From aspiring teachers to experienced administrators, educators at all levels increasingly turn to online education degree programs to advance their careers. With a breadth of options available, there’s a degree program to meet educators’ goals at almost every stage of their careers. Master of Arts in Teaching and Doctor of Education programs reflect that breadth, respectively preparing first-time teachers to lead classrooms and experienced educators to lead programs, schools or system-wide change.
EdD in Organizational Change and Leadership
The online EdD in Organizational Change and Leadership from the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education is a degree program for those looking to drive systemic change in their organization. The program blends live classes and real-world experiences, and students can complete the program as they continue working full time.
Master of Arts in Teaching
The online Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education is designed for aspiring educators. Students can choose from a range of concentrations and enhance their degrees with a Special Education Credential or a Gifted Education Certificate. Classes are taught by USC Rossier professors in an online classroom, and students complete field placements in or near their own communities.
Elementary, Secondary English, Secondary Mathematics, Secondary Science and Secondary Social Science
The full-time program can be completed in 12 months; the part-time program can be completed in up to three years.
Start Dates: January, May and SeptemberLearn more about the Master of Arts in Teaching
Master of Arts in Teaching – TESOL
The online Master of Arts in Teaching – TESOL from the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education prepares students to teach English to speakers of other languages. Classes are taught by USC Rossier professors in an online classroom, and students complete field placements in or near their own communities.
The full-time program can be completed in 12 months. The part-time program can be completed in up to three years.
Start Dates: January, May and SeptemberLearn more about the Master of Arts in Teaching- TESOL
Master of Arts in Counseling and Guidance
Offered through the Department of Applied Psychology, NYU’s online master of arts program in Counseling and Guidance prepares students to work as certified or licensed school counselors in a variety of settings. Graduates are collaborative leaders and advocates in elementary, middle and high schools across the country. You will experience a combination of real-world training, interactive online classes and coursework that can be completed based on your schedule. International students are not eligible for the online program at this time.
Master of Science in Communicative Sciences and Disorders
Speech@NYU is the master of science program in Communicative Sciences and Disorders delivered online by the NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. The program’s diverse curriculum integrates research and evidence-based clinical practice, preparing students to work in a range of settings with both children and adults who face a broad spectrum of communication and swallowing disorders. Through a unique set of electives and clinical field practicums located in or near students’ communities, Speech@NYU provides a comprehensive learning experience that enables students to personalize their education based on their interests.
Master of Science in Behavior Analysis
Earn your master’s degree in behavior analysis online in 18 months through Simmons’ highly respected program, BehaviorAnalysis@Simmons. Our curriculum integrates theory, research, and practice across a variety of applications to prepare students to pass the BCBA® examination and enter the field as exemplary scientist-practitioners.
Master of Social Work
SocialWork@Simmons is an innovative, online Master of Social Work (MSW) offered through the Simmons School of Social Work (SSW), the nation's oldest school of social work. Combining live classes taught by renowned SSW faculty, internships in or near students' own communities and the same rigorous curriculum as the on-campus MSW program, SocialWork@Simmons prepares clinical social workers for direct, real-world practice with individuals, groups, families and communities.
Courses of Study:
Individualized Course of Study; Child and Family; Mental Health and Addictions; Trauma and Interpersonal Violence; Health and Aging.
The advanced standing and accelerated programs can be completed in 15 months. The full-time program can be completed in 23 months. The average time to complete the extended program is 32 months.
Start Dates: January, March, May, September and November. Advanced Standing: January, July and September. Accelerated Program: January, May and September.Learn more about SocialWork@Simmons
Master of Public Administration
MPA@UNC is the online Master of Public Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Government. MPA@UNC prepares students for leadership positions in local, state and public service organizations through a curriculum that builds core professional competencies.
Community and Economic Development, International Relations, Local Government, Nonprofit Management, Public Health
Students entering MPA@UNC will typically complete the program in 1½ to two years. Students who opt to take a part-time schedule may take up to five years to complete the program. Students who opt to accelerate can complete the program in as little as 18 months.
