If you're thinking about earning an online master's degree in science education, this article is the perfect place to start. Consider this ranking the starting line for your journey to an accredited, quality, affordable online degree. In fact, using this article as a resource to choose the best school for your needs might even help you get to that finish line faster!
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Many middle and high school teachers enter the workforce after their bachelor's degree, relying on a specific subject major for their success. For example, young science and math teachers may have earned a B.S. in Mathematics, Physics, Biology, or the like, but that doesn't mean they understand learning theories or best instructional practices. By continuing your education through a graduate program, you can augment your subject-specific expertise with a broader understanding of teaching methods. You might even find yourself in a position to earn advanced positions in schools, acquire an administrative job, or even switch to a career at a community college.
Note: This article may contain sponsored links intended to help you connect with programs easily.
The 30 Best Online Master's Degrees in Science Education Ranking Methodology
For this ranking, we focused on public and private (non-profit) colleges and universities that offer online science education graduate programs. Because the focus of this list is on affordability, we only considered programs with average* tuition rates of $25,000/year or less.
*For public schools, we calculated the average value of their in-state and out-of-state rates.
After compiling a list of all the colleges that offer online master's degrees in STEM education and meet the above criteria, we then collected data in four categories:
- Accreditation: Does the program have curricular approval from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)?
- Science Focus: What percentage of the curriculum focuses specifically on science and/or science education topics as opposed to general teaching concepts? The greater this percentage, the greater likelihood that the program will grant students the specialized skills they need to be successful STEM educators.
- Overall Strength in Education and Science: How many different education- and science-related master's degrees does the school offer? And what percentage of the entire graduate student body is enrolled in one of these programs?
- Affordability: What is the average annual cost of attendance?
After collecting and sorting all the information, we ranked the candidates according to their performance in each area. Finally, we summed up the results and gave each school a final score using a curve so that the top-scoring program earned an even 100 points.
Read more about the best cheap online master's degrees in STEM education below!
Cheap Online Science Education Graduate Programs Ranked
Western Michigan University
Western Michigan University places special value on the field of science education. The university is even home to the Mallinson Institute for Science Education, one of the foremost research centers of its kind in the country. So it's no surprise that WMU also houses one of the country's top online science education graduate programs. In this 100% online degree, students acquire a comprehensive knowledge of science history, philosophy, and teaching - and that's just the core curriculum! You'll also pick 12 credits of science education and content classes, which could include courses in physics, chemistry, biology, geography, or even geoscience.
The goal of St. Catherine University's M.A.Ed. program is to "turn [educators'] passion for teaching into teaching excellence." Using research-based courses (all students complete an "Action Research Project"), this program will get you up to speed with all the current evidence-based best practices in education. And for those in need of an affordable online master's degree in STEM education, St. Kate's offers an M.A.Ed. with STEM concentration. Within this concentration, you'll enjoy plenty of flexibility to pick courses that meet your professional needs. Although you only need 15 credits (five classes), you'll get to choose from more than a dozen options in science, math, engineering, and technology integration.
California University of Pennsylvania
Become an expert STEM teacher and school leader at the California University of Pennsylvania. Not only will this degree provide you with new STEM-related teaching strategies, but it will also grant you the leadership skills you need to act as a STEM authority - and mentor - to your colleagues. The coursework puts special emphasis on elementary and middle school teaching and provides content-specific training in life, physical, and earth science as well as math. To graduate from Cal U's accredited master's in science education online, you'll also complete an "integrative project" in which you'll interact directly with children in schools, community organizations, museums, and other educational settings.
Columbus State University
Columbus State's unique M.A.T. program is specifically designed for mid-career professionals who have a background in science and want to make the switch to teaching. As such, the curriculum primarily focuses on education subjects, such as motivation, human development, and instructional applications. These classes, along with a required practicum and student teaching internship, will help you learn how to take your scientific knowledge and communicate it clearly to students. When all is said and done, you'll leave CSU's affordable online science education graduate program with a teacher certification in either math, computer science, or science (options include physics, chemistry, biology, and earth science).
Texas A & M University-College Station
College Station, TX
The goal of the M.Ed. STEM program at Texas A&M University - College Station is to qualify graduates for curricular leadership positions, such as educational specialists, STEM supervisors, or even academic deans. To ensure that all students obtain an advanced understanding of educational strategies, the program includes a 12-credit core of general classes like "Curriculum Development" and "Analysis of Teaching Behavior." But the bulk of the curriculum is dedicated to a 24-credit STEM sequence. These required electives will likely be your main motivation for enrolling in this master's in STEM education online, as they cover a wealth of relevant topics. Examples include "How People Learn STEM," "Microcontrollers for Educators," and "History and Trends in STEM Education.”
