Tips to Earn a Master's Degree Online in Teaching: Length of Time and Where to Go

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The Need for Teacher’s to Get a Master’s Degree

Earning an advanced degree can help a person advance in their career. But, with work, family and other social responsibilities, finding the time and the financing to pursue a degree can be a challenge. For a teacher, continuing education is a requirement to keep a current position and to advance in an educational environment. Once a person has obtained a teaching degree, depending on the area of interest, an advanced degree may be a requirement. For example, to teach in certain states or in a college or university setting, a master’s degree is a minimum requirement.

Before the Internet, if you wanted to go back to school and aspired to get a master’s degree, you had to fit classes around your work schedule, or quit work and go to school full-time. This was doable for a single person with few responsibilities, but a challenge for someone who had a full-time job or a family. Many people delayed going back to school until their kids were grown and they had less responsibility. Others took one or two classes a year, which delayed getting their degree. Especially for teachers this was cumbersome because in some states you only have five years to get your master’s degree or you cannot get permanently certified. With the time constraints of working daily in a classroom, getting the degree could prove to be most difficult.

However, with the advancements of online education, earning a master’s degree online in teaching is easier than ever. Also, a bonus is that you can often complete the program faster than in a traditional brick and mortar program.

Time to Complete the Degree

Depending on the program chosen, a master’s degree in teaching can take from 17 months to three years. The 17-month program is accelerated, meaning the classes move faster. The University of Phoenix offers an accelerated Masters in Education in varied disciplines such as E-Learning, Adult Education and Technology. The 36-hour program consists of classroom training, message board participation, and a final project called the Action Research Project., which takes doing a mini dissertation.

If you would prefer a program with a slower pace, Capella University also offers several online master degrees in teaching. The Masters in Education has several specializations to choose from, such as E-Learning, Information Technology and Administration. Also a 36-hour program, the time to complete the degree is roughly 24 months.

If the length of time to finish a program is not a factor, but you need the flexibility that an online education offers, then most universities with graduate programs are not offering online versions of their degree programs. Traditional graduate programs take 30 to 36 months to complete, but taking courses online can help a busy professional complete their degree. The University of Southern California, University of Cincinnati and Penn State all offer online versions of the master in education programs.

Accreditation and Rules by State

When choosing to earn a master’s degree online in teaching, it is a good idea to interview schools that offer programs which interest you and offer a time frame with which you are comfortable. It is also important to make sure the school you choose has regional accreditation. To learn if the school of your choice is accredited regionally, visit the Council for Higher Education Accreditation website and search for the school name. Regional accreditation is important. If you choose to transfer to a new school or continue to a terminal degree, only a regionally accredited school will be accepted by another regionally accredited college or university. Also, many school districts, colleges and universities only hire teachers with degrees from regionally accredited schools. You must make sure that the degree will be accepted in your state, so contact the teacher education department for your state, if you will be teaching in the elementary or secondary school setting.