Whether you work as a teacher, administrator, or curriculum designer, a master’s in education Pennsylvania online program may help you to specialize your skills, explore your passions, and advance your career. Teachers and education specialists have an enormous impact on the lives of their students, and the need for educated and experienced professionals has never been greater. A 2022 report from the National Center for Education Statistics reveals that almost half of all public schools in the United States have vacancies for full- and part-time teachers. If you are a current or prospective certified teacher or education specialist, an online master of education degree may be the first step toward a long and rewarding career.
Why Study A Master’s in Education in Pennsylvania?
Earning a master’s in education offers many benefits for professionals in the world of education. From curriculum creators to classroom teachers, a master’s degree helps many professionals update and enhance their skills so that they can offer better learning experiences to students. Over the course of a degree program, graduate students learn about innovative strategies, technologies, and practices that help them to become leaders in the field.
Although a master’s degree is not generally a requirement to obtain a teaching certification, teachers with advanced degrees often receive higher salaries than those with only a bachelor’s degree. As of March 2023, the median annual salary for Master of Education degree holders is $63,000, according to Payscale. This is higher than the median salary for Bachelor of Education graduates, which is $59,000 per year.
Earning a master’s degree may also open paths to career advancement with higher potential earnings. A master’s degree is a basic requirement for most elementary, middle, and high school principals. They have median annual salaries approaching six figures, according to May 2021 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Best Master’s of Education (MEd) in Pennsylvania (PA)
Many colleges and universities in Pennsylvania offer advanced degrees in education. These online Master of Education programs allow students to gain valuable knowledge and skills while working at a time and place that accommodates their other obligations.
University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education (Philadelphia, PA)
The University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education has a large and diverse population of more than 1,000 students. The school offers an online master’s degree program in urban education, which focuses on race, equity, and inclusion and teaching and learning best practices. The admissions process does not include GRE scores and instead focuses on recommendations, a statement of purpose, and a current resumé. Tuition as of the 2022-2023 academic year is around $16,400 for the first two semesters of study and $10,900 for the remaining semesters.
This two-year program consists of ten synchronous and asynchronous courses focused on subjects like special education, school and society, and language and literacy acquisition. If they desire, students have the option to take some courses in person. Before completing their degrees, students complete a master’s capstone research thesis. The Master of Education at the University of Pennsylvania is designed for working professionals who are passionate about ending inequities in the education system.
University of Pittsburgh School of Education (Pittsburgh, PA)
The University of Pittsburgh’s School of Education offers a fully online Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction program. To earn this degree, students must complete 30 credit hours via asynchronous courses taken over a span of two years. The program does not require minimum GRE scores, but applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree. They also need access to a location, such as a classroom or after-school program, where they can practice their design and assessment work. The 2022-2023 online tuition rate for full-time students is $12,481 per term.
The curriculum includes coursework in subjects like education in society, instructional design, and online pedagogy and culminates with an online capstone project. While completing their master’s degrees, students in the University of Pittsburgh’s program will also earn the STEAM certificate and Critical Technology in Digital Media for Learning certificate, and licensed teachers have the opportunity to receive a STEM endorsement from the state’s Department of Education.
Temple University College of Education and Human Development (Philadelphia, PA)
At Temple University, students can complete a Master of Education in Special Education entirely online. Offered by the College of Education and Human Development, this program focuses on instructional practices for students in special education classroom environments. Applicants do not have to submit GRE scores, but they must hold relevant bachelor’s degrees with a GPA of at least 3.0. The College of Education’s tuition rate for residents is approximately $1,000 per credit hour, while non-residents pay around $1,380.
To graduate, students must complete a minimum of 37 credit hours, a capstone project, and a supervised teaching experience. Core classes, including child and adolescent development, literacy instruction, and special education research, are offered in a virtual asynchronous format, but students must complete onsite fieldwork. They have up to five years to complete the program, but many full-time participants graduate within two or three years. The program is approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, which means that graduates who pass their licensure exams can apply for certification as special education teachers.
Wilson College – (Chambersburg, PA)
Certified teachers in Pennsylvania can earn an online Master of Education from Wilson College. The tuition rate for Wilson’s online graduate program is $515 per credit hour, and the average class size is 13 students. To apply, students must provide undergraduate transcripts reflecting a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 and a current teaching certificate. The school accepts both part-time and full-time students to the program.
Wilson’s Master of Education degree centers on pedagogical best practices and theories. It’s self-paced and consists of a sequence of asynchronous courses in subjects like contemporary issues in education, differentiated instruction, and inclusive education. Students interested in earning a Master’s in TESOL have the option of completing additional coursework in technology integration, effective teaching, and classroom assessments. Before graduating, students must complete and defend a master’s project and submit an electronic portfolio.
