ece fastest online masters education 01

​As educators, you know that your practice has to evolve and remain relevant within the constantly changing classroom environment. Whether those changes are curricular, technological, or more focused on the diversity of learners in your class, a master’s degree is going to be an essential component to ensure that your teaching practice meets the needs of your learners.

As teachers, you are some of the busiest professionals on the planet. Your professional development needs to make sense and align with your professional and personal goals. An accelerated 1 year masters in education is an option that makes sense for educators who want to advance their career in a short amount of time. The following online master’s programs all have options that take just 12 months to complete.  Some schools will offer up several program options and others provide one degree that covers a broad range versatile material.  We are sure you’ll find an online master’s in education program that meets your needs.

We created our list of what we consider to be the best 1 year online master’s in education programs in the U.S.  We surveyed degrees that offered added flexibility for learners who wish to extend their degree beyond a year as well as included those which are full time or part time. These are our top picks for best one year masters programs in education for their:

  • accelerated curriculum
  • affordability
  • engaging course content
  • flexibility


  • Affordability (1/3): Combined analysis of overall tuition of the program, financial aid or scholarship assistance programs, and estimated cost per credit hour for out-of-state students.
  • Flexibility (1/3): The number of flexibility-enhancing elements specific to the degree program including teaching philosophy concentrations, degree specialties, prior learning or life experience crediting options, accelerated or self-paced courses, personalized student advisement/guidance, and competency-based credit options.
  • Academic Prestige (1/3): The academic prestige of the parent institution operationally defined through the score of combined rankings and/or reviews of prominent education review entities such as US News & World Report and The Princeton Review.

*All master’s in education programs surveyed for this program have at least an option of being completed in one year.

1. Western Governors University – Salt Lake City, Utah

Online Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction

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Program Website

​Western Governors University (WGU) is a private, nonprofit school based in Salt Lake City, Utah. However, this university is actually 100% online. Western Governors uses a “competency based” model when moving students through programming- meaning that individuals advance through their degree by showing a set of skills or competencies. Rather than spend extra hours on material that they already know, online master’s students may accelerate or simply test out of those subjects truly spending time on areas of interest. Its innovative approach to education means:

  • less time and money (graduate tuition is nearly half of other online universities)
  • an extremely flexible schedule
  • personal individual faculty support

Fast Company magazine lauds WGU for its foci on learning and relevant skill sets. This program was created by U.S. Governors and currently serves over 150,000 students across the United States and overseas military. Many organizations accredit programs at WGU including the NCATE.​

​Western Governors University made it to the top of our list because it is a flexible and affordable choice that really focuses on individuals who are ready to advance within their career. The Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction was developed to align with the standards set by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and the National Education Association’s Teacher Leadership Competencies.  Students gain valuable experience in areas like:

  • instructional theory and practice
  • learning science
  • educational research

Over 60% of students earn their degree within 13 months.  Since graduate tuition is charged per term, completing the degree in just one year saves a considerable amount of money.  Students only need to complete 10 courses to finish their degree.  A capstone project is included so students can demonstrate what they’ve learned throughout the program.  New courses start the 1st of every month, so onine master’s students can begin the program when it is most convenient.  ​

  • Homepage
  • Average Graduate Student Tuition: $7,500/year
  • Flexibility Rank: 3/3

2. San Diego State University – San Diego, California

Master of Arts in Teaching

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Program Website

San Diego State University (San Diego State) is a public space grant research university located in San Diego, California.  It is the oldest university in San Diego County. The Carnegie Foundation classifies San Diego State as a Doctoral University with Higher Research Activity. San Diego State has the second highest number of Fulbright Scholars in the State of California only second to UC Berkeley. The Western Associate of Schools and Colleges accredits San Diego State to offer bachelor’s to doctoral degree programs. We like San Diego State for its high research activity, quality and affordable education. ​

​San Diego State offers a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) for both elementary and secondary education. We selected this degree program for its quality.  Online master’s courses are taught by full-time and tenured faculty the same as on-campus. The coursework is also varied, giving each individual an opportunity to select programming that is usable in their classroom. The program is sequenced, starting with foundational material like learner assessment and curriculum development.  As students progress, the focus shifts to research-based pedagogical approaches.  Students finish their degree by completing either a research or capstone project.

