A master's degree is the lowest level graduate degree available, with the doctoral degree being the next up and the highest.
Students are usually allowed to register for master's degrees only if they already hold an associate or a bachelor's degree in their particular field of study although there are those rare master's programs that take the sum of a student's life experience into account when determining eligibility. Master's degrees take approximately two years of on-campus study to complete and usually end with the student having to prepare and submit his or her Master's Thesis, a capstone project that adds something new to the available body of knowledge in their field. Master's degree programs also consist of courses with a far greater level of specificity than either associate or bachelor's degrees and are representative of the specific area that the student wishes to practice in after graduation. A large number of the master's degree programs offered by educational institutions today are available online.
Distance Learning Master's Degree Teaching Programs Available Online
The many online teaching master's degrees available today can be loosely grouped into the following categories:
- Adult and Higher Education
- Educational Technology
- Curriculum and Instruction
- English as a Second Language (ESL)
- Distance Education
- General Education
- Early Childhood Education
- K-12 Education
- Education Administration
- Library and Resource Management
- Special Education
- Education Leadership and
These degrees are specifically developed for those people who already have a teaching qualification, who are possibly already teaching and who are looking to specialize in some highly specific area of the profession. An online master's degree should be completed in under two years as, at home, students can study at an accelerated rate, and there is also no need for them to give up their jobs. Online study is also preferable to on-campus study as it is both cost-effective and highly flexible.
The following degree program summaries are only representative of the wealth of online teaching master's degrees that are available for students.
Educational Technology Degree Programs
Master of Education in Technology Integration: Graceland University
This degree provides information on how traditional methods of teaching can be reconciled with new technology like podcasts, electronic portfolios and blogs. The program is aligned with both the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and the National Education Technology Standards for Teachers and consists of 8 required courses and 2 electives to be chosen from either the Virtual Schools path or the Differentiated Instruction Path. Individual courses include:
- Classroom Inquiry and Action Research (core course);
- Technology Collaboration: Strategies for Integration (core course);
- Best Practice with Technology (differentiated instruction path course); and
- Curriculum Design: Designing the Online Course (virtual schools path course).
Students who are interested in obtaining more information about this degree program can contact Graceland University at 1 University Place, Lamoni, IA 50140 (tel: 866-893-6881 and website: http://www.graceland.edu/).
K-12 Education Degree Programs
K-12 education courses prepare a teacher to work in any imaginable teaching environment including vocational schools and home school set ups. The courses included in this degree consist of core courses and specialization courses as well as capstone courses, which cover the preparation of the capstone project (thesis). This specific specialization is only one of 9 such specialized MSE degree programs offered by Kaplan at present and representative courses include:
- Transforming Teaching Practice (core course);
- Principles, Standards and Pedagogy for High School Mathematics Grades 9 - 12 (specialization course);
- Measurements, Number and Operation Grades 9 - 12 (specialization course); and
- Action Research II (capstone course).
Students who wish to obtain further information concerning this, or one of the other, specialized programs can contact Kaplan or at 1-800-987-7734.
Distance Learning Degree Programs
Here is an online degree program that teaches people how to be online instructors, thus showing that online education is already creating its own niche employment opportunities. The program will cover online learning techniques used from Kindergarten through university level and students will learn how do things like analyze and review research and practical strategies for assessing student learning. Individual courses that are offered include:
- Project Management in Education and Training (core course);
- Organizations, Innovation and Change (core course);
- Advanced Instructional Design (core course); and
- Assessments in Online Environments (specialization course).
Anyone who requires further information concerning this course can contact Walden University at their website or by calling them on 1-866-492-5336.
English as a Second Language (ESL) Degree Programs
Master of Education in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL): Grand Canyon University
This is a regionally accredited degree program that offers students a large number of practical opportunities to put their theoretical knowledge into use including the TESOL practicum that teaches through practiced-based and observational experiences. Students will become qualified in teaching ESL to adults and will also be able to perform the duties of a district ESL coordinator. Individual courses offered as part of this degree include:
- Teaching in a Pluralistic Society;
- Teaching a Second Language in the Content Areas;
- Language and Reading Theories Acquisition and Research; and
- Foundations of Instruction for English Language Learners.
