There are hundreds, if not thousands, of different options for students seeking an online master’s in education (M.Ed.). Yet some of these schools cost so much that most students either graduate with tremendous debt or choose not to attend in the first place.
This makes the cost of earning a college degree a likely factor when an individual considers whether to earn a master’s degree in education. The decision is often complicated by the belief that earning a degree from an Ivy League school or another prestigious university is the only way for the degree to be a worthwhile endeavor. Multiple sources show that pursuing a master’s degree from a school that offers one of the cheapest online master’s in education programs is no different than earning a master’s degree in education from a more expensive school.
Fortunately, many affordable options exist for earning an online master’s in education. Since education should be about your personal development, it is worth taking the time to pick the right online program to fulfill your needs. Ensure that the school not only fits into your life but also provides you with a good experience, a valuable education, and a stable work-life balance.
Earning an affordable master’s degree in education allows teachers and other educators to focus on a specific area that interests them or aligns with their career goals. These schools that offer the cheapest online master’s in education degrees feature comprehensive programs that provide opportunities for students to enhance their knowledge and skills in education without the cost of a more expensive school.
26 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Education
Eastern Washington University
Eastern Washington University’s mission is to prepare educators to become professionals, practitioners, leaders, and scholars in their field. Students learn new skills and enhance their current critical thinking skills. They learn to mentor others and exhibit character and dispositions that are expected of educators planning a lifelong career in education.
Students choose from six online programs, which include the Master of Education – Adult Education program, the Master of Education – Curriculum and Instruction program, and the Master of Education – Early Childhood Education program.
American College of Education
The American College of Education offers a variety of master of education degree programs. Their education masters program are designed for current teachers who want to advance their existing skills and expertise in teaching students at the elementary school level. Students also learn how to incorporate technology into the classroom.
One of their main programs, Master of Education in Higher Education, focuses on the ever-changing environments that impact higher education. Students choose a specialization in either leadership, student development, affairs, or enrollment management. There are also three other concentration options. The school also offers unique programs, such as the Master of Education in Integrated Curriculum and the Master of Education in Teaching English Learners.
University of the Cumberlands
The online Master of Arts in Education program at the University of the Cumberlands features four concentrations. Choose your concentration from the Literacy Specialist P-12, School Counseling, Principal, or Teacher Leader. The school also offers online programs for the Master of Arts in Teaching and the Education Specialist degree.
University of North Texas
The University of North Texas offers master’s degree programs in education that prepares educators for the next step in their career. Some graduates decide to earn a doctoral degree after completing their Master of Education degree at the school.
The university offers several online programs, including the Master of Education in Special Education with a Concentration in Autism Intervention, the Master of Education in Educational Leadership, and the Master of Education in Higher Learning.
Fitchburg State University
Fitchburg State University has a history of offering teacher education programs that date back more than 150 years. Although the school offers just two online master’s degrees in education, the affordable tuition and accelerated format make it one of the best opportunities to earn an online master’s in education degree.
The Master of Education in Curriculum and Teaching Online develops ‘student-centered teachers’ and provides the opportunity for current teachers to apply new concepts from this program to their classrooms immediately. The Master of Education in Educational Leadership and Management Online assists teachers with expanding their skillset as educators.
University of South Florida
The University of South Florida offers several affordable online master’s degrees in education, including the Master of Arts in Reading Education. The online program prepares effective and expert literacy educators and leaders. Some online courses include Expanding Knowledge of Global Literacies, Developing Critical Literacy Pedagogies, and Developing Literacy Coaching Skills.
Some students pursue their online master’s in education degree by enrolling in the Master of Arts in Autism Spectrum Disorder and Severe Intellectual Disabilities program or the Master of Arts in Exceptional Student Education program.
Valdosta State University
Valdosta State University offers several online master’s programs in education that provide a deeper understanding of the theories, knowledge, and research associated with the various concentrations. The Master of Education in Elementary Education builds on the bachelor’s degree in elementary education program and focuses on developing learning environments that address the needs of young children. Students in the program learn to create and implement assessment procedures in elementary education settings.
