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Comparing Education Master's Degrees

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Which Education Master's Degree Is Right for You?

If you’re ready to expand your impact as a teacher or become qualified for additional roles in the education world, it’s likely you’ve thought about a master’s degree program. But with all the options out there, which one is right for you?  

WGU offers three education master’s degree programs:

This guide reviews these degree programs, their coursework, and their job outcomes so you can make an informed decision about which one is right for you.

Curriculum and Instruction – M.S.

An online master's degree for those who have educational experience and...

An online master's degree for those who have educational experience and are looking to further their careers with a graduate program focused on curriculum development and design.

  • Time: 61% of grads earned this degree within 13 months.
  • Tuition: $3,975 per 6-month term.
  • Courses: 10 total courses in this program.

Graduates of this program are prepared for a variety of careers including:

  • Private Learning Center Instructor 
  • Instructional Coach 
  • Area Superintendent 
  • Curriculum Director 
  • Academic Advisor 
  • Learning and Development Coordinator
  • Private Tutor 
  • Corporate Trainer

Help schools create engaging, meaningful, and memorable learning experiences to improve learning outcomes for all students with this M.S. degree.

Educational Leadership – M.S.

An online master's degree for current teachers looking to move into a...

An online master's degree for current teachers looking to move into a school or district leadership position, like principal, vice principal, or administrator.

  • Time: 61% of grads earned this degree within 21 months.
  • Tuition: $3,975 per 6-month term.
  • Courses: 13 total courses in this program.

This program is for licensed teachers who are ready to take the next step in their education career.

Graduates of this program are prepared for careers in a variety of places, including:

  • Elementary schools
  • Middle schools
  • Junior high schools
  • High schools
  • Private and charter schools
  • District-level positions

Put your leadership skills to good use—in the service of America's children—with this education master's degree. 

States that do not accept this program: Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, and Minnesota.

Education Technology and Instructional Design – M.Ed.

The M.Ed. in Education Technology and Instructional Design from WGU is for...

The M.Ed. in Education Technology and Instructional Design from WGU is for instructional designers tasked with creating engaging and immersive virtual learning experiences that can substitute for on-ground instruction.

No teaching license required.

  • Time: 73% of grads finish similar programs in 18 months
  • Tuition: $3,975 per 6-month term
  • Courses: 12 total courses in this program.

This program includes two tracks for students to choose from:

  • The K-12 pathway
  • The Adult Learner pathway

Careers you will be prepared for after earning this degree include:

  • Instructional coordinator  
  • Instructional designer 
  • Curriculum developer
  • Instructional technologist
  • Learning engineer
  • Learning architect
  • Instructional design coordinator
  • Academic technologist
  • Learning experience designer  
  • Distance education administrator 
  • Director of instructional design 
  • Online course designer
  • Online course developer
  • Corporate training

Develop training and instruction expertise to help you in the classroom, in educational settings, or in corporate world.

Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction

Who Should Apply for this Program?

If you already have a bachelor's degree in education and are interested in enhancing your career by building strong learning opportunities for students, then a master's degree in curriculum and instruction is one to consider.

You’ll play an integral part in impacting the future for students and teachers alike with a master's degree in curriculum and instruction. This program provides you a direct path to become a leader in education, impacting individual students in classrooms, and shaping the future of your community.

What Will I Learn in the M.S. in Curriculum and Instruction Program?

You’ll cover topics including: 

  • Curriculum Theory  
  • Learning Theories 
  • Educational Psychology  
  • Curriculum Design
  • Curriculum Evaluation 
  • Assessment for Student Learning 
  • Differentiated Instruction 
  • Instructional Theory
  • Research Foundations
  • Research Design and Analysis
  • Research Questions and Literature

"Coming back to get my master's degree after obtaining my bachelor's degree from WGU was the absolute best thing I could have done. I never dreamed before obtaining my bachelor's that I would get a master's degree, but WGU was such an amazing experience I was excited to continue."

Tammie Montgomery
M.S. Curriculum and Instruction

Master of Science in Educational Leadership

Who Should Apply for This Program?

If you’re an experienced, licensed teacher who’s ready to take the next step in your career and move into an administrative or leadership role, a master’s degree in educational leadership can help you do just that. 

This program will give you the skills you need to manage educational institutions, including overseeing teachers, developing and implementing curriculum standards, and improving how your staff helps students achieve their academic goals. You'll also be positioned to manage budgets, ensure proper security, and better interact with parents, the public, and district administrators.

