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What is an MEd Degree?

An educator earning her Med and helping students

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At SNHU, we want to make sure you have the information you need to make decisions about your education and your future—no matter where you choose to go to school. That's why our informational articles may reference careers for which we do not offer academic programs, along with salary data for those careers. Cited projections do not guarantee actual salary or job growth.

MEd stands for Master of Education and is a master's degree for those working in education. With an MEd, you can advance your teaching career by gaining insights into new approaches and technologies that inspire learners and transform students.

You might be surprised to learn that an MEd also allows you to apply your knowledge in other settings, including charter schools and home schools, nonprofit education programs, higher education and corporate environments.

What is a Master's in Education Degree?

Like many other master's degrees, a master's in education typically takes around two years to complete. It can include coursework focused on evidence-based research to inform curriculum and instruction, creating useful assessments and developing differentiated instruction to serve the needs of all students.

There are many benefits of an MEd program that include building your educational leadership skills and addressing the role of technology in the curriculum and classroom. An MEd can also give you experience designing programs that address the diverse needs of learners within your own classroom or work environment.

In an MEd program, you have the opportunity to explore new technologies and approaches through the development of lessons, learning assessments or other projects that can be directly applied in your classroom or workplace.

Some online MEd programs offer concentrations that dive deeper into specific content areas, such as:

Dr. Daniel Tanguay, an executive director of general education, first-year experience at SNHU.“Learning methods and approaches are evolving,” said Dr. Daniel Tanguay, executive director of general education, first-year experience at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), who formerly served as the senior associate dean of education. “Because learning is changing, that means we also have to change the way we instruct our students. The MEd shows teachers how you can shift your instruction to address 21st-century learning.”

Tanguay, who has a PhD in Educational Leadership, worked within various school districts in New Hampshire as a teacher, headmaster and education director before coming to SNHU.

One change educators have been encountering since the global pandemic is the need to effectively teach students in virtual and hybrid classrooms. Earning an MEd that focuses on how to teach online can help you develop and hone the skills you need to instruct students, whether they are in a physical space or a virtual environment.

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What Can You Do With a Master's in Education?

Educators who understand how to serve the diverse needs of students are in high demand. A master’s degree in education can position you to succeed in several different roles:

Instructional Coordinator

Instructional coordinators work in public or private schools at the elementary, secondary and higher education levels. They develop and evaluate school curricula and teaching standards, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). They also develop instructional material, work with teachers and principals to present it, and assess its effectiveness.

Instructional coordinators earned a median salary of $74,620 in 2023, with a projected 2% job growth through 2032, BLS reported.*

Postsecondary Education Administrator

Postsecondary education administrators typically work in a college or university setting where they manage student services, academics and faculty research, according to BLS. They may also hold supervisory roles in admissions, student life or the registrar’s office.

Postsecondary education administrators earned a median annual salary of $102,610 in 2023 with a projected 4% job growth through 2032, according to BLS.*

Postsecondary Teacher

Postsecondary teachers instruct in a variety of academic subjects past the high school level. While most postsecondary teachers work full-time, part-time work is common in the field, BLS said.

Typically, this field requires at least a master's degree, but a PhD is more common, according to BLS. Postsecondary teachers earned a median salary of $84,380 in 2023, with a projected 8% job growth through 2032, BLS reported.*

Principal

Principals work in public and private elementary, middle and high schools. According to BLS, they are responsible for diverse school operations, including:

  • Curricula and academic goals
  • Security procedures
  • School district, state and federal regulations
  • Student achievement and teacher effectiveness assessments

Principals earned a median salary of $103,460 in 2023, BLS reported.*

School and Career Counselors and Advisors

School counselors help students develop social and academic skills, according to BLS, while career advisors help students figure out their career plans and a path for the future, generally in a university setting. Both are normally full-time roles.

School and career counselors and advisors earned a median salary of $61,710 in 2023, with a projected 5% job growth through 2032, BLS reported.*

Training and Development Manager

Training and development managers create, present and coordinate educational programs to enhance the knowledge and skills of an organization’s employees, BLS said. They might select course content and materials for training programs or develop videos, self-guided instructional manuals or online programs.

They also must evaluate whether instructional methods, content and technology are effective, according to BLS.

Training and development managers earned a median salary of $125,040 in 2023, BLS reported, with a 6% projected job growth through 2032.*

Is an MEd Required to Become a Teacher?

An icon of a teacher presenting a lesson to three studentsThe short answer is: It depends on where you work and what your previous experience entails. Each state has its own certification process related to teacher licensure. The MEd, on its own, will not certify someone lacking state licensure to become a classroom teacher in a public school district.

