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Top 10 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Secondary Education

Most Affordable Online Master's in Secondary Education

Would you like to make a difference in the lives of young people? If so, then choosing a secondary education degree as your major is a great decision.

However, it can be difficult to find the right one, especially if you’re on a budget. 

There are all kinds of questions you will need to answer in order to find the best and most affordable program for your needs. Should you choose a concentration area? Do you need a license or are you just looking for an advanced degree?

Earning a degree online, regardless of your answers to these questions, is a smart choice. It will enable you to pursue your courses on your own schedule and at your own pace. Plus, it can often save you a ton of money. Not only are online tuition rates generally much lower than tuition rates for on-campus programs, but you won’t have to worry about paying for things like room and board, either. 

High school teachers in just about every state must hold at least a bachelor’s degree, but in many states, the master’s degree has become the base requirement. 

So what are you waiting for? 

Get ahead of the eight ball and complete your master’s in secondary education today—that way, you can get back in the classroom to continue making a world of difference for your students.

See Also: Affordable Online Master of Education Programs

What Are the Best Secondary Education Degrees?

We know that you have educational goals that you’re itching to pursue, but you may not know where to start. The editors of Master’s Programs Guide utilize a unique ranking methodology based on the following five aspects:

25% Overall Degree Affordability: Average cost of undergraduate and graduate tuition per school

25% Graduation Rate: Number of students who start at the university and actually finish there

20% Earnings Potential: Average mid-career salary of school alumni

20% Selectivity: The number of students who apply versus the number who actually get accepted

10% Online Graduate Offerings: The number of programs offered online in each department

At Master’s Programs Guide, we strive to do our best to guide you and your family toward a fruitful academic career. The pursuit of knowledge is a noble one, and we want to help you reach your goals.

#1. Liberty University

Liberty University

Master’s of Arts in Teaching — Secondary Education

Liberty University is a private Evangelical university that is located in Lynchburg VA. Founded by Jerry Falwell Sr and Elmer L. Towns, this school is one of the largest Chrisitan institutions not just in the country, but in the world. It is known for its many online offerings and its large population of online students—it is home to more than 95,000 students in total when these learners are counted! 

Despite the wide availability of its programs, Liberty University has serious academic prestige. It offers more than 550 programs in total, with about 144 graduate degrees offered exclusively online. 

Requiring 36 credit hours of study, the master of arts in teaching at Liberty University takes most students just a year and a half to complete. It consists of 100% online courses that last around eight weeks each, and with multiple start dates per year, this is one of the most convenient programs you can pursue. 

At Liberty, you don’t have to sacrifice quality for convenience, either. The online teaching degree is based on a foundation of biblical principles that will help you stand out in the job market—without requiring you to abandon your personal goals in the process. It is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) through the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). 

You’ll learn how to work with students in grades 6-12, addressing things like curriculum development, behavior management, and the philosophical foundations of education. You’ll take featured courses like:

  • Curriculum Fundamentals
  • Principles of Behavior Management
  • Current Issues in Content Areas

Despite being an online degree, you’ll have the opportunity to interact and network with educators and other professionals from all over the country. You will complete a semester of student teaching and internship and be able to pursue certification through the Association of Christian Schools International, too. 

This best affordable degree is offered at tuition rates starting at just $415 per credit hour billed at a full-time rate of nine credit hours per semester. This is one of the lowest tuition rates in the country. Plus, when you pursue the licensure track, you can be eligible for the Federal TEACH Grant as well as a myriad of scholarships to further lower your cost of attendance. 

#2. The University of Alabama

University of Alabama T

MA Degrees in Secondary Education

Often referred to simply as Bama, the University of Alabama is a public research university in Tuscaloosa, AL with a reputation for quality academics and outstanding career outcomes. It has a variety of academic programs that you won’t find anywhere else in the state, including doctoral degrees in fields like:

  • romance languages
  • communication and information science
  • anthropology
  • metallurgical engineering

Of course, you can’t beat the master’s degrees in education that this school offers, either. This top Master of Arts in Secondary Education at the University of Alabama will allow you to hone your skills in an area of your choosing so that you can become a more effective educator—all while studying completely online or in a hybrid fashion. The program is ranked as one of the best online programs at the graduate level as well as for veterans by the U.S. News & World Report

You can pursue licensure as a secondary education teacher in a variety of areas, including:

  • English Language Arts
  • English for Speakers of Other Languages
  • General Social Science
  • Reading Specialist, Science
  • Special Education

The curriculum of each of these programs is developed based on standards from the National Educational Technology Standards for Students and Teachers and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. You’ll be able to cultivate your skills as a teacher by participating in research-based opportunities to plan, implement, and evaluate your curriculum and assessment.

