So many of us had a teacher in high school that profoundly affected our lives. You could be that teacher for your students.
With a master’s degree in secondary education, you can become a transformative educator who empowers your students with the skills and confidence to succeed.
What kind of master’s degree in secondary education should you get?
If you’re new to teaching, you’ll want to choose a program that leads to initial teaching certification. If you’re already a certified teacher, look for a program that can advance your knowledge of pedagogy within your content area.
We at Top Master's in Education have compiled a ranking of the Most Affordable Online Master of Arts in Teaching Degrees. Many of the degree programs on this list can lead to initial certification in secondary education.
How much money do people with a master’s degree in secondary education earn?
Typically, the salary for middle school and high school teachers increases with experience. Data from PayScale provides a rough idea of how much the average graduate with an M.Ed. in Secondary Education earns:
- Less than one year of experience: $38,669
- One to four years of experience: $47,248
- Five to nine years of experience: $50,520
- 10-19 years of experience: $62,637
- 20+ years of experience: $67,982
What can you do with a degree in secondary education?
Most graduates with a secondary education degree will pursue a career as a middle school or high school classroom teacher. Depending on the university you choose, a master’s degree program may also provide the qualifications to become a curriculum specialist, department chair, or technology coordinator within your area of teaching.
What are the requirements for a master’s degree in secondary education?
If a program leads to initial teaching certification, it will generally require a student teaching experience. Non-certification tracks may require a different type of culminating experience, such as a written thesis, summative portfolio, or action research project.
What are the most affordable online master’s degrees in secondary education?
Our ranking is based on tuition costs and the availability of financial assistance at each institution. We’ve pored through data from U.S. News & World Report and individual college websites to make these determinations. We hope that you can use this list to find a master’s degree program that’s within reach for you.
1. California State University, Fullerton
According to U.S. News & World Report rankings, California State University, Fullerton is among the nation’s “most innovative” institutions. The University is also ranked as one of the best values in the country by Forbes. CSUF is a leading institution in the Orange County region and well beyond, offering a comprehensive array of undergraduate, graduate, professional, and doctoral programs. A number of fully online master’s degrees allow educators to improve their teaching practice at any grade level.
The graduate program at CSUF leads to a Master of Science in Education with a concentration in Secondary Education. Presented through the esteemed Department of Secondary Education, this program prepares graduates to serve in curriculum leadership roles in public and private schools. Core courses for the M.S.Ed. in Secondary Education include:
- Advanced Proficiency in Educational Technologies
- Graduate Studies in Secondary School Writing
- Curriculum Theory and Development
- Survey of Educational Research
This degree track is offered both in a hybrid format, with roughly half of the coursework delivered face-to-face, and in a fully online format. Options for the culminating experience for this degree include a written thesis, a comprehensive exam, an action research project, preparing an article for publication, submission for National Board Certification, or development of a comprehensive curriculum project.
2. University of Louisiana Monroe
The University of Louisiana Monroe serves over 7,700 students, including more than 800 graduate students. Through eULM, the University’s online division, graduate students can choose among a number of practical teacher education programs. Available online degree tracks lead to an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership, an M.Ed. in Educational Technology Leadership, and a Master of Arts in Teaching.
The M.A.T. program is available for Special Education, Elementary Education, and Secondary Education. The Secondary Education track leads to initial teacher licensure for grades 6 through 12. The program requires a total of 36 credit hours, which will be earned through coursework such as:
- Instructional Strategies for Middle and Secondary Schools
- Educational Techniques for Diverse Learners in Inclusive Classrooms
- Individualizing Instruction in Secondary Schools
- Assessment Principles and Practice for All Learners
eULM offers a number of prior learning assessment (PLA) opportunities for online graduate students. PLAs allow students to receive college credit toward their master’s degree by testing out of a required course or by presenting a portfolio that demonstrates mastery of a certain area. By taking advantage of PLAs, students can save money on the already affordable tuition rates at eULM. A total of 48 percent of incoming ULM students receive scholarships.
3. American College of Education
Founded in 2005, the American College of Education now enrolls over 4,500 students and boasts an alumni network of more than 20,000 worldwide. ACE was created by educators for educators, and has been ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the “Best Online Graduate Education Programs.” Emphasizing technology integration, ethics, and diversity, the M.A. in Secondary Teaching from ACE prepares graduates to succeed on their first day as a teacher.
