2020 Best Online Education Degrees

By Jennifer King Logan | Updated January 13, 2021
Quick Facts
Accreditation: CAEP, CEA, MACTE, NCATE
Degree Levels: Associate, Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral, Certificate
Average Tuition: $25,969
Average Salary: $65,109

From instructing elementary school children in a broad range of fundamentals to educating middle school and high school students on a specific subject, many people find teaching to be one of the most intellectually stimulating and rewarding career choices. Annual salaries for public and private school teachers, as well as special education teachers, are fairly consistent, with most salaries falling between $45,000 and $50,000. However, amounts can vary widely depending on location, years of experience, and degree level earned. The following is a rankings list of schools offering online degrees in education. Check out the best online schools offering education degrees at the bachelor's and master's levels.

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2020 Best Online Colleges Offering Bachelor's in Education Degrees

2020 Best Online Colleges Offering Bachelor's in Education Badge

Ranked based on affordability and earning potential, these 24 schools offer the best online bachelor's degrees in education. At #1, Kansas State University charges $13,092 per year for their Bachelor of Science in Educational Studies. Southern Illinois University - Carbondale ranks #2, with a median salary of $74,700 and an annual tuition rate of $9,637.

Alumni salaries were provided by PayScale. View our methodology for more details or learn more about OnlineU.

Rank School Annual Tuition Mid-Career Salary
# 1 #1 $13,092 $81,100
# 2 #2 $9,637 $74,700
# 3 #3 $8,480 $70,400
# 4 #4 $12,834 $69,600
# 5 #5 $4,200 $63,700
# 6 #6 $13,905 $64,600
# 7 #7 $13,200 $63,300
# 8 #8 $11,622 $62,400
# 9 #9 $19,530 $64,300
# 10 #10 $28,830 $65,700
# 11 #11 $12,210 $59,000
# 12 #12 $7,492 $55,500
# 13 #13 $10,140 $55,500
# 14 #14 $15,000 $56,800
# 15 #15 $11,656 $54,900
# 16 #16 $12,000 $54,200
# 17 #17 $11,811 $53,600
# 18 #18 $9,001 $51,900
# 19 #19 $12,930 $53,100
# 20 #20 $20,856 $55,300
# 21 #21 $6,778 $49,400
# 22 #22 $19,661 $54,300
# 23 #23 $15,900 $52,700
# 24 #24 $11,880 $51,000
Salary data provided by Payscale Logo

2020 Online Colleges Offering Education Degrees - Ranking Details

#1 Kansas State University

  • Annual Tuition: $13,092
  • Median Salary: $81,100
  • Locations: Manhattan (KS)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Established in 1863, Kansas State University is a research university located in Manhattan, Kansas. The institution offers an online Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education/Unified Teaching License. Students learn the latest methods in caring for children from birth to kindergarten, and the curriculum also covers techniques for helping children with special needs and developmental disabilities. Coursework is completed online, and students also participate in a real-world teaching experience in a school in their locality; instructors watch the students in real-time via live video and provide feedback and evaluation. Graduates are eligible to apply for teaching licensure in the state of Kansas. K-State also offers an online Bachelor of Science in Educational Studies that combines classroom instruction with an internship, and students can personalize the degree with electives such as global education, museum and nonprofit education, outdoor education, religious education, and social justice education.  Another option is an online Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education that features a field experience like that of the BS in Early Childhood Education. All of the programs are available entirely online and require 120 credits for completion. Up to 60 credits can be completed at a local community college. Learning at KSU is asynchronous, and coursework is delivered via the Canvas online learning management service. Kansas residents and non-residents who are 21 and under must complete the Kansas pre-college curriculum prior to admission. Residents must achieve a minimum GPA of 2.0, and non-residents must earn a minimum of 2.5. SAT/ACT scores are also required.

#2 Southern Illinois University - Carbondale

  • Annual Tuition: $9,637
  • Median Salary: $74,700
  • Locations: Carbondale (IL)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Southern Illinois University’s School of Information Systems and Applied Technologies offers a Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene Management/Education. This program is specifically designed for working hygienists who already have an associate degree and would like to work in dental hygiene education or management. Students in the program study theories, styles, techniques, and various approaches to the field of dental hygiene. An internship or research project is required, related to either dental hygiene or management. SIU also offers a BS in Radiologic Sciences Management/Education, which gives working professionals the training and skills needed to obtain a teaching or managerial position. An internship or research project is required. Both degrees can be completed entirely online. They require 120 credits, including 31 in management/education coursework. A Bachelor of Science in Workforce Education and Development is also available to anyone who is qualified for post-secondary education and has at least two years’ experience working in an occupational specialty or career field. Students can choose to study part-time or full time, and the program can be completed in as little as one year. Distance learners at SIU have access to writing assistance, research help, and career development. Transfer students to SIU must have at least 26 transferable credits and a minimum GPA of 2.0. Official transcripts are required from each college the student attended, along with an essay or personal statement. An admissions interview may also be required.

#3 SUNY College at Oswego

  • Annual Tuition: $8,480
  • Median Salary: $70,400
  • Locations: Oswego (NY)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Founded in 1861, SUNY Oswego has campuses in both Oswego and Syracuse. The university offers an online Bachelor of Science in Career and Technical Education. The completion degree is designed for those who have technical or vocational experience and would like to teach such skills in community colleges, technical colleges, high schools, trade schools, adult continuing education, or industry. The degree is available with five different tracks: agricultural education grades 7-12, family & consumer sciences education grades 7-12, health career education grades 7-12, technical education grades 7-12, and trade education grades 7-12. Each specialization requires 36 credits towards the completion of the degree. Both part- and full-time study options are available, and all courses begin on the first day of the semester. Learning is asynchronous, so students can log on and study when and where it is convenient for them. Each course is 15 weeks in the fall and spring semesters and 3, 6, or 12 weeks during the summer. Coursework is delivered via the Blackboard online learning management system. This system incorporates the ability to receive and submit assignments, take quizzes and tests, participate in discussions, and interact with peers and instructors. The university ships textbooks to students who are distance learners. Applicants to SUNY Oswego must submit high school or college transcripts as well as SAT/ACT scores. A recommendation, essay, and information about activities are also required. Transfer students are those who have at least 12 college credits that can be applied to a program at the university.

#4 Wayland Baptist University

  • Annual Tuition: $12,834
  • Median Salary: $69,600
  • Locations: Plainview (TX)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Wayland Baptist University is a Christian university based in Plainview, Texas. An online Bachelor of Applied Science is available with ten different majors, including one in career and technology education and one in early childhood development. The degree is designed for those who have occupational training through work or the military, or who already have technical certifications. It is an inverted program, allowing students to apply coursework, training, and work experience as credit toward an associate degree, and the associate degree can then be applied toward the BAS. There are no on-campus requirements; the program can be completed fully online. A total of 124 credits are needed to complete the degree; the major makes up 36 credits, with an 18-credit core and an 18-credit specialization. Coursework is delivered via the Blackboard Academic Suite, and students interact with peers and instructors through email, discussion boards, and real-time classrooms. Blackboard supports the receiving and submittal of assignments, class discussions, audio and video material, quizzes and tests, and more. First-year students applying at WBU must provide SAT/ACT scores along with official transcripts from a high school that indicate completion of two years of math, sciences, and social sciences, as well as three years of English. Applicants over 22 may have to take additional tests. Credit can be awarded based on ACT/SAT scores.

#5 Tennessee State University

  • Annual Tuition: $4,200
  • Median Salary: $63,700
  • Locations: Nashville (TN)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Tennessee State University, located in Nashville, offers several online bachelor’s degree programs, including a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in teaching and learning. The program is designed for working adults who already have an associate degree or have completed at least some college-level courses. Students can speak with a counselor to see which previously-earned credits can be transferred. A total of 120 credits are required to complete the degree; at least 30 must be earned at TSU, and at least 45 must be at the 3000-4000 level. Students can take no more than 24 semester hours in business courses. Adult distance learners have access to such student support services as career development, counseling services, technical support, online academic support, online library resources, and test site assistance. TSU is the largest historically black university in Tennessee. It is also part of the Common Black College Application, which allows users to apply to over 50 historically black colleges and universities at the same time for one flat fee of $35. Applicants to the degree program must submit official high school transcripts and have a minimum GPA of 2.5. Those with a GPA of 3.2 or higher are automatically admitted. ACT or SAT scores are required of all first-year students who are under 21 years of age. Transfer students must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0 from all college coursework, and they must submit high school transcripts if they have not earned the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree.