Michigan Technological University
Michigan Technological University has carefully planned every aspect of its online science education graduate program to meet the needs of working teachers. For example, the coursework offers online classes during the school year so that participants only need to travel to campus over summer vacation. In addition, the program's two capstone options - an internship or research report - are designed so that you can complete much of the work in your own classroom. As an "Applied Science" degree, it's also worth noting that the curriculum strongly emphasizes engineering, with four required courses that cover engineering processes and applications in various scientific disciplines.
One of the more flexible options on our online master's degrees in science education ranking, Auburn University's program comes as both an M.Ed. and M.S. Certified teachers who want to learn new teaching strategies in their area of specialization should opt for the M.Ed. This 30-credit option includes 12 credits in general teaching, 18 in professional studies, and leads to Class A certification in Alabama. The M.S., on the other hand, is a non-certification degree designed for educators who work internationally or in community organizations. While still 30 credits, this versatile degree consists of just 12 hours of required science and teaching classes, leaving the rest open to electives.
University of Northern Colorado
Practicing teachers can easily earn a master's degree from the University of Northern Colorado in just two years - while still working full time! Aiming to boost your understanding of science as well as your ability to teach it, this program starts with thought-provoking classes like "Cognition and Instruction" and "K-12 Science Inquiry." Continuing to progress through UNO's affordable master's in science education online, you'll then pick 12 credits of self-paced electives. These give you a chance to specialize your studies - for example, you might take "Physics in Modern Medicine" or perhaps "Earth Systems: Water" and "Global Change.”
Looking to complete your degree as quickly as possible? Thanks to an optional accelerated format, you could earn an affordable master's in STEM education online from Wheelock in less than a year! All you need do is take two classes per eight-week session and you'll be done with your degree in no time. On a separate note, Wheelock's STEM program also offers two graduate certificates in elementary science and math education. To earn both certificates, you'll only need to take one extra class beyond the M.S. requirements - a class that Wheelock offers for free!
Adams State University (Tied)
Adams State University has one of the more unique master's in science education online. The program was born out of a partnership between ASU and the U.S. Satellite Lab, an organization whose goal is to improve student achievement in STEM through professional educator development. Lending its expertise in curriculum design and STEM programming, the U.S. Satellite Lab has helped Adams State build a robust curriculum of unique, highly-focused electives. Many of the courses address real-world issues and contemporary areas of research in science, such as "Coding, Robotics, and 1:1 Devices," "Climate Change with NSF SPRINTT," and "Exploring Mars: A New Twist on Earth Science.”
University of Texas-Tyler
If you're looking for a STEM program that will also give you a solid boost in general teaching skills, check out the University of Texas at Tyler. As an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction, this degree largely focuses on broad-based topics like learning theories, curriculum foundations, and current issues in education. However, customizable cognate coursework will help you transform this program into a top, cheap online master's degree in STEM education. The sky is the limit for these electives; potential options range from the conceptual (e.g. "Innovation, Science, and Technology Applications") to the skills-focused (e.g. "Teaching Science in Elementary School" and "Mathematical Problem-Solving”).
University of Texas-Arlington
UT Austin offers a straightforward science education program that does not lead to initial teacher certification. Therefore, it's best suited for currently licensed teachers and those working in non-classroom environments (museums, nature centers, outreach organizations, etc.). You should also note that the program doesn't include any practicum or internship requirements, nor does it incorporate any electives. And while some might view these features negatively, they're a selling point for others. Indeed, this is one of the best cheap online science education graduate programs for experienced educators who simply want to brush up on their STEM knowledge without the inconvenience of in-person projects or complicated course plans.
SUNY College at Brockport
Certified New York teachers who want to boost their knowledge in just about any STEM field will find exactly what they need at SUNY College at Brockport. The college offers M.S.Ed. programs in Biology, Chemistry, Earth Sciences, and Physics Education. Each of these options focuses on adolescent education (7th to 12th grade) and are available 100% online. Like other programs on this master's in science education online ranking, Brockport's degrees incorporate a general teaching core (although there are some science ed classes mixed in, too). After completing this core, you'll narrow your focus by choosing four graduate classes in biology, geology, earth science, chem, and/or physics.
