masters in education with teacher certification online 1

masters in education with teacher certification online

Last Updated on August 12, 2023 by Oluwajuwon Alvina

Master of Education – Special Education K-12 (Virginia Licensure Track) –  Averett University Graduate & Professional Studies

Online Master’s in Education Programs

For those who earned a bachelor’s degree in a subject other than education, it might seem necessary to earn a second bachelor’s degree in order to switch careers into teaching. However, with a steady increase in the number of online master’s in education programs available, it is becoming easier to meet state certification requirements and become a teacher by earning your master’s even if you did not take courses in education while earning your undergraduate degree. Although many states recognize alternative certification programs that do not require completing a master’s degree, an on-campus or online graduate degree in education can offer competitive preparation for future teachers.

The Masters in Teaching, sometimes referred to as a master of arts in teaching (MAT), is a degree designed for both current and prospective K–12 teachers who are looking to either obtain their initial teaching license or who are looking for additional certification as a means of career advancement inside the classroom. An online MAT is the same degree delivered through a blend of Internet technologies and real-world experiences.

This page is designed to help you learn more about earning an online master’s in teaching, including career and certification options, while you assess whether an online graduate degree is the right fit for your goals. Our list of top-ranked online master’s in education programs will also help you get started researching degree options from well-known schools as well as smaller colleges that offer competitive teaching degrees.

The job market requires professionals to work hard to show they have the skills and experience needed to stand out in an increasingly crowded field. For many, this means earning advanced degrees that showcase their hard work, dedication, and commitment to becoming as knowledgeable as possible in their chosen area.

Sometimes, a professional may have earned a bachelor’s degree in a liberal arts area, only to discover their passion for teaching later in life. However; to become teachers, these professionals must first complete a teacher preparation program and earn licensure.

If you’ve earned a bachelor’s degree, but never completed a teacher preparation program, many schools offer master’s degree programs that will also ensure you meet teacher certification standards at the same time.

These master’s “plus” certification programs will allow you to develop advanced teaching techniques, content knowledge, and research abilities while leading to licensure, and hopefully, a lengthy career.

Individuals who enter a master’s plus program pick from a few different specialization areas to concentrate in that will also lead to certification. Some of these areas include:

  • Early Childhood Education
  • Elementary Education
  • Secondary Education
    • Math
    • Science
    • Social Studies
    • English
    • Special Education

During your master’s degree program, you’ll explore current perspectives on education, in addition to the advanced theories behind teaching techniques and methods. Compared to bachelor’s degree programs, master’s programs dive deeper into the theories and psychological reasons behind proven teaching methods, giving you a more complete understanding of teaching practices.

Attending school full time is a major life commitment, however. Many people find themselves caught up in the rush of life, and can’t find the time to push themselves to enter a traditional university.

Today though, more people are looking to earn their degrees online, where they enjoy a flexible schedule in addition to a high quality level of education. Earning a master’s degree in addition to teacher certification at an online university might allow you to switch direction mid-career, exploring opportunities in the Field of Education.

Your master’s plus licensure program will give you opportunities to discover new teaching techniques, and then apply them in a professional setting.

In order to earn certification, you’ll need to complete a number of hours in student teaching scenarios, giving you first-hand experience in the classroom. During student teaching, you’ll be paired with a professional teacher who will help you apply what you’ve learned in your degree program.

Many teachers report that their student teaching experiences are some of the most formative periods in their education, giving them the tools to manage classrooms and interact with parents.

If this sounds like a good opportunity for you, make sure to ask yourself if now is the best time to earn a master’s degree.

Earning a Master’s in Education Online vs. On-Campus: Important Factors to Consider

Online study carries many benefits. It also carries certain drawbacks that are important to consider before committing to a program. If you have not taken online classes in the past, the first step is evaluating whether distance learning is a fit with your learning style and academic skills. One way to assess your readiness for online learning is by auditing a college-level course on a distance education site like Coursera; such sites often host teaching courses from some of the best education schools in the US.

