ece fastest online masters education 01

Author: Merrill
Reviewed by: Brenda Rufener
Reading Level: Grade 9
Reading Time: 11 minutes, 20 seconds
Original Publication Date: December 2016
Updates: 192

You can advance your teaching career with a 1 year master’s in education degree. Because teachers are busy, and the job requires professional development, it’s hard to fit continued education into your already maxed out schedule. 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.

We created a list of top 1 year online master’s in education programs in the U.S. We chose programs based on affordability, flexibility, and academic prestige. Our methodology and point system is listed below.


  • Affordability (1/3): Combined analysis of overall cost of the program, financial aid or scholarship assistance programs, and estimated cost per credit hour for in-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 ranking have at least one option to complete the degree in one year.

Top Picks for Best One Year Masters Programs in Education

RankSchoolGraduate Tuition
(in-state tuition)
Flexibility Rank
#1Western Governors University
Salt Lake City, Utah
#2San Diego State University
San Diego, California
#3National University
San Diego, California
#4The University of Findlay
Findlay, Ohio
#5Anderson University
Anderson, South Carolina
#6The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
Edinburg, Texas
#7Concordia University
Irvine, California
#8California Baptist University
Riverside, California
#9Cumberland University
Lebanon, Tennessee
#10Notre Dame College
Cleveland, Ohio

1. Western Governors University

Online Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction

Program Website

​Western Governors University (WGU) is a private, nonprofit school based in Salt Lake City, Utah, operating 100% online. It uses a “competency based” model when moving students through programming. This means you can advance through your degree by showing a set of skills or competencies. Rather than extra hours spent on material that you already know, online master’s students can accelerate or simply test out of these subjects and focus on an area of interest. This innovative approach to education means:

  • less time and money
  • an extremely flexible schedule
  • personal individual faculty support

​WGU made it to the top of our list because it is a flexible and affordable choice that focuses on students who are ready to advance in their career. The Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction aligns 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:

  • educational research
  • instructional theory and practice
  • learning science

Over 60% of students earn their degree within 13 months! The other 40% get it in 12 months. Since graduate tuition charges per term, completing the degree in one year saves a considerable amount of money. 


  • Affordable in-state tuition
  • Capstone project included
  • Convenient scheduling, new courses start on the 1st of every month
  • Only 10 courses to get your degree


  • High student-to-faculty ratio of 42:1
  • Large student population over 156,000

2. San Diego State University

Master of Arts in Teaching

Program Website

San Diego State University is a public space grant research university located in San Diego, California. It is the oldest university in San Diego County and offers online programs for teachers who want their graduate degree fast.

​SDSU 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. These are the same instructors who teach on campus. 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.

This is a top choice program for its accelerated format that of only 24 credits. Students complete their online master’s degree in one year by taking courses during the summer, fall, and spring semesters.


  • Affordable in-state tuition
  • Large number of Fulbright Scholars
  • Low number of credit requirements


  • High student-to-faculty ratio of 25:1
  • Large student population, over 37,000
  • Only for credentialed teachers

3. National University

Master of Arts in Education

Program Website

National University is a large, nonprofit university in San Diego, California. It offers several accelerated programs, which is one of the reasons we selected it as one of our top 10 education programs.

​For teachers wanting their master’s degree in one year, NU offers the Master of Arts in Education. In this program, students learn about historical, philosophical, psychological, and social foundations in the field. You also study equity and diversity, helping you understand learning difference among populations. If you want to specialize your degree, you can! The program offers different areas of emphasis, including advanced teaching practices and early childhood education.

We selected this online master’s program for its flexibility and accelerated pacing. With four-week courses and year-round enrollment, students can elect to complete this degree in a little as 12 months.


  • Multiple areas of emphasis
  • WASC-accredited program


  • Higher graduate tuition than other schools
  • Large student body population for a nonprofit school

4. The University of Findlay

Master’s in Education Online

Program Website

​The University of Findlay is a private university located in Findlay, Ohio. There are a total of 4,869 students enrolled.  The student body is diverse and represents over 40 countries throughout the globe. The student-to-faculty ratio is 13:1 and the average online classroom has less than 20 students. For teachers, there is an accelerated MAE degree you can finish in one year.

​The Master of Arts in Education (MAE) is completely online. It comes with different areas of emphasis for students to hone their skills. These focus areas include:

  • 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 five 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

We selected this accelerated online master’s in education program due to its high-quality programming and flexibility. Just because it’s fast, doesn’t mean you can’t specialize your coursework. And if you don’t want to finish in 12 months, you can extend it to 18 months, adding an extra layer of flexibility.


  • Low student-to-faculty ratio of 13:1
  • More diverse school and programming
  • Multiple focus areas to help specialize your degree
  • Small class sizes


  • Higher cost than some other programs
  • Less known education program

5. Anderson University

Accelerated Master’s in Education

Program Website

​Anderson University is a private 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 4,121 students enrolled, representing a diverse student body. 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. ​

​The school offers a Master of Education, delivered mostly online. Students can complete this 33-credit hour degree in 12 months when enrolled full-time. We selected this program for its high-quality offerings and 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.


  • Diverse student body and program
  • Low student-to-faculty ratio of 14:1
  • NCATE-accredited program


  • Hybrid components
  • Lesser-known education program

6. The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

Online Master of Education in Educational Technology

Program Website

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley is a large, public university located in Edinburg, Texas. It offers online flexible, relevant, and career-oriented offerings for educators and other professions.

