Why This Matters


    Thanks to increasing school enrollment in public elementary and secondary schools, steady growth in employment in education and related jobs is expected during the next decade.


    In addition to increasing school enrollment, retirements also drive the need for more teachers across K-12 settings. An advanced degree and specialization can improve job prospects.


    A master’s degree in K-12 education can lead to other opportunities outside the classroom, such as being an instructional coordinator who develops and implements curriculums and teaching standards.

Our Research

We focused our research on master’s-level programs in K-12 education and related areas. The most common types of degrees in this subject are Master of Education (M.Ed), Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT), and Master of Science (MS).

One of our main criteria was that programs be delivered completely or primarily online. We wanted the programs on this list to be available to the greatest number of students, regardless of location or schedule.

All of the programs are offered by schools that have regional accreditation. Additionally, many programs are also accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educational Programs (CAEP), which is a specialized agency overseeing postsecondary education programs.

We evaluated each program on the basis of faculty, flexibility, reputation, cost, and outcomes. Then 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.

  • 56 hours to write this article
  • 173 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 476 education programs we compared

The Top 34 Online Master’s in K-12 Education Degree Programs

Best Online Master's in K-12 Education Degree Programs
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What You Should Know About This Degree

A master’s degree in K-12 education is something of a blanket term for many different graduate programs in education. Some focus on teaching a specific subject, like mathematics or ESL, while others are based in developing advanced skills in curriculum and instruction or instructional technology. Your personal and professional interests will guide what type of program you choose.

You also have to consider your educational background and current professional status when selecting a K-12 master’s program. To teach in U.S. public schools, teachers must have a state-issued teaching license or certification. A bachelor’s degree is the minimum level of education needed to obtain teaching credentials. In some states, you need to earn a master’s to maintain your credentials.

Some K-12 education master’s programs are designed for educators who already have their teaching license or certificate. Others will prepare you for licensure or certification.

If you are earning your master’s as a pathway to obtaining your credentials, review your state’s regulations before selecting a program. Some programs only prepare students for licensure or certification in the state in which the program is located. The state may also mandate that you attend a program accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. Individuals without state-issued teaching credentials will be limited to job opportunities in private, charter, and alternative schools.

What’s Next?

You can ask the following questions when researching online master’s in K-12 education programs:

  • How are classes delivered? Online classes are usually delivered asynchronously or synchronously. Asynchronous classes do not have set meeting times, but students access their lessons and assignments at any time. Synchronous classes meet remotely at set times. Determine which type of delivery format works best for you before selecting a program.
  • Are there any in-person requirements for this program? Most education master’s programs have an experiential learning component in which you will spend time in a classroom. If you are currently working in an education setting, you may be able to complete this requirement in your regular classroom. Otherwise, you should expect to spend at least one term in a classroom setting, so be prepared to fit this into your schedule.

Now is the time to collect your application materials as well as confirm application submission deadlines and procedures with the school’s admissions department. You should also explore your options for funding your graduate education. Consult with the school’s financial aid department about applying for student loans and scholarships. If you are currently employed, find out if your employer offers any tuition assistance benefits.