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Top Online Master’s Programs in Teaching (MAT)

Earning your Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) is one of the best ways to advance your educational career. Take the first step in your college search by learning about 2024’s top degrees and what to expect from an online MAT program.

Author: Kathleen Curtis

Editor: Staff Editor

Search hundreds of schools for the master’s YOU want……

If you’re passionate about education, working towards your master’s in teaching is a chance to expand your skills and prepare for the next step in your career. Online MAT programs offer affordable tuition and the flexibility to complete your studies without putting your career on hold. And after graduation, you can take your new degree straight to the bank: in 2021, public school teachers with a MAT earned nearly $15,000 more annually than those holding a bachelor’s.

If you’re ready to commit to earning your MAT online, we’re here to talk you through your college search and set you up with a program that meets your goals. Along the way, we’ll cover what to expect from an online program and take a peek at your future paycheck. Stick with us until the end and we’ll wrap up with the answers to any lingering questions.

Best Online Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) Programs for 2024

With hundreds of online MAT programs to choose from, you may be wondering how to begin your research. Understandably, you want a program that is affordable, reputable, meets your interests, and offers the support you need to succeed. Using this criterion as our benchmark, we’ve researched and ranked today’s online MAT programs by tuition cost, student outcomes, and options for specialization. Keep reading to see which schools deliver.

About the ranking
1
Sioux City, Iowa
Type:
Private not-for-profit
Cost:
$

Morningside University offers a robust master’s degree for those interested in enhancing their knowledge of autism education. In this fully online program, current licensed teachers learn the knowledge and skills to work with students on the spectrum. The curriculum consists of courses in autism education in inclusive settings, for those with intensive needs, and during assessments. The program also has a heavy research component, meaning students can explore educational frameworks, and the degree culminates in a final capstone research project. Students also take courses in instructional technology and ethical issues in education to round out their degree.

Program Highlights:

Master of Arts in Autism Education

  • Credits: 32
  • Length: Varies
  • Mode: Online
  • Accreditation: HLC

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation HLC
2
Lynchburg, Virginia
Type:
Private not-for-profit
Cost:
$

Liberty University is well regarded for offering flexible online degrees, and its master’s in education is no exception. This teaching program prepares students for teaching licensure and is designed for those with an undergraduate degree in another field who would like to move into teaching. Because of this focus, much of the curriculum centers on general education principles and strategies. Students also choose from specializations including elementary education, middle school teaching, high school teaching, or special education. For added flexibility, students take courses on eight-week semesters. Shorter semesters provide more opportunity to adjust a student’s courseload based on work and personal commitments.

Program Highlights:

Master of Arts in Teaching

  • Credits: 36
  • Length: 18 months
  • Mode: Online
  • Accreditation: CAEP

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation SACSCOC
3
Livingston, Alabama
Type:
Public
Cost:
$

Working teachers interested in progressing their current career or individuals considering a career change to education may want to consider the online master’s program from the University of West Alabama. The program has two options: a 37-credit degree with Alabama MAT certification, which is CAEP-accredited and has some in-person components; and a 33-credit MAT non-certification degree, which is SACSCOC-accredited and can be completed entirely online. After taking three foundational courses in education theory, students take the rest of their coursework in one of six subject areas offered at the University of West Alabama. These include biology, math, social studies, science, history, and English.

Program Highlights:

Master of Arts in Teaching (Certification or Non-Certification)

  • Credits: 33-37
  • Length: One year
  • Mode: Online
  • Accreditation: CAEP, SACSCOC

