2022 Best Online Master's in Elementary Education Degrees

By Holly Johnson | Updated 6/21/2022
2022 Best Online Master's Degrees in Elementary Education Badge

After receiving an online degree in elementary education or a similar field, an online master’s in elementary education is designed for new and novice educators looking to expand their expertise. Each program covers elementary education, curriculum development, and leadership. In addition, students can expect to complete internships or practicums at local schools to meet program requirements for graduation. With an online master’s degree in elementary education, students can pursue career opportunities such as an elementary teacher, principal, instructional coordinator, or school counselor. 

Below, we've provided a list of the best online Master’s in Education based on the highest alumni salary. View our methodology for more details about rankings or learn more about OnlineU.

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2022 Best Online Master's in Elementary Education Degrees

RankSchool Salary Score Median Starting Salary
# 1 #1 Pennsylvania State University - World Campus 100 100 $81,629
# 2 #2 City University of Seattle 85 $59,848
# 3 #3 American University 83 $58,228
# 4 #4 California State University - Fullerton 82 $56,978
# 5 #5 Nova Southeastern University 79 $54,785
# 6 #6 McDaniel College 74 $51,549
# 7 #7 Chaminade University of Honolulu 71 $49,912
# 8 #8 University of Alaska Southeast 70 $49,402
# 9 #9 University of Nebraska at Kearney 70 $49,159
# 10 #10 The College of Saint Scholastica 69 $49,079

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2022 Online Colleges Offering Master's Degrees

Ranking Details

#1 Pennsylvania State University - World Campus

  • Salary Score: 100
  • Median Starting Salary: $81,629
  • Locations: University Park (PA)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

The Pennsylvania State University (PennState), a large, public institution, offers an online Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction totaling 30 credit hours. The program has six concentrations for students to choose from. The Elementary Education concentration exposes students to modern teaching methods. The program's core courses include Colloquium, Teaching as Inquiry, and Theories of Childhood.

PennState uses Canvas to deliver online coursework, which can be completed asynchronously. In addition, students can access online academic support through the institution. PennState’s admission requirements include a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution, an equivalent tertiary degree, and a submitted application.

#2 City University of Seattle

  • Salary Score: 85
  • Median Starting Salary: $59,848
  • Locations: Seattle (WA)
  • Accreditation: NWCCU

City University of Seattle (CityU) is a small, private nonprofit offering two online master's degrees in Education: (1) Master in Teaching and (2) Master of Education in Leadership. The Master in Teaching is between 54 to 75 credit hours, while the Master of Education in Leadership has 45 credit hours. The Master in Teaching requires students to meet in person for some coursework and the internship. Both programs prepare students for careers in primary and secondary education. Coursework for the programs covers a range of topics, such as conflict management, leadership, and special education.

At CityU, students complete coursework synchronously on Brightspace. CityU’s student support includes career services and an online library. A bachelor’s degree from an accredited university is required for admission.

#3 American University

  • Salary Score: 83
  • Median Starting Salary: $58,228
  • Locations: Washington D.C.
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

American University (AU) is a medium, private nonprofit institution offering an online Master of Arts in Teaching Elementary Education program. The program, which totals 33 credit hours, can be completed in two years at a full-time pace. It requires students to undertake 600 classroom hours at a local site near the student’s residence. Sample coursework includes Foundations of Education, Teaching Science in the Elementary School, and Student Teaching Seminar in Professional Practice.

Canvas is AU’s online learning platform for students, with courses delivered both asynchronously and synchronously. In addition, online students can access academic advising, tutoring, writing, counseling, and health education. AU’s admission requirements include a bachelor’s degree and online application submission.

#4 California State University - Fullerton

  • Salary Score: 82
  • Median Starting Salary: $56,978
  • Locations: Fullerton (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

California State University - Fullerton (CSUF), a large, public institution, offers an online Master of Science in Curriculum & Instruction with seven concentrations for students to choose from. The Elementary Curriculum and Instruction concentration totals 30 credit hours and provides students with the knowledge needed to exceed in the classroom. Sample coursework includes Survey of Educational Research, Curriculum Theory and Development, and Graduate Studies: Learning Theory for Classroom Use.

