A master’s degree in education can open doors to rewarding jobs in the field of teaching, curriculum design, administration and college student affairs. If you are an educator anxious to take your career to the next level, you might be wondering, "For a master's in education, how long does it take?" The good news is that some master’s degrees can be completed in one year or less depending on the program. You can reach the finish line sooner by taking a full load each term and enrolling in a program taught online in part or in whole.

Tip

Many schools offer accelerated master’s degrees. Quickly finishing graduate school sounds enticing, but also compare the curriculum, cost, financial aid options, reputation and student completion rates of programs you are considering.

Average Length of Master's Program

There are many types of graduate degrees in education. Generally, a master’s degree that will make a student eligible to sit for a state licensing or certification exam is going to involve more schooling. The average length of a master’s program in education as well as a doctorate in education further depends on the quality of instruction.

Even if a program takes a little longer than you might prefer, it may be well worth it if you are passionate about teaching and learning. Education is viewed as a calling, not just a job. With a master’s degree in education, you can influence public policy, push for education reform and help all students actualize their potential.

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Master of Education in Educational Leadership

Earning a M.Ed. in educational leadership is one of the fastest career tracks. For example, the online program of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley can be completed in just 10 months. Courses focus on organizational leadership, ethics, school law, teaching English language learners, site-based school management and human resources. Upon graduation, positions can be found at all levels of the educational system, including higher education.

Master's of Education: Teaching and Learning

Teachers wishing to stay current in the field and improve their instructional effectiveness can enroll in graduate courses leading to a M.Ed. in teaching and learning. Specializations are available for those seeking expertise in a certain area. For instance, students enrolled in the 18-month online degree program offered through Clemson University can choose from STEM education, early childhood instruction or curriculum coaching. Teachers can go on to earn an educational specialist degree, or Ed.S.

Education Specialist in Educational Administration

If you are a teacher interested in school leadership, you may want to complete an Ed.S. in educational administration degree. A specialist degree prepares educators for licensure as a principal or superintendent. State laws have additional requirements.

A specialist degree can take two to three years. Core courses cover assessment and evaluation, leadership theory, human resources, applied research and ethics. Aspiring principals also study finance and legal issues. A doctorate in education is often preferred or required to be a superintendent of a large school district.

Master of Education in Student Affairs

If you can’t think of anything more fun than working with students on a college campus, you may want to consider a two-year master’s degree in student affairs. Typical classes include college student development, assessment, advising and crisis management.

Graduate assistantships, internships and practicums offer students hands-on experience in the practice of student affairs. Look for schools approved by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs. A doctorate in education, also known as an Ed.D., can lead to senior administrator roles in student affairs.

Master of Education in School Counseling

A combination of classroom instruction, practicum and internship can prepare you to counsel students in a school setting. For example, Auburn University offers a ­­60-credit school counseling program approved by CACREP. Courses include counseling theories, group counseling, lifespan development, assessment, classroom management and substance use counseling. Graduates are recommended for Class A certification in Alabama.

About the Author

Dr. Mary Dowd is a dean of students whose job includes student conduct, leading the behavioral consultation team, crisis response, retention and the working with the veterans resource center. She enjoys helping parents and students solve problems through advising, teaching and writing online articles that appear on many sites. Dr. Dowd also contributes to scholarly books and journal articles.