The Most Lucrative Education Jobs And the Degrees That Can Prepare You

If you feel strongly about education then you should certainly consider becoming a teacher. Teachers make a difference in the lives of their students and have the opportunity to make a positive impact in the lives of children. 

Teachers who succeed love teaching. They put in the effort necessary to learn and adapt to changing expectations. Many successful teachers describe what they do as a calling that attaches strongly to their purpose in life as teaching is a crucial job.  

There are some downsides to teaching and some things that they may not tell you when you’re going to pursue a degree in teaching. 

Some things to consider: 

  • Successful teaching requires long hours some of which you don’t get paid for
  • Classroom management is about relationships.  Teachers should form professional and yet friendly relationships with their class.  
  • Classroom management is one of the most important parts of teaching and for many is the trickiest part
  • Teachers have to interface with their students and their parents and that isn’t always pleasant
  • Teachers are under a tremendous amount of pressure particularly where test scores are concerned
  • Technology in the classroom is prevalent. You will have to learn this. 
  • Be prepared to purchase the supplies that you want for your class 

Qualities of a Good Teacher 

  • Expert in their subject 
  • Unwavering patience 
  • Loves Teaching 
  • Good at Planning 
  • Remains Organized 
  • Great Communication Skills With Range of Ages (Students, Administration, Parents/Guardians)
  • Role Model 
  • Good Listening
  • Excellent Mentor 

The good news is that many of these skills are acquired and no teacher starts their career as the perfect teacher.  Veteran teachers spent years honing their classroom management and planning skills and learned from their mistakes.  So, if you’re still considering teaching then it may be time to look around for the right program. 

This guide is meant to not only help you to find a quality degree in an education-related subject, but to provide guidance on careers you can pursue as well. In particular, we’ll look at the following in this guide:

What Should I Look For in An Education Program?

The years that you spend in school are the crucial years that prepare you to become a teacher yourself.  Everyone’s needs are different. Later on we’ll examine the pros and cons of pursuing a traditional program vs. an online program.  For now, here are some general things to look out for when researching programs. 

  1. Curriculum- does it include an opportunity to learn about the 21st century classroom and contemporary issues?  Will you learn about classroom management and the best practice approaches to it? Will you learn how to design lesson plans for all types of learners?
  2. Internships/Professional Experience- does your program give you the opportunity to learn in actual classrooms? If so, for how long? Is it weeks, months, years? What will you practice in the internships
  3. Loan Forgiveness- Does your program guarantee payback of your student loans in some way?  Though not necessary you will certainly feel more secure as a teacher starting your career with as little debt as possible
  4. Classroom size- are you learning to teach in a large classroom or in a small setting with a trusted cohort? 
  5. Context- what is the academic context of your course? Is the education department conducting research in areas that are important to contemporary education? Does the education department welcome other disciplines for interdisciplinary learning opportunities? 
  6. Who- Who are you learning from? Is it a healthy mix of academic individuals and people who have actually been a teacher? 
  7. Alumni success- What percentage of students graduate from the program? What are they doing and what is the median salary of those graduates?

While you may not be able to find the answers to each of the above questions, these questions are a good place to start especially when you feel drawn to a particular program.  It’s always a good idea to investigate a program thoroughly before applying. This research only strengthens your chances of gaining admittance as you can more readily demonstrate how you can be a good fit for the program. 

Still others are excited about education for other reasons, and still want to be sure that they earn an income that is supportive of their lives. Perhaps you’ve been a teacher and are considering an administrative role or maybe you’ve spent a number of years in another profession but have noticed that you feel passionate about education and are looking to step into the field of education. 

Whatever your reasons, payment is an essential factor to consider.  


Let’s take a look at some of the most lucrative education careers.  

The Most Lucrative Education Careers

1

Superintendent

Average Salary

$161,900

A school superintendent oversees the operations of an entire school district and is responsible for the planning and implementation of the district’s overarching plan. The superintendent must also supervise school principles and other lead staff throughout all schools in their district.  Take a look at some of the job duties of a superintendent: 

  • Operate schools within a district
  • Develop a budget for the school district 
  • Alongside principles create and implement school policy
  • Make decisions about school programs 
  • Assess performance

The position of superintendent is advanced and as such requires that individuals have a number of years of experience in another school leadership role.  The median salary of a superintendent is $161,900 and the job growth is about 4% which is about the average job growth of all other jobs in the United States.  In addition to leadership qualities the superintendent must be organized and personable as this position requires a lot of interaction with all kinds of people including students and staff. 

2

Tenured Professor

Average Salary

$141,467

A tenured professor is more than just a teacher. This person represents the college or university, conducts research in their field and publishes findings in peer-reviewed periodicals and more. There are many more job duties than these but take a look at just a few of the job requirements of a tenured professor: 

  • Design a course and present it
  • Advise students
  • Mentor individual students as they navigate their degree 
  • Demonstrate subject competence
  • Present research at professional meetings 

A tenured professor must demonstrate the highest level of professional ethics on the job and be a member of related organizations. The tenured professor is representative to a university and therefore must be willing to be a team player.  Additionally as a tenured professor is the leading expert in their field, the type of person who is successful works tirelessly at the purist of knowledge. The median salary is $141,467. 

3

Chief Academic Officer

Average Salary

$115,813

A chief academic officer oversees an academic endeavor ensuring that it is running properly. This often means creating a budget plan as well as meeting with other professionals. The CAO is an administrative role.  Take a look at some more of their job duties: 

  • Oversee staff
  • Establish goals for the school or district 
  • Ensure other staff members are equipped to complete tasks 
  • Create budgets 
  • Monitor programs to ensure that academic standards are met

A chief academic officer will need to have many years of experience in a leadership position as well as an advanced degree possibly even  Ph.D. This position require a lot of interaction with people so people skills are a must.  The median salary for a CAO is $115,813.  The job outlook is approximately 7% an increase a little bit faster than the national average. 

4

High School Principal

Average Salary

$91,424

A high school principal supervises all of the daily operations of a private or public high school.  The high school principal works to establish academic criteria and creates a budget as well as allocated the financial resources for the school.  A high school principal works closely with teachers to help insure academic success. 