Some other Valdosta State University education programs to consider include:
- Master of Education in Health.
- Physical Education.
- Master of Education in Curriculum.
- Instruction in Accomplished Teaching.
The online Master of Education program at Anderson University is designed for teachers that want to ‘increase the effectiveness of their pedagogy and impact on student learning.’ One beneficial aspect of the teacher education program is that students are permitted to enter the program at any time after achieving their bachelor’s degree. This benefits students who do not want to wait an extended time to begin their master’s degree program.
Some courses in the program include Theories of Learning, Principles of Curriculum Development, and Current Issues in Public School Education.
University of West Georgia
The University of West Georgia offers seven Master of Education online programs. Consider earning your degree in the Master of Education with a major in Elementary Education, the Master of Education with a major in Instructional Technology, Media and Design, or the Master of Education with a major in Physical Education. These programs and the other affordable online master’s degrees in education at the school focus on helping educators enhance their current knowledge and skills and become emerging leaders in their chosen fields.
Some students continue their education by earning a doctorate degree in education in an online format at the school.
Western Governors University
Western Governors University offers an impressive variety of online master’s degree programs in education. The school provides several STEM education programs, along with other related education programs such as the Master of Education in Instructional Design and the Master of Education in Learning and Technology program.
Learn to create a curriculum that impacts the future of education in the classroom and engages students, schools, and communities.
Lamar University offers several options for the cheapest online master’s in education degrees. Some unique education programs are offered at the school, including the Master of Education in Digital Learning and Leading online degree. This program focuses on giving teachers the skills and confidence to create interactive learning environments that use instructional technology to meet the needs of today’s teaching environment.
Some students enroll in the Master of Education in Special Education with Educational Diagnostician Certification program. This online program focuses on helping certified teachers develop the specialized skills needed to assess and diagnose exceptional students, to incorporate evidence-based practices in education, and to individualize intervention based on assessed needs.
Louisiana State University
Louisiana State University offers the opportunity for educators to earn the Master of Education in Educational Leadership degree. This online program provides comprehensive instruction to prepare current teachers and other educators to become more effective leaders. It takes educators to the next level of their education career.
Some students choose to pursue the Master of Arts in Education with a specialization in Educational Technology degree, while other students choose the online Master of Arts in Education with a specialization in Higher Education Administration program.
University of Wyoming
There are several online programs for educators that choose to earn a master’s degree in education at the University of Wyoming. One option is the Master of Arts in Education Curriculum and Instruction program. Students learn to develop a greater understanding of theories associated with curriculum and instruction, and to develop new classroom teaching strategies. The program prepares graduates for leadership positions.
Some students consider other programs offered, such as the Master’s in Education: Special Education, or the Master’s in Education: Higher Education Administration.
Indiana State University
Indiana State University challenges educators who attend their online programs to make their mark on education and to encourage their fellow educators to do the same. The Master of Education in Teaching and Learning features six concentration options, including assessment, curriculum and instruction, early childhood, elementary education, gifted and talented or the literacy K-12 concentration.
The school offers a few other master’s degrees in education. Some students also pursue their doctoral degree in education administration at the school.
St. Leo University
St. Leo University offers seven online master of education programs for teachers and other educators that want to make a difference in their school and their community. Choose your online masters degree from options that include the Master of Education in Reading concentration, the Master of Education in Exceptional Student Education program, or the Master of Education in Educational Leadership.
Each of these programs are offered fully online. The programs offer the opportunity for educators to make a greater impact on students’ lives and become more effective educators.
Arizona State University
The online Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction with an Early Childhood Education concentration at Arizona State University prepares graduates to meet children’s educational, social, and emotional needs from birth through eight years old. Students gain advanced knowledge and specialized skills in early childhood education research, technology, administration, policy analysis, and advocacy.
The school offers other online master’s degree in education programs, including the Master of Education in Global Education and the Master of Education in Educational Leadership with a Principalship concentration.