Although many online teaching degree programs offer real-time video conferencing, remote lectures, and similar opportunities for interaction with faculty and peers, not all do. Even among programs that feature these options, much of the coursework is completed asynchronously – meaning, not at a designated time or place. While this offers greater flexibility compared to on-campus programs, it also means that online students must be disciplined and self-directed in order to complete their coursework within the deadlines established by the faculty.

Another important factor to consider is completing fieldwork and student teaching internship requirements. Although the majority of your coursework in an online master’s in teaching program will be completed through distance learning, you will need to complete student teaching for at least one semester in order to qualify for teacher certification, depending on the requirements established by your state and program. You will likely be able to arrange to complete these in-person experiences in a local school district, but it is critical to ensure that this will be possible (and will meet your state’s licensing guidelines) prior to enrolling in a program.

Finally, while there are many online education programs that can lead to first-time teacher certification, not all specializations may be offered through distance learning or be recognized in all states. Consider carefully which grade level(s) and subject(s) you want to teach and research the certification requirements established by your state to avoid misunderstandings when it’s time to apply for your license. Those who are attending an out-of-state program commonly must be recommended for a license in the state where the program is located, and then apply for certification by reciprocity in their home state.

Benefits of Online Master’s Programs

There are many online master’s in education degree options for future teachers. Professional options in administrative roles such as curriculum and instruction specialists are also available. Although some specialties and concentrations are not available online, most major areas – including elementary education, middle grades education, and secondary education – are accessible through distance learning.

Additionally, many states have established a higher pay grade for teachers who have a master’s degree, including states that use a tiered licensing system that moves teachers from the entry to the professional level according to their education and experience. As a result, with a master’s degree in education, you may be able to negotiate a higher beginning salary compared to a teacher with only a bachelor’s degree.

Another benefit to online study is the potentially reduced cost. If you are considering a program located in another state, the program may offer a reduced online tuition rate to out-of-state students compared to the tuition rate for out-of-state students studying on campus. Many programs offer similar or lower online tuition costs for in-state students as well. Even keeping in mind that you should budget for exam proctoring fees, student teaching fees, and other expenses, earning your master’s in education online can still be a cost-competitive option.

Teaching and Education Programs

Teacher Licensing with a Hybrid or Online Master’s Program in Education

Two of the most important factors to consider when evaluating online master’s programs for teacher credentialing are accreditation and state approval. All states in the US require that teacher preparation programs meet at least one of the following benchmarks, which vary by state:

  • Regional accreditation from one of the six regional accrediting bodies recognized by the US Department of Education;
  • Approval of the school’s teacher preparation program from the state board of education for the state where the program is located;
  • Accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), which also includes legacy accreditation from the former National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC). See our guide to understanding CAEP, NCATE, and TEAC for more information on these accreditations.

If the teacher preparation program that you attend does not meet your state’s standards for teacher licensing, it is likely that you will not qualify for certification. Similarly, some states do not recognize alternative route teaching programs, which may include certain master’s programs, that are offered in other states. Carefully research your state’s requirements and be sure to understand which approval(s) and accreditation(s) a program must hold in order to qualify you for licensure.

You should also be aware that while a program offered in another state may meet the majority of requirements in your state, many states require specific coursework that is not offered by out-of-state programs, such as courses covering state-specific laws or other localized topics. However, it is typically possible to take such courses locally after graduating from a master’s program, and in some cases, you may be eligible for a provisional license to teach while you take such a course.

It’s also important to note that in order to qualify for a teaching license, you should anticipate undertaking at least one semester of student teaching. Keep in mind that student teaching is typically a full-time engagement during the regular school year. When done as part of a master’s program for course credit, this may or may not be a paid position.

In general, an online master’s in education that holds the proper accreditation and state approval is likely to meet teacher preparation program requirements for a license, but it is always your responsibility to ensure that the program you choose will meet your state’s guidelines. We strongly recommend that you consult the state board of education website for the state(s) where you wish to become certified and review all requirements for prospective teachers before committing to a program.