  • Create and Establish School Policies 
  • Work to Select and Modify a School Curriculum
  • Oversee the day-to-day operations of the school
  • Hire staff 
  • Work with families and teachers to ensure optimal learning for all students 

A high school principal must be passionate about teenagers, their educational needs as well as their social and emotional needs. This person will have years of experience in a leadership roll and have an understanding of educational policy, how to implement it and how to change it.  The median salary of a high school principal is $91,424. 

5

School Psychologist

Average Salary

$85,340

A school psychologist typically works in a K-12 setting and is responsible for the implementation of therapies to school-aged children. These therapies could range from career counseling, college counseling, or psychotherapies. Take a look at some of the job duties of a school psychologist. 

  • Listen to complaints from school-aged children
  • Advocate for the rights of children with needs
  • Counsel parents of children on a range of topics including substance abuse 
  • Evaluate students 
  • Administer psychological tests 

A school psychologist should be passionate about the mental well being of children and teens. This person will have a background in psychology as well as a desire to interface with children, parents, and administrative staff. This is a highly stressful job which interfaces with difficult subject matter and therefore a school psychologist must be able to stay strong during a crisis. The median salary of a school psychologist is $85,340. 

6

Nurse Educator

Average Salary

$78,830

A nurse educator teaches aspiring nurses. Many people who become nurse educators have already been nurses themselves and make the decision to head back to school in order to become teachers at the college level. Take a look at some of their duties

  • Design a curriculum
  • Teach and mentor students 
  • Create tests, grade papers and more
  • General Administrative duties of a teacher 
  • Demonstrate procedures in a clinical setting 

A nurse educator is one part nurse and the other part educator. This person is compassionate and articulate as well as inspirational.  A big part of this job is mentoring and inspiring the next generation of nurses.  It is important to love people and the field of nursing. The median salary for a nurse educator is $78,830. 

7

Post-Secondary Teacher

Average Salary

$78,470

A post secondary teacher works with adult students in a variety of different areas including career and technical schools and colleges. The post secondary teacher may be responsible for research and publications similarly to a tenure track professor though most likely not tenured.  Many post-secondary teachers work as adjunct faculty for a university.  Take a look at some of the job responsibilities of a post secondary teacher: 

  • Advise and help students to achieve their goals 
  • Grades papers exams and complete general assignments
  • Publish original research
  • Serve on an academic committee 
  • Develop the curriculum 

A post secondary teacher should have a passion for adult education as this person may help to bridge a gap for adults looking to complete certification and advance in their career.  Post secondary teachers should be able to tow the line between teacher and guide as a lot of this job is a mentorship role.  Some post secondary teachers will find themselves in an adjunct faculty position and will have to adhere to the rules of the university and be a positive representative. 

8

Speech Language Pathologist

Average Salary

$77,510

A speech language pathologist (SLP) is a special person who assesses, prevents, and treats speech language, communication and swallowing concerns in children and adults. The SLP may also provide rehabilitation for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Take a look at some of the job responsibilities of an SLP.

  • Evaluate and Diagnose Speech Disorders
  • Treat Sleep Language Communication and Swallowing Disorders 
  • Provide Training and Education to Family Members 
  • Create Programming for Clients 
  • Work With Other Professionals On Client’s Team

An SLP must be a patient individual who enjoys working with people with disabilities. Though this is not always the case, many times it is!  An advanced degree is required to become an SLP so an SLP should be comfortable working academically. The ideal person is calm, caring, and scientific.  This is a highly specialized job and the median salary is $77,510. 

9

Elementary School Principal

Average Salary

$74,084

An elementary school principal is in charge of managing school whether public or private for children grades K-6.  An elementary school principal works alongside superintendents and other administrators to ensure that the classroom runs smoothly. Take a look at some of the job responsibilities of an elementary school principal: 

  • Set up goals for the school
  • Create a budget alongside other administrators for a school 
  • Hire and Evaluate Staff 
  • Visiting Classrooms 
  • Engagement with Families and Community 

An elementary school principal has to be an excellent leader with fantastic people skills as this job requires a lot of time with all kinds of people including children, their families as well as professionals and administrators such as superintendents.  The median salary for an elementary school principal is $74, 084-$96,400 (BLS).  

10

Instructional Coordinator

Average Salary

$66,290

An instructional coordinator is responsible for a school’s curriculum. An instructional coordinator may work in a K-12 setting or in a college or university.  The instructional coordinator typically has years of experience in the field they design curricula for and many have previously been teachers.  Take a look at some of their job duties: 

  • Develop Curricula 
  • Train Teachers 
  • Analyze Students’ Progress
  • Revise Curricula 
  • Help Teachers Implement the Curriculum 

This role is both analytical and people-oriented requiring well-rounded individuals for the position. An instructional coordinator is a curriculum specialist and must therefore be capable of not only creating curriculums for a field but fine tuning them.  A curriculum specialist should have some experience teaching classes in the field they create curricula. The median salary is $66,290. 

11

High School Teacher

Average Salary

$60,320

A high school teacher is responsible for the lessons in their specific subject area such as calculus or history. The high school teacher should be a positive person with strong leadership capabilities as many high school teachers secondarily function as mentors for teens and young adults. Take a look at some of the job duties of a high school teacher. 

  • Plan lessons in specific subject areas 
  • Evaluate students individually and create modifications to meet students’ needs. 
  • Grade assignments and monitor progress 
  • Create tests and other evaluations throughout the year
  • Manage a classroom with classroom rules 

As you can see a teacher is also in charge of their student’s behavior and well being.  Teachers often take on dual roles and have to work closely with other teachers who influence their students academically and emotionally such as a special education teacher or a high school counselor.  A high school teacher should be professional and kind as well as up-to-date on the latest best practices for instruction.  The median salary of a high school teacher is $60,320. 

