Inspire a lifelong love of learning in adolescents and young adults. Start by earning one of these master’s degrees in secondary education.
Middle school and high school teachers need a strong base of knowledge in the content area that they teach. But they also need a solid understanding of instructional strategies, adolescent and educational psychology, and classroom management techniques.
Teachers need first-class training to meet the demands of modern education. Thankfully, graduate programs in teacher education don’t have to be as expensive as you might think.
What are the options for a graduate degree in secondary education?
You’ll be able to choose between earning a degree through a traditional on-campus program or through an online program. Both types of programs have their own benefits and challenges, so consider what will work best for your schedule and your learning style.
For those of you who teach (or plan to teach) at the elementary level, we've also compiled rankings of the Most Affordable Online Master’s in Elementary Education and the Most Affordable Online Bachelor’s in Elementary Education.
How much can you earn with a master’s degree in secondary education?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for high school teachers is $58,030 per year. Your salary will vary based on your number of years of experience, whether you teach in a public or private school, and the state and region in which you work.
What can you do with a degree in secondary education?
In general, degrees in secondary education are designed to prepare graduates for a career as a classroom teacher. A master's degree may allow you to specialize in an area such as instructional technology or TESOL. These additional areas of expertise can complement the subject you teach.
After earning your master’s degree, you may also be qualified for leadership positions such as department chair or curriculum specialist.
What are the requirements for a master’s degree in secondary education?
Some master’s degree programs are designed for certified teachers. These programs may require a year or two of classroom teaching experience prior to admission.
Other programs are designed to allow pre-service teachers to earn initial teaching licensure. These programs will typically require one semester or a full year of in-person student teaching.
What are the most affordable online master’s degrees in secondary education?
To determine which secondary education programs are the most affordable, our research team utilized data from individual college websites, U.S. News & World Report, and the IPEDS database. We examined published tuition rates and average financial aid packages, as well as academic quality.
If you’re looking for an affordable, flexible, high-quality master’s degree program, this list is the perfect place to start.
1. University of Louisiana at Monroe
Established in 1931, the University of Louisiana at Monroe is a comprehensive, state-funded institution that enrolls more than 9,100 students. Through eULM, the University offers more than 30 degree programs via fully online tracks. At the graduate level, online students have a range of options in teacher education.
eULM’s 42-credit hour program culminates in a Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) for Secondary Education and initial Louisiana teaching certification for grades 6 through 12. This program requires a year-long internship (fall and spring semesters). During the internship, students will be paid as a regular teacher. Prior to beginning the internship, students will complete required coursework such as:
- Educational Techniques for Diverse Learners in Inclusive Classrooms
- Individualizing Instruction in Secondary Schools
- Reading and Literacy Across the Content Areas
- Vocational and Transition Services for Students with Disabilities
Internship placements are typically only available within the state of Louisiana. Students may take up to three years to complete the M.A.T. program. Most students, however, will earn the degree in 14 to 20 months. GRE scores are required for applicants to any of eULM’s graduate programs. As of the 2018 spring semester, the tuition rate for online-only graduate programs is $500 per credit hour.
2. Western Kentucky University
With a main campus in Bowling Green and additional campuses in Glasgow, Owensboro, and the Elizabethtown area, Western Kentucky University offers more than 170 undergraduate programs and 125 graduate programs. Many of these programs have earned regional and national recognition, particularly in fields such as journalism and broadcasting, engineering, business, and education. Current and aspiring teachers can pursue master's degrees, endorsements, certifications, and Education Specialist degrees through fully online tracks.