#6 Oregon State University

  • Annual Tuition: $13,905
  • Median Salary: $64,600
  • Locations: Corvallis (OR)
  • Accreditation: NWCCU

Oregon State University (OSU) offers both a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies with a Pre-Education concentration. The online degree programs can prepare students to pursue a teacher certification program in elementary education. They require the completion of 180 quarter hours (120 semester hours) in general education and interdisciplinary coursework in the major. Students in the programs tailor their curriculum to include classes in child development, history, fine arts, elementary mathematics, and children’s literature. OSU offers four start dates each year, and courses are delivered in four 11-week terms. Students access and complete coursework through Canvas, the university’s virtual learning platform. OSU reviews potential first-year applicants with a holistic approach, considering the applicant’s high school curriculum, academic performance, SAT or ACT score, and resume. Applicants transferring from an accredited college or university must have completed 24 quarter hours (16 semester hours). The high school or college GPA requirements depend on the number of college-level credits earned upon application to OSU. Support services for distance learners include remote success coaching, tutoring, access to library resources, and the online OSU Learning Center.

#7 University of Nebraska at Omaha

  • Annual Tuition: $13,200
  • Median Salary: $63,300
  • Locations: Omaha (NE)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The Bachelor of Science in Education in Library Science at the University of Nebraska at Omaha is designed to prepare students for work in a public, academic, or private library. This 120-credit hour online program offers start dates in the spring, summer, and fall semesters. Students complete coursework in areas that include children’s literature, digital environments, managing information resources, and leadership and management. Coursework is completed online through the Canvas learning management system, and students can also video conference with classmates and professors through Zoom. Prospective students to the online education degree program must either rank in the top half of their graduating high school class or meet established GPA, SAT, or ACT minimums. Students are provided a number of support services, including access to the online library resources and tutoring. Technical assistance is available through the Help Desk during weekday business hours or also through Canvas technical support 24/7.

#8 University of Missouri

  • Annual Tuition: $11,622
  • Median Salary: $62,400
  • Locations: Columbia (MO)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The Bachelor of Educational Studies at the University of Missouri is an interdisciplinary program instructing students in the fundamentals of the discipline and its application in two available areas of interest, Educational Leadership and Policy, and Games and Simulations for Learning, Design, and Development. Graduation requires 120 credit hours, including general education courses, 24 courses in the education core and the concentration area, and the completion of a capstone project. First-year applicants or transfer students with less than 24 college-level credit hours are required to submit an ACT or SAT score report and a high school transcript. Transfer students must submit an official transcript demonstrating the completion of 24 or more credits with a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5. Students admitted to the online education degree program can choose to enroll in semester-based courses offered in the fall, spring, and summer, or self-paced courses. Students enrolled in self-paced classes complete coursework independently and are provided six weeks to six months to finish. Semester-based courses may be delivered synchronously or asynchronously, with no set login times. The university offers assistance by email and phone in resolving technical difficulties, and online learners are provided a number of academic support services, including online tutoring.

#9 Brenau University

  • Annual Tuition: $19,530
  • Median Salary: $64,300
  • Locations: Multiple Locations
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Students who are pursuing the Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education program at Brenau University graduate with the education, knowledge, and experience necessary to be certified to teach elementary-aged children. The 120-credit hour curriculum includes instruction in foundations and modern theories and techniques in education, developmental psychology, classroom and behavior management, diverse learners, and technology in the classroom. Students also gain hands-on experience through a semester-long student teaching internship in an elementary classroom. Coursework is completed in accelerated seven-week terms in Canvas, the university’s online learning platform. The program encourages a high level of interaction among students and professors through virtual group assignments and class enrollment capped at 20 students. Prospective students must submit an official transcript demonstrating a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.75 in either high school or college-level coursework. Graduates of the program are eligible for certification to teach grades pre-K through 5 by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission.

#10 University of Georgia

  • Annual Tuition: $28,830
  • Median Salary: $65,700
  • Locations: Athens (GA)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The University of Georgia offers an online Bachelor of Science in Special Education designed to prepare graduates for licensure in teaching students in grades preschool through 12. Prospective students must have completed at least 60 credit hours of transferable coursework at an accredited college or university to be considered for admission. The full-time program requires the completion of 121 credit hours, which is typically achieved in two academic years or five semesters. Students are instructed in coursework in teaching pedagogy, assessment, behavioral management, and assistive technology and acquire hands-on learning through field experiences and a semester-long student teaching internship. Applicants must submit an official transcript demonstrating the completion of 60 credit hours with a minimum GPA of 2.8. Applicants must also satisfy the Georgia Assessments for the Certification of Educators (GACE) Program Admission Assessment by test or exemption and the GACE Educator Ethics Entry Assessment. Distance learners are supported through access to online academic advising, career services, and library resources.

#11 Old Dominion University

  • Annual Tuition: $12,210
  • Median Salary: $59,000
  • Locations: Norfolk (VA)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Old Dominion University offers a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education program and a Bachelor of Science in Special Education designed for students with an associate degree or prior college credit. Both degree programs instruct students in teaching pedagogy and best practices specific to their area of concentration, in addition to classroom and behavior management, assessment, and assistive technology. The curricula also include a student teaching internship. Students must complete at least 30 credit hours of required coursework at Old Dominion, and graduation requires the completion of 120 credit hours total. Students pursuing either of the online bachelor’s degrees in education complete coursework through Blackboard. Course content and assignments include discussion board posts and responses, live classes, and virtual one-on-one meetings with professors. Online students have access to 24/7 tech support. Students who have completed an associate degree within the Virginia Community College System are offered guaranteed admission into Old Dominion University.

#12 Eastern New Mexico University-Main Campus

  • Annual Tuition: $7,492
  • Median Salary: $55,500
  • Locations: Portales (NM)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Eastern New Mexico University offers a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Physical Education in Sports and Recreation Management and a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Science (BAAS) in Career and Technical Education. Both online degree programs require the completion of 120 credit hours and are typically completed in four years. Students pursuing the Physical Education Degree complete coursework in health and wellness, sports management, and sport finance, and participate in an applied internship in the field. The BAAS curriculum includes instruction in instructional facility design, teaching methods, curriculum development, and special education. Course content is accessed and completed online through the Blackboard virtual learning platform. Students view recorded lectures and complete coursework at their own convenience with no required login times. Applicants to the BAAS must submit a transcript demonstrating the completion of an Associate of Applied Arts and Sciences degree or a significant number of credit hours in a career-technical discipline. Online learners are provided access to online tutoring and library resources and databases.

#13 Troy University

  • Annual Tuition: $10,140
  • Median Salary: $55,500
  • Locations: Troy (AL)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The Bachelor of Science in Occupational Education at Troy University is a degree completion program designed for students transferring with an associate degree. Students learn to work with adult learners in a variety of settings and contexts, including workforce development, continuing education, and military education. Students gain expertise in developing and delivering instructional programs through coursework in assessment, educational psychology, instructional program design, curriculum development, and educational leadership. Students use the Canvas online learning platform in accessing course content, including discussion posts, quizzes, writing assignments, and virtual conferencing. Prospective students are required to have completed an associate degree from an accredited college to be eligible for admission to the program. Students may be eligible to apply military or professional credentials or certificates in substitution of credit hours to accelerate their degree at the discretion of the department or university. Distance learners at Troy have access to library resources and tutoring online, and tech support is available 24/7.

