10 Top Schools Offering Online Masters In Education Programs

online masters teaching

Students are a busy bunch. It’s now back to school time and that means you have less time than ever before. From getting to class on time to simply making sure you’re still on track to graduate, there is a lot to worry about. Planning for the future is typically something we save for later. In other words, we always plan for the future … in the future. So little planning takes place and we basically kid ourselves into thinking we’re prepared.

In an effort to help keep the Edudemic audience on track with their highly prosperous and amazing future plans, we’re working on a series of posts designed to help showcase some useful online degree programs. We’re focusing on the ‘online’ part because, as mentioned earlier, students of all ages just don’t have as much time as they think. Getting that all-important Master’s Degree is the key to unlocking a new career but, if you’re anything like me, you know that enrolling in a graduate school is a difficult task no matter how old you are.

If you want to become a teacher, you need to actually, you know, take the appropriate steps to becoming one. If you want to mold young minds, meet the demands of the future, and connect with colleagues around the world, you need to be tech-savvy, organized, and devoted to learning.

The Key Skills Of Modern Teachers

handing keysThat being said, let’s take a look at some of the key skills a modern teacher must have:

  • The ability to organize a variety of content from a variety of sources into something cohesive
  • The desire to connect with colleagues and the ability to actually learn from others without becoming overly sensitive to criticism
  • The drive to improve the lives of others. Whether they be students, colleagues, administrators, or parents, there are a lot of people teachers impact on a daily basis.
  • The flexibility of being able to improve your own education while teaching others. In other words, you need to find some professional development that actually works for you!

If you demonstrate these skills already, you’re probably a teacher. If you would like to learn these skills (but haven’t quite nailed them down just yet) then perhaps an online masters in education degree is the ticket to your new life and skill-set.

The Questions

questions answersBefore we dive into the school listings, I thought it might be useful to pause and think about the benefits of an online-only education versus the in-person and online hybrid version. Both are great and one likely works better than the other for you. Everyone is different but here are a few questions to ask yourself before applying to these places:

  • Which is the best option for my learning style?
  • How important is the price relative to my other needs?
  • How much of a disruption would an online course be to my lifestyle?
  • How much would an online course / online degree help me in the long run?
  • What kind of time commitment can I make to an online degree program or series of courses?
  • What are the faculty like at these schools? What about the administration? What about financial aid?
  • If I live in a city or place with nearby colleges and universities, am I better off commuting and attending in-person?
  • What’s the reputation of this school? Will it be worth my time and effort?

Did that help or make things even more complicated? I apologize if the latter but, well, they’re important questions to consider.

The Specializations To Consider

Do you have a particular field you’re interested in when it comes to education? If you’re a fan of Edudemic, then you probably like the technology side. You could consider instructional technology integration or perhaps special education technology development as some specializations. Here are most of the others you should know about as well (because I know not everything involves edtech … but it should.)

  • Adult Education
  • Art Education
  • Communication Sciences and Disorders
  • Curriculum and Instruction
  • Distance Education
  • Early Childhood Education
  • Education Administration
  • Educational Leadership
  • Elementary Education
  • Gifted and Talented
  • Health Education
  • Higher Education
  • K-12 Education
  • Music Education
  • Physical Education
  • Science Education
  • Secondary Education
  • Special Education

These are the hits. The most popular options. Each school is different though so be sure to do your own research with the ol’ Google-o-tron and figure out which one works for you. Every person and every school is different, after all!

The Schools

schoolsuppliesBelow are some noteworthy schools that can help you out. They’re in no particular order and are simply picked based on my own research. I’ve endeavored to include both online-only schools as well as brick and mortar schools that offer online programs as well. That way there is at least something in there for everyone. Hopefully they help you find a simple new way to take the next step to becoming a top-quality teacher who is going to change the world.

Or at least a teacher able to improve one student’s life.

Whatever your goal, hopefully these schools will get you on the right path (and not totally derail your current lifestyle thanks to the fact that they’re all online and pretty flexible!) I’ve curated this list from a bunch of locations including Quora, LinkedIn, US News, Edudemic, Huffington Post, MIT, and the individual school websites (many of which did not make the cut to be listed below).

Schools Offering Online Masters In Education Programs

First, a quick note. Most students who are looking into an online master’s degree in education typically have something in particular they’d like to specialize in. For example, you may want to focus on adult education. Or perhaps middle or elementary education. What about special ed or educational leadership? There’s a lot of things to consider and, since this is not an infinitely long list, I’ve tried to focus on an array of schools that offer a large selection of specializations. There are more being added all the time and that’s not just hyperbole. North Carolina recently added a master’s program that has a specialization on instructional technology. What could be better for an Edudemic reader, right?