Advice for Choosing an Online Master’s Program

In addition to considering the critical factors of teacher preparation program accreditation and state approval discussed above, other aspects of an online program that are good to consider include the competitiveness of the tuition for online students and the overall program cost. Graduate school represents a significant investment in your career no matter which school you choose, but the costs between programs can vary widely. The value of a master’s degree may be found in part in the school’s reputation, but you should also consider the cost of student loans as well as incidental costs, such as distance learning fees and student teaching placements.

As you research master’s programs, other considerations to keep in mind include:

  • Is the program is a fit for your academic background and career goals? Programs at research universities can be highly competitive, are often thesis-oriented, and may require higher-than-average undergraduate GPAs for admission.
  • Does the program meet at least the majority of your state’s teacher certification requirements? It will likely be necessary for you to do your own research and, as mentioned above, consult your state’s board of education for current guidelines.
  • Will full-time study fit with your schedule? Some programs offer part-time study options for coursework, while others do not. However, with any program, it is wise to consider how you will meet student teaching internship requirements, which typically require at least one semester of full-time commitment.

2020 Guide to Online Education and Teaching Certificates and Courses

Professional development for teachers, in any form, is an important aspect of becoming a well-rounded and experienced educator. The practice of continually developing one’s skills as an educator is vital to creating a teaching workforce that is best suited to helping students from varying backgrounds.

Examples of ways for educators to develop their skills might include interactive trainings put on by their school or district, workshops on fields like technology in education, or certification programs and short courses designed to provide a comprehensive overview of specific aspects of education. These education-specific courses might be the best option for those who want in-depth training on a subject of their choosing.

As taking an in-person education course isn’t within the realm of reality for the majority of busy working teachers, the most efficient option for those interested might be to explore online teaching courses. One of the advantages of enrolling in an online education course is that it will help you become extremely well-versed in a topic or variety of topics, as opposed to a workshop that will only provide an overview.

Profiles of Top Education Schools with Online Programs

University of Saint Francis

st francis university logo

The University of Saint Francis offers an online Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) designed to lead to initial certification in grades five to 12 as well as an online certification-track Master of Education (MEd) in Special Education. The special education MEd can qualify graduates to work in mild or intense intervention with children with disabilities. Prospective students should note that the MEd carries more competitive admissions requirements than the MAT. All students must maintain a GPA of 3.0 for continuous enrollment in the school’s graduate programs. The University of Saint Francis also offers a Transition to Teaching alternative route with online courses; courses earned in the Transition to Teaching program can later be transferred towards the MAT. The University of Saint Francis graduate education programs are accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and follow the standards of the Council for Exceptional Children and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

Admissions & Enrollment

Number of graduate students (campuswide): 6191
Acceptance rate (School of Education): 67%2
Minimum GPA for acceptance: 2.503
Average GMAT/GRE: N/A

Tuition

In-state/out-of-state tuition per online credit hour: $475/$4753
In-state/out-of-state tuition per on-campus credit hour: $905/$9053

Academics & Faculty

First online program offered in: N/A
Full-time online instructional faculty (School of Education): 3; average 2 years of online teaching experience2

Graduate Statistics

Average debt of 2015-2016 graduates: $14,3082
Proportion of 2015-2016 graduates with debt: 48%2
Three-year graduation rate (2015-2016): 82%2

Mayville State University

mayville state university logo

The Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program at Mayville State University is designed to help students with non-teaching bachelor’s degrees become certified to teach at the secondary level. The MAT program is offered completely online with the exception of the required Teaching Mentorship Clinical Experience (student teaching) and requires a total of 32 credit hours to complete. The program was developed to align with the teacher preparation standards of the North Dakota Education Standards and Practices Board, though students from out of state are welcome to apply. North Dakota residents who are currently teaching with a provisional license under Alternative Access may also be interested in this program. Though the online MAT is a relatively new teacher offering at Mayville State, the university has been focused on offering superior teacher education since 1889. The school also offers graduate-level continuing education for currently licensed teachers.