#14 University of Florida

  • Annual Tuition: $15,000
  • Median Salary: $56,800
  • Locations: Gainesville (FL)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Students pursuing the Bachelor of Arts in Education Sciences at the University of Florida have a number of concentration areas to tailor their education to their academic and career goals. The degree is a non-licensing education program and does not lead to a teaching certificate following graduation. Students can choose to focus their education in Education Technology, Disabilities in Society, Educational Psychology and Research, Schools, Society and Policy, or General Studies. The core curriculum of the 120-credit hour program includes coursework in educational psychology, technology in education, research in the discipline, and educational theories, practices, and policies, in addition to advanced concentration area content. Students log in to the online learning platform at specific times for weekly scheduled lectures and participate in class discussions and virtual one-on-one meetings with professors. Students are admitted three times a year, in August, January, and May, and students are required to submit an official transcript for admission consideration. 24/7 Help Desk support is available to online students experiencing difficulties in accessing course content.

#15 Indiana State University

  • Annual Tuition: $11,656
  • Median Salary: $54,900
  • Locations: Terre Haute (IN)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The online Bachelor of Science in Adult and Career Education at Indiana State University is a degree completion program designed for transfer students who may tailor their undergraduate education to best suit their professional and academic ambitions. Students receive general instruction in the fundamental skills sought after by employers and develop a plan of study in coordination with an advisor unique to their interests and goals. The 42-credit hour curriculum includes coursework in leadership, organizational problem solving, communication, and critical thinking, in addition to classes in the student’s concentration. Course content and assignments are delivered online in accelerated, eight-week terms. Applicants to the online adult career education program are required to submit an official transcript demonstrating completion of at least 60 credit hours from an accredited college. Credit may be substituted with prior learning experiences at the discretion of the department or university, including military training, proficiency exams, and work experiences. Indiana State University provides online learners access to the Student Services Concierge, online math and writing centers, and the online career center.

#16 University of Louisiana-Monroe

  • Annual Tuition: $12,000
  • Median Salary: $54,200
  • Locations: Monroe (LA)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The University of Louisiana Monroe offers an online Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education for grades 1 to 5. The program curriculum includes general studies, teaching methods and theories, content studies (Math, Social Studies, Science, etc.), integrative courses, and field experiences. The overall degree is 120-125 credits, with 57 in the major. Classes are delivered in 8-week sessions. Courses in the program include Classroom Behavior and Instructional Management, Assessment Principles and Practice, and Music Education for the Lower Grades.  First-year student admission requires a diploma, minimum 2.0 GPA, and ACT or SAT scores. Transfer students should have a minimum 2.0 GPA; the transfer policy is generous, as is the assessment for prior experience. Distance learners have access to a free online homework application that allows them to keep track of homework assignments and set alarms and reminders. Online coursework is delivered through the Moodle learning management system, which offers 24/7 access and collaboration tools that allow students to communicate with teachers and peers.

#17 Wilmington University

  • Annual Tuition: $11,811
  • Median Salary: $53,600
  • Locations: New Castle (DE)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

The Bachelor of Science in Education Studies at Wilmington University offers students options in tailoring their instruction to best meet their academic and career goals. The program is designed to prepare graduates for employment in non-instructional roles in education through coursework in learning theory, psychology, development, assessment, evaluation, and teaching strategies. Students can choose to focus their education in Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education (K-6), Middle-Level Education (Grades 6-8), and Skilled and Technical Sciences, with specialized coursework unique to each track. Students complete 120 to 122 credit hours in seven or 15-week terms facilitated through the university’s online learning platform. The university offers six start dates a year, and applicants are required to submit official transcripts for admission consideration. First-year applicants and transfer students must submit an ACT or SAT score report or complete a placement test before enrolling. Students transferring from an accredited college or university can transfer up to 90 credit hours. Wilmington’s Online Student Navigators are available by chat, email, or phone to answer questions and provide guidance throughout a student’s online learning experience. Students can also access remote advising and tutoring.

#18 Utah State University

  • Annual Tuition: $9,001
  • Median Salary: $51,900
  • Locations: Logan (UT)
  • Accreditation: NWCCU

Utah State University offers a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Special Education (SE) and a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Communicative Disorders and Deaf Education (ComDDE). Students complete 120 credit hours of coursework in their field of study in addition to field experiences and internships. Students pursuing the Special Education Degree are educated in strategies and techniques in teaching students with mild, moderate, and severe disabilities, in addition to assessment, behavioral management, and assistive technology. The communicative disorders and deaf education program trains graduates to support and promote the education and progress of students of all ages with difficulties in speaking, hearing, or communicating. Admission to the ComDDE program requires the completion of 45 credit hours of general education and prerequisite coursework with a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Applicants to the degree program must complete 40 credit hours of coursework with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Students complete online coursework through the USU Canvas learning management system and the MyTech Service Desk provides support for online services 24/7. Students in the online education degree programs also have access to online library resources and online tutoring.

#19 Ferris State University

  • Annual Tuition: $12,930
  • Median Salary: $53,100
  • Locations: Big Rapids (MI)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The Bachelor of Science in Technical Education at Ferris State University is an accelerated degree completion program providing students instruction in teaching, career and technical education, and human growth and development. Completion of the program requires 120 credit hours, though the number of courses students are required to take at Ferris State depends on previously earned credits. The degree is designed to be completed in under 18 months, and students begin and end the program in cohorts with an intensive two-week, on-campus term. The curriculum includes field experiences in public schools and a full-time student teaching internship in a vocational or technical program. Admission to the program requires an Associate of Applied Science Degree and a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5. Graduates of the online education degree may obtain an Interim Occupational Certification through the Michigan Department of Education. Completion of the Technical Education Degree does not lead to a teaching certificate in secondary education. Online learners have access to virtual and remote academic support, tutoring, and career services.

#20 University of South Carolina-Columbia

  • Annual Tuition: $20,856
  • Median Salary: $55,300
  • Locations: Columbia (SC)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The University of South Carolina-Columbia offers two degree completion programs in education: a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education and a Bachelor of Arts in Special Education. Graduates of the Elementary Education and Special Education programs are eligible for certification in teaching grades 2 through 6 and special education (K through 12) classes, respectively. The BAEE and BASE curricula instruct students in teaching pedagogy, learning assessment, and classroom management, and both programs include a student teaching internship. The university admits in the fall and spring semesters, and students enrolled full-time can complete their degree in two to three years. Prospective students are required to submit an official transcript demonstrating 36 to 60 credit hours of specific program prerequisites to be considered for admission. Many of the courses required of each online degree program do not require set log in times, allowing students the flexibility to complete assigned coursework at their own convenience. Students are supported in their studies through online tutoring, writing support, and academic success consulting.

#21 Fort Hays State University

  • Annual Tuition: $6,778
  • Median Salary: $49,400
  • Locations: Hays (KS)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Fort Hays State University offers multiple online bachelor’s degrees in early childhood, elementary, and business education, including several programs leading to a Kansas state teaching certificate. Those leading to licensure in their respective disciplines include the Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education, the Bachelor of Science in Education (Early Childhood Unified), and the Bachelor of Science in Business Education in Business Teaching Licensure. The Business Education program also offers concentrations in Corporate Communication and Talent Development. Required credit hours range from 121 to 132, and students complete coursework in the traditional 16-week semesters in the fall and spring, as well as an eight-week semester in the summer. First-year applicants must submit an official high school transcript and an ACT or SAT score report and are required to complete the Kansas Qualified Admissions Pre-College Curriculum with a GPA of 2.0 or higher. Transfer applicants must submit an official college transcript demonstrating a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher. Students pursuing an online education degree access and complete all coursework through Blackboard, the virtual learning platform utilized by Fort Hays. Learning is facilitated through a number of modes, including presentations, projects, discussion boards, labs, and exams. Online learners have access to a number of academic support services, including online tutoring and writing support, career services, and library resources.

#22 University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

  • Annual Tuition: $19,661
  • Median Salary: $54,300
  • Locations: Milwaukee (WI)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The Bachelor of Science in Community Engagement and Education at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee allows students to concentrate their education in Child Care, Child and Family Services, Community Based Organizations, Policy and Leadership, Community Leadership, or Youth Work. Students in the 120-credit hour program explore the causes and consequences of inequality in schools and urban communities and strategies for addressing and resolving inequalities in addition to advanced coursework in each specialty area. Applicants are required to submit official transcripts, but ACT and SAT scores are not required for admission consideration. All students take placement tests upon admission to the university. Students can use previous professional and technical experience, including military experience and technical degrees, to substitute up to 42 credit hours of required coursework. Online learners access and complete course content through the University of Wisconsin’s virtual learning platform. Students can access tutoring, career services, library resources, and technical support online.