12

Special Education Teacher

Average Salary

$59,780

A special education teacher creates lessons for classes or individuals who have difficulty learning in a typical education setting. These students may be gifted and talented, on the autism spectrum, have physical as well as mental disabilities or may have emotional challenges making it difficult for that child to learn in class. Take a look at a special education teacher’s job duties: 

  • Assess student’s abilities and set goals to help them with academic success. 
  • Sit for IEP meetings
  • Collaborate with classroom teachers and school counselors 
  • Create community-based opportunities that prepare students for transition
  • Advocate for student’s disability rights 

A special education teacher is patient, caring, and creative.  As many people with special needs learn differently from others and oftentimes entirely uniquely, a special education teacher must be able to use innovative approaches to teaching.  Progress is seen at a different pace than with other students meaning that a special education teacher must be patient. This position requires a lot of time away from the classroom creating IEPs and meeting with parents as well as other members of their student’s team. The median salary for a special education teacher is $59,780. 

13

Librarian

Average Salary

$59,050

A librarian is far more than just the keeper of the books.  Librarians collect, organize and issue resources of all kinds including audio libraries, films, and more. The librarian helps a person locate materials to conduct research. Take a look at a few key librarian job duties: 

  • Collect and catalogue all library resources 
  • Assist people in the library 
  • Maintain all library or museum records 
  • Plan activities for a library such as a reading day for kids or fund raiser
  • Make sure the library is accessible to all 

There are different types of librarians, some are academic and work in a university or museum and others work in a community.  All librarians should be knowledgeable about the categorization of information, willing to help people and approachable. The median salary for a librarian is $59,050.  The growth projection is 6% which is just as fast as the national average. 

14

Middle School Teacher

Average Salary

$58,600

A middle school teacher specializes in educating students who are typically in the sixth through eighth grades. Middle school teachers work in either a private or public school setting. Most middle school teachers are required to have at least a bachelor’s degree as well as state certification. Here are just some of the job duties of a middle school teacher: 

  • Design lesson plans for students that are a specific subject 
  • Evaluate students’ abilities and strengths as well as their weaknesses
  • Teach groups or classes 
  • Create and grade assignments and examinations 
  • Help students achieve academic goals and prepare for tests 

Middle school is known to be a tricky time of life and as such a middle school teacher should be extremely patient and understanding. This is also a time of life when tweens and teens begin to test boundaries so a middle school teacher may need to focus more intently on classroom management skills in addition to assessment and academic skills. The median salary for a middle school teacher is $58,600 and is growing at a rate of 3% which is the same as the national average. 

15

Director of Admissions

Average Salary

$58,587

The director of admissions oversees the recruitment evaluation and admissions of students. These individuals typically oversee the roles of all who work in the admissions department. Take a look at the job duties of an admissions director: 

  • Recruit students 
  • Analyze applications
  • Conduct Interviews 
  • Evaluate Potential Candidates 
  • Oversee all in the admissions department 


The director of admissions will need to be experienced in a supervisory role and have the ability to problem solve and communicate effectively.  The admissions director should draft admissions criteria.  This person should be proficient with computers and a sales and marketing background is certainly helpful. The median salary for an admissions director is $58,587. 

16

Kindergarten and Elementary School Teacher

Average Salary

$57,980

Kindergarten and Elementary School teachers instruct young children in basic subjects from grades K-6. Kindergarten and elementary school teachers work both in private and public settings. These are some of their job duties: 

  • Create lesson plans and teach students in a variety of subjects such as science reading and math. 
  • Teach students ways to interact with their peers 
  • Observe and assess students and create objectives centered both around strengths and weaknesses 
  • Communicate with parents and guardians 
  • Work on a team with other professionals especially for children with difficulties 
  • Supervise outside of the classroom during play times

The kindergarten and elementary school teacher is a high energy professional who is great with kids, patient, caring and very well organized. This person will be a good role model both inside and outside of the classroom. Today many teachers use technology in the classroom so some level of comfort using technology is a plus. The median salary for kindergarten and elementary school teachers is $57,980. 

17

Career and technical Education Teachers

Average Salary

$56,750

Career and technical education teachers instruct students pursuing a career in a technical field like auto repair, HVAC, culinary arts, and more. They teach the academic and technical content for these courses oftentimes in a community college setting. Take a look at some of their job responsibilities: 

  • Develop and plan lessons
  • Demonstrate technical skills and instruct students 
  • Assign tasks
  • Monitor progress 
  • Grade papers and give assessments 

Career and technical teachers teach very specific skills so should first and foremost be knowledge in a specific technical area (like shop or mechanics).  This person often acts as a mentor for adults and so should have a passion for adult education.  The median salary for a career and technical teacher is $56,750. The job outlook for career and technical education teachers is -1% with little or no projected change.  

18

Adult Literacy and High School Equivalency Teacher

Average Salary

$53,630

The adult literacy teacher and high school equivalency teacher instructs students in basic skills like writing and reading and prepares these adults to receive a high school diploma equivalency.  Here are some of the job duties for adult literacy teachers: 

  • Plan and teach lessons
  • Help students earn their high school equivalency diploma 
  • Teach common skills that help adults find employment in the workplace 
  • Monitor progress/Create assessments 
  • Help students learn how to study

The adult literacy and high school equivalency teacher is often a socially-minded adult who wants to see all adults have an equal opportunity to learn and pursue a career. Adult literacy teachers often teach adults how to speak English and so many do well with a second language, especially Spanish.  A people person passionate about adult education is a good candidate.  The median salary for adult literacy and high school equivalency teachers is $53,630. 

19

ESL and EFL Teachers

Average Salary

$53,630

ESL and EFL teachers work with people of all ages who are looking to learn english. ESL instructors may be employed at an elementary school, middle or high school or may work with adults. The ESL teacher has many responsibilities here’s just a few of them: 

  • Develop curriculum for English study 
  • Teach reading, writing, and speaking skills 
  • Communicate effectively to students in their native tongue when needed 
  • Create tests, quizzes and other assessments to ascertain progress 
  • Grade papers and quizzes

ESL and EFL teachers play a crucial role in the lives of any individual who does not speak English as their primary language. This person should be passionate about education equality and have a desire to see people from other cultures succeed. Additionally, this position requires that most teachers be fluent in an additional language. Spanish is common.  The median salary for an ESL teacher is $53,630.

