Online Master’s Programs in Educational Technology

Ideal for education professionals wanting to integrate technology in the classroom and tech experts seeking to apply their skills to education, an online master’s in educational technology provides expertise in a growing field. This guide offers information about what to expect from this degree, including common courses. It also covers potential careers for graduates and professional certifications, organizations, and resources.

Overview of an Online Master’s Program in Educational Technology

Graduate students in educational technology learn the latest strategies, tools, and models for using technology to improve teaching techniques and learner engagement. While specific course titles and degree requirements vary by program, the information below provides a general overview of what to expect from an online master's in educational technology.

Common Classes and Coursework

Foundations of Educational Technology

Students typically begin their study of educational technology with a foundational course introducing the history and literature of the field. With this overview, students learn about the applications of technology in education, as well as potential specializations.

Instructional Design

Courses in instructional design focus on the application of the design process to the development of learning modules and instructional materials. Students learn how to conduct a needs analysis, assess learner characteristics, design effective activities, and assess learning outcomes. Students practice applying current learning theories, technology, and design principles to online instruction.

Integrating Multimedia

Through one or more courses in multimedia design and implementation, students gain technical expertise in open-source software, tools, and applications that educators may adapt to their classroom. Students learn how to identify, use, evaluate, and apply multimedia resources to instruction.

Gaming and Simulations

Students learn ways to increase learner engagement through gaming strategies and simulations, such as branching scenarios. This course introduces the benefits, characteristics, terminology, and uses of games and simulations in educational contexts. Students practice creating lessons that include games or simulations.

Leadership in Educational Technology

This course explores research and best practices related to the development and management of online programs. Students gain the skills needed to take on leadership positions related to educational technology, including strategic planning, program development and implementation, and assessment.

Skills You Will Gain

Educational technology programs prepare teachers and corporate trainers to integrate technology into their instruction. To bring technology into lessons, create elearning materials, and design online courses, educational technologists must combine an understanding of learning theories and educational best practices with technology skills. Online master’s in educational technology graduates gain the following skills and competencies.

Learning Theories

Students practice applying learning theories to online curriculum design. They also learn how to ensure that learning activities adhere to instructional best practices and enhance learning and engagement.

Instructional Design

Instructional designers must be able to assess learner needs and create objectives and online activities to meet those needs. Instructional designers use design models and instructional technology to plan, deliver, and evaluate online courses.

Educational Technology

Educational technologists must know how to use learning management systems; instructional tools and applications; and software for creating videos, quizzes, games, and simulations. Many educational technology programs provide opportunities for students to use new technology tools and software, building their expertise in this area.

Average Degree Length

Educational technology master’s degrees typically require 30-36 credits. The length of time it takes to finish the degree varies by course load, transfer credits, enrollment status, and program format. Typically, students that take three or four classes each semester graduate in 12-18 months, while students that only take one class per term may take three years to graduate. Many schools design programs that working professionals can complete in two years by taking two eight-week courses each term.

How to Find a Top Program

When seeking top master’s programs in educational technology, prospective students should consider several factors, including accreditation status and specializations. The following list outlines several indicators of quality online master's programs in educational technology.

  • Specializations

    Prospective programs should provide courses and specializations aligned with a student's goals and interests. Top programs offer specializations that prepare graduates for immediate job placement or career advancement.

  • Hands-on Learning

    Top programs include opportunities for students to practice and apply their new skills. These opportunities may come in the form of practicums, capstone projects, or portfolios. These experiences give graduates a competitive edge in the job market.

  • Accreditation

    Accredited schools and programs meet industry standards for quality. Students should look for schools that hold regional accreditation. Some educational technology degrees may also hold programmatic accreditation.

  • Admissions Requirements

    Top programs typically include more rigorous admissions requirements than less prestigious programs. Quality programs may require high undergraduate GPAs or GRE scores, letters of recommendation, and relevant work experience.

  • Networking

    The best programs offer networking opportunities with alumni, peers, and professionals. Networking opportunities through mentorships, internships, and career services can help graduates secure jobs.

Educational Technology Careers After Earning Your Master’s

Graduates with a master's in educational technology enjoy diverse career opportunities. Educators, including K-12 teachers, college instructors, and corporate trainers, may pursue this degree to improve their professional practice with technology. Some educators use this degree as a stepping stone to a leadership position where they train other educators, design curricula, or manage online programs. The following table outlines several potential careers and salaries for graduates.

