Best Online Master’s in Elementary Education Programs

Marisa UpsonASO Rankings Team
Updated September 13, 2023
Edited by
Reviewed by
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An online master’s in elementary education program can beef up your classroom skills and provide administrative opportunities. Many offer specializations, allowing you to direct your education toward your career goals.

You may also find high demand along with higher pay. According to Annenberg Institute at Brown University, there were at least 36,000 unfilled teaching positions as of August 2022.

Additionally, underqualified teachers hold about 163,000 positions.

The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) reports that teachers with a master’s earn, on average, an additional $2,760 their first year, compared to those with a bachelor’s.

This page helps you explore the possibilities. Learn about the top-ranked online master’s in elementary education programs and decide if earning this degree is right for you.

Why Should You Earn Your Master’s in Elementary Education Online?

Earning a master’s in elementary education prepares you for specialized roles and leadership opportunities. Many programs also offer concentrations, enabling you to focus on your area of interest, whether leadership, special education, or literacy instruction.

You can also increase your earning potential. According to the NCTQ, 88% of large school districts offer increased pay for teachers with a master’s degree. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports that 51% of public school teachers in 2020-2021 held a master’s degree.

Additionally, some programs are designed for those seeking to change careers. If you’re excited about the possibility of helping children reach their full potential, a master’s in elementary education may help you achieve your goal.

The challenge for many teachers and career-changers is fitting college into an already busy schedule. That’s where an online elementary education program comes in. The following represent some of the top benefits:

  • Flexibility: Self-paced classes let you fit coursework into your schedule. Live online scheduled classes are ideal if you learn better in a structured environment.
  • Cost-Effective: Online programs may save you money. Some programs do not charge out-of-state fees. You may also save on relocation expenses, college fees, and lost wages.
  • Length: You can find online programs offering accelerated or part-time options. These programs usually range from 1-2 years.
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Top 10 Online Master’s in Elementary Education Programs

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#1 Best Online Master’s in Elementary Education Programs

Brenau University

  • Location-markerGainesville, GA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$30,000
  • Out-of-state$30,000
  • Retention Rate53%
  • Acceptance Rate92%
  • Students Enrolled2,813
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment70%
  • AccreditationYes
#2 Best Online Master’s in Elementary Education Programs

University of West Alabama

  • Location-markerLivingston, AL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$9,100
  • Out-of-state$18,200
  • Retention Rate63%
  • Acceptance Rate93%
  • Students Enrolled5,734
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment82%
  • AccreditationYes
#3 Best Online Master’s in Elementary Education Programs

University of North Dakota

  • Location-markerGrand Forks, ND
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$8,540
  • Out-of-state$12,810
  • Retention Rate81%
  • Acceptance Rate87%
  • Students Enrolled13,615
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment83%
  • AccreditationYes
#4 Best Online Master’s in Elementary Education Programs

University of North Carolina at Pembroke

  • Location-markerPembroke, NC
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$1,000
  • Out-of-state$5,000
  • Retention Rate71%
  • Acceptance Rate91%
  • Students Enrolled8,262
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment90%
  • AccreditationYes
#5 Best Online Master’s in Elementary Education Programs

Delta State University

  • Location-markerCleveland, MS
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$7,951
  • Out-of-state$7,951
  • Retention Rate67%
  • Acceptance Rate100%
  • Students Enrolled2,999
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment76%
  • AccreditationYes
#6 Best Online Master’s in Elementary Education Programs

University of Louisiana at Monroe

  • Location-markerMonroe, LA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$5,788
  • Out-of-state$17,888
  • Retention Rate74%
  • Acceptance Rate78%
  • Students Enrolled8,888
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment70%
  • AccreditationYes
#7 Best Online Master’s in Elementary Education Programs

University of South Alabama

  • Location-markerMobile, AL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$7,896
  • Out-of-state$15,792
  • Retention Rate76%
  • Acceptance Rate73%
  • Students Enrolled14,224
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment61%
  • AccreditationYes
#8 Best Online Master’s in Elementary Education Programs

American University

  • Location-markerWashington, DC
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$50,542
  • Out-of-state$50,542
  • Retention Rate85%
  • Acceptance Rate39%
  • Students Enrolled14,001
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment33%
  • AccreditationYes
#9 Best Online Master’s in Elementary Education Programs

Chaminade University of Honolulu

  • Location-markerHonolulu, HI
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$26,800
  • Out-of-state$26,800
  • Retention Rate81%
  • Acceptance Rate89%
  • Students Enrolled2,208
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment61%
  • AccreditationYes
#10 Best Online Master’s in Elementary Education Programs

Nova Southeastern University

  • Location-markerFort Lauderdale, FL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$32,370
  • Out-of-state$32,370
  • Retention Rate80%
  • Acceptance Rate76%
  • Students Enrolled20,888
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment50%
  • AccreditationYes

What Do You Learn in an Online Elementary Education Master’s Program?

