Why earn a master's degree in education online?
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Accredited Teaching and Education Graduate Degrees
Admissions for education graduate degrees
Earning a master’s degree in teaching (MAT), a Master of Education (MEd) or Doctorate in Education (EDd) online is a great option for any professionals who seeks flexibility, convenience and accessibility but doesn’t want to sacrifice quality, either. Part- and full-time options are usually available, and students may be able to complete their program in less time than on campus, too.
While working educators can pursue their online master’s in teaching online, online programs are also designed to accommodate those professionals without previous teaching experience, but who perhaps hold bachelor’s degrees in subjects they would now like to teach. Therefore, most graduate online programs in education and teaching do not require prerequisite courses — instead, they typically only require a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution of higher education for admission.
While admission requirements vary by program, generally, successful applicants will need an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher, letters of recommendation, a personal statement and other related materials. A credential exam and/or basic skills test also may be required. While some programs may require GRE scores to be submitted, a growing number of schools have dropped this admission requirement.
Master of teaching career paths
A Master of Arts in Teaching degree focused more directly on teaching and classroom management than the Master of Education. The MAT equips students with the tools and training they need to enter the field of education and start teaching with confidence. It also allows graduates who hold this degree to sit state licensure exams, which they need to pass to be allowed to teach in the state of their choice.
While most states do not require educational professionals to hold an advanced degree, there are several benefits to earning a master’s degree in teaching, regardless — including the opportunity to earn a higher salary compared to a salary offered to teachers with only bachelor’s degrees.
Common job titles for master’s degree graduates include:
Special education teachers
Career and technical education teachers
Average teacher salary
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, employment of K-12 teachers is expected to grow 8% from 2020 to 2030, on track with the average for all occupations.¹
In May 2021, the median annual wage for high school teachers was $61,820, and the highest 10% earned more than $100,310.² The median annual wage for elementary school teachers was $61,400, with the highest 10% earning more than $99,420.³
Master of education jobs
An online Master of Education is a graduate degree designed to provide professional advancement to teachers, educators, and school professionals. As a broader alternative to a MAT, a Master of Education is still applicable to a classroom career but is more geared toward jobs in administration, curriculum development, and education policy. These programs are generally designed for those who already hold their teaching license and either seek additional certification, credentials and experience, or who wish to work outside the traditional classroom.
A Master of Education also prepares graduate students for advanced positions in a variety of educational fields that do not need be limited to the K-12 classroom. With coursework in curriculum design and educational leadership, a Master of Education also can prepare graduates for administrative or consulting positions. Often, available pedagogical concentrations can offer further career specialization, including:
Economics and policy
Master’s in education salary
Professionals with a master’s in education often work in administrative educational roles. The median annual wage for postsecondary administrators was $96,910 in May 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.⁴ The highest 10% of professionals in that position earned more than $190,770. Additionally, the 2021 median wage for elementary, middle and high school principals was $98,420 annually, with the top 10% earning more than $153,520.⁵
It is also worth noting that, as part of their employee benefits plan, some post-secondary institutions allow employees to attend classes at a discount or for free.
Education doctorate career path
An online Doctor of Education (EdD) degree can bolster your credentials for powerful career advancement. While the curriculum varies, you can typically expect a mix of core classes related to your preferred concentration, such as:
Organizational change and leadership
Reading and literacy
Early childhood education
Careers available with a Doctor of Education may vary based on your goals and location, but can include working in school or district administration, government, or the private sector. In many positions, you may be expected to apply theory and research skills to solve problems in education; improve policy, programs, and practices in places of learning; or identify discrimination/prejudice and advocate for social justice.
Average salaries in education with an EdD
The salary and job outlook for those with a Doctor of Education differ by role. While the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not distinguish EdD holders as an individual occupation class, one of the most common are roles in postsecondary administration or K-12 school district administration. For this job, the employment outlook is projected to see an 8% growth rate between 2020 and 2030.⁶
The median annual wage for this position was $96,910 as of May 2021, with the highest 10% earning more than $190,770.⁴ Those with an EdD working in K-12 education can expect to earn a median average of $98,420 annually, with the top 10% earning more than $153,520.⁵
Education degree frequently asked questions
In your search for the best online education master’s degree, it is important to consider the degree type, classroom or coursework obligations, scheduling and credit requirements, alongside any personal responsibilities and commitments you may have. Do extensive research on the institution’s website and do not be afraid to ask questions.
Online programs can be just as rigorous and valuable as on-campus, traditional programs, with the added benefits of convenience, flexibility, and the ability to maintain your personal obligations. Depending on your career path, an online master’s in teaching may be a great fit for your goals.
While most states do not require educational professionals to hold an advanced degree, there are a number of benefits to having earned your online master’s in teaching. Having an advanced degree provides you with greater career options and salary potential, and a greater skillset and understanding of pedagogical methods and philosophies.
The primary difference is that a master’s in teaching focuses more directly on teaching and classroom management. In contrast, a master’s in education is a broader degree, applicable to a classroom career but also to jobs in administration, curriculum development, and education policy.
School administrators may be principals and assistant principals, as well as provosts or chancellors at the postsecondary level. While requirements vary, most states require you to hold a graduate degree — though perhaps not a doctorate-level degree — to hold either of these positions. A doctorate may, however, better position you for promotions, salary increases, or new roles.
The world is always in need of qualified, skilled educators to prepare the next generation for success. That said, some careers in education include superintendents, principals/assistant principals, higher education administrators, curriculum development coordinators, school counselors, and literacy coordinators.
¹ U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, High School Teachers Job Outlook, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/high-school-teachers.htm#tab-6 (visited July 2022).
² U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, High School Teachers Pay, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/high-school-teachers.htm#tab-5 (visited July 2022).
³ U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers Pay, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/kindergarten-and-elementary-school-teachers.htm#tab-5 (visited July 2022)
⁴ U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Postsecondary Education Administrators Pay,https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/postsecondary-education-administrators.htm#tab-5 (visited July 2022)
⁵ U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Elementary, Middle and High School Principals, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/elementary-middle-and-high-school-principals.htm#tab-5 (visited July 2022)
⁶ U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Postsecondary Education Administrators Job Outlook, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/postsecondary-education-administrators.htm#tab-6 (visited July 2022).