Although an online bachelor’s degree in education and a teacher certification are sufficient to teach in most states, many experienced educators are pursuing online master’s degrees in education. Accredited online master in education programs are designed to enhance educational skills and knowledge and prepare experienced educators for leadership positions such as principal and instructional coordinator. However, educators interested in teaching at colleges and universities typically pursue a PhD in education, rather than a master’s degree. Many online master’s degree education programs require only a thesis for experienced educators, but schools often require students without prior teaching experience to complete a student teaching internship as well to gain classroom experience.
For most students, a strictly online master’s will suffice. However, if you are interested in educational psychology, a hybrid of online and brick-and-mortar classes is recommended.
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Choosing a specialization before entering a Master of Education program will help you choose the right program for you. Many programs offer study in child studies (psychology based), community development and action, education policy, elementary education (typically includes a licensure course for a direct class to classroom program), higher education administration, learning and instruction, urban studies, reading education, special education and more.
Some of the most common areas of specialization include:
- Integrating Technology in the Classroom: Students gain a foundation in the use of technology to support student learning. Examples include learning to evaluate and incorporate computer-assisted instruction methods using projectors, online materials and other resources like Smart Boards.
- Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment: Students learn techniques and methods for designing standards-based courses, teaching methods and testing procedures to improve student learning. They will explore topics such as motivation, instructional strategy and student assessment.
- Special Education: Students focus on current research in neuroscience, assessment and intervention. Students learn how to use assistive technology to promote higher levels of student engagement and learning among those with learning disabilities and special needs.
- Educational Leadership: Students gain a fundamental understanding of leadership responsibilities in planning and developing educational programs and services. They also examine processes and issues related to change management, which is the process of gradually restructuring business practices in order to achieve lasting change within an organization.
- Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM): Students become familiar with analysis, problem solving and critical thinking. They learn how to integrate science, technology, engineering and mathematics into all subject areas to improve the quality of K-12 education for their students.
- Educational Psychology: Students learn how to develop curricula and testing programs, and how to conduct training programs. This specialization may require a Master’s in Educational Psychology.
Length of Study
Typically, a master’s degree in education takes about 2 years to complete. This equals about 33 quarter-credit hours of coursework.
Some types of classes that you may take include:
- Teacher as Professional explores what it means to be a professional in today’s diverse and changing educational landscape. Students learn to understand ethical issues that relate to education and how to apply their training to dilemmas faced by educators.
- Curriculum and Instruction: Theories and Trends focuses on how curriculum is impacted by social, political and legislative forces. Students investigate how curriculum is shaped and how curriculum implementation and models of instruction affect student learning.
- Theory and Practice in Classroom Management helps teachers create safe, supportive and respectful instructional environments in order to optimize learning for all students. Participants learn how to develop positive relationships with and between students as well as how to foster a sense of community in the classroom.
Most master’s in education programs require the following:
- Application form
- Undergraduate transcripts
- Revised Graduate Records Exam scores (Revised GRE)
- Personal statement or essay
- Letters of recommendation
Candidates for online master’s education programs should normally have either a bachelor’s degree in education or in a related field, including Educational Psychology, Early Childhood Development, Elementary Education, Curriculum and Instruction and Counseling.
The route many K-12 teachers take to the classroom is attending undergraduate school and graduating with a BA with an education emphasis. This emphasis typical requires additional credits of study.
However, many education professionals choose to pursue a Master of Education in order to widen the scope of their job opportunities, to get into administration or simply for the additional education. With a total of 6.2 million teachers in America, education is a big field that is essential to the long-term success of the entire country. Some career options include:
- School Principal: Elementary, middle and high school principals are responsible for overseeing school operations and managing teachers and other school staff members. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of school principals is expected to increase by 10 percent between now and 2020. The median average annual wage for principals is $86,970.
- Instructional Coordinator: Instructional coordinators oversee teaching standards and school district curricula, working closely with teachers and school administrators to improve the quality of education. The annual salary for an instructional coordinator is $58,830. This occupation is expected to grow by 20 percent as school districts further emphasize teacher effectiveness.
- Postsecondary Education Administrators: Postsecondary education administrators manage student services and admissions departments at colleges and universities. The average salary for postsecondary education administrators is $83,710. The field is expected to grow by 19 percent by 2020.