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Master of Education Degrees

If you already have your teaching license and you're ready to start graduate level studies, a Master of Education degree is the next step.

Getting your master's degree can take your career to the next level. It can help improve your success in the classroom, open up academic leadership positions, or give you the opportunity to branch out to other types of careers. You will also probably earn more money with a master's degree than you will with a bachelor's degree. Given these benefits, and a rosy employment picture—the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) anticipates 1.9 million teaching job openings by 2024—it's a great time to earn your master's degree in education.

At EducationDegree.com, we make it simple for you to find, contact, and compare schools offering master's in education programs. Read on to learn more about career opportunities with a master's, different types of master's degrees in education, salary and career outlook, how to get a degree, and cost and financial aid.

Note: Most of the master's programs below are for experienced educators. If you have a degree in a field other than education and want to  become a teacher, a better place to begin is our Alternative Teacher Certification page. If you don't have a bachelor's yet, or you're thinking about changing majors so you can become a teacher, look into our Bachelors in Education Programs page.

Career Opportunities With a Master's in Education Degree

Earning a master's degree in education can help you excel as a teacher in your current classroom and distinguish yourself professionally. It can also open doors to new career opportunities in academia and beyond. Here are fields open for teachers holding a master's degree.

Counseling

  • Types of jobs: Guidance counselor, school counselor, career counselor
  • Description: School counselors and guidance counselors work in public and private schools to help students to maximize their academic and social potential. Career counselors work in universities, government, career centers, and state employment bureaus to help people determine their best career paths outside of school.
  • Career outlook: The job outlook for school and career counselors is strong and expected to grow by 13% from 2016 to 2026 (BLS, 2018). 

Education Administration

K–12

  • Types of jobs: Principal, vice principal, school superintendent
  • Description: Principals and vice-principals lead their schools in curriculum, staffing, professional development, and daily operational activities. School superintendents serve as the chief executive officer of their entire school district and work with stakeholders from all schools and departments to reach the educational goals they have helped prioritize.
  • Career outlook: Principal, vice principal, and school superintendent jobs are expected to keep pace with the national average for job growth at 8% from 2016 to 2026 (BLS, 2018).

Postsecondary:

  • Types of jobs: Academic dean, provost, admissions director, registrar
  • Description: Postsecondary administrators typically work in admissions, student affairs, or the registrar's office of a college or university. Their job duties vary accordingly.
  • Career outlook: Postsecondary administrator jobs are expected to grow by 10% from 2016 to 2026 (BLS, 2018). 

Instructional Coordination and Design

  • Types of jobs: Curriculum and assessment director, curriculum specialist, instructional designer
  • Description: Instructional coordinators help principals and schools develop, coordinate, and implement curriculum designed to improve student learning.
  • Career outlook: As school districts are increasingly held to higher standards for student achievement, demand for instructional coordinators is expected to continue to grow 11% from 2016 to 2016 (BLS, 2018).

Corporate Development

  • Types of jobs: Education and development coordinator, staff training, and development manager
  • Description: Training and development managers combine educational expertise with knowledge of the corporate world and job requirements to develop and train staff in a variety of industries.
  • Career outlook: Corporate training and development jobs are expected to grow by 10% from 2016 to 2026 (BLS, 2018).

Master of Education Degree Types

As you research different program offerings, it's important to understand the sometimes subtle, sometimes important differences in education degrees. Once you understand the many options available to teachers pursuing a master's degree, you can make a more informed decision that fits your professional and personal goals.

  • Master of Education (M.Ed.): This degree is well suited for current teachers who want to deepen their understanding of educational theory and consider careers in academia beyond the classroom. Many M.Ed. programs offer specialties in curriculum design and educational leadership, making this a popular degree for future department chairs and school administrators.
  • Master of Science in Education (M.S.Ed.): This degree can prepare teachers for a variety of leadership positions within the educational field, ranging from educational policy to language and literacy. Students research and evaluate education practices and devise potential advances.
  • Master of Arts in Education (M.A.Ed.): This degree provides advanced knowledge in education, along with a content-specific area that may include research in a particular specialization. Typical specialties include social and political issues in education.
  • Master's in Teaching (M.I.T.): An M.I.T. focuses on teaching skills, combining graduate coursework with an observational period and a practicum that helps you gain experience teaching in the field.
  • Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) An M.A.T. is designed to develop your teaching skills. It provides current and future teachers with subject-specific skills (such as history or English) and instructional strategies to enhance classroom teaching.

Teacher Salaries with a Master's Degree

While average teaching salaries vary across the United States, an advanced degree will likely increase your earning potential in most locations. It may also increase your marketability in competitive job markets. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2015–2016 the mean annual salary for teachers holding a master's degree was up to 20% greater than those holding a bachelor's degree.

The following jobs will vary by location, but the average salary according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2018 is detailed below.