#23 Arizona State University

  • Annual Tuition: $15,900
  • Median Salary: $52,700
  • Locations: Tempe (AZ)(and 4 others)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The online Bachelor of Arts in Education in Education Studies at Arizona State University teaches students to work in the field of education outside of the classroom. Students develop an understanding of the role of education in families, communities, and society and gain the knowledge necessary to pursue a career in education administration or policy-making. The program is non-licensing, meaning students do not qualify for a teaching certificate upon completion. The 120-credit hour program includes coursework in the impact of social and economic factors affecting access to education and innovations in improving the quality of education. Students also select a professional track outside of education to complement their studies and gain real-world, hands-on experience through three internships. Instruction in the online degree program is delivered asynchronously, meaning there are no set log in times and students can access and complete coursework by assigned deadlines at their own convenience. Online classes are designed to encourage interaction among students and faculty and professors facilitate learning through a variety of virtual instruction tools. Students are provided a number of virtual support, including online tutoring, access to library resources, and career services. Applicants are required to submit official transcripts and an ACT or SAT score report for admission consideration.

#24 University of Nebraska at Kearney

  • Annual Tuition: $11,880
  • Median Salary: $51,000
  • Locations: Kearney (NE)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The University of Nebraska at Kearney offers a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood and Family Advocacy and a Bachelor of Arts in Education in Early Childhood Inclusive. Both degrees require the completion of 120 credit hours, including general education classes, prerequisites and courses specific to the major, and an internship at an early childhood education institution. The Early Childhood Inclusive program also offers concentrations in Birth Through Kindergarten or Age 3 to Grade 3. Online learners access class content and complete coursework through the Canvas learning management system. Zoom is also used for video conferencing professors and peers. The university provides online students with a number of academic support services, including remote access to tutoring and library resources. Tech support is available through the university’s Help Desk during weekday business hours and through Canvas 24/7. Prospective students are required to submit transcripts and ACT or SAT scores for admission consideration. Both the BS and the BA are non-licensing degree programs, meaning neither leads to a teaching certificate.

Online Education Degree Overview & Career Information

Online certificates and associate degrees in education can provide an introduction to the field and preparation for later college-level work. These degrees cover general liberal arts topics, as well as courses in curriculum design, child development, and instructional methods. Stand-alone undergraduate certificates are usually available in early childhood education areas, while certificates that are part of bachelor’s degrees cover a wider range of topics, such as education policy or adult education.

Bachelor’s degrees in education are the minimum requirement to teach in public elementary and secondary schools. Online degrees are available in elementary education, early childhood education, secondary education, and special education. In general, half of the credits in bachelor’s degrees in education are in the education major core, while half are in liberal arts topics like natural science, social science, communications, and math.

Online graduate certificates and master’s degrees in education are often used to earn a teaching credential and state teaching license. Current teachers can use these programs to advance their understanding of teaching skills. Master’s programs and certificates are available in specializations such as education technology, elementary teacher education, special education, literacy, teacher leadership, administration, and adult education.

Online doctoral degrees in education are usually aimed at students who want to work in higher-level education policy or administration roles. These degree programs require students to perform research into a particular area of education, such as learning sciences and technology or race and language in education.

Online Associate Degrees in Education

Individuals who are interested in starting careers in education may choose to start out with an associate degree. Associate degree holders in education are generally qualified to become teaching assistants. Those who wish to advance in their field may need to pursue a bachelor's or master's degree.

Program Requirements

Most two-year degree programs in this area are offered at community or junior colleges and require the completion of at least 60 credit hours. Applicants should possess a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment.


Students in associate degree programs in education can chose from many different areas of specialization. The most common concentrations are early childhood education, elementary education, secondary education, and special education. Some students may also choose to specialize in a particular subject, such as math or biology. Regardless of the area of interest, students will learn about classroom management, curriculum development, and best practices for working with school staff and parents. Coursework typically includes topics such as education fundamentals, education technology, education psychology, and child development and growth. In addition to classroom learning, students in these programs may be required to complete internships or externships in order to graduate.

Online Bachelor's Degrees in Education

Depending on the state and grade level the student intends to instruct, the bachelor's degree may be sufficient to launch a teaching career. In some states, secondary school teachers are required to complete graduate training. Private schools set their own standards for teachers, and a bachelor's degree may be sufficient for employment in certain schools. Prospective teachers should investigate their state's teaching licensure procedures to understand the rules that apply to them.

Program Requirements

Students in an online education bachelor's program study a broad array of curriculum and instructional techniques. Education bachelor's students specialize in a particular grade level or subject area. These programs require about four years of full-time study and include 120 credit hours of coursework. Applicants need a high school diploma or the equivalent.


Core classes in the education program explore the structure of public education, major topics and issues in public education, cultural effects on student achievement, education around the world, and the political state of education. Other classes explore curriculum development, evaluation techniques, and teaching techniques. To earn a four-year degree in education, students also take a number of general courses in math,biology, the arts, and the humanities.

The upper-division coursework in the bachelor's program is centered around the student's particular focus area in education. Possible specializations include elementary education, special education, middle school, or secondary education. Students specializing in secondary education also take coursework in a particular teaching subject area, such as math, science, or English. Teaching-oriented bachelor’s degrees require that students complete teaching labs or practicums, as well as an internship.

Online Master's Degrees in Education

An online master’s degree in education includes study in teaching theories and instructional techniques. Individuals with no teaching experience can use the master's to earn a state teaching credential; current teachers can use the program to broaden their skills or become education leaders.

Program Requirements

Applicants need an accredited bachelor's degree. Online master’s degrees in education usually have a core of five to eight required classes, along with electives the student can choose. Students can expect to complete an average of 30 credits in two years to earn the degree.


The courses in the master’s program depend on the type of training the student is seeking. Some programs are entry-level degrees, aimed at individuals with no previous teaching experience. These programs cover the theory of education and instructional techniques for a particular grade level or subject. These degrees also include teaching practicums and internships that help students master hands-on teaching skills. Other master's degrees are aimed at current teachers who want to deepen their understanding of a particular subject area or gain leadership skills. These programs may focus in areas like special education, technology in education, reading and literature, or curriculum and instruction.

With a master’s degree in education, a graduate can continue or launch a career in educational leadership, teaching, or education lobbying and development. Administrators typically need experience in teaching or the education system in addition to a master's degree.

2020 Best Online Colleges for a Master's in Education

2020 Best Online Master's in Education Badge

The following 24 schools offer the best online master's in education programs, based on their low tuition rates and high mid-career salary potentials. Southern Illinois University - Carbondale is the #1 school, with an average alumni salary of $96,800 and charging only $7,512 for their Master of Science in Education in Workforce Education and Development. The University of Massachusetts - Amherst, ranked #2 on the list, costs $7,650 annually for an online Master of Education in Science Education, with alumni reportedly earning median salaries of $92,200.

Alumni salaries were provided by PayScale. View our methodology for more details or learn more about OnlineU.

Rank School Annual Tuition Mid-Career Salary
# 1 #1 $7,512 $96,800
# 2 #2 $7,650 $92,200
# 3 #3 $7,712 $91,600
# 4 #4 $25,200 $96,300
# 5 #5 $14,875 $91,400
# 6 #6 $11,200 $89,200
# 7 #7 $13,455 $89,000
# 8 #8 $12,688 $88,200
# 9 #9 $7,435 $85,500
# 10 #10 $15,688 $86,100
# 11 #11 $12,000 $81,000
# 12 #12 $7,572 $78,200
# 13 #13 $20,824 $82,900
# 14 #14 $6,480 $76,900
# 15 #15 $28,920 $85,500
# 16 #16 $16,284 $80,100
# 17 #17 $6,900 $75,800
# 18 #18 $9,216 $76,000
# 19 #19 $22,368 $80,100
# 20 #20 $25,400 $81,200
# 21 #21 $10,350 $74,100
# 22 #22 $13,672 $75,100
# 23 #23 $9,982 $73,300
# 24 #24 $10,166 $73,200

2020 Online Colleges Offering Education Master's Degrees - Ranking Details

#1 Southern Illinois University - Carbondale

  • Annual Tuition: $7,512
  • Median Salary: $96,800
  • Locations: Carbondale (IL)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The Master of Science in Education in Workforce Education and Development degree at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale offers a flexible opportunity for students to grow their skills as trainers, instructors, and administrators. Graduates of this program have gone on to pursue career opportunities in a variety of fields, including government, career education, and industry. The online master’s in education program is only offered to those students who live more than 50 miles from campus; students who live closer must be granted special permission to take remote classes. Students have the option to complete a thesis, but all must pass an oral examination to graduate. Students have the opportunity to complete internships and conduct research as part of the program.