​UTRGV offers a one year online masters in education in the area of educational technology. We selected this degree for its fantastic value and accelerated model. 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 in seven-week blocks, allowing students to move quickly through the program. Most students can earn their degree in 12 months. Graduates learn the skills needed to add value to the classroom by using a variety of instructional technology and facilitating or directing IT in an educational setting.


  • Accredited by Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
  • Highly customizable degree
  • Research-focused degree


  • Higher student-to-faculty ratio of 19:1
  • Large student body population, over 31,000 students

7. Concordia University Irvine

Master of Arts in Education Curriculum and Instruction

Program Website

​Concordia University Irvine (CUI) is private Christian University located in Irvine, California. It is home to a diverse student body, though emphasizes its Lutheran heritage. There are a total of 3,744 students enrolled and the student-to-faculty ratio is 14:1. The majority of classes have less than 20 students.

​The school 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 and students complete the program as a cohort. This means students take each course together, building relationships and developing a professional network. 

Online classes are just eight weeks long. Online students who want to complete their degree in one year must enroll full-time. But, you also have flexibility if you’re unable to complete the requirements in this short timeline. Students can stretch this degree across two years, taking one class every eight weeks until completion. Students finish their degree with a capstone experience.


  • 10-month completion time
  • Asynchronous learning
  • Low cost tuition
  • WASC-accredited program


  • Lesser-known education program

8. California Baptist University

Master of Science in Education

Program Website

California Baptist University (CBU) is a private, Christian liberal arts university located in Riverside, California. There are 11,495 students enrolled at CBU and the student-to-faculty ratio is 18:1. CBU Online has several programs for working professionals and anyone looking for an online degree, including teachers.

​The school offers an online Master of Science in Education with six areas of emphasis. These focus areas include:

  • Administrative Services Induction
  • Curriculum and Instruction
  • Early Childhood Studies
  • Educational Leadership
  • Special Education
  • Transitional Kindergarten

Online master’s students complete 30-33 credit hours. Classes start every eight weeks and are delivered asynchronous and entirely online. You can finish your degree in just 12 months, though options to extend the timeline are available.


  • Multiple focus areas
  • WASC-accredited programs
  • Year-round courses


  • Higher student-to-faculty ratio of 18:1
  • Less diverse student body

9. Cumberland University

Master of Arts in Education Online

Program Website

Cumberland University is a small, private liberal arts university located in Lebanon, Tennessee. The school has 2,588 students enrolled and the student-to-faculty ratio is 16:1. Aspiring educators can earn an MA in Education online that is affordable and accelerated.

Students can enroll full- or part-time, and finish the degree in 12 months across three semesters utilizing an 8-week course model. Core courses include:

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

We selected this top one year masters in education program because of affordability and versatility. Over 60% of students receive some form of financial aid, including graduate fellowships.


  • Add-on endorsements available
  • Low cost tuition
  • NCATE-accredited program
  • No required login times


  • Limited number of specialization options
  • Lower graduation rate

10. Notre Dame College

Online Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction

Program Website

​Notre Dame College is a private, nonprofit university located in Cleveland, Ohio. There are over 1,400 students, which helps maintain an 11:1 student-to-faculty ratio. The school offers a fully online Master of Education (MEd) in Curriculum and Instruction for students seeking an accelerated program. We selected this degree for its fast-paced programming, and for its affordable tuition and discounts offered to administrators of Catholic schools.

Students find the versatility they need to advance their career in curriculum and instruction with this accelerated degree The interactive online classroom allows students to engage with other like-minded professionals. Specialized education courses include:

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

Toward the end of the program, students must complete a capstone project to finish their degree. 


  • Career-advancing credentials and licensure opportunities
  • Eight-week courses
  • Low student-to-faculty ratio of 11:1
  • Small class sizes


  • Lesser-known education program
  • Limited research opportunities

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it possible to do a master’s in education online in one year?

Yes. There are many accredited online education programs for graduate students that take one year to complete. Some schools offer 12-month programs with options to extend the time to completion to 18 months when students need more flexibility in the schedules. The 12-month programs allow teachers to earn additional credentials while working.

How fast can you get your master’s in education?

It depends on the program, but the fastest master’s in education degrees take 12 months. A traditional ME.d. takes two years, but accelerated options allow students to take five-week or eight-week courses over a compressed timeline. As a result, you can earn your ME.d. in one year!

Is a 1 year or two year master’s in education better?

It depends on your career goals. Most one-year ME.d. programs have limited internship or classroom experiences. Two-year programs have internships. If you’re looking for a breathable pace, a two-year program can fit your needs. But some educators want the fast pacing so they can get their credentials right away.

How hard is an accelerated master’s in education?

An accelerated ME.d. moves at a quick pace. The workload gets compressed into six to eight weeks, depending on class length. If you have trouble balancing a full-time work schedule with classes and homework, you may find an accelerated programs challenging.

What are the pros of an accelerated M.Ed.?

• Cost savings
• Intensive learning
• Time Efficiency and time savings
• Quicker career advancement opportunities

What are the cons of an accelerated M.Ed.?

• Intense course load
• Limited flexibility in course selection
• Limited time for extracurricular activities
• Reduced time to socialize with peers