Education Administration

Getting a Master of Education in MA

Getting a Master of Education in MA
You don't have to reside in the Bay State to get a degree from a Massachusetts school. In addition to on-campus MEd programs, the state offers plenty of online options. Image from Unsplash
Christa Terry profile
Christa Terry October 1, 2020

If you want to become a teacher or work in education-related fields, consider building your career in Massachusetts. In addition to its excellent school systems, the state offers some of the best graduate degree programs for educators.

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Massachusetts is home to 114 colleges and universities, a whopping 54 of them in Boston. With 300 school districts serving nearly one million K-12 students in addition to all that post-secondary education, you could certainly say that Massachusetts is the nation’s learning capital.

Unsurprisingly, education is among the Bay State’s biggest employment sectors; there is always a need for teachers, professors, other educators, and administrators here. Professionals in fields related to education—curriculum specialists, policymakers, assessment experts, and counselors, for example—are also in demand.

Massachusetts is consequently also one of the top-paying states for teachers, with salaries across the board higher than the national average. In short: Massachusetts is the top state in the nation for education.

There are many good reasons to choose a Master of Education (MEd) program in MA—and that’s before noting that Massachusetts is home to some of the country’s best MEd programs.

And here’s some more good news: you don’t have to reside in the Bay State to get a degree from a Massachusetts school. In addition to on-campus MEd programs, the state offers plenty of online options.

In this guide to earning a Master of Education in MA, we take a deeper dive into some of the top MA MEd programs and cover:

  • What is a Master of Education?
  • Four reasons to pursue a Master of Education in MA
  • Massachusetts colleges and universities with the best education programs
  • Online MEd programs offered by Massachusetts schools
  • Will a Master of Education lead to a teaching license in MA?

What is a Master of Education?

The Master of Education (or master’s in education) is a graduate-level degree, although it might be better described as a graduate degree pathway. Unlike the Master of Arts in Teaching or Master of Science in Teaching—which serve teachers looking to enhance their pedagogic skills—MEd programs are typically designed for teachers and educators looking to transition into related fields like educational administration, curriculum design, instructional technology, educational consulting, or school counseling.

Given how broad even that shortlist is, it should come as no surprise that Master of Education programs are concentration-based and subject-specific. You won’t find many, if any, generalist master’s programs for educators.

Most colleges and universities, in Massachusetts and elsewhere, offer many MEd specializations. In some Master of Education programs, all students complete the same core coursework related to educational theories and policies plus classes related to their chosen fields. In other master’s degree programs for educators, each MEd concentration has a distinct curriculum.



University and Program Name Learn More

Four reasons to pursue a Master of Education in MA

  • When ranked for performance, funding, safety, class size, and instructor credentials, Massachusetts has the best schools in the nation. This is a great place to study and lead education.
  • Massachusetts is home to many affordable state schools. Earning a Master of Education in the UMass system is affordable, provided you are eligible to pay resident tuition.
  • The Bay State has scholarship and grant programs just for graduate students pursuing education degrees. These change from year to year; students can search the state’s website for more information.
  • Massachusetts colleges and universities are home to some top educational research centers in the nation, like the Center for Social Development and Education at University of Massachusetts – Boston.

Massachusetts colleges and universities with the best education programs

Boston University

Boston, MA

With 19 possible pathways, Wheelock College of Education & Human Development offers an extensive list of full-time and part-time EdM program options. Concentration options include English Language & Literacy Education, Reading Education, Mathematics Education, and Science Education, as well as Higher Education Administration, Deaf Education, teaching English as a second language (ESL), and Applied Human Development. Additionally, students in some programs can choose sub-specializations. The EdM in Counseling has three pathways: School Counseling, Child & Adolescent Mental Health, and Sports Psychology. Nearly all BU Master of Education programs support students seeking licensure in teaching or counseling.

Harvard University

Cambridge, MA

According to US News & World Report, Harvard’s Graduate School of Education is #1: not just in Massachusetts, but in the nation Students may design their own master’s degree pathways by choosing a customized set of learning experiences. There are four main pathways—Education Leadership, Organizations and Entrepreneurship, Education Policy and Analysis, Human Development and Education, and Learning Design, Innovation, and Technology—plus five areas of specialization. The Harvard Master of Education program groups students into cohorts to encourage relationships, provide academic support, and develop strong professional networks after graduation.

