What Can I Do With a Master's Degree in Education?
A master’s degree in education is a popular and valuable advanced degree. Though you can earn your teaching certification and become a K-12 public school teacher in most states with a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree in education can qualify you for educational leadership roles, improve your employment opportunities outside of public education, and raise your earning potential.
A master’s degree in education is also a great path if you plan to specialize in a particular area of education such as history, mathematics, or the sciences. Your master’s degree program may give you the chance to deepen your knowledge in a concentrated subject area while studying pedagogy and curricula in your discipline. And in some states, you may even be required to eventually earn your master’s degree in education in order to retain your teaching license and earn tenured status. Moreover, if you wish to teach at the post-secondary level, you must earn an advanced degree. Generally speaking, a master’s degree in education can both widen your career prospects and heighten your earning potential.
Just getting started in the field? Check out our look at the education major to find out how you can get an undergraduate degree in education.
If you’re ready to earn your graduate degree at one of the most prestigious schools in the world, get started with a look at the Most Influential Schools in Education.
Or read on to find out what you can expect as an education graduate student.
Why Get a Master’s Degree in Education?
The master’s degree is a particularly valuable and well-regarded credential in the field of education. For some educators, the most immediate and pressing reason to get an advanced degree in education is the fact that your job requires you to do so. While there are many teaching jobs available to graduates with a bachelor’s degree in education, some states or districts may require you to earn a master’s degree over time.
In other cases, a master’s degree will substantially improve your opportunities for employment by making you a more competitive candidate, and improve your opportunities for advancement, qualifying you for project leadership, department chairmanship, and more. And with many of these opportunities, you also improve your earning potential.
Of course, at the root of the decision to pursue your master’s degree in education should be a genuine passion for the subject matter and a personal interest in growing your knowledge, refining your skills and better preparing for a long and fruitful career in education.
How Can I Qualify To Get a Master’s Degree in Education?
There is no specific entrance exam for gaining admission into an education master’s program, though some programs may require you to complete a Graduate Record Examination (GRE). If the GRE is needed, your program may either require a general exam, or a GRE specific to the subject of education. Some programs may require you to meet a certain scoring threshold while others may merely require that you complete the exam. These requirements will vary from one education master’s program to the next.
If no GRE is required, the primary requirement for gaining eligibility into an education master’s program is completion of a bachelor’s degree from a properly accredited undergraduate school. While programmatic accreditation is not specifically required in this field, most regionally-accredited graduate schools will require that your bachelor’s degree be granted by a regionally-accredited college or university.
Check out our Guide to the GRE to learn more.
Some colleges may offer bundled bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, where you could earn your advanced degree in one continuous five-year program. This option could save you time and money if you already know that you’ll be pursuing your advanced degree. However, the accelerated pace of such a program may make this a challenging way to earn both degrees. Find out if your school offers this bundling option and ask about eligibility requirements. But be sure you’re up to the added challenge!
For any additional questions about eligibility, refer to your intended program and learn more about application requirements and any additional requirements such as work experience, academic performance thresholds, and referrals.
If you’re still working on building your qualifications, check out our look at the education major to find out how you can get an undergraduate degree in education.
What Kinds of Advanced Education Degrees Are There?
Though a bachelor’s degree is the basic threshold for earning a license to teach in most states, the master’s degree in education is an important credential for seizing opportunities both within and beyond public school teaching. A master’s degree in education could help you to become a principal, administrator, or post-secondary instructor, or simply improve your earning power and expand your opportunities for project, committee or department leadership. If you wish to become a full professor or lead education-based research efforts, you would need to earn a doctoral in education.
- Master of Education: While a bachelor’s degree is required to earn your teaching license in most states, many schools and districts may actually require you to have earned a master’s degree in order to qualify for, or maintain, licensing for classroom teaching. This is not true everywhere, but earning a master’s in education will significantly expand your employment opportunities. This 2-year degree can also provide a pathway for professional advancement into a leadership role at the departmental level or as a principal or administrator. As noted above, you may be able to complete this program in less time if your school provides a combination bachelor’s and master’s degree program. If you are already employed as an educator, your school or district may be willing to help pay for your master’s degree.
- PhD in Education: The doctoral is a terminal degree in education, and will typically require between 3 and 5 years for completion. This degree is recommended if you are interested in working as a professional researcher or pursuing a professorship in teaching and education.
What are Some Popular Education Specializations?
Your specialization will depend largely on what you hope to do with your master’s degree in education. The advanced degree program will typically provide you with an opportunity to focus more closely on the area of education where you intend to contribute and lead. Popular education master’s specializations include:
- Early Childhood Education
- Educational Leadership
- Elementary Education
- Special Education
- Curriculum and Instruction
- School Counseling
What Courses Will I Take as an Education Master?
Your specialization will determine many of the courses you’ll take as an education major. Likewise, you will be required to take a number of requisite courses on foundational topics such as Applications of Educational Research and Instructional Leadership. Your advanced degree program will likely also include a research component and some practical educational opportunities including actual experience instructing before a classroom.
Common education courses include:
- Analysis, Innovation and Evaluation of Curriculum
- Current Issues in Elementary and Secondary Education
- Instructional and Educational Psychology
- Reading and Language Arts
- Teaching English Language Learners
- Classroom Management and School Discipline
- Student Teaching
- Collaboration and Inclusion
- Technology and Leadership
- The Internet for Educators
- Instructional Design and Integration
- Assistive Technology
- Assessment of Online Learning
Is a Master’s Degree in Education Worth It?
The master’s degree in education is a popular option for prospective educators and education leaders. The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that, during the 2012-13 academic year, more than one of every five master’s degrees in the U.S. was awarded in education. The wage premiums for those earning an advanced degree in education are relatively high as compared to other professions. This is generally true across the board, with preschool and kindergarten teachers with master’s degrees earning roughly 43% more than their counterparts with bachelor’s degrees and educational administrators seeing a nearly-identical 44% wage premium upon earning a master’s degree.
What Are The Top Jobs With a Master’s In Education Degree?
A master’s degree may be required to retain your teaching license in certain states. But beyond this requirement, earning a master’s degree in education both improves your earning potential and qualifies you for a wider range of professional opportunities, including these top jobs:
- School and Career Counselors
- Postsecondary Teachers
- Special Education Teachers
- Elementary, Middle and High School Principals
- Postsecondary Education Administrators
- Education Administrators, Kindergarten Through Secondary
Curious how far you could go with a master’s degree in education? Start with a look at the top influencers in the field today!***
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