Admissions & Enrollment

Number of graduate students (campuswide): 191
Acceptance rate (School of Education): N/A
Minimum GPA for acceptance: 3.0
Average GMAT/GRE: N/A

Tuition

In-state/out-of-state tuition per online credit hour: $312/$3125
In-state/out-of-state tuition per on-campus credit hour: N/A

Academics & Faculty

First online program offered in: N/A
Full-time online instructional faculty (School of Education): N/A

Graduate Statistics

Average debt of 2015-2016 graduates: N/A
Proportion of 2015-2016 graduates with debt: N/A
Three-year graduation rate (2015-2016): N/A

Kansas State University

kansas state university logo

Through its Global Campus, Kansas State University offers an online Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) that can lead to teacher certification in the elementary grades (K to six). The program is open to residents of Kansas and of other states and can be completed in 12 months. The curriculum is rigorous and all courses must typically be followed in the school’s designated sequence. Courses are offered online with the exception of field experiences, which can be arranged in students’ local areas. Including field experiences and a student teaching internship, students can expect to complete 10 courses for a total of 31 credit hours in order to earn the MAT. A generous Transition to Teaching fellowship is available to qualified students who live within a 50-mile radius of Wichita, Topeka, or Kansas City. Graduates may also qualify for other grants, scholarships, and loan forgiveness programs, including the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program or the Stafford Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program.

Admissions & Enrollment

Number of graduate students (campuswide): 4,2871
Acceptance rate (School of Education): 94.3%2
Minimum GPA for acceptance: 3.0
Average GMAT/GRE: N/A

Tuition

In-state/out-of-state tuition per online credit hour: $563/$5636
In-state/out-of-state tuition per on-campus credit hour: $403/$9106

Academics & Faculty

First online program offered in: 2015-20162
Full-time online instructional faculty (School of Education): 342

Graduate Statistics

Average debt of 2015-2016 graduates: $51,7212
Proportion of 2015-2016 graduates with debt: 41%2
Three-year graduation rate (2015-2016): 67%2

Arizona State University

arizona state university logo

Arizona State University Online offers a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction – Early Childhood Education that is open to students with a bachelor’s degree in any field. The program prepares students to become certified teachers in grades K through three. All courses in the program are online with the exception of clinical experiences. The certification track requires 45 credit hours (five to six semesters) to complete. Arizona State also offers online master’s of teaching programs in English as a Second Language (ESL) and English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). Arizona State University’s Mary Lou Fulton Teacher’s College is regularly ranked as a top school of education and reports a 92.5% employability rate for undergraduate students. The school also offers on-campus master’s degrees in elementary, secondary, and special education as well as other content areas. Prospective students are encouraged to attend an online information session regarding the school’s programs to learn more prior to applying.

Admissions & Enrollment

Number of graduate students (campuswide): 10,1561
Acceptance rate (School of Education): 85.4%2
Minimum GPA for acceptance: 3.0
Average GRE: 148 verbal; 146 quantitative; 4 writing2

Tuition

In-state/out-of-state tuition per online credit hour: $587/$5877
In-state/out-of-state tuition per on-campus credit hour: $772/$1,1757

Academics & Faculty

First online program offered in: 2006-20072
Full-time online instructional faculty (School of Education): 20; average 7 years experience teaching online2

Graduate Statistics

Average debt of 2015-2016 graduates: $37,5942
Proportion of 2015-2016 graduates with debt: 70%2
Three-year graduation rate (2015-2016): 77%2

North Carolina State University

north carolina state university logo

North Carolina State University features a hybrid-model Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) that combines online and face-to-face learning and instruction for those who are seeking teacher certification. Certification tracks include elementary education and various content areas in middle and secondary education including English, math, science, and social studies. In addition to learning fundamental teaching skills, students are expected to engage in higher-level research in their content areas and learn how to use research-based methods in curriculum planning, instruction, and student assessment. Those seeking content-area endorsements must have at least 24 credit hours in the desired subject; content-area deficiencies may be remedied with specific coursework taken at North Carolina State, which may be in addition to the credit hours required to earn the MAT. North Carolina State is also home to non-degree online programs designed to lead towards certification in business education and agriculture education, as well as on-campus certification programs.

