Earning a Master's in Education Online

What You’ll Learn & What You Can Do After Graduation

Should I Pursue a Master's in Education Online?

Professionals with an affinity for helping others learn should consider earning an online master's in education. The best candidates possess some teaching experience or currently work in education-related roles. However, candidates with a bachelor's degree from an accredited university in a field other than education also qualify to apply for this program. For instance, an applicant with a bachelor's in English could pursue a master's in education in preparation for a career as an English teacher.

While this degree can lead to teaching roles, graduates with an online master's in education may also pursue administrative roles in K-12 and higher education settings, curriculum development, or policy development.

Online learning environments provide advantages that on-campus programs do not offer. Distance learners can access coursework from any location. While some programs follow synchronous formats, most programs offer asynchronous learning, which allows students to learn the material at their own convenience. The following sections include an overview of salary projections, job titles, and coursework that can help students discern how closely this degree aligns with their professional goals.

Employment Outlook for Master's in Education Graduates

Master's in Education Salary

Earning an online master's in education can lead to lucrative opportunities throughout the U.S. The table below includes some of the highest average salaries in the country for professionals with this degree. However, prospective students should note that while these states offer high wages, employment opportunities vary. For instance, Delaware offers the second-highest average pay, yet the level of employment ranks extremely low. In contrast, California offers good wages alongside the most job opportunities. Students may want to examine the cost of living in their state against average salaries to predict quality of life.

Top-Paying States for Postsecondary Education Administrators

State Employment Annual Mean Wage
New Jersey 2,070 $154,300
Delaware 290 $146,430
Maryland 2,530 $125,350
California 12,840 $123,630
Hawaii 450 $121,560
United States (average) 142,160 $107,670

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Pay by Experience Level for Postsecondary Education Administrators

  • Entry-Level (0-5 Years):
    $48,000
  • Mid-Career (5-10 Years):
    $57,000
  • Experienced (10-20 Years):
    $62,000
  • Late-Career (20+ Years):
    $65,000

Source: PayScale

Master's in Education Careers

Online master's programs in education lead to multiple career opportunities that often involve very different job responsibilities and call for contrasting personalities. For instance, administrators working in K-12 settings consult parents and other relevant stakeholders to make decisions regarding students, while administrators working in higher education interact with students directly. Likewise, administrative roles involve management, human resources, and legal-related duties that instructors in classrooms may not engage in.

Postsecondary Education Administrator

Annual Median Salary: $92,360

Projected Growth Rate: 10%

Postsecondary administrators work in multiple departments. In an admissions office, administrators review student applications, analyze data, and decide whom to admit. In a registrar's office, administrators manage course enrollment, direct commencement ceremonies, and maintain academic records. Contrastingly, student affairs administrators address nonacademic concerns, while academic deans manage academic policies and college staff members.

Elementary, Middle, or High School Principal

Annual Median Salary: $94,390

Projected Growth Rate: 8%

K-12 administrators manage class schedules and uphold curriculum standards. These administrators also conduct performance reviews of teachers and provide professional development opportunities for staff. Principals also manage certain cases of student discipline. This role requires extensive communication with parents and other community stakeholders. To qualify, applicants must hold at least a master's degree.

Postsecondary Teacher (Community College)

Annual Median Salary: $76,000

Projected Growth Rate: 15%

Postsecondary instructors develop course content according to their school's standards. Teachers collaborate within their departments to modify and improve courses that involve interconnected content. Professors also administer exams and lead field experiences when necessary. Most postsecondary instructors engage in ongoing research to stay abreast in their field.

Instructional Coordinator

Annual Median Salary: $63,750

Projected Growth Rate: 11%

To qualify for this role, applicants must hold at least a master's degree. Instructional coordinators create and implement curriculum. Other duties include administering any onboarding or professional development workshops. Instructional coordinators emphasize curriculum standards and stay abreast of educational resources, including new textbooks and technology. Instructional coordinators also act as coaches, mentoring instructors as needed.

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statstics / PayScale

What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Education Program?

Master's programs in education must adhere to strict state standards, which creates similarities in course options. However, schools also develop their own curricula, and their standards may extend beyond the state's requirements. Therefore, students should anticipate differences in program offerings. The sections below include potential courses students may take and common licenses associated with an online master's in education.

Curriculum for an Online Master's Degree in Education

Politics and Education Policy in the U.S.

As one of the largest fields in national economies, educational policy receives significant attention from federal, state, and school governing bodies, among other stakeholders. This course examines past conflicts and solutions in educational governance to help students understand U.S. educational development while analyzing current issues. Successful completion of this course assists graduates with maintaining ethical conduct and compliance.