20

Archivists, Curators, and Museum Workers

Average Salary

$48,400

Archivists and Curators are slightly different but many do all of these jobs.  An archivist is in charge of cataloguing information and valuable documents. A curator is responsible for an entire collection of valuable art, documents, and more.  All oversee these items and curators typically create activities that engage the public.  Take a look at some of their responsibilities: 

  • Appraise archived materials 
  • Preserve documents and objects
  • Organize and  classify archived material 
  • Acquire new material for the archives 
  • Create policy surrounding archives 
  • Acquire collections
  • Exhibit collections
  • Store collections
  • Create themes for exhibits and design tours
  • Clean objects

Curators are often museum directors who may need to take on an administrative role. These types of positions typically go to individuals with a PhD. Therefore an archivist and museum curator should be an expert in their field and will need to be academic as well as personable and always creative. This is a highly specialized job and the median pay is $48,400. 

If some of the above jobs really resonate with you, then it may be time to do a little more searching to determine how you fit it.  Soft skills are some of the most important skills needed for any job and that is certainly true as an educator.  We learn soft skills at various stages of our lives. While it is not necessary to have all of these soft skills right away consider some of what we consider to be the essential soft skills for educators and determine if you feel like you have what it takes. 

The Essential Soft Skills for Educators 

  • Planning
  • Verbal and Written Communication Skills 
  • Patience 
  • Grit/Perseverance 
  • Compassion/Kindness
  • Problem-Solving 
  • Leadership Qualities 
  • Team Player 

Do you have a number of the above soft skills already?  Maybe you’re wondering what “Grit” is exactly. We recommend checking out Angela Duckworth’s research into this topic.  Or maybe you feel confident that you can acquire those skills and are eager to look into schools. 

When considering the best schools for education we looked at three distinct metrics: 

  • Academic ranking
  • Graduation rate 
  • Median salary of graduates 

Academic Ranking- For our academic ranking metric we took into account the US News and World Report ranking for the school as well as the Times Higher Education Ranking.  These two rankings together make up our academic ranking.

Graduation Rate- this metric simply looks at the graduation rate of an institution as graduation rate is considered an indicator of student satisfaction

Median Salary of Graduates- We understand how important salary is for any career no matter if that career is a calling or “just a job” we think it is important that individuals have a sense of how monetarily successful the average graduate is from each institution.  

Average Salary Upon  Graduation: 

University of Pennsylvania $127,000
Brown University $82,500
Cornell University$71,000
Columbia University $58,000
Northwestern University$55,000
Vanderbilt University$62,500
Bowdoin College$56,000
Washington University St. Louis$62,000
University of Southern California$56,000
Emory University $48,000
Colgate University$49,000
New York University$54,000
University of North Carolina Chapel Hill $46,000
Vassar College $42,000
Bucknell University$53,500
Smith College $34,500
Boston University$51,500
University of California Irvine$47,000
University of Illinois Urbana Champaign$54,500
Colby College$41,000

According to the US Census Bureau, as of 2016 the median salary for individuals in the US is $31,099.  As you can see all of these institutions have a median starting salary above the national average.  

Every school in our ranking has something that makes them shine.  Take a look at what we came up with for the best education schools in the nation: 

The Top 20 Best Schools for Education 

1

University of Pennsylvania

Graduation Rate

96%

Average Salary at Grad

$127000

The University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) is an ivy league school located in Philadelphia. There are 25,860 students enrolled and the student-to-faculty ratio is 6:1. Carnegie ranks UPenn for having the highest level of research activity and according to US News UPenn is the 6th best school in the nation, and 1st for business, and 61st for education. Their graduate school of education offers programming in a number of areas including their educational linguistics program that is a PhD in educational linguistics.  Additionally students may pursue a MSEd in Intercultural Communication. Other areas of study include: 

  • Education Policy
  • Higher Education
  • Human Development and Quantitative Methods
  • Literacy Culture and International Education
  • Teaching Learning and Leadership
2

Brown University

Graduation Rate

97%

Average Salary at Grad

$82500

Brown University is a private ivy league university located in Providence, Rhode Island. It is known as the “progressive ivy” perhaps in part because Brown offers an entirely customizable “Open Curriculum.” Undergraduates have over 2,477 courses to choose from.  As a result no two majors are alike and this highly customized approach means that oftentimes even undergraduate students pursue interdisciplinary study. Undergraduates who choose to concentrate in education are no different and once again choose from a wide variety of courses to customize their learning path. Graduates looking to pursue an advanced degree in education may wish to choose from the following areas of study:

  • Master of Arts in Teaching 
  • Master’s in Urban Education Policy

Here are some examples of education specialization classes for undergraduates: 

  • Education Policy Analysis 
  • Child Development
  • Immigrant Youth
  • Education for Social Justice 
3

Cornell University

Graduation Rate

95%

Average Salary at Grad

$71000

Cornell University is a private 4-year university located in Ithaca, New York. This ivy league university is known for its college of arts and sciences and college of agriculture and life sciences. Additionally, Cornell has a top-ranked veterinary medicine program. Cornell is a fantastic school for all of its programming and currently ranks, according to US News, as the 17th best school in the nation.  According to their site, undergraduate students from all colleges may pursue academic study from the school of education and the curriculum is customizable.  Take a look at some of the education courses available at Cornell:

  • Youth Organization and Leadership Development 
  • Teens in Schools 
  • Educational Psychology
  • The Art of Teaching 
  • Program Planning in Agriculture and Education
  • Special Topics in Education
4

Columbia University

Graduation Rate

92%

Average Salary at Grad

$58000

Columbia University in the City of New York is yet another ivy league school on our list. Located in New York City, Columbia enrolls over 30,000 students and yet still maintains a student-to-faculty ratio of 6:1. That’s because this private university has an extraordinary amount of research activity. Carnegie ranks Columbia as an R:1 university with very high levels of research. At Columbia College students may pursue any one of these undergraduate degrees in education:  urban teaching for primary and secondary students as well as education studies degrees. The education studies tracks do not lead to certification. Columbia has a robust graduate program in education offering both undergraduate and graduate education degrees.  Take a look at some of the options: 

