The Masters in Teaching, sometimes referred to as a master of arts in teaching (MAT), is a degree designed for both current and prospective K–12 teachers who are looking to either obtain their initial teaching license or who are looking for additional certification as a means of career advancement inside the classroom. An online MAT is the same degree delivered through a blend of Internet technologies and real-world experiences.
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Online teaching degree programs focus on blending learning theory with hands-on, field-based teaching experiences. Prominent themes can include:
Role of diversity in learning
Incorporation of technology in the classroom
Integration of Common Core standards
Broadly speaking, learning goals focus on enabling students to build positive classroom environments to meet the challenges of today’s schools.
Adaptations in educational technology have enabled online programs to be better suited than ever for 21st-century learning. Built-in cameras and microphones in our computers, the ability to quickly and easily watch video, “Web 2.0” structures that allow for discussions and exams – these are all basic technologies that most people have access to, and the best online teaching degree programs put these technologies to good use.
Strong online master's in teaching programs should have the following:
Live virtual classes
Learning management systems
Interactive course content
Online Masters in Teaching Concentration Areas
Secondary Education Earning your MAT in secondary education (also referred to as adolescent education) prepares students to become a middle school teacher or a high school teacher in a grade 7–12 classroom and provides foundational coursework in teaching methods, student learning styles and education issues such as linguistic and cultural diversity.
Secondary education online MAT programs primarily lead to professional certification in the areas of English, social studies, science or mathematics.
English concentration: Coursework includes classes on writing, studies in criticism and theory, American and British literature, literacy development and English Language Learners (ELL).
Social studies concentration: Coursework includes classes on economics, western civilization, American government, sociology, foundations of education and teaching social studies. Schools may offer additional areas of specialization such as economics, marketing or business education.
Science concentration: Curriculum may focus on general science studies or may be broken into specific content areas such as biology, earth science or physics. Coursework includes classes on literacy across content areas, adolescent development and courses focusing on specific content areas.
Mathematics concentration: Coursework includes classes on the history of mathematics, calculus, probability, differential equations, foundations of education and educational technology.
Early childhood education MAT programs differ from traditional online teaching masters because they are designed for students looking to become childhood or preschool teachers, typically working with children from birth to age 4 (although some programs extend certification into first grade). Students earning their MAT in early childhood education are provided with a foundational coursework in infant/toddler development, early childhood curriculum, integrating music and arts, and developing social behaviors.
MAT programs in elementary education prepare students to succeed as elementary school teachers in a K–6 classroom, providing foundational coursework in teaching methods, student learning styles and education issues such as linguistic and cultural diversity. Coursework includes classes focusing on teaching multiple subject areas (elementary math, social studies, science, and English language arts), literacy and multicultural perspectives.
Obtaining a MAT degree in Special Education prepares prospective teachers to provide instruction specifically designed for students with disabilities and to work within a number of educational settings. While the majority of schools offer MAT degree programs specifically geared toward a Master in Special Education, there are also programs, such as our partner USC Rossier, that offer special education credentials — degree extensions and/or certificates that new and experienced teachers can add onto their existing teaching licensure.
Earning an advanced degree in gifted education prepares teachers to provide instruction specifically designed for talented and gifted (TAG) students. While there is no standard definition of what constitutes a TAG student, the academic label of “gifted” identifies students with an above average intellectual ability, aptitude or competence. Similar to special education programs, most schools offer an option of obtaining your gifted education credentials, which allows new and experienced teachers to add a certificate in TAG onto their existing teaching licensure.
Online MAT Curriculum
The curriculum of an online MAT is nearly identical to that of a traditional MAT program pursued on campus. Coursework in an online teaching degree program focuses on grade level and subject area, including multiple subject certification for elementary education degrees and/or subject-specific certification (like the concentration areas listed above)
A Master of Arts in Teaching degree equips students with the foundational knowledge, hands-on field experience and teaching strategies to integrate the Common Core standards, improve student outcomes and be an effective and confident educator in any learning environment. Core classes explore:
The curriculum typically culminates with a capstone, which can take the form of a dissertation or research project.
Student teaching is a requirement for all students who are looking to obtain their initial teaching license or for those who are gaining additional certification in a new grade and/or subject area, so fieldwork is incorporated in all MAT programs. This practical experience is gained through student teaching in a school environment related to the particular area of study. Online MAT programs should have offline components for students to gain practical experience, such as fieldwork and student teaching in a K-12 classroom. In addition, some programs offer on-campus immersions and networking opportunities to support the online curriculum.