WKU offers an online Master of Arts in Education in Teacher Leadership for Secondary Education. The program requires 31 total credit hours, including a Professional Education Core that features 16 credit hours. Students will have the opportunity to test out of some of these required courses through proficiency exams. Coursework within the Professional Education Core includes:
- Foundations of Teacher Leadership
- Curriculum Development
- Classroom Instructional Strategies and Management
- School and Classroom Assessment
Applicants to this program must hold a valid teaching certificate. The Kentucky P-12 Professional Educator Rate is a discounted tuition rate available for in-state teachers and other certified school personnel pursuing additional or advanced certification. This rate is available to graduate students in a range of teacher education programs, including the M.A.Ed. in Secondary Education. For the 2017-2018 academic year, the discounted rate is $395 per credit hour.
3. Northwestern State University of Louisiana
Founded as the Louisiana State Normal School in 1884, Northwestern State University of Louisiana has strong roots in teacher education. NSU’s main campus is in the historic river port city of Natchitoches, while satellite campuses are located in Shreveport, Alexandria, and Fort Polk. In addition to traditional programs on these campuses, NSU offers an extensive range of fully online programs to students in Louisiana and throughout the United States. The online M.A.T. from eNSU offers a rigorous pathway to initial certification.
The M.A.T. program at NSU is designed for students with a bachelor’s degree in a field outside of education. Certification tracks for grades 6 through 12 are available in content areas such as Biology, Business, Chemistry, English, Mathematics, Social Studies, and numerous other subjects. The program requires 33 credit hours, which will be earned through courses such as:
- Research in Curriculum and Instruction
- Educational Philosophy and Leadership
- Educational Psychology Applied to Teaching
- The Study of Individuals with Disabilities
Students may begin this program during the fall, spring, or summer semester. Prior to graduation, degree candidates will complete a year-long, full-time student teaching placement. For graduate students in an online-only degree program, the current (2018) tuition rate is $475 per credit hour up to nine hours. Beyond nine credit hours, the tuition rate is $100 per additional hour.
4. Southeast Missouri State University
Serving almost 12,000 students, Southeast Missouri State University is a national leader in the arts, technology and cybersecurity, and P-12 education. The University is featured on U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of the Best Online Graduate Education Programs. Southeast offers a fully online degree that provides students with an advanced understanding of pedagogical strategies and techniques.
Through the M.A. in Secondary Education, students may choose between the Educational Technology track and the Educational Studies track. This degree program is designed to prepare candidates to become leaders in their fields, and does not lead to initial teacher licensure. The flexible curriculum features 18 credit hours in core courses and 15 credit hours in electives. For both tracks in this program, core coursework includes:
- Methods of Research
- Curriculum Construction
- Multimedia in Education
- Improvement of Instruction and Assessment
The M.A. in Secondary Education does not require students to hold a valid teaching certificate, nor does it require students to submit GRE scores as part of the application process. To qualify for regular admission to the program, students must have an undergraduate GPA of at least 2.75. Southeast grants more than $17 million annually in the form of institutional scholarships.
5. Ball State University
Ball State University has been recognized by the Princeton Review as one of the Best Universities in the Midwest for more than a decade. The University's 22,000 students represent all 50 states and 68 countries around the world. The renowned Master of Arts in Secondary Education at Ball State focuses on six core areas of teacher education: pedagogy, curriculum, educational foundations, educational technology, multicultural education, and educational research.
The online Secondary Education program requires 30 credit hours. Students who do not already have their teaching certification can pursue initial licensure while earning this degree. The curriculum provides students with numerous options for meeting degree requirements. Candidates may choose to take courses such as:
- Dynamics of the Secondary Classroom
- Social Foundations of Education
- Multicultural and Multiethnic Education in American Schools
- Technology Policy and Pedagogy
More than three-quarters of Ball State students receive some form of financial assistance. By continuing to work full- or part-time and taking advantage of Ball State’s monthly payment plan, many online graduate students are able to avoid taking out any loans. As of 2018, the cost per credit hour for Indiana residents in online graduate courses is $402. For out-of-state students, the cost is $603 per credit hour.
