Education Degree Rankings

Admission Requirements

The education sector has always been one of the most robust employment sectors in the economy. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the education and health services industry employs a larger number of people than any other category. From professors and teachers to administrators and support staff, there are plenty of opportunities for a person with an education degree. Below we take a look at common admission guidelines for education-related degrees at all levels.

Consistent with other bachelor’s degree programs, admission to an education school or department starts first with gaining admission to the institution. Students need a high school diploma or a GED in addition to an acceptable grade point average, which varies greatly by how selective the college or university is. Additionally, applicants need letters of recommendation and admission essays. Depending on the institution, students may be required to submit standardized test scores such as the SAT or ACT.

Once admission is gained to the institution, students apply to the department or school that administers their education degree. The requirements range from a cumulative GPA of 2.5 and above to a series of prerequisite courses such as introductory psychology, human development, and a basic education course. Some departments require students to engage in an interview process while others admit students based on meeting grade point and course completion benchmarks.

A master’s degree in an education field can be a wise investment, as it prepares the individual for career advancement through the acquisition of job skills and knowledge. Depending on the program, candidates may need a related bachelor’s degree and job experience. For those seeking to change career paths, there are plenty of graduate education degree programs that welcome applicants with a bachelor’s degree in any field. In addition to a bachelor’s degree, applicants should possess a solid GPA of 3.0 or above. More competitive programs at selective institutions will require GRE scores as part of the application. Other application components include a personal statement, writing sample, transcripts from all institutions attended, and current resume. There is enough variance among education programs for candidates of all academic and career backgrounds to find a suitable program.

A doctoral in education versus a Ph.D. in education will have different admission standards. The purpose of a doctorate, in most cases, is to prepare the seasoned education professional with the tools and knowledge for the highest positions in an organization. A Ph.D. is designed to prepare the individual for a career in research or academia as a professor where developing new knowledge that contributes to the field and teaching students are the priorities. Admission standards for a Ph.D. include a track record of experience and leadership/management and often times a master’s degree in a related field.

Admission for a Ph.D. designed for a career in research or academia has different standards. These programs require a bachelor’s or master’s degree that prefer the candidate have research experience at the college level. These programs also require GRE scores, writing samples, a personal statement, and letters of recommendation. GRE scores and grade point averages will depend on the competitiveness of the program.


Early Childhood Education Administrator
A career as an early childhood education administrator generally requires a bachelor’s or master’s degree. This career path includes preschool owner, head start manager, childcare facility director, and more. The main function of the occupation is to oversee the facility, as well as develop policies and procedures. These individuals also typically engage in marketing and accounting functions. The average salary is approximately $38,000 per year.

Educational Administration
Administration jobs at all levels of education require at least a master’s degree in early childhood education administration or a related degree. From elementary school to postsecondary education, administration jobs that vary in size and scope. Job titles include principal, vice principal, program director, dean, superintendent, and many more. The pay varies greatly, but the average elementary, middle school, and secondary principal earns $95,000 per year compared to $94,000 for postsecondary (college) administrators.

School Counseling
School counselors are responsible for helping students maintain their mental and physical well-being, as well as developing life skills appropriate for their age group. In addition, counselors at the secondary and postsecondary levels work with students on career development and college admissions. Counselors need at least a master’s degree. Those who engage in mental health counseling must have the proper licensures and degrees. The median salary is $57,040. The lowest 10% earn $34,380, compared to the highest 10% that earn $96,090. The majority of these individuals have master’s degrees in school counseling.

Educational Technology
Educational technology professionals work in both educational and corporate settings. Their main task is to develop and implement information technology platforms designed to help stakeholders of the institution. They are also responsible for training end-users such as teachers and staff. Common job titles include course developer, technology coordinator, instructional designer, educational software developer, and multimedia designer. The job requires a bachelor’s degree in educational technology or a similar degree. The median salary is $60,920 with a range of $52,320 to $70,780.

Special Education
Special education teachers work with students with a wide range of mental, emotional, and physical disabilities. Special education teachers can be found working with students from preschool to high school, assisting them with a range of services such as direct instruction, development of IEP learning plans, and meeting with parents. Special education teachers may oversee their own classroom of students with disabilities, or they may be integrated into the classroom with non-disabled students. The occupation requires a teacher’s certification as well as licensure or certification in special education. The median salary is $61,030 per year according to data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Elementary Education
The individuals instruct students in K-6 settings, preparing them to advance to the next phase of their education. Elementary teachers instruct students on all subject matters, including math, reading, and writing. Some elementary teachers choose to focus on one subject, such as music, art, technology, or physical education. In these instances, one-subject teachers are required to have an endorsement in the specific subject. Elementary teachers must have at least a bachelor’s degree and a valid teaching license in the state where they instruct. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for an elementary teacher is $59,670.

