-world learning for advancing education management and leadership skills with a curriculum that focuses on schoolwide planning, management logistics, and allocating financial resources. Students choose between two concentrations: General and Teacher Leader.


University of Southern California–Master of Arts in Teaching

Degree: Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.)

Time to complete: 12 months

Accreditation: Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation


The University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education offers a master’s degree in teaching designed for K-12 teachers that combines theory, practice, and mastery. The program, which is offered either on campus in Los Angeles or online, is integrated with preparation for California teaching credentialing in multiple subjects or a single subject (English, math, science, or social studies). The degree from this leading university will put you at a competitive advantage as a skilled and well-educated teacher. In addition to preparing for the California Teaching Credential, the program allows you to simultaneously earn a California Preliminary Education Specialist Credential, California Bilingual Authorization for Spanish, or Gifted Education Certificate.


The Benefits of a One-Year Online Master’s in Education Program

When you get down to the brass tacks, the benefits of a one-year master’s degree in education checks three very important boxes:

  • It’s quick and affordable
  • It advances your general expertise or allows you to specialize
  • It can lead to initial certification, or if you’re already licensed, career advancement

Nobody these days has a lot of time to spend earning a degree, and the best schools know this, offering accelerated options that help people meet their goals in less time and at a lower cost.

Many of these programs are for licensed teachers, already working in the classroom by day and earning a master’s on their own time for advanced licensure and career advancement. Some are designed for initial licensure, and those aspiring teachers are eager to enter the workforce and begin their careers in education as soon as possible.

Many roles in the schools outside of the classroom require at least a master’s degree. Teachers and others looking to become school counselors or administrators earn advanced degrees like this as a matter of course, and after four years of undergraduate work behind them, doing it at an accelerated pace just makes sense.

While earning a master’s in education gives everyone a broader understanding of education in general, it also allows for specialization within the field. And specializing can make you even more invaluable to both students and your institution as you gain an expert understanding of topics like educational technology, literacy, special education, ESL or child development, as well as learning strategies in teaching and leadership techniques.

Improving your skills as an educator isn’t the only benefit of completing a master’s in education program. With a master’s degree salary, educators of all types can see a boost in their paychecks, and their quality of life. On top of that, many schools, both public and private, offer incentives for teachers to go back to school for a master’s degree, often easily offsetting the cost.

Types of Online Master’s in Education Courses

So, what curriculum can you expect from 1 year online master’s in education programs? Well, one size does not fit all for master’s degrees in education.

You’ll see variations in courses depending on whether you are earning an education master’s in specialized areas such as curriculum and instruction, special education, education technology, or adult education, among the many other options. Some programs are designed for teaching specific subjects like music, math, or reading, and others are for people planning to go into administration, adult education and student affairs.

Some common class topics for master’s programs in education include:

  • Education policy
  • Teaching and learning theories
  • Educational research methodology
  • Ethical leadership and school reform
  • Educational equity and social justice
  • Instructional leadership
  • Continuing education
  • Special education
  • Child psychology
  • Child development
  • Preparation for doctoral degrees in education

Online Master’s in Education Degree Career Paths

Teaching isn’t the only career path that can quickly become more accessible with an accelerated master’s in education online, although it’s certainly one that can benefit greatly from an advanced degree.

  • Special education teachers have expertise in serving the unique needs of students on IEPs (Individualized Education Plans) due to disabilities, cognitive delays or behavioral disorders. After their graduate experience, they are better able to help these students cope with and overcome barriers to learning and social integration. Some special education teachers even specialize in specific subsets, namely autism spectrum disorder.
  • As the leaders of schools and school districts, principals and administrators have a strong hand in influencing the learning systems and culture of their schools. Administrators need a deep understanding of all aspects of education to effectively manage schools, advise teachers, shape curriculum, and ensure students are receiving the best education possible. A master’s degree or higher is required to be hired into school administration in many states.
  • To become a school counselor, a master’s is the standard minimum. A 1 year online master’s in education degree with a school counseling will meet the pre-requisite for licensure. These programs provide in-school practicum experiences designed to prepare school counselors to help students achieve optimal outcomes and cope with stressors and conflict.

You’ll find a one-year master’s program for teachers in every one of these areas.

Careers for graduates with master’s degrees in education are even available outside the school system. Educational coordinators at museums or zoos, a corporate trainers, or curriculum developers for any number of educational programs or publications can also benefit from the skills and knowledge gained in an accelerated online master’s degree in education.