Types of Education Master’s Degrees

Find Graduate Programs
Types of Education Master's Degrees

When scrolling through a list of master’s degrees in education, it’s easy to get confused. Whether you already have teaching experience or have just earned your undergraduate degree, earning a Master of Education (MEd) or Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) may help you expand your knowledge and jumpstart your career.

The problem is that there are so many options.

Luckily, we’ve broken down the types of master’s degree programs available in education and offer a couple programs in each field to help you find the perfect program for you!

Sponsored List of Education Master’s Programs

Graduate SchoolEducation Master’s ProgramPossible Specializations
George Washington UniversityMEd in Curriculum and InstructionReading and literacy, elementary education, secondary education
Ashford UniversityOnline Masters in Curriculum and InstructionInstructional strategies
West Virginia UniversityMA in Elementary and MA in Secondary EducationDual MA and certification track, Advanced MA in Elementary
Walden UniversityMasters in K-12 EducationSTEM learning, special education, elementary literacy
Purdue Global UniversityMS in Higher Educationcollege administration, leadership, college teaching, student affairs
Canisius CollegeMS in Higher Education and Student Affairs Administrationhigher education, student administration
Notre Dame de Namur UniversityMA in School Administrationlegal, social, political aspects of education
Fairleigh Dickinson UniversityMA in Educational LeadershipEducational Leadership
Colorado State University – Global CampusMEd in Education and Human Resources StudiesAdult education and training specialization
Northcentral UniversityAdult Learning and Workforce Education Master’sAdult learning

List of Master’s Degrees in Education and the Grad Schools That Offer Them

There are many different types of master’s degrees in education and even more specializations and concentrations. One of the best ways to make sense of all these options is to think about your professional goals and what you’re trying to accomplish before you earn your master in education.

Are you looking to shape educational policy or simply strengthen your classroom prowess? Either way, there are masters in education options for you.

Check out the list of online and on-campus programs below to compare the different types of MEd programs.

Curriculum and Instruction Master’s Degrees

If you’re interested in educational theory and want to help other educators be as effective as possible, MEd, MS, or MAT in curriculum and instruction programs analyze the elements to create and teach effective curriculum.

What You’ll Learn

Students in a masters in curriculum and instruction program analyze how to design, implement, and assess the effectiveness of course series and curricula. You’ll study how to analyze school-wide test results and other student achievement data.

You’ll also examine how to design instruction for specific areas of study, such as STEM disciplines, or for student populations with specific needs, such as English language learners or students with individualized education programs (IEPs).

Common Courses

Your specific curriculum will be determined by your area of study, but there are several core courses you can expect, such as:

  • Educational Theory
  • Quantitative Research
  • Classroom Assessment
  • Multicultural Education

Data analysis is an important component in the field, as professionals track the success, or lack thereof, of curriculum-based data. As a result, many programs include statistics requirements.

Check out some of the curriculum and instruction partner programs below.

The George Washington University

The MEd in Curriculum and Instruction at George Washington is designed to accommodate working professional schedules, as there is a rolling start in the fall, spring, or summer semesters, and classes meet once per week in the late afternoon or evening.

In addition to three core courses, students select an individual track in one of four areas:

  1. Reading and literacy
  2. Elementary education
  3. Secondary education
  4. Jewish education

Ashford University

The online masters in curriculum and instruction at Ashford University is designed to be completed in 15 months, one six-week course at a time. This flexible program offers 24/7 tech support and prepares students to collaborate, create, implement, and evaluate instructional strategies in a range of educational environments.

K-12 Education Master’s Degrees

A master’s degree in K-12 education may provide the foundation for teaching at the elementary, middle, or high school levels. Educators who are already working in a classroom setting may choose a masters program to help improve their career prospects or gain more specialized training.

What You’ll Learn

In addition to best practices in classroom instruction and theories of childhood development, you will likely delve into your specific subject area (if you’re pursuing a Master of Arts in Teaching or MAT) or learn about designing curricula, implementing programming, and assessing student achievement data (if you choose a MEd or MS degree program).

Common Courses

Coursework in K-12 education can vary widely depending on the age range or subject area you’re specializing in, as well as the particular degree you’re pursuing.

Some masters programs are designed for classroom teachers and some are geared for people who want to do research into teaching strategies.

No matter what track you choose, graduate level coursework usually includes:

  • Multiculturalism and inclusive teaching strategies
  • Childhood psychology
  • Curriculum design and assessment
  • Educational theory

Click on any of the sponsored teaching programs below to contact the school directly and discover the specific format of each program.

West Virginia University

At WVU, the College of Education and Human Services offers two MA tracks in elementary and secondary education:

  1. Dual MA and certification track: for those with an undergraduate degree but no education background
  2. Advanced MA in Elementary Education: for those who already have a teaching certification

The first includes flexible evening classes, summer sessions, and online courses—making it a strong choice for students pursuing a career change. The second option delves more deeply into contemporary issues around teaching and learning through an online program.

Walden University

Walden University offers 17 online master’s degree programs in K–12 education, including specializations in:

  • STEM learning
  • Special education
  • Elementary literacy

Their MSEd in science (grades K-8) combines science content with science pedagogy—you’ll learn the subject using the same hands-on discovery methods that you’ll bring to the classroom. In addition, Walden offers accelerated or part-time programs to accommodate different schedules.

Higher Education Master’s Degrees

A master’s degree with a focus on higher education prepares students for careers in college and universities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the demand for post-secondary education administrators will grow 4% from 2022 to 2032.

