A master’s degree is becoming almost as common as a bachelor’s degree, with around 13.1%of the American population holding a master’s or doctorate degree. This means that a master’s degree is becoming essential for ambitious professionals in a range of fields, and education is no exception. In the US, 52% of public school teachers and 38% of private school teachers hold a master’s degree in teaching.
So what is a Master’s in Education and who should consider applying? What’s so special about this graduate course and why is its demand growing in America and other nations? Let’s take a deep dive into graduate degrees in education with this comprehensive guide.
Who Should Study a Master’s in Education?
A master’s degree in education is a graduate program that involves new and innovative learning approaches, educational research, and teaching techniques to make education more accessible for students. It’s an ideal degree for students who have completed their bachelor’s course in education and are looking to further build their knowledge through an advanced program.
A Master’s in Education can also give you a headstart on the career ladder. Having a bachelor’s degree won’t guarantee you a job in today’s competitive world. A bachelor’s degree is the minimum qualification that nearly every American student completes before they go job hunting. Adding a master’s degree in education to your resume will certainly put you ahead of the pack and help you to get your dream job.
A master’s program is a must for anyone who wants to pursue a career in counseling or secure a leadership role in the education field. Although not essential to become a teacher, master’s degrees for teachers give you a better chance of getting a better position with a higher salary. If you already work as a teacher, a master’s program is the best way to advance your knowledge and secure a better salary.
These opportunities are only set to increase in the future as the demand for teachers grows. The demand for high school teachers is expected to grow by 8% over the next ten years, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, with around 77,400 job openings projected to emerge over the next decade.
Perhaps most importantly, these advanced studies will give you a higher level of understanding of how to improve the learning environment for your students. If you want to become a better teacher, enroll in a top master’s program in education.
What Jobs Can You Get with a Master’s in Education?
An M.Ed. is a useful qualification for anyone who wants to work in the education industry, with a range of career opportunities not limited to teaching. This degree makes you eligible for other roles in the field such as counseling, school administration, curriculum design, and policy and leadership positions.
Career options after completing an M.Ed include:
- Special education teaching
- Secondary or post-secondary teaching
- Corporate training
- Career counseling
- Education administration and management
- Education consulting
- Curriculum development
The salary for each role varies depending on the state, the region’s demand, and your experience. For example, teachers in New York can expect an average annual salary of $81,410, according to CNBC, while US Bureau of Labor Statistics figures show that a teacher’s average annual salary nationwide is $62,870.
Of course, this is the salary for all teachers with all levels of qualifications, and teachers with a master’s degree can expect to be paid more than those with only undergraduate qualifications. Across all disciplines, those with a master’s degree have a median annual salary of $77,844, while bachelor’s degree holders earn a median of $64,896.
Top Master’s Degree in Education Programs
A Master’s in Teaching or Education prepares students for classroom teaching, curriculum development, counseling, and other professional roles in education. It takes a minimum of two years to complete a Master’s in Education, although this can take three to four years if you study part-time. There are also accelerated programs that you can complete within a year.
Here are five of the best M.Ed. programs in the US:
1. M.Ed. and Preliminary Administrative Credential from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)
This program is part of UCLA’s Principal Leadership Institute, which seeks to prepare students to become social justice leaders in public schools. This 14-month program is designed for current educators who have the potential to become the next generation of school leaders. Applicants are not required to have professional experience, but they are expected albeit not officially to have at least five years of teaching experience.
2. Online M.Ed. from the University of Illinois
The University of Illinois offers fully online masters in education programs in a diverse range of specializations, including digital learning, human resource development, diversity and equity, technology, and learning design and leadership. The program is based around synchronous online video sessions that enable students to interact with their peers and course instructors.
3. M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction (Teaching) from the University of Houston
This master’s degree aims to teach students how to design, develop, and implement educational programs. Graduates emerge as instructional specialists, well-versed in areas such as adult learning, effective instruction, classroom management, and curriculum theory & evaluation. The program includes a supervised classroom internship and can involve a research or teaching assistantship.
4. M.Ed. from the University of Florida
This program is designed to equip working professionals with the skills and knowledge they need to become leaders in the education sector. Along with coursework, the program includes field experience and mentoring elements. The program has two tracks: one for those with at least three years of teaching experience and another for students without this amount of professional experience.
5. M.S.Ed. in Higher Education and Student Affairs from Indiana University Bloomington
Renowned as one of the USA’s best master’s in education programs, this program combines the learnings from the latest research with hands-on experience. It is designed to equip students for a successful career in higher education and student affairs, and the coursework is a mix of core and elective topics.
Before applying for an M.Ed program, do your research and critically assess different institutions according to their eligibility criteria, fee structure, location, and specializations offered.
Am I Eligible to Apply for a Master’s in Education?
The prerequisites for a master’s degree in education vary from school to school, though there are some commonalities.
Most universities have the following prerequisites for a master’s of education:
- Bachelor’s Degree: A bachelor’s degree is mandatory for almost any master’s program. Furthermore, some institutions may require you to have a bachelor’s degree specifically in the field of education.
- Experience: You don’t need to have prior work experience to apply for an M.Ed, but teaching experience can greatly strengthen your application.
- GPA: Some schools have an official minimum GPA for their education master’s degrees, which may be anything from 2.5 or higher. Many other universities do not have an official GPA cut off, but the stronger your GPA from your undergraduate studies is, the more likely you’ll be accepted into the program.
- Letters of Recommendation: Most programs also require letters of recommendation, which are assessed by the selection committee. Letters of recommendation should generally come from a professor, mentor, or employer.
- Entrance Test Scores: Some universities require you to take entrance tests as part of assessing your application. Non-native speakers may also need to take IELTS tests to verify their language skills.
Master’s in Education Specializations
It’s important to not only choose an excellent education master’s program at a reputable institution but also pick the right specialization. There are many unique specializations that you can choose as part of your master’s degree in education, each incorporating different areas of study and leading to different career paths. The right specialization for you will be aligned with your interests and professional aspirations.
Specializations you can pursue as part of an M.Ed. include:
- Elementary education
- Secondary education
- Curriculum and instruction
- Leadership programs
- Instructional design
- Adult education and training
If you’re struggling to choose a specialization, it’s a good idea to talk to a career counselor or a mentor. They will help you figure out the best course that fits your career goals, budget, and interests.
A master’s degree in education is perfect for anyone who wants to advance their career in education, whether in teaching, leadership, or research. With a graduate degree, you will learn how to bring transformation to the educational sector and improve your students’ learning experiences.
Once you’ve thoroughly researched different education masters programs, narrow down your options to your top three or four favorites. This will give you some security in case one or more of your applications are not successful while allowing you to put enough time and effort into each. Carefully check each school’s eligibility and application requirements, and be sure to put in strong applications that convince the selection committee to admit you into their program!
Before you put in your application for a Master’s in Education, be sure to check out our guides to applying to grad school and grad school requirements.
Lisa is a full-time writer specializing in career advice, further education, and personal development. She works from all over the world, and when not writing you'll find her hiking, practicing yoga, or enjoying a glass of Malbec.
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