  • Adult Learning
  • Applied Behavior Analysis 
  • Cognitive Science in Education
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Communication Sciences and Disorders
  • Developmental Disabilities
  • Dance Education
5

Northwestern University

Graduation Rate

94%

Average Salary at Grad

$55000

Northwestern University is a private 4-year university located in Evanston, Illinois. There are 22,127 students enrolled and the student-to-faculty ratio is 6:1. According to the US News and World Report, Northwestern ranks as the 9th best university in the nation.  Northwestern is known for its school of journalism, music, and Kellogg school of management. The School of Education and Social Policy (SESP) awards education degrees in five concentrations including Human Development in Context, Learning and Organizational Change, Learning Sciences, Secondary Education, and Social Policy. The graduate programs include both Master’s degrees and PHDs in the following areas: 

  • Human Development and Social Policy
  • PHD and Master’s in Learning Sciences
  • MS in Education 
  • MS in Higher Education and Administration Policy
  • Multidisciplinary Program in Education Sciences (Doctoral Training Program) 
  • Master of Science in Learning and Organizational Change
6

Vanderbilt University

Graduation Rate

93%

Average Salary at Grad

$62500

Vanderbilt University is a private institution located in Nashville, Tennessee. There are about 13,000 students enrolled and the student-to-faculty ratio is 7:1. Vanderbilt is known for its undergraduate pre med schools but is one of the top universities in the world. According to US News Vanderbilt ranks as the 15th best university in the nation. The median starting salary for Vanderbilt alumni is $63,000. Peabody College offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in education.

7

Bowdoin College

Graduation Rate

94%

Average Salary at Grad

$56000

Bowdoin College is a liberal arts college located in Brunswick, Maine. The college is known for its happy student body- a 96% retention rate, as well as its fantastic academic offerings. The US News and World Report ranks Bowdoin College as the 6th best liberal arts college in the nation, 5th best college for undergraduate teaching, 12th best college for value, 21st best for innovation and 18th best for first year experiences among others.  Students looking to major in education must take 6 education courses one of which is Contemporary American Education.  Undergraduate students also participate in field experiences.  Take a look at some of the courses currently offered: 

  • Urban Education and Community Organizing
  • Contemporary American Education
  • Educational Psychology
  • Science Education: Purpose, Policy and Potential
  • Student Teaching Practicum 
8

Washington University in St Louis

Graduation Rate

92%

Average Salary at Grad

$62000

Washington University in Saint Louis (WUSTL) is a private four year university with very high research activity. Some of the most popular majors at WUSTL are in the fields of business and psychology, social sciences and engineering.  WUSTL currently ranks as the 19th best school in the nation not to mention 20th for value and 61st for best undergraduate teaching programming. Their education department offers undergraduates the opportunity to pursue teacher education and degrees in educational studies. Students may pursue an undergraduate degree as well as a master’s degree in education.  Students may get certified in

  • Elementary Education
  • Middle School Education
  • Secondary Education
  • Art  (Certificate)
  • Dance (Certificate)
  • Foreign Language (Certificate) 

WUSTL offers unique programming for master’s degree students looking to teach children who are deaf or hard of hearing. This program is offered through the Washington University School of Medicine. 

9

University of Southern California

Graduation Rate

92%

Average Salary at Grad

$56000

The University of Southern California is a large private research university that offers bachelor’s master’s and doctoral degrees as well as professional degrees. There are nearly 50,000 students enrolled and the student-to-faculty ratio is 9:1. USC currently ranks as the 22nd best school in the nation, 5th best college for veterans, 56th best undergraduate teaching school, and 37th for value among others.  In addition to education programming USC is known for its business and engineering programming. The Rossier School of Education offers education degrees to both undergraduate and graduate students. Undergraduate students may pursue a minor in education and society, teaching English to speakers in other languages, and the Dynamics of Early Childhood. There are a number of graduate degrees available. Take a look at some of their offerings: 

  • MAT Teaching
  • MA Teaching English
  • World Masters in Language Teaching
  • M.Ed. in Educational Counseling
  • PHD Urban Education Policy
  • PHD Educational Leadership 
10

Emory University

Graduation Rate

91%

Average Salary at Grad

$48000

Emory University is a private university located in Atlanta, Georgia. Emory has very high research activity and a student-to-faculty ratio of 9:1. There are 14,448 students enrolled. According to the US News and World Report, Emory ranks as the 21st best school in the nation, 40th best for undergraduate teaching programs, 21st best for value, and 42nd best for most innovative schools. Undergraduate students may study educational studies. This program does not lead to teacher certification. However, the program is a good fit for students who may potentially wish to pursue certification at the Master’s level or for students who may wish to study other areas or pursue a career in education.  All students must complete courses from these five areas: 

  • Psychological Context of Education
  • Social Context of Education
  • Cultural Context of Education
  • Historical/ Philosophical Context of Education
  • Methods of Disciplines Inquiry
11

Colgate University

Graduation Rate

90%

Average Salary at Grad

$49000

Colgate University is a private 4-year institution located in Hamilton, New York. There are about 3,000 students enrolled and the student-to-faculty ratio is 9:1. Colgate University currently ranks as the 17th best liberal arts college in the nation as well as 35th for best undergraduate teaching, 17th for best value, and 50th for undergraduate research/ creative projects . The department of education offers a few opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to prepare themselves for a career in education. Take a look at what is available: 

  • Undergraduate major in Educational Studies
  • Undergraduate minor in Educational Studies
  • Teacher Certification 
  • Master of Arts in Teaching 
12