Disclaimer: Each online MAT program is unique, with the governing institution stipulating its own prerequisites, courses, hours, credit requirements, and other particulars. For information regarding a specific program, be sure to contact the administering school.
Online MAT Requirements
As mentioned above, while working educators can pursue their online masters in teaching degree, the program itself is designed to accommodate students who do not have any previous teaching experience. Therefore, online MAT programs do not require students to have completed prerequisite courses in education. Minimum admissions standards typically only include a bachelor’s degree or greater from an accredited institution of higher education.
Online or Traditional: Which Program is Right for You?
The answer to that question depends on a number of other questions: What are your current responsibilities and obligations? Are you able to quit your job to attend school or do you need to keep it? Do you have children or other family members whom you must be near? Do you have your heart set on a certain school or program? Are you comfortable using technology?
These are all questions to ask yourself when determining whether you should pursue your Master of Arts in Teaching online or on-campus, because neither can be the perfect answer for everyone.
Who Should Get an Online Masters in Teaching?
The benefits of an online teaching degree program include flexibility, convenience, and accessibility. Therefore, an online MAT is the best fit for those students who are pressed for time, who want to access a program from a far-away campus or who can’t (or simply don’t want to) leave their professional or personal obligations to relocate for school. You can take online classes at home – or from your desk after work or your hotel on vacation – and the time commitment is limited to lives classes, homework, and studying. No commuting to class is required. That makes online MAT programs a great fit for:
Parents who work or stay at home;
Those who can’t relocate or commute to school;
Those who live far from a desired program with an online component.
An online MAT may also allow students to obtain their degrees faster than otherwise possible at a traditional on-campus program. The logistics of commuting could force an on-campus student to pursue his or her degree part-time, while the flexibility and convenience of an online program could allow that same student to take a full-time course load. The difference between pursuing an MAT full-time and a part-time could be the difference of earning your degree in one year or three!
But again, that's not to say an online MAT program is right for everyone - there are a variety of factors that might lead to a traditional format making more sense for your education.
Online MAT vs. Traditional MAT Coursework
A key difference between traditional and online MAT programs is the coursework experience. Depending on the program you enroll in, your experience will vary, but the best programs shouldn’t differ drastically in terms of their coursework. Much like the distinction between in-class assignments and homework in a traditional on-campus program, online programs have synchronous and asynchronous elements.
Synchronous elements require real-time interaction through tools like text chat, voice chat and video conferencing.
Asynchronous elements can be addressed at your leisure, like reading documents, viewing presentations, listening to audio files or watching videos.
E-mails, discussion boards, social networks, collaborative documents and e-portfolios are also asynchronous elements. Like homework in a regular classroom, these offline components support the online curriculum. You’ll be expected to have watched lectures and completed homework assignments prior to attending live class sessions so you’re ready to participate in discussions and other in-class activities.
Masters in Teaching Job Outlook and Salaries
While most states do not require educational professionals to hold an advanced degree, there are a number of benefits to having earned your online masters in teaching. Having an advanced degree, both inside and outside the classroom, provides you with greater career options and the opportunity to earn a higher salary.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2015, common job titles and employment figures for MAT-related occupations include:
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2015, median annual salaries and employment growth through 2024 for MAT-related occupations are:
Choosing your specialization will narrow down the type of workplace you might land in, but if you need inspiration, check out our interview series with former teachers who moved into new careers with additional education:
Online Teaching Degree Programs in the United States
We’ve compiled a list of online MAT, MEd, and MST programs in the United States along with their classroom setting and credit requirement information. The difference between a "hybrid" program and a traditional online teaching degree program is that the hybrid version includes an in-person component on a regular basis. Search through the different online masters in teaching programs and see which one is the best fit for you!
Online Teaching Degree Programs in the United States
Fordham University’s online Master of Science in Teaching program prepares aspiring teachers for New York state initial teaching certification or dual certification in teaching and special education. Students develop skills to teach children in grades 1 through 6 with diverse backgrounds and learning abilities. The program can be completed in as few as two years, and a bachelor’s degree is required to apply.
