30 Most Affordable Master’s in K-12 Education Online From Public Universities in 2021

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Updated June 22, 2021

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Enrolling in online master's in K-12 education programs is a flexible route for full-time working teachers to deepen curricular pedagogy anytime after the bell rings, on weekends, or even during lesson planning breaks. According to Poets & Quants, education master's are the second-most popular offerings that represent 23.6 percent of graduate degrees for 178,062 yearly graduates. The Midwestern Higher Education Compact reports that 48 percent of the 3.2 million public U.S. teachers are master's-trained. Currently, the ASHA lists 32 states plus the District of Columbia that require a master's within five years of education licensure. Increasing K-12 teacher responsibility has persuaded many nationwide to hit the books for advanced courses online. Rejuvenating one's burned out classroom tactics could also help avoid the 8 percent teacher turnover rate published by NPR. Public universities usually offer the best values for K-12 education master's online programs that improve instruction skills for any subject and grade.

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These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online graduate degree programs. Figuring out where to apply? Consider one of these online Master’s or PhD programs.

Most Affordable Master’s in K-12 Education Online

  1. Fort Hays State University

    Hays, KS



    Home to the Olliff Family Educational Symposium, Fort Hays State University is our list's cheapest public, multi-site teaching institution opened in 1902 and endowed for $91 million to expand beyond its 42-building Big Creek campus with the Virtual College that serves 5,800 adults from 27 nations. FHSU is named America's 23rd most veteran-friendly college on LendEDU, 107th top teacher preparation value on College Factual, and 208th best school by the Social Mobility Index. Chaired by Dr. Jim Barrett, the College of Education was CAEP accredited in Fall 2017 for its Online Master of Science in Special Education K-12. The 12-course, portfolio-building curriculum uses Blackboard courses for licensed teachers seeking High-Incidence Disabilities or Gifted Education endorsements. Other FHSU online options include the Master of Science in Reading Specialist Education and Master of Science in English Speakers of Other Languages.

  2. Eastern New Mexico State University

    Portales, NM



    Partnered with the National Institute for School Leadership on the NMLEAD Project, Eastern New Mexico University is a public, Hispanic-serving doctoral learning hub legislated in 1927 that's budgeting $63.4 million to educate 6,027 Greyhounds across the Llano Estacado in Portales, Ruidoso, Roswell, and online via Blackboard. ENMU is ranked America's 440th hardest college on Niche, 95th best teacher education value by College Factual, and 294th best master's completion school in Washington Monthly. Housing the Child Development Center, the CAEP-accredited College of Education and Technology directed by Dr. Penny Garcia offers the Master of Arts in Education Online. The 33-credit, instruction-based degree leads to K-12 endorsements in the Education Technology, Elementary Education, Career and Technical Education, Pedagogy and Learning, Reading/Literacy, Secondary Education, or Special Education track.

  3. New Mexico State University

    Las Cruces, NM



    Linked to 58,032 LinkedIn alumni like educators Jorge Gardea-Torresdey and Mark W. Spong, New Mexico State University is a top-tier public, research WAC member that's budgeting $621 million to serve 14,852 Aggies at its 900-acre Mesilla Valley campus with the Arrowhead Center and online via Canvas. NMSU stands as America's 214th best online graduate education school on the U.S. News World Report, seventh best Hispanic college in Diverse Issues in Higher Education, and 89th best economic payoff by Brookings Institution. Founded in O'Donnell Hall in 1968, the College of Education awards the CAEP-accredited Online Master of Arts in Education: K-12 Online Teaching and Learning. The 33-credit, two-year curriculum headed by Dr. David Rutledge unlocks Level III certification after courses like Critical Digital Literacy and online practicum. Other MA Education online concentrations are Early Childhood and Education Administration.

  4. University of North Carolina Wilmington

    Wilmington, NC



    Presenting $45.1 million in annual financial aid, including the Ann Royer Corley Education Scholarship, the University of North Carolina Wilmington is a public, civic-engaged sea-grant school established in May 1949 that's enrolling 16,487 Seahawks at its 660-acre "Port City" location and over the Internet. Given a Silver Star rating, UNCW is honored as America's 188th coolest school by the Sierra Club, 194th best online teaching college on the U.S. News World Report, and 282nd best academics on Niche. Partnered with 146 schools, the CAEP-accredited Watson College of Education grants the M.Ed. in Curriculum, Instruction, and Supervision Online via Blackboard. The 36-credit program arranged by Dr. Amy Garrett Dikkers gives K-12 teachers add-on endorsement power for curriculum design. Also check out the Master of Arts in Teaching and Master of School Administration Online.