New York University

Graduation Rate

85%

Average Salary at Grad

$54000

New York University (NYU) is a private doctoral university with very high research activity and a student-to-faculty ratio of 9:1. NYU enrolls over 50,000 students and offers traditional as well as non traditional academic programming. NYU is an elite university known for being well-rounded and is particularly known for its arts and business programming with a New York focus. Additionally, NYU is known for its incredible study abroad opportunities. NYU Steinhardt is one of the best education schools in the nation. There are dozens of opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students including programming in American Sign Language and music education, school counseling and more.  Take a look at just a few of their offerings: 

  • Math Education
  • Peace and Conflict Studies 
  • Literacy Education
  • BA Education Studies 
  • Educational Leadership
  • Computer Science Education
  • Educational Theater 
  • And Many More! 
13

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Graduation Rate

91%

Average Salary at Grad

$46000

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC or Chapel Hill) is a public institution that enrolls over 30,000 students. The student-to-faculty ratio is 13:1.  Chapel Hill is part of the research triangle that includes Duke and North Carolina State. UNC Chapel Hill is known for its academic innovation.  Chapel Hill ranks as the 29th best school in the nation, 10th best value school, 63rd most innovative school and 5th top public school in the nation. Their school of education offers exciting programs for prospective or current educators. Some of their offerings are unique such as their path to practice program- a program designed to get the necessary licensure for teachers in North Carolina. Here’s a list of just some of the education degrees available at Chapel Hill: 

  • Ph.D. Applied Developmental Science and Special Education 
  • Birth-Kindergarten, Pre-Kindergarten Licensure
  • Ph.D. Culture, Curriculum, and Teacher Education 
  • MEd. Early Childhood Intervention and Family Support 
  • Ph.D. Education
  • M.A. Educational Innovation Technology and Entrepreneurship 
  • Ed.D. Educational Leadership
  • B.A.Ed. Human Development 
  • B.Mus K-12 Music Education 
  • Ph.D. Learning Sciences and Psychological Studies 
  • M.A.T.
  • M.Ed. 
  • And Many More!
14

Vassar College

Graduation Rate

91%

Average Salary at Grad

$42000

Vassar College is a private institution located in Poughkeepsie, New York. There are 2,456 students enrolled and the student-to-faculty ratio is 8:1. Vassar is one of the elite seven sisters- a women’s college that eventually went co-ed. According to US News Vassar ranks as the 14th best liberal arts college in the nation.  Additionally, Vassar College ranks as the number 1 best college for veterans, 48th best undergraduate teaching college, 11th best value school, and 16th most innovative school. Vassar is known for its high quality programming in a wide range of disciplines including art history and English. Undergraduate students who major in education have the opportunity to select their programming from a wide array of exciting topics in education including: 

  • Pedagogy and Learning
  • Domestic Issues in Education
  • Global Perspectives on Education 
  • Research
  • Electives
  • Intensives
15

Bucknell University

Graduation Rate

89%

Average Salary at Grad

$53500

Bucknell University is a private liberal arts college located in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. There are 3,668 students enrolled and the student-to-faculty ratio is 9:1. This is a liberal arts college with over 50 majors as well as professional majors in the field of engineering, education, management and music. The US News and World Report ranks Bucknell as the 35th best liberal arts college in the nation. Additionally, Bucknell ranks highly for value, innovation, engineering and social mobility.  There are four main programs at Bucknell for undergraduate and graduate students including a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Master of Science and Teaching Certification.  The BS program is intended for students interested in Early Childhood Development.  BA students have the opportunity to study the following core courses: 

  • Social Foundations of Education
  • Educational Psychology 
  • Quantitative Research Methods
  • Culminating Experience
  • B.A. Internship
16

Smith College

Graduation Rate

88%

Average Salary at Grad

$34500

Smith College is a private 4-year institution located in Northampton, Massachusetts. There are 2,903 students enrolled and the student-to-faculty ratio is 9:1. Smith is an all women’s liberal arts college and one of the largest of its kind in the nation. Smith currently offers co-educational graduate programs and was an original member of the Seven Sisters. According to US News, Smith College ranks as the 11th best liberal arts college in the nation. Additionally, Smith ranks as the 9th best undergraduate teaching school and 5th best school for value.  The education department offers a major and minor in Education and Child Studies. The major consists of four components: ten core education courses, three courses in a curricular, three electives, and one senior capstone experience. These are the three strands for the EDC major:

  • Teaching and Learning which includes licensure
  • International/Global Education
  • Youth, Community, and Policy Studies
17

Boston University

Graduation Rate

85%

Average Salary at Grad

$51500

Boston University (BU) is a private research university that is known for its Law school, schools of medicine, economics program, theater programming and much more.  BU enrolls over 34,000 students and has a student-to-faculty ratio of 10:1. According to the US News and World Report, BU ranks as the 40th best university in the nation, and is the 18th best college for veterans, 76th best undergraduate teaching college, 27th most innovative schools, and 48th best value school among many other top accolades. Wheelock College is BU’s school for education and human development. Wheelock offers undergraduate, master’s as well as doctoral programs in the field of education.  Additionally BU offers programming in early childhood development, applied human development, child life, and counseling psychology. Take a look at the education majors available to undergraduates: 

  • Bilingual Education
  • Deaf Studies
  • Early Childhood Education
  • Elementary Education
  • English Education
  • Mathematics Education
  • Modern Foreign Language Education
  • Science Education
  • Social Studies Education
  • Special Education
18

University of California-Irvine

Graduation Rate

89%

Average Salary at Grad

$47000

The University of California Irvine is a public 4-year institution that enrolls 36,032 students. The student-to-faculty ratio is 18:1.  UC Irvine is one of the top public institutions in the United States.  In fact, UC Irvine ranks as the 36th best school in the nation, 15th best for veterans, 3r best for social mobility, and 9th best in the nation for public schools.  UC Irvine is known to have fantastic programming in a wide array of fields some of which include psychology, biology, business, public health, and education. The School of Education recently launched an online learning research center.  UCI offers three main programs at their school of education: a major in education sciences, a MAT with credentials, and a doctoral degree. CalTeach is a program for undergraduates majoring in a STEM subject who may wish to explore what it means to become a teacher. CalTeach offers UCI students the opportunity to pursue a bachelor’s degree as well as a teacher’s certification in just 4 years. Here are the five core concepts of their education sciences major: 

