Why Pursue a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education?
Individuals with a master's in elementary education can pursue rewarding careers making a difference in children's lives. Graduates commonly teach in elementary classrooms or assume leadership roles in schools. Not only are these jobs meaningful, but they can also be profitable. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for elementary, middle, and high school principals was $93,390 in 2017.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for elementary, middle, and high school principals was $93,390 in 2017.
Students pursuing a master's in elementary education come from all walks of life. Some already work in elementary education and want to advance their career, while others are just entering the field. Candidates with a bachelor’s degree in another subject can complete a master's degree in elementary education to meet requirements for a teaching license.
Students who require a flexible schedule can earn an elementary education master’s online. Online programs typically include courses in educational research, curriculum and assessment development, and managing classrooms. These programs usually require students to take classes in fundamental areas such as social studies, math, reading, and science. Some schools offer endorsements in specialty areas such as English as a second language and special education.
Choosing a Master's in Elementary Education Program
Students pursuing an online master's degree in elementary education have hundreds of options. Before committing to a school, learners should carefully consider their personal and professional needs. Learners should choose elementary education programs that fit their goals. Individuals with a bachelor's degree in another field can seek out online master's programs that lead to initial teaching licensure. Students interested in a particular subfield, such as special education, should research programs with a concentration in that area.
Different programs include different classes and practicum experiences. Programs designed for students seeking initial teaching licensure usually include a student-teaching requirement. Programs that prepare practicing educators to take on leadership positions focus on current research and theory in elementary education.
Students might also consider how much time and money they are able and willing to invest. Online elementary education master's programs typically require students to complete about 30 credits. Students who attend an online program at an in-state school typically pay lower tuition rates. Some schools offer flat rates for all online students, regardless of where they live.
Another important factor is timeframe. Students can generally earn an online master's degree in elementary education in one to two years, depending on the program. Some schools offer a part-time option, while others only offer full-time enrollment.
Types of Elementary Education Degrees
Students pursuing an online master's in elementary education have a few different degree options to choose from: a master of education, a master of arts, and a master of science. M.Ed. programs are generally directed toward students who are already working as licensed teachers. This professional degree emphasizes field-based experiences, instructional methods, and teaching theories that can be directly applied to the classroom. Most schools offer elementary education as a concentration under the M.Ed. program.
Master of arts and master of science degrees benefit students without a license or teaching experience. Many learners hold a bachelor’s degree in a subject outside of education and need a master's to meet state licensure requirements. MS and MA elementary education degrees typically include a student-teaching requirement. MS programs often include more classes about educational research and methodology than MA programs.
According to PayScale, an online salary database, professionals with an MS in education earn, on average, higher salaries than those with an MA or M.Ed. MS degree holders with 10 to 19 years of experience earn an average salary exceeding $69,000, while those with an MA report average earnings under $66,000. Professionals with an M.Ed. and similar experience reported an average salary of about $57,000.
Admission requirements for online elementary education master's programs vary significantly depending on the school and type of degree. All master's programs require applicants to have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, but not all programs require the degree to be in feducation. Students in M.Ed. programs usually need a bachelor's degree in elementary education. MA and MS programs, on the other hand, accept students with different backgrounds. M.Ed. programs commonly require applicants to have a teaching license, while MA and MS programs usually do not expect applicants to have a license or teaching experience.
Most master's programs require applicants to hold a certain minimum GPA. Many colleges require a 2.5 or 3.0, although this varies by program. Some programs also require applicants to submit scores from the Graduate Record Examinations or the Miller Analogies Test. In some cases, students only need to submit standardized test scores if their undergraduate GPA does not meet the school's minimum requirement.
Directory of Accredited Master's in Elementary Education Programs
Master's in Elementary Education Licensure and Certifications
Most teachers need a license or certificate issued by their state department of education. All public schools require teachers to hold a license, while private schools may not require a license. Teachers who move from one state to another need to receive certification in their new state of residence. Some states hold reciprocity agreements with other states, which may make the licensure process easier.
