How do I get into a master’s in education program?

Getting into a master’s program begins with the submission of a formal application. This process involves furnishing multiple documents that detail your past experience, academic readiness and future goals. An M.Ed. application typically requires the following:

Tests or Certifications

The GRE is often required by M.Ed. programs, but is sometimes waived for students with prior teaching experience or another graduate-level degree.


Program requirements vary. Many are designed for students who already have teaching experience and/or certification, while others offer tracks for students entering the education field for the first time.


Bachelor’s transcripts from an accredited institution are required. Applicants can hold undergraduate degrees in a variety of majors.

Additional Materials

Check with each program for an up-to-date list of application needs. Some programs require supplemental items like a resume, essays, letters of recommendation or an interview.

What can I do to improve my chances of getting accepted into a Master of Education program?

  • Gain relevant experience working in the education field and familiarize yourself with school system policies and procedures.
  • Volunteer with a local organization that supports learning, literacy or student achievement.
  • Participate in a professional association relevant to your interests, whether it’s technology, literacy, corporate training or education reform.
  • Follow the application instructions carefully and make sure you’ve submitted all required materials in a timely manner.

Application Process Timeline

  • Review program requirements.
  • Take standardized tests, as required.
  • Order undergraduate transcripts.
  • Prepare required documentation (i.e., write essay, request recommendation letters).
  • Submit a completed application by the program’s posted deadline.

Note: Program to program you will find there is a lot of variation in the application process. Some only admit students at certain times of year, which may be based on semesters or accelerated terms. Others have a rolling admissions policy that allows students to apply any time and quickly enroll. Completion timelines can also vary across programs within one institution or across a network of schools.

What are the degree options available at the master’s level?

Program Length

M.Ed. programs typically include 30 to 36 academic credits requiring two years to complete as a full-time student on a traditional semester calendar. Some concentrations may require additional credits, such as those that incorporate licensure requirements (e.g., school counseling, state certification). Part-time and accelerated programs are available.

Program Goals

Most M.Ed. programs are designed to help teachers specialize in a particular aspect of education, while others offer opportunities to move into doctoral-level programs through more extensive research courses and projects. Prospective students interested in a more general curriculum may want to explore a Master of Arts in Education (M.A.); those more interested in research should consider a Master of Science in Education (M.S.).


M.Ed. students usually choose a specific academic track. Concentrations cover topics like curriculum and instruction, instructional technology, special education, museum education and educational leadership. Students can also choose concentrations based on a level or type of education (i.e., early childhood, elementary, high school, higher education, adult education, workforce education) or based on a subject (e.g., science, math, music, reading and writing).

What do the major concepts and coursework look like?

While the specific learning objectives of each M.Ed. program vary, students can expect to acquire advanced knowledge and skills related to learning environments, student assessment and instructional strategies.


Core courses provide a foundation of educational theory and research. Common course subjects include:

  • Research and Assessment in Education
  • Assessing Learner Outcomes and Evaluating Programs
  • Teaching and Learning in Diverse Classrooms
  • Advanced Educational Psychology

Concentration courses are directed toward the student’s specialization or major and include classes like:

  • Legal Issues in Higher Education and Student Affairs
  • Conducting Enrollment Management Studies
  • Hardware and Software in Instructional Development
  • Classroom Accommodations and Modifications for Special Needs Learners

Electives are part of some degree plans and usually require advisor approval. These credits can include graduate-level courses in a wide range of topics, such as education policy, International education, social justice, and administration and leadership.

Thesis, Exam, Practicum

Most M.Ed. programs include a capstone requirement that can include one or more of the following: formal research and writing, learning portfolio development, guided field experience or comprehensive exams.

What about program costs?

Getting In

The graduate admissions process typically includes costs related to the following:

  • Application: Printed and online forms require payment of a non-refundable fee ranging from $45 to $75.
  • Standardized tests: The GRE test administration fee is $195; additional fees apply for subject tests, special handling and preparation courses.
  • Interviews: Not all programs require an interview, but those that do may provide travel and lodging costs for the prospective student.

Tuition and Fees

Tuition costs at the graduate level can vary based on the type of school (i.e., private, public, for-profit), mode of instruction (i.e., online, on-campus, blended) and student residency (in-state, out-of-state). Each institution sets its own rates for tuition and other fees associated with taking courses and completing program requirements.

When comparing the costs of multiple programs, look for the following information to help you in your decision making:

  • Total costs: The amount paid to complete all courses and program requirements.
  • Annual tuition: This is usually calculated based on full-time enrollment for one academic year.
  • Cost per credit: Programs require different numbers of courses and credits. The program with the fewest number of credits required isn’t necessarily the least expensive.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average full-time graduate tuition and fees was $14,993 in 2011. Current programs range from approximately $8,000 to $35,000.

Admissions and financial aid counselors can help research funding options to offset the total cost of attendance. Review our guide on scholarships, grants and general financial aid advice for more information.

How does accreditation work?

What accrediting agencies should I be aware of for Master of Education programs?

The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education evaluates schools, colleges and departments of education that prepare K-12 teachers and specialists. This includes programs designed for initial licensure, as well as those providing advanced coursework and continuing education.

The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs reviews graduate-level degree programs. M.Ed programs with concentrations in school counseling, counselor education, career counseling and student affairs can pursue CACREP accreditation.

How do I go about evaluating and selecting a program?

  • Make sure your concentration is offered. There are many different subjects you could study, from school counseling and teaching to technology and technical training, but not all programs offer all concentrations. Read program and course descriptions carefully to get a better idea of the available options.
  • Review faculty profiles. Faculty qualifications are an important component of an academic program. Find out more about your future instructors’ educational backgrounds, expertise in the fields they teach, professional experience and current research interests.
  • Look for opportunities to gain experience while you study. Many M.Ed. programs integrate practical learning through course assignments, internships, capstone projects and collaborative research groups. Find out how you will be able to build on your previous experience and prepare for the workplace of the future.
  • Identify options for personalization. Some programs are more flexible than others. Focus on your educational needs and career goals when comparing programs. Will you be able to add a secondary specialization or track? Are there multiple options for internship or field experience locations? Can you select your own research area?
  • Explore program partnerships. Many programs work with other groups to enhance the learning experience and allow for an exchange of resources. M.Ed. programs may partner with other academic departments, join a learning consortium with other schools, sponsor professional events or connect with local employers.

What are the keys to success once I’ve begun my program?

  • Immerse yourself in each course. It can be tempting to rush through each course checking off assignments as additional tasks in your already busy schedule. Take time to reflect on how what you’ve learned in each course connects with the ones that came before and the ones that follow. Consider keeping a journal to record your progress.
  • Reach out to academic advisors, tutors, career counselors and librarians. Many services are in place at your institution to ensure you have the support you need to successfully complete your program. Attend orientation and information sessions, and set up appointments with different departments to find out more about the resources available.
  • Connect with influential instructors. If your program is a good fit for your interests, it’s likely you’ll meet at least one faculty member who is actively working in or conducting research related to your field of interest. Explore the options for partnering with these instructors outside the classroom on special projects and committees.
  • Establish relationships with classmates. Even if your program doesn’t operate with a cohort model (i.e., a group of students begins and ends the program together), chances are you’ll encounter many of the same students in your classes. The working relationships developed now will extend throughout your program and beyond graduation as you become part of each others’ professional network.