#2 University of Massachusetts - Amherst

  • Annual Tuition: $7,650
  • Median Salary: $92,200
  • Locations: Amherst (MA)
  • Accreditation: NECHE

The College of Education at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst offers several online master’s in education options for current educators who are looking for a flexible way to advance their education. The higher education MSEd is intended for those who already work in colleges and universities or a related field. The master's in science education degree is designed to prepare science teachers to lead inquiry-based classrooms. The program prepares students for advanced professional licensure, not initial. Both programs are suited for education professionals who already have work experience.

#3 University of Illinois Urbana - Champaign

  • Annual Tuition: $7,712
  • Median Salary: $91,600
  • Locations: Champaign (IL)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The online Master of Education (EdM) program at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is a flexible way for teachers to advance their education as they continue working in the classroom. The program offers two concentration options: curriculum and instruction or education policy, organization, and leadership. The curriculum and instruction track has a focus on technology and how it can be used for diverse classroom settings. Students can further specialize in this program with a focus on bilingual/bicultural education or digital learning. Students in the education policy, organization, and leadership track have several subconcentrations to choose from, including diversity and equity in education, human resources development, education administration and leadership, global studies in education, and learning design and leadership.

#4 Seton Hall University

  • Annual Tuition: $25,200
  • Median Salary: $96,300
  • Locations: South Orange (NJ)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Seton Hall University offers several online education master’s programs that offer flexible opportunities for students seeking advanced study in counseling and school leadership. The Master of Arts in Education Leadership, Management, and Policy degree is designed for working educators who wish to advance in their careers as school administrators or department supervisors. The program can be completed in two years. The MA in School Counseling program enables students to become effective counselors, as well as education advocates and consultants. This program can also be completed in two years.

#5 The George Washington University

  • Annual Tuition: $14,875
  • Median Salary: $91,400
  • Locations: Washington D.C. (DC)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Educators can advance their classroom teaching and leadership skills with multiple online master’s in education programs at The George Washington University. The Master of Arts in Education and Human Development program offers concentrations in educational leadership and administration, educational technology leadership, organizational leadership and learning, special education for culturally and linguistically diverse learners, rehabilitation counseling, and secondary special education and transition services (leads to K-12 certification). Students in any of these programs will be prepared to pursue career opportunities as educators and school leaders.

#6 Purdue University - Main Campus

  • Annual Tuition: $11,200
  • Median Salary: $89,200
  • Locations: West Lafayette (IN)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Purdue University-Main Campus offers a 30-credit Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction that can be completed in 18 months. Students can choose an emphasis in Educational Technology; English Language Learning; Gifted, Creative, and Talented Studies; Integrated STEM; and Mathematics Education. Other options include a 35-credit Master of Science in Learning Design and Technology that can be completed in 22 months and a 31-to-45-credit Master of Science in Special Education that takes about 20 months. Purdue’s College of Education helps prepare students for key leadership roles in education and the workforce. Advisors are available to answer questions about advanced licensing requirements. Purdue strives to offer students a prestigious online degree that is flexible and convenient for adult learners, including military service members and families. Learning modalities include virtual seminars, faculty, and student interaction, and 24/7 access to courses. Prospective students must submit official transcripts, three letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and English proficiency scores, if applicable. A cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher is required for consideration. Highly qualified faculty deliver rigorous instruction backed by cutting-edge research.

#7 Mercy College

  • Annual Tuition: $13,455
  • Median Salary: $89,000
  • Locations: Dobbs Ferry (NY)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Mercy College offers several online Master’s in Education programs including dual degrees, such as the Bachelor of Science/Master of Science in Behavior Science and Childhood Education, Grades 1-6. A dual degree allows aspiring teachers to take 15 graduate education classes in their junior and senior years. Students achieve teacher certification and an advanced degree at an accelerated pace. Other BS/MS teaching degrees are offered in English and psychology. Online Master of Science Degrees are offered in many disciplines, including the MS in Adolescence Education, MS in Educational Studies, and MS in TESOL. The 36-credit MS curriculum prepares students for initial and professional certification. Mercy faculty deliver courses on the interactive Blackboard platform that gives students flexible online access to instructional materials at any time. Applicants must apply online and submit official transcripts, letters of recommendation, personal statement, resume, and test scores. Certain programs may have additional requirements. Students receive advising and support throughout the program from dedicated instructors who are experienced in online teaching and learning.

#8 Johns Hopkins University

  • Annual Tuition: $12,688
  • Median Salary: $88,200
  • Locations: Baltimore (MD)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

John Hopkins University offers a Master of Arts in Teaching Writing that can be completed in 12–20 months. Students may start the program in the fall, spring, or summer. The purpose of the curriculum is to help teachers in all disciplines learn innovative and effective ways of teaching writing to their students. Opportunity is also provided for teachers to deepen their own writing skills. The program of study entails nine online courses that focus on different writing genres and instructional methods. The program culminates in a thesis course that requires original research and developing a portfolio of writing artifacts. Asynchronous classes are taught on the Blackboard platform that enables students to complete weekly assignments whenever it’s most convenient for them. Online writing classes include textbook readings, video lectures, PowerPoints, wikis, journals, blogs, and the opportunity to engage with classmates and the instructor. Admission to the program entails completing an online application and submitting a resume or CV, official transcripts, a 750-1,000 word statement of purpose, a maximum 2,500-word writing sample, and optional letters of recommendation.

#9 Northern Illinois University

  • Annual Tuition: $7,435
  • Median Salary: $85,500
  • Locations: Dekalb (IL)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Northern Illinois University (NIU) offers diverse online Master’s Degrees in Education. The Master of Science in Education has concentrations in Instructional Technology, including K-12 and library information specializations. Coursework prepares students for library (LIS) and technology (TS) certification and endorsement. The MS in Educational Research and Evaluation offers concentrations in Advanced Quantitative Methods and Assessment and Program Evaluation. Also offered is an MS in Art Education and MS in Education with an emphasis in School Business Management. The curriculum teaches students how to use data and instructional technology to improve teaching, learning, administration, and educational policy. Courses are delivered through the Blackboard online learning platform. Admission to the program requires submission of an online application, transcripts, GRE scores, two recommendation letters, a resume or CV, and a statement of purpose. NIU Online supports student success by offering comprehensive student services including tech support, disability resources, help with writing skills, online library resources, and career advising.

#10 The University of Texas at Austin

  • Annual Tuition: $15,688
  • Median Salary: $86,100
  • Locations: Austin (TX)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The University of Texas at Austin offers an entirely online 30-credit Master of Education with a concentration in Sport Management. Students pursuing this master’s degree must complete 10 three-credit classes over the course of two years. The purpose of the program is to help students prepare for managerial positions with collegiate athletic teams, professional sports teams, parks and recreation, and youth sports organizations. Students study sports marketing, ethics, legal issues, strategic event management, and finance. Online classes are small, flexible, and convenient. Designed for working adults, students have the option of enrolling in one or two courses each six-week term, with there being five terms per academic year. Admission to the program requires an undergraduate degree, a 3.0 GPA, and one year or more of full-time employment. Applicants who do not meet the work history requirement may be admitted on the condition that they complete a six-credit hour supervised internship. Prospective students must apply to UT at Austin through their state application system, called, Apply Texas.

