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2023 Best Online Teaching Degrees

By OnlineU Staff Writers | Updated 10/20/2023
2023 Best Online Master's Degrees in Teaching Badge

An online master's in teaching can help prospective educators develop the skills necessary for credentialing and certification and seasoned professionals to pursue career advancement. Earning this online degree provides scheduling flexibility and greater access to programs across teaching specializations — such as special education, literacy, and early childhood education. 

We've ranked these programs by Salary Score so you can set realistic earnings expectations while potentially minimizing excess student debt. Additionally, our list of the most affordable online master's degrees in teaching can help you stay within your budget. View our methodology for more details about our list, or learn more about OnlineU.

2023 Best Online Master's Degrees in Teaching Badge
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#1 Fordham University

  • Salary Score: 100
  • Median Starting Salary: $69,026
  • Locations: Bronx (NY)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

New York's Fordham University (FU) in the Bronx is a private, Roman Catholic institution offering an online Master of Science in Teaching focusing on the emotional and academic growth of the whole child. This online teaching master's program includes five tracks: (1) Early Childhood Education, (2) Early Childhood Special Education, (3) Childhood Education, (4) Childhood Special Education, and (5) Childhood and Early Childhood Education. Students complete 36 to 45 credits, depending on the track chosen. Graduating generally takes two years of full-time attendance.

FU's distance learners use the Blackboard learning management system to access online programming. Depending on the track, students in this online master's program take courses such as Psychology of Child Development and Learning, Children's Literature in a Multicultural Society, Teaching Science and Technology to Children, and Planning Instruction for Young Children with Disabilities. Students must also complete seven mandatory child safety workshops before they can graduate.

#2 Touro College

  • Salary Score: 100
  • Median Starting Salary: $68,501
  • Locations: New York (NY)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Touro University (TU) is a private, nonprofit institution based in New York offering an online Master of Science in Teaching Literacy to help equip graduate candidates with the tools and knowledge needed to develop and improve students' literacy skills. Graduating requires completing 36 credits — including six credits of fieldwork experience — generally taking full-time students at least two years. TU also offers an online Master of Science in Education & Special Education - Teaching Students with Disabilities, Grades 7-12.

TU delivers online coursework and instruction via Canvas. Online teaching literacy courses include Literacy In the Bilingual/Multicultural Classroom, Diagnosis and Remediation of Reading Disabilities, Applied Linguistics for Teachers of Literacy, and Effective Implementation of Literacy for the Intermediate and Secondary Student. Students must complete mandatory child safety workshops to graduate.

#3 St. John's University

  • Salary Score: 100
  • Median Starting Salary: $68,413
  • Locations: Queens (NY)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

St. John's University (SJU) in Queens, New York, is a private institution serving Asian American, and Native American Pacific Islander students. It is also a Roman Catholic university offering an online Master of Science in Education - Teaching Children with Disabilities in Childhood Education (1-6). Only NYS-certified students may take this program. They complete 30 credits to graduate, generally taking two years of full-time study, culminating in a comprehensive exam.

SJU delivers online coursework and instruction to distance learners via Canvas. Online teaching children with disabilities master's students engage with instructors and peers in classes, such as Language Acquisition and Literacy Development for General Education and English Language Learners, Principles of Applied Behavior Analysis and Positive Behavior Supports, and Curriculum Adaptation and Modification Planning for Exceptional Students. Courses include fieldwork, and students must also complete a 150-hour practicum to graduate.

#4 California State University - Fullerton

  • Salary Score: 100
  • Median Starting Salary: $67,018
  • Locations: Fullerton (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

As part of the California State University system, California State University - Fullerton (CSUF) is a public, Asian American, Native American Pacific Islander, and Hispanic-serving institution. It offers an online Master of Science in Transformative Teaching in Secondary Education - Teaching Foundational Mathematics to help middle and high school teachers develop advanced and specialized skills for job growth. Graduating requires completing 31 credits, generally taking a little less than two years of full-time enrollment and culminating in a project.

CSUF distance learners access online programming via Canvas. Online foundational mathematics graduate courses include Teaching Problem Solving in Middle School Mathematics, Advanced Methods of Teaching Foundational Level Mathematics, and Fundamental Concepts of Middle School Mathematics.