Admissions & Enrollment

Number of graduate students (campuswide): 9,9041
Acceptance rate (School of Education): 43.4%2
Minimum GPA for acceptance: 3.0
Average GRE: 154 verbal; 150 quantitative; 4.0 writing2

Tuition

In-state/out-of-state tuition per online credit hour: $432/$1,1488
In-state/out-of-state tuition per on-campus credit hour: $1,062/$2,9968

Academics & Faculty

First online program offered in: 2006-2007
Full-time online instructional faculty (School of Education): 13; average 3 years experience teaching online2

Graduate Statistics

Average debt of 2015-2016 graduates: $24,8842
Proportion of 2015-2016 graduates with debt: 37%2
Three-year graduation rate (2015-2016): 65%2

University of the Cumberlands

university of the cumberlands logo

The University of the Cumberlands offers an online Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) that can lead to certification in elementary, middle, or secondary education, as well as select content areas across kindergarten to grade 12. The online curriculum blends theory with on-the-ground practice, which is emphasized as students progress through the program with in-person field experiences. The required field experiences may be completed in students’ local areas. The majority of courses are offered in eight-week terms, and students may take up to two courses per term. Past cohorts have completed the MAT program in an average of 18 months. The program is designed to lead to teacher certification in Kentucky; out-of-state candidates should review their state’s requirements for certification by reciprocity. The department of education at the University of the Cumberlands has been preparing teachers since 1888. The school also offers an online Master of Arts in Education designed for professional development for currently certified teachers, as well as programs that lead to higher-level teaching certificates under Kentucky’s credential rank system.

Admissions & Enrollment

Number of graduate students (campuswide): 3,3761
Acceptance rate (School of Education): 89%2
Minimum GPA for acceptance: 2.75 (may vary by concentration area)
Average GRE: 151 verbal; 148 quantitative; 4 writing2

Tuition

In-state/out-of-state tuition per online credit hour: $315/$3159
In-state tuition per on-campus credit hour: N/A

Academics & Faculty

First online program offered in: 2006-2007
Full-time online instructional faculty (School of Education): 65; average 10 years experience teaching online2

Graduate Statistics

Average debt of 2015-2016 graduates: $16,8862
Proportion of 2015-2016 graduates with debt: 65%2
Three-year graduation rate (2015-2016): N/A

Old Dominion University

old dominion university logo

Old Dominion University maintains various online Master of Science in Education (MSEd) programs that can lead to initial teacher licensure in Virginia, including programs in elementary education (grades PreK to six), secondary education (grades 6 to 12), and special education (mild disabilities K-12; early childhood; or adapted/severe disabilities grades K-12). Admission is limited to students who are in Virginia or Washington State. Depending on the student’s concentration and certification track, the MSEd programs take between 34 and 45 credit hours to complete. Licensure track students will complete a practicum as well as a teacher candidate internship. Those who do not have an undergraduate major in their subject(s) will need to take additional courses to meet content area requirements for licensure. The Darden College of Education at Old Dominion University also offers a Master of Science in Education military career transition program for military personnel and their spouses, as well as online professional development programs for certified teachers in STEM education and career and technical education and numerous on-campus certification programs.

Admissions & Enrollment

Number of graduate students (campuswide): 4,5711
Acceptance rate (School of Education): 62.3%2
Minimum GPA for acceptance: 2.75, may vary by certification track
Average GRE: 149 verbal; 145 quantitative; 3.6 writing2

Tuition

In-state/out-of-state tuition per online credit hour: $496/$53810
In-state/out-of-state tuition per on-campus credit hour: $930/$1,24910

Academics & Faculty

First online program offered in: 2003-20042
Full-time online instructional faculty (School of Education): 53; average 10 years experience teaching online2

Graduate Statistics

Average debt of 2015-2016 graduates: N/A
Proportion of 2015-2016 graduates with debt: N/A
Three-year graduation rate (2015-2016): 75%2

Valley City State University

valley city state university logo

The online Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) at Valley City State University is designed to lead to initial teacher certification in the secondary grades in North Dakota. Prospective students should hold an undergraduate degree in the content area they wish to teach. Those who wish to teach a subject for which they do not meet the core content area requirements may need to complete a content major deficiency sequence at either the undergraduate or graduate level; credits earned towards content deficiencies typically do not count towards the 33 credit hours required to earn the MAT. A six-credit hour student teaching internship is included in the curriculum. Students must also complete a research report and present a comprehensive portfolio as part of a capstone learning experience. Valley City State University also offers an online Master of Education program for current teachers who wish to pursue advanced education.

