Master’s in Education Career Guide

What Can I Expect from an Online Master’s in Education Program?

While taking an online master’s in education program, students can
expect the same quality of instruction, support and content materials
that they would receive in on-campus classes. Working teachers or
teacher assistants can take advantage of the flexible hours an online
program offers and earn an advanced degree that helps further their
teaching careers and opens up new job opportunities. It’s important to
consider all the options and different program offerings to find an
online master’s in education degree program that’s right for you.

Concentrations Offered for an Online Master’s in Education Degree

CONCENTRATION DESCRIPTION CAREERS THIS CONCENTRATION PREPARES FOR
Early Childhood Education An online Master’s concentration in early childhood education prepares students for shaping, coaching and guiding young children through their first years of life when great gains in social, cognitive, physical and emotional development occur. Early childhood teaching positions in public or private schools, day care centers or kindergarten institutions. Those with a Master’s in Early Childhood Education can also pursue careers as curriculum developers, managers or administrators at a community college.
Elementary Education Often offered as its own Master’s degree, an online Master’s concentration in elementary education prepares students to teach students in public or private schools, usually in grades K-6, but this varies by state. Elementary teacher in grades K-6, but some states consider elementary to be K-4, and others consider it to be K-8
Special Education An online Master’s concentration in special education provides an understanding of the characteristics and needs of individuals who qualify for special education services under the IDEA act. Special education teaching positions in public or private schools
Reading Education A specialization in Reading Education helps you deepen your understanding of literacy and how to develop stronger reading and writing skills in the classroom and in small group settings. Literacy specialist in public or private K-12 schools
Educational Administration This concentration provides coursework related to administrative positions in public or private schools. Principal, vice principal or head administrator in public or private schools

Curriculum for an Online Master’s in Education

The type of courses you take for an online master’s degree in
education is going to depend on your chosen specialty. When selecting an
online program for a master’s in education, remember that each school
you investigate offers something unique. Education students should
always consider their career goals and how those personal objectives
coincide with each school’s curriculum. Also consider how the school
delivers the curriculum: depending on the school, all classes may be
offered online, while other schools may provide some courses
face-to-face or require a certain number of completed practicum hours in
a public or private school. Oftentimes, regardless of the school’s
location, you can achieve these hours in a place close to you or at the
school where you currently work.

Specific coursework is going to depend on your chosen area of
concentration and the type of Master of Education program. Some general
courses you can expect to take include:

Course Description
Classroom management You’ll learn how to manage a classroom and control student behaviors
Educational psychology You’ll build upon your existing foundation of psychology to learn how young minds work and how kids think
Child (or adolescent) growth and development Depending on your area of concentration, you’ll focus on how children or adolescents grow and develop physically, cognitively and emotionally
Foundations of reading and writing You’ll likely learn strategies for teaching kids how to read and write, which is especially important for literacy teachers or early elementary teachers
Content area reading and writing Usually covers how to read and write in different subject areas, including social studies, science and math
Teaching individuals with disabilities Provides an overview of how to teach students with special needs and what you might need to know for inclusion practices
Teaching science in elementary school (or your level of concentration Concentrates on science concepts and subjects
Teaching mathematics in elementary school (or your level of concentration) You’ll learn strategies and concepts important for mathematics instruction
Assessment Usually covers how to administer assessments, both informal and formal, and how they can help inform your teaching practice

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Master’s in Education?

The length of your online master’s in education program depends on
several factors, including the school and the subject area you’ve chosen
as your concentration. In general, if the course is administered
entirely online, most schools allow for completing courses at your own
pace while meeting certain deadlines along the way.

In general, if taking courses full-time, you can expect to complete
an online Master’s degree in Education in about two years. Part-time
students can usually finish it in three to four years, depending on
their individual pace.

Certifications and Licenses a Master’s in Education Prepares For

After obtaining a master’s in education, the type of certification
and license you are eligible for depend on the state where you live, so
be sure to research your state’s requirements for teaching licenses. In
general, you’ll want to make sure you’ve completed the required
coursework, supplied appropriate transcripts, taken any required exams
and a completed an application for teacher licensing.

Accreditation for Online Master’s in Education Degrees

When selecting a school for an online master’s in education, a major
consideration should always be program accreditation. Accreditation is
important because it determines whether a program meets minimum
standards of quality and delivers appropriate coursework to lead to
education licensure. It’s also important for employment purposes; many
schools and institutions require that your degree be obtained from an
accredited master’s in education program.

School accreditation comes in either regional or national
accreditation forms. Regional accreditation for master’s in education
programs is usually considered more prestigious, especially because
requirements and standards for educational licensure and coursework vary
widely by state.

When looking for an accredited online master’s in education, students
should focus their search on programs accredited by bodies such as the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) or an education-specific accreditation agency such as the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.

