The 2020 Guide to Online Masters in Education (MEd) Programs

What is an Online Masters in Education?

An online masters in education (MEd) is a graduate degree designed to provide professional advancement to current and aspiring teachers, educators and school professionals. Masters in Education programs (also referred to as MEd, EdM or ME) are generally designed for:

  • Educators who already hold their teaching license and are seeking additional certification(s) and experience.
  • Individuals looking to work in the field of education but outside of the traditional classroom.

Online masters in education programs are designed to prepare students for advanced positions in a variety of educational fields and are typically not limited to the traditional K–12 classroom environment. With coursework in curriculum design and educational leadership, a master's in education online may also prepare students for administrative or consulting positions.

If you are seeking your initial teaching degree, learn more about earning your Master of Arts in Teaching.

Explore Featured Online Teaching and Education Degree Programs


This program is designed for aspiring K–12 teachers looking to gain the skills and knowledge needed to become transformative teachers who help all students succeed. Teaching credential available.

Discover an MAT from University of Southern California

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Vanderbilt University

Pursue initial teacher licensure in Massachusetts with Tufts’ online MAT in Elementary STEM or Middle School Math or Science. Complete in as few as 16 months. Bachelor’s required.

Learn more about an MAT from Tufts University

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Fordham University’s online Master of Science in Teaching program prepares aspiring teachers (grades 1–6) for initial teaching certification or dual certification in teaching and special education.

Learn more about an M.S.T. from Fordham University

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Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt’s online M.Ed. with a specialization in school counseling prepares aspiring and experienced professionals interested in becoming K-12 school counselors for diverse populations.

Learn more about an M.Ed. from Vanderbilt University

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The Benefits of an Online Masters in Education

Graduate school is an excellent opportunity to explore your options as a teacher and to learn more thoroughly about what interests you. Some states require their secondary school teachers to have a bachelor’s degree in the subject they are teaching, and having a master’s in that subject may be even more enticing to potential employers. Overall, obtaining an masters in education online is an excellent way to enrich and advance your teaching career. It establishes you as an expert teacher and increases your job opportunities, as well as the benefits you receive once you have a job. But an advanced teaching degree will also help your students in many ways, by preparing you to be the best teacher you can be, and ensuring that your students learn the most from you that they can. Some of the many benefits of having a master's in education include:

Enhanced Value in Job Market

A master’s degree can carry a lot of weight in the teaching job market and those who have their master’s are often regarded as thought leaders in their field. In addition, a master’s is typically the basic requirement for teaching at the college or university level.

Build Upon Your Teaching Skills

Pursuing an online masters in education or a online master of arts in teaching can also help improve your teaching skills. These degrees focus on teaching somebody how to be a teacher, with heavy emphasis on pedagogy, teaching methods, philosophy of education, and educational technology.

Career Mobility

One of the top perks to gaining an advanced degree is the mobility that comes with an online MEd degree or similar masters degree. Teachers with advanced degrees may be able to work towards school administration positions and can become mentors to other teachers based upon specific graduate training.

Increased Earning Potential

Perhaps the most appealing benefit of earning an masters in education degree online is the potential for additional compensation for teachers with advanced degrees. Some schools will pay a teacher more for having a master’s or a doctorate, and some will even reimburse them for continuing their education.

Masters in Education Online Program Concentrations

Earning an online master of education provides you with the opportunity to explore a number of fields in education. The great thing about the MEd degree is the wide variety of concentration and specializations they typically offer. Depending on your school of choice, program concentrations may include the following:

Classroom Technology

Master’s programs in the areas of classroom technology and instructional design provide students with the basic framework needed for learning in the 21st century, focusing on designing and implementing classroom technology in formal and informal learning environments. Coursework includes classes focusing on product design, technology in the classroom, cognition, instructional design, adaptive technology and online literacy.

Educational Technology

Masters in Education programs with an emphasis on educational psychology (also referred to as school psychology) are designed to provide students with an advanced understanding of learning, development, motivation, research and assessment in various fields of education. Graduates of educational/school psychology programs may have careers in fields such as program evaluation, curriculum development and academic testing, and may work in schools, non-profit agencies and health-related institutions. Coursework includes classes focusing on statistics, learning theories, research methods, cognition and child/adolescent development.

Economics and Policy

Master’s degree programs focusing on educational economics and policy provide students with an understanding of the political, legal, economic and social factors of the education system. Students with degrees in educational economics and/or policy may work within government agencies and nonprofit organizations that focus on educational reform and advocacy. Coursework includes classes focusing on policy analysis and implementation, educational law, community development, sociology, urban education and decision making.

Museum Education

Museum education/museum studies degrees are designed for students who wish to pursue a career in art, history and/or science within informal learning environments such as museums, historical institutions and libraries. Museum education programs provide students with the necessary knowledge, skills and expertise needed to teach in a museum, utilizing galleries and other media to enhance the learning of both children and adults. Coursework includes classes focusing on public relations and marketing, educational media, fundraising, art history and cognitive development.

Higher Education

Master’s degrees in higher education (also referred to as post-secondary education) prepare students with the leadership and administrative skills needed to be a leader in today’s colleges and universities, as well as government institutions that address the needs of higher education. Higher education focused degree programs focus on student/academic affairs, leadership theory, management and finance. Coursework includes classes focusing on college teaching, leadership and management, student development and diversity in higher education.

