Why This Matters


    The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects kindergarten and elementary school teacher jobs to grow by 4%. That should result in 56,100 new jobs for elementary teachers by 2029.


    There were 66,837 elementary schools in the U.S. during the 2016-17 school year. That number doesn’t even include combined schools and private schools.


    The average annual salary for teachers with a Master of Science in Elementary Education is $58,558, compared with $51,504 for teachers with a bachelor’s degree in the same field.

Our Research

We reviewed many master’s in elementary education degree programs, including Master of Education (MEd), Master of Science (MS), and Master of Arts (MA) degrees. Our list covers online, on-campus, and hybrid programs to offer individuals multiple learning options.

All of the programs listed are regionally accredited, and many also have accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educational Programs (CAEP). Accreditation helps ensure a program meets certain quality standards.

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.

  • 51 hours to write this article
  • 199 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 366 education programs we compared

The Top 50 Master’s in Elementary Education Degree Programs

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

Elementary education generally requires a bachelor’s degree, and a master’s is required only to teach at public schools in three states (Connecticut, Maryland, and New York). If you’re not in these states or take a position at a private school, a master’s degree is likely unnecessary but could help you earn a higher salary.

To teach in any state, you’ll have to earn a state-issued license or certification. This requires obtaining an academic degree (usually a bachelor’s), paying a fee, and passing an exam. Certification isn’t required if you want to teach in private schools or help children in non-school settings.

The master’s in elementary education programs that are available can be categorized into two groups. Some are intended for students who already have a teaching credential, while others are designed for students who need a master’s degree to earn a teaching credential. Choose a program that’s appropriate for your situation when applying.

Most of these programs have an in-person experiential component, such as a student teaching stint. This is generally true of on-campus programs as well as online ones. Make sure any such requirement fits your schedule.

What’s Next?

Ask these questions to help you further evaluate master’s in elementary education degree programs:

  • How long does it take to complete this online degree? Most of these programs are 30 to 45 credits, which typically takes about two years to complete if you enroll full-time. Attending part-time will extend the length of a program.
  • What licensing or certifications are required? To work in public schools, you’ll have to obtain a state-issued teaching credential from the state where you wish to work. This normally requires a bachelor’s degree, but three states require a master’s. You’ll also have to pass a licensing or certification exam and pay a fee.

When you’ve identified good potential programs, find out what the application process entails. You can contact a program directly or check its website to learn about application materials and submission deadlines.

Also think about how you’ll cover the cost of tuition. Speak with program administrators about scholarships, grants, and need-based financial aid, and check with your employer to see if it offers tuition reimbursement.