We also selected the program for its accelerated format that is just 24 credit units.  Students can complete their online master’s degree across one year by taking courses during the summer, fall, and spring semesters. This program is designed for credentialed teachers.

  • Homepage
  • Average Graduate Student Tuition: $7,176/year in-state and $16,680/year out-of-state
  • Flexibility Rank: 2/3

3. Northcentral University – La Jolla, California

Master of Education Online

Online Master of Education

Program Website

Northcentral University is a for-profit virtual university that was established in 1996 and is based in Prescott Valley, Arizona. There are 12,648 students enrolled that represents a diverse population of students. The Western Association of Schools Commission accredits Northcentral to offer bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. The Carnegie Classifications ranks Northcentral as a doctoral research university. Students may tailor their degree program to meet their personal and professional goals.  Several programs are offered in an accelerated format which is one of the reasons we selected Northcentral as one of our top 10 program. These degrees are fast and flexible. ​

​Northcentral University offers two different tracks for students who want to pursue their master’s in education degree including a standard online MEd track or an accelerated Master of Education online that you can complete in just one year. There are 19 specialization areas in everything from coaching to adult learning. This accelerated online master’s program is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. The online program is 30-36 credit hours in length. Those enrolled in the PK-12 Principal Leadership specialization are required to take 2 additional courses to meet certification requirements.

We selected this online master’s program for its flexibility and of course accelerated offering. Students may elect to complete this degree in a little as 12 months.  The Master of Education program allows for extra flexibility for individuals who wish to extend to 16 months.

  • Homepage
  • Average Graduate Student Tuition: $11,064/year
  • Flexibility Rank: 3/3

4. The University of Findlay – Findlay, Ohio

Master’s in Education Online

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Program Website

​The University of Findlay is a private university located in Findlay, Ohio. There are a total of 4,811 students enrolled at Findlay.  The student body is diverse and represents over 40 countries throughout the globe. The student-to-faculty ratio is just 13:1 and the average classroom has fewer than 20 students. We selected the University of Findlay for its high quality, great value education. ​

​The University of Findlay offers a Master of Arts in Education (MAE) completely online with seven areas of emphasis:

  • Curriculum and Instructional Leadership for the Whole Child
  • STEAM- Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math
  • Educational Administration,
  • Human Resource Development
  • Reading
  • Science

Each area of emphasis starts with the same 5 core courses:

  • Being an Educational Leaders
  • Collaboration: Education and Community
  • Research for the Educational Leader
  • Educational Leader as a Change Agent
  • Culminating Project in Education

Each area of emphasis has different requirements for completion. We selected this accelerated online master’s in education program due to its high-quality programming, flexibility and price. This accelerated online master’s still allows for flexibility through specialized coursework. This degree may be completed in as little as 12 months or may be extended to 18 months- adding an extra layer of flexibility. We also like the affordable sticker price.

  • Homepage
  • Average Graduate Student Tuition: $17,106/year
  • Flexibility Rank: 3/3

5. Anderson University – Anderson, South Carolina

Accelerated Online Master’s in Education

Program Website

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​Anderson University is a private comprehensive university located in Anderson, South Carolina. The Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accredits Anderson University to offer bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in over 60 areas of study. There are 4,008 students enrolled representing a diverse student body. There are 8 colleges that offer degree programs including the South Carolina School of the Arts and the College of Arts and Sciences.  The School of Education offers innovative programs and incentives for diverse students who wish to become teachers.  These innovative programs, along with their high value, are why Anderson University made it to our top 10. ​

​Anderson University offers a Master of Education that is delivered fully online.  Students can complete this 33-credit hour online master’s in education in just 12 months.  This degree is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. We selected this program for its high-quality offerings and its affordable price.