6. Old Dominion University
Home to seven academic colleges, an honors college, and a graduate school, Old Dominion University is one of the Southeast’s leading research institutions. The main campus of ODU is in Norfolk, Virginia, while ODU Online offers over 100 degrees and certificates to students worldwide. At the graduate level, online students have academic options in nursing, engineering, business, education, and more.
ODU Online offers a program leading to a Master of Science in Education and an initial Virginia teaching license for grades 6 through 12. Certification tracks are available in English, mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics, earth science, history/social science, and TESOL. The curriculum requires 34 credit hours, which will include coursework in professional education, a practicum, and a Teacher Candidate Internship. Coursework for this degree may include:
- Culturally Responsive Literacy for All Learners
- Dynamic Assessment of Teaching and Learning
- English Language Learners in the PK-12 Classroom
- Practitioner Inquiry in Elementary and Secondary Grades
This program is not available for residents of Washington state. The current tuition rate for Virginia residents in the online M.S.Ed. track is $496 per credit hour. For out-of-state students, the rate is $538 per credit hour. Abundant financial aid opportunities are available to military members, veterans, and their dependents.
7. Mississippi State University
Established in 1878, Mississippi State University is a land-grant, research-focused institution serving over 21,000 students. Mississippi State is a recognized leader in teacher education and operates an initiative that encourages the state’s best and brightest students to become the teacher-leaders of tomorrow. Available online programs include an M.A.T. in Special Education, an M.A.T. in Community College Education, and a Master of Science in Secondary Education, or MS-SEED.
The online MS-SEED requires 33 credit hours and can lead to a Class AA Mississippi Educator License. While virtually all of the coursework is available online, local students have the option of taking some classes face-to-face as well. Certification tracks are offered in a wide variety of content areas, including Business, Chemistry, English/Language Arts, Foreign Language, Reading, Social Studies, and many other subjects. Required coursework for all MS-SEED students includes:
- Functions and Methods of Research
- Advanced Planning and Managing
- Middle and Secondary School Curriculum
- Dispositions and Reflection
Candidates for this degree will be required to complete a comprehensive examination at the end of their program. Tuition for distance learning programs is charged per credit hour, regardless of course load, and is the same for all graduate students, regardless of state residency. For the spring semester 2018, the total estimated cost per credit hour (including tuition and applicable fees) is $481.
8. University of Maine
Located in Orono, the University of Maine is a comprehensive academic institution offering 85 master’s degree programs and 35 doctoral programs. UMaine’s College of Education and Human Development is a regional leader in educational policy research and the largest provider of undergraduate and graduate professional education programs in the state. One of the highly acclaimed programs from the College of Education and Human Development culminates in an M.Ed. in Elementary Education or Secondary Education with a concentration in Curriculum, Assessment, and Instruction.
This degree is designed to prepare certified teachers to take on leadership roles within their school. Coursework is available both in-person and fully online. The 33-credit hour program requires students to complete an action research project as their culminating experience. The curriculum includes three elective slots and eight required courses, including:
- Classroom Practice to Improve Learning
- Introduction to Students at Risk
- Dynamics of Change in Schools
- Methods of Teaching with Computer Technology
Applicants to the Curriculum, Assessment, and Instruction program must submit their scores on either the Miller Analogies Test or the GRE. This requirement is waived for students with an undergraduate GPA above 3.0. The current cost for in-state students in this program is $429 per credit hour. The cost for out-of-state students is $536 per credit hour.
9. Mercy College
Mercy College is recognized by the Department of Education as a Hispanic Serving Institution and by the Department of Veterans Affairs as a Yellow Ribbon School. Mercy enrolls approximately 9,500 students pursuing more than 90 undergraduate and graduate degrees. Students can earn Mercy’s Master of Science in Secondary Education through any of the institution’s four campuses (Dobbs Ferry, Bronx, Manhattan, and Yorktown Heights) or through a fully online track.