Pay attention also to programs that are certified by the U.S.
Department of Education (DOE) or the Council for Higher Education
Accreditation (CHEA). These organizations certify the quality of
accrediting agencies and ensure that schools offering online master’s in
education programs adhere to the highest possible standards of academic
excellence.

Employment Outlook for Master’s in Education Graduates

Job Placement: Master’s v. Bachelor’s

While a bachelor’s degree can definitely help you obtain entry-level
teaching positions or even teaching assistant positions, a master’s
degree propels you further in your teaching career. Public school
districts and private schools are much more likely to hire someone with a
master’s degree than without. For instance, a recent report from
Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce found that
the unemployment rate for teachers
with a master’s degree was much lower (1.9 percent) compared to those
with a bachelor’s and some professional experience at 3.9 percent.

Expected Salary

In addition to opening up more job opportunities, an online master’s in education degree can boost your salary.

According to statistics from the National Center on Education Statistics, teacher’s with a master’s degree earned a median salary of $57,831 during the 2011-2012 school year, while teachers with a bachelor’s degree earned a median salary of $46,343 during the same academic year. Furthermore, according to the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), 96 percent of the 112 major school districts in the United States pay teachers a higher salary if they have a master’s degree.

Career Opportunities

Based on their chosen area of concentration, teachers with an online
master’s in education degree can pursue many career opportunities. An
M.Ed. degree lets you work with elementary, secondary or high
school-aged students, qualify for more jobs and earn a higher salary.

JOB TITLE JOB DESCRIPTION MEDIAN SALARY PROJECTED GROWTH RATE
Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers Teachers at the kindergarten and elementary school level instruct young students, usually in grades K-6, in basic subjects such as math, reading, history and science, to prepare them for future schooling. These teachers work in public and private schools during school hours when students are present. Typically, they spend mornings, nights and weekends preparing lessons and grading papers. Unless they’re employed at a year-round school, most kindergarten and elementary school teachers do not work during the summer. $56,000 per year 7%
Middle School Teachers Middle school teachers educate students who are usually in sixth through eighth grades. In general, they help students build their knowledge of the fundamentals they learned in elementary school while preparing them for high school. $57,720 per year 8%
High School Teachers High school teachers help prepare students for life after graduation, whether they seek enrollment in college or employment. While some high school teaching positions are available to individuals with a bachelor’s degree, preference is usually given to high school teachers with master’s degrees. $59,170 per year 8%
Special Education Teachers Special education teachers work with students who have a wide range of cognitive, emotional, physical and behavioral disabilities. They adapt general education lessons and teach various subjects in smaller groups. $58,980 per year 8%
K-12 Principal Principals at the elementary, middle or high school level oversee and monitor all daily operations within a school. They manage the school’s curriculum, faculty, finances, administrative functions and educational resources. $94,390 per year 8%

Professional Organizations

Maintaining professional connections and learning about different
educational approaches and methodologies is crucial to your success as a
teacher. Professional organizations offer a great opportunity for
teachers to learn about their chosen career. Be sure to research local
organizations specific to your state or district as well. Here are three
of the top national organizations for education.

The National Council on Teacher Quality:
This organization creates policies that improve the quality of
classroom education and work environments for professional educators.

The National Educational Association:
The NEA is a full-service national organization that focuses on
improving public education from preschool to graduate-level studies. It
provides resources on current regulations, strategies for securing
financial support and tools teachers can use in the classroom to create
high-quality lesson plans and units.

The Association of American Educators:
Serving members in all 50 states, the Association of American Educators
creates tools and resources that help increase student achievement and
positive classroom outcomes.

Financing Your Online Master’s in Education

While many online degrees may be less expensive than attending
courses on campus, many students still need financial aid to help pay
for their online degree. The first step toward securing financing is to
apply for federal aid by completing the Free Application for Federal
Student Aid (FAFSA) form. Completing this form allows you to learn about
many grants, loans and other financial aid options available to you
from the federal government. Private grants and scholarships are other
viable financial aid options available for teachers. Check out some of
the resources below to get started.

Resources

Scholarships

Scholarships

Details

TEACH Grant

Award: $4000

Deadline: October

Eligibility: TEACH recipients are eligible for up to $4000 annually in exchange for a four-year commitment to teaching at a school that serves low-income students.

STEM Teacher Graduate Scholarship

Award: $2,500

Deadline: April

Eligibility: Students pursuing a graduate degree or credential/license to teach in a STEM field (science, technology, engineering or math) at a U.S. school in grades K-12

Teacher.org Inspire Our Future Scholarship

Award: $500

Deadline: April

Eligibility: Minimum GPA 3.5, 18 years or older, open to experienced teachers continuing their education or a teacher candidate who has just begun the process.