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Best 1-Year Online Master’s in Education (MEd) Programs

If you’re interested in earning your MEd from a 1-year accelerated program, you’re probably wondering what programs are available. To help you get started, we’ve outlined and compared today’s best accelerated MEd programs below.

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A diverse group of elementary students with a teacher in a school library, engaged in a classroom activity with books and flags on the table, similar to practices taught in the best online master's programs.

Whether you dream of becoming a teacher, building up your resume, or leveling up into an administrative role, an accelerated master’s in education (MEd) can help you get there quickly. In addition to boosting your qualifications, a graduate degree will elevate your pay. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, teachers with master’s degrees earned an average of $67,000 per year in 2020-2021, while those with bachelor’s degrees earned just $52,500.

If you’re ready to start earning more income, the fastest route to a degree is through a 1-year online master’s in education programs. These flexible, accelerated programs allow students the freedom to earn a graduate degree while keeping up with work and life’s responsibilities.

This guide covers everything you need to know about accelerated master’s degrees in education, from top schools to FAQs. Let’s take a closer look at 1-year online master’s in education programs.

Program Spotlights: Best Online Accelerated MEd Programs

When you’re ready to kick off your career in education or boost your credentials, you’ll find many one-year (or slightly longer) online master’s in education programs to suit your needs. We’ve done the homework for you and scouted out five of the best accelerated master’s in education programs available online. Each of these programs represents a blend of affordability, flexibility, and accreditation you’ll need to advance your career.

Southeastern Oklahoma State University

At Southeastern Oklahoma State University, students can graduate with a master’s of education in as few as 12 months. The school currently offers a dozen distinct online accelerated master’s in education programs with a one-year course plan. Students can choose from several focus areas, depending on their career goals.

In addition to offering five general specializations, each field has sub-specializations to further credential yourself in your chosen area of study. For example, curriculum and instruction students can further specialize in Educational Technology, Theatre Pedagogy, or specific subjects like English, Math, and Science. Educators and non-educators are welcome to apply; some master’s programs do not require students to have an active teaching license. Experienced faculty teach all courses, which are available entirely online. For students’ convenience, GRE scores are not required to apply.

Program Highlights

  • Length: 12-18 months
  • Credits: 30-45
  • Estimated Tuition: $10,410-$15,615
  • Specializations: Early Intervention and Child Development, Curriculum and Instruction, Educational Leadership, School Counseling, and Special Education.

The University of North Texas

Students interested in 1-year online master’s programs should consider the nine accelerated master’s in education degrees offered at The University of North Texas. Each program offers different specializations and can be completed in as little as 12 months.

The university schedules five start dates throughout the year, making these programs an appealing option for students who want to get started ASAP. To accommodate multiple start dates, classes are offered on a rotating schedule over the course of the year. Classes are held in two accelerated eight-week terms during the fall and spring semesters, while the summer semester is made up of three-, five-, and 10-week terms.

Program Highlights

  • Length: 12 months
  • Credits: 30-36
  • Estimated Tuition (TX Residents): $14,000-$16,800
  • Specializations: Curriculum and Instruction, Educational Leadership, Higher Education, Special Education, and Teaching.

Youngstown State University

Youngstown State University is a strong graduate school choice for students looking for one-year master’s in education programs in a variety of focus areas, with seven accelerated Master of Science in Education degrees available online.

The educator programs at Youngstown are accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). Courses are designed to prepare you to meet the needs of your students in the classroom and beyond. Multiple start dates throughout the year make it easy for students to get started on their graduate degrees throughout the year. Students must have a current active teaching license to apply.

Program Highlights

  • Length: 12 months
  • Credits: 30-36
  • Estimated Tuition (OH Residents): $12,450-$14,940
  • Specializations: Curriculum and Instruction, Educational Administration, and Special Education.

Eastern Washington University

Eastern Washington University offers multiple paths to an accelerated master’s in education. Students can choose from 12 programs according to their interests and career goals. Whether students want to teach children, become leaders in education, or educate adults, there’s a degree that will suit their needs.