  5. University of Texas at El Paso

    El Paso, TX



    Ranked #1 by The Hispanic Outlook, the University of Texas at El Paso is a public, Mexican-majority doctoral institution opened in 1914 that's endowed for $217 million to educate 3,177 post-grad Miners at its 366-acre, dzong-style Lennoria Mesa campus and online through Blackboard. UTEP is America's 113th most affordable choice on WalletHub, 60th best financial aid provider in Washington Monthly, and 291st top public school by Niche. Dedicated to "Scientia et Humanitas," the CAEP-accredited College of Education has prepared over 8,500 teachers since 2002, including with the Online M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction. The 36-credit, non-thesis option chaired by Dr. William Robertson prepares instructional specialists in two concentrations for Bilingual Education and Early Childhood Education. Hybrid courses are available for the M.Ed. in Reading Education and M.Ed. in School Counseling too.

  6. Southern Arkansas University

    Magnolia, AR



    Called the Third District Agricultural School until 1951, Southern Arkansas University is a public, polytechnic four-year college of the Great American Conference that attracts 1,484 post-grad Muleriders to its 1,418-acre Louisiana border campus and eLearning platform. SAU is applauded for America's 275th highest master's research expenditures in Washington Monthly, 291st best online graduate education by the U.S. News World Report, and 428th safest college on Niche. Following Council for Exceptional Children standards, the CAEP-accredited College of Education confers a Master of Education in Gifted and Talented Education K-12 Online in 18 months. The 30-credit, scholar-practitioner program directed by Dr. Carla Bryant includes practicum and education research focused on teaching high-ability students. Other online opportunities include SAU's Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction or Master of Education in Library Media.

  7. Chicago State University

    Chicago, IL



    Publishing the Illinois Schools Journal, Chicago State University is a public, diverse teaching institution opened as Cook County Normal School in 1867 that's endowed for $5.1 million with Thurgood Marshall College Fund scholarships for 3,578 Cougars roaring at the 161-acre "Windy City" campus and online Moodle classroom. CSU is deemed America's 134th most selective college on Niche, 162nd best value by WalletHub, and 281st top master's university in Washington Monthly. Reaffirmed by the CAEP in 2014, the College of Education nurtures healthy lifestyles with the Online MSEd in Physical Education (Grades K-12). The 34-credit, non-licensure program organized by Dr. Sarah Buck leads to a thesis or capstone project after scientific courses like Principles of Group Exercise. Another of CSU's Illinois Virtual Campus options is the MS in Education Technology Performance Improvement Studies.

  8. University of North Alabama

    Florence, AL



    Home to a Kappa Delta Pi Honor Society chapter, the University of North Alabama is the oldest public, coeducational Southern teachers college established in 1872 that's endowed for $34 million to employ 365 faculty and train 7,457 Lions at the 130-acre Muscle Shoals Area campus and online. UNA was selected for America's 163rd best public school on Niche, 182nd best buck in Washington Monthly, and 254th most popular teacher preparation by College Factual. Managed by Dr. Donna Lefort, the CAEP-accredited College of Education and Human Sciences delivers the Master of Arts in Education Online in two years. The 36-credit, non-thesis curriculum builds upon Class B licensure for Collaborative/Special Education with exceptional needs children at all levels. North Alabama Lions might choose the Online Education Specialist in Elementary Education or Instructional Leadership too.

  9. University of Colorado Denver

    Denver, CO



    Known for its Kempe Center for Prevention of Child Abuse, the University of Colorado-Denver is a selective public, doctoral AAHC research hub founded in 1912 that's enrolling 18,900 Lynx with 67 percent admission at its Downtown and Anschutz Medical campuses or online. CU Denver is named America's 266th most diverse college on Niche, 241st top university in Times Higher Education, and 72nd most impactful research institution by the CWUR. The School of Education and Human Development utilizes Canvas for its Online Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction: Integrated Studies P-12. Led by Dr. Rebecca Kantor, the 36-credit, CAEP-accredited program equips licensed teachers with a median GPA of 3.4 for differentiating learning environments. Denver cohorts also pursue the Online Master of Arts in School Library Technologies and Master of Arts in Early Childhood Education.

