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Online Master’s in Education: NC’s Best Programs

Launch your teaching career or hone your existing skills with an online master’s in education in NC. Our guide outlines your choices for online MEd programs by quality, cost, specializations, and careers in North Carolina.

Author: Shannon Daigle

Editor: Staff Editor

Panoramic view of a modern city skyline with diverse architectural styles under a blue sky with scattered clouds, featuring a prominent pointed high-rise and a highway in the foreground.

North Carolina is home to breathtaking beaches, gorgeous mountain views, and one of the fastest-growing cities in the nation. Yet, amid that growth, North Carolina has struggled to keep up with the demand for teachers.

With legislators and graduate schools in NC stepping up to support new and established educators alike with flexible options for education and licensing, there’s never been a better time to get your master’s in education online in NC.

This page highlights some of the best online education master’s degree programs in NC, salary data, and answers to students’ most burning questions. Keep reading to discover everything you need to know about earning your online master’s in education in North Carolina.

Best of 2024: Online Master’s in Education in North Carolina

The best schools for getting a master’s in education online in NC offer students a blend of flexibility and affordability. Whether you want to earn a license, teach a specific subject, or gain specialized credentials, there’s an online graduate school option. Let’s take a look at the standout schools for an online master’s in education in North Carolina.

North Carolina State University

North Carolina State University offers 25 hybrid and online master’s degrees in education. The offerings include an array of master’s degrees to suit the needs of any educator. For example, current teachers can expand their skills and expertise with an MEd in elementary education or curriculum and instruction. Those who prefer the administrative side of education can enroll in master’s programs in college counseling and student development, school counseling, or school administration.

For professionals who want to transition into teaching, there are several Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) specializations, including elementary education, mathematics, science, social studies, and special education. MAT degrees have accelerated licensure built into the program so students can gain their initial teaching license in as little as 18 months.

School Highlights:

  • Mode: Fully online and hybrid
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC, CACREP, CAEP
  • Tuition: $553/credit

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte hosts 15 online master’s in education in North Carolina, ideal for adult students seeking career advancement. Whether prospective students are transitioning into the field or looking to expand their qualifications, they’ll find an online master’s degree to suit their needs.

At UNC Charlotte, students can choose from MEd programs ranging from reading education to urban education to learning, design, and technology. Additionally, MAT degrees make it convenient for new educators to enter the field, whether they’re interested in teaching K-12 students, foreign languages, or special education. Most courses are offered asynchronously or during evenings and weekends to accommodate the needs of busy working professionals.

School Highlights:

  • Mode: Fully online
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC, CAEP, CACREP
  • Tuition: $248/credit (residents)

North Carolina A&T

North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University is an affordable option for students who want to earn their Master of Arts in Teaching. There are 12 available specializations in the MAT program, which makes it ideal for students who have earned a bachelor’s degree in another field and want to apply their education and skills to K-12 classrooms. Potential specializations include biology, business, chemistry, child development, elementary education, English, family and consumer sciences, health and physical education, history, math, special education, and technology.

North Carolina A&T also provides a MAT degree in K-12 reading for current educators looking to build their skills. Most education master’s classes are available to students asynchronously online, making it easy to manage studies alongside personal and professional obligations. To streamline the admissions process, GRE scores are not required to apply.

School Highlights:

  • Mode: Fully online
  • Accreditation: CAEP
  • Tuition: $240/credit (residents)

In-Demand Education Careers in North Carolina

Getting a master’s degree is a substantial investment of time and money. It’s natural to be concerned about whether you’ll receive a return on that investment. Knowing the potential career paths that lie ahead can help you choose a program that enables you to make plans and meet your goals. We’ve done the homework to provide you with salary and growth data for careers you can pursue with your master’s in education online in NC.

Primary or Secondary School Educator

Teachers are the backbone of education, and there are several paths to becoming an educator. MAT online master’s programs are ideal for students who have already earned a bachelor’s degree in a noneducation field. Educators with a bachelor’s in the field can level up their expertise with elementary education online master’s programs or secondary education online master’s programs, like Western Carolina University’s Master of Education in elementary and middle grades education.

Job Title NC Median Salary
(2022)
NC Employment
(2020)
Projected Growth
(2020-30)
Elementary School Teacher $48,290 54,310 7%
Middle School Teacher $48,790 23,970 7%
High School Teacher $48,980 30,510 7%

Source: O*NET OnLine

Postsecondary Educator

The need for educators doesn’t end in high school. Postsecondary educators teach in community colleges and adult education programs. Adult education online master’s programs like the Master of Arts in Education – adult education at Eastern Carolina University or the Master’s of Education in adult and community college education at North Carolina State University are an excellent choice for anyone with a passion for education beyond the high school years.

Job Title NC Median Salary
(2022)
NC Employment
(2020)
Projected Growth
(2020-30)
Computer Science Teacher, Postsecondary $68,010 1,600 6%
Business Teacher, Postsecondary $71,040 3,690 6%
Biological Science Teacher, Postsecondary $66,580 1,980 13%

Source: O*NET OnLine

Educational Administrator

You don’t have to teach to make an impact in education. Behind every great school are skilled educational administrators. Educational administration online master’s programs and educational leadership online master’s programs prepare students to become school leaders and impact-makers in the educational system. If you’re interested in this path, check out North Carolina Central University’s Master of Science in higher education administration or The University of North Carolina Pembroke’s accelerated Master of School Administration.