#5 New Jersey City University

  • Salary Score: 98
  • Median Starting Salary: $63,692
  • Locations: Jersey City (NJ)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Jersey City's New Jersey City University (NJCU) is a public, Hispanic-serving institution offering an online Master of Arts in Teaching - Elementary Education (K-6) for graduate candidates with a bachelor's degree in the arts or sciences interested in teaching careers. Students complete 36 credits and clinical practice to graduate and apply for certification. NJCU also offers an online Master of Arts in Teaching Secondary Education (K-12), an online Master of Arts in Teaching: Special Education - Autism Spectrum, and an online Master of Arts in Teaching: Special Education: Teacher of Students with Disabilities Endorsement Eligibility Program.

NJCU uses Blackboard to deliver its online programming to distance learners. Those enrolled in the online master's program in teaching with an elementary education concentration take courses such as Curriculum Integrating Social Studies World Cultures Literature, Learning and Motivation, and Curriculum: Math Science Technology.

#6 UMass Global

  • Salary Score: 93
  • Median Starting Salary: $58,796
  • Locations: Multiple Locations
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

The University of Massachusetts Global (UMass Global) is a private, nonprofit university based in Irvine, California, offering an online Master of Arts in Teaching, Secondary Education as a combined master's and teaching credential program approved by the California Council on Teacher Credentialing. Students complete 39 core credits and up to 12 clinical practice credits to graduate, taking at least two years for those attending full-time. Additional programs include an online Master of Arts in Teaching with Preliminary ECSE Credential and an online Master of Arts in Teaching - Elementary Education with 2042 Multiple Subject Credential.

UMass Global distance learners must access the platform Blackboard to participate in class and complete assignments. Online secondary education master's degree courses include Preparing 21st Century Learners: A Collaborative and Integrated Approach, Secondary Instructional Strategies for Language/Culturally Diverse Classrooms, Research and Evaluation Methods, and The Teachers as Scholarly Practitioner.

#7 Capella University

  • Salary Score: 93
  • Median Starting Salary: $58,489
  • Locations: Minneapolis (MN)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Capella University (CU) is a private, for-profit institution based in Minneapolis offering an online Master of Education in Teaching and Learning for graduate candidates motivated to become teacher leaders. Students choose between CU's GuidedPath, which follows a typical semester-based format, and FlexPath, which is more self-paced. Graduating requires completing 35 courses and 23 program points in FlexPath or 11 courses and 31 credits in GuidedPath. CU also offers an online Master of Science in Education, Special Education Teaching and an online Master of Science in Education, English Language Learning and Teaching for students interested in a more specialized curriculum.

CU delivers its online programming via Blackboard, a popular learning management system. Teaching and learning distance learners enroll in courses such as Adaptive Instruction and Assessment, Diversity and Multicultural Perspectives in Education, Leading Innovations and Implementing Change, and Teacher Dispositions and Ethics in the Digital Age.

#8 New York University

  • Salary Score: 92
  • Median Starting Salary: $58,294
  • Locations: New York (NY)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Prestigious New York University (NYU) in Greenwich Village is a competitive, private, nonprofit institution offering an online Master of Arts in Teaching - Secondary Education through the Steinhardt School. NYU Steinhardt partners with various schools in the eastern U.S. so that students can study alongside a teacher mentor remotely. Content options include English, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, and Special Education Generalist. Classes are divided into ten modules — 40 credits — which full-time students generally complete in a year.

NYU uses Brightspace for online coursework and instruction delivery. Online secondary education courses are synchronous, with students meeting remotely two evenings a week at set times. They participate in modules that cover topics such as teaching reading and writing, building a culture of achievement, special education policies and processes, and individualizing curricula for students with disabilities. This program culminates in a Participatory Action Research (PAR) project.

#9 American University

  • Salary Score: 92
  • Median Starting Salary: $58,228
  • Locations: Washington D.C.
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Washington D.C.'s American University (AU) is a private, nonprofit institution offering an online Master of Arts in Teaching - Elementary Education, with a curriculum leveraging neurodevelopment and social-emotional intervention advancements with a multidisciplinary approach to elementary education. Program pillars include Antiracist Pedagogy, Practice-Based Teacher Education, and The Science of Learning. Graduating requires completing 33 credits, generally taking less than two years of full-time enrollment. Students progress through this online program as a cohort.

AU uses Canvas to deliver its online program content. Online graduate students studying elementary education take courses such as Theories of Educational Psychology and Human Development, Children's Literature: A Critical Literacy Perspective, Teaching Science in the Elementary School, and Effective Teaching for Diverse Students.

#10 Montana State University

  • Salary Score: 85
  • Median Starting Salary: $55,464
  • Locations: Bozeman (MT)
  • Accreditation: NWCCU

Montana State University (MSU) is a public institution in Bozeman offering an online Master of Arts in Teaching, which leads to a recommendation for a teaching license for Montana students with a bachelor's degree. Licensure options include elementary education and secondary education. Endorsement areas include English, mathematics, general science, and social studies. Students learn as part of a cohort and must complete 36 credits, taking about five to six semesters for those attending full-time.