Minimum GPA: 3.0
GRE Requirements: No GRE Required
Degree Requirements: Bachelor's Degree Required to Apply
Earn a master’s degree in teaching in two years
Prepares you for initial teaching certification in New York
Learn to teach students with diverse backgrounds and learning abilities
The Master of Arts in Teaching online (MAT online) from the USC Rossier School of Education prepares you to become a transformative K–12 teacher. Through live online classes and enriching field experiences in your community, you can earn your MAT in 12 months without relocating. .
Complete in : 12 months - 36 months
GRE Requirements: No GRE Required
Degree Requirements: Bachelor's Degree Required to Apply
Students complete fieldwork in their own communities, classrooms or organizations.
Academically rigorous programs are designed and delivered by USC Rossier faculty members.
Earn your Master of Education with a specialization in school counseling online from Vanderbilt University’s top-ranked Peabody College. Prepare for licensure and develop the critical-thinking and social-emotional skills to effectively manage K–12 school counseling programs.
Schedule Types : Both part-time and full-time
Credit Requirement: 48 credit hours
Degree Requirements: Bachelor's Degree Required to Apply
Ranked among the best graduate schools of education by U.S. News World and Report
Angelo State University offers a fully online Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction with a Texas Teacher Certificate. The courses are 8 weeks long and takes less than two years to complete. After completing the program, students can work as teachers, administrators, curriculum designers, and corporate trainers. Students must also complete a clinical teaching practicum to fulfill the program’s requirements.
Avila University offers a Master of Art in Education where students focus on instruction and learning. Students will examine classroom practices, development of classroom materials, and further ways teaching occurs. The program relies on theory, research, and practice in their coursework. The program takes two years to complete and is online.
Baker University offers a Master of Art in Education where students complete 36 hours of coursework and complete a 12-week student teaching practicum in a real classroom setting. Baker University offers skills that students can implement right away in their current classrooms. Classes are held year-round and new classes start every 7 weeks.
Boise State University offers a full-time, fully-online teacher preparation program. This program runs through each semester and incorporates field work and practice within the courses. The summer sessions are five-weeks long and incorporate application in an outside classroom environment. During the fall and spring semesters, students working on the Special Education concentration are encouraged to work within a setting of the same content. If they do not, they are required to complete a minimum of 10 hours in a field-approved setting.
Canisius College offers a Master in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages or TESOL. This fully online program prepares New York state teachers for TESOL certification and is flexible for those students are work full-time. The program also requires a field practicum that can be completed anywhere in the United States. Their TESOL program can be completed in as little as one year.
Central Michigan University offers a Master of Arts in Education where students can choose from two concentrations: Curriculum & Instruction or Training & Development. Each concentration requires 30-33 hours of coursework as well as a Capstone Project, Field Study, or Thesis for completion. Students can access CMU’s online portal from anywhere at anytime. Students will also work closely with CMU faculty throughout the program of choice.
Cleveland State University’s Master of Arts in Education (Curriculum & Instruction) is a research-based program that evaluates many educational programs. This program can be completed online and in conjunction with a Graduate Certificate in Data-Based Decision-Making. Current teachers and administrators are ideal for this program as they learn new ways to improve classrooms/schools as well as prepare for future doctoral programs.
The College of Saint Scholastica’s fully online program for their Master of Arts in Education requires 33 hours of coursework and can be completed in as little as two years. Students will learn to incorporate technology, data-driven information, differentiated instruction, and action-based research into their classrooms and school settings.
Concordia University offers a Master of Arts in Education with a concentration in Early Childhood. This fully-online program is 33 hours of coursework with each course lasting approximately 7 weeks. The program is also designed for the working individual who can work on the courses within their flexibility. Courses are also sequential and related to all areas of childhood development.
Dallas Baptist University offers a Master of Arts in Teaching. This online program has many specializations such as distance learning, EC-6th grade, EC-12th grade, elementary, ESL, Montessori, multi-sensory, and secondary. This program enhances professionals who want to further develop the aspect of the classroom. Students are able to complete the program while balancing other responsibilities.
Fontbonne University’s Master of Art in Education with a specialization in reading helps students prepare for a career where they will help students succeed in any subject. This cohort-style program begins each summer and requires practicums for completion. Students also have the option to obtain a Reading Specialist endorsement for any private or public school.
Fort Hayes State University offers a Master in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). This program is completely online and offers flexibility for an educator. Most courses are offered year-round, but students should research those that are only offered twice a year.
