Earning a Master's in Elementary Education Online

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

Should I Pursue a Master's in Elementary Education Online?

The ideal candidate for an elementary education master's online program is a licensed teacher with 1-3 years of classroom experience and a commitment to professional improvement. A master's degree can result in an immediate pay raise and opportunities to pursue leadership and administrative roles. Students in master's in elementary education online programs also develop research, communication, and management skills that can be applied to positions in other fields.

Online students can maintain full-time teaching employment while earning their master's degree. Furthermore, many online degrees take less time to complete compared to on-campus programs, which can help students save money and pursue advanced roles more quickly. Earning an online master's degree in elementary education can help teachers improve their earning potential and employment opportunities.

Employment Outlook for Master's in Elementary Education Graduates

Master's in Elementary Education Salary

While classroom teachers tend to earn lower salaries than other education professionals, earning a master's in elementary education online can qualify graduates for educational leadership roles that pay significantly higher salaries. Educational administrators work in rural, urban, and suburban settings throughout the country, but professionals employed in New England and states on the west coast tend to earn the most. As in many careers, a worker's experience level impacts their salary, but formal education often has the greatest influence on pay level for public school administrators.

Top-Paying States for Education Administrators, Elementary and Secondary School

State Employment Annual Mean Wage
Connecticut 3,960 $128,690
New Jersey 8,690 $128,570
New York 19,850 $124,210
California 21,320 $118,810
Washington 5,050 $112,150
United States 250,280 $97,440

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Pay by Experience Level for Elementary School Principals

  • Entry-Level (0-5 Years):
  • Mid-Career (5-10 Years):
  • Experienced (10-20 Years):
  • Late-Career (20+ Years):

Source: PayScale

Master's in Elementary Education Careers

Teachers, educational leaders, and curricular coaches provide services to students in elementary schools and their families. Most education professionals love learning, enjoy spending time with children, possess strong organizational skills, and excel at leading a group of people toward a common goal. Teachers who earn an elementary education master's degree online from a top school can also enter leadership positions, such as instructional coordinators, principals, and school superintendents. In these roles, educators help coordinate all the functions of a public or private school, overseeing programming, facilities, and staff.

Kindergarten or Elementary School Teacher

Annual Median Salary: $56,900

Projected Growth Rate: 7%

Working in public, private, and charter schools, these teachers provide direct instruction to students in pre-K to 5th grade. They teach major content areas, including math, science, language arts, and social studies. They also manage classes, address parent concerns, attend meetings, and prepare documentation. Teachers must hold at least a bachelor's degree and can increase their earning potential by pursuing an online master's in elementary education from a top institution.

Elementary School Principal

Annual Median Salary: $94,390

Projected Growth Rate: 8%

An elementary school principal serves as the head of all operations at an elementary school, taking responsibility for hiring and dismissing staff, coordinating curricula, and fostering a safe and effective learning environment. Principals typically hold a master's or doctoral degree, along with state licensure.

Instructional Coordinator

Annual Median Salary: $63,750

Projected Growth Rate: 11%

Instructional coordinators need at least a master's degree in education and may specialize in a specific content area, such as language arts or science. These professionals must also hold a teaching or administrative license. Instructional coordinators help schools improve teacher instruction and select effective curricula while staying under budget.

Curriculum Specialist

Annual Median Salary: $55,000

Projected Growth Rate: 9%

These professionals may work with a specific school or an entire district. Curriculum specialists analyze educational frameworks and recommend strategies and resources to improve the effectiveness of instruction. A curriculum specialist usually has teaching experience, excels in statistics, and holds a graduate degree in education.

School Superintendent

Annual Median Salary: $104,700

Projected Growth Rate: 8%

A school superintendent acts as the chief executive officer of a school district. In most states, school superintendents must hold at least a master's degree in education and a state-issued license. Superintendents typically have many years of teaching experience and experience as a school principal.

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statstics / PayScale

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

As in any graduate program, students earning an elementary education master's online gain advanced knowledge beyond the topics covered in undergraduate programs. Course requirements vary by school, but most programs include coursework in educational theory, practice, and pedagogy.