George Washington University

Screen shot 2013-09-12 at 11.40.07 AMIt’s no joke. Even though their admission deadline is April 1st, George Washington University offers some pretty fabulous online courses. GWU is a well-rounded school that can bring some high-quality instructors into your living room. Or bedroom. Wherever you like to watch online education videos. That’s basically how GWU does it. They record lectures and you can access them (and earn credit by participating) for $618 per credit.

Bottom Line:  GWU offers a psychology track that is not found in most of the other options I’ve been reviewing. If you’re looking to get into a psych specialization, definitely check out George Washington.

Central Michigan University

Screen shot 2013-09-12 at 11.56.53 AMOne of the bigger options around (but not as well-known as a lot of other places), Central Michigan University has nearly 400 enrolled students. There are 16 tenure-track professors which is a pretty solid number in terms of most of the other online-only and brick-and-mortar schools. A key point to know about CMU is that the 3-year graduation rate is about 75% which is one of the best I’ve seen. In other words, people see their degree the whole way through at this school.

Bottom Line: Central Michigan University runs about average in terms of price – it’s about $477 per credit. It has a large class (nearly 400 students) which means you’ll be able to connect with other students who have similar interests and specializations.

St. John’s University

Screen shot 2013-09-11 at 1.22.45 PMBased in New York but offering a top-ranked online master’s program for aspiring teachers and school administrators, St. John’s University is a competitive place. The tuition is $1,050 for in-state and out of state students so that’s a big plus. Sometimes you get a discount if you do (even in online degrees) a program in the state you live in. St. John’s also has a very high number of tenure-track faculty (half of all full-time and part-time faculty, not too shabby) which means you’re getting some high quality content from professors who can speak with independence and tell you what they really think.

The vast majority of students graduate in about three years. That’s typical but the percentage that actually complete the degree is quite solid. About 3 out of every 4 students will finish. Not bad considering some MOOCs are seeing completion rates in the single digits!

Bottom Line: St. John’s is one of the best choices for aspiring teachers and school administrators. Not as good a choice if you’re interested in research / policy or school psychology. The price for online courses is extremely competitive and they have a great physical campus you should visit if you get accepted. Application deadline is August 17th.

South Dakota State University

sdsuOne of the cheapest (but still solid) options is South Dakota State University (SDSU) which clocks in at about $383 per credit. That’s for both in-state and out of state tuition. Gotta love the beauty of online learning!

The new kid on the block, SDSU doesn’t have a ton of data available yet but the early results are pretty great. 98% (!) of all first-year students returned for a second year. That is one of the highest percentages I’ve seen as you can imagine. What is so critical about this factoid is that the students are the lifeblood of a school. If they are disgruntled or not happy with the level of quality in the courses, they won’t come back. Simple as that. Why would you? If you’re not getting your money’s worth and think a different similarly-priced school will better suit you, then the nature of online learning means you can jump ship with ease. That 98% is big.

SDSU also has a new-but-intimiate online class for education degrees. With just 8 full-time and 4 part-time faculty members, you are most likely going to take a course with the same professor during your time in the program. Since 98% of the students returned after the first year, that probably is a good thing.

Bottom Line: The number of students who return after the first year to the SDSU program is very very very high. That means the small faculty is a good thing and that the online learning is solid. Since tuition is about $383/credit, get your application in soon. Or don’t. Application deadline is rolling so whenever suits you works for them!

Auburn University

auburn universityAre you already working? Don’t have time to actually, you know, attend a class? Auburn University seems to be the best option for currently employed students. 95% of all first-year students are working and are doing the degree program on the side. Since that’s the case, that means the Auburn faculty and staff likely understand what it means to be multitasking. Less than half the price of St. John’s (above), Auburn offers degrees for about $437 per credit.

The Auburn program is also more than twice the size of St. John’s with about 150 students. That means your online classmates are more likely to interact and learn from / with you. It’s like having a PLN before you even start teaching! In case you’re new to the teacher lingo, PLN stands for Personal (or Professional if you prefer) Learning Network. It’s a self-built system with which you can continually learn and grow as a teacher and person. It typically involves a lot of time connecting via Twitter and other online communication platforms like Skype and Google+.

Enough about PLNs for a minute. Let’s talk about the last key point of Auburn University. There are 29 faculty (give or take) and they’re all tenure-track. There are just 5 part-time faculty which means you’re getting some awesome teachers who are doing nothing else but helping you learn and grow.

Bottom Line: Auburn University is a bit more affordable than most options, has a solid faculty repertoire, and is one of the most popular online schools I’ve seen in my research. Enrollment is rolling.