Practical Issues and Challenges in Student Affairs Administration

In this course, students explore what influences the organizational structures that guide the student affairs industry. This course emphasizes skills, knowledge, and awareness needed to create ethically and multiculturally competent administrators. Students learn to apply theory and research within the educational field through a student affairs lens.

Psychology of Learning and Instruction

This course examines both applied and theoretical components of learning, personality, motivation, human development, and assessment in educational settings. Students examine learning theories that underlie human development and learning, including socialization and affective processes. Emerging educators acquire skills needed to assess student behaviors and receptiveness to information at any age level.

Strategies for Leading and Teaching Diverse Learners

This course explores legal definitions and educational adaptations used to develop lessons that accommodate needs of all students despite their ability. In this course, students examine high-quality curricula, classroom culture, continuous assessment, and homogenous and heterogenous group work. Coursework encourages future educators to work toward a fair and inclusive learning environment in the classroom.

Leadership in Education

This course prepares students to qualify for administrative roles in educational institutions. Coursework emphasizes evidence-based leadership strategies to foster meaningful change. Students examine influential components that improve urban environments and evaluate the impact of leadership efforts. Students also explore ways to initiate change by examining current issues in the field.

Certifications and Licenses a Master's in Education Prepares Graduates For

  • Principal's License: Students who plan to become principals in K-12 schools must pass their state's licensure exam. This license assesses organizational skills, instructional knowledge, and leadership capabilities. To qualify, students must earn a master's in education with a school leadership or educational administration focus from an accredited university.

  • Superintendent Licensure Certificate: To qualify for this licensure, students must complete a master's degree in education with a concentration in leadership from an accredited university. The superintendent licensure exam includes five content categories: educational leadership, instructional leadership, administrative leadership, integrated knowledge and understanding. The exam includes 120 questions and takes three hours to complete.

Professional Organizations and Resources

Joining professional organizations remains an excellent way for professionals to grow within their field. In fact, most organizations allow education students membership, partly for the purposes of offering them mentorship. After graduating, student members switch over to a standard professional membership package.

Professional organizations in educational administration provide access to the latest research in the field, online workshops, networking events, conferences, and continuing education opportunities. Many organizations also manage their own job boards and provide career services.

The list below includes multiple professional organizations in educational leadership.

  • National Association of Elementary School Principals: Founded in 1921, the NAESP includes elementary and middle school principals primarily throughout the U.S. and Canada. NAESP offers monthly webinars, discounts on supplies and travel services, conferences, and networking opportunities.

  • National Association of Secondary School Principals: NASSP provides an online collaborative community of secondary administrators across the U.S. Membership includes professional development opportunities, access to continuing education coursework, and mentorship. NASSP also provides ample online resources at no additional cost.

  • Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development: The ASCD collaborates with professionals in over 100 countries to foster educational equity across schools. Members gain access to a vast network of professionals, workshops, training, and online materials.

  • National Education Association: The NEA retains recognition as the largest professional employee organization that strives to improve public education. With over 3 million professionals, members gain access to a valuable network with multiple professional development and mentorship opportunities. The NEA offers continuing education coursework, access to cutting-edge research, and online workshops.

  • Association of College Administration Professionals: Established in 1995, ACAP welcomes all administrators in higher education. Members receive monthly newsletters and gain access to job postings. ACAP also offers access to a vast network of professionals and collaborative opportunities.

  • AASA Journal of Scholarship and Practice: The American Association of School Administrators publishes evidence-based research geared toward academic performance improvement. Topics include improving the teacher hiring process, accountability, professional support, and factors influencing tenure.

  • School Planning and Management: School Planning and Management is an online publication that focuses on K-12 educational environments. Content includes practitioner-based articles and reports that discuss safety and security, finance, technology, and learning environment improvements.

  • Connected Principals: This blog welcomes administrators at all levels to share and discuss best practices and experiences in the field. The site also includes interesting articles about learning opportunities, professional organization memberships, and cutting-edge technology.

  • Education Week: Education Week strives to draw attention to critical problems in U.S. schools. This nonprofit publisher provides information and products for K-12 educational settings. This site also manages its own job board.

  • Federal Insider Podcast: The National School Boards Association manages their own podcast that discusses upcoming policies, initiatives, and concerns that influence educational institutions. Recent topics include the Economic Security and Opportunity Initiative, tax-exempt financing, and the federal education budget bill.