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation SACSCOC
4
Type:
Public
Cost:
$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation SACSCOC
5
Storm Lake, Iowa
Type:
Private not-for-profit
Cost:
$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation HLC
6
Fresno, California
Type:
Private not-for-profit
Cost:
$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation WSCUC
7
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Type:
Private not-for-profit
Cost:
$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation HLC
8
Milledgeville, Georgia
Type:
Public
Cost:
$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation SACSCOC
9
Type:
Public
Cost:
$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation SACSCOC
10
Searcy, Arkansas
Type:
Private not-for-profit
Cost:
$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation HLC
11
Wilmore, Kentucky
Type:
Private not-for-profit
Cost:
$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation SACSCOC
12
Columbus, Georgia
Type:
Public
Cost:
$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation SACSCOC
13
Cape Girardeau, Missouri
Type:
Public
Cost:
$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation HLC
14
Cleveland, Mississippi
Type:
Public
Cost:
$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation SACSCOC
15
Jonesboro, Arkansas
Type:
Public
Cost:
$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation HLC
16
Gainesville, Georgia
Type:
Private not-for-profit
Cost:
$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation SACSCOC
17
Clemson, South Carolina
Type:
Public
Cost:
$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation SACSCOC
18
Bowling Green, Kentucky
Type:
Public
Cost:
$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation SACSCOC
19
Jackson, Mississippi
Type:
Public
Cost:
$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation SACSCOC
20
Richmond, Kentucky
Type:
Public
Cost:
$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation SACSCOC
21
Type:
Public
Cost:
$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation SACSCOC
22
Type:
Public
Cost:
$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation HLC
23
Type:
Public
Cost:
$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation NWCCU
24
Type:
Public
Cost:
$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation SACSCOC
25
Flagstaff, Arizona
Type:
Public
Cost:
$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation HLC
26
Carrollton, Georgia
Type:
Public
Cost:
$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation SACSCOC
27
La Mirada, California
Type:
Private not-for-profit
Cost:
$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation WSCUC
28
Charlotte, North Carolina
Type:
Public
Cost:
$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation SACSCOC
29
Type:
Private not-for-profit
Cost:
$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation WSCUC
30
Jackson, Mississippi
Type:
Private not-for-profit
Cost:
$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation SACSCOC

Inside Look: Online MAT Programs

Our rankings list is a great resource for potential programs. But before you get lost in a browser full of tabs, let’s slow down and take a closer look at a few standout programs. Getting into the details can help you get a feel for what to expect when pursuing your MAT online and help you focus your search. Below, we share the details of three excellent programs. From there, we’ll go on to talk through online MAT curriculums and what type of coursework you can expect.

American University

American University

American University offers a Master of Arts in Teaching online to prepare you for elementary education roles. The degree consists of 33 credits and 600 hours of classroom hours in your home state. You can complete the program in fewer than two years.

Designed to incorporate 21st-century teaching methods, American University’s degree focuses on antiracist pedagogy, practice-based teacher education, and science-backed teaching methods. New students enter the program at the same time, creating a cohort experience. The curriculum consists of studies in effective teaching for diverse students, foundations of education, and educational psychology theories. Plan to spend eight to 11 hours per week attending classes and completing assignments, two of which require synchronous digital attendance.

Applicants for American University’s master’s in teaching online do not need an undergraduate teaching degree or teaching experience. The program meets requirements for teaching licensure in elementary education in Washington D.C. Check your state to be sure it meets requirements for teaching there as well.

University of Southern California

USC’s Rossier School of Education provides an online MAT program that ranks among the top in the nation. USC uses synchronous coursework to help you stay engaged with peers and professors. Coursework is complemented through field experiences near your place of residence, allowing you to build real-world experience and prepare for licensure. The program enables you to earn credentials in California, including that for education specialists, bilingual authorization in Spanish, and gifted education. You can also choose from a multiple subject teaching concentration (for K-6 education) or a single subject teaching concentration (for secondary school).

Full-time master’s in teaching online students spend 11-15 months completing degree requirements, typically, part-time students can graduate within 20 months. Admission requirements include a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited school, 3.0 or higher GPA, personal statement, short answer responses, resume, recommendation letters, transcripts, and CSET credential exam registration.

Georgia Southern University

Georgia Southern University provides a master’s in teaching online program with concentrations in elementary, health and physical, middle grades, secondary, and special education. A concentration in Spanish education (P-12) is also offered but requires some in-person learning. Regardless of concentration, plan to participate in several field experiences, including a student teaching internship. All field experiences must take place in Georgia.

Depending on your concentration, you’ll complete between 36 and 45 credit hours that incorporate a mix of specialized coursework and general education classes. Regardless of your focus, you can expect to graduate with a strong foundation in culturally responsive pedagogy, classroom management, and instruction-based assessments. Admission requirements for GSU’s offering include a bachelor’s from a regionally accredited school, 2.5 or higher GPA, GACE Assessment scores, Georgia Educators Ethics Assessment passing score, disposition assessment, and evidence of qualifying for the Georgia provisional certification. International students also need to submit TOEFL or IELTS scores.

Advantages of Earning a Master’s in Teaching Online

You may be wondering why you should earn an online master’s degree in teaching, particularly if you already have an education bachelor’s degree and licensure. Reasons for taking this step include the potential for higher salary and leadership roles and the opportunity to specialize. Other advantages include the following.

