K-12 Education Masters Programs

Whether you’re hoping to begin a new teaching career path or enhance an existing role, pursuing a masters in education program might be on your mind! Depending on your state, earning a master’s degree may be a requirement to maintain your teacher certification.[i] Or, if you’ve earned a bachelor’s degree in a subject other than teaching, you may hope to pursue a masters of education degree to discover more about the theory and best practices of teaching.[i] 

K-12 Education Masters Degree

Masters in K-12 Education

Whatever your goals, it doesn’t hurt to learn more about what top education masters programs may involve, what degree types you may encounter, and what you could potentially learn! Let’s get started with Masters in K-12 Education programs.

Do Teachers Need to Earn a Master’s Degree in K-12 Education?

That may depend on the state! A bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement to pursue a teaching career, and public school teachers must earn licensure or certification. i However, the process for earning certification may vary widely, depending on where you live and work! For example, in Pennsylvania, teachers must pursue a level II professional instructional certificate, which requires candidates to earn at least 24 post-baccalaureate credits, in addition to ongoing professional development.[ii] In West Virginia, teachers must work toward a permanent professional certificate; earning a masters in education may be one possible way to fulfill the certificate’s educational requirements.[iii] Since it’s different for every state, be sure to get the details on yours! Teach.org may be a good place to start.

Did you know? About 10% of secondary school teachers earned a master’s degree[iv], compared to 19% of elementary school teachers.[v]

What are Some Types of K-12 Education Masters Programs?

You may encounter a few degree types, so it may be a good idea to compare several programs to identify one that’s perfect for you. Keep in mind that there could be some overlap among these different programs, since they often share a common goal: to help current and future teachers grow into awesome educators!

Master of Education (M.Ed.) – One degree type you might spot is the M.Ed. A masters of education may be viewed as an applied or professional degree, exploring both the theory and practice of teaching. Topics you could potentially cover include:

  • The inclusive classroom
  • Child development
  • Literacies
  • Teaching mathematics

Master of Arts in Education – Candidates pursuing an M.A. in education may have a particular subject area in which they hope to teach, like English or History. In this program, they may further explore that subject, along with teaching methods. You might learn about:

  • The Philosophy of education
  • Curriculum and assessment
  • Educational research
  • Courses in your chosen subject – whether it’s Biology, French, or Physics!

Master of Science in Education – Master of science in education programs may be theoretical and based on research, with the potential option to choose a concentration like applied behavior analysis or career and technical education. Every institution may define an M.S. in education differently, so check with the program you’re interested in for more details! Here are some possible courses:

  • Tests and measurements
  • Computer-based teaching
  • Verbal behavior
  • Research design

Master of Arts in Teaching – An M.A. in teaching may focus on teaching strategies and methods more so than other programs do. So, earning this degree may potentially be a good fit for those who are new to the field or wish to focus on curriculum and instruction, classroom management, and more. You may learn about:

  • Educational psychology
  • Curriculum development
  • Assessment
  • Student teaching

Should I Pursue a Campus, Hybrid, or Online Masters in K-12 Education?

Unsure whether to earn your masters in education the traditional way, pursue online graduate courses for teachers, or consider some combination of the two? Let’s talk about the different degree formats you might encounter.

Earning a masters degree in education on campus: If you’re hoping to be active on campus, or if you prefer to learn face-to-face, perhaps education graduate programs on campus are a perfect fit! You could potentially enjoy social benefits, get involved in student organizations, and lots more. These programs also tend to provide more structure, which could be great for those who desire a set schedule.

Earning a masters in education online: If you currently work as a teacher or have other fulltime obligations, or you don’t live close to campus, online learning may be a potential path worth considering. Earning an online masters in education could offer just a bit more flexibility than a campus program. And, 90% of students who had experience with campus-based classes said they felt their online learning experience was as good or better! *

Did You Know? A little more than a quarter of graduate students under age 24 chose online learning as their program format in 2016. *

Exploring hybrid education graduate programs: Hybrid programs could potentially allow you to take both campus-based and online graduate courses for teachers! You may be able to blend the flexibility of online learning with the potential resources and benefits of a vibrant grad school campus.

How Might I Find a Perfect Education Grad Schools for My Goals?

While there’s no easy answer (or single “best” education grad school), it certainly may be a good idea to start exploring Masters in K-12 Education programs that seem to suit your professional and academic interests. Check out the curriculum, and see what concentrations may be available. Also, look for education graduate programs that are accredited, as this designation may indicate your school adheres to industry standards of quality.[vi]  And don’t forget to visit campus if possible, or talk to a representative to learn more about your prospective masters in education program.

Masters in K-12 Education: Ready to get the ball rolling?

Below, you’ll find listings for education masters programs that may be worth checking out! Click to learn more about Masters in K-12 Education programs, and don’t forget to sort by program format: campus, hybrid, or online masters in education. Best of luck on your Masters in K-12 Education programs search!

* Clinefelter, D. L. & Aslanian, C. B., (2016). Online college students 2016: Comprehensive data on demands and preferences. Louisville, KY: The Learning House, Inc.

Sources: [i] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/high-school-teachers.htm#tab-4 | [ii] teach.org/node/63778 | [iii] teach.org/node/63585 | [iv] onetonline.org/link/summary/25-2031.00 | [v] onetonline.org/link/summary/25-2021.00 | [vi] studentaid.ed.gov/sa/prepare-for-college/choosing-schools/consider#accreditation

GCU offers a variety of M.A. and M.Ed. education programs designed for current educators looking to take the next step in their career. Earn your degree from an accredited non-profit university. No Application Fee!

  • Online Teaching Degrees - Recognized in all 50 States
  • Tuition around $4,000 a term - about half the cost of most other online universities
  • Programs start monthly - Apply free this week!
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