CSUF uses Canvas, a digital learning platform, to deliver online coursework. Online students receive support through resource centers and academic services. CSUF’s admission requirements include teaching experience, 24 approved major credits, an approved study plan, and a minimum 3.0 GPA in the prior 60 units.

#5 Nova Southeastern University

  • Salary Score: 79
  • Median Starting Salary: $54,785
  • Locations: Fort Lauderdale (FL)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Nova Southeastern University (NSU) is a medium, private nonprofit institution offering an online Master of Science in Elementary Education. Students must complete 40 credit hours in order to graduate. In this program, students gain the skills they need to deliver lessons to children at the K-6 levels. Assessment in Reading, Applied Professional Experience in Elementary Education, and Teaching Visual Arts and Music in the Elementary School are a few core courses in the curriculum.

At NSU, online students complete work asynchronously via Canvas, meaning that they work at their own pace. Student support at NSU includes career counseling, technology services, and more. Admission requirements involve completing an admission application packet and submitting official transcripts that indicate the completion of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university.

#6 McDaniel College

  • Salary Score: 74
  • Median Starting Salary: $51,549
  • Locations: Westminster (MD)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

McDaniel College (McDaniel) is a small, private nonprofit institution offering an online Master of Science in Elementary Education that requires the completion of 33 credit hours. The program is designed for licensed teachers seeking to expand their field knowledge. In addition, students have the option to add the following endorsements to their degree: (1) Administrator I Certification, (2) Elementary Math Instructional Leader, (3) Gifted and Talented Education Specialist (GATES), and (4) STEM Instructional Leadership.

At McDaniel, students can complete online coursework asynchronously on Blackboard. Online student support includes academic advising, writing, career services, and more. Admission requirements include official transcripts, two letters of recommendation, 33 credit hours with a minimum 3.0 GPA, and the completion of a project or thesis.

#7 Chaminade University of Honolulu

  • Salary Score: 71
  • Median Starting Salary: $49,912
  • Locations: Honolulu (HI)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

Chaminade University of Honolulu (CUH), a small, private nonprofit institution, offers an online Master of Arts in Teaching. Totaling 39 credit hours, the program can be completed in just 18 months. The program has five concentrations, including Elementary Education (K-6). Some example courses from this concentration include History and the Profession of Education, Diverse Learners, and Elementary Math Methods.

CUH uses Canvas to deliver online coursework to students in a synchronous format. The institution’s online resources include IT help, counseling, and academic support. CUH’s admission requirements are a bachelor’s or master’s degree from an accredited university, English proficiency, official transcripts, and an application.

#8 University of Alaska Southeast

  • Salary Score: 70
  • Median Starting Salary: $49,402
  • Locations: Juneau (AK)
  • Accreditation: NWCCU

At the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS), a small, public institution, students can pursue an online Master of Arts in Teaching Elementary Education. The program, which takes 36 to 39 credit hours, requires students to complete weekly practicum assignments and a semester of student teaching in a K-6 school. Sample coursework includes Health in the K-8 Curriculum, The Learner and the Learning Process, and Curriculum Development.

At UAS, online students complete coursework synchronously on the online learning platform Blackboard. Online student support services include academic advising, career services, and counseling. UAS’s admission requirements are a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, application, official transcripts, two letters of recommendation, and more.

#9 University of Nebraska at Kearney

  • Salary Score: 70
  • Median Starting Salary: $49,159
  • Locations: Kearney (NE)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK) is a medium, public institution offering an online Master of Arts in Education. The program requires students to complete 36 credit hours, and it provides eleven concentration areas to choose from. The elementary-focused concentrations are Elementary Education and Montessori - Early Elementary, which each provide students with the expertise to excel in K-6 classrooms.

UNK utilizes Canvas to deliver online coursework to students, which can be completed in a synchronous or asynchronous format. The institution’s online resources include IT, an online library, and disability services. UNK’s admission requirements are meeting the minimum GPA, submitting GRE scores, and having a professional biography.