Liberty University

liberty universityThis is one of the few mostly-online options I came across that seemed, well, good enough to be included in this list. They have a physical campus but are more well-known for their online education so far. Although it looks like they just started building out even more, uh, buildings on the Virginia campus.

Liberty University is an online-only option that has the most specialization options for students. Most of the brick-and-mortar-with-online-options are a bit smaller in terms of faculty and specializations. After reviewing as many online schools as possible (before my eyes went cross-eyed and I passed out), I settled on Liberty as being the best set of options if you’re looking for a degree but not yet sure which focus you’d like to have.

In other words, you can start at Liberty ($490/credit) and know that there are a bunch of specialization options to pick from as you continue down the rabbit hole that is the world of education. They have a program in education technology and online instruction actually! So even if you’re just looking to become the best teacher on Udemy, you can probably pick up a few pointers here.

Bottom Line: Priced in the middle of the road but offers a huge amount of specialization options. If you’re not sure about what you’d like to focus on, Liberty is a solid choice with a lot of options.

Penn State University – World Campus

Screen shot 2013-09-12 at 12.04.38 PMWe actually get a lot of readers on Edudemic from Pennsylvania. So it might be of interest to know about Penn State’s online learning option. They seem to be advertising quite heavily as I saw ads for the program on a recent trip to LA as well as in Boston. They get around! The program seems to tick all the important boxes though. The admissions is rolling so you can actually start your Penn State experience anytime.

A noteworthy point is that they offer an administrative track, something not seen in many other schools. If you’re looking for this specialization, what better place than a school like Penn State – who must certainly know all about administration since it’s a ginormous school. That’s a technical term!

Bottom Line: A well-known school is now a bit more attainable. The World Campus is a great option and is seeing some high-quality faculty join its ranks.

Cal State – Fullerton

Screen shot 2013-09-12 at 12.08.08 PMIf you’ve always wanted a California education without all that pesky gorgeous weather and nice people, then perhaps Cal State – Fullerton is for you. Kidding, of course. It’s a solid choice and looks like one of the most important growing online schools around.

A quick note: if you live in California it’ll cost about $314 per credit. If you’re out of town, it’s a bit over $700 per credit.

The application deadline is NOT rolling like most of the others you probably come across. It’s February 15th so this could be a good time to start getting all your application materials in order. Time to dust off the ol’ resume and transcripts!

Bottom Line: A fabulous option for California residents looking to get their degree online. If you’re in-state and gainfully employed (but looking to switch or upgrade your career), then Fullerton is definitely worth checking out. Another important note is that Fullerton seems to have one of the highest rates of graduation. Roughly 91% of all students graduate with their degree in 3 years. That’s much higher than most other options out there.

University of Houston

university of houstonThis is one of the most selective schools on this list. That’s because it’s a small program with a great student-to-faculty ratio. University of Houston offers a master’s degree for a small class of just a couple dozen students (24 at last count). That means you’re going to be a part of some high quality and intimate interaction, communication, and collaborative learning.

An important note: the deadline(s) for the U. of Houston are all over the place. Be sure to check out this page to see which degree has which deadline.

100% of all students are employed when they begin the program. That’s pretty amazing. The small class of 24 students are all in it together and attempting to improve their lives as a collective group. I’m always impressed when I see a stand-out statistic like this. If you’re going to be enrolling a school to earn your degree while still employed, kudos to you!

Bottom Line: Everyone in this small program is working. There are only a handful of faculty but there’s not a lot of students so you’re going to get about a 5:1 student-to-faculty ratio. That’s excellent.

 University of Missouri–St. Louis

Screen shot 2013-09-12 at 1.34.45 PMI’m calling attention to the University of Missouri–St. Louis because of one key variable. They have a very high level of student engagement. According to US News, the level of student engagement in and out of the virtual classroom is higher than just about all others. While there isn’t a lot more detail about what this score means, the small graduating class size (about 43 students give or take) is most likely working together and collaborating in order to get a high quality education.

The in-state and out of state tuition are the same at about $348 per credit. That’s in line with most of the other options I’m seeing and actually just a hair on the cheap side.

Application deadlines are rolling so apply anytime and get started with all that student engagement!

Bottom Line: Students work together (a la project-based learning perhaps?) and succeed together. Tuition is on the cheaper side and the graduating class size is one of the smallest around. That’s a good thing. Say that in a Martha Stewart voice. ‘It’s a good thing.’

Wrap It Up Already

Hopefully you found some of this insight a bit useful. I thought it would be interesting to start organizing the chaotic world of online learning and this seemed as good a place to start as any. If you have any comments, questions, or ideas about what topic(s) I should explore next, leave a comment down below and I’ll keep an eye out!