Job Title NC Median Salary
(2022)
NC Employment
(2020)
Projected Growth
(2020-30)
Postsecondary Administrators $83,500 5,330 7%
Preschool and Daycare Administrators $45,980 1,780 12%
Administrative Services Manager $99,980 4,120 13%

Source: O*NET OnLine

How to Become a North Carolina Educator

Step 1: Choose a Specialization

The first step in choosing the best online master’s in education is knowing your career goals and which license to pursue. Consider which grade levels and subjects you want to teach or if you’d rather work behind the scenes as an administrator. There are programs to meet each of these career goals. Choosing a specialization helps narrow your options for online master’s degrees in education.

Step 2: Earn Your Online Master's Degree

When comparing potential master’s programs, you’ll want to choose one that works with your priorities, responsibilities, and learning style. There are plenty of affordable online graduate programs in education in North Carolina. If you’ve already earned a bachelor’s degree in another field, a Master of Arts in Teaching provides the foundation to take your knowledge into the classroom. If you’re already a teacher, a Master of Education adds specializations to your toolkit.

Step 3: Gain Field Experience

If you’ve never worked in the classroom, gaining hands-on experience in a school will be crucial to your master’s program. Typically, you’ll gain experience in the same level of classroom you’ll be working in, whether in a public elementary school or as a graduate teaching assistant. You’ll work with a full-time teacher to gain supervised classroom experience during this time. Online master’s students usually complete their field experience in a district near their home.

Step 4: Pass Your State Exams

Before you’re ready to take on your classroom, you must show what you know. In North Carolina, prospective teachers are required to pass several tests. Teachers must pass the Pearson test, which covers general elementary subjects. Middle and secondary teachers must take a Praxis Subject Assessment test in their subject area. Depending on the degree program, students may be asked to take the content exam before or during the program. New teachers are also required to submit a teaching portfolio.

Step 5: Earn Your Teaching Credentials

Once you’ve passed the required exams for your desired level of teaching license, you’re ready to become a credentialed teacher. The school where you earned your master’s in education must confirm that you’re eligible to apply for licensure. Once they have, you can create an account with the Department of Public Instruction to submit transcripts and official licensure exam test scores and pay licensing fees.

The Cost of a Master’s in Education in North Carolina

While earning a master’s degree in education and becoming an educator or administrator is a worthy pursuit, it can also be costly. While the quest is well worth the cost for many students, it’s essential to understand what your online master’s degree will cost before committing to a program.

Planning for how you’ll pay tuition and researching financial aid can make an otherwise stressful experience seem much more manageable. With that in mind, we’ve put together the following table. Here, you’ll find estimated tuition costs for three schools where you can get an online master’s in education in North Carolina.

School Program No. of Credits Est. Resident Tuition
Western Carolina University MA Ed in Comprehensive Elementary or Middle Grades Education 30 $8,338
Eastern Carolina University MA in Education — Adult Education 36 $5,213
North Carolina Central University MS in Higher Education Administration 42 $12,547

North Carolina Financial Aid Options for Education Majors

There are numerous financial aid opportunities for current and future educators pursuing a master’s in education online in North Carolina. Scholarships, grants, and fellowships provide funds that don’t need to be paid back, while assistantships and work-study programs help students earn funds toward tuition.

Students earning an online master’s in education in North Carolina will also find national, state, and school-specific education scholarships. TEACH grants provide up to $4,000 to North Carolina students who can give back by teaching in high-need areas, while TeachNC offers $1,000 scholarships to future educators. North Carolina State University provides up to $8,250 in forgivable loans for students pivoting from other fields into areas of critical teacher need, like STEM subjects or special education.

FAQs from North Carolina Education Master’s Students

Is an online education degree a worthwhile investment in North Carolina?

Absolutely. Students who earn their master’s in education online in North Carolina benefit from both convenience and savings. Working adult students can take advantage of asynchronous online classes to complete coursework and assignments without compromising their responsibilities. Plus, they save considerable amounts of money on travel to and from campus. In a state where many people live and work rurally, being able to earn a degree and gain experience in schools wherever you live is a considerable advantage.

Are education master’s only for people who want to become teachers?

No. While many people choose an online master’s in education in North Carolina because they want to be teachers, that’s not always the case. Many jobs in education benefit from a master’s degree. A Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) is for people with a bachelor’s in another field who want to fill critical teaching shortages in the state. A Master of Education (MEd) is suitable for any current teacher who wants to specialize or those who wish to become educational administrators like principals or deans.

Does North Carolina offer any regional programs for educators?

Yes. To address teacher shortages, North Carolina launched the residency licensure program, which allows some people with bachelor’s degrees to teach while they get licensed. Some counties, like Guilford County, offer alternative, accelerated paths to licensure. On the state level, TeachNC offers additional educator recruitment and support resources. Their website provides step-by-step certification guides, free career coaching, financial assistance, and test prep resources.

Can I legally work in North Carolina if I am credentialed as an educator in another state?

You can work in North Carolina if you get your teaching license in another state. However, it will take a bit of preparation. According to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, here’s what you’ll need:

  • Proof that you’ve graduated from an approved education program.
  • Transcripts from your program.
  • Proof of a valid and current license from your current state.
  • Passing grades on licensure content area exams if required.
  • Experience forms from your previous work.
  • To apply for a license.

Can I earn a graduate certificate in education?

Yes, you can. Online graduate certificates in education are a convenient way to qualify for a teaching license or expand your qualifications without pursuing a full master’s degree. For example, the elementary education graduate certificate at UNC Charlotte prepares students to obtain a teaching license with just 22 credit hours. After earning a graduate certificate, you may even decide to continue your education by earning an MAT.