Instructional Coordinator

These educators typically train teachers in a particular curriculum area, such as technology. Most schools require instructional coordinators to hold a master’s degree.

Average Annual Salary: $64,450

Instructional Designer

These specialists design and deliver online courses. They typically work with content experts and programmers to create courses, using their expertise in design and technology to enhance learning outcomes. Colleges often prefer instructional designers to hold graduate degrees.

Average Annual Salary: $62,109

Director of Educational Technology

These directors lead educational technology programs for schools or companies. In some schools or districts, this position is administrative, requiring an advanced degree and/or a school administrator license. Some employers may prefer a doctorate.

Average Annual Salary: $75,000

Curriculum Developer

These curriculum and instruction professionals create lessons, modules, courses, and materials for teachers. They work for schools and companies that create curricula. Employers often prefer a master’s degree and expertise in one or more curricular areas.

Average Annual Salary: $61,129

Training and Development Manager

These managers oversee the work of corporate trainers, develop training programs, and assess company needs. A master’s degree can help training specialists secure this leadership position.

Average Annual Salary: $111,340

Sources: BLS/PayScale

Additional Certifications for Educational Technology

Many positions in education and training require a graduate degree and additional licenses, certifications, or endorsements. For example, educators working in K-12 schools must hold state licensure, and corporate training professionals can boost their careers with professional certifications. The following certifications benefit educational technologists.

Professional Educator State License / Endorsement

K-12 educators wishing to specialize in educational technology typically need to earn a state license. In some states, licensed teachers and administrators may qualify for an educational technology endorsement, allowing them to move into leadership positions.

Certified Education Technology Leader

CETL certification recognizes educational technology specialists for leadership and experience in the field. This professional certification requires candidates to demonstrate work experience and pass an exam.

Certified Professional in Learning and Performance

This professional credential recognizes experienced training and development specialists. Candidates must demonstrate training and experience in the field and pass certification exams.

Professional Organizations and Resources for Educational Technology Students

Professional organizations and resources offer many benefits to educational technology students and graduates, including professional development, networking, and financial aid opportunities.

  • American Educational Research Association AERA advocates for educational research and the interests of researchers. The association sponsors educational research projects, promotes research findings, and offers professional development opportunities to educational researchers.
  • Association for Educational Communications and Technology AECT publishes a journal for educational technologists and instructional designers. The association also offers networking opportunities such as conferences, meetings, and special interest divisions. Graduate students may join a student assembly.
  • Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development This leading professional association for educators provides resources, publications, and professional development opportunities for teachers and administrators. ASCD’s magazine, Educational Leadership, frequently publishes articles related to educational technology.
  • EDUCAUSE EDUCAUSE seeks to promote the integration of technology into teaching and learning at the college level. IT professionals working in higher education benefit from this nonprofit’s scholarships, mentoring opportunities, and career services.
  • IEEE Technical Committee on Learning Technology IEEE TCLT offers events, resources, and awards for educational technology professionals and researchers. The committee also promotes relevant activities, conferences, projects, and opportunities through a free email bulletin.
  • International Association for K-12 Online Learning iNACOL promotes personalized learning and competency-based education through reports, research briefs, webinars, conferences, and advocacy efforts. The association also offers information about student-centered learning models to educators.
  • International Society for Technology in Education ISTE offers policy summits, professional certification, and an annual conference. The society also promotes professional standards for digital learning and provides educational technology resources and webinars. Members may join topic-based professional learning networks.
  • Online Learning Consortium This organization promotes collaboration among online learning professionals working in higher education. OLC offers conferences, professional development opportunities, awards, and publications of interest to digital learning specialists and leaders.
  • State Educational Technology Directors Association SETDA provides a network for state educational technology leaders to advocate for government policies that promote the use of technology to improve education. The association publishes press releases, issues reports, hosts events, and offers professional development opportunities.
  • U.S. Office of Educational Technology This federal office provides information to educators, developers, and the public about government programs and regulations related to educational technology. Available resources include the 2017 National Education Technology Plan and the plan’s Higher Education Supplement.
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