Professionals interested in a Master's in Science Education are aware that there is a growing need for graduate educators to help teach the next generation of scientists and leaders. For many employers, it is a requirement; for others, it's a preference. But all teachers know that this graduate degree is necessary for students in K-12 schools.
But with many teachers working full-time, a traditional pathway to this degree isn't available. They need something that is more flexible, like an online degree. This pathway enables a professional to learn on their own time and still take care of their work responsibilities. This ranking discusses ten of the best and most affordable options for teachers in this field.
All research done to compile this ranking was done by utilizing the National Center for Education Statistics, a government website, and its College Navigator tool. Thirty schools were chosen for the initial pool. From those schools, 10 were selected for their affordable in-state graduate tuition rates, which are listed below in descending order.
Ranking Low-cost Online Science Education Master's
10. Oregon State University
Online Master of Education – Advanced Science and Mathematics Education
The Master of Education in Advanced Science and Mathematics Education is a great online choice for working educators. This program is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation and is delivered as a two-year cohort program. The degree alone will not provide a pathway to licensure; it stands as a degree for teachers who already hold licensure in their state. The science option was designed for elementary and secondary school teachers that emphasizes experiential learning in the classroom. This Ed.M. requires 45 credit hours of coursework as well as a comprehensive exam. Sample courses include Math and Science Curriculum, Fostering Reflective Discourse in Math and Science, and Advanced Teaching Strategies in Math and Science.
9. Hamline University
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Online Master of Arts in Education: Natural Science and Environmental Education (MAEd:NSEE)
Professionals who are interested in earning a Master's in Science Education with a specialization in environmental and natural science education will be glad to hear that Hamline University offers such a degree in an online format. One of only eight universities worldwide to carry accreditation by the North American Association of Environmental Education, Hamline offers a 100 percent online degree in this specialization. While a practicum is required, it can be completed in a student's community. Students can expect to complete 34 credit hours of coursework, a practicum, and a capstone project. Sample courses include Foundations in Natural Science and Environmental Education, The Environment and Society, and History of the Environment.
8. Colorado State University
Fort Collins, Colorado
Online Master of Natural Sciences Education (MNSE)
Teachers interested in earning a Master's in Science Education online will love Colorado State University's MNSE program. This unique degree offers all educators a 100 percent online degree with different options and even science lab kits. The MNSE comes with two pathways, coursework and research, enabling professionals to choose whether they focus on education or research for their degree. The program also includes science lab kits that are delivered straight to the professional, enabling them to witness concepts coming to life in their own home. Courses are taught in an asynchronous format and the degree can be completed in two years. Please note that this degree does not offer a pathway to licensure. Students can expect to complete 30 credit hours of coursework and a comprehensive exam. Sample courses include Action Research, Chemistry for Science Educators, and Pollution and Environmental Biology for Educators.
7. University of Nebraska at Kearney
Online Master of Science in Science and Math Education
The University of Nebraska at Kearney is a brilliant choice for working teachers interested in a 100 percent online Master's in Science Education. This interdisciplinary program was created specifically for math and science teachers and is available in an asynchronous format to best suit the needs of working professionals. Students will find that the program also offers the ability to major in one area of endorsement; this includes mathematics, biology, chemistry, and physics. Students will also have the chance to take courses outside of their major emphasis for a well-rounded approach to teaching. Students can expect to complete 36 credit hours of coursework and a capstone project. Sample courses include Natural Science Curriculum, Education Research, and Curriculum Development in Multicultural Education.
6. North Carolina State University
Raleigh, North Carolina
Online Master of Arts in Teaching, Science-Secondary Education Specialization
A strong contender for one of the best science education master's online degrees comes from North Carolina State University. This hybrid program focuses on educators who work in secondary schools, and the coursework follows this design. Students in this program will be expected to complete a fieldwork experience; however, it may be possible to conduct this experience in a student's own community. With full-time and part-time options, as well as most online courses delivered in an asynchronous format, it is a great choice for working educators. This degree requires 33 credit hours of coursework, a fieldwork experience, and a capstone project. Sample courses include Resource Teaching in Special Education, Exploring Diversity in Classroom and Community, and Principles of Developing and Interpreting Assessment.