  • Social Structures and Stratification
  • Human Development
  • Learning
  • Policy Making in Education
  • Schools as Organizations
19

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Graduation Rate

86%

Average Salary at Grad

$54500

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is the public flagship university of the state of Illinois. This research university offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees to students with any interest. Illinois is known for its outstanding psychology department, college of engineering as well as college of information sciences.  The university is the whole package with the biggest Greek life, amazing research opportunities as well as opportunities for its graduates. Their college of education offers programming for undergraduates, graduates, and those seeking teacher licensure. They have an online program as well.  Here are the teacher licensure degrees currently available: 

  • Early Childhood Education
  • Elementary Education
  • Middle Grades 
  • Special Education
  • Secondary Education

Graduate programs: 

  • Curriculum & Instruction
  • Educational Psychology
  • Special Education
  • Education Policy 
20

Colby College

Graduation Rate

92%

Average Salary at Grad

$41000

Colby College is a private 4-year university located in Waterville, Maine. There are just 2,000 students enrolled and the student-to-faculty ratio is 10:1. According to the US News and World Report, Colby College ranks as the 11th best national liberal arts college, 48th for best undergraduate teaching, 16th for best value school, and 18th for the most innovative. Innovative schools are those making the most improvements to their faculty requirements, curriculum, technology and facilities as well as campus life. The education program at Colby College has a strong focus on social justice and the program is interdisciplinary in its approach. Take a look at some of the degree course offerings: 

  • Sexual Violence Prevention Peer Educator Training 
  • Education and Social Justice
  • Schools and Society
  • Children and Adolescents in Schools and Society
  • Creating Media for Social Change 
  • Second Language Pedagogy 
  • Teach Freedom
  • Women, Children, Gender and Human Rights 
  • History and Philosophy of Progressive Education
  • And More!

As you can see the curriculum is designed with current socially significant issues in mind. If you’re looking to address current concerns in education then you might not find a better program that addresses those than the undergraduate education minor at Colby College.

Should I Study Online? 

Determining whether or not to study online is an essential first step to determining where you want to study.  Today more so than ever before there are fantastic online programs. 


Quality online degrees are often the same as the on-campus program, are taught by expert faculty, and are designed with the working professional in mind.  

Oftentimes online degrees offer asynchronous classes that may be taken when the student has availability.  If you have a set schedule that you have to adhere to each week then you may want to start there- will the classes slot into the time you have available? 

Not sure where to start? Take a look at some of our suggested questions. 

Quick Search: Finding an Online Degree That Matches Your Needs

  • When are classes held?
  • Is the program entirely online? 
  • Can I use my job as an internship experience? 
  • How many hours do I need to devote to my degree each week? 

Earning a degree online may seem convenient. But when a program doesn’t match your learning style, there is potential for the online program to actually absorb your time without the payoff.  The goal is to complete the degree and to use that degree to advance in your career. 


Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons to studying online. 

Pros

Designed with a working professional in mind 

Often times more affordable

Time efficient 

Cons


There’s very little time in a collegiate setting

You may or may not have a cohort you can rely on

Very little face time if any with your professors

Maybe you’re not sure how you learn and study. Perhaps it has been that long.  Think about how you learn today. 

  • Are you self-directed in your pursuits or do you rely on social influences to make them?  
  • Do you spend your time wisely online or do you find yourself sucked in by social media and other forms of clickbait? 
  • Do you carve out time for your own interests?
  • When you’re going about your day do you have a plan or are you playing it by ear? 

Not everyone is successful with an online degree.  But those who are engage with the material with a sense of drive and purpose. If you are certain that you want to take this next step then consider writing down your goal and what ultimately drives you. Take a look at what we mean: 

I want to pursue an online degree to have better income security for myself in the future.

This degree links to my passion in life which is to teach children that the world is a good place. 

I’m pursuing my online degree because I have something to say about educational policy.

These are just examples, but are important to have in mind when you do decide to pursue an online degree. 

Do you feel ready to do it? Take a look at what we have come up with for the best online degree programs in education.


The Top 10 Best Online Degrees in Education 

1

Vanderbilt University

Graduation Rank

93%

Average Earnings At Grad

$62500

Vanderbilt is one of the top schools in the nation. Vanderbilt University ranks as the 15th best school in the nation and 72nd best school in the world according to US News. It is a private institution located in Nashville.  Lately, Vanderbilt has been growing its online education presence with an array of fantastic online options.  Students may pursue online degrees and certifications in the fields of business, nursing, and education.  One of the most impressive additions to their online offerings is their Peabody College online degrees.  Students may choose to study a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Leadership and Learning in Organizations as well as a Master of Education in Human Development Counseling. Both programs are among the top in the nation and result in careers in some of the most lucrative education jobs in the nation- educational administration and school counseling.  Whether you are looking to advance in your career as an educator or initiate an entirely new career path, certainly check out the programming at Peabody.  

2

University of Southern California

Graduation Rank

92%

Average Earnings At Grad

$56000

The University of Southern California is a private institution located in Los Angeles. There are 47,310 students enrolled and the student-to-faculty ratio is 9:1. According to the US News and World Report USC is the 22nd best school in the nation and 5th best college for veterans as well as 56th best undergraduate teaching school.  Their ranking for value is 37th.  USC Online is practically its own separate university. Currently, USC offers over 100 online degrees and professional certifications in a wide variety of fields including computer science, business, health, engineering, and education.  Their online education programming is robust as USC offers 8 fully online programs for graduate students interested in pursuing further studies in the field of education. Take a look at what’s available: Ed.D. in Educational Leadership, Ed.D. in Organizational Change and Leadership, Global Ed.D., MAT, MAT ESL, M.Ed. Enrollment Management, M.Ed. Learning Design and Technology, and M.Ed. in School Counseling.

