Elementary education involves the research and practice of teaching kindergarten and early grade school students. Elementary educators usually view high-quality teaching and learning as key to childrens' successful intellectual, social, and emotional development. Online master's in elementary education programs typically prepare graduates for teaching or school administration careers. Elementary education degrees include coursework in curriculum and instruction, classroom management, diversity, and contemporary education issues.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that kindergarten and elementary school teachers earn $59,420 median annual salaries. The BLS projects an average growth rate of 4% for these teaching positions during 2019-2029. Master's in elementary education graduates may also find work as curriculum designers, school administrators, or community organization or program directors.
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Master's in Elementary Education Common Asked Questions
Q. What can you do with a master's in elementary education?
Elementary education master's degrees often lead to careers in teaching, school administration, educational consulting, or nonprofit management.
Q. How long does it take to get a master's in elementary education?
Accelerated master's programs featuring short, intensive courses may take as little as one year to finish, depending on prior coursework. Traditional master's programs usually require at least two years.
Q. Do I need a license to be an elementary school teacher?
Public school K-12 teachers require teaching licensure from their state's education board. Requirements vary by state.
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Why Get a Degree in Elementary Education?
An elementary education master's degree develops specialized knowledge that can support career advancement. Professionals use advanced degrees to ascend their organizations' salary scales, qualify for career transition, or seek promotion to higher-paying administrative positions.
Working professionals can save money by pursuing their elementary education degrees online. Distance learners often pay discounted tuition and save on residency and commuting costs. Online programs frequently feature flexible scheduling, allowing enrollees to go at their own pace or complete their degrees outside of work.
How Much Does an Elementary Education Degree Cost?
Elementary education degree prices vary widely based on several factors. Public institutions typically charge significantly lower tuition rates than private institutions. At public institutions, in-state tuition costs much less than out-of-state tuition. The College Board's 2020 Trends in College Pricing reports that full-time tuition at public, in-state, four-year U.S. institutions averages $10,560 annually. At such a school, a two-year master's in elementary education could cost around $21,000.
Enrolling at public, nonprofit universities usually serves as the cheapest option. However, note that very well-endowed private schools may offer generous financial aid to eligible students. Online degrees often cost less than on-campus degrees, due partly to savings on residency and commuting costs. Distance learners may pay reduced, in-state tuition rates, even at out-of-state schools.
The College Board reports that California in-state schools charge less than one-third the rates of New Hampshire in-state institutions. Attending online schools based in less expensive states may save even more money.
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How Much Do Elementary Education Majors Make?
A master's in elementary education degree can support careers in nonprofit or for-profit sectors. Elementary education salaries differ based on field, position, employer, and credentials. Kindergarten and elementary school teachers earn a median annual salary of nearly $60,000. Master's-level education can support promotion to higher paying administrative jobs, including K-12 principal, garnering a $96,400 median annual salary.
Other possible careers for elementary education degree-seekers include school counselor, curriculum designer, and community organization or program director. These careers provide median annual salaries ranging from $57,040-$67,150.
Some careers require additional education or professional credentials. School counselors usually need counseling-specific education and licensure. Elementary education master's degree-holders seeking careers as education professors usually need doctoral degrees. According to the BLS, professors earn a median annual salary of around $80,000.
Earning professional credentials, such as specialized certifications, can also help increase hireability and pay. Read further for common credentials for those with a master's in elementary education.
Courses in Elementary Education
Elementary education master's degrees typically entail 30-40 credits of core and specialization coursework. Common curriculum specialization offerings include special education, curriculum and instruction, educational leadership, or STEM education.
Many programs align their core curriculum with state teaching certification education requirements. Some common core courses appear below. Many programs include supervised practica or internships, allowing students to apply new knowledge to real teaching and learning contexts. Master's programs typically require a capstone thesis or project that cultivates research, writing, and analysis skills.
Issues in Classroom ManagementThis course examines various classroom management theories and application models. Enrollees acquire techniques for organizing classrooms, managing time, and regulating student behavior. Participants learn about relevant education laws, including laws related to ESL and special needs students. A version of this course appears in virtually all master's in elementary education programs.
