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Best Online Master’s in Education in Pennsylvania: 2024 Edition

If you’re looking to advance your teaching career, an online MEd in Pennsylvania may be your next step. In this guide, learn about the ROI of this degree and get answers to your FAQs.
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Of the fields that are constantly growing and seeking more qualified professionals, teaching is high on the list. Pennsylvania is experiencing a particularly high need for teachers, with 7.7% of all teachers in the state leaving their positions between 2022 and 2023 — the highest attrition rate ever recorded in PA.

While Pennsylvania only requires a bachelor’s degree and in-state testing to qualify for a teaching position, those looking to specialize in areas like adult education or special education may want to consider pursuing an online master’s in education in PA. Similarly, if you’re looking for a leadership position, a master’s degree can help you stand out from the crowd.

In this guide, we’ve rounded up three schools that offer a highly rated and flexible online master’s in education in Pennsylvania. Keep reading to learn more about this profitable degree option.

Today’s Top Programs: Online Master’s in Education in PA

Pennsylvania features a large variety of graduate programs readily available for those seeking a degree in education — and you’ll also find a range of specialties from which to choose. Best of all, many of these options are completely online. But it can be overwhelming to know how to narrow your list, which is why we’re shining a spotlight on these three top programs for those considering an online master’s in education in PA.

Wilkes University

Wilkes University offers 11 master’s degree options in education, including an entirely online Master of Science (MS) in Education with a focus on online teaching. You’ll learn best practices for teaching in both on-ground and virtual settings, giving you special technological skills reflective of an evolving educational system. Students often graduate from the 30-credit program and pursue careers in local school districts, cyber schools, community colleges, and larger universities. To further specialize and distinguish yourself from other candidates, you can also choose to pursue a 12-credit Pennsylvania Online Instruction Endorsement.

Classes in education master’s programs are offered in online, on-campus, or blended formats. The cost of graduate programs at Wilkes University is $554 per credit and range from 30-39 total credits, meaning you’ll pay between $16,620 and $21,606 for your master’s degree. Wilkes also offers a convenient Installment Payment Plan, which allows for the tuition and fees and related charges balance to be divided into manageable monthly payments.

Penn State World Campus

Logo of Penn State World Campus featuring a stylized blue lion head inside a shield, with the words "Penn State World Campus" in blue beside it.

A nationally recognized university, Penn State World Campus offers seven master’s degrees in education that are 100% online. One example of a top-tier choice is the 30-credit Master of Education in Curriculum & Instruction program, which costs $1,017 per credit. Students can specialize in one of six paths, including children’s literature; science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education; elementary education; curriculum and supervision; English language arts, world languages/ESL, or social studies; and a customized path in curriculum and instruction.

All students are taught expert skills in emerging educational technologies, leadership and cultural and social challenges schools face. This helps them provide next-level skills, no matter the career path they choose.

Educational students can complete their courses as needed, following a customized path ranging from one to four years. Because all programs are online, students design their courses around their schedules. And to help with tuition, Penn State offers scholarships and financial aid to veterans and other qualifying students.

Gwynedd Mercy University

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Gwynedd Mercy University (GMercyU) is a Catholic university that espouses the critical concerns of the Sisters of Mercy: earth, immigration, anti-racism, non-violence, and women. It offers your choice of six different accredited master’s degrees in education, meaning you can specialize in areas like special education, educational administration, and school counseling. All programs are accelerated and online, so students can design their schedules around their needs.

For teachers who already have a master’s but aren’t interested in completing another full degree, GMercyU also has certificate programs. These allow you to specialize in areas like special education, counseling and principal or superintendent paths.

Students interested in GMercyU programs can fill out an online form and speak with an admissions counselor, who will walk you through the application process. Tuition for most graduate education courses is $750 per credit, and most programs total 33 credits.

In-Demand Education Careers in Pennsylvania

Teaching is always in demand, with local schools, universities and online learning platforms constantly looking for well-trained instructors. Many universities offer a variety of online teaching specialties, so it’s vital to know what you’re looking to concentrate on before diving into the process.

We’ve done the research and found three of the most sought-after teaching fields and included the average salary each provides. Using this information, you can ensure you’re choosing the right teaching path for your goals.

Special Education

Online special education master’s programs in Pennsylvania prepare you to teach students who need more specific instruction and guidance in the classroom. You’ll help students with learning disabilities and developmental differences get the education they need.

A special education specialization allows you to do more than just teach in a classroom, although that is one major need for most schools. Schools also need diagnosticians who work with students and parents to diagnose children and set them up in special needs classrooms.

Additionally, just as there are administrative positions for most academic disciplines, the same is true for special education. Administrators who take part in online special education master’s programs in Pennsylvania learn to help organize and implement special needs curriculums.

Job Title PA Median Salary
(2022)
PA Employment
(2020)
Projected Growth
(2020-30)
Special Education Teacher, Preschool $65,010 420 12%
Special Education Teacher, Middle School $77,770 2,590 5%
Special Education Teacher, High School $62,820 7,660 5%

Source: O*NET OnLine

Educational Administration

Not all teachers spend their entire careers in the classroom. After getting your bachelor’s degree and working in a classroom setting, you may decide that administration is your next step. These are often higher-paid positions that focus on curriculum planning and leadership.

You may choose the path of principal and focus on leading a school, or you can opt to become a chief academic officer to ensure educational policies and codes are being enforced.

You’ll find a range of other administrative positions available to those who hold a master’s in educational administration or educational leadership. Examples of common job titles include school administrator, assistant principal, dean, or university president.

