The Complete Guide to Earning a Master’s in Education

A master’s in education is one of the most common degrees associated with teaching. Also referred to as an M.Ed., it is awarded as a graduate degree and is often a requirement for becoming a teacher at many levels from grade school to the collegiate level. A master’s in education can also be earned when seeking a career as a school counselor, administrator, or other professional position in academia.

Because a master’s in education is a graduate degree, a bachelor’s, or four-year degree, is often required in order to obtain one. The bachelor’s degree does not necessarily have to be in education and can often be chosen by the subject in which the future teacher wishes to teach, such as history, math, science, etc. In addition to earning a bachelor’s degree then moving onto a master’s degree, there are specialty programs that can lead straight into a master’s degree in education, and many states can accept this educational path for future teachers.

Choosing a Master’s in Education

Each of the 50 states has its own requirements for what is needed to become a teacher or other academic professional. However, states that require or prefer a master’s in education can still have various other preferences to what they look for in a teacher and their degree. Below are some of the items to consider when seeking a master’s in education.

  • Accreditation – Although the U.S. Department of Education does not accredit schools or colleges themselves, they do approve the agencies that do accredit schools. Accreditation means that the school has been recognized by an official body as providing students with a quality and respectable education. If interested in programs that accredit degrees in education, check out The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and The Teacher Education Accreditation Council to see which degrees they have reviewed and approved.
  • Licensure – All 50 states and the district of Columbia require public school teachers to obtain a license. This can include earning a bachelor’s and/or master’s in education, as well as qualifying for and passing an exam. For a list of each of the 50 states and their requirements, click here. It is also advisable to contact your own state board to see the most current updates.
  • Certification – Each of the 50 states also has its own rules and regulations requiring certification. For example, The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards offers a voluntary certification that can qualify as a teaching license in certain states. If you live in such as state, make sure the master’s in education you are earning qualifies you to take their exam.
  • Experience – Because hardly anyone goes straight from sitting in a classroom to teaching in one, experience involving hours spent in the classroom as a teacher or even teacher’s aide can help go toward a teaching license, certificate, or career in general. Many schools offering a master’s in education have options for students who wish to become teachers.

And these are just some of the things to look for when choosing which school to earn a master’s degree in education. There are many other factors to consider, such as tuition cost, financial aid, transfer credit policy, career placement, etc. Whether entering college as a freshman or already have a bachelor’s degree to apply toward getting a master’s in education, it is important to research and apply to several schools to see which works best for you.

Building a Career After a Master’s in Education

Once you have earned a master’s in education, there are many different career paths to choose from. We have listed a few of the jobs available to those with the degree and a few of the areas in which they are needed.

  1. Preschool Teachers – Although a master’s in education isn’t often required in becoming a preschool teacher, it can be an important stepping stone to any educational career. In fact, the job demand for preschool teachers is expected to grow faster than the average of all careers and can be offered as a study option in high schools.
  2. K – 12 Teachers – These teachers work at the mandatory levels of education including kindergarten, elementary, middle, and high school. The higher up the grade level taught, the more likely it is that a teacher will be required to have a master’s in education or related degree.
  3. Special Education – This area of teaching involves the instruction and care for students who have special needs that can include anything from the hearing impaired to those with autism. Although each state differs on its requirements, many teachers who go into special education are required to undertake and complete special training.
  4. Counseling – If wishing to enter the workforce as an academic counselor, a master’s in education in this specialty can help. The study of mental health, psychology, sociology, and related subjects is usually involved in both the education and practice of the profession.
  5. ESL Teacher – These teachers specialize in teaching English as a second language. Knowledge of the language students are studying in, such as Spanish or Mandarin, is often a requirement. Other factors that drive ESL teaching include being able to teach globally as well as locally and even learning to teach English as a first language.

There are many other career paths for those who have a master’s in education. In addition to taking a licensing exam, joining the workforce as a teacher for a public or private school, or taking on an administrative position, many can also choose to go on to earn a doctorate or Ph.D. in education.

Top Master’s in Education Schools

Below, we have listed some of the top schools that offer master’s degrees in education. Clicking on each can give you more information on the degree, program, requirements for admission, and contact information so that students can have all their questions answered before sending in an application.

Campus and Online Masters in Education Programs

A masters degree in education (M.Ed., MA.Ed., MS, MA, MAT, etc.) can include majors such as administration, counseling, curriculum & instruction, elementary education, secondary education, higher education, general education, special education, and many more. Below, you can browse some of the top-ranked accredited universities that offer masters degrees in education for aspiring teachers, teachers looking to further their careers, or those looking to become administrators.

Northcentral University – For students who are seeking to further their knowledge in education, Northcentral University has crafted many online programs that offer a unique learning experience to each student. These online programs also provide more flexibility and convenience than campus programs and can be completed at a pace that is comfortable. Students can specialize in a field of their choice like Athletic Admin, eLearning, Global Training & Development, and Early Childhood Education.

Liberty University – Liberty University is one of the top schools offering online, accredited degree programs. We have several Masters in Education degrees for students to select and specialize in the field of their interest, including Secondary Education Elementary Education, and Special Education. These degrees are for student who want to enhance their careers in a relatively short time.

Purdue University – Purdue offers a variety of accredited online Masters in Education programs, each designed to meet the specific goals of students who want to: obtain a masters in education, obtain a teaching license after getting their undergraduate degree in something other than teaching, become a school counselor, become a school principal, or teach college courses, develop K-12 curriculum, or develop college level curriculum.

Walden University – Walden University is among the largest educators with thousands of accredited degrees offered. Several degrees are offered in the field of Education at the Masters level alone. Even better, classes can be taken online and at the campus. Walden has several degrees available for students interested in Masters in Education programs, including Curriculum and Instruction, Middle Level Education, Elementary Literacy, and Middle Level Math.

University of Southern California – USC, a respected provider of online and onsite education, is an affordable option for students looking to further their careers in education. You will learn high-demand skills and retain knowledge that can be applied to real-world applications. Student have various online, accredited degrees to select from like Teaching, Secondary English, Secondary Math, and Secondary Science.

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