What is an Online Master of Education?
A Master of Education (ME) is a graduate degree designed to provide professional advancement to current and aspiring teachers, educators and school professionals. ME programs (also referred to as MEd, EdS, MSEd, and EdM) are generally designed for either:
A. Educators who already hold their teaching license and are seeking additional certification(s) and experience
- or -
B. Individuals looking to work in the field of education but outside of the traditional classroom (See “Program Concentrations” for more information.)
ME programs prepare students for advanced positions in a variety of educational fields and are not limited to the traditional K–12 classroom environment. Generally, ME programs are for those who already hold their initial teaching certification; however, there are programs that offer ME degrees for students without prior teaching experience.
If you are seeking your initial teaching degree, learn more about earning your Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) degree.
Earning your ME provides you with the opportunity to explore a number of fields of education. Depending on your school of choice, program concentrations may include the following:
Master’s programs in the areas of classroom technology and instructional design provide students with the basic framework needed for learning in the 21st century, focusing on designing and implementing classroom technology in formal and informal learning environments. Coursework includes classes focusing on product design, technology in the classroom, cognition, instructional design, adaptive technology and online literacy.
Master’s degree programs in educational psychology (also referred to as school psychology) are designed to provide students with an advanced understanding of learning, development, motivation, research and assessment in various fields of education. Graduates of educational/school psychology programs may have careers in fields such as program evaluation, curriculum development and academic testing, and may work in schools, non-profit agencies and health-related institutions. Coursework includes classes focusing on statistics, learning theories, research methods, cognition and child/adolescent development.
Economics and Policy
Master’s degree programs focusing on educational economics and policy provide students with an understanding of the political, legal, economic and social factors of the education system. Students with degrees in educational economics and/or policy may work within government agencies and nonprofit organizations that focus on educational reform and advocacy. Coursework includes classes focusing on policy analysis and implementation, educational law, community development, sociology, urban education and decision making.
Museum education/museum studies degrees are designed for students who wish to pursue a career in art, history and/or science within informal learning environments such as museums, historical institutions and libraries. Museum education programs provide students with the necessary knowledge, skills and expertise needed to teach in a museum, utilizing galleries and other media to enhance the learning of both children and adults. Coursework includes classes focusing on public relations and marketing, educational media, fundraising, art history and cognitive development.
Master’s degrees in higher education (also referred to as post-secondary education) prepare students with the leadership and administrative skills needed to be a leader in today’s colleges and universities, as well as government institutions that address the needs of higher education. Higher education degree programs focus on student/academic affairs, leadership theory, management and finance. Coursework includes classes focusing on college teaching, leadership and management, student development and diversity in higher education.
School counseling programs are designed to prepare students with the skills and experience needed to counsel students, families and members of the community in areas such as coping with personal issues, academic advisement and advocacy. Students who pursue a master’s degree in counseling may work within a number of formal and informal educational settings such as K–12 schools, colleges, hospitals and nonprofit organizations. Coursework includes classes focusing on interview techniques, group counseling, family systems and special education.
Bilingual education and TESOL programs provide students with the foundational skills required to work with bilingual and ESL students in today’s diverse educational settings, which prepares students to work as teachers, curriculum designers and evaluators in a number of formal and informal learning environments. Coursework includes classes focusing on linguistics, literacy, pedagogy and oral/written language skills.
Master’s degree programs in educational leadership prepare students for leadership roles in public and private education institutions, which may include positions such as principal, dean, department head, superintendent, athletic director and instructional leader. Coursework includes classes focusing on business administration, personnel management, cultural diversity, educational law and policy, learning and assessment.
It is important to remember that the above-mentioned programs are not available at all schools of education and that not all programs are alike. Programs’ courses of study and curriculum focus areas are dependent on the individual school’s mission statement, faculty, and background. Contact your desired college or university for more information about their ME program options.
Students earning their ME degree are required to gain practical experience in a formal or informal education environment, one that closely mirrors their course of study, institutional expectations and desired career goals.
Practical experience for ME students may include the following options:
- Student teaching
- Formal observation hours
A capstone (also referred to as a graduate thesis or dissertation) is a culminating project, presentation or activity that often require the guidance and/or approval of a supervising faculty member. These projects are designed to display the student’s newfound knowledge and can take many forms, including research papers, grant proposals, bill proposals, curriculum materials or hypermedia materials such as educational apps for tablets.
Below are some examples of graduate dissertations and capstone projects from CAEP-accredited colleges and institutions:
- From Policy to Practice: An Analysis of the Implementation of State College Readiness Assessment Policies at Four-Year Public Higher Education Institutions in Massachusetts, Lesley University
- The Role of the Superintendent in System-Wide Success for PreK–12 English Language Learners, University of Wisconsin
- The Infinity and Beyond: Museum-School Partnerships Beyond the Field Trip, Seton Hall
- The Mediating Effects of Problematic Internet Usage on Social Phobia and Psychosocial Well Being, University of Florida
- Course Design Effects on Student Success: The Revolving Door of Online Education,University of Kentucky
In general, capstones and graduate dissertations are for students to display their scholarly knowledge and commitment toward a focused area of their graduate studies.
The Benefits of a Master’s of Education
Graduate school is an excellent opportunity to explore your options as a teacher and to learn more thoroughly about what interests you. Many states require their secondary school teachers to have a Bachelor’s degree in the subject they are teaching, and having a Master’s in that subject is even more enticing to potential employers. A Master’s degree can carry a lot of weight in the teaching job market and those who have their Master’s are regarded as experts in their field. In addition, a Master’s is the basic requirement for teaching at the college or university level.
Pursuing a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) or a Master’s of Education (ME) can also help make you a better teacher. These degrees focus on teaching somebody how to be a teacher, with heavy emphasis on pedagogy, teaching methods, philosophy of education, and educational technology. Schools need highly qualified, expert teachers to improve the quality of education, and an advanced degree tells a school you are a valuable, knowledgeable teacher that will have a positive impact on your students.
One of the top perks to gaining an advanced degree is the mobility that comes with a Master's. Teachers with advanced degrees can be promoted to school administration positions and can become mentors to other teachers based upon specific graduate training. Perhaps most appealing is the compensation for teachers with advanced degrees. Some schools will pay a teacher more for having a Master’s or a Doctorate, and some will even reimburse them for continuing their education.
Overall, getting a Master’s degree is an excellent way to enrich and advance your teaching career. It establishes you as an expert teacher and increases your job opportunities, as well as the benefits you receive once you have a job. But an advanced teaching degree will also help your students in many ways, by preparing you to be the best teacher you can be, and ensuring that your students learn the most from you that they can.