Guide to the Best Master’s in Secondary Education Online Programs

Designed with working teachers in mind, master’s in secondary education online programs provide the most flexible way to earn an advanced teaching degree. Learn about standout schools that highlight the newest approaches in the field, and gain practical skills that benefit you and your students.

The best way to teach a topic 10 years ago isn’t necessarily the best way to teach it today. Teaching techniques evolve, new research is vetted, curriculum changes, students change, and society changes.

Earning your secondary education master’s online provides a convenient way to learn about cutting-edge research and new teaching techniques. Gaining knowledge in these areas puts new tools in your teacher’s toolbox and enhances your students’ learning opportunities. Plus, in many states teachers with master’s degrees earn more money.

This guide highlights several flexible and affordable online programs designed especially for working teachers and examines what you can do with a secondary education graduate degree. Keep scrolling to learn more about top programs, popular classes, possible new careers, and financial aid options.

College Spotlights: Best Master’s in Secondary Education Online in 2021

The best master’s in secondary education online programs provide a flexible and affordable academic option for current and future teachers. These programs allow you to maintain personal and professional obligations while tackling your graduate degree.

You’ll find several top online programs highlighted below. These academic options are also a preview of our full ranking, which arrives later this year. Check back to see which schools make the list and which programs might be a good fit for you.

University of Alabama

Through the University of Alabama’s Bama By Distance College of Continuing Studies, working teachers have the chance to earn an M.A. in secondary education 100% online. Focusing on English language arts for grades 6-12, this program takes a close look at how teaching professionals stimulate and challenge students in a positive educational environment.

This online master’s in secondary education comprises 30 credits and allows you to participate in research activities focused on curriculum planning and implementation. Coursework covers educational research, computer-based instructional activities, and modern secondary school programs.

Prospective students must have an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution with a 3.0 GPA in the last 60 hours of coursework. Applicants also must have an Alabama Class B teacher certification in English language arts. In addition to transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose, you must submit GRE or MAT scores.

Georgia Southern University

With its main campus located in Statesboro, Georgia Southern University offers a 100% online master’s in secondary education. Specifically designed for working teachers with a professional level-four teaching certificate, the Georgia Professional Standards Commission approves this degree. Focusing on developmentally appropriate practices, this online M.Ed. degree requires 36 credits for graduation.

Core coursework includes classroom assessment and data literacy, enhancing student performance, and foundations of technology-enabled learning. A good fit for teachers of almost any discipline, concentration-specific classes include biology, chemistry, economics, English, geography, history, math, physics, political science, or general science.

Interested students must have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution with a cumulative undergraduate GPA of at least 2.5. In addition to a completed application, you must submit a personal statement of purpose and have a level-four Georgia teaching certificate. Equivalent out-of-state certificates are accepted. This online program does not require standardized test scores.

Liberty University

Liberty University offers a 100% online master of arts in teaching degree. Focusing on secondary education, this degree blends a survey of educational theory and hands-on teaching skills. Plan to explore current trends plus educational behavior and development.

While many programs specifically support working teachers, Liberty’s leaves the door open for those interested in entering the field. As a result, the curriculum covers foundational topics such as the theories and methodologies of education and practical tools for teaching and classroom management. Core courses include curriculum fundamentals and principles of behavior management.

Students complete 36 credits, which typically takes about a year-and-a-half. Liberty University is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.

Advantages of Earning a Master’s in Secondary Education Online

A master’s in secondary education online can lead to significant professional growth. Whether you’re a seasoned educator or a future teacher, these master’s programs expand career options while offering flexible coursework that won’t upend your life. Several significant advantages to earning an online secondary education master’s include:

  1. Career Advancement

    A graduate degree in secondary education gives you the skills to improve your teaching practice while also focusing on building new curriculum development and administration skills. A master’s degree also makes you more competitive when applying for new teaching jobs and can increase your salary.

  2. Flexibility

    An online degree provides you with the flexibility needed to keep up with your teaching responsibilities while enrolled in a master’s program. These programs are often taught asynchronously, allowing you to complete classwork at your own pace. Many online programs mimic the interactive nature of on-campus learning through message boards and web conferencing apps.

  3. Teacher Certification

    Even though many of these programs support working teachers, others offer a pathway to earn teacher certification. New York University and Liberty University provide students with the experience they need to obtain state-specific teaching certification.

What You’ll Learn in Secondary Education Master’s Online Programs

Most online master’s degrees in secondary education provide the pedagogical and theoretical ideas needed to enhance your teaching toolkit. From curriculum development to behavior management, these degrees offer an examination of the most up-to-date secondary education best practices.

