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

Graduates of online master’s programs in secondary education are prepared to teach students at the high school level in a variety of subjects and also may be qualified to take on various administrative roles, such as with curriculum development.

Online master’s programs offer the same quality education as what you would find in traditional on-campus instruction but in a more convenient format. Students who take online classes can complete milestones at their own pace, and they can do it all from the comfort of their home.

When you’re investigating online master’s programs in secondary education, it’s important to find one that aligns with your long-term career goals.

Concentrations Offered for an Online Master’s in Secondary Education

CONCENTRATION DESCRIPTION POTENTIAL CAREERS FOR THIS CONCENTRATION
Educational Leadership Students learn skills such as managing learning environments, implementing instructional strategies and learning how to communicate with other members of administration and student families. Assistant principal, principal, instructional supervisors, secondary education adminstrators
English as a Second Language Students are equipped with teaching strategies for ESL students. It typically focuses on the psychology of learning English, and graduate students examine the cognitive processes that influence language development and literacy instruction. ESL Teacher at the high school level, roles within assessment and consultation for ESL students
Special Education Prepares students to work with children who have a wide range of cognitive, emotional, behavioral and physical disabilities. Special education teacher for adolescents

Curriculum for an Online Master’s in Secondary Education

The specifics of a master’s in secondary education degree vary by program and school; however, there are some common courses you can expect to take.

COURSES DESCRIPTION
Curriculum Development Provides you with training in instruction and curriculum design, and you learn how to create engaging environments to reach students across all cognitive levels.
Adolescent Psychology Explores motivational learning strategies, different approaches to classroom management and assessment techniques. In this type of course, you’ll learn how to create learning opportunities that meet individual needs and levels of motivation.
Foundations in Secondary Education An overview of the historical and contemporary issues present in education. Students learn about current trends and policies that affect how educational systems operate.

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

Most students enrolled in an online master’s degree for secondary education complete their degrees within two years. In general, most programs are around 36 credits. If enrolled full-time, some students may be able to complete the degree within a year, assuming they’re taking 18 credits per semester, while part-time students usually finish within two or three years.

Factors that influence the length of the program include your chosen area of concentration, student teaching requirements, any prior teaching experience you might have and requirements for initial licensure.

Certifications and Licenses an Online Master’s in Secondary Education Prepares For

CERTIFICATION DESCRIPTION
State Teaching License Requirements for teacher licensure vary widely by state, so be sure to check with the board of education in the state you plan to teach in find out what their requirements are. Many programs have initial licensure built into the program, and you take an exam as part of its completion. Once licensed, teachers can pursue careers in public and private schools.
Instructional Leadership Licensure For professionals seeking administrative positions in education, such as if you concentrate in educational leadership, many states require an instructional leadership license. The process of earning it is similar to teacher licensure, where you have to sit for an exam to demonstrate your knowledge. Many schools require principals and/or assistant principals to hold this type of license.

Accreditation for Online Master’s in Secondary Education

Accredited schools are the best choices for enrolling in an online master’s degree in secondary education. These schools participate in voluntary peer review processes and are held accountable by regional or national governing bodies. Accreditation essentially verifies the legitimacy of your education and ensures that the program you attended met certain minimum standards of quality.

Accreditation is also important for employment purposes — many schools, public and private, require teaching job applicants to have completed a master’s program through an accredited institution. You can search for higher education accredited programs by program or school through the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) database.

For teacher training programs, including online master’s in secondary education, the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) provides accreditation through evidence-based practices to ensure quality and continuous improvement.

Employment Outlook for Master’s in Secondary Education Graduates

Job Placement: Master’s v. Bachelor’s

While a bachelor’s degree can certainly help you gain entry-level positions in teaching, an advanced degree, such as a master’s, opens up a host of job opportunities and can help boost your salary potential.