#11 University of Wisconsin - Madison

  • Annual Tuition: $12,000
  • Median Salary: $81,000
  • Locations: Madison (WI)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The University of Wisconsin - Madison has a 30-credit Master of Science for Professional Educators Degree that can be completed in two years. Students take courses on school personnel supervision, educational measurements, educational psychology, multicultural education, and current issues. Courses are accessible 24/7 with the Canvas online course management system. Through a collaboration with Blackboard, students participate in web conferencing, live discussions, and synchronous activities at a pre-scheduled day and time, such as Tuesday evenings from 7 – 9 PM. Applicants must have a GPA of 3.0 or higher in their last 60 credit hours of undergraduate instruction and at least one year of teaching experience. Prospective students apply by submitting an online application, transcripts, resume, and two letters of recommendation. Also required is a three to four-page personal statement discussing teaching experience, goals, interests, honors received, technical proficiency, and motivation. The curriculum aligns with the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) and the University of Wisconsin – Madison Teacher Education Standards.

#12 Seattle University

  • Annual Tuition: $7,572
  • Median Salary: $78,200
  • Locations: Seattle (WA)
  • Accreditation: NWCCU

Seattle University offers a Master of Arts in Educating Non-Native English Speakers. The curriculum focuses on ways that teachers can support pre-K-12 students who speak English in the classroom but not at home. The program is best suited to teachers certified in the state of Washington. Through the program, they can earn an ELL endorsement while pursuing an online master’s degree. Students begin by enrolling in a one-year program that requires completion of eight online ELL courses. Each course includes synchronous real-time class sessions held twice a week and asynchronous weekly assignments accessible 24/7. Students can earn a master’s degree by taking additional credit hours of asynchronous online instruction. The master’s degree consists of 9 core credits in education and 15 credits specific to teaching English as a second language. Admission requirements include a Washington state or reciprocal state teaching credential, a bachelor’s degree, and a 3.0 or higher GPA. Qualified applicants may apply to Seattle University with an attached statement of purpose, resume, two professional recommendations, and a self-evaluation form.

#13 San Diego State University

  • Annual Tuition: $20,824
  • Median Salary: $82,900
  • Locations: San Diego (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

San Diego State University offers an online Master of Arts in Educational Leadership that includes ten courses that can be completed in one year. Each course provides an opportunity for students to gain proficiency in the use of technology as a learning and assessment tool. The program is built around a cohort model of students who take classes together as they work toward degree completion. Course content focuses on methods of inquiry, organizational theory and systems change, visionary leadership, and applied research. Flexible and convenient online classes are delivered via Blackboard, a virtual learning platform. Applicants apply by submitting an online application, transcripts, two letters of recommendation, and a 500-word statement of purpose. Students may submit GRE scores although it is not mandatory. Admission requirements include a bachelor’s degree and a 3.0 GPA. Teaching or professional work experience is recommended, but not required. The program is well-suited to K-12 teachers aspiring to become site and district leaders in innovation and technology enhancement.

#14 Western Governors University

  • Annual Tuition: $6,480
  • Median Salary: $76,900
  • Locations: Multiple Locations
  • Accreditation: NWCCU

Western Governors University (WGU) offers 20 online Master’s Degrees in Education with concentrations in many subject fields. Teachers can pursue advanced degrees in Elementary Education, Language Learning, Mathematics, and Middle School to Secondary School Science. Those interested in curriculum enrichment may earn a Master’s in Educational Leadership, curriculum and instruction, instructional design, or teaching and learning. Also available are two Nursing Education Master’s Degrees for nurses seeking a higher degree for career advancement. Students may apply any time and start at the beginning of the month. The terms are six months long. Students learn at their own pace and move forward by completing competency-based assessments. Admission criteria for graduate programs at WGU vary by discipline. Students in some educational programs are required to undergo a criminal background check and possess an unrestricted license to teach or practice. Applicants are encouraged to reach out to a WGU Enrollment Counselor for information on the specific requirements of the program they’re considering. In addition to studying online, students apply their knowledge to field practice.

#15 University of Southern California

  • Annual Tuition: $28,920
  • Median Salary: $85,500
  • Locations: Los Angeles (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

The University of Southern California offers an online Master of Education in Learning Design and Technology. Designed for working adults, the curriculum is set up to be completed in 21 months. Students enroll in synchronous classes that meet afternoons and evenings two to three days a week. Each class is five to seven hours long. Instruction focuses on topics like learning and motivation, human development, research methods, instructional design, diversity, assessment, and technology applications. The program culminates in a capstone project that requires research and development of a portfolio of the student’s work in the program. Graduates can use their skills to enhance performance outcomes in their organization. Admission to the program is based on a holistic review of each applicant’s academic achievements, work history, personal accomplishments, and potential for professional growth. Applicants must submit an application form, transcripts, resume/CV, and two letters of recommendation. Scores from the GRE or GMAT are optional. Limited scholarships are automatically awarded to select members of the new entering cohort.

#16 California State University-Fullerton

  • Annual Tuition: $16,284
  • Median Salary: $80,100
  • Locations: Fullerton (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

California State University-Fullerton (CSUF) hosts 23 online Master’s Degrees in Education. The Master of Science in Education includes available concentrations in Literacy and Reading, Curriculum and Instruction, Social Justice, Math and Science Teaching, and Special Education. Some degree tracks give students the choice of completing a thesis or a capstone project. Also offered is the 16-month Master of Science in Education with an instructional design or technology focus. Students enroll as a cohort and complete their 10 required courses together. Degrees offered by the College of Education encourage equity and inclusion in educational program design and delivery. The curriculum helps students become scholar-practitioners committed to a just educational system in an interconnected global world. Online courses are delivered through Blackboard and its ALLY tool that allows the accessibility of course materials for all students. Admission to CSUF requires a bachelor’s degree with a 3.0 GPA. Certain programs also require teaching credentials or equivalency experiences subject to faculty approval.

#17 Saint Xavier University

  • Annual Tuition: $6,900
  • Median Salary: $75,800
  • Locations: Chicago (IL)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Saint Xavier University offers a five-semester Master of Arts in Education with Dual Endorsement in LBS I and Bilingual/ESL. Also offered is a 30-credit Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) that can be completed in two years. Another option is the accelerated 36-credit Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) with a concentration in Elementary Education. The MAT in Elementary Education program offers an 18-month accelerated plan of study and a 24-month plan of study. Courses are taught online on the Canvas learning platform. Some online courses also require documented hours of fieldwork at approved sites. Graduate programs at Saint Xavier University have slightly different admission requirements. Prospective students initiate the admission process by submitting a Graduate Student Application indicating their desired program and tentative start date. Within 24 hours students will receive an email requesting supplemental documents required of those seeking admission to that particular program. Upon completion of coursework, students are eligible to sit for state proficiency exams that can lead to Endorsements on the teaching license.

#18 Eastern Michigan University

  • Annual Tuition: $9,216
  • Median Salary: $76,000
  • Locations: Ypsilanti (MI)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The College of Education at Eastern Michigan University offers a 35-credit Master of Arts in Educational Leadership for PK-12 administrators. Completing this degree qualifies students for the Michigan building principal license. The 30-credit Master of Arts in Learning Technology and Design qualifies state-certified teachers for the Michigan educational technology, or NP, endorsement. Also offered is a unique interdisciplinary 30-credit MA in Social Foundations of Education, with an optional emphasis on Ecojustice and Education. Degrees can be completed in 18-36 months depending on course load. Throughout the curriculum, emphasis is placed on the application of scholarship to real-world settings. Online courses are coupled with hands-on assignments and fieldwork experiences. Courses are delivered through the Canvas course management system. Tech support is available for students at all times. Admission to graduate school requires submission of an application and transcripts verifying completion of a bachelor’s degree and a GPA of 2.7 or better in the last half of the undergraduate courses.

#19 Hofstra University

  • Annual Tuition: $22,368
  • Median Salary: $80,100
  • Locations: Hempstead (NY)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Hofstra University offers a Master of Science in Education (MSEd) in Higher Education Leadership and Policy Studies. The 36-semester hour MSEd is an interdisciplinary program that helps prepare bold leaders to tackle challenges facing institutions of higher learning. Students study leadership styles, student services, higher education policies, and administration. Graduates of the program can find jobs in college and university settings as program directors and policy influencers. Also offered is the 31-semester hour MSEd in Special Education: International Perspectives geared toward educators around the world seeking a deeper understanding of the Special Education curriculum and strategies for meeting the needs of students with disabilities. Flexible, online courses are designed to accommodate diverse learners and working professionals. Courses can be accessed 24/7 through Blackboard, a virtual learning information management system. Prospective students must have a bachelor’s degree to qualify for admission. An application to the graduate school includes transcripts, a resume, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement of goals.