In addition to up to six credit hours of electives, you will also be able to take required courses like:

  • Introduction to Educational Research
  • Modern Secondary School Programs
  • Computer-Based Instruction

A teaching field experience is another core component of this program. You must have a valid teaching certificate and some teaching experience in order to apply for admission to the degree. 

With tuition starting at just $440 per credit hour, this degree is also one of the most affordable. There are plenty of scholarships available, including the Back to Bama Grant and the College of Continuing Studies Scholarship.

Applications are accepted year-round and GRE scores are not required for this degree. You will take 30 credit hours of study and be able to graduate in as little as a year or two, making it the perfect fit for busy working professionals who want a bargain in their education without having to sacrifice quality or convenience. 

#3. University of North Texas 


Online Master of Education in Teaching – Secondary Education

The University of North Texas is a public research university located in Denton, TX. Consisting of more than a dozen colleges and schools, this university is regarded as one of the top institutions in the nation and classified among R1: Doctoral Universities—Very High Research Activity. 

Its traditions date back to 1890 when it was first founded as a coeducational teacher’s college. Although the university now offers dozens of programs, each with an average student-to-faculty ratio of 23:1, it is best known for the classic programs in secondary education upon which its legacy was created.

The best-value online Master of Education in Teaching-Secondary Education is a graduate program offered in a 100% distance learning format by the graduate school at the University of North Texas. You can pursue several secondary education certification tracks such as mathematics and science. 

Regardless of the track you pursue, you will have to take common core requirements such as:

  • Literacy Development for English Learner
  • Literacy for All
  • Maintaining Classroom Discipline Curriculum Development for Culturally Diverse Learners
  • Everyone Can Learn: Applying Theory to Teaching Practice

You will also complete an internship or a student teaching experience in a secondary school. 

All in all, you will take 12 hours of common core courses, 12 hours in a specialization, and six hours of practical experience classes. Courses are offered in convenient eight-week chunks. 

This affordable program features low tuition rates starting at just $227 per credit hour. The University of North Texas has been named one of America’s 100 Best College Buys for more than 25 consecutive years and offers all the quality of a private university but at a more affordable cost. The school is ranked as one of the best and most affordable in the nation by publications like Washington Monthly and U.S. News & World Report, too.

#4. California State University-Fullerton

California State- Fullerton

Online Master of Science in Education with a Secondary Education Concentration

California State University-Fullerton is home to the famed and funny mascot Tuffy the Titan. Despite its silly reputation in this area, this university is actually one of the most prestigious in the state. It has one of the largest student bodies out of the entire 23-campus California State University system. 

At California State University-Fullerton, you can graduate with a Master of Science in Secondary Education in as little as 21 months. In those 21 months, you’ll work with other professionals in collaborative groups to explore issues related to educational equity, culturally and linguistically sustaining curriculum, and new ways to explore and use educational technology.

You will benefit from small class sizes, the opportunity to learn synchronously and/or asynchronously, and a curriculum that is designed based on feedback from some of the country’s leading professionals. In fact, U.S. News & World Report has ranked this program among the top graduate education degrees in the country. 

You’ll be able to exercise complete control over your courses as part of this degree. You can choose from a variety of exit options, for example, choosing among writing for publication, a comprehensive examination, an action research project, National Board certification, or a curriculum development experience. 

As is the case with many of the secondary education degrees in this ranking, you’ll be able to choose from multiple concentrations to round out your degree. These include a unique Teaching Foundational Mathematics emphasis. 

Regardless of your area of specialty, you will take hands-on courses such as:

  • Advanced Proficiency in Educational Technologies
  • Survey of Educational Research
  • Curriculum Theory and Development
  • Graduate Studies in Secondary School Writing

A total of 31 credit hours is required for graduation. 

You can begin your studies at several points throughout the year. It is available as a fully online program or as a hybrid degree, allowing you to build relationships with K-12 teachers, students, and communities from all over the country. This year-round program will allow you to join a cohort of other teachers while continuing to work or teach full-time.