The curriculum focuses on:

  • Current Issues in Public School Education
  • Nature and Needs of Gifted and Talented Students
  • School and Community Relations
  • Emerging Trends and Practices in Educational Technology
  • Educational Research

Students also learn to teach to a diverse student body including students with exceptionalities and gifted and talented students.  Graduates leave with a truly versatile degree. When taken full-time this online master’s degree is completed in just 12 months.

  • Homepage
  • Average Graduate Student Tuition: $10,616/year
  • Flexibility Rank: 2/3

6. The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley – Edinburg, Texas

Online Master of Education in Educational Technology

Program Website

Online Master of Education in Educational Technology

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley is a four-year, public university located in Edinburg, Texas. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges accredits UTRGV to offer bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs. They have several different campus locations across the Rio Grande Valley.  There are over 31,000 students and the student to faculty ratio is 20:1.  UTRGV is currently ranked 1st in Texas for having the lowest net price of attendance and 1st for the performance of Pell-eligible students.  Online learning is flexible and is designed to fit the schedule of the individual. We like UTRGV for its flexible, relevant, and career-oriented offerings.​

​UTRGV offers a one year online masters in education in the area of educational technology.  We selected this degree for its fantastic value as well as accelerated model and flexible option. Students can customize their degree with a graduate certificate in e-learning or technology leadership.  Accelerated elective course offerings include:

  • Integration of Advanced Technologies in Education and Training
  • Student-Centered Learning Using Technology
  • Technology Leadership

Online master’s courses are offered in seven-week blocks, allowing students to move quickly through the program.  Most students can earn their degree in just 12 months.  Online master’s in education graduates are prepared to add value to the classroom by using a variety of instructional technology and facilitating or directing IT in an educational setting.

  • Homepage
  • Average Graduate Student Tuition: $7,002/year in-state and $14,346/year out-of-state
  • Flexibility Rank: 3/3

7. Concordia University Irvine – Irvine, California

Master of Arts in Education: Curriculum and Instruction

Program Website

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​Concordia University Irvine (CUI) is private Christian University located in Irvine, California. CUI was established in 1976 as way to provide a Lutheran education to the Pacific Southwest.   Concordia is now home to a diverse student body, though still emphasizes its Lutheran heritage. There are a total of 3,710 students enrolled and the student-to-faculty ratio is 15:1. The majority of classes have fewer than 20 students.

The Western Association of Schools and Colleges accredits Concordia University Irvine to offer bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees as well as post-graduate certificates.  There are a vast range of degree programs available to students from acting and music to classical languages and more.  Online programs at Concordia Irvine add extra flexibility and emphasize the importance of convenience and affordability.  These reasons are why Concordia University Irvine made it to the top of our list. ​

​Concordia University Irvine offers a Master of Arts (M.A.Ed) in Curriculum and Instruction. This program is fantastic for its flexible options including the one-year accelerated format.  There are no fixed class times in top online master’s program.

Students complete the program as a cohort.  This means that students take each course together, building relationships and developing a professional network.  Those who elect to study online get a similar experience to those who study on campus as students participate in online discussions and group activities.

Online master’s classes are just 8-weeks long.  Online students who wish to complete their degree in one year must be able to devote full time hours to their studies. Students also have the flexibility to stretch this degree across two years- taking just one class every 8 weeks until completion. Thirty credit hours are required for completion of this degree program including 12 core unites and 5 classes selected by the cohort. Students finish their degree with a capstone experience.