Curriculum and InstructionThis core course surveys curriculum principles, theories, development, and evaluation methods. Learners explore instruction and instructional evaluation methods. Students examine and develop their own educational philosophies and analyze academic success factors, including family, social, and cultural influences. The course cultivates data analysis skills useful in assessment and curriculum design.
Infant and Early Childhood DevelopmentThis foundational course studies human development from conception through early childhood. Discussions cover shaping factors in family, community, and cultural contexts. Participants read current child development literature and conduct qualitative analyses of children's social lives. The class explores interventions and sociocultural changes that can support child development.
Certifications and Licensure for Elementary Education
An online elementary education master's degree usually meets or exceeds minimum degree requirements for many positions. Degree-holders generally qualify to become elementary school teachers, school administrators, curriculum designers, or community and social services managers. However, some jobs also require state licensure or professional certification. See below for a few common elementary education credentials.
These state-issued licenses qualify their holders to teach preschool and early elementary education. Requirements vary by state, but usually include a related degree, passing scores on various assessments, and supervised internships and professional experiences.
This professional certification serves aspiring school principals. Requirements vary by state but typically include an accredited bachelor's, three years of experience, certification program completion, and a passing certification exam score.
The Association for Talent Development offers this credential to students who complete a related certificate program. Participants study curriculum and instructional design, development, implementation, and evaluation stages. Certificate-holders often pursue careers as teachers, curriculum designers, or educational program directors.
Scholarships for Elementary Education
Online master's in elementary education enrollees may qualify for various scholarships based on identity membership, financial need, academic merit, or community service. Many scholarships support applicants focusing on specific fields or career paths. Students pursuing an elementary education degree may qualify for scholarships like the three below.
Scholarships for Elementary Education
||Who Can Apply
Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant
|Up to $4,000 per year, renewable
||The federal government administers TEACH grants to high-performing students seeking teaching careers. Eligible candidates demonstrate minimum a 3.35 GPA or top-75th percentile standardized test scores and enrollment in a TEACH-Grant-eligible program. Upon graduation, recipients must complete a teaching obligation in a high-needs field or income area.
National Association of Junior Auxiliaries Scholarship
||NAJA offers this scholarship to U.S. citizens pursuing graduate degrees and careers directly serving special needs children and youth. Only permanent residents of states containing NAJA chapters can qualify for this scholarship.
Montessori Teacher Education Scholarships
||The American Montessori Society offers scholarships to students enrolled in AMS-affiliated teacher education programs. Eligible applicants demonstrate financial need and submit three recommendation letters and a compelling personal statement.
Online Master's In Elementary Education Programs 2021
Appalachian State University
Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. The school's teacher preparation program includes the MA in elementary education. Enrollees learn how to teach in a K-6 school setting. The MA can lead to initial or advanced teacher licensure or certification. Educators must ensure that the degree meets their state's credentialing requirements.
The part-time program requires at least 39 credits. The online curriculum explores topics such as education trends and teacher leadership. The master's in elementary education trains educators to design advanced curriculum. All enrollees complete a research component. Field courses focus on how to teach subjects such as math and science.
North Carolina residents pay affordable tuition. Admission requires a bachelor's degree, GRE or MAT scores, and a valid teaching license from North Carolina or another state.
University of Louisiana at Monroe
ULM offers an online master of arts in teaching (MAT) in elementary education. The MAT provides an alternative certification route for aspiring educators with a bachelor's degree in any major. Forty-one states accept this teacher preparation degree as part of a teacher certification reciprocity agreement.
The program requires 39-42 credits. Learners study topics such as advanced childhood psychology and balanced reading instruction. Enrollees develop classroom and instructional management strategies. They also learn how to diagnose and address reading difficulties. A research course helps students build their knowledge of research methods. An internship provides supervised classroom experience. Students typically take 14-20 months to complete the degree.
Learners pay a flat tuition rate regardless of residency. Applicants need a bachelor's degree, a minimum 2.75 GPA, and passing Praxis scores.
Southeast Missouri State University
Cape Girardeau, MO
SEMO offers an MA in elementary education entirely online. The 30-credit program enrolls educators who want to enhance their teaching practice. Students can also use this degree to pursue certification in a new teaching subject. This master's in elementary education does not lead to an initial teaching certificate.
