Earning a Master's in Education Online

An online master's degree in education opens the door to many career options and specializations, attracting students with funding opportunities, connections to helpful organizations, and guidance to help students achieve success in the program and beyond. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that teacher assistants, elementary education teachers (excluding special education), and all types of teachers and instructors are among the top 30 jobs expected to grow most from 2016 to 2026. This projection shows a need for bachelor's degree holders to stand out in their respective fields. By pursuing a master's degree in education online, learners gain a specialized experience and acquire many useful skills.

Student Profile: Who Earns an Online Master's Degree in Education?

Undergrad education majors who desire to work in high-level positions often pursue an online master's degree in education. Positions that require a master's degree in education extend beyond the traditional classroom. Many individuals work in positions involving mentoring, management, or progress training. A master's of education online provides extra skill sets in training development, career advancement, and career changes.

Why Get a Master's Degree in Education?

Pursuing Specialization

The education process lets individuals cultivate new skills for a wider selection of positions. Students with a master's degree in education may enter training or lesson development fields. Training helps businesses increase productivity, motivation, and accomplish company goals. Some lesson development includes creating software, handbooks, guides, or new-hire courses. Other viable positions include those like university registrars, who oversee students' personal and financial records to ensure materials remain protected and communicated as the need arises.

Career Advancement Opportunities

Individuals with online master's degrees in education can pursue positions with more responsibility, allowing them to create instead of simply participate at their organization. For others, the degree ensures advancement with higher pay. School boards often give automatic salary increases for certifications and degrees in certain fields. Career advancements in education and training are becoming increasingly prevalent across the nation. According to the Monthly Labor Review, occupations for education and training are projected to increase by 11% by 2022.

Online Learning Technology

One of the leading education trends includes the increased intertwining of technology software and hardware. From more advanced Microsoft PowerPoint options such as Articulate Storyline and Prezi to SMART Boards and Apply TVs, offices and schools can explore many ways to collaborate and display information. Professionals such as instructional designers and learning design coaches use technology to translate communication into media that learners can more easily digest and remember.

Prerequisites for Online Education Programs

When exploring online master's programs in education, students should understand the common prerequisites involved in the application process.

  • Work Experience: Most online master's in education programs do not require work or internship experience. Students may join master's-level studies straight from bachelor's coursework or from a professional workplace. However, any experience in education creation or teaching makes applicants more appealing to admissions personnel.
  • Exams and Test Scores: Depending on the type of education specialization, students may need to submit test scores. If a working professional seeks the degree to gain additional methods, the individual typically must obtain certifications. Applicants with little to no experience may be asked to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). The median GRE score, as described by Kaplan, consists of verbal reasoning as 151, quantitative reasoning as 153, and the analytical writing assessment as 4.0. Each GRE test score maintains a lifespan of five years. Each master's program requires a different mixture of GRE scores if students must take the GRE.
  • Coursework: No set of courses or degree types exist as requirements to gain admission into an online master's in education. However, students must hold at least a 2.7 GPA from a former degree.
  • Recommendations: Students should plan to submit at least three professional recommendations that contain concrete examples of how well the applicant can handle graduate-level coursework. Recommendations should demonstrate how the applicant will succeed in the education field.
  • Essays: Several schools ask for a written statement about degree goals, experience, current career path, or desire to enter the program.
  • Interviews: Schools that do not request a written statement often conduct a phone, video, or in-person interview for similar purposes.
  • International Students: International students might be required to complete the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). A total score ranges from 0-120, and scores last two years. TOEFL admission scores vary by school.

How Much Can I Make with a Master's Degree in Education?

The average salary for professionals with a master's degree in education online is $56,000 per year for entry-level jobs, according to PayScale. PayScale's research on a bachelor's degree in education shows an average of $50,000 per year for entry-level positions. Salaries vary depending on certifications and experience, which usually exist as a requirement in an online master's curriculum. Individuals with a master's degree boast a more competitive set of abilities, making them more appealing to employers.

Traditional Careers for Master's in Education Graduates

Career Stats Description

Instructional Coordinators

Median Pay: $63,750

Job Growth: 11%

Instructional coordinators develop instructional materials, implement or train those materials, and then measure the results. Most professionals in this position work full time in schools.

Ideal for: Detailed and organized people who manage large groups and commit to employers' desires

Postsecondary Education Administrators

Median Pay: $92,360

Job Growth: 10%

Most postsecondary education administrators observe, manage, and build a community at public and private colleges by aiding a department or area within the school. These areas often include academic admissions, curriculum, research, and student services.

Ideal for: Professionals who can build relationships with a range of individuals while conducting an institution's flow of finances, security, and values

Elementary, Middle, or High School Principals

Median Pay: $94,390

Job Growth: 8%

In general, school principals oversee a school's daily operations, including student and staff behavior and academics. They create and execute safety precaution and ensure an effective learning atmosphere.

Ideal for: Natural leaders who can communicate with people of different backgrounds and age levels to convey the same information while creating a welcoming and constructive environment

College or University Professors / Postsecondary Teachers

Median Pay: $76,000

Job Growth: 15%

Postsecondary teachers include those who lead and create instruction beyond high school curriculum. Most of these teachers advise students in academic paths, collaborate with administration on program development, and participate in scholarly research. This position may exists as part time, full time, fully online, or spent during weeknights and weekends.

Ideal for: Subject matter experts who want to contribute to their institution's administration in addition to teaching and managing in a classroom

Nontraditional Careers for Master's in Education Graduates

Career Stats Description

Educational Consultant

Median Pay: $62,487

Job Growth: 9%

Often self-employed, educational consultants provide advice to individuals through education and career planning. Planning involves putting together applications, writing essays, helping to acquire financial aid, or assessing and supporting an individual's specific needs.

