The best master’s degrees in education

HomeEducationThe best master’s degrees in education

Introduction to education

A career in the education sector can be an incredibly rewarding vocation. While a bachelor’s in education is the level needed to become a teacher, some choose to further their knowledge and understanding of the subject area with a master’s degree.

A master’s in education gives a teacher a clearer understanding of their subject and the needs of their students. Whether you are teaching at a kindergarten, elementary or high school level, there is always something new that can be learned in this field. If you are considering pursuing a master’s in education, you will gain skills that can help you to be a more objective and effective educator.

Pursuing a master’s in education is also beneficial for those in this industry who wish to leave the classroom and move into a career in educational research or policymaking. The jump from teacher to principal or vice principal requires further knowledge that is best obtained in an accredited, academic setting.

There are many universities that offer master’s programs in education. Since these courses are fairly common, it is important that any applicant carefully considers a course before applying to it. There are many differences between the programs you could opt for. However, many of the top schools in the country offer postgraduate tracks such as master’s degrees alongside their undergraduate degrees.

Top programs for a master’s in education

  • Stanford University

    Stanford University Stanford, California
    Stanford University

    Stanford University is one of the most prestigious universities in the United States. This private research university was founded in 1885 and is located in California near San Francisco. This institution is home to 7 schools –3 undergraduate and 4 postgraduate. It produces many Fulbright, Marshall and Rhodes Scholars, in addition to world class athletes and entrepreneurs.

    Applicants to Stanford University’s master’s programs must complete the application form along with a non-refundable fee of $125. They must also provide their undergraduate transcript, a current resume and 3 letters of recommendation from professional or academic sources. Applicants will also need to write a statement of purpose as to why they wish to study at Stanford. Some degree tracks also require writing samples or supplemental essays.

    In addition to individual master’s tracks, students can also pursue joint M.A. programs. In these programs, students earn 2 master’s degrees at the same time. The joint M.A. programs offered at Stanford include law and education, education and business administration, and public policy and education.

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  • Harvard University

    Harvard University Cambridge, Massachusetts
    Harvard University

    Harvard University is one of the most well-known universities in the world. Founded in 1636, this prestigious Ivy League research university is the oldest institute of higher learning in the United States. Alumni of the university have won 161 Nobel Prizes and 108 Olympic medals.

    To apply for a master’s in education at Harvard University, candidates need to submit a number of documents. These include the online application form, a current resume, a statement of purpose, 3 letters of recommendation, an undergraduate transcript and GRE results. The application fee is $85.

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  • Eastern Illinois University

    Eastern Illinois University Charleston, Illinois
    Eastern Illinois University

    Eastern Illinois University was founded in 1895 and is located in Charleston, Illinois. This public university was originally founded as a teacher’s college, but has since expanded to offer both bachelor’s and master’s degrees across a wide variety of academic fields.

    This university offers an on-campus degree in educational leadership and 2 online master’s courses, one in special education and one in curriculum and instruction. Online courses can be completed from another state and do not require relocation to the campus for instruction.

    Candidates must submit an online application form and send their transcripts directly to the graduate school on campus. For a master’s in education, candidates must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with a GPA of 3.0.

    For the educational leadership track, applicants must carry a valid Illinois professional educators license and must have 2 years of full-time teaching experience. For the special education track, applicants must have a minimum of 400 hours of clinical experience in the field.

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  • University of Oklahoma

    University of Oklahoma Norman, Oklahoma
    University of Oklahoma

    The University of Oklahoma’s Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education can be located in the Collings Hall building on the Norman campus. The college was founded in 1930 and renamed in 2008 following a donation of $8 million from H.E. Rainbolt in honor of his late wife, thus making it the only college at this university to be named in honor of a woman.

    There are 17 different master of education programs at this college. Many of these courses seek to further a teacher’s understanding of their discipline, with some of them also preparing a teacher to step into an administrative role beyond the classroom. Most of the courses must be completed on-campus, but the educational administration, curriculum and supervision track may be completed online.

    Applicants need to complete the online application form. Many of the courses at this university have rolling deadlines so candidates can apply whenever they choose. You must have a bachelor’s degree with a GPA of 3.0 from an accredited institution of higher learning and must submit the transcript for this degree with your application.

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  • Johns Hopkins University

    Johns Hopkins University baltimore, Maryland
    Johns Hopkins University

    John Hopkins University was founded in 1876 and is the first research university in the US. This private institution is located in Baltimore, Maryland and has approximately 20,000 postgraduate students enrolled.

    There are 5 master of science in education programs available to study at John Hopkins, with Educational Studies having a further 3 routes that can be explored. Along with these standard education tracks, Johns Hopkins offers programs that move beyond the classroom such as a master of science in education policy or counseling. There are 3 programs available to study online: digital age learning and educational technology, educational studies Teach for America and gifted education.

    Candidates need to hold an accredited bachelor’s degree with a GPA of 3.0 to enter a master’s program at Johns Hopkins. Applicants also submit their undergraduate transcript, an online application, resume and at least 2 professional or academic recommendations. Some degree tracks also require a 500-word essay describing your intent and goals. Some degree tracks also require you to hold a teaching license. For on-campus programs, this license must be issued by the state of Maryland. Teaching experience is also required.