Start Dates: January, May, August, SeptemberLearn more about MPA@UNC
Master of Social Work
Designed for social workers who want to make a difference in their communities, the MSW@USC is the University of Southern California's accredited Master of Social Work — delivered online. The program features live online classes and hands-on field experiences in students' own communities. All classes are taught by supportive USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work faculty in an engaging, collaborative online classroom.
Mental Health; Families and Children; Community Planning, Organizing, and Administration; Health; Social Work and Business in a Global Society.
The full time program can be completed in less than a year for advanced standing students and in as little as one year and four months for traditional students. Students can also complete the program in a part-time extended program in 3 or 4 years.
Start Dates: Traditional Program: January, May, August and September. Advanced Standing: January, June and September.Learn more about the MSW@USC
Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT)
For those with a bachelor's degree in any field, online MAT degree programs provide the theoretical knowledge and practical skills needed to succeed as first-time teachers in K–12 classrooms.
MAT programs may include the following coursework:
- Foundational courses in learning theory, instructional technology, and the application of sociological and psychological theories in the classroom.
- Courses on teaching methods and practices, including curriculum development, evaluation, planning and assessment.
- Language and literacy courses focused on grade level-appropriate strategies for developing reading and comprehension skills across content areas.
- Fieldwork, student teaching and/or capstone experiences that enable future teachers to develop real-world classroom skills under the guidance of a certified teacher.
MAT programs also offer various concentrations or credential tracks to prepare aspiring teachers for certification in their preferred content area(s) and school settings.
Elementary Education provides the knowledge and skills required to teach multiple subjects to students in grades K–5
Secondary Education concentrations focus on instructional strategies and theory for teaching specific subjects in grades 6–12. Most programs offer secondary education concentrations in English, mathematics, science or social science.
Some programs also offer concentrations in music, art or health education.
Additional Certificates and Credentials
For those wishing to teach children with special education needs or gifted students, some MAT programs offer optional certificates and credentials in those areas. Usually requiring additional units of coursework beyond the standard MAT curriculum, a specialization in special education or gifted education can provide the specialized skills required to help K–12 students of diverse abilities learn and thrive.
Master of Arts in Teaching – Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (MAT–TESOL)
Similar in program structure to the MAT, the MAT–TESOL is a separate degree program that focuses on the instructional methods and theories required to teach English to non-native speakers of diverse cultures and ages, including adults.
While the MAT is geared to aspiring teachers, MAT–TESOL programs also attract experienced educators. The fieldwork and capstone requirements in MAT–TESOL programs are typically tailored to accommodate different experience levels.
Both the MAT and the MAT–TESOL usually can be completed in one to three years, depending on individual course load.
NOTE: After earning an MAT from an accredited institution, graduates can seek certification in the state(s) in which they intend to teach. For state-by-state certification requirements, visit Teacher Certification Map.
Doctor of Education (EdD)
At the other end of the career spectrum, an EdD degree program prepares experienced educators to lead program, school or system-wide change in specialized areas such as:
- Adult Education
- Early Childhood Education
- Educational Administration
- Educational Psychology
- Higher Education
- Organizational Change and Leadership
- Special Education
With coursework tailored to the area of specialization, most EdD programs include a capstone project and research dissertation in addition to the required coursework.
While PhD in Education programs are research oriented, EdD programs are practice oriented. Reflecting that focus, the EdD dissertation typically addresses a real-world problem of practice in the candidate' field.
Most EdD programs are designed to be completed in three to four years.
2U-Powered Education Programs
2U partners with top universities to offer their degree programs online, including master’s and doctoral programs in education. Students in 2U partner programs benefit from the highest-quality online learning platform available, with access to an online campus from anywhere they have an Internet connection. University faculty lead all academic issues related to programs, including instruction and curriculum development. 2U-powered programs feature:
created by faculty and available 24/7.
in a collaborative online classroom.
between students and universities.
at field placements or immersions.
from application through graduation.
Choosing a Top Online Education Degree Program
When comparing programs, applicants will want to consider the key factors that set apart the best online education programs:
Accreditation: Institutional accreditation by the appropriate regional accrediting body ensures graduates' degrees are recognized by current and future employers as well as other higher education institutions. Professional or school accreditation indicates the educator preparation provider and its programs meet rigorous standards set by the professional education community. The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) is the only recognized accreditor for teacher education in the U.S.