  10. California State University-Bakersfield

    Bakersfield, CA



    Endowed for $23.9 million, California State University-Bakersfield is a public, coeducational Central Valley branch funded by Governor Brown in 1965 that's attracting 1,248 post-grad Roadrunners in Bakersfield, Lancaster, and online through Blackboard Learn. CSUB is designated America's third best college for social mobility by The New York Times, 12th top master's institution in Washington Monthly, and 10th best value by Kern Economic Development Corporation. The School of Social Sciences Education awards the M.A. in Education Curriculum and Instruction Online for Preliminary Credential holders with minimum 3.0 GPAs. Directed by Dr. Kristina LaGue, the 30-credit curriculum nurtures professional development in K-12 courses from Teaching for Diversity to Writing Assessment. Other cheap Cal State Online programs include Humboldt's M.A. in Education General and San Marcos' M.A. in Educational Administration.

Our Methodology, Explained

Grad School Hub compiles rankings based on public data released from educational, commercial, and government databases. Sources such as the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics play a significant role in how we source our educational data. After collecting insight for each institution, we organize information into five weighted categories.
Metric Data Used Percentage
Academic Quality Full-time faculty percentage, student-to-faculty ratio, student retention and graduation rates 30%
Affordability Tuition rates, median student debt, and financial aid 10%
Reputation Admission and enrollment rates 30%
Program Offerings Number of program options 20%
Online Enrollment Score Portion of learners taking at least one online course 10%
A more comprehensive evaluation of how each category is determined and scored is accessible on our Ranking Methodology page.

Other Master's in K-12 Education Online Degree Offerings

Western Governors University (Private)

Online Master of Science in Special Education K-12

Average Graduate Tuition: $6,500 per year

Gwynedd University (Private)

Accelerated MSEd Teacher Certification Track Online

Average Graduate Tuition: $11,772 per year

Central Michigan University

Online Master of Arts in Education, Reading and Literacy K-12

Average Graduate Tuition: $12,232 per year

University of South Carolina-Columbia

Master of Education in Teaching Online

Average Graduate Tuition: $12,398 per year

Averett University (Private)

Online Master of Education in Special Education K-12

Average Graduate Tuition: $12,495 per year

Regent University (Private)

M.Ed. – Master of Education Online

Average Graduate Tuition: $12,726 per year

University of Cincinnati

Online Master's Degree in Education

Average Graduate Tuition: $12,790 per year

Lynn University (Private)

Educational Leadership: School Administration K-12 M.Ed. Online

Average Graduate Tuition: $13,050 per year

Coastal Carolina University

Online Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Learning and Teaching

Average Graduate Tuition: $13,320 per year

University of Massachusetts-Amherst

Master of Education in Science Education Online

Average Graduate Tuition: $13,524 per year

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Master of Education in Global Studies in Education Online

Average Graduate Tuition: $15,267 per year

Michigan State University

Online Master of Arts in Education P-12

Average Graduate Tuition: $16,764 per year

DeSales University (Private)

Master of Education M.Ed. Online

Average Graduate Tuition: $19,560 per year

University of New England (Private)

Online Master of Science in Education MSEd

Average Graduate Tuition: $19,936 per year

University of Pittsburgh

Master of Education (MEd) in Social Studies Education Online

Average Graduate Tuition: $21,748 per year

Drexel University (Private)

Online MS in Mathematics Learning and Teaching K-12

Average Graduate Tuition: $32,184 per year

Careers Options

Picking a K-12 education master's online over brick-and-mortar programs gives asynchronous access to curriculum that qualifies teacher leaders for virtually all careers in public, private, charter, and parochial schools. The biggest benefit of K-12 education majors is their varied application in wide-ranging disciplines from reading to mathematics and physical education. Accredited online schools generally meet state licensure requirements. For example, the Connecticut State Board of Education created the Distinguished Educator Designation for master's grads with 5+ years of experience. The Nebraska Department of Education even offers a $5,000 salary bonus for Cornhusker State master's holders in the Master Teacher Program. Teachers can join the Association of American Educators (AAE), the largest non-union organization founded in 1994, for access to networking events and the Jobs Bank. Here are five sample careers where online K-12 education master's graduates make the grade:

