Why This Matters


    A master’s degree can open the door to a job as a school principal or district-level leadership. The median pay for principals is $96,400 a year.


    Rising student enrollment and more retirements will increase the demand for teachers at the primary and secondary levels over the next decade. High school teachers in math, science, TESOL, and special education are particularly needed.


    The average salary of a teacher with a master’s degree was $61,250 in 2017, about $12,000 more a year than the salary of a similar teacher with a bachelor’s degree, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Our Research

Our list includes programs at the master’s level that lead to a master of science or master of arts in education. Some have a specific focus, such as elementary education or school leadership — you’ll need to do some research to determine what program is best for your own goals.

A master’s degree in education is required in some, but not all, states to achieve full certification. Check with your state’s Department of Education to find out what degrees apply for certification where you are.

Our chosen courses are either entirely online, on campus, or a hybrid of the two. They all require between 30 to 45 credit hours of coursework, with some requiring experiential learning as well.

We evaluated each program on the basis of flexibility, faculty, course strength, cost, and reputation. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score for each program on a scale from 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

  • 55 hours to write this article
  • 195 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 399 education programs we compared

The Top 50 Master’s in Education Degree Programs

The Best Master's in Education Degree Programs
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What You Should Know About This Degree

If your state does not require a master’s degree for full certification, you may wonder why it’s necessary. But an advanced degree can lead to increased job opportunities, additional pay, and the ability to work with your students at a higher level of comprehension.

A master’s degree is also necessary if you want to work in leadership at the school, district, or state level. If there is a particular focus you’d like to pursue, such as special education, physical education, or TESOL, a master’s degree may be required.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts steady, slow growth of the educational industry over the next decade. That plus the fact that many teachers are nearing retirement make it a good career choice now.

If you are interested in teaching at the post-secondary level, a master’s degree will be your first step. Many colleges and universities hire adjunct instructors in a variety of topics with master’s degrees. To become a full, tenure-track professor, however, you may need to earn a doctoral degree.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching master’s in Education programs:

  • Am I eligible for this program? You will be required to show that you have earned an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution in order to apply for any master’s program in Education. Some master’s programs are limited to those who are already teaching professionally — check the website of your chosen school to ensure that you have all the necessary requirements for enrollment.
  • Are courses offered synchronously or asynchronously? Online programs generally offer one of two possible methodologies. Classes may be live and available only at that time for students (synchronous), or they may be taped so that students can watch them at their convenience (asynchronous). If you are working while attending graduate school, you may find asynchronous delivery a more convenient option.

As you research programs, note the deadlines for application both to the incoming class and for financial support. Admissions counselors are generally available by phone, email, or live chat to answer any questions you have.

If you are concerned about having sufficient financial support, don’t stop at applying for the school’s aid package. You may be able to find scholarships, grants, or loans through your employer or any professional organizations to which you belong.