Enrollees choose one of three emphasis areas: reading, math/science, or early childhood education. The program emphasizes classroom technology integration. Each emphasis area requires its own course sequence. For example, enrollees in the math/science emphasis explore how to teach elementary mathematics and curriculum construction in a multicultural society.
The reading emphasis explores subjects such as literacy leadership and how to diagnose and correct reading difficulties. Participants culminate the degree with a comprehensive exam. Enrollees receive mentoring from faculty with classroom experience. Admission requirements include a valid teaching certificate or competitive GRE scores.
University of North Alabama
UNA offers an MA in education in elementary education that runs entirely online. The program enrolls certified educators and leads to Class A certification in elementary education.
The 33-credit curriculum covers teaching models and how they impact student learning. Enrollees explore instructional technology and applied action research for educators. One course focuses on the needs of students with disabilities. Students work with an advisor to build the rest of the curriculum with 12 credits of elementary education coursework.
Enrollees may qualify for a scholarship. Recipients receive a free course and pay no application fees. Admission requires a Class B teaching certificate, bachelor's degree, minimum 3.0 GPA, and passing score on the Praxis exam.
University of New Mexico-Main Campus
UNM offers a fully online MA in elementary education. The master's in elementary education focuses on teacher leadership. The degree enrolls educators who want to advance their classroom practice and enhance student learning.
The 30-credit curriculum explores topics such as advanced instructional strategies and effective teaching. Participants learn the principles of curriculum development. Technology courses focus on multimedia literacy for educators and digital game-based learning. All enrollees learn how to apply research methodology in education. They also delve into social justice in education. Educators receive mentoring for their professional growth.
Participants can take summer classes and complete the degree in two years. Residents and nonresidents pay the same flat tuition rate. Enrollees receive access to all UNM libraries and online databases. Admission requires a bachelor's degree, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and an elementary teaching license.
East Tennessee State University
Johnson City, TN
ETSU's M.Ed. in elementary education enrolls licensed teachers and those soon to earn licensure. The online program teaches core knowledge such as how to integrate technology in teaching and learning. Enrollees develop proficiency in elementary curriculum and assessment.
A series of courses focuses on teaching subjects such as math and social studies. One course focuses on diagnostic and remedial procedures in reading. Elective coursework trains enrollees how to use library media for children. Participants culminate the program with an oral exam and professional portfolio.
Enrollees without a Tennessee teaching license in elementary education can complete an elementary K-5 add-on with the M.Ed. This option requires additional electives. Admission requires a minimum 3.0 GPA and a teaching certificate. Applicants with a lower GPA must submit GRE scores.
Ball State offers a customizable online MA in education in elementary education. Educators can choose a specialization that aligns with their career goals. The degree does not lead to initial licensure. The 30-credit curriculum features core coursework such as child development and education in a diverse society.
Learners can choose from specializations in areas such as autism, gifted and talented education, and educational technology. Those entering the teaching profession can explore the transition-to-teaching program. Once students complete this fully online transition program, they only need five more courses to earn their degree. Participants perform student-teaching and field experiences in Indiana. They may also work within 30 miles of the state.
Students in the transition program must pass state licensing tests to earn an Indiana teaching license. Admission requires a minimum 2.75 GPA.
Elizabeth City State University
Elizabeth City, NC
ECSU offers an M.Ed. in elementary education for those pursuing initial licensure. The degree requires 39-40 credits. Learners gain skills for effective teaching and decision-making in the classroom. Enrollees explore concepts such as human development and learning.
A series of courses focuses on how to teach elementary subjects such as math and science. Participants learn about curriculum and instructional leadership. They also study general instructional methods and alternative approaches. All enrollees learn how to teach students with special needs. Students complete supervised clinical experiences in the classroom. Learners culminate the master's in elementary education with an action research project.
The program also offers a 37-credit teacher leadership track that focuses on developing the master teacher. Admission to either master's in elementary education requires a bachelor's and a minimum 2.5 GPA. ECSU recommends but does not require GRE and MAT scores.
Georgia Southern University
Georgia Southern offers a master's in elementary education for current teachers and other education professionals. Learners can take summer sessions to complete the online degree in just 12 months. The curriculum explores subjects such as learning theories and assessment.