ACE’s M.A. program leads to initial certification in grades 6 through 12. The program includes embedded field experiences and an intensive student teaching requirement, allowing M.A. candidates to work directly with master teachers and secondary students. Candidates will complete 34 credit hours to earn the degree. Required coursework for the program includes:
- Adolescent Development and the Learning Process
- Instructional Practice and Delivery
- Community Engagement, Outreach, and Collaboration
- Creating Safe and Supportive Classrooms
The cost per credit hour for the Master of Arts in Secondary Teaching is $235. Including all required credits and applicable fees, the total tuition cost comes to $9,990. ACE also offers fully online programs leading to an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction, an M.Ed. in Instructional Design and Technology, an M.Ed. in STEM Leadership, and more.
4. The University of New Mexico
The main campus of the University of New Mexico is located on nearly 800 acres near old Route 66 in Albuquerque. As a graduate student at UNM, students will have all the benefits of New Mexico’s flagship institution, including state-of-the-art curriculum taught by distinguished faculty members. At UNM, students can pursue an M.A. in either Elementary Education or Secondary Education through a fully online program. Both programs feature an emphasis on Teacher Leadership.
Students applying to the M.A. program at UNM are required to already hold a valid teaching license. This degree track is designed to be completed in two years and requires 32 credit hours. The online courses for the program are offered during the standard academic year and during the summer term. A typical schedule for a student in the Secondary Education M.A. program might include courses such as:
- Principles of Curriculum Development
- Mentoring Educators for Professional Growth
- Data-Informed Instructional Leadership
- Educational Leadership in a Democratic Society
Online graduate students will have access to the same resources as on-campus students, including UNM’s extensive libraries and online databases. Numerous scholarships are available to graduate students at UNM, including the American Association of University Women Santa Fe Scholarship and the Graduate Student Success Scholarship.
5. Western Kentucky University
Known for its commitment to culturally and economically relevant research, Western Kentucky University is a leader across a number of academic disciplines. The University is home to nationally ranked programs in journalism and broadcasting, engineering, business, and education. Distance learning opportunities are available for an array of teacher education programs, both for current educators and for professionals who are seeking a mid-career transition into teaching.
The Master of Arts in Education in Teacher Leadership is intended for licensed teachers. Students in the program can choose from numerous tracks, including Gifted Education and Talent Development, Literacy Education, and Secondary Education. The M.A.E. program requires between 30 and 37 credit hours, depending on the specialization chosen within the Secondary Education track. The Professional Education Core, required for all students in the Secondary Education track, includes courses such as:
- Foundations of Teacher Leadership
- Classroom Instructional Strategies and Management
- School and Classroom Assessment
- Action Research Capstone for Teacher Leaders
Qualifying educators can receive the Kentucky P-12 Professional Educator Rate. This discount is available to practicing Kentucky teachers in the M.A.E. in Teacher Leadership for Secondary Education program. With the discount, the cost per credit hour is $395. Additional institutional and departmental scholarships are available for online graduate students.
6. Northwestern State University of Louisiana
Established in 1884, Northwestern State University of Louisiana has strong roots in the river port city of Natchitoches and throughout the region. Community-focused programs empower students to make a real-world impact in the fields of psychology, social work, engineering and technology, journalism, and education. Graduate programs leading to initial certification at every grade level are available through the eNSU Master of Arts in Teaching degree track.
The online M.A.T. in Secondary Education is designed for professionals who have earned a bachelor’s degree in a non-education field and are seeking initial teaching licensure. Certification tracks are available for grades 6 through 12 in biology, business, chemistry, English, family and consumer sciences, mathematics, physics, social studies, and speech. All tracks require 33 credit hours and a one-year internship experience. Required coursework for this program includes:
- Research in Curriculum and Instruction
- Educational Philosophy and Leadership
- Educational Psychology Applied to Teaching
- Reading Strategies for Teaching in Content Area
Applicants to the M.A.T. program must have a cumulative undergraduate GPA of at least 2.50. Program start dates are available in the summer, fall, and spring semesters. Online-only students do not pay any additional out-of-state fees, regardless of state residency.
7. Columbus State University
Columbus State University is a member of the University System of Georgia. The University has received strong rankings from U.S. News & World Report both as an institution and specifically for its online graduate programs in education. The distinguished Department of Teacher Education at CSU provides distance learning programs that are flexible and convenient enough to suit the needs of any learner.