  • Homepage
  • Average Graduate Student Tuition: $8,564/year
  • Flexibility Rank: 2/3

8. California Baptist University – Riverside, California

Master of Science in Education: Specialization in Early Childhood Studies

Program Website

Master's in Education Online

California Baptist University (CBU) is a private, Christian liberal arts university located in Riverside, California. There are 11,489 students enrolled at CBU and the student-to-faculty ratio is just 19:1. The Western Association of Schools and Colleges accredits California Baptist University to offer bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. There are 10 academic schools and colleges offering a variety of degrees including:

  • The College of Architecture Visual Arts and Design
  • College of Arts and Sciences
  • College of Engineering
  • College of Health Science
  • College of Nursing
  • School of Behavioral Science
  • School of Business
  • School of Christian Ministries
  • School of Education
  • School of Music
  • Online and Professional Studies

CBU online is designed for non-traditional learners including working professionals, parent-students or really anyone who is looking for the convenience afforded to them through online learning. CBU’s flexible options at an affordable price equal high value, which is why they made it to our top 10. ​

​California Baptist University offers a Master of Science in Education with an emphasis in Early Childhood Studies (MSE/ECS).  They program is a great choice for candidates who strive to:

  • excel in their early childhood career
  • learn to research best-practices in education
  • gain insight into recent theories and principles that apply to the early learner

Online master’s students will learn to develop curricula and evaluate student success.  This is an academic and practical degree program that readily translates to the early childhood classroom.

We selected this program for our top 10 because it’s affordable and students can complete their degree in as little as 12 months.  Course content provides comprehensive material for master’s candidates. Specialized courses include:

  • Leadership and Supervision in Early Childhood Settings
  • Early Childhood Literacy and Language Development
  • Early Childhood Program Development and Evaluation

Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree and a minimum undergraduate GPA of at least a 2.75 for unconditional admission.

  • Homepage
  • Average Graduate Student Tuition: $13,590/year
  • Flexibility Rank: 2/3

9. Cumberland University – Lebanon, Tennessee

Master of Arts in Education Online

Program Website

Online Master's in Education

Cumberland University is a small private liberal arts university located in Lebanon, Tennessee. There are 2,540 students enrolled at Cumberland where the student-to-faculty ratio is just 17:1 and the majority of classrooms contain fewer than 20 students. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degree programs. Degree programs are vast and varied and include programs like an Associate in Arts and BS in athletic training.  They also offer several master’s degrees such as a MS in Nursing and an MA in Education. We selected Cumberland University for its affordable high-quality programming. ​

​Cumberland University offers at Master of Arts in Education fully online and accredited by the National Council Association for Teacher Education. This online degree is offered full-time or part-time. Full-time students complete this degree in just 12 months across three semesters utilizing and 8-week course model. Core courses include:

  • Innovative Instructional Technology
  • School Law
  • Advanced Educational Psychology
  • Curriculum Design

Students must complete 30 credit hours to earn their degree.   Applicants to this program must have completed a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. We selected this top one year masters in education program the material is comprehensive and therefore versatile.  Tuition is affordable and 60% of students receive some form of financial aid.​

  • Homepage
  • Average Graduate Student Tuition: $7,500/year
  • Flexibility Rank: 2/3

10. Notre Dame College – Cleaveland, Ohio

Online Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction

Program Website

Online Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction

​Notre Dame College is a private nonprofit university located in Cleveland, Ohio.  The Higher Learning Commission accredits Concordia University Portland to offer bachelor’s, master’s, and associate degree programs. This Catholic, liberal arts institution was founded in 1922.  They offer over 34 majors.

There are over 1,500 students and the student to faculty ratio is just 12:1.  Class side is intentionally kept small to foster close relationships between students and faculty.  We selected Notre Dame College for its rigorous highly academic programming as well as is accelerated offerings. ​

Notre Dame College offers a fully online Master of Education (MEd) in Curriculum and Instruction. We selected this degree for its accelerated programming but also because of the affordable tuition and discounts offered to administrators of Catholic schools.

One year education masters degree students find the versatility they need to advance their career in curriculum and instruction.  The interactive online classroom allows students to engage with other like-minded professionals from the comfort of home.  Content specialization courses include:

  • History and Philosophy of Education
  • Advanced Curriculum Design
  • Data Literacy
  • Evaluation and Innovation

Students must complete a capstone project to finish their degree.  Applicants need to submit a complete online application and official transcripts to be considered for admission.

  • Homepage
  • Average Graduate Student Tuition: $9,000/year
  • Flexibility Rank: 3/3