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An online master’s in elementary education introduces students to new teaching and management techniques to implement in the classroom. In most districts, a master’s degree can boost income for kindergarten and elementary teachers, which averages $61,350 annually. Teachers will also have the option to move into roles outside the classroom, such as instructional coordinator, who earn a median annual salary of $63,740.

Tuition costs for an online master’s in elementary education will vary by institution. The average cost of a master’s degree during the 2020-21 academic year was $12,394 at public institutions and $26,621 at private universities, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

How to Choose an Online Master’s in Elementary Education Program

Choose your area of study

Choosing an area of study without clear goals, needs, and preferences will be challenging. Students can explore the many concentrations within the elementary education program. Examples include curriculum development, English as a second language, Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM), or technology. Current teachers may want more instruction on specific subjects, like math, science, or reading.

Once students establish those, they must determine which type of master’s degree will help them reach their goals. Various master’s degree options in elementary education include the following:

  • Master of Arts in Elementary Education
  • Master of Science in Teaching
  • Master of Arts in Education
  • Master of Early Childhood Education

Research schools and programs

Researching the best online master’s in elementary education programs should begin with verifying accreditation. If a school does not have accreditation, it can hinder students from advancing after graduation.

Checking the accreditation of an elementary education master’s program can be done at the Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

Most universities share much content about their programs on their website. Navigate through the pages, finding answers to questions like the following:

  • What are faculty credentials?
  • Do the classes match your interests?
  • Is the program flexible and meets your lifestyle needs?
  • What support services are available?

Follow elementary education programs on social media and review comments.

Prepare for tests and applications

Online master’s in elementary education programs may have different application requirements, so it’s always wise to confirm with the school’s admissions office what they need for a complete application. A standard application packet for a master’s program includes:

  • Application
  • Official undergraduate transcripts showing degree completion and final GPA
  • Resume
  • Personal essay
  • Letters of recommendation

Schools may also require GRE scores, although an increasing number of schools are waiving this exam.

Select your program

When selecting the best online master’s in elementary education program, you should find one that meets your personal, professional, academic, and social needs. Create a list with one column for things a program must have, then a column for what you hope they have but can do without. The ones that match should be at the top of the application list.

Because sending multiple applications simultaneously can be costly, students may want to pick two to three top choices to begin the process. They can apply to others later, if necessary.

Determine how you will pay for your degree

The first step in seeking financial assistance is completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Hundreds of millions of dollars in scholarships and grants are left on the table each year. By completing the FAFSA, students can take advantage of this opportunity. Students may qualify for local, state, or federal scholarships and grants. Pell Grants, for example, are available to eligible post-baccalaureate teacher certification program students.

Students working full-time jobs while attending an online master’s in elementary education program can check with their employer about tuition assistance or reimbursement options. Additionally, students should  apply for fellowships, assistantships, work-study programs, scholarships, and grants to reduce the costs of their master’s program.

Best 50 Accredited Online Master’s in Elementary Education Programs

Best Online Master's in Elementary Education Degree Programs

Mississippi College

University of Alabama

University of North Dakota

University of West Florida

St. Thomas University

Lesley University

Appalachian State University

Ball State University

NC State University

Western Governors University

Georgia Southern University

University of Missouri at St. Louis

University of Louisiana Monroe

University of New Mexico

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Boston University

Kansas State University

Liberty University

University of West Georgia

Worcester State University

East Carolina University

Arizona State University

University of Virginia

Southeast Missouri State University

Florida International University

University of Alabama at Birmingham

Emporia State University

Auburn University College of Education

Oregon State University

Pittsburg State University

University of Alaska Southeast

Eastern New Mexico University

Troy University

Missouri State University

Drexel University

University of Pittsburgh School of Education

Stephen F. Austin State University

Merrimack College

California State University at Fullerton

Mercer University

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How We Rank Schools

Our research focused on graduate programs in elementary education. Students can earn several types of degrees in this field, including a Master of Education (M.Ed), Master of Arts (MA), and Master of Science (MS).

We concentrated on finding programs that are delivered completely or primarily online, ensuring flexibility and availability for the largest group of students, regardless of their availability or location.

All of the schools on this list are regionally accredited. This is a confirmation of quality in postsecondary education. Many programs are also accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educational Programs (CAEP), a specialized agency that oversees postsecondary education programs.

We reviewed each program based on its outcomes, cost, reputation, faculty, and flexibility. Using this information, we calculated an Intelligent Score for each program on a scale of 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

What Can You Expect from an Online Master’s in Elementary Education Program?

Prospective students in an online master’s in elementary education program can expect to spend at least two years or between 30 and 40 credit hours completing core curriculum and electives. Students will study topics relevant to education, such as teaching students with different competency levels, from special education to gifted. Concentration areas include curriculum development, leadership, new technologies, classroom management, and teaching techniques.

Practicums are required to help students gain real-world experience in an education setting, supervised by a licensed educator. For example, a student in the elementary program who plans to teach will work alongside a teacher in an approved school.

Potential courses you’ll take in an online master’s in elementary education degree program

  • Educational Research and Assessment. Students learn to research current classroom and school topics and apply the findings. They gain skills in data collection, assessments, evaluation, and implementation.
  • Laws and Ethics in Education. This course prepares students to better understand the code of ethics set forth by the National Education Association. Students will also examine case studies and collaborate on solutions for various unethical scenarios. Legal aspects in education focus on the laws teachers and administrators must abide by while employed.
  • Leadership Styles in Education. Students will learn their leadership style and how to use it to promote learning. Various leadership styles are discussed, including democratic, constructivist, transformational, coaching, and instructional.
  • Childhood Development. Students learn the various developmental stages in elementary-aged children and how they learn at each stage. Topics may include the brain, language, literacy, psychological, physical, and social development. Students also learn how to foster growth and development in the classroom.
  • Observation and Assessment. Students learn to observe children in different educational environments and use their observations to make positive changes in and out of the classroom. They learn to use findings to improve safety in the school and promote learning individually and as a group. Students may be required to conduct observations for graded projects.