Best yet, this degree is incredibly affordable. The total cost of the program is around $13,000 with various sources of graduate funding available. 

#5. San Diego State University 

San Diego State University 

Online Master of Arts in Teaching: Elementary Education and Secondary Education

A public research university, San Diego State University was founded in 1897 as the San Diego Normal School. As the third-oldest university in the California State University system, it was first founded to provide quality education to aspiring teachers in southern California—and it holds strong to that commitment today with its many elementary and secondary education programs. 

The high-value Master of Arts in Teaching at San Diego State University comes with concentrations in both elementary and secondary education. This program has multiple start dates per year and is a degree that is perfect for students who already have teaching certificates or credentials and aren’t pursuing initial licensure. 

This one-year program requires the completion of just 24 units of study. It’s ranked one of the top programs in the nation and offers the same quality as the face-to-face instructional program but with added flexibility for busy working professionals.

The curriculum is rooted in social justice and equity in education and provides program credit for teachers who have earned their certificates or comparable credentials within the last six years. You will take four courses in the first summer followed by two courses in the fall and two in the spring. You’ll take courses that cover topics like:

  • innovative curriculum development
  • inclusion in the classroom
  • measuring student achievement
  • research-based pedagogy

Before you graduate, you’ll complete a final research and capstone project that will enhance your professional skills in working with students who are culturally and linguistically diverse. As you work, you’ll learn among a diverse group of peers along with nationally-known professors who have published in journals like:

  • Harvard Educational Review
  • The Social Studies
  • Curriculum Studies, Science and Children

The degree is geared toward full-time teachers so it offers the maximum amount of flexibility. It’s also offered at a significant discount compared to other secondary education programs, with most students paying an average of $3,330 for a full-time semester’s worth of courses. In most cases, you’ll be eligible for graduate education scholarships as well. 

#6. University of Maine

Online Master of Education program in Secondary Education

A public land-grant research university, the University of Maine is located in Orono, ME. It was first established in 1865 as the flagship institution of the state university system.

The University of Maine offers a variety of online master’s in secondary education with licensure options and without. Offerings include a Master of Arts in Teaching along with numerous education specialist degrees. You’ll gain the strong foundation in leadership skills you need to meet the needs of all students, communities, and schools, with certain programs leading to additional certifications or endorsements. 

The teaching degree is an accelerated program that requires up to 36 credit hours of study. You can pursue specialized study in content areas like:

  • physical science
  • social studies
  • world languages
  • English
  • math
  • life sciences

Ideal for the teacher who already holds an undergraduate degree and wants to obtain the licensure necessary to become a secondary school teacher, the courses in this program are taught by dedicated faculty who have expertise in a variety of educational disciplines from STEM education to rural and urban settings.

You’ll take courses like:

  • Social Context of Education
  • Adapting instruction for Students with Disabilities
  • Classroom-Based Prevention and Intervention
  • Teaching and Assessing for Student Learning

Most classes can be completed fully online, with the entire degree taking just 15 months to complete. 

You will also have the opportunity to complete an educational internship and a separate practicum, both of which can be undertaken at a school near where you live.  When all is said and done you’ll complete six credit hours of student teaching and 24 hours of education requirements plus an additional six credit hours of content-specific coursework, depending on your specialization. 

An affordable program, this degree has tuition rates starting at just $550 per credit hour. This is a much lower rate than what you would pay as a full-time student studying on campus at UMaine and there are additional tuition discounts available via financial aid and scholarships.

#7. University of North Carolina at Charlotte

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Online Master of Arts in Teaching Middle and Secondary Education

A public research university, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte is located, as you might expect, in Charlotte, NC. It offers nearly 80 undergraduate degree programs as well as dozens of online master’s degrees.

This top Master of Arts in Teaching at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte is geared specifically toward aspiring middle and high school teachers, with optional concentrations in:

  • English
  • social studies
  • math
  • science

These online degrees are ranked within the top 10% in the country by U.S. News & World Report

A 21-credit hour program, it’s designed for individuals who already have their certificates in teaching in middle grades education. After completing this program, you will be eligible to apply for a level “M” professional educator’s license.