Curriculum for an Online Master's Degree in Elementary Education

Elementary Science Methods

In this course, students explore the practices of teaching science at the elementary level. Learners establish foundations and enhance their skills in science instruction. This class covers many science-related topics, such as argumentation and explanations, visioning elementary science, representations exposing and advancing student thinking, and planning for and assessing instruction.

Reading in Content Areas

This course examines the materials and methods students use to read, study, and learn across content areas. Students consider functional processes that facilitate learning in various subjects. This course also explores recent research in content-area instruction.

Sociocultural Perspectives on Literacy Learning

This course covers the sociocultural theories that influence literacy and reading education. Students examine research literature and sociocultural theory's relationship to literacy learning. Topics include language, society, classroom practices in teaching literacy, and institutions of schooling.

Education and Society

Students in this course examine the interactions between educational institutions and their social contexts. Learners explore how social policy changes affect education; the economics and politics of school reform; and how culture, power, and values alter education policy and practice.

Psychology of Learning and Development for Education

This course helps educators understand the stages of development and learning from preschool through adulthood, including behaviors and competencies learned in the affective, cognitive, social, and psychomotor domains. Students learn about appropriate research methods for developmental psychology, which they use to explore and critique biological, behavioral, cognitive, and information-processing learning theories.

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

  • Early Childhood Education License: In most states, an early childhood education license qualifies teachers to educate children ages 2-8, covering preschool through second grade. While licensure requirements vary by state, applicants must typically hold an early childhood education degree, pass the Praxis test in the content area in which they plan to teach, and pass a criminal background check.

  • Elementary Teacher License: Each state sets specific qualifications for elementary teacher licenses. However, applicants generally need to have completed an approved teacher education program, including many accredited online master's degree in elementary education programs. They must also complete safety training, pass a background check, and earn acceptable Praxis scores.

Professional Organizations & Resources

Students and graduates of the top elementary education master's online programs often join professional organizations to advance their careers. These associations typically offer online and in-person networking opportunities, along with continuing education programs, career services, and job boards. Members can locate classroom resources, stay updated on the latest research in the field, and access insurance discounts and other benefits.

  • National Education Association: NEA is the largest professional employee network in the country. Members can take advantage of grants, awards, events, teaching tools, academic research, lobbying initiatives, and publications to enhance professional development.

  • American Federation of Teachers: AFT is a teachers' union that engages in collective bargaining, community engagement, organizing, and political activism. The organization also helps members secure discounts from participating retailers and service providers.

  • CUE: Formerly known as Computer-Using Educators, CUE is composed of thousands of education professionals and conducts events and custom training. The organization also maintains learning networks comprised of educators interested in technology-infused teaching and educational accessibility.

  • Association of American Educators: The nation's largest nonunion, nonpartisan education association, AAE allows members to purchase liability insurance and job protection coverage. The organization also provides access to classroom and professional development resources.

  • National Association for the Education of Young Children: NAEYC accredits early-learning institutions, such as preschools and daycares. Individual NAEYC members receive access to professional development opportunities and a job board.

  • Annenberg Learner: Teachers can access this resource take advantage of more than 100 multimedia courses and workshops covering topics like video courses, interactive modules, and lesson plans. Teachers can also sign up for monthly updates.

  • Scholastic Teacher Magazine: A subscription to Scholastic Teacher includes four issues every year with articles on lesson plans, print-ready resources, and craft ideas for elementary classrooms. The magazine also includes information on learning technologies.

  • International Literacy Association: This professional organization offers literacy and reading teachers many resources, including a member magazine, a blog, an academic journal, and tips from other teachers. ILA maintains chapter groups throughout the country, as well as international affiliates.

  • DocsTeach: A project of the U.S. National Archives, DocsTeach provides access to primary source documents such as maps, speeches, and photographs. DocsTeach also offers fun and engaging teaching activities for American history students.

  • The Concord Consortium: This STEM resource finder offers more than 80 free, elementary-level virtual labs and hands-on digital projects. Resources cover topics including life science, mathematics, engineering, earth and space, and physics and chemistry.

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