University of Massachusetts – Amherst

Amherst, MA

The UMass Amherst College of Education offers its 33-credit hour Master of Education degrees through three separate departments: the Department of Educational Policy, Research, and Administration, the Department of Student Development, and the Department of Teacher Education and Curriculum Studies. The school offers 14 MEd concentrations emphasizing educational theory and research, practitioner preparation, and innovation. Students can opt into an intensive, field-based immersion program in public schools that leads to teacher licensure in early childhood education, elementary education, or middle school and high school education.

University of Massachusetts – Boston

Boston, MA

Students pursuing MEds at UMass Boston’s College of Education and Human Development can choose among some common Master of Education specializations and some not-so-common ones. The Teach Next Year MEd, for instance, prepares aspiring educators to work in urban, diverse, and inclusive settings as soon as they graduate through intensive site-based educational experiences. The Vision Studies MEd, delivered by UMass Boston’s School for Global Inclusion and Social Development, prepares teachers to work with students with visual impairments. There is also an accelerated Middle School and Secondary Education MEd option that can be completed more quickly than other degree programs.

University of Massachusetts – Lowell

Lowell, MA

There aren’t as many Master’s in Education specialization options at the College of Education at UMass Lowell as at other UMass schools, but there are some unique concentration options. MEd students can specialize in Applied Behavior Analysis and Education; there is also an Educational Administration pathway designed just for aspiring principals. This school also offers a BA or BS/MEd Fast Track Program to Teaching that confers two degrees plus teacher licensure over five years.

Online MEd programs offered by Massachusetts schools

Merrimack College

Students in the online Master of Education program at Merrimack College can earn an MEd, initial licensure, an add-on license, and teaching certificates. There are six online degree programs for MEd students, plus three certificate options for distance learners.

University of Massachusetts – Amherst

Distance learners in UMass Amherst’s graduate education program can choose from among three MEd specializations—Science Education, Higher Education, and International Education—delivered in a flexible asynchronous format. There is also a Graduate Certificate in Higher Education Leadership and an Early Grade Reading Graduate Certificate available entirely online.

University of Massachusetts – Boston

UMass Boston students can pursue an online Counseling MEd, Instructional Design MEd, and Vision Studies MEd. The latter two pathways are 100 percent online programs. Students who opt into the counseling specialization take the majority of classes online but also complete an intensive two-week in-person residency.

University of Massachusetts – Lowell

US News & World Report ranks the online graduate programs in education at UMass Lowell #15 in the nation. The school offers four online concentration options: Education and Administration, Reading and Language, Curriculum and Instruction in Science Education or Applied Behavior Analysis, and Curriculum and Instruction with a licensure option.

Western New England University

Western New England University has one of the least expensive 100 percent online Master of Education programs in Massachusetts. The part-time Curriculum and Instruction program can be completed in as little as 15 months.

Will a Master of Education lead to a teaching license in MA?

The answer to this question depends on which program you choose. Some Master of Education programs in MA prepare students to pursue licensure. In contrast, others assume students are already licensed (possibly in other states) or prepare students to take on roles in education that don’t require licensure.

Complicating matters is that a master’s degree isn’t all you need to become a school teacher in Massachusetts (in fact, you can teach without one). Only the highest level of Massachusetts teacher license—the Professional license—is limited to master’s degree holders, but you’ll also need to have what’s known as an Initial license, three years of teaching experience, and proof that you’ve completed a one-year induction program and 50 hours of mentored practicum experience.

The best MEd programs in MA with licensure tracks help aspiring classroom teachers meet these requirements. Pursuing a Master of Education in MA is a smart choice even if you’re already a licensed educator, however. Massachusetts teachers work in a structured, tiered system where those with master’s degrees earn more. In Boston, for instance, teachers with graduate degrees earn $3,000 to $5,000 more than their colleagues with bachelor’s degrees.

Of course, money isn’t the only reason to go back to school for a master’s degree in education. The coursework in an MEd program can help you become a better teacher if your goals involve making a difference in the classroom. And if you want to make a difference outside the classroom by transitioning into administration, educational policy, curriculum design, or consulting, a Master of Education can help you do that, too.

The list above is not all-inclusive.

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About the Editor

Tom Meltzer spent over 20 years writing and teaching for The Princeton Review, where he was lead author of the company's popular guide to colleges, before joining Noodle.

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