  1. Flexibility

    Teachers have notoriously busy schedules, making the idea of completing a master’s degree seem overwhelming. Pursuing your degree online allows you to avoid commuting, and many online programs also provide asynchronous coursework you can complete at times best suited to your schedule.

  2. Affordability

    Many online MAT programs allow everyone to pay the same tuition rate as in-state learners, regardless of residency. Additionally, you can avoid many of the campus-based fees your on-campus peers pay by studying via distance learning.

  3. Career Potential

    Earning a master’s in teaching signals to employees that you are serious about your career and want to continue improving and advancing. It also qualifies you for roles unavailable to those with bachelor’s degrees alone.

What You’ll Learn in an Online MAT Program

Online teaching master’s programs offer a comprehensive curriculum covering general teaching topics and subject and grade level specific studies. Core topics include classroom management strategies, research methods, and teaching diverse learners. The specialized courses you take depend on your concentration.

Most online MAT programs culminate in a semester-long student teaching internship. You may also be required to complete some type of comprehensive capstone demonstrating all you learned while enrolled. Some popular courses in these programs are described below.

Popular Courses

  • Educational Psychology

    Taken during the first year of studies, this foundational course examines the variety of teaching and learning theories currently used and how they impact learning, motivation, outcomes, and assessments. You also study contemporary educational psychology issues to see where the field currently stands and where it is moving.

  • Differentiated Instruction

    Designed for teachers wanting to work in middle and secondary education settings, this course looks at how to build an inclusive classroom that caters to every student’s learning needs. Students become familiar with a variety of instructional strategies and best practices for supporting differentiated learning.

  • Child and Adolescent Development

    By understanding the standard trajectory of student development across their school years, you can better tailor teaching and learning strategies to students’ needs. This course familiarizes you with contemporary strategies and theories around childhood development, emphasizing translating that knowledge into classroom management.

  • Classroom Diversity

    With today’s classrooms becoming increasingly diverse in areas of gender, religion, language, race, and learning styles, it is essential to create classrooms that make each student feel known and welcome. This course looks at common diversity issues and how to address them through best practices.

  • Research Methods

    Even if you plan to work in the classroom, having a foundational understanding of educational research methods is key to reading and extrapolating information from emerging research. This course looks at ethical considerations, educational research language, citations, plagiarism, and inquiry methods.

Specialization Pathways

The world of K-12 education encompasses a broad array of grade levels, subject areas, and student populations. Because of this, online MAT programs commonly offer specializations for focusing your studies. A concentration develops mastery in your chosen area and helps ensure you find a job matching your interests and skills. The specializations spotlighted below give an idea of the range of those available. Review concentration offerings at several schools to find your perfect match.

  • Reading Education

    Designed for K-12 educators wanting to work in reading/language arts, reading literacy programs familiarize you with state-level competency requirements and reviews contemporary theories and methodologies for teaching reading skills. Typical classes include theoretical models of reading, children’s literature, and early childhood reading.

  • Special Education

    If you want to work with exceptional learners, a special education concentration provides the training needed to seek K-12 licensure after graduation. This option covers behavior management application, evaluation and assessment of exceptional learners, and the nature and needs in special education.

  • Teacher Leader

    This specialization gives you the skills and qualifications needed to serve as an educator, mentor and leader. You study topics like teacher support in low or under-performing areas, peer mentorship and coaching, community engagement strategies, and change and organizational development.

  • Bilingual Education

    The bilingual education specialization supports teachers wanting to work with students whose first/native language is not English. Besides looking at language acquisition methodologies, course content covers current issues in language minority education, Indo-Chicano cultures and pedagogy, and ESL methods for content literacy.

  • Content Areas

    If you want to work in middle or high school education, you may want to specialize in a content area. Options for these vary by state and institution but commonly include art, English, health science education, history, mathematics, science, or other common subjects taught at these levels. Many graduate students who pursue a subject area specialization choose to simultaneously work toward a graduate certificate like instructional design, which qualifies them to apply their skills at a program-wide or administrative level.

Accreditation for Online Teaching Master’s Programs

Make sure the online MAT program you attend is accredited. Generally, state education boards require the completion of an accredited teacher training program in order to earn your teaching license. Further, your credits from an unaccredited program aren’t likely to be accepted if you decide to transfer to a new program. The bottom line is that attending an accredited program is the best way to ensure that you are receiving a quality education that will help you achieve your long-term goals.

Accreditation comes in two forms: institutional and programmatic. At the school level, you want a college with regional accreditation from one of six bodies approved by the U.S. Department of Education. At the programmatic level, look for online master’s in teaching degrees accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation ( CAEP).

