Online master's degree programs in teaching are widely offered. Most are programs for individuals who hold bachelor's degrees in subjects other than education, but who now are seeking teacher certification. Other programs are for current teachers seeking to earn a graduate degree.
Most of the courses can be taken online, although some campus visits could be required. All programs have student teaching requirements.
Many master's degree programs in teaching are structured to qualify students for state certification as teachers, while others offer teacher certification preparation as an additional component. All states require that teachers be certified, or licensed.
Requirements vary from state to state, but all states require that candidates for licensing have at least a bachelor's degree, have completed an approved teacher preparation program and pass a general knowledge test as well as an exam in the subjects they wish to teach.
Master of Arts in Teaching
Although most states require that K-12 teachers only hold bachelor's degrees, teachers who hold master's degrees often earn higher salaries and may experience advanced or specialized job opportunities. Additionally, a master's degree in teaching may help current educators advance their careers or give professionals in other industries the opportunity to transition into teaching.
Classes in teaching usually cover pedagogy, curriculum development and special teaching techniques that can be applied to non-native English speakers or those with learning disabilities. Some programs offer concentrations in particular areas of teaching, such as elementary education or science education.
Most online master's programs in teaching can be completed in 1-2 years. Some schools offer master's degree programs only to currently licensed teachers, while others offer degree programs intended for adults transitioning into teaching from other careers. Most programs are specifically intended to prepare students for state certification as teachers.
Numerous master's degree programs in teaching are available entirely online, with no on-campus requirements. Others offer all classes online, but require that students complete teaching internships at local schools. Course materials are made available through a course management system (CMS) website. Students must purchase textbooks.
Most classes in a graduate teaching program are theory-based, drawing on textbooks and case studies to impart pedagogical techniques. Some courses involve collaborative projects or on-site fieldwork near the student's home.
Teaching English as a Second Language
This ESL course covers techniques for teaching reading, writing and conversation skills to non-native speakers of English. Bilingual and immersive learning environments are discussed.
Educational Theories and Teaching Practice
Candidates are introduced to significant historical and contemporary theories about education and learn how to implement these theories most effectively through classroom activities. Course assignments might include developing sample lesson plans and critiquing and improving the lesson plans of other students.
Technology courses discuss hardware and software tools that teachers can use to improve and streamline the education process. Presentation devices and grading software are covered.
A subject-focused class on science education looks at the particular challenges of teaching children about the physical and life sciences. Strategies for imparting basic concepts in physics, chemistry and biology to students of various educational levels are discussed.
Career Information for Graduates
Most public school districts pay teachers with master's degrees more than those who hold only bachelor's degrees. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics elementary school teachers made a mean annual wage of $57,730 in May 2015. During the same year, middle school teachers made a mean annual wage of $58,760, while high school teachers made $60,440. Educators who hold master's degrees might also pursue careers as school administrators or educational policy planners.
Students pursuing a master's degree in teaching can focus on a concentration area such as English as a second language, technology, or educational theories and teaching practices. Graduates of these master's programs will enjoy better employment prospects and a higher salary than teachers with only a bachelor's degree.