The online Master of Arts in Teaching degree track offers an emphasis in Secondary Math and Science. Through this program, students can earn initial teaching certification for grades 6 through 12 in mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics, and Earth/space science. Candidates for the M.A.T. will complete nine credit hours in a student teaching placement or internship experience. The required 12-credit hour Enhancing Student Learning core includes the following courses:
- Assessment for Instruction
- Teaching Practicum
- Technology as a Teaching and Learning Tool
- Methods in Teaching Secondary Mathematics OR Methods in Teaching Secondary Science
The teacher training programs at CSU are accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). A number of scholarships are available to graduate students of education at CSU, including the Ophelia Fleming Alsobrook Scholarship Endowment, CSU Goizueta Foundation Scholarship, and the Aflac Teacher Education Scholarship.
8. Southeast Missouri State University
With more than 75 graduate programs, Southeast Missouri State University is a destination for students seeking master’s degrees across nine academic colleges and schools. Southeast has earned national recognition for a cooperative program with Apple that is focused on integrating technology into the classroom. This and other innovative programs have made Southeast one of the best-known institutions for teacher education in the region.
Graduates of the Master of Arts in Secondary Education program will be prepared to serve as curriculum specialists, department chairs, or team leaders. The degree track offers a concentration in either Educational Technology or Educational Studies. This degree does not lead to initial certification. The M.A. program requires 33 credit hours in total, including 18 credit hours within core courses such as:
- Methods of Research
- Multimedia in Education
- Foundations of Curriculum Development
- Improvement of Instruction and Assessment
Candidates must maintain at least a 3.25 GPA in order to graduate with the M.A. in Secondary Education. The program does not require students to hold a teaching credential before enrolling, nor are applicants required to submit a GRE score. Members of the National Education Association (NEA) will receive the in-state tuition rate plus a five percent discount.
9. University of Maryland University College
A progressive model of 21st-century higher education, the University of Maryland University College offers more than 90 academic programs through online and hybrid formats. Each year, UMUC awards over $6 million in scholarships, affirming the University’s commitment to high-quality, highly accessible education. The Master of Arts in Teaching from UMUC provides abundant opportunities for real-world experiences in secondary classrooms.
UMUC’s online M.A.T. requires 30 credit hours. Developed in collaboration with K-12 school districts, the M.A.T. offers secondary certification tracks for a wide variety of content areas. Every course in the M.A.T. program features a required fieldwork component. Coursework for this degree includes:
- Foundations of Teaching for Learning
- Adolescent Development and Learning Needs
- Reading and Multiple Literacies
- Subject Methods and Assessment
Eligible M.A.T. candidates can enroll in the interest-free monthly payment plan, which allows students to spread their tuition payments over the course of the semester. As of the 2017-2018 academic year, the cost for the M.A.T. is $458 per credit hour for in-state students, or $659 for out-of-state students. In recent years, 62 percent of UMUC students who applied for financial aid received some form of assistance. As a result, many students’ cost of attendance was less than the published tuition rates.
10. University of South Alabama
Serving a student body of more than 15,500, the University of South Alabama is a nationally ranked research institution. The University, often known simply as South, offers 33 graduate programs in 10 academic divisions. The highly acclaimed teacher education programs from USA Online include degrees such as an M.S. in Educational Media and Technology, an M.S. in Instructional Design and Development, and an M.Ed. in Secondary Education.
The fully online M.Ed. in Secondary Education is available as an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) track. The online degree program is available both for certified teachers seeking an add-on P-12 ESOL license and for students seeking initial teacher licensure. Candidates for the ESOL program will complete courses such as:
- Curriculum and Teaching in Secondary School
- Nature and Needs of Exceptional Children and Youth
- Assessment and Research in Education
- Microcomputing Systems in Education
M.Ed. tracks leading to initial licensure in secondary education are also available in science, mathematics, language arts, social studies, Spanish, French, and German. These certification tracks require some on-campus courses. Fully online M.Ed. tracks are also offered in Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education, Educational Media, and Special Education. During the previous academic year, South awarded over $17 million in scholarships.
11. Ball State University
The Princeton Review has consistently recognized Ball State University as one of the top universities in the Midwest. This long-standing reputation of academic excellence is complemented by a strong commitment to affordability: More than 500 grants and scholarships are available for incoming students. The extensive online graduate programs at Ball State include a renowned Master of Arts in Secondary Education.
Ball State’s Secondary Education program focuses on six core areas: pedagogy, curriculum, educational foundations, educational technology, multicultural education, and educational research. While the program is designed for practicing teachers, students may also pursue initial licensure while earning the M.A. degree. Available coursework for the Secondary Education program includes:
- Instructional Strategies for Middle School and Junior High Classrooms
- Social Foundations of Education
- Principles and Procedures of Curriculum Development
- Social and Cultural Minorities in American Education
Four out of five Ball State students receive merit-based financial aid, need-based financial aid, or both. For the 2017 academic year, the tuition rate for in-state graduate students is $402 per credit hour. For out-of-state graduate students, the cost is $603 per credit hour for online courses. Reduced tuition rates are available for residents of Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio (beginning in the summer of 2018), and Wisconsin.