Further information about this degree can be requested directly from GCU at 3300 W Camelback Road, Phoenix, AZ 85017 (tel: 1-800-586-9907 and website.
Education Leadership Degree Programs
This degree program is appropriate for teachers already teaching on the P-12 level and who wish to combine their teaching functions with roles in community or school leadership. 37 credit hours are required for graduation and this degree aims to instill qualities such as decision making, collaboration, coaching and action research into its students. Examples of courses included in this program are:
- Introduction to Action Research and Data-Driven Decision Making;
- Legal and Ethical Issues in Education;
- Teacher Leadership in a Global Society; and
- Accountability and Evaluation.
Students who are interested in registering for this degree program can contact the University of Phoenix at 3157 E Elwood Street, Phoenix, AZ 85034 (tel: 866-766-0766).
For program disclosure information, click here.
While widely available, not all programs are available in all locations or in both online and on-campus formats. Please check with a University Enrollment Representative.
Early Childhood Education Degree Programs
Ashford's online teaching master's degrees come in many different specializations of which early childhood education is just one. Their master's programs comprises 8 core courses, which are worth 24 credits, as well as the additional specialization courses - different for each specialized subject - that are worth between 12 to 15 credits. The specialization courses taught as part of the early childhood education degree are:
- Introduction to Early Childhood Education;
- Early Childhood Curriculum and Methods;
- Administration of Early Childhood Education Programs; and
- Collaboration with Parents and Community.
If any one wishes to obtain further information from Ashford regarding this degree, they can contact them at 400 North Bluff Boulevard, Clinton, Iowa 52732 (tel: 1-866-711-1700 and online .
Special Education Degree Programs
Master of Science in Special Education: Drexel University
This degree program consists of 49.5 credits comprising Core Special Education Certificate Courses totaling 31.5 credits, 6 credits in research and 12 in concentration courses. There are four different concentration course groupings that are offered in this degree program (with students being able to take only one of them) and these include language and cultural issues, autism and technologies for special education. Typical courses students will take as part of this program include:
- Teaching Students with Low Incident Disabilities (core course);
- Characteristics and Methods: High Functioning Autism (autism concentration course);
- Multi-media Instruction and Design (special education technologies concentration course); and
- Structure / Sound System of English (language and cultural issues concentration course).
Those wanting to know more about these degree programs can send their queries to Drexel University at P O Box 34729, Philadelphia PA 19101 (tel: 1-877-215-0009).
Career Opportunities and Salary Scales
The 13 different education master's degrees groups are not only representative of the types of qualifications available but they are also representative of the (at least) 13 different fields that the holder of a master's degree will be qualified to work in. They will be able to teach in the special education field, teach English as a second language at all levels and both develop and teach online curriculums, to name just a few. Further specific careers would include host for televised or online educational programs, school administrator, educational software developer and guidance counselor. Those armed with master's degrees also find employment as school principals, elementary school teachers and preschool owners.
Studies undertaken into the salaries paid to the different categories of education professionals that hold master's degrees show that the average annual salary for the different categories are:
- Special education teacher: $42,500;
- Elementary school teacher: $40,000;
- Middle school principal with 5 years experience: $62,500;
- Secondary school guidance counselor with 5 years experience: $42,000;
- Preschool owner with 5 years experience: $38,500; and
- Elementary and secondary school administrator with 5 years experience: $45,000.
A master's degree in education is the perfect qualification for teachers who want to specialize in a certain area or take on more responsibility. Some universities feature far more online master's degrees in education than they do on-campus degrees so, even if it didn't save significant amounts of time and money, taking the distance learning route would appear to be the way to go.