Admissions & Enrollment

Number of graduate students (campuswide): 1441
Acceptance rate (School of Education): 89%2
Minimum GPA for acceptance: 3.0
Average GRE: N/A

Tuition

In-state/out-of-state tuition per online credit hour: $768/$76811
In-state tuition (per on-campus credit hour): N/A

Academics & Faculty

First online program offered in: 2000-2001
Full-time online instructional faculty (School of Education): 26; average 6 years experience teaching online2

Graduate Statistics

Average debt of 2015-2016 graduates: $14,5942
Proportion of 2015-2016 graduates with debt: 26%2
Three-year graduation rate (2015-2016): 62%2

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Western State Colorado University17$4173.0No37%N/AN/AN/A
Western Oregon University15$4353.0NCATE32%N/AN/AN/A
Western Governors University20$3612.0NCATE0%N/AN/AN/A
Valley City State University8$7683.0NCATE32%N/A47N/A
University of West Alabama18$429N/ANCATE20%N/AN/AN/A
University of the Cumberlands6$3152.75NCATE12%N/A92N/A
University of Tennessee at Martin9$5982.7NCATE36%N/A163N/A
University of St. Francis1$4753.0NCATE11%N/A29N/A
University of Southern California12$1,8003.0NCATE27%15N/A23
University of Maryland University College29$5592.75NCATEN/AN/AN/AN/A
University of Louisiana Monroe21$5002.2NCATE40%N/AN/AN/A
University of Arkansas at Monticello13$3782.7NCATE31%N/AN/AN/A
University at Albany, SUNY11$6893.0TEAC36%666146
Texas Woman’s University26$4682.75No26%N/AN/AN/A
Stevenson University16$4753.0NCATEN/AN/AN/AN/A
State University of New York at Oneonta19$6893.0NCATE33%N/AN/AN/A
State University of New York at Brockport27$9193.0CAEP32%N/AN/AN/A
Saint Joseph’s University23$765N/ANo27%N/A98N/A
Oregon State University14$5213.0NCATE37%130N/A143
Old Dominion University7$5172.75NCATE31%11277210
Northwestern State University of Louisiana10$4752.5NCATE38%N/A155N/A
North Carolina State University5$7903.0CAEP38%559292
Metropolitan State University of Denver32$333N/ANo18%N/AN/AN/A
Merrimack College22$450N/ANo30%N/AN/AN/A
McDaniel College25$4902.75NCATE14%N/A155N/A
Mayville State University2$3123.0NCATE35%N/AN/AN/A
Kansas State University3$5633.0NCATE46%8561N/A
Gwynedd Mercy University33$5253.0No7%N/AN/AN/A
Concordia University Wisconsin28$5793.0NoN/AN/A113N/A
City University of Seattle31$580N/ANoN/AN/AN/AN/A
California State University-Fullerton24$7122.75NCATE27%N/A47202
Belhaven University30$5652.75No18%N/AN/AN/A
Arizona State University4$5873.0No46%1140129

N/A = Not Applicable.
N.Av. = Not Available.
NR = School did not place in rankings.

Masters in Teaching Job Outlook and Salaries

While most states do not require educational professionals to hold an advanced degree, there are a number of benefits to having earned your online masters in teaching. Having an advanced degree, both inside and outside the classroom, provides you with greater career options and the opportunity to earn a higher salary.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2015, common job titles and employment figures for MAT-related occupations include:

Salary Information

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2015, median annual salaries and employment growth through 2024 for MAT-related occupations are:

Employment Information

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2015, common job titles and employment figures for MAT-related occupations include:


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