University of Massachusetts-Amherst
By pooling the resources of their colleges of education and natural sciences, the University of Massachusetts-Amherst has created one of the best cheap master's in science education online. As a member of this program, you'll get to choose whether you want to concentrate in Elementary Science (grades 1-6) or General Science (grades 5-8). Both options lead to professional licensure in Massachusetts in your chosen area. Another standout feature of this program is its emphasis on highly-specialized coursework. That is, rather than taking general classes like "Teaching Earth Science," you'll take deep dives into niche topics like "Insects in the Science Classroom," "Energy, Forces, and Motion," and "Genetics.”
Lesley's unusually rich, comprehensive M.Ed. curriculum earns it the right to claim one of the top online master's degrees in STEM education. Forget general teaching topics; 100% of Lesley's coursework focuses on science education. Core classes cover a smorgasbord of relevant topics, including "Physics of Mechanics," "Engineering STEM Solutions," and "Investigating Equitable Science Classrooms." The interactive program also incorporates a hands-on seminar course that culminates in a research project and presentation. Plus, you'll love your choice of electives, which give you a chance to develop expertise in targeted subjects like green chemistry, sustainable engineering, natural disasters, space science, and more.
North Carolina State University at Raleigh
If you already have several years of science teaching experience, work primarily with 6th to 12th graders, and want to increase your career opportunities, then NCSU's program is for you. One of the nation's more affordable online science education graduate programs, this degree offers plenty of return on investment. Not only does the curriculum qualify graduates for advanced licensure in North Carolina, but it also supports science teachers who want to apply for National Board Certification. The program is also unique in that it allows you to couple your science education coursework with a secondary area of focus. Options include Educational Technology, Special Populations, and Middle School Education, among others.
Citadel Military College of South Carolina
An interdisciplinary program, the goal of Citadel's M.Ed. degree is not necessarily to make students experts in a particular area of science. Rather, the program aims to "improve teacher effectiveness in STEM education" by equipping degree candidates with the tools, resources, and knowledge they need to foster engaging science classrooms. For that reason, the master's in STEM education online core curriculum emphasizes instructional strategies, with classes like "Project Based Learning and Interdisciplinary Teaching" and "Developing STEM Disciplinary Literacy Skills." However, you'll still get to zero in on some of your preferred science topics through electives. Pick five from unique options like "Nanotechnology for STEM Educators," "Forensic Science," and "STEM Education through Robotics.”
Compared to other options on this online master's degrees in science education ranking, Clemson's M.S. program has an unusually narrow focus. A non-thesis, non-certification degree, this Master of Biological Sciences for Science Educators is designed exclusively for practicing biology teachers. The curriculum provides an extensive summary of biological topics but offers little in the way of specific teaching strategies. As such, it's ideal for educators who have plenty of experience in teaching but are perhaps lacking in their biological expertise. If you fall into this category, you're in luck: Clemson's program will get you up to speed on everything from genetics and cellular processes to microbiology, ecology, and anatomy.
Western Governors University
Salt Lake City, UT
Whether you're looking to expand your knowledge of general science or a specific scientific content area, Western Governors University has you covered. The school offers a supremely affordable online master's degree in science education for licensed teachers. Within the degree plan, you can choose from endorsements in Middle Grades Education as well as Secondary Biological Science, Chemistry, Earth Science, and Physics. Each plan consists of a completely unique set of classes, with few - if any - overlapping or general ed courses. The one exception is the Middle Grades program, which comprises a balanced mix of classes in every area, from biology, chemistry, and ecology to astronomy, physics, and environmental science.
Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania
Note: if you don't live within commuting distance of Shippensburg or Harrisburg, PA, you probably don't want to apply to this program. The reason is that Shippensburg has one of the most interactive, hands-on programs on this online master's degrees in STEM education ranking. This includes face-to-face meetings one Saturday per month (classes are held at the main campus and Dixon University Center). If you do live locally, however, you'll love the interactivity of this program, which facilitates regular online interactions and even uses live video conferences. What's more, this M.A.T. is big on mentoring and pairs each incoming student with a local teacher who will supervise them for 25 hours of observation and co-teaching.
University of Alaska-Southeast
Because it includes some blended learning (as opposed to entirely online classes), the online master's degree in science education at the University of Alaska-Southeast is best suited for Alaskan residents. Further supporting this claim, the program notes that the curriculum "is designed specifically for Alaskan schools," which includes a "celebration of Alaska's rich and unique cultural and natural history." Aside from these aspects, the program appears much like any other K-8 science education degree. Classes offer content-specific knowledge in physics, chemistry, math, life science, and earth science as well as more broad-based courses like "Great Ideas in Science" and "The Impact of Technology on Student Learning.”