Select programs do not require a thesis to graduate; instead, students may be required to complete an internship, assemble a portfolio of work, or complete a comprehensive exam. All classes are available entirely online. To make applying for master’s in education programs convenient and simple, the school foregoes requiring GRE scores, letters of recommendation, and writing samples.

Program Highlights

  • Length: 12 months
  • Credits: 49-50
  • Tuition: $14,700-$15,000
  • Specializations: Adult Education, Career and Technical Education, Curriculum and Instruction, Early Childhood Education, Educational Leadership, ELL, Health and Physical Education, Library Media, Literacy, Special Education, and TESOL.

Florida International University

Florida International University offers five distinct programs for students looking to earn a 1-year master’s in education online. Classes take place over accelerated eight-week terms, and all faculty members are experienced leaders in education with years of teaching experience under their belts.

To graduate on a 12-month timeline, students enroll in four fully online courses and earn 12 credits each semester. Each program culminates in a capstone experience, like an action research project or practicum course. To help make their education degrees more affordable, FIU participates in tuition reimbursement programs for teachers. Furthermore, they offer the same tuition rate to all students, regardless of residency, and match all students with relevant scholarship opportunities. No GRE is required to apply.

Program Highlights:

  • Length: 12 months
  • Credits: 30-36
  • Tuition: $15,250-$18,300
  • Specializations: Curriculum and Instruction, Higher Education Administration, Music Education, and Special Education.

How Fast Can You Earn a Master’s in Education Online?

This all depends on the program you choose and how much time you can dedicate to getting your graduate degree. You’ll find many options for 1-year online master’s in education programs; however, graduating in 12 months will require full-time study.

One example of a 12-month accelerated program is the Master of Science in Education at California Baptist University. Other graduate school majors take more time and credits to complete. For example, while Southeastern Oklahoma University offers multiple 1-year online master’s in education programs, the MEd in Educational Leadership – Principal & Superintendent Certification track and MEd in School Counseling programs take 16-18 months to complete.

Benefits and Challenges of Earning an Accelerated MEd

Earning an accelerated master’s in education offers students unmatched flexibility, allowing you to quickly earn a degree while balancing other career and life obligations. Let’s take a look at three of the major benefits of earning your accelerated master’s degree in education online.

The Benefits of Accelerated Online Programs

Benefit #1: Flexibility & Convenience

Earning an online master’s in education makes it easy to earn a degree on your own terms and schedule. That’s a major benefit if you’re a working professional or educator who wants to continue full-time work while earning your master’s.

Benefit #2: Cost Effectiveness

On the whole, online students pay much less than their campus-based peers. That’s because they don’t have to commute to campus or relocate to attend school. At many colleges and universities, online students also pay a more affordable tuition rate than in-person students.

Benefit #3: Advance More Quickly

You can earn an accelerated master’s in education in as little as one year. That means a quicker transition into your new role as an educator, specialist, or administrator — and a shorter path to the higher salary that comes with holding a master’s degree.

Obstacles That Can Make It Difficult to Complete Your Degree

While there are undeniable upsides to earning your master’s in education online, you’ll also face unique challenges that you wouldn’t necessarily encounter on campus. Online learning requires students to hold themselves to a higher standard of self-discipline, time management, and proactive learning. Let’s explore some of the challenges of earning an accelerated master’s in education online.

Challenge #1: Self-Discipline

Without the accountability of regularly scheduled classes, some students struggle with self-discipline. It will be up to you to balance full-time teaching with your responsibilities as a student. Stay on track with well-organized schedules and block off regular time to complete coursework.

Challenge #2: Fewer Opportunities for Hands-On Experience

While online learning is unmatched for convenience, it can be more challenging to find opportunities for practical experience. Classroom management and observation techniques can be harder to learn via virtual instruction. Fortunately, many programs partner with schools local to their students to provide field learning opportunities.

Challenge #3: Limited In-Person Interaction

Virtual learning provides fewer opportunities for collaboration than you’d find in a traditional classroom. Asynchronous classwork means interaction with professors and peers will be less frequent, and feedback less immediate. As an online student, make the most of classroom forums and synchronous group meetings to provide a space for discussion and connection.

