Top 10 Best Online Master’s in Elementary Education Degrees for 2020

The best online elementary education master’s degree programs are designed to take the skills that an experienced teacher would already possess from becoming a teacher and expand upon them, giving them the ability to work with more specialized students or programs that may be a need at the school. When a teacher reviews a list of the accredited online teaching degree programs at the Master level, they should consider which program will fit their career goals and needs, from areas such as curriculum to instructional technology that has an emphasis on working with the different types of technology within the classroom. 

The salary potential that a teacher gains with a Master’s in Teaching is something to also consider. In most cases, school districts encourage higher education and advanced education among their staff and will gladly pay a general increase based upon completion of that program. Based upon the program type and its accreditation, the state department and/or the school district will offer some form of compensation for taking your education to the next level. 

Ranking the Best Online Elementary Education Master’s Degree Programs 

Of course, with a growing selection of online elementary education master’s degree programs, prospective students may have a hard time deciding where to go. That’s why Value Colleges editors have looked over the whole landscape of accredited, trusted colleges and universities to find the best online options for an education master’s. From our initial research, programs were ranked according to three factors: Cost, Reputation, and Salary Expectation, based on data from IPEDS, College Scorecard, and Niche. This methodology gives students the whole financial picture so they can make a smart decision for their return on investment

1. North Carolina State University

North Carolina State University offers an Internet-based MAT in Elementary Education. This program is unique because it offers prospective teachers the opportunity to complete their graduate degree in as little as a year and half. Masters degrees generally take from two to three years to complete. Students planning to do an online elementary education masters degree who want to graduate as soon as possible should consider the program at NC State. NC State’s graduate elementary education program is geared toward students who do not have prior teaching experience.

NC State is well-known as a very prestigious public university. NC State is also known for its affordable tuition, with many rankings of the best value in higher education including this institution. In-state tuition for students residing in North Carolina is even more affordable than tuition for students elsewhere in the country.

Degree: MAT in Elementary Education

2. Auburn University

Auburn University offers both an online MEd or MS in Elementary Education that can also be taken online. Few universities, much less prestigious universities like Auburn, offer an online M.Ed in education. Students who want to get an online elementary education masters degree as a precursor to a doctoral degree may want to consider Auburn.

Auburn is a very prestigious university that is often ranked among the top 50 public institutions in the country. Thus, it offers students a high quality education for relatively low tuition fees. In this way, it is similar to NC State. Auburn is classified as a “very high research activity” institution, and the university is known for utilizing this research in its degree programs.

Degree: MEd or MS in Elementary Education

3. University of Alabama at Birmingham

The University of Alabama at Birmingham has an online MAEd – Elementary Education. The graduate education program at UAB is unique because it also offers a track in Early Childhood education. This track focuses on education preschool children. Prospective elementary education teachers who want to be able to teach students from preschool all the way to 5th grade should consider attending UAB. UAB also offers a doctorate in early childhood education.

UAB is known for having an enormous economic impact on the state of Alabama. Many prospective employers are associated with UAB in one way or another, which may make it easier for graduates to obtain employment after finishing their degrees. Also, UAB is one of the most respected universities in Alabama and in the South as a whole, and many employers look for alumni of this institution.

Degree: MAEd – Elementary Education

4. University of Alabama

The University of Alabama offers an MA in Elementary Education degree program that can be completed over the Internet. This particular program is targeted toward working teachers, which not all graduate education programs are. Many are actually targeted toward students who do not yet have working experience. The UA online elementary education masters degree program is a good choice for teachers who are already employed full-time in the field.

UA is known for the size and helpfulness of its alumni network. While this network is concentrated in Alabama and elsewhere in the South, alumni can be found all over the country. Alumni fund scholarships and help graduates with their careers on a regular basis. UA is often ranked as one of the top 75 public universities in the country.

Degree: MA in Elementary Education

5. University of North Dakota

The University of North Dakota has a popular online MS in Elementary Education program. One of the distinctive characteristics of this program is its research-oriented curriculum. Most programs in this field are focused more on practical experience, and UND certainly does incorporate work experience into its program. However, the UND program also includes the latest research on educating young children. Prospective elementary education teachers who want to get a cutting-edge online elementary education masters degree should consider applying to UND.

UND is known for its online programs. The university often ranks highly in lists of the best online graduate and undergraduate programs. The university is also set up to accommodate a great number of online students, which distinguishes it from many public universities. UND’s online programs are offered through the Division of Continuing Education. 

Degree: MS in Elementary Education

6. Oregon State University

Oregon State University offers an Internet-based MAT (Master of Arts in Teaching) degree with a focus in Elementary Education. This program is unique because it prepares students through a great deal of practical experience. While most of the classes are taken over the Internet, the program follows the hybrid instructional model. This means that it also incorporates experience in the classrooms of nearby school districts. Students that live in the vicinity of OSU may want to consider this online elementary education masters degree program.

Oregon State University is known for its high level of engagement with the surrounding communities. Students have the opportunity to gain valuable experience and to network through internships and volunteer opportunities in the region. This may help graduates get teaching jobs after they finish their degrees. OSU has set up an “ECampus” specifically for its online students.

Degree: MAT – Elementary Education

7. University of Pittsburgh

The University of Pittsburgh offers an online MEd in Elementary Education. This program sets itself apart from similar programs at other universities by offering students the opportunity to complete their degrees in only a year and a half if they attend full-time. Full-time attendance is possible, even for working students, because of the online instructional model. Students who wish to start their careers in the field of elementary education as soon as possible may want to consider the online elementary education masters degree at Pitt.