Drexel University School of Education (Philadelphia, PA)
Drexel University offers many online master’s degrees in education. Degree concentrations include special education, educational administration, and teaching, learning, and curriculum. The programs generally require students to complete between 45 and 60 credit hours, and classes are condensed into 10-week quarters so that students can take a larger course load in a shorter period of time. The tuition rate as of the 2022-2023 academic year is $1,047 per credit. Admissions criteria include a bachelor’s degree with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher.
Most of the Master of Education courses at Drexel are asynchronous and allow students to work at the times that suit their schedules. Although the average completion time for most concentrations is two years, students may be able to graduate more quickly if they take higher course loads during each quarter. The curriculum at Drexel differs based on the specific degree concentration, but possible course subjects include digital media, inclusive classrooms, assessments, and literacy. Students seeking a teaching certification must complete field experiences, including observation sessions and student teaching. Students can request specific field placements near their home and work locations.
Lehigh University College of Education (Bethlehem, PA)
The College of Education at Lehigh University features master’s programs in areas like behavior analysis, educational leadership, and elementary and secondary education. Although these programs are not currently offered fully online, students have the option to complete much of the coursework in an online or hybrid format. To apply to a Master of Education degree program at Lehigh, applicants must provide letters of recommendation, personal statements, and official transcripts demonstrating that they completed a bachelor’s degree. Most full-time students complete these programs within two years, and students pay $610 per credit hour regardless of whether they are residents or non-residents.
In addition to student teaching experiences, the curriculum includes coursework in areas like diversity, child development, and curricular approaches. Current Lehigh University bachelor’s students who have a GPA of at least 2.75 and want to earn a master’s degree can apply to an accelerated 4+1 program. In this scenario, they take graduate-level courses alongside their undergraduate coursework and earn their master’s degrees with only one additional year of study.
Penn State College of Education (University Park, PA)
The World Campus through Penn State offers Master of Education degrees with concentrations in subjects like curriculum and instruction, educational leadership, and special education. Most of these programs range between 30 and 35 credit hours, with a tuition rate of $1,007 per credit. Courses are offered asynchronously to accommodate working professionals. Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree and have a GPA of 3.0 or above during their junior and senior years. GRE scores are not a requirement for admission.
While earning their degrees, students select a specialization or learning path. For example, in the curriculum and instruction program, students might choose to focus on children’s literature, STEM, or elementary education. The program curriculum includes a combination of specialized coursework based on the chosen learning path and core classes in subjects like learning processes, teaching as inquiry, and theories of childhood. The program culminates with a master’s paper that students complete with the guidance of a faculty member.
Widener University School of Education and Human Development (Chester, PA)
At Widener University, students can pursue an online Master of Education in Special Education and complete the requirements for state certification at the same time. On average, students complete this 45-credit hour program within three years. Tuition for online students in the School of Education and Human Development is $840 per credit. Admissions requirements include a relevant bachelor’s degree, a personal statement, and an official application.
The core courses students take while completing a Master of Education from Widener University include instructional psychology, classroom management, and collaboration and inclusion. Students must also complete a student teaching experience in order to graduate. This degree meets the state’s academic requirements, so students can apply for a special education certification after earning their degrees and taking any required tests.
Arcadia University School of Education (Glenside, PA)
The Modular Master of Education offered by the School of Education at Arcadia University allows students to design their degrees based on their interests and career goals. The program accepts both full-time and part-time students who have a minimum GPA of 3.0 and a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. Students who want to obtain teaching certification are required to submit scores from a skills assessment test like the SAT or ACT. As of the 2022-2023 academic school year, tuition for students in the education program is $720 per credit.
As a part of the modular master’s degree program, students select two certificate modules, such as ESL or STEM, and two foundation courses, which might include educational research and cultural foundations of education. They also complete a capstone project in collaboration with a faculty member. Some program concentrations require students to pay additional fees or different tuition rates. For instance, STEM certificate courses have a tuition rate of $2,525. Students hoping to become certified teachers in Pennsylvania must also complete fieldwork experiences in approved classroom environments.
Duquesne University School of Education (Pittsburgh, PA)
The 30-credit online Master’s in Higher Education Administration at Duquesne University helps prepare education professionals to take on leadership roles in academic environments. The university recommends that students applying to this two-year program through the School of Education have an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0, but GRE scores are not required. Tuition for this program, as of the 2023-2024 year, is $1,095 per credit.
Duqeusne’s master’s program allows student entry during the fall, spring, and summer semesters. The curriculum focuses on subjects like admissions, marketing, management, and educational technology. The goal of the program is to provide students with knowledge of every aspect of operating a post-secondary academic institution so that they can succeed in administrative roles on college and university campuses.