School Counseling

MEd programs with an emphasis on school counseling are designed to prepare students with the skills and experience needed to counsel students, families and members of the community in areas such as coping with personal issues, academic advisement and advocacy. Students who pursue a master’s degree in counseling may work within a number of formal and informal educational settings such as K–12 schools, colleges, hospitals and nonprofit organizations. Coursework includes classes focusing on interview techniques, group counseling, family systems and special education.

For more on masters programs for aspiring school counselors, learn about Online Master's in School Counseling degrees.

Education Administration

Master’s degree programs in educational leadership prepare students for leadership roles in public and private education institutions, which may include positions such as principal, dean, department head, superintendent, athletic director and instructional leader. Coursework includes classes focusing on business administration, personnel management, cultural diversity, educational law and policy, learning and assessment.

Consider also an online doctorate of education program to further exemplify your mastery of educational administration.

Bilingual Education

Bilingual education and TESOL programs provide students with the foundational skills required to work with bilingual and English as a Second Language (ESL) students in today’s diverse educational settings, which prepares students to work as teachers, curriculum designers and evaluators in a number of formal and informal learning environments. Coursework includes classes focusing on linguistics, literacy, pedagogy and oral/written language skills.

Practical Experience for Online MEd Students

Students earning their online ME degree are required to gain practical experience in a formal or informal education environment, one that closely mirrors their course of study, institutional expectations and desired career goals.

Practical experience for ME students may include the following options:

  • Student teaching
  • Internship/externship
  • Fellowship
  • Formal observation hours

Online Masters in Education Capstone

A capstone (also referred to as a graduate thesis or dissertation) is a culminating project, presentation or activity that often require the guidance and/or approval of a supervising faculty member. These projects are designed to display the student’s newfound knowledge and can take many forms, including research papers, grant proposals, bill proposals, curriculum materials or hypermedia materials such as educational apps for tablets.

Below are some examples of graduate dissertations and capstone projects from CAEP-accredited colleges and institutions:

  • From Policy to Practice: An Analysis of the Implementation of State College Readiness Assessment Policies at Four-Year Public Higher Education Institutions in Massachusetts, Lesley University
  • The Role of the Superintendent in System-Wide Success for PreK–12 English Language Learners, University of Wisconsin
  • The Infinity and Beyond: Museum-School Partnerships Beyond the Field Trip, Seton Hall
  • The Mediating Effects of Problematic Internet Usage on Social Phobia and Psychosocial Well Being, University of Florida
  • Course Design Effects on Student Success: The Revolving Door of Online Education, University of Kentucky

In general, capstones and graduate dissertations are for students to display their scholarly knowledge and commitment toward a focused area of their graduate studies.

Finding the Best Online Masters in Education For You

In searching for the best online masters in education program for you, it is important to take a variety of factors into account in order to determine the best fit. Consider the specific type of degree being offered, the classroom setting, and the credit requirements for the program - among many other factors.

Featured Live Online Masters in Education and Teaching Programs

Featured Live Online Masters in Education and Teaching Programs
School Name Degree Type Classroom Setting Credit Requirement
University of Southern California MAT Online, Live 28
Fordham University MST Online, Live 36-45 (depending on concentration)
Vanderbilt University MEd (with school counseling specialization) Online, Live 48

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Online Masters in Education Degree Programs in the United States

We’ve compiled a list of online masters in education programs in the United States along with their classroom setting and credit requirement information. The difference between a "hybrid" program and a traditional online teaching degree program is that the hybrid version includes an in-person component on a regular basis. Search through the different online masters in teaching programs and see which one is the best fit for you!

Online Education and Teaching Degree Programs in the United States
School Name Classroom Setting Credit Requirement
Avila University Online 27-33 (Depends on concentration)
Baker University Online 36
Central Michigan University Online 36-39 (Depends on track)
Cleveland State University Online and Hybrid available 30
College of Saint Scholastica Online 33
Concordia University Online 33
Fontbonne University Online 33
Fort Hayes State University Online 36
Franciscan University of Steubenville Online 36
Indiana Univeristy - Bloomington Online 36
Louisiana State University in Shreveport Online 36
Malone University Online 36-45 (Depends on concentration)
Marymount University Online 36
Mercy College Online 36
Miami University Hybrid 30-54 (Depends on concentration)
Montana State University - Boseman Online 30
Niagara University Online 39
Portland State University Online 45
Southern Utah University Online 36
State University of New York at Brockport Online 30
Tennessee State University Online 33
University of Dayton Online 30
The University of Toledo Online 36
University of Cincinnati Online 30-33 (Depends on concentration)
University of Florida Online 36
University of Holy Cross Online 36
University of Houston Online 30
University of Louisiana at Lafayette Online 36-39 (Depends on concentration)
University of Louisville Online 30
University of New Hampshire Online and Hybrid available 32
University of North Texas Online 30
University of Sioux Falls Hybrid 34
University of Wisconsin - Stout Online 30
Valdosta State University Online 36-60
Vanderbilt University - sponsored Online 48
Wayne State University Hybrid 36