In addition to core coursework, these programs allow you to focus on your area of expertise. The best online programs expose you to contemporary academic research that benefits both students and teachers alike. Keep reading to learn more about popular courses and specializations offered in these online master’s degrees.

Popular Courses

  • Curriculum Fundamentals

    Serving as an introduction to the critical ideas involved in curriculum design and development, this course explores various curriculum models. Students evaluate multiple educational models and use academic research to bolster their arguments. They also gain hands-on experience crafting secondary education curricula that meets standards and mirrors current best practices.

  • Principles of Behavior Management

    In this online course, students explore behavior management principles by doing a close examination of contemporary research. Through an emphasis on positive approaches to dealing with behavioral issues in the classroom, you’ll also gain practical tools to find solutions that promote student and teacher well-being.

  • Classroom Assessment and Data Literacy

    By emphasizing data-based strategies for measuring student progress, this course familiarizes you with practical methods for collecting that data. You’ll explore how to design data-collecting models and how data analysis can enhance the student experience. Particular emphasis is placed on the interpretation of assessment data and its effect on instructional decision-making.

  • Enhancing Student Performance

    Classrooms are not static environments, and the best teachers adjust and adapt teaching methods and mirror the specific needs of a particular class. This course emphasizes the tools needed to effectively adapt assessments, instruction, and resources to maximize learning and student achievement.

  • Trends in Content Areas

    This course gives you the tools to address current cultural, political, and technological trends within various content fields. You’ll examine the theoretical underpinnings of trending topics while also delving into pedagogical best practices within your specialization. You’ll also explore the ways that past teaching methods evolved alongside cultural shifts and societal changes.

Specialization Tracks

Within an online master’s in secondary education, coursework specific to your teaching area personalizes your academic experience. Whether you’re a history or science teacher, online programs allow you to gain both broad theoretical knowledge and nuanced skills within your area of expertise. When researching potential grad schools, make sure each offers a specialization in your field. We’ve highlighted several common specializations below.

  • Secondary History/Social Studies

    Prospective teachers and current teachers with a background in history and social studies tackle coursework to supplement prior academic knowledge in the field while focusing on pedagogical and theoretical trends that can positively affect their classrooms. This specialization is primarily for educators teaching government/civics, U.S. history, and/or world history.

  • English as a Second Language (ESL)

    Communicating effectively with students is essential to their academic growth. This specialization supports educators interested in enhancing classroom instruction through hands-on techniques that improve the classroom experience for non-English-speaking students. This online concentration focuses on the innovative methods used to teach students with varying English language acquisition levels.

  • Secondary English/Language Arts

    An online secondary education master’s focusing on language arts explores how teachers create stimulating and challenging educational environments while engaging students within the complicated world of the English language. This concentration focuses mostly on the planning, implementation, and analysis of new curricula. Master’s students also explore the ways that new technologies can improve teaching methods.

  • Educational Leadership

    Distinct from an educational leadership master’s degree, this specialization allows students to augment pedagogical and theoretical coursework with specialized coursework in educational leadership. This specialization covers topics such as instructional strategies, assessment analysis, and teacher leadership. Educational leadership coursework includes constructivist approaches and technology in education.

  • Secondary Science

    This online specialization prepares teachers with additional scientific knowledge and teaching methods to tackle various subjects. You’ll take courses such as science education methods, teaching comprehensive ocean science, and interdisciplinary earth science for teachers. Core curricula blend both pedagogical and science-based coursework.

Accreditation for Online Secondary Education Master’s Degree Programs

The best online master’s degrees in secondary education boast accreditation from both regional and education-based accrediting bodies. Regional accreditation ensures that your school is regularly assessed on everything from academics to financials. Additionally, a school’s accreditation status affects your ability to transfer or gain admission to other programs.

Education-specific accreditation is equally important. The United States Department of Education, along with the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), oversees accrediting institutions and sets various standards that ensure you’re getting your money’s worth.

This can’t be highlighted enough: enrolling in an accredited program is really important. The U.S. Department of Education and CHEA keep an updated list of accredited programs, so check any program you’re interested in to be sure it’s on the list.

What You Can Do with a Master’s Degree in Secondary Education

Most teachers in secondary education didn’t enter the field for the money. That said, earning a master’s degree can boost career options and your earning potential. Even so, the main focus is on honing your teaching skills and keeping you up-to-date on trends in the field.