Saint Joseph’s University School of Education (Philadelphia, PA)
At Saint Joseph’s University, students can pursue a variety of fully online master’s degrees in education, including early childhood, secondary, and foreign language education. Programs generally range between 30 and 40 required credit hours, and most can be completed within two years. Some programs also have a 4+1 option in which current bachelor’s degree students tailor their undergraduate coursework to meet the requirements for an advanced degree and earn their master’s within one year. The tuition rate per credit is $828 as of the 2022-2023 school year, and most classes have fewer than 20 students. Applicants are not required to submit GRE scores, but they must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.
The curriculum of the master of education programs at Saint Joseph’s differs based on the specific concentration. For example, elementary education students take classes in language and culture and PK-4 science methods, while secondary education students take adolescent psychology and assessment and evaluation. Degree programs for certification-seeking students also include a student teaching component to help future teachers qualify to become certified by the state.
Millersville University School of Education (Millersville, PA)
The School of Education at Millersville University offers Master of Education degrees in areas like secondary teaching, gifted education, English education, and inclusive practices. GRE scores are not generally required, but some programs, such as the gifted education degree, may request GRE scores from students who have a GPA lower than 3.0. The resident tuition rate for a fully online master’s at Millerville is $516 per credit, while non-resident students pay around $601.
Depending on the degree concentration, students may take courses in subjects like child psychology, instructional strategies, and inclusive practices. Some programs require a master’s thesis, and others have practicum components for students seeking state teaching certifications. Most of the education degree specializations at Millersville require around 30 credit hours of coursework and can be completed in two years.
Kutztown University College of Education (Kutztown, PA)
Kutztown University’s College of Education has online master’s degree programs for bachelor’s degree holders and teaching professionals with a wide range of interests. They include secondary education, elementary education, instructional technology, and multicultural education. Successful applicants typically have a GPA of 3.0 in undergraduate coursework and a 3.25 in any previous graduate work. Many of these programs are designed for certified teachers looking to improve and broaden their skills, but others are tailored to students who are seeking their initial certification. The cost of tuition for Pennsylvania residents is $516 per credit, and non-residents enrolled in online-only programs pay a slightly higher rate of $526 per credit.
Possible areas of study include culture and diversity, research methods, urban education, and classroom management. Before graduating, students in some programs must complete a digital portfolio. Other concentrations include practicums or fieldwork, such as classroom observations and teaching experiences. Select programs may also require students to register for or take the Praxis before completing their degrees.
Edinboro University School of Education (Edinboro, PA)
The online Master’s in Advanced Study in Education at Edinboro University includes concentrations in curriculum and instruction, early childhood education, and technology education. Courses are asynchronous so that students can create their own schedules, and most students complete the 30-hour program in two years. Tuition for residents is $516 per credit and $568 for non-residents who are only taking courses online.
Regardless of their concentration, all students pursuing a Master of Education at Edinboro take core courses like research and learning theory. Subsequent coursework is tailored to the student’s area of study. Early childhood education students take courses in child development, and technology education students study technology program development. The Advanced Study in Education degree is appropriate for students who are seeking their initial teaching certification as well as those who are currently working in the classroom.
Slippery Rock University College of Education (Slippery Rock, PA)
The College of Education at Slippery Rock University has online master’s degree programs in areas including special education, elementary education, and secondary education. Most of these programs feature basic concentrations for students pursuing their initial teaching certification and advanced concentrations for certified teaching professionals. When applying, students should have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited academic institution and a minimum GPA of 2.8 or 3.0, depending on the program. Students pursuing an advanced concentration must also submit a current teaching certificate.
Possible coursework for Master of Education students at Slippery Rock includes educational research, problem-solving, and curriculum materials. Students seeking certification with the Pennsylvania Department of Education must also complete student teaching experiences in the field. The tuition rate for online resident graduate students at Slippery Rock is $516 per credit, and non-residents pay $568.
What to Expect from a Master’s in Education Program
When applying to enroll in an online Master’s in Education in PA, it’s important to research what the program will entail. Although they differ based on the school, concentration, and structure, most Master’s in Education programs focus on specific areas of study, including:
- Curriculum design
- Theories of teaching and learning
- Leadership skills
- Educational policy
- Classroom management
- Instructional best practices
Some programs are designed to help students achieve state certification so that they can begin working in the classroom. In those cases, the curriculum is also likely to include practicums, fieldwork, and student teaching. These experiences give students the opportunity to receive feedback about their teaching skills and make improvements to their classroom strategies.
Master’s students who are already certified may complete capstone research papers or portfolios instead of student teaching. Finals are usually supervised and evaluated by a faculty advisor.
Students have many options when they decide to attend online Master’s of Education programs in Pennsylvania. Specializing in an area of interest helps ensure that the degree best fits each student’s career goals. Some of the most popular degree concentrations include:
- Curriculum and instruction: This concentration focuses on the ability to develop and use engaging, innovative, and appropriate curriculum and teaching strategies. This degree is useful for classroom teachers, curriculum specialists, and instructional designers.