12. The University of West Alabama
With a main campus in Livingston, the University of West Alabama serves the undergraduate and graduate students of Alabama and throughout the country. The robust distance learning options from UWA include a number of nationally accredited teacher certification pathways and advanced education degree programs. The fully online High School Education program at UWA culminates in a Master of Education degree.
This degree track is intended for certified teachers working in grades 6 through 12. The program requires 34 credit hours. Of these, 19 credit hours will be earned in a core of teacher education classes. The remaining 15 credit hours will be earned in the teacher’s area of certification, such as biology, history, English language arts, mathematics, science, or social science. Coursework within the teacher education core includes:
- Techniques of Educational Research
- Technology and Education
- Life-Span Development and Learning
- Counseling Multicultural Populations
Online courses at UWA are typically eight weeks long. Students can complete the M.Ed. in High School Education in one year. The cost per credit hour for the online M.Ed., as of 2017, is $429. An additional $50 technology fee will be charged each semester. Roughly 80 percent of UWA students receive some form of financial assistance.
13. University of Central Missouri
The University of Central Missouri embraces a culture of service, a global perspective, and an emphasis on engaged learning. Founded in 1871 with just a few dozen students, the University now serves a student body of over 12,000. Today, UCM is a forward-focused university offering innovative online teacher education programs at the graduate level.
UCM Online’s Master of Arts in Teaching offers certification in either Middle Grades or Secondary Education. Each student’s degree track and certification plan will be determined after a transcript evaluation that takes into account their undergraduate coursework and their intended area of licensure. A minimum of 30 credit hours are required to earn the degree. Students in the Secondary Education concentration will take classes such as:
- Advanced Educational Psychology
- Advanced Assessment and Evaluation
- Classroom Discipline and Motivation
- Contemporary Instruction: Theory and Practice
While all coursework for the M.A.T. is available online, some classes may be taken in person at the UCM Summit Center. Approximately 92 percent of UCM students receive some form of financial aid. Merit-based scholarships and awards granted by UCM total over $5 million annually. The cost per credit hour for online graduate coursework, regardless of state residency, is $340.25 as of 2017.
14. San Diego State University
Offering nearly 200 degree programs, San Diego State University is a hub of intellectual, cultural, and technological growth and innovation. Since 2012, San Diego State has risen 25 slots in U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of America’s Best Colleges, landing most recently at number 68 among public universities. Emphasizing social justice and equity in education, the online M.A.T. empowers graduates to become responsive, reflective master teachers.
SDSU’s online M.A.T. offers concentrations in both Elementary Education and Secondary Education. To qualify for the program, applicants should already hold a valid teaching certificate. All of the classes for this highly selective program are taught by full-time, tenured faculty members. Coursework for the M.A.T. will cover topics such as:
- Innovative curriculum development
- Measuring student achievement
- Inclusion in the classroom
- Research-based pedagogy
Typically, students will be required to complete 24 credit hours in the course of the program. Most candidates who are working full-time as classroom teachers can complete the program within one year. Students who qualified for their teaching credential in a graduate-level program within the past six years can earn six credit hours towards their master’s degree. The total cost for the M.A.T. degree is less than $10,000 for residents of California.
15. Northern Arizona University
Northern Arizona University has a main campus in Flagstaff and over 30 satellite campuses throughout the state. NAU Online’s 80-plus degree options have been recognized as the most affordable online programs in Arizona. In particular, NAU is a renowned leader in teacher preparation: The professional education programs at NAU are the first in the state of Arizona to earn accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (formerly the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education).
The Master of Education in Secondary Education from NAU Online requires 30 credit hours. The program is available as both a certification track for those seeking initial licensure and a non-certification track for credentialed teachers. For the certification track, required coursework includes:
- Educational Psychology Applied to Learning
- Structured English Immersion Methods for Secondary School
- Diversity, Technology, and Literacy in Secondary Education
- Teaching and Managing Secondary Classrooms
In addition to a fully online format, the classes for the M.Ed. in Secondary Education may be offered in-person during evenings and weekends. The capstone experience for the Master of Education is either an action research project or a thesis project on a topic of the student’s choosing. NAU awards more than $325 million in scholarships, grants, and other forms of financial aid each year.
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