Online elementary education master’s programs focus on instructional skills and innovative, advanced teaching methods. They also explore education administration, leadership, and curriculum development. You may learn about educational policy and how to advocate for your students.

While specific courses vary by program, the following represent general topics you can expect to learn about in an elementary education master’s program:

  • Technology and Education
  • Educational Psychology
  • Current Trends in Elementary Education
  • Talent Development
  • Alternative Teaching Models
  • Multicultural Teaching and Learning

Additionally, master’s in elementary education programs may allow you to choose a specialization that aligns with your career goals. Examples of common concentrations include:

  • Education Administration
  • Education Leadership
  • Educational Technology
  • Theater and Dance

What’s the Difference Between Licensure and Non-Licensure Master’s Programs in Elementary Education?

There are two different tracks in master’s programs in elementary education. The teacher certification or licensure track is designed for students who need to obtain their teaching credentials.

If you’re going into teaching and don’t have a background in education, this is your track. All states require teacher certification in public schools. Additionally, if you’re a current teacher looking to work in a specialized field, such as special education, a licensure program is required.

The non-licensure track is designed for licensed teaching professionals or those who want to work in roles that do not require teaching credentials. This applies to teachers or professionals considering positions in administration or as analysts.

States set their own licensure and teaching regulations. So, make sure to understand your state’s requirements before selecting a program.

Did You Know…

According to the NCES, 45% of public schools had one or more teaching vacancies as of October 2022.

Does Accreditation Matter for Elementary Education Master’s Programs?

Accreditation is essential. Colleges and universities receive institutional accreditation from third-party organizations recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) or the U.S. Department of Education (USDE).

These agencies perform an extensive review, ensuring a high-quality education. Institutional accreditation also affects your ability to transfer credits and eligibility for federal financial aid.

Specific programs can also be accredited. Programmatic accreditation ensures the program meets rigorous standards. In many states, you must graduate from an accredited program to obtain a teaching license or certification.

The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) and the Association for Advancing Quality in Educator Preparation (AAQEP) accredit online master’s in elementary education programs and are recognized by the CHEA.

What Can You Do With a Master’s in Elementary Education?

Graduates with a master’s in elementary education find numerous opportunities beyond careers as a kindergarten or elementary school teacher. They may focus on concentrations that offer specialized skills necessary for special education or English as a second language teachers. They may also work as local or school district administrators.

Curriculum specialists or instructional coordinators usually require a master’s degree. These specialists develop curriculum, suggest textbooks, and help teachers improve their skills. Education policy analysts may research complex problems, recommend solutions, and evaluate the effectiveness of new or existing policies. These analysts may work for government agencies, school districts, or nonprofits.

Popular Careers in Elementary Education
Job TitleMedian Annual Salary (May 2022)Job Growth Rate (2021-2031)
Kindergarten Teacher$60,4904%
Elementary School Teacher$61,6904%
Special Education Teacher$63,5604%
School Principal$101,3205%
Childcare Center Director$49,6908%

Frequently Asked Questions About Elementary Education Master’s Degrees

question-mark-circleWhat are the admission requirements for an elementary education master’s program?

Applicants need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. Many programs require a 2.75 – 3.0 GPA. Additionally, you may need to have a teaching certificate, depending on the track. Some schools may also require GRE test scores. Applicants submit up to three letters of recommendation, a resume, and a graduate school admissions essay or statement of goals and objectives.

question-mark-circleHow much does an online master’s in elementary education cost?

According to the NCES, the average yearly cost for graduate tuition and fees at a public institution was $12,394 in 2020. At private nonprofit institutions, that number rose to $28,445. At the low end, you can find online programs with estimated tuitions as low as $10,800 for the total program.

question-mark-circleHow long does an online master’s in elementary education take?

On average, it takes about two years to complete a master’s in elementary education. However, thanks to accelerated online options, it may take as little as one year. For those taking courses part time, these programs may take up to three years.

question-mark-circleIs a master’s in elementary education worth it?

Whether this degree is worth it depends on your career goals. If you’d like to increase your earnings, pursue leadership or administration roles, or transition to another teaching position, the answer is yes. According to the NCTQ, teachers with a master’s earn an average of $2,760 more during their first year of teaching than those with a bachelor’s degree at the peak of their earnings.

question-mark-circleWhat is the hardest elementary grade to teach?

Each grade level possesses its own unique challenges. Children enter kindergarten with vastly different literacy levels, from knowing all their letters and numbers to not knowing any. They’re also just starting to learn social skills.

Students in the fifth grade may struggle with self-esteem issues and growing academic expectations. The hardest grade to teach is largely determined by your strengths as a teacher and personal preferences.

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Page last reviewed August 17, 2023. All rankings and school descriptions on this page were created and reviewed independently by the ASO Rankings Team.

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