How Does Online MEd Curriculum Differ from Traditional Programs?

Difference #1: You Can Graduate More Quickly

It’s possible to graduate from one of the best graduate programs in education and advance your career in as little as one year. At Penn State World Campus, master’s in education students can choose their own pace.

Difference #2: Courses Are Often Accelerated

Classes for your one-year graduate degree might be shorter than a typical semester. Eight-week courses, like those in Liberty University’s Master of Education in Higher Education – Educational Leadership, are common.

Difference #3: Teaching Certificate Requirements May Vary

Often, one-year graduate programs in education will not come with built-in teacher licensure. For example, the Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction at Eastern Washington University does not require a teaching certificate, but it also does not lead to obtaining one. Review programs closely to ensure they meet your goals.

Accelerated Online Education Master’s Programs Costs

Even when getting an affordable master’s degree in education, it’s important to understand the financial investment you’re making. Making a plan for financial aid can relieve much of the stress of getting your graduate degree. Start by applying for scholarships, fellowships, and work-study programs. Consider the federal TEACH grant, which offers students tuition assistance in exchange for an agreement to teach in underserved areas after graduation.

School-specific scholarships are also available; for example, Western Governor’s University offers WGU Loves Teachers Scholarships of up to $4,000 to qualified students.

To give you an idea of what you can expect to pay, we’ve laid out the tuition costs of a few accelerated online graduate degrees in education below.

School Name No. of Credits Cost/Credit Est. Tuition
Fitchburg State University 33 $385 $12,705
Liberty University 36 $450 $14,940
Regis University 30 $589 $17,670

Common Questions About Online MEd Programs

What are the admissions requirements for an online master’s in education?

Admissions requirements for an online master’s in education vary by the program and school. Requirements for a master’s degree aimed at current educators typically require applicants to have a teaching license and qualifying experience. Master of Arts in Teaching programs like the one offered by Liberty University help new teachers become licensed, so you won’t need to have one to apply.

Whether you’re a current educator or you’re new to the field, be prepared to provide transcripts from past schools, GRE scores, and letters of recommendation. Here are some common admissions requirements for 12-month online master’s in education programs:

  • Proof of your teaching license and experience in education.
  • GRE test scores.
  • Transcripts from all colleges and universities you’ve attended.
  • A professional statement and writing sample.
  • Letters of recommendation.
  • A copy of your current resume.

Can I earn a one-year master’s degree 100% online, or do I need to visit campus?

Yes, you can earn a one-year master’s degree entirely online without ever stepping foot on campus. Teaching-related master’s degrees in education, like the Master of Science in Education – Special Education at Youngstown State University, often require students to gain hands-on experience in order to get their degree.

However, schools usually work with students to find fieldwork opportunities convenient to where they live. Even if you choose a degree with a practical experience requirement, it’s possible to get a 12-month master’s degree in education.

How many credits are in an accelerated education graduate program?

The number of credits you’ll need all depends on the school, degree, and specialization you choose. Broadly speaking, it will take between 30-36 credits to complete a one-year master’s degree. Programs with more credits exist, but they typically take a minimum of 18 months to two years to complete.

As a general rule of thumb, you can expect more specialized programs to have a slightly higher required number of credit hours. For example, at Penn State World Campus, master’s degrees in Curriculum and Instruction and Educational Leadership take 30 hours of study, while the master’s in Special Education comes in at 33 total credit hours.

Is a master’s degree in education required to teach?

No. Some people become teachers with a bachelor’s degree, while others earn their license through alternative paths. Check with your state board of education or a trusted organization to find licensure requirements in your state.

Master’s degrees are often sought by people who want to work in education but have a bachelor’s degree in another field, educators who want to add a specialization or additional credentials to their skillset, or educators who want to become educational leaders.

You should compare programs to find one that meets your needs. Many schools, such as Western Governor’s University, offer a variety of programs, from a Master of Arts in Teaching (which leads to licensure) to an MA in Mathematics Education (which is for licensed educators).