Pitt is considered to be one of the most prestigious public universities in the entire country. In fact, it is so prestigious that many people confuse it for a private university. Pitt is one of several institutions on this list that offer a highly desirable combination of prestige and affordable tuition. Pitt alumni in all fields, from education to the sciences, are known for winning many prestigious awards and grants.

Degree: MEd in Elementary Education

8. University of North Carolina in Charlotte

The University of North Carolina in Charlotte has a popular MEd in Elementary Education program that uses an Internet-based instructional model. This program is unique in that it offers a concentration called “Anti-Racism in Urban Education,” which is rare in graduate elementary education programs. The program at UNCC also offers several other concentrations. Prospective elementary education teachers who want to teach socially disadvantaged children should consider applying to the online elementary education masters degree program at UNCC.

UNCC is known for offering generous financial aid to its students, especially students of color. UNCC also has relatively low tuition rates to begin with, making it a good choice for students on a tight budget. As with any public institution, the tuition rates are significantly lower for students who are in-state residents. UNCC is often ranked in the top 30% of public universities in the United States.

Degree: MEd in Elementary Education

9. California State University, Fullerton

California State University, Fullerton has an MEd in Elementary Curriculum program that can be completed online. The program at CSUF is unique because it allows students to have a say in creating their own degree plan. Few graduate elementary education programs, especially online programs, offer students this opportunity. Students who want to be able to customize their education for their own interests and goals may want to consider applying to CSUF for their online elementary education masters degree.

CSUF is designated as a Hispanic-serving institution. Students of Hispanic or Latino origin often find that CSUF is a better fit for them than other universities in the region. There are many scholarships and grants designed specifically to benefit Hispanic students. CSUF has several online programs that are highly ranked in their field.

Degree: MEd in Elementary Curriculum

10. University of Mississippi

The University of Mississippi offers an online MEd in Curriculum and Instruction with a specialization in Elementary Education. One of the most unique aspects of the graduate elementary education program at Ole Miss is the requirement of a capstone project to be completed in the final semester of the five semester program. Capstone projects in this program often take the form of research papers on various aspects of elementary education. Students who are looking for an academically rigorous online elementary education masters degree program may want to consider adding Ole Miss to their list of programs to apply to.

Ole Miss is another school that is often noted for the size and power of its alumni network. Like alumni networks at other schools, alumni at Ole Miss fund various scholarships and often provide career advice for graduates. The school facilitates contact between students and alumni to encourage mentorship. The graduate elementary education program at Ole Miss admits students in the summer, spring and fall.

Degree: MEd in Curriculum and Instruction – Elementary Education

Will Schools Trust an Online Master’s in Education?

The short answer is yes. Accredited online teaching degree programs are accepted every day by state departments across the United States. These programs are sought by experienced and certified teachers looking to advance their education and expand upon their skill set in the classroom. Most of these students who seek these online Master of Education programs are teachers who are still working full-time and use their classroom experience as a reference for their studies and classroom forums. In fact, many principals, districts, and states actively encourage their teachers to earn a master’s degree online, due to the higher level of prestige and teaching quality that a master’s-educated teacher brings to the classroom. 

Why Should I Get a Master’s in Teaching?

Skill development is something to consider when asking what qualifications do you need to become a teacher. Knowing the basics of child development and psychology from a bachelor’s degree (an area of overlap between elementary education and early childhood education) will assist the teacher with being successful, but can also be expanded upon for those who desire this proficient skill set. Also, obtaining an online degree requires successful time management, which is a skill that can be transferred from the online classroom to a teacher’s daily classroom, as well as gathering priceless ideas and resources from other teachers in their online courses. These degrees are also more affordable than other Master degrees and can ignite a positive Return on Investment due to the almost guaranteed salary increase that comes with most school districts across the nation.

In addition to salary potential, there is also promotion potential when a teacher advances their education at the Master level. Obtaining a Master’s in Teaching that focuses on areas such as Instructional coaching or curriculum can allow you to receive promotions within your school or even your district. Positions such as the Curriculum Coach is not only a salary increase but an administrative level position that can move your career to a position that maybe something you desire to do regularly and where your career goals are. Taking advantage of an online Master level program gives many teachers the ability to advance their career in a way that would not have been possible without online education or distance learning over the last decade. 

Can I Make More with an Online Master’s Degree in Education?

Even after you go through the process of becoming a teacher, obtaining a Master’s degree in education will allow your salary to increase – in fact, teacher salary with masters degree can be significantly higher. Most school districts have a salary scale that is posted for their teachers and the public to see what they can receive with an accredited Master’s Degree. In most of these cases, the school districts offer a 10-15% salary increase once the teacher submits a transcript to the district office with a conferred degree. In most cases, the salary increases begin immediately on the following pay period after receiving notification of the degree and ensuring that it is an accredited program online or from a local institution.

According to Payscale, most teachers with a Master’s degree find their salary ranging from $51,195 to $54,631 on average across the United States. A more specific salary average for elementary teacher salary with a Master’s degree is $51,195. This is a significant jump from the starting salary of Elementary education teachers that begin around $35,000 in most states. With several years of experience and a Master level degree, their salary is able to adjust to an appropriate rate, as well as boosting their benefit to the school. 

This salary potential is reflective of the fact that the Master’s Degree in Education is one of the highest paying Master’s Degrees available today with a large return on investment. With the promotions that can come with specific Master degrees, the salary increase could be more for the Instructional Coaches or Principals whose degrees are in Educational Leadership. Their salaries tend to double, at approximately $77,000 or more for those who move into an Assistant Principal or Principal role following completion of their Master’s degree.

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