3

New York University

Graduation Rank

85%

Average Earnings At Grad

$54000

New York University is a private four-year institution located in New York City. This academic powerhouse has the highest research activity according to Carnegie and maintains a student to faculty ratio of 9:1. Their enrollment is over 51,000!  NYU is known for its top-notch film school as well as academic offerings in the fields of business, engineering, and health.  Steinhardt, their school of education is considered to be among the best in the nation.  Now NYU offers a number of fantastic programs through their online university including full degree programming and MOOCS.  NYU offers dozens of online degrees and Steinhardt currently offers six fully online degrees in the field of education including a Doctor of Occupational Therapy, EdD in Leadership and Innovation, M.S. in Commutative Sciences and Disorders, MA in Counseling for Mental Health an Wellness, M.A. in Counseling and Guidance, and a MAT in Secondary Education. 

4

Boston University

Graduation Rank

85%

Average Earnings At Grad

$51500

Boston University is a private four-year institution located in Boston, Massachusetts. BU currently ranks as the 40th best school in the nation and highly for veterans as well as teaching.  Recently BU has moved up the ranks in terms of innovation and currently ranks 27th according to US News.  The innovation metric factors in innovation with curriculum, faculty, student life, and technology. In recent years BU has expanded their academic offerings to include many online programs.  BU offers the following as online education programming: Art Education,  Curriculum and Teaching, Higher Education Administration, Music Education.Their online art education and music education degrees are very unique as most universities reserve these subjects for on-campus learning. The Music Education degree may be completed as a certificate, master’s or doctoral program.

5

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Graduation Rank

86%

Average Earnings At Grad

$54500

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is the flagship university of the university of Illinois education system. It is a nationally ranked institution that is the 49th best school in the nation, 14th top public school, and 52nd for innovation. Its business and engineering departments are among the best in the world.  As a research institution with the highest levels of research activity it may come as no surprise that the College of Education is the home of breakthrough research in education including studies in autism, bullying, and social justice. Currently Illinois online offers the following online master’s in education degrees: Curriculum and Instruction Bilingual, Curriculum and Instruction Digital Learning, Curriculum and Instruction Perspectives and Practice, Diversity and Equity in Education, Diversity and Equity in Education with an Emphasis in Human Resource Development, Foundation of E-Learning in Higher Education, Global Studies in Education, Learning Design and Leadership, International Education Administration and Leadership, Teaching Biology, New Learning, and Library and Information Science.

6

University of Washington-Seattle Campus

Graduation Rank

83%

Average Earnings At Grad

$69500

The University of Washington- Seattle Campus is a public institution that enrolls over 47,000 students. The student-to-faculty ratio is 19:1. According to the US News and World Report, UW ranks as the 62nd best university in the nation, 22nd top public school and 52nd most innovative school. The “Innovation Imperative” is Washington’s commitment to innovation.  The university encourages an interdisciplinary approach to learning encouraging its students to engage with all of the disciplines including the humanities, arts and sciences.  CoMotion and the Global Innovation Exchange are just two of the ways in which Washington encourages this kind of innovation.  Another way is through their online education offerings. The school of Professional and Continuing Education offers the following online degrees in the field of education: BA in Early Care and Education, MEd. in Special Education: Applied Behavior Analysis, and Master of Library and Information Science.  

7

Ohio State University-Main Campus

Graduation Rank

80%

Average Earnings At Grad

$46000

Ohio State University is a public research university with its main campus in Columbus, Ohio. There are over 61,000 students enrolled and the student-to-faculty ratio is 19:1. Ohio State University has many accolades and is currently ranked as the 54th best university in the nation, 23rd for best undergraduate teaching, 155th for best value school, 17th for top public schools, and 19th for most innovative schools. Ohio State has made a commitment to research and innovation in every discipline including education.  Their online education programs seek to fill the need for educators looking to either initiate their career in education or further their career with programs like their online Associate of Arts in Early Childhood Development and Education, and their online Master of Arts in Art Education and a Master of Science in Agricultural Communication, Education and Leadership. 

8

Rutgers University-New Brunswick

Graduation Rank

81%

Average Earnings At Grad

$47000

Rutgers University New Brunswick is a public 4-year university that offers comprehensive academic programming. There are over 50,000 students enrolled and the student-to-faculty ratio is 16:1. According to the US News and World Report, Rutgers has a national ranking of 62 and ranks as the 22nd top public school.  Rutgers New Brunswick is the flagship institution of the Rutgers University New Jersey public school system.  The university offers a number of online degrees for students looking to pursue a  career in the field of education. Here are their current offerings: M.Ed. in Adult and Continuing Education, M.Ed. in Learning and Cognitive Development, M.Ed. in Language Education, Certification in Bilingual/Bicultural, Certification in ESL, Supervisor Certification, Teacher of Students with Disabilities Certification, GSE Certification in Education Technology, GSE Certification in Gifted Education.  The certifications are for the state of New Jersey. 

9

Syracuse University

Graduation Rank

82%

Average Earnings At Grad

$41500

Syracuse University is a private institution that enrolls 22,803 students. The student-to-faculty ratio is 15:1.  According to the US News and World Report, Syracuse is the 54th best university in the nation, 27th best college for veterans, 71st best value school, 72nd most innovative schools, and 11th for best study abroad programs. Syracuse is an innovative school offering its students opportunities to create their own incubators at their mini incubator location site. They have been offering increasingly greater numbers of online programming including their online certificates of advanced study in designing digital instruction and disability studies.

10

Wittenberg University

Graduation Rank

81%

Average Earnings At Grad

$35000

Wittenberg University is a liberal arts institution that is located in Springfield, Ohio. There are 1,801 students enrolled and the student-to-faculty ratio is 12:1. As a liberal arts college, Wittenberg ranks highly as well as for performance in social mobility.  The social mobility score is determined by how many people of less fortunate means are enrolled in the program. Wittenberg offers a Master of Arts in Education. This degree is a hybrid program where a number of the courses may be taken entirely online. Students interested in advancing their career as an educator in the state of Ohio may want to check out these programs:  MA Education in Educational Leadership, MA Education, Ohio Teacher Leader Endorsement, MA Education Ohio Reading Endorsement.