Eastern New Mexico University
Strengthen your knowledge and skills as an educator by attending Eastern New Mexico University. Earn the online Master of Arts in Elementary Education degree with a concentration in Curriculum and Instruction and an Emphasis in Elementary Education. Students take courses that are offered entirely online, and that focus on curriculum, assessment, pedagogy in educational reform, and research.
The school offers other master’s degrees in education programs, including the Master of Education in Education Administration and the Master of Education in Educational Technology.
William Carey University
William Carey University offers several concentrations in its affordable online Master of Education program. Students choose from a concentration in elementary education, secondary education, mild/moderate disabilities or emotional and behavioral disorders.
Students take courses from three categories, including professional education, electives, and specialized concentrations.
The online Master of Arts in Education Teacher Leader program at Campbellsville University introduces students to developing teacher leadership skills, and explores the various leadership styles. The program prepares graduates to mentor and lead faculty members. Graduates are also prepared to apply technology in the classroom.
The school offers nearly a dozen other master’s in education programs in an online format, including the Master of Arts in Teaching Secondary Education – Middle Grades (5-9) program.
Old Dominion University
Old Dominion University offers a variety of master’s in education programs in online format, including the Master’s in Educational Leadership – Administration and Supervision K-12 program. This program, along with programs such as the reading specialist program, the elementary education program or the instructional design and technology program, features curriculum that helps educators expand their current knowledge and skills. Students study concepts and theories along with completing an internship.
Chadron State College
Chadron State College offers a long list of concentrations in its Master of Education online program. Students choose from concentrations such as elementary education, career, and technical education, mathematics, reading specialist, and language arts.
All concentrations offered in this program prepare students for a future that advances their professional development, career opportunities, and earnings potential. The school indicates that its online program helps students to identify and use research-based practices, to become visionaries in education, and to stay competitive in their profession.
Shawnee State University
Shawnee State University offers affordable online master’s degrees that are student-focused and prepare graduates for success. Choose to enroll in the online Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction program and learn how to expand your current teaching skills while preparing for a role in administration. The program includes courses that focus on instruction, planning and assessment techniques, and other important components.
The Master of Education Intervention Specialist program focuses on a curriculum that prepares educators for leadership roles in special education or for focusing on earning a future doctoral degree. Students learn strategies for working with children that have special needs, while providing instruction that offers a variety of hands-on learning opportunities.
Wilmington University offers nine options for earning an online master’s degree in education. Consider enrolling in the Master of Education in Instruction: Teacher of Reading program or the Master of Education in Instruction: Teaching and Learning program. Develop the skills to become a leader in education and to promote the success of every student when you complete one of these online masters in education degree programs.
Active duty service members receive a generous tuition discount.
Brandman University invites students to ‘become the teacher that inspired you.’ The school offers more than a dozen online options for earning a master’s degree in education.
Consider pursuing the Master of Arts in Education, Teaching and Learning emphasis or the Master of Arts in Education, Instructional Technology, Teaching the 21st Century Learner. The latter is a unique program which prepares the teacher to become an online instructor. The program focuses on learning to teach in both online and blended settings, and to maintain an engaging learning environment with hands-on, application-oriented learning experiences.
University of Central Arkansas
The University of Central Arkansas features flat-rate tuition that is the same cost for all students, wherever they reside in the United States, which makes it dependably affordable.
The online Master of Arts in Teaching is one of several online master’s degree programs in education offered by the school. It is designed for individuals that have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in an area outside of education. Students choose from the elementary, middle, or secondary track. Some courses include Analysis and Practice of Teaching, Theory and Practice of Classroom Management, and Pedagogy for Diverse Student Populations.
Missouri State University
The University of Missouri offers 25 online master’s degree programs in education. The online Master of Education in Elementary Education program supports teachers in the early stages of their career. This program bridges research and practice, and helps teachers gain the knowledge to manage classrooms for learning, and to meet the needs of all elementary-level learners.
The Master of Education (M Ed) in Educational, School and Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in Mental Health Practices in Schools guides educators through learning how to improve their classroom management skills, to promote positive mental health among students, and to build optimism and resiliency in children.