Both middle and high school teachers earned median annual salaries of about $60,000 in 2019. Graduates with a master’s in secondary education may be eligible for certain administrative positions and sometimes take on careers as instructional coordinators or community college teachers. Keep reading to learn more about what you can do with an online master’s in secondary education.

High School Teacher

High school teachers play a critical role in preparing their students for life after high school. These professionals plan lessons, teach classes, and assess student progress. Whether in front of an entire class or one-on-one, these teachers work with students to improve their academic skills. High school teachers also prepare students for standardized tests and AP exams.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$40,540 $61,660 $99,660

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Career and Technical Education Teacher

Career and technical education teachers focus on a variety of career-oriented education fields. These teaching professionals prepare students for careers in culinary arts and computer programming. Career and technical educators play critical roles in ensuring that students possess the technical knowledge to excel in future academic pursuits.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$35,830 $58,110 $96,730

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Middle School and High School Principal

Middle school and high school principals coordinate curricula, oversee staff, and manage their school’s daily activities. Striving to provide students with a safe and productive educational environment, these professionals counsel students, observe and evaluate teachers, and manage budgets. Principals rely on academic and professional experience to lead their schools.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$63,070 $96,400 $148,630

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Middle School Teacher

Typically working with sixth to eighth graders, middle school teachers provide a vital, foundational education that prepares students for high school. These teaching professionals create lesson plans, teach classes, and evaluate student performance. Middle school teachers communicate with parents and students regarding progress and prepare learners for standardized tests.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$39,990 $59,660 $96,280

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Instructional Coordinator

These professionals develop educational materials and work with teachers and administrators to implement new academic standards. Instructional coordinators also review classroom materials, teaching standards, and test data. They often introduce teachers to new content and recommend teaching methods to improve student progress.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$38,260 $66,290 $103,790

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021

Costs and Financial Aid for Online Master’s Degrees in Secondary Education

A graduate degree is an investment, and these degrees can result in enhanced career options and higher pay. While an online master’s in secondary education is considerably less expensive than some other degrees, having an understanding of your total financial commitment is critical. Ensure you reach out to your school and find out if you’re eligible for any financial aid opportunities.

Additionally, there are many scholarship opportunities for educators seeking a master’s degree. Organizations like the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association, the National Science Teaching Association, and the Association for Science Teacher Education all award annual scholarships for STEM-based teachers.

What Your Online Master’s in Secondary Education Could Cost

School Name No. of Credits Cost/Credit Total Tuition Cost

Ball State University



$13,470 in-state
$19,830 out-of-state

University of Alabama




California State University-





FAQs About Earning Your Master’s in Secondary Education Online

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

Admissions requirements for online master’s in secondary education programs vary from school to school. Some programs are specifically designed for working teachers, while others, like the Master of Arts in Teaching-Secondary Education at Liberty University, are open to students interested in entering the education field. Admissions standards like GPA and test scores differ between schools. Make sure you take the time to review the requirements for each of your prospective schools. Review their admissions checklists, and if you have any questions, reach out to an admissions counselor.

Here’s a list of items that your completed application package will most likely need to include:

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Teaching certificate/licensure
  • Undergraduate transcripts
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement of purpose
  • Resume laying out academic, professional, and extracurricular activities
  • GRE test scores
  • Cumulative undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0

How long will it take to finish my master’s in secondary education online?

Plan to spend anywhere from about one to five years earning your online master’s in secondary education. Your status as a full-time or part-time student has a significant impact on how long it will take to earn the degree. Additionally, student-teaching and thesis requirements can affect how long you’re enrolled. Cal State Fullerton’s program takes about 21 months, whereas the program at the University of Southern California takes one year.

Can I earn a master’s in secondary education 100% online or do I need to visit campus?

Many online master’s in secondary education are offered 100% online. The best of these programs use cutting-edge technology to engage students and create an online environment that echoes many traditional, on-campus learning attributes. These programs use web conferencing, live-streamed lectures, and message boards to keep students engaged. Additionally, schools like Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Fitchburg State University in Maryland offer hybrid learning, allowing students to take classes online and on campus. Regardless of whether you’re in-person or online, all will require you to participate in an in-person student teaching internship.

Does an online master’s in secondary education prepare you for initial teaching certification?

Many online master’s in secondary education programs require incoming students to hold teaching certification. While most of these programs are designed specifically for working teachers, some welcome career changers interested in entering the field. Liberty University, Cal State Fullerton, and Mississippi College are open to students who don’t have their teacher certification or licensure. Students at Liberty University earn state teaching licensure in fewer than two years.