Elementary Teacher- Following the footsteps of Ms. Frizzle and Miss Crabtree into the U.S. News & World Report's #4 best teaching job lets online master's in K-12 education graduates train students during their most formative years. Elementary teachers create multi-subject lessons, build moral character, read children's literature, identify learning challenges, supervise teaching aides, prepare for standardized tests, and coordinate field trips.

Science Teacher- Business Insider reported that the United States ranks just 25th among OECD countries for PISA science test scores, which means science teachers are needed to boost achievement. Specializing in STEM after an online K-12 education master's involves teaching subjects like biology or physics, leading hands-on experiments, modeling the scientific method, caring for lab equipment, planning science fairs, and keeping progress reports.

Bilingual Educator- Online master's in K-12 education post-grads could qualify for the TEACH Grant by choosing this high-need field to teach ESL students English and native speakers another language like Spanish. Bilingual educators differentiate communication strategies, plan dual-language instruction, perform literacy tests, set learning targets, evaluate speaking/writing progress, facilitate home-school collaboration, and celebrate diverse cultures.

Music Teacher- Instrumentally inclined graduates with online K-12 education master's degrees could pursue CNN Money's 54th best job showing children how to carry tunes on pitch. Music teachers plan age-appropriate arts curriculum, nurture aural skills like harmony, introduce new genres, select song repertoires, deliver vocal coaching, evaluate performance, rehearse for recitals, direct choirs, oversee school band equipment, and assign grades.

Autism Specialist- The National Health Interview Survey found that one in 45 school children are diagnosed on the ASD spectrum, so autism specialists are needed to address the prevalent developmental disorder. Having a K-12 education master's online could help identify at-risk children for early intervention, develop child-specific curriculum, establish IEP goals, create class routines, reinforce behavioral change, and liaise with general teachers.

Still Looking for the Right Fit? Discover Similar Programs. 

How Much Can Online Master's in K-12 Education Graduates Earn?

Finding cheap online master's in K-12 education degrees is vital because Fortune lists several teaching specialties among the 15 worst paid careers with median income from $48,700 to $55,000. These figures are significantly below the average master's wage of $69,732 on SmartAsset. According to the Brookings Institution, the mean master's educator pay bump is just $4,176 by the fifth year. An overall average wage of $48,000 was figured by the Department of Labor for America's education workforce. In May 2017, teachers made $59,020 in elementary, $59,800 in junior high, $61,420 in secondary, and $60,090 in special education classrooms on average. High schools with career and technical education teachers give a mean salary of $59,480. A master's in K-12 education online also opens doors for school principal jobs with median pay of $102,390 on Salary.com. Other high averages are $87,592 for curriculum specialists, $93,467 for international education directors, and $154,717 for superintendents.

Job Outlook

Hiring prospects after a master's in K-12 education online for teachers not yet employed are good as the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts job growth of 9 percent. By 2026, America will need 888,900 new education jobs fulfilled to avoid critical shortages. The 10-year outlook for elementary teachers is lower at 7 percent for total employment of 1.68 million. Eight percent jumps are expected for kindergarten, middle, and high school teachers. The slowest growth of 4 percent is estimated in career and technical education. The highest growth of 11 percent is projected for curriculum specialists with 17,200 new jobs. While the Center for Public Education (CPE) reports more hard-to-fill vacancies, the number of college students choosing to teach dwindled to 4.2 percent in 2016. Education Week highlighted Arizona, Indiana, Oklahoma, Hawaii, and Nevada as hiring hotspots. Online master's in K-12 education programs give the ultimate location flexibility to chase dream job offerings imparting wisdom in young minds.

See also: 10 Most Affordable Doctorate in K-12 Education Online

Additional sources:

Poets & Quants
Midwestern Higher Education Compact
NCES College Navigator
Council on Accreditation for Educator Preparation (CAEP)

This concludes our list of the 30 most affordable online K-12 education master's.

Additional Resources

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GradSchoolHub.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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