Are all Master’s in Education programs the same? In short–M Ed programs are absolutely not the same.
The good news is, you already have a Bachelor’s degree, so you’re a smart cookie. Just remember to take the time to look into a program before writing a check for $5,000 to $15,000.
So when you’re considering going back for your M Ed, what should you keep an eye out for? Fear not, I’ve created a list of 5 factors to evaluate prior to enrolling.
Accreditation is one of the most important things to look for when researching programs. If it isn’t a legitimate, well-accredited program, it isn’t worth your time and money. I’m not saying you couldn’t learn a thing or two from the classes, but it won’t get you where you want to be in the end.
Look for programs that are NCATE (National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education) accredited. Be sure to check your state’s department of education licensure requirements as well.
Don’t enroll in a program that doesn’t have the specialty you want. That might seem like common sense, but we see it all the time with undergrad students, so consider it a friendly reminder.
Know you want to get your Master’s but not sure what you want to specialize in? Here’s a non-exhaustive list of options:
Curriculum & Instruction or Curriculum Design
Career & Technical Education (CTE)
Early Childhood Education
English or TESOL
Mathematics or STEM
Elementary or Secondary Education
Find something that piques your interest or something you’re passionate about. The specialization you choose can open new doors for your career. If you know you want to work in your classroom forever, pick a subject you love and want to learn more about. Thinking about moving up the ladder and leaving the classroom? Go with administration or curriculum design and work for the whole district or at the state level.
3. Program Requirements/Components
This is where programs tend to vary greatly, and where you should do a bit of digging. First, know your state requirements (e.g., how many semester hours are necessary for a different license or how many supervised hours are needed). And second, be aware of how much time you’ll need to devote to your studies and how that will impact your daily routines.
Most programs range from 30-36 credit hours. These can be broken down and personalized to fit your schedule.
There are programs, and sometimes this varies by specialty, that require an internship experience. For example, if you are working on an administrative degree, you will probably have to spend time shadowing your building’s principal.
Which leads me to my next suggestion: Make sure your building administration is on board, or at least aware that you’re taking classes, especially if you’re going to need their help.
And finally, some programs have a required research project or thesis-optional component. If you think you might go back for your Ph.D. someday, this is a good way to get in that mindset.
4. Who Are Your Teachers?
While doing research for this article I found a few programs with classes taught by “experts and practitioners in the field”. Others have the same professors teaching their online classes as the courses offered on-campus.
Yes, it is sometimes beneficial to gain that real-world knowledge that people working in the field can offer, but if you’re looking for a research-based education, professors are the way to go.
If you have a personal preference for one or the other, be sure to take that into consideration when comparing programs.
Yes, programs will vary widely in price–crazy, right?
When you’re perusing programs online, take note of whether they have a flat rate for everyone, or if it’s in-state/out-of-state tuition. $5,500 sounds pretty good until you realize that price is only for people who live in California and you live in Wisconsin, which means you’ll pay $17,500.
Before you start looking at programs, make a list of what you really want to gain from the experience. Do you know what you want to specialize in? Do you have a budget? Will you keep working full-time while you’re taking classes?
Good luck making your decision! Remember, getting your Masters in Education will always benefit your students. There are major benefits for you too, but it has to work with your lifestyle too.