If you’re unsure whether a particular school or program holds the proper type of accreditation, check the U.S. Department of Education’s Database of Postsecondary Institutions and Programs.

What You Can Do with a Master’s in Teaching

While a bachelor’s degree can prepare you for a teaching license, it does not guarantee access to leadership roles or higher-paying salaries like a master’s degree can. 2024 projections show that job opportunities for teachers are increasing slightly across all specialties. So this is a great time to invest in developing your skills and earning new certifications.

Teaching jobs offer daily opportunities to make a difference, while still offering solid earnings potential, especially for teachers with a master’s or higher. Check out some of the most popular jobs for graduates with MATs below.

Kindergarten or Elementary School Teacher

These teachers play a pivotal role in young students’ lives, covering introductory topics and teaching plenty of social skills along the way. In addition to planning lessons in multiple subject areas, they also teach students to interact with peers and observe areas of excellence and needed improvement. Depending on your preferred age group and goals, you might opt for a graduate degree in elementary education or early childhood education to prepare you to meet the needs of our youngest students.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile

$45,470

$61,620

$100,020

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2022

Middle School Teacher

Middle school teachers educate students at a precarious transitional point and ensure they receive the educational and emotional support needed to thrive. They create lesson plans, conduct assessments, teach lessons, set exams and papers, and grade assignments. They also communicate regularly with parents and other educational staff on student progress.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile

$45,910

$62,310

$100,570

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2022

High School Teacher

High school teachers work with students during critical years as they transition into adulthood, either beginning work or continuing to college. They provide advanced subject instruction, grade assignments, prepare learners for standardized tests, consult with parents, and write recommendation letters.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile

$46,480

$62,930

$101,710

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2022

Special Education Teacher

These education professionals support students with emotional, learning, mental, and/or physical disabilities. They create inclusive, differentiated lesson plans that meet the needs of exceptional learners. They also implement IEPs, track student progress, provide supervision, and plan school activities.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile

$45,780

$62,950

$102,450

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2022

Elementary, Middle, or High School Principal

Principalships include managing staff and school calendars, overseeing budgetary planning, providing student discipline, and meeting with parents. Principals also create professional development opportunities for teaching and administrative staff and prepare standardized test reports.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile

$64,690

$101,320

$158,770

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2022

Costs and Financial Aid for Online Master’s Degrees in Teaching

Even if you find an affordable online MAT program, you may still not be able to pay for it out of pocket. Lining up financial aid before you enroll is critical if you want to graduate without loads of debt. Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) ensures you receive consideration for federal loans, grants, and work-study funds.

You should also investigate scholarships offered by individual universities, private foundations, and other teaching organizations. Some colleges also offer fellowship or work-study opportunities, and some employers provide tuition assistance.

What Your Online Master’s in Teaching Could Cost

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

28

$2,201

$61,628

36–45

$358

$12,888–$16,110

31

$536

$16,620

Frequently Asked Questions About Master’s in Teaching Online Programs

What are the admissions requirements for an online MAT program?

As with other components of an online MAT program, admission requirements vary among institutions. To be certain of what you will need, check with individual program pages. Common requirements include:

  • Completed application and fee payment
  • PRAXIS exam scores
  • Official transcripts
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Professional resume
  • Statement of purpose
  • GRE scores
  • Criminal background check
  • Admissions interview

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

How long it takes to finish your online MAT program depends on several factors. Enrolling full- or part-time impacts your timeline, as does any specialization and previous professional experience. At Liberty University, for instance, the MAT program offers 36, 45, and 51 credit tracks.

The shorter program, which lasts about 18 months, supports those already working as teachers but who want to earn the credentials needed to expand their teaching areas. The 45-credit program offers students the chance to pursue additional endorsements and training. Similarly, the 51-hour track makes space to earn multiple endorsements before graduation.

Experienced educators may find shorter programs sufficient to meet their needs, while new teachers may benefit from the extra experience-based learning opportunities afforded by longer programs.

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

Many master’s in teaching online programs allow you to complete all coursework requirements without ever setting foot on campus. However, every program requires participation in field experiences, including a student teaching internship. Some programs require students to complete the experience in the same state as the school while others allow you to meet these requirements at a school near you.

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

Pursuing an online teaching master’s program from a properly accredited institution does qualify you for initial teaching certification. However, many online MAT programs lead to certification only in specific states. If you plan to attend a program outside your state of residence, make sure the licensure qualifications extend to where you plan to teach.