#10 The College of Saint Scholastica

  • Salary Score: 69
  • Median Starting Salary: $49,079
  • Locations: Duluth (MN)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The College of Saint Scholastica (CSS) is a medium, private nonprofit institution offering an online Master of Education program. The program, which totals 33 credit hours, can be completed within two years. The program provides seven concentration options students can choose from. The curriculum covers technology integration, action research, and promoting student learning.

At CSS, online students complete coursework synchronously on the Blackboard platform. In addition, CSS’s online student support includes academic advising, counseling, and career services. The program’s minimum admission requirements are a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university and a minimum 2.8 GPA.

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What Is an Elementary Education Degree?

An elementary education degree is often the first step in a long and rewarding career in the field of teaching. But, what is elementary education exactly? When we talk about elementary-level learning, we are talking about education for grades one through six.

While a bachelor's degree in elementary education can help you begin a career as an elementary school teacher, earning a master's in elementary education can help you move up in your career. For example, those who take the time to pursue an elementary education master's program online while working as a teacher may go on to get hired as a school principal, an instructional coordinator, or a lead teacher.

Program Requirements

In order to gain the knowledge and skills required to teach our future leaders, you must sincerely love working with young students and desire to complete at least four years of higher education. That said, those who pursue a master's in elementary education typically spend several more years completing various educational and licensing requirements.

Generally speaking, individuals who pursue a master's in elementary education must have a bachelor's degree in education or a related field first. While traditional brick-and-mortar schools may ask you to complete coursework for this degree in person, the best online masters degree programs allow students to complete their assignments and training entirely from home. Some even allow for self-paced learning, which makes it easier to complete this program while working full-time in a teaching position or any other career.

Elementary Education Courses

Master's degree programs in elementary education are all designed to help you gain the disposition required to help students thrive in a variety of learning environments. In the meantime, you'll need to gain curriculum planning and classroom management skills, as well as a mastery of a variety of teaching techniques that can be tailored to meet the needs of students.

If you're wondering, what classes are required for elementary education, read on to learn more:

Children's Literature

This course introduces college students to the world of books and stories our children read as they learn and grow. Students will study the cultural and historical impact of children's literature and learn how teachers can use it as a tool to expand children's learning and perspectives. The goal of this course is ensuring that new teachers have the tools they need to nurture a love for lifelong learning and reading among the children in their charge.

Communications

This core education course for teachers allows them to learn the communication theories and practices they'll need for their future leadership positions. This course explains how to build and maintain healthy professional and personal relationships in a business environment, as well as how to think critically about various types of interpersonal interactions. This course typically includes the study of communication theory, although lessons are also put in practice through written and oral presentations.

Curriculum Planning

Teachers need to know how to create their own lesson plans from scratch or tailor their lesson plans and curriculum to students' unique and changing needs. Not only do lesson plans have to meet state standards, but they should also prepare students for standardized testing and assessment. This course helps teachers understand all that's required to create engaging lessons that impart important information in a way that helps students learn.

English Composition

This course introduces future teachers to the types of writing that are valued in academia and elsewhere. Students will learn to write in a variety of styles, including the articulation of arguments and general storytelling. While this course is designed to help teachers themselves improve their writing skills, the underlying theory and practice can help them impart their knowledge to students in the classroom and others they work with.

World History

Teachers need to have a general understanding of world history from the lens of humanity. This course will introduce future teachers to the happenings of the last 5,000 years, as well as the cultural, political, and social structures and beliefs that have shaped our world.

Elementary Education Concentrations

Students who pursue an elementary education degree can focus on a specific area of study if they choose. This typically entails choosing a concentration for their degree, although concentration options can vary widely based on the school they attend.

Elementary education concentrations at the master's level can include topics like literacy, social justice, or leadership in education. It's also possible to pursue a master's degree in elementary education with a concentration in special education, which paves the way to leadership positions within elementary-level special education institutions.

Alternatively, some online graduate programs may already cater specifically to your interests, such as a Master's in Educational Leadership or a Master's in Special Education.

What Can You Do With an Elementary Education Degree?