What You’ll Learn

Higher education graduate programs focus on the broad knowledge of the industry and the administrative landscape of post-secondary schools. Many schools offer a wide range of approaches and concentrations in higher education graduate degrees.

Common Courses

Some master’s degree in higher education programs offer the option to tailor your experience with electives and others have a core curriculum. Some require fieldwork, a research experiment, a capstone project, or a master’s thesis.

Here are some common courses you may encounter:

  • Economics in higher education
  • Education and public policy
  • Legal issues in higher education
  • Topics in student services

Check out the partner programs below that offer a master’s in higher education.

Purdue Global University

Purdue’s online Master of Science (MS) in Higher Education allows students to focus on college administration and leadership, college teaching, or student affairs. All students take six core courses plus four courses in their concentration (or, for those pursuing the student affairs track, three courses plus a 120-hour internship).

Canisius College

Canisius College in Buffalo, NY, offers a MS in Higher Education and Student Affairs Administration. The two-year, full-time program is taught on campus but allows the flexibility of taking two or three classes at a time and choosing to do a final thesis or a final exam. Plus, you’ll gain real-world experience through two internships.

Educational Leadership Master’s Degrees

A master’s degree in education leadership and administration is one possible step on a path toward a role as a school principal or district administrator in a K-12 setting, or a leadership role in a collegiate or adult education setting.

What You’ll Learn

Graduate programs in education leadership aim to give students a solid foundation the management and strategic planning. A master’s degree in education leadership may also prepare you to meet your state’s principal licensing requirements, but specific requirements vary from state to state.

Common Courses

Critical thinking, management skills, and a firm grasp of current issues in education are all necessary for success in an education leadership master’s program. Graduate students may take courses in:

  • Pedagogical philosophies and strategies
  • Human development and psychology
  • Leadership strategy and theory
  • Legal and ethical issues in education
  • Qualitative and quantitative research methods
  • Educational Policy

Check out two of our sponsored programs in education leadership below.

Notre Dame de Namur University

The master of arts in School Administration at Notre Dame de Namur in San Mateo County, California, helps students examine the legal, social, political, and cultural underpinnings of education. The program includes six core courses and five practica, including a capstone project.

Fairleigh Dickinson University

FDU’s Peter Sammartino School of Education offers an MA in Educational Leadership that also qualifies students for different New Jersey state licensure requirements. The program includes eight required courses and culminates in a full year (300 hours) of field experience. Classes are taught at several of FDU’s New Jersey campuses depending on enrollment.

Adult Education

Lifelong learning takes many forms. A masters in adult education analyzes the ways that adults learn, and how they compare and differ from other age groups. Usually, this includes the specific processes, how to develop curriculum, and the most effective types of assignments.

What You’ll Learn

Adult learners have different needs than children and young adults. As a result, master’s programs in adult education examine how to design coursework for specific groups, like English language learners.

You may learn methods for successful classroom strategies, or how to design curricula for professional development within a particular industry.

Common Courses

Adult education master’s programs often include equal amounts of theoretical and practical work, and core coursework might include:

  • Foundations in research methodology
  • Psychology of adult learning
  • Program development for adult learners
  • ESL and high school equivalency teaching strategies

Check out the sponsored listings below that offer adult education master’s programs.

Colorado State University – Global Campus

Colorado State University offers an all-online MEd in Education and Human Resource Studies –Adult Education and Training Specialization, which may be earned over five semesters. Students can balance a higher education degree with existing professional and personal responsibilities and end up poised for success in their future careers.

Northcentral University

Northcentral University offers an Adult Learning and Workforce Education Master’s. Professors with professional experience offer one-on-one mentoring to teach students concepts in human resources, workforce development, and career centers. The program has 10 courses and is designed to be completed in 15 months.

Three Differences Between an MEd and MAT

Master of Education (MEd) programs often have a more theoretical curriculum. On the other hand, Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) programs are more focused on practical, discipline-specific information to prepare students for roles in the classroom or in curriculum and instruction.

#1: How may you become a teacher or an administrator?

Students who want to pursue or advance a teaching career may opt for the MAT. This lets students dive into subject-specific knowledge—chemistry, literature, Spanish, geometry, and others—while also learning practical skills.

Students who want a role in educational leadership or who plan to continue on to a doctorate are more likely to choose an MEd program. Coursework is often more theoretical than practical and helps students understand the field of education as a whole.

#2: Did you study education as an undergraduate?

Many people pursuing the MEd degree already have classroom teaching experience and an undergraduate degree in education. By contrast, the MAT typically requires at least one semester of full-time student teaching, which for many students is their first experience in the classroom.

In some states, the MAT is a requirement for the public school teacher’s license. This student teaching experience may make the MAT a good option for people with degrees in other subjects who are looking to enter the field.

#3: Is a Master in Education flexible?

The MEd degree often has a little more flexibility, either through online or low residency programs. Some MEd programs also offer the ability to complete the degree in one year or take it at a slower pace and earn your degree in two or more years.

MEd programs usually culminate in a final paper that is less research-intensive than a research-based master’s thesis.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Master’s Degree in Education?

The MAT is typically a two-year degree, with the final semester serving as a full-time student teacher. Educators who are pursuing the MAT for certification or advancement can often choose to take courses at a slower pace and skip the student teaching requirement.

On the other hand, it usually takes full-time students two years to earn an MEd.

Find the Perfect Master’s in Education Program for You!

Click on any of the sponsored listings to learn more about specific types of master’s in education programs. Or, complete the form and we’ll match you to the perfect program for you!

Sponsored Result

Study anywhere. Study any time.

Join the millions earning their degrees online!

32.6% of graduate students were enrolled exclusively in online courses in 2019*.