We researched and ranked schools that offer the cheapest online masters in education degrees in an online format. We considered the program length of each program and assigned a unique score based on these factors. When there was a tie, the school with the lower tuition received the higher ranking.
We do our best to be honest, fair and accurate in all of our rankings. All information was correct at the time we compiled this list of ranked schools.
Why Earn an Online Master’s in Education Degree?
Teaching is one of the noblest professions out there. If you want to dedicate your life to doing something that makes a real difference in the world, teaching is a great field to get into.
One of the best parts of an online master’s in education program is that it provides teachers with the flexibility to advance their education without having to quit teaching or relocate. Due to the flexible nature of online education programs, teachers can continue teaching during the day while also earning their master’s in education degree at night or on the weekends.
Beyond the flexibility that comes with online programs, earning an online master’s in education is also great because it offers the same degree as an on-campus program.
That’s right. Students that attend a school that offers an online master’s in education degree receive the same exact degree as students that studied on-campus. The degree itself does not indicate whether the individual completed the program on-campus or online.
Another myth that should be debunked is that there is a major difference between different online master’s programs. There is no difference between a degree that comes from an expensive school and one that comes from a school that offers an affordable online master’s degree. Several sources, including an NPR article, explain that student engagement is the biggest factor that influences post-graduate outcomes. These studies indicate that when a student is motivated and engaged in the program curriculum, the student will gain far more from their online master’s in education program than a student who attended an expensive school but wasn’t engaged in the coursework. Another survey in the article showed that career outcome was not influenced by ‘whether a person’s diploma cost $25,000 or $250,000.’
Traditional teaching positions are not known for having the highest salaries. Fortunately, seeking out a master’s degree in education can help teachers get ahead. A master’s in education program can help you improve your capabilities, learn pedagogical tools, and keep your education current. It can also help you receive a salary increase. Though most teachers aren’t in it for the money, an increased salary is greatly needed by many.
How Much Does a Teacher with a Master’s in Education Degree Make?
The name of the school where a teacher or other educator earned their master of education degree has no bearing on their salary. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) explains that ‘the more you learn, the more you earn.’
The BLS does not break down whether a person completes their master of education degree on-campus at a prestigious university or whether the person completes their degree at a school offering an affordable online master’s in education degree. The BLS reveals that the median usual weekly earnings in 2019 for a person with a master’s degree was $1,497. Individuals with bachelor’s degrees earned $1,248 as their 2019 median weekly earnings. This difference demonstrates another reason for educators earning a master’s degree in education.
How To Find The Most Affordable Online Master’s Degree in Education
Selecting a school is not an easy task. To figure out which school is right for you, you might need to figure out which schools offer suitable concentrations and specializations. Often, a general master’s in education is enough. However, other times it is necessary to find a school specializing in Early Childhood Development, Autism Research, High School Mathematics, or another niche area. Deciding on the right specialization is an important part of your career path, future success, and the value of your education.
Choosing a Master’s in Education Online Program That Fits Your Needs
When choosing a school, it is important to consider what the school offers in terms of programs.
Different programs are better suited to specific candidates through course specialization. Of course, deciding which of these programs is better would depend upon the specialty of the teacher attending college. When looking at programs, assessing the program’s suitability for your current life is a good idea. If you work, have a family, and are constantly on the go, a flexible and entirely accessible online program is probably better than a demanding program on a physical campus two states over.
Though cost is a significant factor in decision-making, cost alone should not be the determining factor in your quest for higher education. There are many benefits to enrolling in an online graduate program over an on-campus program. These include accessibility, convenience, and flexibility. Also, the average cost of an online degree program is far less than attending a physical location. The overhead costs of an online degree are less than those of a traditional degree since physical facilities and associated costs tend to make up most of the tuition associated with an on-campus master’s degree program.
Benefits of Getting an Online Master’s Degree in Education
It is essential to remember that you cannot earn a master’s degree in education at any school. Only accredited universities and colleges offer master’s degrees. These programs need to meet many rigorous standards, which means that if somebody has a master’s in education, they have completed all the requirements to receive the qualification. That does not mean that all schools are equal, but they all have to meet minimum requirements to ensure that you get a master’s level education.