MSU students participate in class and receive instruction by accessing Brightspace. Depending on the licensure option chosen, online MAT students enroll in courses such as Methods of Teaching: K8 Mathematics, Addressing Equity in Linguistic and Cultural Diversity, Introduction to Curriculum Design and Endorsement, and Inclusive Strategies for Classroom Organization. A practicum is also required to graduate.

2023 Best Online Teaching Degrees

RankSchool Salary Score Median Starting Salary
# 1 #1 Fordham University 100 100 $69,026
# 2 #2 Touro College 100 $68,501
# 3 #3 St. John's University 100 $68,413
# 4 #4 California State University - Fullerton 100 $67,018
# 5 #5 New Jersey City University 98 $63,692
# 6 #6 UMass Global 93 $58,796
# 7 #7 Capella University 93 $58,489
# 8 #8 New York University 92 $58,294
# 9 #9 American University 92 $58,228
# 10 #10 Montana State University 85 $55,464
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What Does An Online Master's in Teaching Involve?

An online master's degree in teaching prepares each graduate student with the skills needed to become a teacher at primary and secondary schools. Many curriculums are based on the credential qualifications in their state, allowing graduates to earn a teacher's license. Some programs, however, are designed for professional teachers who wish to gain specialized training through concentrations such as special education, physical education, or literacy.

While curricula vary based on the concentration, core courses typically cover classroom organization, curriculum planning, student evaluation, learning technologies, and teaching laws and ethics. Students must also participate in teacher training through practical fieldwork in local classrooms that involves observing professional teachers and later teaching classes themselves under the guidance of their trainers.

Students should always ensure their online master's degree in teaching comes from an accredited institution. This means that a third-party education agency has evaluated the program they're pursuing. Every school featured on the OnlineU site is accredited. 

How Long Is a Master’s Degree in Teaching?

A master's degree in teaching online takes full-time students two years to complete. Most programs require between 30 and 40 credits, with a certain allowance of transfer credits for students who have already taken some graduate-level coursework.

Is There a Difference Between a Master's in Teaching and a Master's in Education?

The main difference is the application of skills from a master's in education is broader than a master's in teaching. 

A master's in teaching focuses specifically on skills for the classroom, such as instruction techniques, subject specializations, and classroom management. 

A master's in education also explores teaching applications but with broader examinations of administrative careers, education policy, and curriculum design.

Teaching Specializations

There are various specializations, otherwise known as concentrations, that allow teaching majors to narrow the focus of their degrees to meet their career goals. Students may want to teach specific subjects, such as math or science, or focus on particular age ranges or teaching disciplines.

Special Education

This track explores the unique teaching techniques designed for social, emotional, and learning development in young students with exceptionalities. Coursework examines classroom diversity, communication, organization, and intervention related to autism spectrum disorder and other disabilities. 

Early Childhood Education

Early childhood education explores the components of instructing preschool and primary students through program design in formal classrooms and childcare environments. Essential aspects of this track include language, cognitive, and social development in students from birth to around eight years old. If you would rather dedicate more coursework to this subject, there are also affordable early childhood education master's degrees available.


In this specialization, students focus their studies on teaching strategies and curriculum design in mathematics. Coursework includes historical perspectives on teaching math, classroom technologies that engage students, and math concepts at various learning levels. 

Common Courses in a Teaching Program

Coursework in an online teaching degree promotes a broad understanding of classroom principles and techniques. There will be nuances in curriculums based on specializations, but the core remains the same throughout nearly every teaching degree online.

Child Development

This course introduces students to various development areas of children, including cognitive, emotional, social, physical, and moral. Coursework also looks at theories, research findings, and evidence-based instructional methods. 

Foundations of American Education

In this course, students learn about the early iterations of public education in the United States and how these systems affected social, economic, and political structures. Students also learn how to advocate for improving public schools by understanding education policy. 

Instructional Technology

Instructional technology courses continue to be relevant as more and more schools embrace digital learning tools. This course embraces classroom technology by assessing its effectiveness in meeting the needs of different types of learners, from special needs children to adult learners and online students.

Measurement and Evaluation

Measurement and evaluation techniques allow future teachers to prepare to question, assess, and identify instructional strategies. This includes the content, tests, and tools used in the classroom. Students also look at the latest research on standardized tests in K-12 environments.

What Jobs Can I Get With an Online Teaching Degree?

