Why This Matters

  • THE U.S. NEEDS 38,200 MORE OF YOU BY 2028

    Employment of secondary education teachers is expected to grow 4% within the next 10 years, about as fast as the average for all jobs. Math, science, ESL, and special education teachers will have the best job prospects.


    Teachers in Connecticut, Maryland, and New York must obtain a master’s degree in order to maintain their teaching credentials and advance in the field. Many other states encourage teachers to pursue advanced study.


    According to the National Council on Teacher Quality, 88% of the largest U.S. school districts offer additional pay to teachers who hold an advanced degree. This is either in the form of a stipend or annual pay increases.

Our Research

For this list, we concentrated our research on graduate programs in secondary education. The two most common graduate degrees students can earn in this area are a Master of Education (M.Ed) or a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT).

Our main criteria was that programs be available fully or primarily online to ensure flexibility and accessibility for students regardless of their availability and location.

To guarantee that programs meet the highest standards of quality, we only included schools that have regional accreditation. Additionally, 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.

  • 51 hours to write this article
  • 156 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 442 education programs we compared

The Top 50 Online Master’s in Secondary Education Programs

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

Secondary education is a bachelor’s-level entry field, meaning an undergraduate degree is the minimum requirement for obtaining a state-issued teaching license or certificate and qualifying for teaching jobs.

To maintain their credentials, teachers must complete continuing education credits, many of which can be satisfied through graduate-level coursework. Additionally, teachers in Maryland, New York, and Connecticut are required to earn a master’s degree in order to remain licensed or certified.

There are two types of master’s programs in secondary education – those that are designed for students who do not have a background in education and need to obtain their teaching credentials, and those that cater to students who already are licensed or certified teachers. Your educational and professional background will determine which kind of program you seek.

If you are pursuing a master’s as a way to enter the teaching profession, review your state’s requirements for teaching licensure or certification. Each state sets its own regulations, so you want to make sure you select a program that meets your state’s requirements.

Education programs typically require student teaching as part of their curriculum. Individuals who are employed as teachers may be able to complete these requirements at their current job. If you are not presently working in a school, be prepared to spend at least one term in a school setting.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching Online Master’s in Secondary Education programs:

  • Is this program CAEP-accredited? Programs that are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Education Preparation are widely recognized as meeting the highest standards for teacher education. Some states may require students to earn their degree from a CAEP-accredited program as a prerequisite for obtaining their teaching license or certificate. If this applies to you, be sure to choose a CAEP-accredited program.
  • Does this program offer the specialization that I want? Secondary education teachers typically focus on a specific subject such as math, science, English, or social studies. Confirm that the program you are considering will allow you to concentrate on your subject of choice through electives or a focused track.

At this point, you should start gathering your application materials as well as confirming application submission deadlines to ensure a smooth application process. This is also a good time to research your options for financing your master’s degree. If you are currently employed, find out if your employer offers any kind of tuition assistance benefits. Other options include student loans, scholarships, assistantships, and grants.