If you're wondering what to do with an elementary education degree, you should know that a wide range of career options may be available to you. Consider the following career pathways for your in-person or online masters in elementary education:

Elementary School Principal

Annual Median Salary: $98,420
Job Growth Rate: 8%

Elementary school principals work in senior positions within schools and other learning centers. Not only do these professionals oversee the daily school activities and staff, but they set basic curriculum standards and the general tone for the learning environment. School principals also oversee their school's budget and establish safety and security protocols for staff, students, and anyone who visits the school.

Elementary School Teacher

Annual Median Salary: $61,350
Job Growth Rate: 7%

While most elementary school teacher positions require a bachelor's degree, the BLS reports that some states require teachers to earn a master's degree after receiving their teacher certification and landing a job. Either way, a master's in elementary education provides a pathway to a career in teaching grades one through six. Those who work in this position help our children learn through lesson plans, assignments, and games. Teachers are also charged with preparing for standardized testing based on state requirements.

Instructional Coordinators

Annual Median Salary: $63,740
Job Growth Rate: 10%

Instructional coordinators need a master's degree and related work experience to get started, which is why this job is a natural fit for teachers who wind up pursuing master's-level education at some point in their career. Workers in this field develop and implement curriculum for school systems, and they also evaluate the effectiveness of current lesson plans and techniques. Also called curriculum specialists, these professionals may also observe teachers in the classroom and suggest curriculum changes to meet students' changing needs.

Training and Development Manager

Annual Median Salary: $120,130
Job Growth Rate: 11%

A masters in elementary education can also prepare you for a job as a training and development manager. Workers in this career take on the tall task of training and enhancing the skills of an organization's staff. This typically involves developing and implementing targeted training programs built around staff members' specific needs while helping all parties work toward an organization's main goals. Training and development managers also update training programs as needed and evaluate their effectiveness over time.

Licensure Requirements

Licensure requirements for this degree vary widely depending on the career one ultimately chooses to pursue. For example, elementary school teachers must complete a bachelor's degree at minimum or a master's degree program — depending on their state.

From there, students must also complete a student teaching program and pass a background check. The BLS also notes that applicants must pass a general teaching certification test to become licensed, as well as testing based on the subjects they plan to teach.

Is a Master's Degree in Elementary Education Worth It?

Pros

A master's degree opens the door to a broader range of careers in education. While a bachelor's-level elementary education degree can help you begin a teaching career in most states, earning a master's degree can help you qualify for more jobs. For example, most careers in school administration require a master's degree to get started.

Many master's programs are offered online. The best online graduate programs can help you earn this degree online and from the comfort of your home. You can even take online courses during evenings and weekends while working in a traditional teaching job.

A master's degree can help you earn more money. Many jobs in teaching that require a master's degree can help you earn more than a four-year degree alone. We already mentioned how elementary school principals earned a median annual wage of $98,420 at last count, and how training and development managers earned $120,130.

Cons

You'll need to spend more time in college. This degree typically requires anywhere from 17 months to three years of higher education after you earn a bachelor's degree. While you can pursue a master's in elementary education online and during your spare time, this still represents a significant investment of your time and energy.

Not all jobs that require this degree are high-paying. While some teachers earn more than others, it's worth noting that your salary may be on the low end if you work as an elementary school teacher after earning a master's degree. In fact, the BLS reports that the bottom 10% of earners in this career brought in just $43,950 on average annually last year.

You may need several years of on-the-job experience to move up the career ladder. Earning a master's degree in elementary education may not get you the job you want right away. In fact, many of the careers we profiled on this page require master's level education and several years of leadership or teaching experience.

Bottom Line

As you compare the best online master's degree programs in this field, you should take the time to ensure you're finding schools that meet the highest standards. For starters, you should know that the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) is charged with reviewing and accrediting agencies and maintaining a list of accredited schools.


Further, the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) accredits specific master's degree programs, including the best online masters programs. As you decide on a program, you should make sure it has CAEP accreditation at minimum.

You may also want to check out other similar degrees, including programs that lead to a master's degree in educational leadership, secondary education, or teaching.

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