Job Title PA Median Salary
(2022)
PA Employment
(2020)
Projected Growth
(2020-30)
Childcare Administrator, Preschool/Daycare $48,360 2,650 10%
Education Administrator, Kindergarten through Secondary $103,420 8,080 6%
Education Administrator, Postsecondary $95,600 4,950 4%

Source: O*NET OnLine

School Counseling

School counselors are vital for all school systems — from elementary to higher education. They support students’ academic, career, and personal outcomes, and they help students who may be struggling with school-related and family-related mental health issues. To work in this field, you’ll want to earn an online master’s degree in counseling, school psychology, or even social work.

Traditionally, guidance counselors served as the school counselors as well as college and academic counselors. Now, these are often broken up among different positions. Students who focus their master’s on school counseling can become family therapists, traditional school counselors, or social workers, among other paths.

Job Title PA Median Salary
(2022)
PA Employment
(2020)
Projected Growth
(2020-30)
School Psychologist $82,370 4,830 8%
Educational, Guidance & Career Counselors $61,760 7,860 8%
Child, Family & School Social Worker $48,520 20,600 9%

Source: O*NET OnLine

How to Become a Pennsylvania Educator

Pennsylvania requires many of the same certifications of its teachers that other states do. You’ll need to have a certain education level and any certificates if you’re opting to specialize. Generally, here’s what the process will look like.

Step 1: Choose a Specialization

You can get a general master’s degree in education, but many students opt to specialize in a certain area depending on where they’d like to teach. Students can choose to specialize in academic areas such as math, science or English. They can also choose the student demographic they’d like to teach, from preschool through college and adult education.

Certain education specializations also help educators do more than just teach. You can specialize in school counseling or special education, among others.

Step 2: Earn Your Online Master's Degree

Once you know where you’d like to specialize, you can choose the right master’s degree. Determine if you want an online-only program or a hybrid option and narrow down your options. Many online master’s in education in PA are affordable programs and customizable to different schedules.

Online master’s programs typically take one to two years, but certain programs can be extended to three or four years depending on the needs of the student.

Step 3: Gain Field Experience

While the coursework for many MEd programs can be completed online, fieldwork may still be necessary to complete your degree. You may be able to secure a graduate assistantship to teach at your college or in a classroom. Most online master’s in education in Pennsylvania require a certain number of hours in a classroom or educational setting.

Step 4: Pass Your State Exams and Become Credentialed

Pennsylvania requires teachers or those working in education to pass several tests before they can begin work in a classroom. Students must pass the Praxis test, which tests general knowledge you learned during your bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

Additionally, teachers must take the Pre-service Academic Performance Assessment (PAPA), which also tests basic skills needed by all teachers.

The Cost of a Master’s in Education in Pennsylvania

While master’s degrees are often valuable, they sometimes come at a significant cost. Earning your master’s adds another two years of debt onto your balance. This isn’t always the best financial decision, particularly for those who aren’t entering high-salary careers.

An online master’s in education offers a more affordable path to a master’s compared to in-person learning. Still, you need a plan to pay for your degree. With a mix of financial aid, student loans and savings, students can cover the costs associated with an online master’s degree.

To get a sense of how much online master’s degrees in education cost, here’s a look at a few different programs:

School Program No. of Credits Est. Resident Tuition
Gwynedd Mercy University MS in Educational Administration – Curriculum and Instruction 33 $24,750
Penn State World Campus MEd in Curriculum and Instruction 30 $30,810
Wilkes University MS in Education – Online Teaching 30 $16,620

Pennsylvania Financial Aid Options for Education Majors

Covering the cost of a master’s in education is no small task. While online programs tend to be more affordable, you’re still paying hundreds of dollars per credit. Thankfully, graduate schools often offer scholarships or fellowships that can help you cut down on out-of-pocket costs.

Students can also take advantage of research or teaching assistantships to cover some of the cost. Additionally, students should take advantage of any financial aid their specific school offers.

Penn State offers merit-based scholarships and need-based scholarships to master’s degree students. Gwynedd Mercy University also offers financial aid of some sort to 100% of its graduate students.

FAQs from Pennsylvania Education Master’s Students

Is an online education degree a worthwhile investment in Pennsylvania?

Many career paths that involve teaching in Pennsylvania require a master’s degree, so it’s often a worthwhile investment. Online-specific programs are typically more affordable than in-person master’s programs because universities don’t need to cover room and board and other costs that come with students on campus.

These programs are also usually customizable, allowing students to adapt coursework to their working and family schedules.

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

Education master’s degrees are not solely for aspiring teachers. They encompass a broad spectrum of career paths and specializations. An MEd can lead to teaching roles, but it also offers avenues like educational leadership and administration, curriculum planning, educational technology, special education, counseling, and higher education.

Does Pennsylvania offer any regional programs for educators?

Through Teach Plus, teachers in Pennsylvania join programs that provide constant support for teachers. These programs help create teachers who are leaders and understand the complex policy that makes up the PA educational system.

Teach Plus offers different program options, including:

  • Pennsylvania Policy Fellowship
  • T3 Program, a teacher-led leadership program
  • Shared Leadership Project
  • Pennsylvania Teacher Network

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

While it’s typically fine if you have a degree outside of Pennsylvania, teachers in Pennsylvania must complete certain state-specific testing before they can officially be hired in an educational capacity. To get a license in Pennsylvania, teachers must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university and must attend a teacher education program that’s approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Can I earn a graduate certificate in education?

Yes, you can earn a graduate certificate in education. Certificates are often short-term, focused programs that provide specialized knowledge and skills in a specific field. For example, there are often certificates for adult education, administration and special education, among other specialties.

Typically, to get accepted into a certificate program, applicants need a bachelor’s degree, and some programs may also require relevant work experience.