What Can You Do With an Online Master’s in Elementary Education?

Career outlook

Educational instruction jobs as a whole should see average growth through 2032, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), with approximately 857,600 projected job openings each year. Average salaries can vary widely, depending on the position. Kindergarten and elementary teachers, for example, make $61,620, while principals make $101,320. Growth slows down a bit when it comes to on-the-ground teaching positions, with little to no change expected in the number of open positions for teachers.

Career paths

A master’s in elementary education certainly prepares students for careers in direct classroom education, but it also provides the background for supervisory and management positions.

Graduates may also apply their training and experience to careers that don’t involve teaching, such as curriculum development and consulting. Those with this degree may also oversee nonschool-related programs intended for elementary-age children. Below are some more details on common career paths for this degree and what they entail:

  • Senior teacher — supervise other elementary teachers and provide day-to-day support
  • Principal — support teachers and other school staff and oversee operational, administrative, and financial aspects of the school
  • Curriculum developer — design curricula for elementary grades
  • Educational consultant — provide suggestions for improvement to learning structures and other aspects of the elementary classroom
  • Program director — plan and implement programs for students or elementary schools

Senior Teacher

Earning Potential: $39,000-$82,000 annually

Education Required: Master’s degree in Elementary Education, Secondary Education, Education and Teaching, and related fields

Senior teachers provide training, support, and mentorship for other teachers while also managing their own classrooms. They help develop curricula that support student engagement and learning outcomes and can identify and refer students for further testing, if necessary.

They provide feedback on junior teachers’ lesson plans and classroom management skills as well as guidance on how to form partnerships with parents.

Senior teachers serve as bridges between junior teachers and management staff to ensure teachers’ needs are understood and met. They may consult on larger operations decisions within the school or serve on committees.


Earning Potential: $65,000-$159,000 annually

Education Required: Master’s degree in Elementary Education, Education Policy and Leadership, or Educational Administration

Principals serve as the executive leadership of their schools, reporting to the district superintendent and local school board. They are responsible for direct management of the teachers and other staff, including tutors, classroom aides, secretaries, school counselors, coaches, and janitors. They create and foster a learning environment that supports academic success, a positive student experience, and teacher development.

Principals must also deal with operations management, including developing budgets, making staffing decisions, and considering what classes and extracurricular activities should be offered. They are involved with student discipline procedures and tasked with ensuring school safety, including designing, implementing, and testing emergency plans.

Curriculum Developer

Earning Potential: $48,000-$99,000 annually

Education Required: Master’s degree in Elementary Education, Learning Experience Design, Curriculum and Instruction, and related fields

Curriculum developers with a focus on elementary education design and create curricula that meet learning standards and objectives in an engaging and supportive environment for the student. They identify learning needs and use sound pedagogical principles to design curricula for both in-person and digital learning environments. This can include lesson plans, textbooks, tests, and related materials.

Curriculum developers can also work on training modules for new teachers and continuing education classes for elementary teachers. They serve on committees and assist with curriculum alignment across districts.

Online Master’s in Elementary Education Degree Program Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to an online master’s in elementary education degree program?

Before submitting any documents, it is crucial to contact an admissions counselor. They provide checklists, including deadlines for when to apply. They can also answer any questions about the application process, including whether application waivers exist and which scholarships are available.

Preparation of application materials should begin months before the application deadline. Request transcripts and test scores, write a personal statement on why you are getting a master’s in elementary education, and ask reputable teachers and leaders to write a recommendation.

Create your resume and include clubs, awards, achievements, and extracurricular activities.

How much does an online master’s in elementary education degree program cost?

The costs of an online master’s in the elementary education program depend on many factors. Each university charges a base tuition fee, although they may also add fees for technology, library resources, student activities, learning support services, etc.

Fees for students who attend part-time will be less per semester, but the cost will be the same in the long run. Most public institutions charge less money for students taking online courses rather than on-campus courses. Private universities, however, tend to charge more for online instruction.

At the same time, attending online programs will save you money on transportation, meals, and housing.

How long does it take to earn an online master’s in elementary education degree?

Most online master’s in elementary education programs require between 30 and 40 credit hours to complete. Taking online courses may allow flexibility in starting and finishing a course. You can shorten your program completion time if you do not have to wait until a semester begins to start a class.

Another determinant is attending part-time or full-time. Full-time students typically finish in two years, while part-time students need three years or more. Occasionally, a school will offer an accelerated program, allowing you to complete the program in less than 18 months.

Is an online master's in elementary education worth it?

If you want to get out of classroom teaching into a management-level position, a master’s degree will likely be required. These supervisory positions also come with a significant pay bump. For example, the average salary for an elementary teacher is $61,690, but this increases by approximately 64% for principals.

Pursuing an online master’s in elementary education can also help you further hone your teaching skills and understand how students learn and retain information. Some people choose to focus on a specific subject or a specific mode of learning or student population, such as special education.

An online degree program can make it easier for those who need to earn a master’s degree for their licensing requirements. Remote learning includes all of the benefits of faculty and student interaction and networking while letting you work from the convenience of your home — or around a current teaching schedule.

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