- Educational leadership and administration: Teachers who hope to take on leadership positions, such as principals or vice-principals, learn how to properly manage an academic institution. They study subjects like budgeting, facilities management, and curriculum design.
- Special education: Special education teachers work with students with disabilities and diverse learning needs. A master’s degree program with a concentration in special education includes coursework in managing student behavior, social interaction skills, and different types of disabilities.
- Technology in education: This concentration offers guidance on existing and upcoming technologies and their roles in education. Administrators, in-person teachers, and online instructors learn how to best utilize technology in the classroom so that students are interested and engaged in the learning process.
- Adult education: An adult education specialization helps current or prospective teachers learn how to design lessons, facilitate activities, and perform assessments for adult learners. This degree is well-suited to professionals like college professors, training managers, and GED instructors.
When applying for an online Master of Education program, it’s crucial that students determine which specialization is the best fit for their interests and abilities.
How to Choose the Right Online Master’s in Education Program
With so many online M.Ed. programs available in Pennsylvania, it can be a challenge to narrow them down to just one. When researching different programs, consider key factors like:
- Faculty expertise: Graduate students can gain insights and practical knowledge from experienced faculty.
- Program length: Some schools offer accelerated programs that can be completed in as little as a year, while others might require three or more years of study.
- Cost and scholarships: Consider not only the school’s base tuition rate but also any additional fees and opportunities for scholarships and financial aid.
- Accreditation: Accredited academic programs have undergone a thorough assessment process that ensures they are providing students access to qualified faculty and relevant coursework.
- Faculty-to-student ratio: Smaller class sizes usually provide students with more one-on-one attention from instructors.
- Job placement: Look for master’s programs with high job placement rates as this indicates that graduating students are prepared to enter the workforce.
In addition to conducting research online, students can also reach out to admissions counselors and financial aid specialists who have expertise in these areas.
Master’s of Education Career Options
Many students in master’s in education programs plan to become classroom teachers, but that’s not the only career path available. A master’s degree is also excellent preparation for a variety of other professional roles.
Curriculum specialists are responsible for teaching standards and curriculums within a school. They determine whether the current curriculum is effective and when changes need to be made. Curriculum specialists work in many academic environments, including elementary and secondary schools, colleges, and government agencies. The median annual salary for a curriculum specialist in January 2023 was $62,980, according to Payscale.
School administrators, including principals and assistant principals, work in public and private schools and ensure that the academic environment is safe and productive. Unlike classroom teachers, administrators usually work year-round. They oversee not only daily instruction but also after-school activities and sports. As of 2021, the median salary for a school principal is $98,420 per year, according to the BLS.
Like curriculum specialists, instructional designers help ensure that teachers are providing engaging and appropriate lessons for students. However, instructional designers are more focused on how teachers present the material to students rather than the overall curriculum. Instructional designers work in elementary and secondary schools and are also employed by private businesses, government agencies, and colleges. The median annual salary for an instructional designer as of May 2021 is $63,740, as reported by the BLS.
Higher Education Administrator
Postsecondary education administrators, such as deans, directors, and provosts, oversee the operations of higher education institutions. They are responsible for essential operational areas like student services, academics, and research, and collaborate with staff and faculty to create a positive instructional environment. Most colleges and universities require administrators to hold master’s degrees, and the median salary for professionals in these roles is $96,910 per year as of May 2021, according to the BLS.
Education Policy Analyst
Education policy analysts play a crucial role in determining the future of academics for students in public and private school classrooms. They analyze the effects of existing and developing policies, determine the budgetary impacts of policy changes, and consult with government officials and education professionals. A Master of Education degree provides policy analysts with the necessary background to make informed decisions about policies and proposals. The median annual salary for an education policy analyst is approximately $63,250, according to March 2023 data from Payscale.
Master’s in Education Scholarships
Scholarships are an essential source of aid for students hoping to achieve their academic goals. Available scholarships designed specifically for Master of Education students include:
- AFCEA STEM Teacher Scholarships: The Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association awards $2,500 scholarships to students pursuing a Master of Education who plan to teach science.
- Leon Bradley Scholarship Program: Administered by the American Association of School Personnel Administrators, the $3,500 Leon Bradley scholarship is intended for minority students seeking their initial teaching certification endorsements.
- James Madison Memorial Teaching Fellowship: Each year, one student from each state can receive a James Madison fellowship, which provides $24,000 to Master of Education students who plan to become history teachers.
- AMTE Elementary Mathematics Specialist Scholarship Program: The Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators scholarship provides $2,000 to an eligible Master of Education student specializing in elementary mathematics.
In addition to these scholarships, students can also apply for programs related to their personal backgrounds and circumstances. Scholarships, in combination with federal funding, make an advanced degree a more attainable goal for students regardless of their financial circumstances.