Each state sets its own licensure requirements, although there are many basic commonalities. Generally, candidates need to earn a bachelor's degree, complete a teacher preparation program, and undergo a certain number of student-teaching hours. Licensure candidates also need to pass a background check, a teaching certification test, and another test for the subject they plan to teach. Some states grant a preliminary or initial credential, and then allow teachers to earn a full license after several years of experience.
Some teachers choose to earn additional, voluntary credentials or certifications. These certifications may lead to a promotion, new job, or pay raise. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards offers national board certification, which is commonly thought as the highest professional certification a teacher can earn.
What Can I Do With a Master’s in Elementary Education Degree?
Graduates who earn an elementary education master's online may work in several areas within education. Inside public and private schools, they hold positions as kindergarten and elementary school teachers, principals, and student services coordinators. Each state sets its own licensure requirements for these positions. Teachers may specialize in certain subject areas such as history or math, or specifically work with gifted students or those with special needs. Outside of schools, graduates may pursue jobs as education researchers or policy analysts.
Kindergarten educators teach young children basic skills and proper behavior. These teachers must have at least a bachelor's degree in elementary education or a related area. Those with a degree in another field can complete a teacher’s education program to earn licensure.
Median Salary: $54,230
Elementary School Teacher
Elementary teachers typically teach up to fifth grade, although they may teach sixth, seventh, and eighth grade in some schools. While they generally teach several subjects, some teachers specialize in one or two areas. Public school teachers in all states must hold a license. Candidates should have a bachelor's degree in elementary education or complete a post-baccalaureate teacher education program.
Median Salary: $57,160
Elementary School Principal
Elementary school principals oversee a school's operations, staff, curriculum, programs, and resources. They must have professional experience in education and staff supervision. Principals almost always need a master’s in education, school administration, educational leadership, or a related field. Some positions also require principal certification or license.
Median Salary: $80,455
Assistant principals work with school principals to create academic and behavioral standards for students. They supervise and coach teachers and support staff. Assistant principals typically have teaching experience and a bachelor's in education. Many schools prefer candidates with a graduate or postgraduate degree in education administration. Many schools require these administrators to earn certain certification in education or administration.
Median Salary: $70,573
Student Services Coordinator
Student services coordinators develop programs and services to create an effective learning environment. Their main duties include supervising student activities, organizing events, and developing relationships with parents. These professionals must have at least a bachelor's degree. They may also benefit from teaching experience.
Median Salary: $40,386
Paying for Your Online Master's in Elementary Education Degree
Paying for college can seem daunting, but there are many ways elementary education students can relieve the financial burden. Since teachers are in high demand across the nation, many school districts and private organizations offer scholarships for education students. Some schools offer payment plans that allow learners to pay in increments, rather than all at once. Teachers are also eligible for several loan forgiveness programs.
Tuition Reimbursement Programs
Grants, Fellowships, and Scholarships
Scholarships for Online Master's in Elementary Education Degrees
Elementary Mathematics Specialist Scholarship Program $2,000
Inspire our Future Scholarship $500
Bright Futures Scholarship $1,000
Donald H. and Verna S. Duncan Endowed Scholarship $1,000
Isabel M. Herson Scholarship in Education $500-$1,000
Resources for Online Master's in Elementary Education Students
- National Education Association NEA is the largest professional association for teachers in the U.S. Student members gain access to scholarship opportunities, professional workshops, conferences, and professional liability coverage.
- National Association of Elementary School Principals NAESP represents elementary and middle school principals. Students and teachers interested in becoming administrators can access webinars, mentor trainings, and discounted registration for NAESP's annual conference.
- Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development Superintendents, principals, teachers, and education advocates can access professional development resources through ASCD. The association maintains an online career center, offers members-only webinars, and hosts conferences that focus on teaching leadership and excellence.
- Association of American Educators AAE, the largest non-union professional association for teachers, hosts chapters in 13 different states. Members receive access to newsletters, online job listings, and scholarship and grant opportunities.
- American Association for Teaching and Curriculum AATC's mission is to promote the scholarly study of teaching and curriculum. Teachers, K-12 school administrators, and graduate students can become members. AATC hosts an annual conference, posts job openings, and publishes the Curriculum and Teaching Dialogue scholarly journal.