Educators develop advanced teaching methods for subjects such as math and science. Enrollees learn how to transform learning with technology. They also engage in intensive field experiences working with diverse students. Graduates leave the program knowing how to gather and interpret performance data to identify learning targets. They also understand how to use advanced technology and apply current research and theory.
This elementary education degree meets the state's certificate upgrade requirements. Participants receive access to graduate student scholarships and grants. Admission requires a renewable induction or teaching certificate.
ECU offers an online master's in elementary education that focuses on content and pedagogy. Applicants need an initial teaching license in elementary education. Participants complete the program as part of a full- or part-time cohort.
The curriculum requires 36-39 semester hours. Enrollees complete core courses on research methodology, the diverse learner, and leadership and communication. Educators learn advanced teaching methods for subjects such as math and science.
Learners can customize this degree with one of several concentrations. Some options include content pedagogy and teacher leadership. Participants culminate the master's in elementary education with a research project or thesis. Admission requires a teaching certificate.
The University of Alabama
UA's MA in elementary education program enrolls educators with a bachelor's-level teaching certificate. Participants complete 30-36 credits.
The online curriculum requires coursework on educational research, the evaluation of classroom learning, and guiding early/elementary pupil learning. Educators choose 1-2 specialties such as math or social studies. Participants use elective credits to explore the needs of populations such as exceptional children and youth. They may also learn about using computer-based instruction in the classroom.
All students pay the same per-credit tuition regardless of residency. Admission requires a Class B teaching certificate and a minimum 3.0 GPA.
Northern Arizona University
NAU's M.Ed. in elementary education cultivates master teachers for the K-8 classroom. The program typically enrolls licensed teachers and does not lead to state certification. Learners complete 30-31 units covering content, pedagogy, and professional knowledge. Core topics include human development and child psychology.
Educators can customize the degree with one of four emphasis areas. Each emphasis requires its own set of coursework. For instance, the continuing professional emphasis explores concepts such as multiage education and modern language arts instruction.
Enrollees can also pursue national board certification. This certification requires a teaching or school counseling license and at least three years of experience. Enrollees pay the same flat-rate tuition regardless of residency. Admission requires a bachelor's degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA.
MU's elementary mathematics specialist program leads to a master's degree. Licensed elementary teachers complete 36 credits that focus on mathematical content, pedagogy, and mathematics educational leadership. The curriculum requires a master's core, capstone, and elementary mathematics specialist coursework.
The master's in elementary education covers core topics such as qualitative research in education and mathematics for elementary teachers. Educators learn how to use software applications in the classroom. The mathematics emphasis provides training such as algebra and geometry for mathematics educators. Enrollees complete a supervised field practicum focused on elementary mathematics methods. Participants culminate the degree with a capstone experience.
Graduates can apply for elementary mathematics specialist or elementary mathematics specialization endorsement. Admission requires a bachelor's degree. Applicants also need a minimum 2.5 GPA and teacher licensure in elementary education.
Missouri State University-Springfield
Missouri State's online M.S.Ed. in elementary education enrolls educators with a teaching certificate. The program offers a customizable curriculum. Some enrollees use the program to enhance their classroom instruction. Others pursue career advancement such as school leadership opportunities.
The 34-credit curriculum requires core courses such as the emerging master teacher and educational research methodology. Educators may choose electives for up to half of this elementary education degree. Learners can pursue specializations such as curriculum and instruction or gifted and talented education. Graduate certificates also cover content areas such as elementary math specialist and environmental STEM. Enrollees culminate the degree with a thesis or paper and a comprehensive exam.
Admission requires a minimum 3.0 GPA and GRE scores for some students.
University of Missouri-St Louis
UMSL's M.Ed. in elementary education offers an emphasis in early childhood education. The program enrolls educators and curriculum developers working in early childhood settings. The 30-credit online curriculum requires five core courses. Core topics cover social justice in education and instruction, learning, and assessment. The early childhood emphasis explores concepts such as the educational role of play and the psychology of early childhood development. One course focuses on the organization and development of early childhood programs. The master's in elementary education includes two elective courses. Participants culminate the program with a teacher action research capstone.
Graduates leave the program knowing how to meet the needs of diverse learners. UMSL offers scholarships and grants. Admission requires a bachelor's degree and minimum 2.75 GPA.