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Through a blend of advanced level coursework and intensive field experience, master’s programs in Elementary Education help practicing teachers refine their skills, enhance their career opportunities, and become more effective in the classroom. Coursework often focuses on pedagogical techniques, curriculum development, and the latest trends in education and policy. Teachers are encouraged to explore the inter-relatedness of the subject matter taught to children, and to incorporate modern teaching methodology and theory into their subsequent practice. In addition, students explore the social, political, and economic factors that affect young students, giving them a deeper understanding of and sensitivity to primary school-aged students.

In most elementary education programs, a good deal of learning is done in the field. Students are versed in classroom observation techniques and taught how to interpret educational research. At the end of the program, which usually spans about two years, master’s students engage in specialized seminars, conduct independent research, or engage in a practicum or student teaching experience. Some programs also require students to write a research-based thesis.

While some programs are decidedly focused on educating practicing teachers, many programs are also willing to admit new teachers, allowing them to meet credential requirements at the same time that they pursue their master’s. If you have a strong interest in primary school children and do not have a teaching credential, choose a program that will allow you to pursue both a degree and a credential simultaneously.

Degree Information

Depending on the program, students may pursue a Master’s of Science in Education (M.S.), Master of Arts in Education (M.A.), or Master’s of Education (M.Ed.) in Elementary Education. M.S. and M.A. programs usually require students to write a culminating thesis based on classroom research, whereas M.Ed. programs usually do not. M.S. programs may also require more class work in methodology and research than M.A. or M.Ed. programs.

Program requirements and courses vary by school; however, all degree options can usually be conferred after one or two years of advanced level coursework in the discipline. Many programs allow part-time, evening, or summer options for practicing teachers. A practicum or master’s thesis is a graduation requirement at many institutions.

Some schools also offer the option of pursuing a Ph.D. in Education with a focus on primary or elementary education. These programs are geared towards education professionals who want to pursue a career in educational research or in teacher education on the university level.

Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing a Degree Program

  • What specialties or certificate programs does the school offer?
  • Who are the faculty and staff? What professional or academic experience do they bring to the program?
  • Where do students do internships or fieldwork?
  • Where is the school located? Does the school's location influence its philosophy?
  • Does the program require students to write a thesis?
  • Do students engage in research, classroom observation, internships, or independent projects?
  • Does the school offer part time study?
  • Can students pursue a teaching credential concurrent to an M.A./M.S.?

Career Overview

After completing a graduate program in Elementary Education, most teachers return to the classroom with refined skills, a deeper understanding of modern educational and research techniques, and heightened sensitivity to their students. Due to their more comprehensive understanding of the field, graduates may go on to serve as master teachers, overseeing the development of the curriculum or the integration of new standards and material. Other graduates may return to the school setting and take on a position of leadership in the administration, using their new skills to oversee school management and function. Some graduates go on to work as child development specialists or researchers, investigating new, more effective ways to educate elementary school students.

Career/Licensing Requirements

To work in public schools, teachers are required to hold a valid state teaching credential. Credential requirements vary from state to state. However, they generally involve advanced level coursework, student teaching experience, as well as successful performance on the state qualifying exams.

Salary Information

New graduates can expect to earn between $40,000 and $50,000, though the exact amount will fluctuate based on demand and experience.

Related Links

The National Association of State Boards of Education
The National Association of State Boards of Education has information about state school districts and information about certification requirements and teaching standards.

National Boards for Professional Teaching Standards
The National Boards for Professional Teaching Standards is a national, nonprofit organization of professional educators dedicated to creating and upholding high standards for U.S. teachers. Their web site contains information about credentials, news about education reform, and other education related resources.

National Association of Elementary School Principals
National Association of Elementary School Principals is a nonprofit organization of elementary and middle school administrators. Check their web site for industry news, publications, job listings, and information about conferences.


  • Organization And Administration Of Early Childhood Programs

  • Advanced Study Of The Teaching Of Mathematics To

  • Curriculum In Early Childhood Education

  • Developing Literacy In The Elementary School

  • Educational Psychology

  • Educational Research

  • Elementary School Children

  • Elementary School Curriculum

  • Evaluation Of Classroom Behavior

  • Fieldwork

  • Internship

  • Introduction To Curriculum Studies

  • Methods And Materials In Literacy Education

  • Multicultural And Global Education

  • Reading And Language Arts For Elementary Education

  • Social Issues And Education

  • Subject Specific Electives

  • Thesis