After graduation, students may want to pursue a PhD in teaching so they can work as college professors or in academic research institutions. Post-master's teaching certificates are also available that work like degree concentrations to provide specialized training in education disciplines or subjects. Below are some of the most common jobs earned from a teaching degree.

High School Teachers

Median Annual Salary: $62,360
Job Growth: 1%

High school teachers instruct students, create lesson plans, grade assignments, conduct exams,  and administer policies. Most specialize in one subject, such as mathematics or geography. Although not all high school teaching jobs require a master's degree, some states, such as New York, Connecticut, and Maryland, require teachers at all levels to hold a master's. 

Postsecondary Teachers

Median Annual Salary: $80,840
Job Growth: 8%

Postsecondary teachers teach at the college and university levels. Like high school teachers, they provide instruction on a specific subject through assignments, lectures, and exams. Sometimes, these teachers can work with a master's instead of a PhD, such as at community colleges.

Instructional Coordinators

Median Annual Salary: $66,490
Job Growth: 2%

Instructional coordinators implement curriculums and oversee courses that teachers use to instruct students. Some of their work involves data analysis from student tests, which they use to adjust lesson plans and textbooks. They also train teachers on new classroom content and updates to curriculums.

Education Administrators

Median Annual Salary: $101,320
Job Growth: 0%

Education administrator is a broad term for oversight positions such as principals, school administrators, and superintendents. In general terms, they are responsible for coordinating operations outside the classroom. They manage faculty and staff, evaluate curricula, provide guidance to students, and analyze the effectiveness of the school's programs. 

How Much Money Can I Make With a Teaching Degree?

Master's graduates consistently earn higher salaries than bachelor's graduates. Most professional teachers earn median annual salaries of just over $60,000, slightly higher than other occupations. Administrative roles, however, offer salaries between $80,000 and $100,000. College professor salaries can also reach $100,000 for those who earn tenure. 

Applying For a Teaching Degree

Students applying to college for a master's in teaching must have a bachelor's degree in a relevant major. Applicants have to submit their college transcripts to prove their academic accomplishments. Ideally, applicants will have a bachelor's in teaching or major in the subject they plan to teach, such as history or biology. 

Application requirements may include letters of recommendation from college counselors, personal essays, or entrance exams.

FAQs About Teaching Degrees

Are Online Teaching Degrees Respected?

Teaching degrees earned online are just as respected as those achieved in person. Schools use the same instructors and curriculums that students learn on campus. Online diplomas rarely even mention that they were earned online, so there's no need to worry about employers questioning their legitimacy as long as they were delivered by an accredited institution. 

Do I Need a Master's Degree to Teach?

In general, master's degrees are not required to teach at the elementary and secondary levels. This is true everywhere except New York, Connecticut, and Maryland. However, they are needed for college professors. Students wishing to teach at the collegiate level will likely need to go beyond a master's to earn a PhD.

How Many Credits Is a Master’s Degree in Teaching?

Master's degrees in teaching require students to complete between 30 and 40 credits. Part-time students take around six credits per semester to graduate for three or more years, while full-time students take up to 12 credits per semester. Summer courses may also be available through accelerated programs. 

How Do I Get a Master’s Degree in Teaching?

To pursue a master's degree in teaching, students must first complete a bachelor's degree from an accredited university. However, before picking a college and applying to a graduate program, students should decide what career path they intend to pursue. This will be the basis for their concentration and field experience. 

Is a Teaching Degree Worth It?


  • Master's degrees open up more job opportunities. Students who want to explore administrative careers outside the classroom will benefit from the leadership training gained through master's degrees.

  • Salaries are often higher for master's graduates. Careers such as education administrators, principals, and athletic directors earn median annual salaries of approximately $90,000 to $100,000.

  • Graduates are likely to enjoy their jobs. Although teachers' job satisfaction declined during the pandemic, 2023 has seen an uptick in those who enjoy their work and aim to stay in the profession. 


  • Master's degrees are costly. Even though there are options for affordable master's degrees in teaching, graduate students have an average of 23% more debt than bachelor's students.

  • External factors can have profound effects on the field of teaching. The pandemic, for example, caused a spike in teachers quitting their jobs, while experts fear the politicization of education could lead to more teacher shortages in certain states. 

  • A master's degree in teaching may not be necessary. Students who wish to teach elementary or high school students usually only need a bachelor's in teaching to gain employment. 

For many, teaching is a calling. It's a profession that shapes the minds of young people and encourages individual growth. Make your own pros and cons list to help you understand if a teaching degree is worth it based on their career prospects, financial constraints, and job satisfaction goals.

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