A prestigious school matters to some people. Often, an online master’s program does not have the same prestige as an expensive, traditional four-year program, and many people look down on them. But recent studies have indicated that attending a highly prestigious program does not necessarily correlate to future success or happiness. The experience, education, and engagement while in school have the greatest impact on success and happiness. These are not guaranteed just because a school has a certain level of prestige.
Potential to Earn a Higher Salary
Teachers with a master’s in education usually earn about $250 more a week than those with a bachelor’s. Over the course of a full academic year, teachers with a master’s in education degree will earn approximately $12,480 more annually.
- Master’s Degree in Teaching Salary: $81,848 annually
- Teacher with a Bachelor’s Degree Salary: $69,368 annually
A higher salary can be expected regardless of whether you earn your master’s degrees on-campus or through one of the online programs. If you’re expected to get the same pay increase, irrespective of where you attend, why not choose the more affordable degree option that will leave you with less debt when you graduate?
Online Degrees Provide Flexibility
Beyond affordability, there are many additional benefits to completing an online graduate program. Besides cost-effectiveness, other benefits of enrolling in an online degree program include convenience, versatility, and flexibility. If you plan to teach or work as you complete your degree, an online master’s degree program is much more convenient. This approach is also better for prospective online students if they have family obligations or cannot travel to a physical campus.
Online schools have opened doors for many people. It used to be that only a very select few could pursue higher education. For many who were fortunate enough to be able to attend a university in person, it’s a struggle to make ends meet financially while dedicating their lives to their studies. Not to mention, many relocate to go to the school of their choice. Now, prospective students can enroll in one of the many online programs that allow them to study on their schedule, from the comfort of their own home, and often at their own pace. This accessibility allows a wide range of people to earn a degree, including those with special accessibility requirements.
Before committing to a master’s degree, it is worth taking stock of your situation. You must know why you plan to attend school, what you hope to attain from your degree, and how much time, money, and energy you can commit to graduate school. Knowing the answers to these questions means you can effectively plan your course of study.
Master’s Degree Can Provide High Return-On-Investment (ROI)
While most teachers are not attracted to the profession to make money, you still want to know the likely return on investment from an online master’s of education. When you pursue a master’s degree, most people expect to earn more money. However, we should also recognize that about 70% of students leave school with debt. As student loans gather interest, this can be very damaging.
Thankfully, those who can manage to pursue a degree without taking on excessive debt still have a solid return on investment. According to a recent study conducted by FREOPP, master’s degree holders have about double the earning potential than individuals with only a high school degree. And compared to bachelor’s degree holders, individuals with a master’s degree can expect to earn 20% more in lifetime earnings. That equals to over $12,000 more per year or $1,000 more per week.
How to Calculate Potential ROI
When deciding whether or not to attend college or get a secondary degree, it is worth assessing your likely ROI. To calculate your ROI, you need to gather some data. First, you must know precisely how much your degree will cost. Then, determine how much funding you are likely to receive. This funding can come from scholarships, grants, bursaries, or loans. If you have loans, you need to account for interest. Then, calculate how much money you will lose by taking time off work to study. Finally, figure out what the likely increase in pay will be once you complete your degree.
Advance Into a Career in School Administration
Another advantage of a master’s degree in education is that it makes it easier to move into administrative positions if you so choose. While an administration position is not for everyone, these educational leadership positions are integral to the education system. Of course, as you likely already know, administrative positions tend to pay more than teaching jobs. Administrators can make between $96,000 and $148,000 a year, which means that the ROI for a master’s degree in education can be far higher than anticipated.
Average Cost of a Master’s Degree in Education
The cost of an online master’s degree in education can vary greatly depending on the school and form of education. For example, People often forget that the price of a graduate degree is not exclusively connected to tuition. Although tuition tends to be the most significant single expense, other factors, like the cost of living, books, and extra fees, will likely exceed the tuition cost considerably.