Instead, those looking to teach typically complete undergraduate degree programs approved by a state that directly lead to certification, such as SNHU's bachelor's in education for licensure. These programs include the required field experience, as well as a year of student teaching before you can apply for state licensure, according to Tanguay.

However, it's possible for a teacher licensed in another area — for example, math — to enroll in an online MEd program that would give them field experience in another content area. The candidate could then use that experience to obtain certification in a secondary content area, Tanguay said.

In some cases, states experience critical shortages in specific content areas, such as technology integration. If you're looking to use technology resources more effectively in curriculum and instruction, you might choose an MEd program focused on technology integration to help gain endorsement as a technology integrator.

“The MEd in itself does not provide a direct pathway to this certification, but because it’s a critical shortage area, it might be something you could work with your school and state department of education to achieve under an alternative plan,” said Tanguay.

An icon of a school building with a clock

In private schools or higher education settings, an MEd on its own can position you to teach in an organization in which state licensure is not required. However, it's important to check requirements before assuming an MEd will qualify you to teach in any case.

An MEd is not the only master's degree available to teachers. You can also consider a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) or a Master of Science in Education (MS Ed), although neither program is currently offered at SNHU.

An MAT program focuses on advancing your teaching career. It’s usually pursued by people who want a more hands-on teaching experience and want to work directly with students. Similarly, an MS Ed is a program for educators who want to work in the field, improve their skills and someday move into an academic leadership role.



How an MEd Can Help You Grow

Some teachers see a bump in salary after earning an MEd, making it a strong incentive for them to pursue the advanced degree, said Tanguay.*

MEd graduates bring credibility to their professions, and they can be highly competitive in the job market.*

“If a district is looking for high-quality educators, and they are comparing two applicants against each other, the person with the MEd is going to have an advantage,” Tanguay said. “The MEd reflects that a candidate has more experience and is capable of taking on more responsibilities required by the job.” 

An icon indicating a process with three circles, two of which are checked off, connected by two lines

If your goal is to become a principal, you likely need to be certified to teach in your state and have years of teaching experience, according to BLS, and a master's degree in education is also a common requirement. The MEd is required for educators looking to move beyond the role of classroom teacher to the role of principal, assistant principal or curriculum coordinator, for example, according to Tanguay.

"The MEd really gives you a good understanding of assessment, instructional strategies and the expertise to hone in on student learning as it relates to all aspects of an educational environment,” he said. “The MEd is the pathway that educators will choose because of that theoretical approach.”

Other popular roles outside the classroom that typically require an MEd include instructional coordinators and curriculum specialists, according to BLS.

So, is a Master's Degree in Education Worth It?

A master’s degree in education can help launch you into an educational leadership position where you can put your knowledge of curriculum and instruction — and how it relates to 21st-century learning — to work.

Casey Rasmussen, a 2023 graduate from SNHU with an MEd, holding her son, Rockwell.Teacher Casey Rasmussen '23MEd decided to earn her MEd because she believes continued education is important in her profession. And after learning she was pregnant, the credential became even more important. She said her master's degree was an opportunity for her to better support her family and show her son that he can do anything he sets his mind to.

Rasmussen enrolled at SNHU because the online format gave her the flexibility to continue her full-time work and become a mom — all while going to school.

When she finished her program, she traveled from Nashville, Tennessee, to walk at her commencement ceremony with son Rockwell in her arms.

"When I started my degree, I was pregnant with him," Rasmussen said. "I actually finished my degree two months after having him, so he has been a part of my entire master's process."



Throughout her program, Rasmussen found she could apply what she was learning in her courses to her day-to-day work.

"I would read an article or type a paper, and I would say, 'Oh my goodness, I can use this next week,'" she said.

The strategies she learned around building courses, adaptation ideas and classroom engagement techniques were particularly beneficial to her, and she found herself making suggestions inspired by her coursework during team meetings, too.

"So, so many times, what I was learning, I was able to implement immediately into my classroom," she said.

Discover more about SNHU's master's in education: Find out what courses you'll take, skills you'll learn and how to request information about the program.

*Cited job growth projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth. Actual salaries and/or earning potential may be the result of a combination of factors including, but not limited to: years of experience, industry of employment, geographic location, and worker skill.


Krysten Godfrey Maddocks ’11G is a writer who covers K-12 and higher education topics, including policy and the role of digital technology in education. She spent almost a decade working in various marketing roles at an educational assessment company before launching a strategic marketing company. Maddocks earned a master's degree in marketing from Southern New Hampshire University and a bachelor's degree in English/ journalism from the University of New Hampshire. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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