Franciscan University of Stuebenville offers a fully online Master of Science in Education. Students can finish this program in as little as 18 months. This degree program makes it possible for current educators to finish while they balance other tasks and responsibilities. In addition to the courses required, the program offers a wide variety of electives that best fit each student.
Indiana University offers a 100% online Master of Science in Education degree. Students will learn research strategies and teaching methods for English education, foreign and second-language education, and literacy/reading education. Later jobs include English teacher, Language education specialist, reading specialist, or instructional writer and editor.
Louisiana State University - Shreveport offers a fully online Master of Science in Education where students can choose to concentrate in Curriculum & Instruction or Educational Leadership. The skills learn in these programs help educators impact not only their classroom but the community. Students will also learn theories and practices that help those in an educational setting. A 7-week internship is required for completion. For admissions, a student’s GPA determines if he/she needs to take the GRE.
Madonna University offers a fully online master program that prepares students to work in diverse educational settings. Students will focus on ways to improve relationships with faculty, families, and communities. At completion of the program, students will be able to work as a classroom teacher or an administrator.
Malone University offers a fully online Master of Education where students can concentrate towards a degree as an Intervention Specialist or in Curriculum & Instruction. Students are working on expanding their educational careers while completing the program. A research project is required to complete the program. Also, a GRE is not required unless the student’s GPA is below 2.99.
Marymount University offers an online program to allow students to work in administration in Catholic school settings, as well as private and public schools. This program is held as a cohort so students can work to develop their spirituality and leadership skills. The program begins with an intensive two-week, six-credit residency; during the second summer, students return for another residency of the same format.
Mercy College offers and online Master of Science program in Childhood Education for Grades 1-6. This program is for current teachers who wish to expand their knowledge with this age group Students will focus on major theories that explain the cognitive, physical, and affective development during childhood.. A GRE is required for entrance to the program as is a supervised student teaching practicum.
Miami University of Ohio offers a Master of Education in Special Education. This online hybrid program is ideal for working professionals who need flexibility in their schedules. Students can also choose from 4 tracks that include coursework necessary to apply for the K-12 Mild-Moderate Intervention Specialist license. The hours needed to complete the programs differ per track. Also, each track maybe done part-time or full-time.
Montana State University offers a online Master of Science in Science Education that is asynchronous and computer-mediated. MSU does require one visit to campus though two are suggested. The first visit is done early in the program and can be as short as one week or last several weeks. The second visit is a week long where students will present their Capstone Project.
Murray State University offers a fully online program for a Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). This program is for working individuals who require off-campus, part-time coursework. One to two online classes are offered per term. Faculty helps students prepare linguistically as well as understand different cultures and the teaching styles most needed to reach them.
Niagra University offers a fully online, Master of Science in Education in Special Education. Students can choose from which grade levels to specialize in as they complete the program. The core courses focus on special education foundations, policies, and notable practices for testing. Classroom strategies and student modifications will also be studied for success after completion of the program.
NC State University’s Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) is an accelerate teacher licensure program that results in a teacher license and a master degree. If students choose to go full-time, this program can be complete in a year and a half. A full semester of student teaching is required for completion of the program.
Northern Arizona University’s Master of Arts in Teaching in Science Education helps enhance a science teacher’s knowledge of content and pedagogy. At the completion of the program, students can utilize their skill set in their middle or high school settings. There are also two options to consider - a thesis or non-thesis option. At the end of the program, students will be required to complete an oral defense.
Portland State University’s fully online, non-licensure program focuses on learning about educational practices for young children, ages birth to 8. Students can focus on one of three specializations: constructivism in early childhood education, early childhood special education, and infant toddler mental health. Students also have the option to combine courses from each specialization and complete the distributed pathway specialization.
Roosevelt University offers a fully online Master of Arts in Teacher and Learning program. In this program, existing teachers will learn way to improve their current classrooms, the understand of learners, and leadership within schools. In addition to the core content, students will pick from one of the concentration areas and complete an inquiry into research practice to complete the program.
Southern Utah University’s Master of Education program is designed for current educators to expand their knowledge and skills in their field. SUU has a variety of concentrations for students to choose, and each has a Capstone Project to be completed at the end of the program. The choices range from ESL to library media and STEM-related courses.
The State University of New York at Brockport offers a 100% online Master of Science in Education in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). This 30-credit course is for students who already hold a teacher certification and seek to become TESOL-certified for the first time. Students will learn more about diversity in education and ways to meet the needs of children from diverse backgrounds.
