Master’s degree in education

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Why get a master’s degree in education?

When people think about a career in education, teaching is what first comes to mind. Although teaching encompasses a large percentage of careers from K-12 to higher education, it is not the only possibility. A master’s degree in education not only opens up employment opportunities in teaching, but also curriculum development, administrative roles and more. The content learned during a master’s program will give you the knowledge, skills and tools required to fulfill any of these duties. With an array of concentration and certificate opportunities, there are a variety of paths available to graduate students.

What do I need to apply?

To be considered for a master’s program in education, you will need to have first completed a bachelor’s degree in a related field from an accredited university. Most schools require a minimum GPA of 2.75-3.0, but the higher your GPA, the more competitive your application is compared to other applicants.

Most universities also require letters of recommendation, a goal statement, GRE scores and a resume. Many institutions require professional experience in the field.

Online

Universities across the country have harnessed the accessibility, flexibility and convenience that online education offers by making more of their programs and classes web based. This is also the case with master’s degrees in education.

Hybrid

Some master’s in education programs are offered in a hybrid format. This is a good option for students who want to do online coursework, but still have a traditional component to their education. Blended programs may have some courses exclusively online while others require face-to-face meetings or online class times.

Does my university need to be accredited?

University accreditation is very important. When you earn a master’s degree from an accredited institution it proves that the education you have earned has met a standard of excellence. This qualifies you for career opportunities, doctorate level coursework, certification or licensing. Accreditation ensures that the education you have earned has adequately prepared you for future academic or professional endeavors. 

Discover what the best master’s in education programs are, their tuition rates and scholarships opportunities for this degree.

What will I learn?

This course covers theories that have shaped education and our understanding of human development and learning. You will learn about cognitive, behavioral and social learning theories with a focus on how they are implemented in the classroom. 

Discussing pressing issues in education is how educators enhance student learning and academic success. You will learn about practical approaches and theories to provide additional insight in how to solve them.

A course in curriculum and assessment can prepare you to work in curriculum writing, design or teaching. It will cover components of an effective curriculum and different assessment techniques used to measure its effectiveness.

This is an essential course for anyone in the education field, especially those who want to become teachers. It focuses on the foundations of teaching and education as a profession and examines the complexities of school life, the importance of classroom management and educational reform. 

This will be the final part of your master’s program. It summarizes everything you have learned in your master’s program in a written document. A thesis shows the faculty in your department that you have adequately achieved all the necessary knowledge and demonstrate exceptional writing and research skills. 

Program concentrations

Special education

This concentration focuses on the foundations of special education and historical perspectives that have shaped special education. It equips you with additional knowledge about instructional strategies, classroom assessment and IEP policies and procedures that will be necessary for working with children or adults with special needs.

Teacher leadership

Being prepared as a teacher, leader, mentor or administrator is vital. Learning about leadership qualities, how to be an effective leader and understanding how to manage people will create a more efficient learning environment and prepare you for leadership roles like school principal, curriculum coach or instruction mentor in your school or district.

English language learner

This program focuses on research-based strategies for teaching English to students who don’t speak English but want to learn the language. This program will enhance knowledge and strategies for working with culturally and linguistically diverse students and teach how to better assist them during the academic process in learning English.

Certificate opportunities

Adult learning certificate

This program expands on your skills in adult curriculum design, learning theories, teaching methods and program evaluation. These skills are essential to someone who is looking to be employed as an adult educator after graduation.

Graduate certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Key knowledge and solid hands-on field practice are what makes this certification beneficial. It helps students assess and support those with an ASD, how and when to implement evidence-based interventions, and connecting assessment results to instruction for school-based professionals.

College teaching certificate

A certificate in college teaching will prepare you to educate students at a higher education level. Some universities and community colleges accept educators with a master’s degree, and this certificate can  provide you with  additional knowledge and skills before you step into the classroom.

Cost of the degree

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the total cost of a 2-year master’s degree is roughly $32,870.

Financial aid

Scholarships, grants and loans are popular ways to pay for a degree. A master’s program can be expensive, but luckily there are plenty of ways to make higher education more affordable. A popular route is through Federal Student Aid, a need-based federal grant awarded to those who qualify. When you apply to a master’s program you are considered to be financially independent from your parents, so this helps many students pay for a sizable portion of their degree.

Teaching credential

If you are interested in becoming a teacher in a public school, then additional requirements are necessary before you enter a classroom. While individual states have different prerequisite requirements, all states require additional measures after completing a higher education degree. The U.S. Department of Education provides information about different certification requirements by state. Many states insist on additional assessment tests, like the Praxis Series, student teaching, credential program completion and background tests.

Career options

Postsecondary professor

Some institutions and community colleges accept a master’s degree for postsecondary level teaching positions. Professors need to create coursework, lecture, assign homework, test students and grade student work. 

The average salary for a college professor is $67,000.

Director of education policy

Individuals dedicated to improving funds for public schools and developing policies to improve school performance are well suited to this role. Common tasks include facilitating reports, organizing community outreach and supervising staff.

The average salary for a director of education policy is $121,359.   

Curriculum writer

A curriculum writer is someone who creates curriculum for a school district, reviews education materials to ensure they’ve met educational standards, trains instructional staff and guides teachers.

The average salary for a curriculum writer is $53,299.  

Continuing education

Ed.D. in education

Instead of pursuing a doctorate of philosophy degree, many students are opting for the doctor of education degree. This is a professional degree for students who want to be employed in leadership or administrative roles as opposed to research. Graduates have a range of opportunities to use this degree from working in K-12 schools to jobs in government and healthcare. The program is practice based and uses research to solve current issues facing the education system while positively influencing the decision making processes.

Ph.D. in leadership and administration

This is a research-based degree that focuses on leadership qualities, effective teaching strategies and administrative tasks. Students will be prepared to work in management, administrative or district leadership positions. They will graduate will excellent problem solving skills, effective communication and adequate knowledge of educational data.

Ph.D. in special education

A doctoral degree in special education covers topics on diverse learners, research in special education, law and policy and Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). This prepares students for a career working with children and adults with special needs in the education, healthcare or government sector. Advanced research skills, critical thinking and creative curriculum development are the necessary tools students gain upon graduation. 

U.S. Department of Education

Information is available about loans, grants, scholarships and other financial aid to help students pay for higher education. Additionally, students have access to information about credential requirements by state, news resources and educational data.

The American Association of University Professors

This association builds a network of university professors to share ideas, learn about current issues, attend state conferences and read news reports about topics in higher education.

The National Association of State Boards of Education

This organization helps state boards maintain quality and equity in education. They provide helpful information on curriculum and instruction regarding state content standards and research-based approaches.