A streamlined, cost-effective program, it features courses that are offered 100% online and can be completed on a part-time basis in as little as three semesters. You’ll be required to complete a culminating 15-week student teaching experience, but if you’re already a practicing teacher, you can use your own classroom as the practicum location!

You’ll work with a strong network of other residency teachers and faculty, allowing you to tap into the University of North Carolina’s long tradition of academic excellence. You’ll develop and sharpen your research skills by completing hands-on research and creating an electronic portfolio. You will even learn how to write grants and complete a teacher leadership project that enables you to create a professional development plan for the teachers in your school!

As you learn in your courses, you’ll be supported by a variety of student resources such as the:

  • Office of School and Community Partnerships
  • Center for Graduate Life
  • University Career Center (which hosts an Education Career Fair each spring)
  • Office of Teacher Education Advising and Licensure

It is an affordable program with tuition rates starting at just $240.94 for state residents. In addition to low tuition rates, this school also offers generous financial aid. You can apply for one of a limited number of graduate assistantships or other forms of financial aid like the Federal TEACH Grant to lower your cost of attendance even more. 

#8. North Carolina State University at Raleigh 

NC State University

Online Master of Arts in Teaching – Secondary Education

Founded in 1887, North Carolina State University at Raleigh has one of the largest enrollments in the country. Home to more than 35,000 students, it offers master’s degrees in more than 100 areas of study.

You’ll find another cheap master’s online at this esteemed institution. This program will prepare you to teach in K-12 schools (and in the content area of your choosing) without requiring you to spend tons of time with your nose in the books. In fact, this accelerated program makes it possible for you to graduate in as little as 14 to 20 months when studying full-time!

You’ll learn from nationally recognized faculty who have extensive K-12 teaching experience, gaining hands-on teaching experience in technology-enhanced and culturally diverse classrooms. You can choose from ten different content areas in which to specialize including:

  • English
  • English as a Second Language (ESL)
  • Special Education
  • Social Studies Education
  • Language Arts Education
  • Technology, Engineering, and Design Education
  • Science Education
  • Mathematics Education

All of these concentrations and focus areas are offered 100% online so you don’t have to leave home to access one of the most prestigious programs in the nation. It is ranked as the best teacher preparation program in North Carolina by College Magazine and offered by a school that is considered the Best College for Your Money in N.C. by Money Magazine

You will learn how to teach in any kind of learning environment, including remotely, in-person, or a combination of the two. It is a state-approved Educator Preparation Program that is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. 

Best yet? The affordability. You can earn both a master’s degree and an initial teacher license for less than $14,000 in this program, which features some of the lowest tuition rates in the nation. There are even scholarship opportunities (some up to $2,000!) available to help lower costs even further.

#9. University of Central Missouri 

University of Central Missouri

Online Master’s of Arts Degree in Teaching – which includes Concentrations in Secondary Education 

The University of Central Missouri is a public university located in Warrensburg, MO. Home to more than 11,000 students, it offers 150 programs of study, including 27 separate areas of teacher certification and 37 graduate programs. It was first founded with the goal of educating aspiring teachers, so it only makes sense that this is where you’ll find one of the best master’s degrees in secondary education, too. 

At the University of Central Missouri Online, you will learn from the same talented faculty members who teach on campus. You’ll have access to all the same campus resources, too, but from a distance. You can tap into everything you need from afar, including the library and writing lab, financial aid advising, academic support, careers services, and more.  

This high-value online Master of Arts in Teaching features multiple concentrations including those in middle, elementary, and secondary education along with a unique accelerated science education program. 

You can further hone your studies into certification areas like:

  • art
  • English
  • earth science
  • physics
  • speech communication and theater
  • special education
  • music education

There are more than 20 concentrations available, in fact! The degree is offered 100% online and has an impressive 86%placement rate. 

The degree is a comprehensive program with plenty of field experiences built in to prepare you for the classroom—and for a rewind career after graduation. You will learn how to think systematically about teaching principles and practices and how to create and perfect your own unique teaching style and philosophy. 

As an online graduate student, you will pay just $379.50 per credit hour. That’s a serious bargain, especially when you consider that there are additional scholarships and other forms of financial aid you can apply on top of that! 