#20 Pepperdine University

  • Annual Tuition: $25,400
  • Median Salary: $81,200
  • Locations: Malibu (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

The Graduate School of Education and Psychology at Pepperdine University offers five online Master's in Education. The program is grounded in a scholar-practitioner model. Pepperdine’s teaching and learning curriculum prepares educators and administrators to act as leaders, mentors, innovators, and collaborators with stakeholders. Program concentrations include Higher Education, Learning Technology, Pre-K to 12 Education, Learning Design and Innovation, and Organizational Leadership and Learning. Courses focus on communication, critical thinking, pedagogy, diversity, program design, assessment, innovative technology, and data analytics. Admitted students access syllabi, assignments, course materials, live chat, and exams through the Pepperdine learning management system known as Courses. Tech support is available at all times. Applicants must possess a strong academic record and hold a bachelor’s degree, embrace high standards, and demonstrate a strong likelihood of completing their degree. Students pursuing an online graduate degree receive individualized advising, support, and attention in the context of a Christian education. Up to nine master’s level credits can be applied toward an EdD or a Ph.D. in the School of Education at Pepperdine.

#21 University of Massachusetts-Boston

  • Annual Tuition: $10,350
  • Median Salary: $74,100
  • Locations: Boston (MA)
  • Accreditation: NECHE

The University of Massachusetts-Boston has several online Master’s Degrees in Education. Most students complete their degree in two to three years. Designed for working adults, the rigorous and prestigious degree can be completed while holding an outside job. The Master of Arts in Applied Linguistics offers concentrations in ESL & Bilingual Studies and Foreign Language Instruction. Other graduate degrees include the Master of Education with concentrations in School Psychology, Instructional Design, and Vision Studies. The Vision Studies MEd program trains educators and specialists to assist people with sight impairments and has four additional specializations. Courses are taught on the Blackboard learning platform that supports asynchronous, self-paced learning, and real-time collaborations with other students and faculty. Admission to UMass-Boston online programs minimally requires a bachelor’s degree, official transcripts, a GRE, and a statement of interest. Academic departments may have additional requirements, such as prerequisite classes, a personal interview with faculty, and acceptable scores on the Massachusetts Test for Educator Literacy.

#22 Texas State University

  • Annual Tuition: $13,672
  • Median Salary: $75,100
  • Locations: San Marcos (TX)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Texas State University offers a 36-credit hour Master of Education in Management of Technical Education (Track 2 – Management). This online education degree is best suited to those who are already teachers or trainers. The program offers advanced instruction in administration and technical skills. Only track 2 is entirely online. Earning a degree requires completion of a 15-hour management module followed by a 21-hour model comprised of career and technical education courses. During their last semester, students must pass an oral and written comprehensive exit exam before they can be awarded a degree. Courses are delivered through the Canvas learning platform, which offers announcements, notifications, chat features, conferences, ePortfolios, collaborations, and more. Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree and submit unofficial transcripts with their application. Students who receive and accept an offer of admission to the program must have official transcripts sent to The Graduate College before enrolling. Faculty have won awards for their use of advanced multiple modalities to enhance online learning.

#23 Portland State University

  • Annual Tuition: $9,982
  • Median Salary: $73,300
  • Locations: Portland (OR)
  • Accreditation: NWCCU

Portland State University offers 11 online master’s degrees, such as a Master of Arts or a Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction. The MA also requires students to demonstrate proficiency in another language. Both 45-credit degrees are entirely online and can be completed in two to three years. Students may finish in one year by taking two classes per term. Other degrees offered include an MA/MS in Early Childhood: Inclusive Education and Curriculum Instruction that can be tailored to working with a specific population, such as infants and toddlers. Additional master’s degrees are available in areas related to early intervention, special education, and visually impaired learners. Electives can lead to a graduate certificate or an endorsement that goes on the teacher's license. The online courses are asynchronous and accessible 24/7. Students are admitted to a cohort in the fall. Application for admission to the College of Education includes a 500-word statement of purpose, the email address for two references, a resume, and transcripts from any previous institutions. Successful applicants have a 3.0 GPA or higher. Preference is given to licensed teachers and education specialists who are not seeking a teaching license.

#24 National University

  • Annual Tuition: $10,166
  • Median Salary: $73,200
  • Locations: La Jolla (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

National University offers nine completely online Master’s in Education Degrees, such as a Master of Arts in Special Education and a Master of Education in Secondary Education with Nevada Licensure or Nevada Elementary Licensure. Students pursuing a Master of Science can choose concentrations in subjects such as special education (Nevada and California only), educational administration, and instructional technology. The program is mainly geared toward those seeking licensure, endorsements, or credentialing in Nevada. Students take one four-week class at a time, allowing them to finish quickly; degrees with 10 courses can be completed in less than a year. Courses are delivered with the Blackboard learning platform that allows students to see all course materials, chat with faculty or classmates, submit assignments, and view grades. Application to National University involves submitting an online application that is reviewed promptly. Up to 13.5 transfer credits may be accepted. Most instructors hold doctorates and real-world experience in diverse educational settings.

Online Doctoral Degrees in Education

Students in online education PhD programs usually conduct original research in a particular area of education theory or practice to help prepare them to lead transformative change in the field of education.

Program Requirements

These programs require completion of 70-90 credit hours and take four to five years to complete. Applicants to these programs typically need a bachelor's and master's degree, along with a strong education-based resume.


The curriculum varies between programs, but courses generally provide reading, discussion, and writing forums for students on topics like education finance, the achievement gap, and education reform. Students also choose an emphasis area, such as elementary education, mathematics education, science education, special education, school administration, or educational technology, and take courses focusing on topics in that field. One of the most important components of a doctorate in education program is the dissertation. Students choose an original topic and an advising professor, then read extensively about their topic, and conduct their own research.

Graduates of these programs often become professors in universities and colleges, teaching classes in general education, teaching, education policy, education administration, and educational psychology and counseling. Professors of education also participate in research studies, often with the goal of publishing their findings in academic journals; they may also advise graduate students as they write their theses and dissertations. Some graduates will work in education policy and reform, while those who studied education administration can become principals, headmasters, deans, superintendents, or employees for state and national departments of education.

Online Certificates in Education

Online certificates in education are available in a variety of focuses, from teacher certification to school leadership or educational policy. These programs typically take a year or less to complete and are comprised of 6 to 10 courses. Applicants need an accredited bachelor’s or master’s degree, depending on the focus and level of the certificate. Some programs also require previous experience working with children or teaching, as well as a clear criminal background check.

The coursework in the education certificate will vary, depending on the program’s goals. Many programs are designed to certify teachers in a particular subject area, such as elementary or secondary education. These programs discuss instructional abilities and teaching theory. Some programs are aimed at experienced educators and discuss education administration and leadership topics, such as human resources issues and professional communication techniques. Other certificates are useful for seasoned teachers who want more knowledge in a particular teaching area, such as teaching students with disabilities or using educational technology.

The career opportunities available after completing an education certificate will depend on the graduate’s previous education and experience. Many use the certificate to take a state licensing exam, either to become a kindergarten-through-12th-grade teacher or a school principal. Education certificates can also be useful for teachers interested in moving into policy or research roles in local, state, and federal governments. Other programs are used by practicing teachers to deepen their curriculum and cement their role in their current school.

Why Is Accreditation Important When Choosing an Online Education Degree?

Attending an accredited school is one of the best and most important decisions a student can make. Accreditation is a designation awarded to a school for complying with a set of academic and personal support standards. Students who need financial aid, want to earn certification or licensure as a teacher, attend graduate school, or transfer credits must attend an accredited school. All individuals seeking a teaching credential must attend an education program that is recognized by their state’s board of education.