The M.S. in Secondary Education can lead to either initial certification (Track A) or professional certification (Track B) for grades 7 through 12. Students may choose from content area specializations in English, mathematics, social studies, or science. Track B candidates must have at least one year of experience as the teacher of record in a private, parochial, or charter school. Depending on the track that a student qualifies for, coursework may include:
- Teaching English as a Second Language
- Educational Psychology and Adolescent Development
- Approaches to Literacy Instruction in Early Childhood through Adolescence
- Foundations of Education for Students with Disabilities
This program allows degree candidates to pursue an optional extension certificate for teaching students with disabilities. To qualify for admission, applicants must have an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0. Students applying to the M.S. in Secondary Education will automatically be considered for merit-based scholarships.
10. Georgia Southern University
Designated a Research Doctoral University by the Carnegie Foundation, Georgia Southern University ranks among the top four “Most Affordable Colleges in Georgia” by College Affordability Guide. The University offers nationally renowned programs in a variety of academic disciplines, including business, public health, and computer information technology. According to U.S. News & World Report, Georgia Southern places in the top 70 nationwide for Best Online Graduate Education Programs.
The fully online Master of Education in Secondary Education is intended for students who hold a Professional Level Four Certificate (or equivalent) for grades 6 through 12. Upon successful completion of the program, students will qualify for a Level Five certificate upgrade. The curriculum for this program features 36 credit hours in coursework such as:
- Learning Theories and Application
- Cultural Issues: ESOL
- Enhancing Student Performance
- Trends, Issues, and Research in Education
Students of the M.Ed. in Secondary Education will choose a concentration based on their area of certification. The curriculum will include 12 credit hours of coursework that is specific to the student’s concentration. The spring 2018 tuition rate for this online degree is $410 per credit hour. Some scholarships and graduate assistantship opportunities are available through the Georgia Southern College of Education.
11. Kennesaw State University
With more than 35,000 students, Kennesaw State University is one of the 50 largest public institutions in the nation. KSU’s Bagwell College of Education coordinates between five colleges and 14 departments to present a range of nationally accredited teacher preparation programs. The M.Ed. offers a number of online options for teachers certified in middle school (grades 4 through 8) or secondary education (grades 6 through 12).
The M.Ed. for Secondary Education in English/Language Arts and the M.Ed. for Secondary Education in Mathematics are available fully online when students are earning an endorsement. For all M.Ed. candidates, the curriculum will include 36 credit hours, of which 15 will be earned in a required core. This core features the following courses:
- Differentiation, Academic Language, and Assessment in Middle and Secondary Classrooms
- Transformative Teaching and Learning with Families and Communities
- Applied Quantitative and Qualitative Research
- Reflective Inquiry for Transformative Teaching and Learning
An M.Ed. in Secondary Science is available in a hybrid format. Additionally, an M.Ed. in Secondary History is available online when the cohort size is larger than 10 students. If the cohort is smaller than 10, the program will be hybrid. Tuition rates are based on course load. For a graduate student taking six credit hours in online-only courses in the 2017 academic year, the cost per semester will be $2,653.
12. University of the Cumberlands
For over 125 years, University of the Cumberlands has remained committed to its original mission: “To provide first-class education at affordable rates.” UC’s online graduate programs include a range of options in teacher education, with tracks leading to Master of Arts in Teaching, Master of Arts in Education, Education Specialist, and Doctor of Education degrees. The online M.A.T. program at UC is available with a suite of certification tracks for pre-service teachers.
Students may choose to earn certification in Elementary Education (pre-kindergarten through grade 5), Middle School Education (grades 5 through 9), Secondary Education (grades 8 through 12), or All Grades (pre-kindergarten through grade 12, available for Art, Health, Integrated Music, and Physical Education). For the Secondary Education track, students will choose an emphasis area in Biology, Chemistry, Earth Science, English, Math, Physics, or Social Studies. Available coursework for M.A.T. candidates includes:
- Educational Technology
- The Modern Secondary School
- Instructional Design and Curriculum
- Classroom Management and Discipline
Certification in Special Education (Learning and Behavior Disorders for pre-kindergarten through grade 12) is also available through the online M.A.T. program. Most students complete the M.A.T. within 18 to 24 months. The 2017-2018 tuition rate is $315 per credit hour, with an additional $50 technology fee per term.