5. Columbus State University
Online Master of Arts in Teaching Math and Science
A great online option for professionals who are interested in earning a master's in science education comes from Columbus State University. This school offers a 100 percent online degree that is also accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. This program is unique in that it offers non-teaching professionals the chance to become licensed teachers in the fields of math and science. There are a variety of teacher certification options available for secondary school teaching; however, it is important to remember that these certification options are only available to students who live and work in Georgia. Students will be expected to complete 39 credit hours of coursework, including coursework aimed at professionals who are transitioning into teaching, as well as an internship, a practicum, a research project, and a comprehensive exam. Sample courses include Methods in Teaching Secondary Science, Technology as a Teaching and Learning Tool, and Transition to Teaching.
4. Western Governors University
Salt Lake City, Utah
Online Master of Arts in Teaching, Science Education (5-9)
Working educators who are interested in a Master's in Science Education that is delivered online need to look no further than Western Governors University. This school has an excellent, 100 percent online program that prepares educators to teach general science courses at the junior high and middle school levels. Not only that, but WGU also has the honor of holding accreditation from the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education, meaning that professionals can earn teacher licensure through the successful completion of this program. The program also offers students a curriculum that is tailored to them, enabling some professionals to complete the degree in as little as one year with full-time study. Students can expect to complete 36 credit hours of coursework, a research project, and a comprehensive exam. Sample courses include Integrated Physical Sciences, Middle School Science: Content Knowledge, and Ecology and Environmental Science.
3. Northeastern State University
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
Online Master of Education in Science Education
Northeastern State University confers an online Master's in Science Education that was created for working educators and professionals who are working towards licensure. This program is great for professionals interested in becoming licensed in STEM Education; to that end, students can earn the Endeavor STEM Certificate that is done in collaboration with the U.S. Satellite Laboratory. It is also possible to earn a Certificate in STEM Education from Teachers College, which is housed at Columbia University; this is achievable by participating in the Endeavor Cohort program. Both of these certificates, as well as the degree itself, offers a pathway towards licensure. Students will be required to complete 36 credit hours of coursework as well as a capstone experience. Sample courses include Fundamentals of Curriculum Design, Trends and Issues in Science Education, and Inquiry in Science Education.
2. New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology
Socorro, New Mexico
Online Masters of Science for Teachers (MST)
The New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology offers a cheap online Master's in Science Education that is perfect for educators. Available in both hybrid and 100 percent online formats, these programs focus on teaching educators the content they need in order to provide a valuable classroom experience for their students. It should be noted that this program is only available for professionals who hold a teaching license and have at least one year of experience in the classroom. Students can expect to complete 30 credit hours of coursework, a comprehensive exam, and either a thesis or a research project. Sample courses include Survey of Biology, Technical Communication for Teachers, and Fundamentals of Information Technology.
1. East Carolina University
Greenville, North Carolina
Online Master of Arts in Education (MAEd)
Students interested in earning a Master's in Science Education should check out East Carolina University. This school confers an online option for the degree that is based on research and experiential learning strategies. The degree was created for professionals who are already licensed as teachers in the state of North Carolina; therefore, this is a degree best suited for residents of the state. Fieldwork experiences are also necessary for the degree and must be completed in the state in order to count towards graduation. Students will also be required to complete 36 semester hours of coursework, a research program, and a capstone project. Sample courses include Advanced Methods of Assessment in Science Education, Introduction to Differences in Human Learning in Schools, and Technology in Science Teaching, Learning, and Professional Development.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the Career Options for an Online Master's in Science Education Degree?
An online Master's in Science Education degree is a professional program; it is designed to prepare professionals to teach in the classroom. This means that the most common career option is that of a K-12 educator, working in private and public schools all over the country.
However, there are some options that professionals may be surprised to hear about. For example, a bilingual educator may find work at international schools in the country; these are found in New York, Miami, Los Angeles, and other metropolitan cities with a high number of students that have English as their second language. French and Spanish schools are always looking for science educators.
It may also be possible for an educator to find work overseas working at an English-language international school or boarding school that has an aim of teaching students to speak English. As a science educator, their first responsibility would be to educate students on science, but they would also be helping students learn about STEM from an English-language perspective. This is a career option that will not work for all educators, but the benefits and compensation are higher than that found in America.
While the majority of the programs on this list focus on K-12 education, many offer the option to learn advanced science concepts that would make it easier for professionals to find jobs as professors at an undergraduate school or college. This is a unique route, but it is possible with a graduate degree, an additional advanced teaching licensure, and membership in professional organizations.