To ensure that students receive a high-quality education, they should choose an online degree program that is accredited by either one of the six primary regional accrediting boards, the Distance Education Accrediting Commission, or an accrediting board specializing in education programs. Examples of these programmatic accrediting agencies include the Commission on English Language Program Accreditation (CEA), Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Elementary and Secondary Schools (MSA-CESS), and the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).

Students can check any school's accreditation status online through the U.S. Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) websites. For more information about accreditation, please visit our comprehensive accreditation hub.

Licensing and Certification Requirements

Education graduates who plan to become teachers or administrators (e.g., principal or superintendent) in a public school district will need to follow the proper procedure to become licensed before they can begin working. Each state has its own set of licensing or certification standards for educators and administrators, so students should check their state’s department of education website for requirements. In general, educators and administrators must earn an accredited degree, have professional experience, and pass at least one competency exam to become licensed.

Specific details about licensing and certification requirements for public school teachers can be found in our guide to teaching degrees. The licensing process for public school principals is more rigorous than the process for obtaining a teaching certificate, as administrators are expected to have advanced leadership skills and knowledge about operating a school or school district. To become a principal, most states require candidates to have a master's degree from a regionally accredited school, a teaching certificate, and at least three years of teaching experience.

Principals must also complete a principal preparation program or internship to develop their leadership skills and their knowledge of how to improve students' educational experiences. Other requirements often include passing an exam to demonstrate basic reading, writing, and math skills, passing a state-based educator standards exam, and submitting to a criminal background check. Some states have different levels of principal certification, starting with an initial "residency certificate" and advancing to a "professional certificate" after two years of experience as an employed administrator. Some states break down their certifications even further for elementary and secondary school principals, while other states have the same requirements for both academic levels.

To become the superintendent of a school district, some states require that applicants have a current principal or teaching license and a certain number of years of experience in each professional role. Superintendents may also be required to complete a superintendent preparation program as well as an accredited master's degree program with a superintendent focus before they can take a licensing exam. After passing the exam, they may be eligible for an initial superintendent certification for a certain number of years before renewal.

What Specializations Are Available in the Field of Education?

Students majoring in education can select a specialization to focus their studies on a specific area or age group. The general education track prepares students for non-teaching jobs in related roles, such as educational policy and educational support.

  • Early Childhood Education: This track prepares graduates to work with preschool-aged children and their families. Students may complete fieldwork as part of their degree and take courses in language development, early childhood development, and behavior management.
  • Elementary Education: Students in the primary or elementary education track learn teaching strategies and classroom management for children in kindergarten through sixth grade. Students must complete a teaching internship to graduate. Coursework can include psychology, humanities, social sciences, natural and physical sciences, and mathematics.
  • Secondary Education: This track focuses on working with children in grades six through twelve. In addition to completing a teaching internship and general education classes, students will take teacher preparation courses and select a content area. Content areas include biology, chemistry, English, mathematics, music education, or physical education.
  • Special Education: The special education track prepares graduates to teach students with various learning or developmental disabilities. Students may need to complete an internship in a special needs classroom and take courses on assessing, communicating, and instructing learners with disabilities.

Online Education Administration Degrees

Educational administrators are the leaders of schools, colleges, and other types of educational organizations. They are the leaders and guides in the educational field, either working intimately with students or with the larger community. School administrators work at state and federal levels and help develop state policies that affect education. Administrators can also be school superintendents, principals, or principal support staff.

Students who are seeking entry-level administrative positions in a school district office or at state or federal levels may wish to start with an associate or bachelor's degree in education administration, while those with more professional experience and who hope to work as a superintendent or hold a position as an education administrator at the state or federal level should consider a graduate degree or certificate in education administration.

One-year education administration or education leadership graduate certificate programs are available for students who are currently earning or have already earned a master's degree. They are typically designed for education professionals who would like to advance into a career as a school leader or school district leader. Associate and bachelor’s degrees in educational administration give a broader and more in-depth liberal arts experience. An undergraduate degree program in early childhood education administration provides students with an understanding of the education industry, helps them gain advanced organizational management skills and trains them in the theories of child development.

Graduate degree programs provide highly advanced education in education administration. A master’s degree program in educational leadership offers aspiring principals, deans, and other administrators an opportunity to further develop their professional skills and prepares them to effectively manage the way a school operates. Educational leadership doctorates introduce current educators to advanced theories in educational psychology, educational leadership and public relations, school law, and leadership ethics.

Online Instructional Technology Degrees

Technology is playing an ever-increasing role in today's classrooms. Everyone from kindergarten through graduate school is enjoying the benefits of computers, presentational technology, and new programs in the classroom. Some of the best teachers in today's classes are skilled at incorporating new forms of technology to enhance student learning, whether it be computer programs, tablets, or podcasts. Technology has become so important in today's classrooms that there are entire degree programs dedicated to creating new ways of including technology in one's teaching style. Both current and aspiring teachers can benefit from learning about instructional technology in a formalized degree setting. 

Instructional technology degrees are usually earned as graduate degrees. Most people who become interested in this field are already educators or educational leaders, such as vice principals or curriculum developers. Students who are choosing instructional technology paths are interested in becoming better at their jobs, learning to take their techniques and skills in new directions. This makes the masters degree or the masters of education degree very popular. Students study computer programming, the teaching of computer programming, introducing students to technology, using technology paired with written literature and traditional teaching methods, and training other teachers to use technology in their classrooms. 

Associate degrees and bachelor's degrees that feature an instructional technology option are more likely to be degrees in education or teaching with an instructional technology specialization option. Students will study teaching techniques, curriculum development, evaluation techniques, and classroom management, all while learning about how they can use technology to enhance their teaching skills. Some schools require that students who are applying for master's in instructional technology already have official teaching experience. Doctoral programs may even require curriculum development or teacher leadership experience.

Traditional degree programs in instructional technology revolve around group discussion, helping students build ideas off of one another. This is not easily done through online programs, so instructional technology students will be asked to complete a lot of reading and writing assignments. Many online programs (as well as some traditional programs) require that all students be full-time, licensed teachers. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Education Degrees

Besides teaching in schools, what can I do with an online degree in education?

An online degree in education can be leveraged into other career paths, especially when coupled with several years of experience. The skills that professionals gain in elementary and secondary education prepare them for other careers as well. These include corporate training or postsecondary teaching, as well as fields that involve interacting with people, such as sales, life coaching, and counseling. Some of these options may require additional education.

What kind of degree do I need for a job in education administration?

A bachelor's degree in education can be the stepping stone to a career as a school principal or other high-level administrative positions. In some cases, certified and experienced teachers go on to earn master's degrees in educational leadership or education administration in order to become school administrators.

How much can I expect to earn as a teacher?

Annual salaries for public school teachers and special education teachers at all levels—primary or elementary school, middle school, and high school—are fairly consistent. Salaries typically range from $33,000 to $75,000, and the averages for all of these positions fall between $45,000 and $50,000, according to PayScale. There is a similar range for private schools, where salaries are dependent on the individual school's funding. The National Council on Teacher Quality reports that teachers with master's degrees may earn up to $7,350 more per year.

Do I have to have a degree in education to become a teacher?

Students who have earned bachelor's degrees in subjects other than education can still become elementary and secondary teachers without returning to school to pursue a second bachelor's or a master's degree. The solution is an alternative certification program that quickly gives students the essential skills to pass the certification exam and succeed at teaching in a classroom setting. Many professionals who are seeking a career change into teaching will find they can complete an alternative certification program online.

What professional associations are available for education professionals?

Professional associations for educators are available at the state, regional, and national levels. Below are several of the largest national associations for teachers and the greater community:

  • National Education Association (NEA): The NEA has over three million members, including educators, students, parents, and activists. The association aims to provide quality public education to all students.
  • American Federation of Teachers (AFT): Founded in 1916, the AFT includes teachers, paraprofessionals, faculty and staff, government employees, and healthcare professionals. They promote equal economic opportunity by advocating for high-quality education, healthcare, and other public services for all students.
  • The Association of American Educators (AAE): The AAE is the largest non-union organization in the nation. Their mission is to empower and support educators by providing them with benefits, services, scholarships and grants, and professional resources.


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