13. The University of Alabama
The University of Alabama is the state’s flagship institution of higher learning. Established in 1831 as Alabama’s first public college, UA now ranks 51st among all public universities, according to U.S. News & World Report. UA serves more than 38,000 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. The College of Education at UA offers graduate degrees in a full complement of education fields, including clinical mental health counseling, instructional technology, educational leadership, secondary education, and much more.
The online M.A. in Secondary Education is available with tracks in English Language Arts 6-12 Certification, Science Certification, and Reading Specialist P-12 Certification. All three of these programs require students to already hold a bachelor's-level teaching certificate. The Reading Specialist program also requires two years of teaching experience. For the English Language Arts track, required courses include:
- Introduction to Educational Research
- Computer-Based Instructional Technologies
- Modern Secondary School Programs
- Improving Language Arts Instruction
Additional concentration areas are available through an on-campus M.A. in Secondary Education program. The tuition rate for the online M.A. degree is $375 per credit hour. A number of scholarships are available to graduate students in education programs, including the Curry Bedsole Adams Endowed Scholarship, the Dr. Margaret Adeline Coleman Endowed Memorial Scholarship, and more.
14. Liberty University
Offering more than 250 areas of online study to 110,000 enrolled students, Liberty University is the largest private, nonprofit university in the United States. With convenient eight-week courses and multiple start dates throughout the year, Liberty provides exceptional flexibility for adult learners. The Master of Arts in Teaching for Secondary Education is designed to provide a pathway to initial licensure for students with no prior teaching experience.
While all M.A.T. coursework is offered online, students will need to complete several residential intensives on Liberty’s main campus in Lynchburg, Virginia. The degree requires 36 credit hours, which will include a three-credit hour internship in student teaching. Coursework within the 12-credit hour Secondary Education Cognate may include:
- Current Issues in Content Areas
- Methods of Teaching Writing Across the Curriculum
- Content Instructional Procedures
- Curriculum Fundamentals
Forbes placed Liberty University among the nation's Top 25 Low Debt Private Colleges. This ranking recognizes that, compared to alumni of other private schools, Liberty alumni have one of the lowest median federal loan debt amounts relative to their earnings after graduation. The current tuition rate for Master of Arts degrees at Liberty is $615 per credit hour for part-time students and $565 per credit hour for full-time students. These rates are locked in through August 1, 2019.
15. Saint Joseph's University
Saint Joseph's University is ranked at number 11 among the Best Regional Universities in the North by U.S. News & World Report, and among the Top 100 Colleges in the Northeast by Forbes. With a main campus on the edge of metropolitan Philadelphia, SJU offers rigorous academic programs anchored in Jesuit philosophy. Students in the M.S.Ed. program will take classes in adolescent psychology, language and culture, and other key areas of teacher education.
The online program at SJU culminates in a Master of Science in Education for Secondary Education as well as Pennsylvania teaching certification for grades 7 through 12. This degree program requires 36 credit hours. Certification tracks are available in content areas including Math, English, Citizenship, and Science. Core coursework for all M.S.Ed. in Secondary Education candidates includes:
- Historical and Contemporary Perspectives in Education
- Diagnostic Assessment and Progress Monitoring
- Teaching Adolescents in Inclusive Environments Seventh through Twelfth Grades
- Literacy and Learning Across the Curriculum
Most students complete the course of study for the M.S.Ed. in two years. A certification-only track that does not lead to a degree is available through an accelerated 30-credit hour program. The current tuition rate for the M.S.Ed. in Secondary Education is $765 per credit hour.