New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology
Given its near singular focus on engineering and science, you might be surprised to hear that the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology even offers a teaching degree. And to be fair, it's true that the university doesn't offer an extensive education program. However, the one teaching degree it does offer (unsurprisingly) is one of the country's top online science education graduate programs. In this Master of Science for Teachers, you'll obtain a comprehensive understanding of all STEM subjects. This includes two classes each in math, physics, geology, biology, chemistry, and engineering, plus two technical communication courses and one in computer literacy.
At Texas Tech University, students in the MSCI program enjoy an unusually robust curriculum that simultaneously offers both depth and breadth of study. The program comes with two tracks - one for high school and one for middle school teachers - and each features a carefully curated selection of classes that impart useful skills in science-based instruction. For example, if you enroll in the accredited master's in STEM education online for high school teachers, you'll take classes like "Advances in Historical Geology," "Cellular Molecular Biology for Teachers," and "Astronomy as it's Taught." In contrast, the middle school option includes coursework in "Mathematical Modeling of the Physical World" and "Conceptual Chemistry for Teachers," to name but a few.
Northern Arizona University
A plethora of research has attempted to demystify the struggles that students face when learning science and math. While there are still many unanswered questions, Northern Arizona University aims to help practicing educators improve their teaching strategies with a solidly research-based master's program. Available part-time for online learners, NAU's M.A.S.T. degree is designed for secondary teachers who want to advance their knowledge and/or advance their careers into leadership positions. While enrolled in this cheap master's in science education online, you'll take an even balance of science content and education courses, followed by a capstone thesis or portfolio presentation.
Due to its narrow focus, Hamline University's M.A.Ed. program certainly isn't for everyone. But if you're a current or aspiring environmental science teacher, this is likely the top online master's degree in science education for you. Inspired by a commitment to "responsible stewardship of the planet," this degree prepares graduates not just to be better teachers, but also to be environmental leaders in their communities. The curriculum consists of classes in natural science, the environment, and ecology, plus 10 credits of electives and a capstone practicum and project or thesis.
Montana State's versatile M.S. in Science Education enables both licensed and non-traditional teachers to strengthen their knowledge in a wide variety of scientific topics. In fact, MSU offers one of the most extensive selections of science classes of any school on this list of cheap online master's degrees in STEM education. The program offers courses in biology, microbiology, ecology, plant sciences, environmental science, earth science, land resources, chemistry, engineering, and physics, any of which are available to you as electives. Be advised, however, that only about 80% of the required courses are available online. The rest of the program takes place on campus, although MSU limits these trips to one- to two-week sessions over the summer.
University of Nebraska-Kearney
There's no questioning that the University of Nebraska at Kearney is home to one of the best cheap online science education graduate programs. In particular, UNK's program is ideal for current (licensed) secondary education (7th to 12th grade) science and math teachers who want to learn more about science-specific pedagogy. While the curriculum does include a few general teaching classes, the bulk of the course plan emphasizes content area knowledge. Not only will you take 12 credits in your area of endorsement (i.e. bio, chem, math, or physics), but you'll also take an additional six credits in a scientific discipline outside of your major emphasis.
Colorado State University-Global Campus
Many undergraduate degrees don't go far enough in giving students both the scientific knowledge and teaching skills that they need to succeed on the job. Colorado State understands this problem well, which is why it has developed a high-quality yet cheap online master's degree in science education. One of the hallmarks of this degree is its use of "science lab kits." These kits help overcome the limitations of distance education while also giving you ideas for demonstrations you could do in your own classrooms. Each kit (which is replenishable and yours to keep) covers specific scientific concepts, like energy flow, chemical reactions, and optics.
Northeastern State University
Northeastern State University's well-balanced, hands-on M.Ed. in Science Education can accommodate applicants from many backgrounds, whether you have a bachelor's degree in education or a scientific field. The curriculum is relatively evenly split between general teaching and science-focused classes. The former includes coursework in educational psychology, research, and curriculum development, while the latter covers topics ranging from "Investigative Biology" to the "Science of Motion." NSU also has one of the more interactive options on our ranking of affordable master's in STEM education online. Its virtual classrooms incorporate everything from online video lectures to discussion boards and group projects.
Education and science are both popular areas of study at William Woods University. Given the strength of the university's programs in these areas, it's no surprise that it also has one of the top cheap master's in STEM education online. Using the "Next Generation Science Standards" as a guide has created an interdisciplinary degree program that addresses content across the K-12 curriculum. The coursework puts an especially strong emphasis on the "T" in STEM, with classes like "Integrating Technology into the Curriculum," "STEM: Technology and Coding," and "Software Applications for Academic Programs."
Thanks for reading our ranking of the 30 top cheap master's in STEM education online programs!
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