However, one of the many benefits of an online master’s degree is that it dramatically reduces those additional costs. The only significant cost of an online master’s degree program is tuition. As you’ll see below, an online degree can be an excellent option for teachers seeking an affordable online master’s in education.
- Online Master’s Degree in Education Cost: Can be under $10,000
- Public Schools Master’s Degree in Education Cost: $20,000-$48,000
- Private School Master’s Degree in Education Cost: $70,000-$100,000+
As you can likely tell, the average cost of a master’s in education varies widely. Of course, the level of education offered does as well. However, the tuition price is not equivalent to the value of the education. To get the most value out of your secondary education, online students should prepare to be as engaged as possible within their online programs.
In terms of cost-effectiveness, degrees in education obtained through an online master’s program tend to be far more affordable than the alternatives offered on physical campuses. It used to be that there was a degree of stigma attached to an online program. As the digital era continues to take shape, this stigma has dissipated. Employers now understand that online education can be as rewarding and sophisticated as the physical alternative. Also, online education is much more accessible to many differently-abled people who are simply unable to relocate, cannot drastically alter their life to accommodate a traditional degree, or don’t learn as well in a traditional educational environment.
The average tuition fee of a master’s degree program for an online student is around $18,000, which is far less than the average cost of a private physical college, which tends to be approximately $35,000. Public and state universities tend to be in the same range. However, some online learning programs cost more than their physical alternatives. If this is the case, it is likely because the costs of information technology and digital transformation of materials have been high for the university in question. Generally, this occurs at institutions that do not typically rely upon online programs.
Tips for Making Your Master’s Degree in Education Even More Affordable
Selecting a more affordable program is not the only way to reduce the costs of your master’s degree in education. It is also possible to save money by applying for scholarships, financial aid, grants, and bursaries. Sometimes, the department of education or school that you work for is willing to pay for your education if it is relevant to your position. Other times, they are willing to offer you paid time off to attend school.
To offset the costs of a degree, it is important to apply for as much funding as possible. To help make this process a little clearer, we have laid out some of the basic financial aid options below. Here is a quick breakdown of the different types of funding commonly available to online students:
- Employer Reimbursement
Universities, private donors, public organizations, or government bodies tend to offer scholarships. Scholarships tend to be based on academic performance. They can be provided at the regional, state, or federal level. Generally, students are eligible for multiple scholarships at once. Several schools, such as American University, automatically consider all students who enter online studies for their base scholarships.
A grant is not necessarily different from a scholarship or bursary. However, it is also not necessarily the same. A grant is simply an amount of money afforded to a specific student based upon particular criteria. It could be awarded based on research, merit, or necessity. Charities or trusts often offer these.
A bursary is a need-based grant. These are generally offered to people with special accommodation requirements, low incomes, or marginalized backgrounds. These grants attempt to level the playing field.
Employer reimbursement education programs are programs where employers offer to cover the costs of your education. These tend to occur as a benefit or because the employer believes that your education will eventually help them somehow. Corporations do this to increase profit, whereas schools tend to be concerned with improved performance and education.
The availability of these options will likely vary depending on your region, school, area of specialization, and circumstances. There are often separate scholarships and bursaries available to students pursuing online degrees and those pursuing them in person. When applying for scholarships, look into the particular requirements of the scholarship in question.
Before the application process, students should survey funding opportunities. Researching your options and preparing a potential funding budget can help you financially prepare for your education. Pursuing a degree is never entirely free. However, it is possible to reduce the costs as much as possible by supplementing or offsetting them with financial aid and scholarships.
Most Affordable Online Programs for Master’s Degrees in Education
A master’s degree in education can be just the thing you need to take your career to the next level. It can also be a great way to get your teaching career started. Whether you’re already working or are just entering the workforce for the first time, a graduate program in education can give you both the educational edge you need to land a position and the pedagogical toolkit you need to teach effectively.
It is worth looking into the online options if you’re interested in pursuing a master’s degree in education. The days when online degrees were considered inferior are gone. The digital era has made high-quality education more accessible and convenient than ever. Online degrees can be much more affordable than traditional programs without the additional costs associated with on-campus programs.