Tennessee State University offers a fully online Master of Education in Career and Technical Education. This program allows current teachers to learn more about the CTE field so they can continue to work in schools, community colleges, or career centers. The program works well for those who already work in the CTE field but strive to become more effective leaders.
The University of Dayton offers a Master of Education - Teacher as Leader. This online program has core classes the student must complete, but there are specialty options for distinct concentration. The Teacher as Leader program does not meet the requirements for teacher endorsements. In order to be admitted, students need to submit an official transcript and GRE scores.
The University of Toledo offers a fully online Master of Education and Science in Biology. This program is designed for teachers in the science field. The 36-hour program includes two face-to-face experiences that are completed during two, one-week residencies in the summer. Students who complete this program will also be qualified to teach science courses.
The University of Cincinnati offers an online experience to receive a Master of Education. Students can choose from specializations such as special education, educational leadership, and curriculum & instruction. Student can also begin the courses in either the spring or summer sessions. Upon completion of the program, students can continue teaching, becoming specialists, and work more effectively in educational settings.
The University of Holy Cross’ Master of Education in Teaching and Learning helps existing teachers become more effective leaders in the classroom. Before completing the program, students will create a small-scale research project in their area of interest. Students can choose from ESL, reading specialist, and religious education.
The University of Houston offers a Master of Education in Special Populations - Special Education for educators to become more familiar with students with disabilities. This program is ideal for current teachers to access their classes at anytime.
The University of Louisiana at Lafayette offers an online Master of Education program in Curriculum & Instruction. Students will also work on the Instructional Specialist Concentration. Once completed, students can work in such roles as an educational coach, peer evaluator, and curriculum coordinator. This program was designed specifically for working teachers. Students are encouraged to take two courses each in the fall and spring as well as two courses during the summer. This program can be completed in 24 months.
The University of Louisville offers a Master of Education in Teacher Leadership that is 100% online. Students will take 30 credit hours or 10 courses to learn more about assessment, evaluation, and curriculum & instruction. Two concentrations are offered: Autism (ABA) or Assistive Technology. Students can also choose the enhanced content emphasis.
The University of New Hampshire offers a Master of Education in Educational Studies. This program can be completed fully or partially online. The program helps educators advance their knowledge of teaching skills and tools to enhance education in a variety of settings. There are 12 core credits as well as electives (12-14 credits) and a inquiry research project that will complete the program.
The University of North Texas’ Master of Science in Early Childhood Education is an online program that prepares students to better respond to the changing needs in education. The program offers 5 available start dates and 8-week courses. Students are also able to set their pace with this program. Upon completion, students can expand their knowledge in their field, develop curriculum, or become administrators.
The University of Sioux Falls offers a Master of Education in Teaching that if fully online. Once completed, students will be able to meet the growing needs and changes that are occuring in education. Students are able to continue working full-time while completing their degree; however, they will need to take off work to complete the student teaching semester. Upon graduation, student will also be licensed to teach in South Dakota.
Accreditation Status: USF’s accreditation meets everything required by university, state and national standards for a master’s degree in education requirements, including the ability to take online classes.
The University of St. Francis is a 33-credit, online program students can complete in order to receive a Master of Arts in Teaching. Students can choose to participate in the program full-time or part-time. Before completing the program, a 16-week clinical internship is required. Students will also meet the requirements for teacher licensure when done with the program.
The University of Utah offers a two-year Master of Arts in Teaching with an emphasis on Fine Arts. This program is partially online and requires a short on-campus residency. Eighteen credit hours are are two 12-day summer intensives at the University of Utah’s main campus. The remaining 12 hours consist of classes in the fall and spring semesters with the addition of three practicums.
The University of Wisconsin - Stout offers a Master of Science in Education that can be completed fully online. Students can select three or four courses within an interest area, combine courses from each interest area, or earn a teacher certificate. This program allows current teachers to expand their knowledge in the classroom and become better educators upon completion.
Valdosta State University offers an online program for a Master of Education in Elementary Education. The program is designed to build upon those who already hold a Bachelor degree in Elementary Education so they can earn an updated teacher certificate from the Georgia Professionals Standard Commission.
The University of Nebraska at Lincoln offers an online Master of Arts in Education Administration - Higher Education Administration. The program benefits those who already hold a position at a college or university but want to advance their career. Students can also opt to specialize in Student Affairs Administration, but this specialization will require completion of courses on campus.