Job

Median Annual Salary

Principal (elementary, middle, and high schools)


$95,310

Postsecondary teacher


$78,470

Instructional designer/coordinator


$64,450

Corporate educator/training specialist


$60,870

School counselor


$56,310

Master's Degree in Education Programs

Master's in education programs come in a wide variety of degree concentrations. Some of the most common concentrations include:

  • Curriculum and instruction
  • Educational leadership
  • Special education
  • Speech and language pathology
  • Early childhood education
  • Adult education/adult learning
  • Higher education
  • Secondary education

How Long Does It Take to Complete a Master's Degree Program?

The length of time it takes to complete a master's degree in education program depends on several factors. If you are going to school full time, typically it will take you about 2 years to complete a program. If you go to school part time, the program can take from 3 to 4 years. The good news is that some universities offer online master's degree programs that can be completed in as few as 12 to 18 months.

Entrance Requirements for Education Master's Degree Programs

Requirements vary depending on the program and the school, but in order to be accepted into a master's degree program in education, you will generally need the following:

  • A bachelor's degree from an accredited institution
  • A minimum GPA of around 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
  • A completed application
  • Letters of recommendation (usually about three)
  • Take and submit GRE scores (not all programs require this)
  • Non-native English speakers: take and submit scores on the TOEFL or IELTS

Curriculum for Master's in Education Programs

Classes differ from program to program, but most master's in education programs will include instruction about educational policy, school and community partnerships, classroom management, theories of teaching and learning, and educational leadership.

You might take general courses such as:

  • Principles of teaching
  • Curriculum design and development
  • Assessment in special education
  • Adolescent development
  • Philosophy of education
  • Educational leadership
  • School law for educators

Of course, your curriculum will also depend on the whether you have chosen a particular concentration. For example, degrees focusing on education administration may include courses such as research methods for educational leaders, teacher development, and school improvement. Counseling degree programs, on the other hand, might include courses about ethical issues in school counseling and crisis, trauma, and disaster response.

Note that as you search for programs, you should make sure that the school is accredited. Earning a degree from a school that is not accredited will lead to major problems when you apply for licensure. Accreditation is also a crucial factor for federal financial aid eligibility.

Online Master's Degrees in Education

Many schools offer online master's in education degree programs. In order to decide whether an online program is for you, read the advantages and disadvantages that follow.

Advantages

  • Online degree programs offer flexibility and convenience: You can take courses where you want to and according to your own schedule.
  • You are likely to meet students from all over the country, which gives you a much wider networking pool than you might have in a traditional campus setting.
  • You have more control over the length of the program. You might want to take longer to complete the program if you are already working as a teacher or have a busy schedule. On the other hand, if you want to earn your degree more quickly, you can find accelerated online programs that will allow you to earn your degree in as little as 12 to 18 months.
  • Some online programs offer financial incentives for starting at a certain time, as well as accelerated programs that can cost significantly less than traditional campus programs. Also, you may save on expenses that you would otherwise incur by traveling to campus, including gas, parking fees, or public transportation, and child care if you are a parent.

Disadvantages

  • Nearly all master's programs will require you to have access to a classroom of students, so online programs are best suited to current classroom teachers. It is still possible to pursue an online degree if you're not already working as a teacher, but you will need to make an arrangement with a nearby school for classroom access before you can get started.
  • You might find it important to interact with your instructor. In this way you can get feedback right away and engage in discussion with your instructor and classmates.
  • Time management and scheduling prowess are necessary for you to succeed in an online program.

Cost of Getting a Master's Degree

The cost of a master's degree varies by school, program, and location. In general, you can expect to pay more at a private school than a public school. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average graduate tuition for 2015–2016 (the most recent year for which figures are available) was $17, 868. Multiply that by two years and add related expenses like books and course materials, and your sticker price comes in at close to $40,000. Public universities carry a significantly less expensive price tag, with tuition averaging $11,303 a year.

Don't be discouraged if the cost of a master's degree seems out of your reach at first; there are many financial aid and scholarship opportunities that can help ease your financial burden. 

Career Advancement

Wherever you are in your career in education, you'll want to consider options that will advance your professional practice. Consider the following resources for career advancement.

  • Professional development: Seasoned educators know that the best way to improve one's practice is to collaborate with other professionals in the field. Free digital libraries like the one operated by Open Educational Resources are great places to start. In addition to lesson plan offerings, this site also offers professional development training in person and in webinars. You might also consider joining a Professional Learning Network (PLN) of educators in your specific field from other parts of the country. EdWeb offers a free way to get involved in PLNs, as well as professional development webinars.
  • Specialization courses: A number of programs exist for credentialed teachers who would like to take courses and earn certificates in "add on" educational specializations. These endorsements or certificates are frequently available online and are popular with teachers who already work full time.
  • Advanced degree programs: There are a number of ways to advance beyond your master's degree. You can earn an Education Specialist (Ed.S.) degree, which gives those with master's degrees the opportunity to specialize in a specific educational field such as instructional leadership or special education. You could also pursue a Doctorate in Education (Ed.D.) if you are interested in research, policy reform, and administration. Finally, a Doctor of Philosophy in Education (Ph.D.) may be of interest to those pursuing university careers in academia and research.

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