Middle School Education
Middle school teachers typically instruct students in grades 6-8, with some states extending middle school through ninth grade. All middle school public teachers must have at least a bachelor’s degree with some states requiring the individual to major in elementary education, with others requiring a major in a content area such as math, science, history, etc. Like other teacher preparation programs, middle school coursework includes a student teaching component where students spend time observing and learning in the classroom. Teachers in private schools are not required to meet the same standards, but private schools generally follow very similar guidelines. The average pay is $59,660 per year.

Secondary Education
Also known as high school education, these teachers instruct students in 9-12 grades. Teaching focuses on specific coursework, as well as life skills, career planning, and college planning. Public high school teachers major in the content area they desire to teach. For example, an aspiring English teacher will major in English, while also taking education courses that lead to a teaching license. The professionals need at least a bachelor’s degree with some states requiring a master’s degree. Secondary teaching certifications generally allow teachers to work in classrooms ranging from 7th to 12th grade. The average salary, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is $62,310.

Career and Technical Education
CTE teachers typically work in middle and high school environments teaching subjects such as auto repair, culinary arts, cosmetology, welding, healthcare, and computer science. The student population these teachers instruct often use this education to go directly into the workforce rather than pursuing postsecondary education. CTE teachers need at least a bachelor’s degree and often have industry experience in the subjects they teach. The median salary for a career and technical education teacher is $61,710 annually.

Degree Cost

The average cost of an education-based degree varies by level and type of institution. Online teacher preparation programs vary greatly in cost but are often very affordable. These programs range from as little as $10,000, to $30,000 at the bachelor’s level. Some programs are designed for first-time college graduates, while others are for individuals with non-education bachelor’s degrees looking to switch careers.

State institutions are also affordable options that range from $10,000 to $30,000 for in-state residents. Many states have special tuition rates for first-generation college students that make the teacher preparation program nearly free. Private schools often have the highest nominal prices that can exceed $100,000, but often give substantial financial aid to students, making the net price lower than many state institutions. Teachers that agree to teach in certain urban or rural settings may be granted financial aid or debt reduction.

Master’s degrees vary greatly in price, with costs ranging from $12,000 to $75,000. Students can often find affordable online education master’s degrees ranging from $12,000 – $20,000 that can be completed while they work full-time.

Earnings & Pay

Education remuneration varies greatly by occupation and geographic location. Looking at the national average, teachers at all levels (K-12) earn an average salary of approximately $60,000 annually. Compared to the salary of all occupations ($39,810), teachers earn well above the national average. High schools (secondary) teachers earn slightly more compared to their middle and elementary school peers, with an average salary of $61,660 compared to $59,660 and $59,670 respectively.

Graduate School

Graduate school includes coursework towards a master’s degree or a Ph.D. The coursework is far narrower in scope and prepares the graduate to be an expert in a specific topic or subfield of a discipline or career. A doctorate in education, commonly known as an Ed.D., is a career-focused degree preparing the graduate for a leadership role in an educational institution. Common master’s and Ph.D. degrees in education include administration, leadership, and research.

Job Outlook

The job outlook for education workers varies according to specific occupations. Overall, the rates for elementary, middle school, and high school teachers are expected to be slower than average, as college graduates choose higher-paying fields. The specific rate of growth for elementary and middle school is 3% while high school teacher growth rate is expected to be 4% during the ten years of 2018-2028. The rate of expansion for all occupations is expected to be 5%. The growth will be fueled by current teachers retiring, as well as the expansion of schools as the population continues to increase. College graduates or existing teachers will find increased opportunities in metro areas where employment is growing.

Possible Majors

Early Childhood
A degree in Early Childhood Education (ECE), consists of coursework that covers the lifespan and development of preschool – 3rd grade. Content includes instructional techniques, psychological development, and physical development.

Educational Leadership
Often conferred at the master’s or Ed.D. levels, educational leadership covers courses in management, administration, leadership, educational policy, accounting, marketing, and pedagogy. The degree prepares the graduate for the highest levels of leadership in an educational setting.

Educational Technology
Educational technology is a popular major for those interested in the development and integration of information technology platforms within learning institutions or departments. Coursework may include programming, web design, multimedia design, cloud integration, and database administration. Most commonly offered at the bachelor’s degree level.

Elementary Education
One of the most common education majors, elementary education is offered at the bachelor’s and master’s levels. Coursework includes pedagogy, educational technology, teaching and learning in the classroom, curriculum development, and classroom management.

Online Education
With the increased demand for online learning, students may now major in online education. This degree includes coursework in information technology and design as well as teaching and learning courses that promote understanding of student learning, assessment, pedagogy, and policy.

School Counseling
School counseling degrees are typically master’s-level offerings that include coursework such as developmental psychology, mental health disorders, conflict management, career counseling, physical and mental disabilities, and teacher pedagogy.

Secondary Education
This major is for those interested in teaching middle or high school. Secondary education is similar to a double major in that students must major in the discipline they plan on teaching, such as math, science, English, etc., and also take coursework in pedagogy and teaching and learning to qualify for a teaching certificate.