What Will I Learn in the M.S. in Educational Leadership Program?

You’ll cover topics such as: 

  • Leadership Foundations and Ethics
  • School Law
  • Leadership of Curriculum Design and Instruction
  • People and Talent in Educational Leadership
  • School Financial Leadership
  • Practicum in Educational Leadership–Focus on Professional Practices
  • Practicum in Educational Leadership–Focus on Instruction and Operations
  • Educational Leadership Capstone
  • Systems Management and School Operations
  • Leading Inclusive Schools
  • Data Literacy and Evidence-Based Practices
  • Cultural Competency and Social-Emotional Learning

Master of Education, Education Technology & Instructional Design

Who Should Apply for This Program?

This master’s degree in educational technology and instructional design does not require students to be a licensed teacher or even to have any background in education. Thus, this program is well suited for two groups: educators and administrators working in academic environments, and trainers working in a corporate environment. The program is split into two tracks providing actionable knowledge either for traditional educators looking to improve learning experiences, or individuals in corporate environments looking to enhance their organization’s design and delivery of workforce development and training. Applicants to this program should hold a bachelor’s degree in any field. An undergraduate degree in teaching is not required.

This degree program will teach you how to design engaging learning experiences with a focus on the modern online learning environment. It includes an in-depth focus on assessment and learning analytics, learning technology, and e-learning course design for either K–12 students or adults, depending on the track you select. 

What Will I Learn in the M.Ed., Education Technology & Instructional Design Program?

Some areas of study in this master’s degree include:

  • Learning Experience Design Foundations
  • Assessment and Learning Analytics
  • Learning Technology
  • Learning Experience Design Lab
  • Identifying Learner Needs and a Research Problem
  • Developing an E-Learning Solution and Research Methodology
  • Implementing and Evaluating E-Learning Solutions
  • Designing and Facilitating E-Learning Experiences for K–12 Students or Adult Learners

What Careers Can I Pursue with an M.Ed., Education Technology & Instructional Design?

A master’s degree in educational technology and instructional design prepares you for numerous jobs in education and other sectors. Popular roles include:

What Are the Differences between These Programs?

The biggest differenc between these programs is the enrollment requirements and career outcomes. For example, to be considered for the M.S. in Educational Leadership, you must be a current, licensed teacher. If you’re looking for an M.S. in Curriculum and Instruction, you should also have work experience in education. However, this isn’t the case for the M.Ed., Education Technology & Instructional Design, which requires a bachelor’s degree in any discipline, but not a teaching license.

On top of the eligibility differences, each degree will prepare you for vastly different education careers. Here is a quick recap of how the programs differ in who they cater to:

  • The M.S. in Curriculum and Instruction is best for those with educational experience who want to move into curriculum design roles and change what and how students learn.
  • The M.S. in Educational Leadership is best for licensed teachers who want to move out of the classroom and into administrative roles.
  • The M.Ed., Education Technology & Instructional Design is best for K–12 teachers, higher education instructors, or corporate trainers who are set on solving problems related to learner experience, particularly in online learning environments.

Explore all of WGU’s online, accredited education programs and get started today!

Why WGU?

Be Career Ready

Designed with input from healthcare leaders, our accredited programs give you the skills and credentials today’s employers need. That’s why 95% of employers said they’d hire another WGU grad.1

1: 2022 Harris Poll of 300 employers of WGU grads.

Get and Keep the Job You Want to Have

87% of WGU graduates are employed in their degree fields—and 88% are employed full time.2

2: 2022 Harris Poll of 1,542 WGU grads.

Save Money

With flat-rate tuition that is 48% lower than the national average3 and generous need-based scholarships, our degrees are an excellent investment that you can afford.

3: National rates reported by the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data Systems in 2022. WGU average rate does not include rates for WGU Bachelor of Science, Nursing Prelicensure program.

Work as You Need While Going to School

At WGU, you can complete courses, take tests, and graduate on your schedule. In fact, many of our healthcare students work full-time while earning their life-changing bachelor’s or master’s degrees. 


An Affordable Master's Degree

By charging per term rather than per credit—and empowering students to accelerate through material they know well or learn quickly—WGU helps students control the ultimate cost of their degrees. The faster you complete your program, the less you pay for your degree.

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Prepared for Success on the Job

*From a 2022 Harris Poll of 300 employers of WGU graduates.

97% of employers said that WGU graduates were prepared for their jobs.*

95% of employers said that they would hire another WGU grad.*

99% of employers said WGU graduates met or exceeded expectations.*