#10. University of Nebraska-Lincoln

University of Nebraska Lincoln

Online Master of Secondary Education

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln was founded in 1869 as a land-grant university under the 1862 Morrill Act. It opened its doors only two years after Nebraska first became a state, offering a variety of professional programs and conducting groundbreaking research in everything from agricultural sciences to—you guessed it—education.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln offers another best value master’s in secondary education. You’ll gain a valuable understanding of professional development and teacher education in a variety of areas, including social studies, English, mathematics, science, and more. You will learn from faculty members who combine their deep research knowledge with K-16 classroom experiences, challenging aspiring educators to be as innovative as possible in their teaching and research. 

You can complete this degree on its own or with additional initial certification as a K-12 teacher. Either way, you will work with faculty who will engage you in meaningful teaching, research, and service opportunities on a  daily basis. You can take classes fully online or in a synchronous hybrid fashion. 

The program consists of 30 to 36 credit hours. You’ll work loosely with a personally selected faculty advisor to choose the courses that will best help you meet your professional goals. All students will take classes like:

  • Masters Seminar
  • Curriculum Inquiry
  • Inquiry: Teaching and Learning

You can pursue additional optional specializations in things like world language education, elementary teaching, and innovative learning technologies, too. 

This is an affordable program that features low tuition rates and plenty of opportunities to receive financial aid. You can apply for the Enhancing Excellence in Teaching Program from the Nebraska Department of Education or for graduate assistantships, which are available on a competitive basis. 


What is the cheapest online master’s in education?

Any of the online master’s in education degrees listed above are affordable options to help you meet your goals as an aspiring educator. The average tuition cost for a public school is around $15,000 per year, but many of the schools listed above feature tuition rates that are much lower than that.

Other affordable programs in education can be found at institutions such as:

  • Eastern New Mexico University
  • Valdosta State University
  • Northeastern State University

When you’re looking for the most affordable online master’s in education, don’t forget the role that financial aid will play in your overall expenses, either. You may qualify for financial support like grants (including the TEACH grant), scholarships, assistantships, and more. 

How much does it cost to get a masters in education online?

The average cost of getting a master’s in education online will vary depending on the school you choose to attend. The National Center for Education Statistics estimated that, in 2019, the average cost of master’s degree tuition was around $12,171 for public institutions and more than twice that at private institutions, with the cost only increased since then.

That said, earning a master’s in education is a smart investment. Not only can it help you earn a high salary over the life of your career (master’s graduates earn an average of $240 per week, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics) but in many states, a masters’ degree is required in order to start or remain teaching.

What do I need to apply to one of the best online masters in secondary education?

Admissions requirements for secondary education master’s degrees vary. In most cases, you will need to have a bachelor’s degree in education or a related field. However, some programs are meant for students who already have undergraduate training in a specific content area (like English or mathematics). 

You may have to have a certain GPA in order to qualify—3.0 on a 4.0 scale is the most common cut-off. GRE scores are sometimes required for admission, as are supplemental documents like letters of recommendation, a personal essay, and a resume. 

What will I learn in a high-value master’s in secondary education?

In a high-value master’s in secondary education, you will take classes that will teach you how to present information to students of all abilities, backgrounds, and ages. You’ll complete a student-teaching program, in which you will work with a mentor teacher and gain experience instructing students in a classroom.

Some master’s degrees will prepare you for state licensure, though others are designed simply to fulfill the credit requirements needed to meet state and local guidelines. 

What are some master’s in secondary education jobs? 

The most common job pursued by graduates of master’s programs in secondary education is a high school teacher. These educators work with students from the 9th through 12th grades, though some of the best online masters in secondary education also prepare teachers to work with students in grades 6-8 as well.

In addition to working as a teacher, you can also pursue roles as a coach, curriculum developer, or school administrator, in many cases. 

Is a masters in secondary education worth it?

If you’re questioning whether a master’s in secondary education is worth the money, just consider the simple fact that earning such a credential will increase your earning potential by as much as 29%, depending on where you live. 

The average salary for a high school teacher was $62,870 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These positions are expected to grow by about 8% by 2030, with the highest 10% of earners bringing in more than $102,000. The best way to make your way toward the top of that wage scale is by gaining more experience, something that earning a master’s degree can help with.

Not only that, but earning your degree will enhance your knowledge of teaching and learning, making you a stronger, more confident professional in the classroom.  


Michael Templeton
Managing Editor

Kacey Reynolds Schedler
Contributing Editor