Because graduation from an accredited teacher preparation program is a prerequisite for teacher credentialing in many states, applicants to MAT programs are strongly encouraged to check accreditation before applying. These applicants should also check their states' individual teacher certification requirements.
Rankings: Applicants may find that rankings can be useful, if not definitive, tools for understanding the relative strengths of a program. In reviewing rankings, applicants should note whether the ranking is for the school as a whole or for the individual program. Some rankings specifically rate online programs. While many online programs are identical to on-campus counterparts, some are not and the on-campus ranking may not apply.
Interactive, flexible learning environment: An effective technology platform and engaging, flexible format are essential to the online graduate school experience. When evaluating online degree programs, applicants should consider whether it offers:
- The flexibility to earn their degree while meeting current career and family commitments.
- Innovative technology that connects students and faculty through live classes, social media and online collaboration tools.
- Opportunities to network and share experiences with fellow students and faculty who are expert practitioners and researchers.
For those who are interested in pursuing a career in education without becoming a teacher, there are several master’s degree program options. The following programs allow professionals to make a positive difference outside of the classroom:
- Master of Science in Behavior Analysis
- Master of Public Administration
- Master of Arts in Counseling and Guidance
- Master of Social Work
- Master of Science in Communicative Sciences and Disorders
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)
The ABA degree program prepares aspiring behavior analysts with the tools and skills to help students who have behavioral or developmental disabilities.
ABA programs may offer various concentrations or credential tracks that can help propel professionals into unique specializations:
- Autism spectrum disorders (ASD): Focus on helping students improve language, motor, social and reasoning skills.
- Special education: Teach special needs students and address their individual differences and needs to promote learning, motivation and self-sufficiency.
- Staff performance: Work with peers in a school setting, analyze data and conduct assessments to see if students’ needs and skills are being addressed.
Master of Public Administration
A Master of Public Administration (MPA) online degree program shapes aspiring administrators and public service officers with the skills to change the educational landscape, implement and develop policies on the local, state and federal levels.
MPA programs also offer various concentrations or credential tracks that can help propel professionals into a variety of career paths:
- District administrators serve a school system as a district level administrative officer.
- Principals serve a school system as a district level executive officer.
- Supervisors oversee and maintain daily activities within a school system and ensure that academic standards are being met.
Master of Arts in Counseling and Guidance
A Master of Arts in Counseling and Guidance online degree program teaches aspiring school counselors how to guide students toward success in school and social settings. School counselors are integral members in a school system and work with teachers, administrators, and parents on school counseling programs
School counseling programs may also offer various concentrations or credential tracks that can help propel professionals into a variety of career paths:
- School counselors develop relationships and support children, parents and teachers through assessment, intervention, case conceptualization and advocacy.
- Bilingual school counselors recognize and apply appropriate resolutions to common issues experienced by students for whom English is a second language.
Master of Social Work
A Master of Social Work (MSW) prepares aspiring school social workers to act as primary mental health providers for students. School social workers work with students, families and schools to ensure that students’ academic, emotional and social needs are met.
MSW programs also offer various concentrations or credential tracks that can help propel professionals into unique specializations:
- Children and families: Promote the overall social and psychological wellbeing of children and families in various environments, including a school setting.
- Trauma and interpersonal violence: Apply evidence-based practice to work with survivors of interpersonal violence and physical, emotional and communal trauma.
- Mental health and addictions: Offer services and support to those coping with mental health disorders and substance abuse.
- Health and aging: Help individuals and their families cope with illness, disability and age-related challenges.
Master of Science in Communicative Sciences and Disorders
Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) treat individuals who experience difficulties in language, speech, voice and swallowing. A Master of Science in Communicative Sciences and Disorders allows aspiring speech-language pathologists to specialize in different components of speech and language development and work with a wide variety of speech, communication and swallowing disorders.
Master of Science in Communicative Sciences and Disorders programs also offer various concentrations or credential tracks that can help propel professionals into unique specializations:
- Child language disorders: Treat young children (3-5 years old) with language disorders and problems with understanding and talking.
- Fluency disorders: Treat stuttering and cluttering to improve speech clarity and fluency.
- Swallowing disorders: Diagnose and treat patients who have swallowing disorders at different stages of the swallowing process.