How Much Can You Earn in this Field?
To put it simply, a science teacher salary in America for grades K-12 can expect to make anywhere from $45,000 to $50,000 annually. This salary is higher than other teacher salaries for K-12 because a great emphasis is put on STEM subjects in hopes that it will foster economic growth.
The actual salaries for K-12 science teachers depend on state and whether a school is private or public. Private school teachers make about $10,000 to $15,000 more than their public school counterparts, but these jobs are also extremely competitive. Science teachers will also find that their salary will be proportional to the cost-of-living in their area.
However, students with a Master's in Science Education can expect to make from $48,000 to $53,000. This is because public schools raise a teacher's salary based on work experience and by how well their students do on standardized tests.
Professionals who decide to take on a position overseas will find that teachers are very well paid; most make between $50,000 to $60,000 a year. Depending on a professional's science education expertise, they may find themselves making much more than that; it depends on the needs of the countries in which they are exploring for positions. It's also important to note that American science education teachers may also receive a housing allowance, health insurance, and airfare, making these positions much more lucrative.
What are the Various Disciplines of Science Education?
Science education is a subfield of education; therefore, the main disciplines of this field are science and education. While it would be easy to think that these are the only disciplines that inform the field, it is a little more complicated than that.
The science field is massive. Biology, chemistry, and physics are all required courses in the United States for high school graduation. But there are other disciplines, such as natural sciences, geology, and ecology that are offered in many schools around the country. Some schools even provide electives in environmental biology and other specialties.
Science is also informed by math; it is one of the largest disciplines in this field. Without algebra, calculus, and other math concepts, science would be difficult to teach. In fact, many science classes, such as chemistry, continuously use math in homework assignments, labs, and tests.
The final major discipline is education itself. Becoming an educator means that it's not just about the curriculum, it's about the design of the curriculum and the psychology of educating young students. Communication, media, technology, interpersonal relationships, written and oral skills, psychology, sociology, and more are all disciplines that can be found under science education.
Can This Degree Lead to Licensure as a Teacher?
The vast majority of the programs on this ranking require applicants to show proof a teaching licensure in good standing. This licensure must also have not lapsed in the previous three years. Students will rarely be accepted into a program without having licensure.
The reason is simple: because many professionals who take on a graduate online degree from a school in another state, they must already be licensed as a teacher in order to truly benefit from the degree. In fact, many states have regulations that prevent out-of-state students from acquiring teaching licensure at the graduate level if they don't live in the state.
While already having a teaching licensure is required by most schools, it is possible to find a degree that is considered a "Transition to Teaching" program. These are programs that are more comprehensive and teach non-educator professionals how to become teachers; these programs tend to take longer and require more coursework but is well worth it for ambitious students. There is at least one school on this ranking that offers this very program.
In some rare cases, such as found on this ranking, an online degree is accredited and provides a clear pathway to licensure without being a part of a transition program. These programs tend to be very competitive, especially for students who move straight from their undergraduate degree into a graduate program. It should be noted that licensure is only available in the state in which the school resides in, so some students may not be eligible. It is suggested that a student contact a program about licensure options prior to applying.
Are There Any Requirements for this Online Degree?
The Master's in Science Education degree has requirements that vary by state and by school. Therefore, it is difficult to pinpoint a general set of requirements for professionals, especially as many schools are changing the requirements for graduate degrees in education.
However, most schools do require an accredited undergraduate degree in the field of education, with preference offered to students who have a degree in science education. Many schools also require the submission of transcripts, a personal statement, and GRE or MAT scores. In some cases, both the GRE and MAT are required for professionals who have scores that are over five years old.
Many schools also require not only a teaching certification but proof of at least one year's worth of work experience teaching at a K-12 school. This is mandatory because it enables the school to forgo practicums and internships; professionals already working as teachers do not need to fulfill this requirement when it's currently their job. It also shortens the amount of time a teacher actually spends earning their degree.
More science educators are needed, especially as science plays a larger role in everyday American lives. With employers requiring competent leaders in the classroom, it is safe to say that a graduate degree in the field is a way to secure a long and successful career. A professional who doesn't have time for a traditional education can still help their careers by earning a Master's in Science Education.