Special Education
Offered at the bachelor’s and master’s levels, special education coursework include IEP development, physical and mental disabilities, teaching and learning pedagogy, and disability law/policy.


Rankings in Education

  • Online Master’s Education: Online master’s in education degree programs are some of the most popular graduate programs available today. Early education teachers, elementary and secondary educators, and even those working in higher education can now advance their careers and improve their salaries, thanks to these convenient and flexible M.Ed. offerings.
  • Early Childhood Master’s Online: There are many incentives for teachers of young children to pursue a master’s in early childhood education online. While the median pay for preschool teachers is just $28,750 per year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are many advancement opportunities for those teachers willing to work towards an early childhood education master’s degree online.
  • Educational Leadership Master’s Online: An online master’s in educational leadership program prepares teachers and graduates for leadership positions in the field of education. Many educational leadership degree-holders become professional development coordinators, principals and administrators, and even district superintendents. Online master’s in educational leadership programs open up doors to higher-paying careers than those positions requiring only a bachelor’s degree in education.
  • Education (Accelerated Online Master’s): Most states now require teachers to pursue professional development and eventually earn a graduate degree if they wish to keep their certification. This can be difficult for teachers who have to contend with busy schedules during the school year. The online programs we profile below are designed so teachers can earn their degree quickly, without having to quit their job in the meantime.
  • School Counseling (Accelerated Online Master’s): School counselors fulfill a very specific role in the counseling world. They provide guidance to primary and secondary students and their parents. School counselors work with students on college plans and help to identify risk factors in students, from mental health risks to learning disabilities, and in some unfortunate circumstances abuse and trauma counseling. School counseling graduate degrees generally consist of anywhere from 42 to 60+ credit hours of study.
  • Ed.D. Online: Teachers pursue online doctoral programs in education for a variety of different reasons. Some teachers may be seeking an advanced position in the field of education for salary advancement purposes. Others may be looking to enhance their leadership skills in order to mentor or train fellow teachers. Still others might want to seek positions as administrators or superintendents. No matter what the specific motive, most educators desire an online PhD program that is not only affordable, but flexible as well.
  • Accelerated Online Master’s in Education Leadership : Elementary, secondary, and postsecondary education administrators typically need a master’s degree. Employers look for candidates with experience working in the field and an advanced educational background. Many principals and educational leaders have earned a master’s in educational leadership. We reviewed a pool of schools that offer accelerated master’s in educational leadership online programs. These programs offer a quick path toward earning your specialized M.Ed.
  • Doctorate Educational Leadership Online: If you are considering a career as an educational administrator or leader in secondary or post-secondary education, an advanced degree is essential. A Ph.D. or Ed.D. is required for most administration roles in education.
  • Online Master’s Educational Technology: Teachers and educators are utilizing technology more and more in the classroom. To adequately provide technology training and to effectively use technology, teachers must be trained. Earning a master’s in educational technology online degree is often the first step toward bringing new and innovative teaching methods to the classroom.
  • Online Doctorate Training and Development: Earning an online PhD or doctorate in training and development shows employers you have the highest skill-set in the industry. To help qualify for management roles, top institutions offer PhD in training and development programs online or on-campus.
  • Online Doctorate Special Education: With an online doctorate in special education, individuals may pursue careers as a special education teacher, early intervention specialist, special education advocate, or special education administrator. Also, with extensive research in the field, graduates of online doctorate in special education programs become qualified to teach at the college level to help prepare teachers and other educators in the field. Online doctorate in special education programs are available from some of the nation’s top-ranked and accredited colleges and universities.
  • Online Doctorate Elementary Education: According to Payscale, the average salary for a PhD graduate in Elementary Education is $72K with a rating of “extremely satisfied” in job satisfaction. Now is a good time to pursue this degree, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an 8% increase in elementary, middle school, and high school principal jobs now through 2026.
  • PhD Early Childhood Education Online: Pursuing a PhD in Early Childhood Education online is set apart for professionals who have a passion for implementing positive changes to early childhood institutions from the very top of their professions. These specialists work to bring positive outcomes to the youngest and most impressionable group of people.
  • Early Childhood Education Jobs: What can you do with an early childhood education degree? The field of early childhood education is constantly evolving. As ECE becomes more available to a broader range of people, more professionals will be required to fill a variety of positions.
  • Scholarships for Education Majors: Professional organizations, fraternities, corporations, scholarly associations, social clubs, and more are featured on our list; all are offering great scholarships to students majoring in education. Most of the scholarships for education majors on our list are for undergraduate students, but there are also a good number of fantastic scholarships and fellowships offered to graduate and post-graduate students featured.
  • Online Teaching Degree: Programs in education are one of the most common options that schools offer through online learning. Most of these online teaching degree programs consist of 100% online classes, along with a select number of face-to-face practicum requirements.

Bambi Majumdar

Melissa Anderson

Julie McCaulley