Expected Salary

An online master’s degree in secondary education prepares students for careers as teachers, educational administrators and instructional coordinators. Below are some of the most common career pursuits for graduates with a master’s in secondary education degree and their median annual salaries.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The salary of a secondary school teacher also varies by subject: a chemistry or history teacher, for example, may earn more than an English or writing teacher depending on the school and whether the school is public or private.

Geographical location also plays a role in salary rates. Below is a list of top-paying states for secondary school teachers. This group includes all secondary school teachers except those in special education or career/technical education. Most of them are located in the northeast or on the west coast.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Opportunities

An advanced master’s degree in secondary education lets secondary teachers focus on the instruction of a specific subject, such as science, history, English or math, or pursue a variety of leadership roles at a school or district-wide level. Listed below are some of the most common career opportunities available to graduates with an online master’s degree in secondary education.

JOB TITLE JOB DESCRIPTION MEDIAN SALARY PROJECTED GROWTH RATE
High School Teacher Sometimes also called secondary school teachers, high school teachers provide students in grades 9-12 with academic instruction. They may teach a single subject, such as science or math, with additional certificates or credentials, or they may teach multiple subjects. They’re responsible for planning lessons, communicating with families and incorporating state-standardized testing into their curriculum. $59,170 per year 8%
Secondary School Special Education Teacher In addition to a master’s in secondary education, high school special education teachers may have additional licenses or certifications. They work with adolescents who have learning and developmental disabilities. They often help assist students with special needs in the transition to a job or career after graduation. $59,980 per year 8%
Instructional Coordinators Overseeing school curricula and teaching standards, instructional coordinators work closely with classroom teachers, school principals and department heads to develop instructional material and coordinate its implementation. They also usually participate in the process to assess its effectiveness on student learning. $63,750 per year 11%
Principals Secondary school principals work in middle schools and high schools and oversee the daily operations of the school while also managing faculty and staff. They also help coordinate curricula and provide an overall safe learning environment for all their students. $94,390 per year 8%

Professional Organizations

For current graduate students and recent graduates, professional organizations provide a wealth of resources for professional development, job growth and classroom support. Many professional organizations offer teaching strategies and tools for developing comprehensive lesson plans, communicating effectively with families and motivating students. Students who choose to become members of these educational professional organizations learn how to advocate for their profession and the students they serve.

American Federation of Teachers: A professional union, the AFT provides its members with a variety of legal and financial services, scholarships and numerous professional development opportunities.

Association of American Educators: Members of the AAE have access to the organization’s numerous publications to help them with classroom teaching. They also offer liability insurance, classroom grants and a library of useful professional resources.

National Education Association: Members who belong to the NEA have access to scholarships, articles and new teacher resources. This professional organization conducts workshops and conferences throughout the year across the country.

Financing Your Online Master’s in Secondary Education

While earning an online degree is often less expensive, many students still need financial aid to help them pay for the cost of tuition. Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form is a logical first step when obtaining financial aid because it provides you with information about grants, scholarships and loans available to you through the federal government.

Also, be sure to investigate what scholarships and grants may be available to you through the schools you are considering applying to and their individual programs. Other grants and scholarships may be obtained from nonprofit organizations and private companies.

Resources

Scholarships

Scholarships

Details

TEACH Grant

Award: $4,000

Deadline: October

Eligibility: The TEACH (Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education) grant provides aspiring teachers with up to $4,000 annually to finance their education in exchange for a four-year teaching commitment at a low-income school upon graduation.

Teacher.org Inspire Our Future Scholarship

Award: $500

Deadline: April

Eligibility: Must have a 3.5 GPA. This scholarship is open to current teachers trying to advance their careers or to brand new teachers just beginning the process.

New York State Math & Science Teaching Incentive Program

Award: Varies

Deadline: February

Eligibility: Students enrolled in a graduate teaching program and working to become math or science teachers can receive an annual payment equal to yearly tuition for a New York State resident in exchange for five years of full-time employment as a math or science teacher in grades 7-12 in New York State.