May you never have to tickle Google for a list of America’s top online colleges. If you do, you’ll get a steaming pile of doo-doo created by fake online school ranking sites. You’ll get list after list of America’s top online colleges — the top online colleges that paid to be listed on these fake school ranking sites, that is.
Mindful of the useless pile Google serves up in the “top online school” sector we, here at Get Educated, decided to tackle the task of creating a series of editorial opinion lists on some real top online degrees. Here’s our first rating list, compiled from a review of 350+ online masters in education that we have stockpiled in our amazing online college guide.
These online masters degree options are not listed in any meaningful order (#1 is not better necessarily than #10). We note why each degree has managed to impress us, and why we believe it may also interest you, or your K-12 teaching colleagues. Our emphasis here is largely K-12 education technology online, but stay tuned as we’ll soon have more top lists, aimed at higher education experts as well as corporate training types.
This is a list of the top 10 online masters in education with an education technology emphasis that, after 23 years of reviewing online colleges, we'd pick ourselves if we were in search of the best online masters. Each degree is from a graduate education school we'd be mighty proud to list on our teaching resumes. As always, let us know if we missed anyone. Tweet us at @GetEducated!
Columbia began recruiting teachers for their hybrid (online + on-campus) summer intensive masters in 1983. Today, teachers can tackle this degree 100% online or opt to combine online courses with a culture-soaked (July) campus intensive in NYC. Let’s be honest. A Teacher’s College pedigree is nothing to sneeze at. Your alumni network will be second to none; this alone may be worth the high cost ($40,000-$50,000 plus campus residency costs) to list this top online masters in education on your resume.
If you crave a top grad education school that won’t bust your piggy bank you’ll fall in love with IU. This public “Ivy” is a pot of career gold for pauper teachers. Indiana offers the double whammy; a reasonable public university price tag – about $16,000 – PLUS high prestige among educators. Their online masters in edtech has been so successful the school plans to offer their very first online doctorate in education (Ed.D) in 2012-2013. Go Hoosiers!
Penn State is oft touted as the queen bee of quality in erudite distance learning circles. No one has been doing distance learning longer – and some would argue better – than the elearning egg heads at the World Campus. This public university first offered distance learning courses in 1892. Yes, I said 1892. In the early days of distance learning PSU used postmen on horseback to deliver agricultural lessons to rural farmers. Today, the highly-decorated World Campus delivers wireless courses to jungle-bound students on high tech topics like GIS mapping. I like that they don’t outsource their online graduate programs to a team of Johnny-come lately adjuncts. Their online masters in education are staffed by the same pedigreed pundits who teach at their residential graduate school of education.
Teachers, choose your academic poison. The master of science (MS) in edtech requires the GRE and a thesis and is meant to prep teachers for a scholarly doctorate degree (which Boise also happens to offer 100% online). The master of edtech, on the other hand, is a practitioner’s hands-on program intended for educators who want to make a difference with their students right NOW. No GRE or thesis is required. One big bonus: this degree is low in cost, and if you want a more scholarly emphasis this is one of the few programs that will let you knuckle down and do a more traditional masters degree research curriculum in prep for that online doctorate degree. (The BSU distance Doctor of Education in Educational Technology (Ed.D.) program will officially begin accepting students in fall 2012.) At $12,500 this is an amazingly solid distance degree for academic researchers. And trust me, the only thing cheap about this school is the price tag. These guys know their stuff. No fluff or flash. Just hard-core, brain-busting teacher education online.
If I had a head for hammering out education policy this is where I’d ring the virtual grad school bell. GWU opened a teacher’s college in 1909 and has used their location in D.C. to engage in research and yammering on education policy ever since. This program is thick with educational theory. Perfect for career climbers interested in big wig administrative matters. This top online masters in education is not specific to K-12, but rather provides a broad theory basis for computers in education and training at all levels. Online students enrolled here come from corporations and government institutes as well as the little red schoolhouse. The GRE or Miller Analogies Test is required, but if tests cause you terror GWU will kindly waive these exams if you already hold an accredited masters degree.
Welcome to Michigan, where the focus is on K-12 teaching from start to finish. The online MA degree in Education is available only online, and not on campus. This is a non-thesis degree that won’t meet state licensing requirements. Online courses address discipline specific tech tasks like Learning Mathematics with Technology and Learning Science with Technology. At over $20,000 this university is pricey compared to their edtech state college competitors, but if you teach science, math or special education the Michigan online course line-up in these disciplines is impressive.
Okay, with 101 distance degrees the University of Illinois is an online education orgy. (To be honest with you I am sorely tempted to quit my day job and spend the rest of my life working through Illinois’ gargantuan online course smorgasbord just for the hey of it.) The Urbana-Champaign campus, a leader among brick and mortar grad ed schools, offers a mouth-watering basket of online teaching masters and certificates. The most tempting one may be the newest one, the one dedicated solely to “new learning and new literacies.” This top new online masters degree was created from scratch by America’s best literacy researchers. Its target audience is the working schoolmarm or mister who wants to nosedive into new media and create learning systems that engage young minds online socially as well as intellectually.
Maryland offers one of America’s largest online learning campuses. UMUC offers more than 100 bachelor and master degree programs and certificates online. In 2011, UMUC offered 836 distinct courses online and processed 234,000 online course enrollments. Wowser! UMUC offers a substantial – albeit not sexy - edtech masters that’s as solid and reliable as my twelve-year-old Toyota. This distance degree offers great foundation courses like Teaching and Learning in K-12 Virtual Schools and Teaching Media Literacies in the Digital World. Unlike many online masters in education programs applicants do NOT need to possess a state teaching license. Maryland residents and military are charged a low rate of about $14,500, but others will have to pay a higher cost of around $22,000.
Like many large public universities the Missouri egg heads began offering distance learning decades before the Internet was imagined. 1911 was the launch year for this distance education school.Today, Mizzou offers more online education options than any school in the Big Ten. The university offers 75 online degrees and 550+ online courses. The Mizzou edtech masters program is immersive. Teachers create virtual work portfolios that showcase learning. Courses are designed around literacy goals including modeling digital-age learning and promoting digital citizenship. Three online major areas are available: Learning Systems Design & Development, the Online Educator or Technology in Schools. To gain admission you’ll need 1000 or better on that pesky GRE. (Sorry, no waivers.) One cool thing: teachers everywhere who enroll in this online masters program enjoy the same hyper-low tuition as Missouri residents. For $10,000-$11,000 this degree will come home to you.
The Digital Teaching and Learning option is a 31-credit program for licensed teachers. To get educated with KSU Online an educator must have a current teaching certificate and classroom teaching experience or the equivalent. Grads are prepped to take on leadership roles in school technology integration and director positions in technology-rich schools. Emerging technologies are emphasized as newly designed course take a broad view of teaching and learning in the context of “virtual learning” – learning in which the world is the classroom – beyond the traditional training of most edtech programs. At about $14,000 this professional degree is a bargain for teachers nationwide.
About the Author: Vicky Phillips was cited in 2009 by US News & World Report as "for 20 years the leading consumer advocate for online college students." In 1989 she designed America's first online counseling center for distance learners on AOL. In 1998 she authored the first print guide to online graduate degrees - Best Distance Learning Graduate Schools put out by the Princeton Review. In 2001 she authored Never Too Late to Learn the Adult Student's Guide to College.