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  • Northern Illinois University

    Northern Illinois University Dekalb, Illinois
    Northern Illinois University

    Northern Illinois University was founded in 1895 as a teaching school, and the College of Education is the oldest college on campus. The main campus of this public university can be found in DeKalb, Illinois and they have nearly 5000 postgraduate students enrolled across 79 programs.

    There are 11 master of education programs available. Some seek to improve the knowledge that candidates might already have about their chosen field, while others prepare participants for a role in policymaking or school administration at a local or state level.

    Applicants to these courses need to submit an online application form along with transcripts from their bachelor’s degree and any other institute of higher learning they may have attended. This program requires a minimum GPA of 3.0. Applicants must submit a statement of purpose which should outline why they have chosen to apply and what they can hope to achieve through the course.

    Candidates also require 2 to 3 letters of recommendation from academic or professional sources and may also have to submit a writing sample. Candidates wishing to apply for the art and design education track will also need to provide a portfolio of work. Some tracks, such as the educational research, evaluation and assessment track, can be studied online.

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  • Duke University

    Duke University Durham, North Carolina
    Duke University

    Duke University is located in Durham, North Carolina. It is a private research university that was founded by Quakers and Methodists, and it moved to its current location in 1892, having initially been located in Trinity. It is one of the most prestigious universities in the U.S. and has produced 15 Nobel Laureates, 50 Rhodes Scholars and 3 recipients of the Turing Award.

    The master of arts teaching program is designed to help those students with an undergraduate degree make the transition to becoming a high school teacher. In addition to lecture and seminar time on campus, students will also undergo a 27-week internship at a local public high school to give them valuable training experience.

    Those who wish to apply to this career path will need a relevant undergraduate degree from the field in which they wish to teach. Candidates must have a GPA of 3.0 for this degree, and must also have acceptable GRE scores. Applicants must also submit at least 2 letters of recommendation and may be invited to interview as part of the application process.

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  • University of Colorado

    University of Colorado Denver, Colorado
    University of Colorado

    The University of Colorado Denver is a public research university with 2 campuses in Denver and nearby Aurora, Colorado. It was established in 1912, and is part of the wider University of Colorado system. Though the campus is based in Denver, many of its courses are available through the CU online system, allowing students to complete their studies remotely.

    There are 12 master’s programs available to study here. They prepare their students for a variety of different roles in the education sector, whether in the classroom as an educator or in a research or administrative capacity. Many of these courses have rolling deadlines for maximum flexibility, and the admissions office recommends that you submit an application at least 4 months prior to the semester you wish to enter.

    Teaching licenses are not required to study these courses. A license is needed, however, if engaging with practical applications. All applicants must be able to submit official transcripts from any previous institutions attended with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Applicants must also submit a resume and 3 letters of recommendation, plus a written statement as to why their chosen postgraduate course could be beneficial to them. An interview may also be conducted as part of the applications process.

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  • Alcorn State University

    Alcorn State University Lorman, Mississippi
    Alcorn State University

    Alcorn State University was founded in 1871 and is located in Lorman, Mississippi. It is a member school of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. Many students from this school were involved in the Civil Rights Movement of the mid-20th century, and amongst its alumni is the civil rights activist Medgar Evers.

    There are 2 degree tracks in the masters of science in education at Alcorn State. One is for elementary education with 3 sub-concentrations. The other is a master’s in secondary education with 13 sub-concentrations.

    All applicants need to submit an application form along with the transcripts from their bachelor’s degree. They will also need a resume, their GRE test results and two professional or academic references. Any education courses where you work with children require you to carry an educator’s license.

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  • Erikson Institute

    Erikson Institute Chicago, Illinois
    Erikson Institute

    The Erikson Institute is located in downtown Chicago and was established in 1966. It is a private graduate school dedicated to child development and was named after the leading developmental psychologist Erik Erikson.

    Approximately 300 graduates are currently enrolled. The Institute offers 3 masters of science in education, all of which can be completed on-campus or online. These tracks are an M.S. in child development, M.S. in early childhood education and a master of social work.

    The Erikson Institute accepts a bachelor’s degree in any field from its applicants. There are rolling start dates. You may be asked to undergo additional tests if your degree path requires you to get an Illinois educator’s license.

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Career outlook in the market

Those who undertake a master’s in education will find many doors opening for them. One of the primary reasons to get this degree would be to gain the knowledge and experience needed to climb up to a management position within your school, whether as a department head or as a principal. There is also the option for someone to move positions within their school, for example becoming a counselor. Career outlook in this area is fantastic, and is expected to grow by 4% for kindergarten and elementary teachers and high school teachers by 2029. A generation of teachers is expected to have retired by then, potentially leaving plenty of opportunities for specialists in core subjects like math, English and science.

There are also opportunities for educators to move to an administrative role within their school districts. Those who wish to engage in policy making decisions should consider this route.

Salary growth

There is a substantial jump in salary for those with master’s degrees compared to those with bachelor’s degrees. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the average wage for high-school teachers was $62,310, with the highest 10% earning over $99,660.

One role which does require a master’s in education is that of a school principal. This carries an average wage of $97,850 for local schools, with the top 10% earning $148,630.

Financial aid

Those who will need some financial aid to help fund their master’s in education will be able to find plenty of information about loans and other grants that they can apply for. For a free application to federal student financial aid, head to Federal Student Aid and complete the FAFSA form.