Ideal for: Self-motivated individuals with superior time-management skills who enjoy research and communicating this research through multiple mediums

School Counselor

Median Pay: $55,410

Job Growth: 13%

School counselors build academic, social, behavior, or career goals for individuals and groups. The type of aid a counselor provides depends on the institution. This position usually requires a counseling degree or certifications.

Ideal for: Patient and determined individuals who can analyze and overcome setbacks

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, PayScale, 2017-2018

Paying for an Online Master's in Education

Every school offers financial aid options. Some options exist specifically for online students or certain subjects. Students should speak with the education department to assess all opportunities available. Learners can explore accelerating their degree since most schools charge less money for fewer semesters taken. Also, students can consider joining a program in their state paid in part or fully by their workplace.

Subject-Specific Financial Aid, Grants, and Scholarships

Because education remains diverse in nature and in job fields, many subject-specific forms of financial aid exists for online master's students.

What to Expect from a Master's Online Education Program

Most online student who join a master's program in education discover much collaboration on teaching methods. Learners collaborate through virtual learning environments such as Canvas, Brightspace, Blackboard, and Moodle. Students participate in activities, discussion boards, and complete assignments through video conferencing, audio submissions, and peer reviewing.

Major Milestones

  1. Application

    Research schools for requirements and program path to confirm the path aligns with the experience, certifications, and courses needed for future goals. Take the GRE to prepare for admission requirements since the test results take time to arrive.

  2. Planning of Course of Study with Adviser

    Plan out desired courses in specific order to ensure that all courses are taken as they are offered and in the correct order to prepare for degree requirements.

  3. Coursework

    Complete all coursework requirements to allow time at the end of the program for an internship or thesis project.

  4. Internship/Project

    Some programs require an internship or project as part of degree requirements. Work closely with a teacher in the department to ensure the internship or project meets requirements.

  5. Thesis/Certifications

    Most programs require either a thesis or coursework that includes obtaining licenses or certification necessary for the career path. Gain approval and form a timeline for either path your school takes.

  6. Career Pursuits

    While finishing the thesis or certifications, meet with peers and professors to seek career opportunities. Use the research and projects along with recommendations to show abilities and potential before graduating.


In master's degrees for education, students typically take courses for instructional training and preparation that highlight skills in communication, technology, learning behavior, and lesson planning.


Leadership in education means preparing someone to govern multiple age levels of students in learning, in special disabled circumstances, in safety, and in preparing to discuss the needs and wants of students with administrators.

Current Teaching Trends

As teaching trends often dictate what and how subjects are taught, programs prepare students by introducing them to popular trends such as student-brought devices and personalized lessons.

Behavior and Sociology in Classrooms

This course examines how to manage different learners so each learner gets the training they need while not holding back the rest of the class. This skill becomes more complicated when human dynamics make group work and communication difficult.

Technology Integration

Technology remains a central part to translating instruction in manageable ways. The use of hardware such as projectors and SMART Boards or software such as Reflex Math or Articulate Storyline remain commonplace when meeting required standards.

Lesson Planning and Models

Educational models and lesson-planning methods remain the foundation of education. These models and methods plan the goals of the institute's leaders, focuses on students, and maintains a log to measure instruction quality.

Licenses and Certifications

In training or teaching and development or consulting, some experiences and certifications create more opportunities with better work environments.

  • National Board Certification: While teacher certifications vary between states and will not always transfer, individuals benefit by achieving general or subject-specific National Board Certification. Most states accept this certification and often award individuals with extra pay. These scored subject tests remain valid for five years. To qualify for testing, students need a bachelor's degree and three successful years of teaching experience. Each subject test costs $475.
  • Reading/English Language Arts Certificate: The subject of reading includes early readers learning sounds and letters to adult learners understanding the word flow in reading and writing. This transferable soft skill remains valuable for effective communication through lessons. Students can pursue certification through the local state department of education. Costs vary.

Professional Organizations and Resources

Education remains a widely connected field in local, national, and international organizations and resources. The pursuit to obtain the best educational practices and resources drives the formation of education-based professional organizations. Many organizations present opportunities for educators to contribute and offer their earned skills and discovered methods. Additionally, many groups offer conferences, annual journals, career advice, job boards, and networking gatherings. Individuals in all fields benefit by adding professional contacts who can expand their education and career prospects.

  • National Education Association: In existence for more than 100 years, NEA, the largest professional employee organization offers shared resources and legal services. The group cultivates strong connections by following the country's newest education policies and funding.
  • The Association for Educational Communications and Technology: This organization focuses on developing education using different technology and communication methods. As an international organization, AECT tends to promote cross-cultural resources and the recognition of effective instructional tools.
  • International Society for Performance Improvement: This organization stands out for its Certified Performance Technician Certification that professionals receive when they demonstrate they have met the group's code of ethics and standards of performance methods.
  • The Association of Learning Providers: Business-orientated educators can explore many organizations for resources and opportunities to build stronger skills among adults in a business setting. This organization connects individuals and businesses to other companies around the world that are making notable contributions, and then showing those contributions through retreats and research.
  • Open Educational Resources Commons: The website's primary goal remains aiding instructors to build learning resources through free templates, build collaboration through user-created groups, and give guidance through trainings and material reviews. Students can view many trainings as free video webinars.
  • The Department of Education's Office of Educational Technology: As the Department of Education (ED) oversees much of the policies, laws, and research for education in the U.S., it reaches into every type of education. Beyond the general ED, the Office of Educational Technology offers well-researched guidance into standards of technology usage and educational policies when teaching or designing instruction.