The 20 Best Masters in Educational Technology

For decades, an effort has been underway to transform the American education system and restore its top rankings among international peers. Many of these efforts focus on incorporating innovative new technologies into the typical classroom, allowing students to interact with materials and master key skills in new ways. In order to properly employ technology, however, teachers often require the intensive training and specialization of a graduate degree in educational technology. These programs teach educators how to work with technology, integrate it into existing lesson plans, and adhere to best practices for security and privacy.

There are many programs available to educators seeking an expertise in today's leading classroom technologies, but online programs are easily the most flexible. With that said, flexibility is not the only measure of a program's suitability. To help educators get the best education possible, the top 20 online programs in educational technology have been ranked according to their overall affordability, their flexibility, and their overall prestige. Of these three categories, each school's prestige and flexibility is weighted heaviest when determining the best online masters in education technology. Affordability is less heavily weighted in this list, primarily due to the tuition reimbursement programs available to teachers at most of the nation's public and private schools.

The University of Massachusetts is one of the best public institutions in New England, with top rankings by U.S. News and World Report for its business, education, and engineering programs. The school also ranks as a top national university and a top choice for veterans. Its online programs are considered top-notch nationally due to their affordable tuition rate, flexible design, and excellent access to doctoral faculty.

At the University of Massachusetts, online students can choose a master's degree in learning, media, and technology. This unique program focuses on how to integrate technology not only into lesson plans, but also into the use of everyday media like textbooks, online videos, and student presentations. The program requires 33 credits, charges $490 per credit, and allows students to complete the Master of Science degree in just under two years, making it one of the most affordable and flexible options online.

Queens University of Charlotte was founded in the 19th century as a "normal school" that was dedicated to teacher preparation. Today, that heritage remains a central part of the school's academic offerings. At the graduate level, the University offers an M.A. in education, with concentrations in educational leadership and educational technology. Both programs require 33 credits of instruction in topics related to lesson planning, technological instruction, and advocating greater use of technology at today's public and private schools.

Queens University is ranked as a top regional institution in the south and, with tuition of less than $400 per credit, is one of the most affordable online options for today's educators. The university allows teachers to start the program in the fall or spring semesters, making it moderately flexible. Summer sessions are available upon enrollment as well, making it possible to complete the degree in about two years.

Michigan State University, one of the flagship public institutions in the Midwest, is currently ranked as having the 11th best online graduate education degrees in the United States. The school is also among the top 100 national universities and the top 100 public universities in the country, with a highly affordable tuition rate of $990 per credit at the graduate level. Known for its academic rigor as well as its athletic prowess, the university offers students excellent academic prestige and networking potential as well.

At Michigan State, a total of 10 online graduate degrees in education are available. A Master of Arts in educational technology offers students 33 credits in the field, with electives that discuss how to apply technology to math, reading, writing, and science. Applied technology instruction and advocacy courses also teach educators how to advocate for technology use, how to employ technologies properly, and how to respect essential privacy and security rules at their respective schools.

The University of Cincinnati is one of Ohio's most competitive public universities, with a top-ranked national reputation in both academics and athletes. The school itself ranks in the top 50 national universities according to U.S. News and World Report. More specifically, its online education degrees rank in the top 30 nationwide. The school is also ranked as one of the best for veterans, with a highly flexible academic calendar that allows students to "enter and exit" the program as time permits.

The school's focus on educational technology lies within its M.A. in educational leadership. Within this program, students can choose and educational technology concentration that teaches them how to both integrate technology into the classroom and how to advocate for greater use of technology in an entire school or school district. The program requires 33 credits and, for Ohio residents, offers in-state tuition that represents a significant cost savings.

At 30 credit hours, the M.A. program in educational technology at Northern Arizona University is one of the shortest in the country. Despite its shorter length, however, the program has innovative course offerings that most educators will enjoy. The school's primary focus within this program is not on technology proficiency, but instead on how to build curriculum around technologies and how to encourage the creation of vibrant, tech-focused student communities. The program is a great foundation for teaching online or for moving many components of the teaching process online.

Northern Arizona University is ranked as one of the best regional, public institutions in the southwestern part of the United States. The school's online programs in education are also ranked in the top 100 programs nationwide, and offer students a highly affordable, in-state tuition rate that is much lower than other regional institutions in Arizona and neighboring states.

Based in Philadelphia, Drexel University is a leading institution for high-tech degree programs and hands-on experience. Drexel is top-ranked by U.S. News and World Report for its co-op program, where students spend three months of each academic year working in a professional position related to their field of study. The cost-per-credit at Drexel University is less than $800, though many schools maintain a special partnership with the university that discounts tuition by up to 33 percent off the "sticker price."

With the school's quarter-based academic calendar and an all-online list of graduate courses, the school's flexibility makes it possible to complete the program in as little as two years. Students can also add internships and co-ops, extending their enrollment duration by up to a year as they pursue professional experience in the field.

Considered the flagship public university in the state of Florida, the University of Florida is a land-grant, sea-grant, and space-grant institution. In fact, it's one of the only universities in the United States to hold this distinction. The University of Florida is also considered one of the top 50 national universities, one of the top public universities, and one of the best schools for online education nationwide, according to U.S. News and World Report.

The graduate program in educational technology at UF is focused primarily on distance education, high-tech instruction, and building online communities. Educators can also choose electives that focus on gifted instruction via technology, instruction design, and integrated media and communications in the classroom. The school offers both in-state and out-of-state tuition rates that make it a top choice for Florida residents.

Located in the heart of the nation's capital, George Washington University is one of the top private schools in the nation. Of particular note to educators are the school's 100 research centers in science, technology, instruction, and many other fields. The university is ranked as one of the best schools for research as well as a leading national university and one of the best schools for online graduate and undergraduate degree programs.

In the online classroom, educational technology students will focus on incorporating technology into the classroom, advocating for educational technology, using technology to solve human resources, ethics, and behavioral problems in schools, and distance education. This program, with a relatively affordable tuition rate, equips graduates to be better teachers, instructional designers, and online "cyber school" instructors through 36 credits of advanced curriculum.

UIUC is the flagship campus of the University of Illinois System and easily the flagship public university in the state of Illinois itself. Additionally, the school is often listed as one of the "Public Ivies" due to its highly selective admissions and excellent academic reputation across the country. Urbana-Champaign typically ranks in the top 20 public universities, and among the top 30 national universities, according to U.S. News and World Report. The school's online education effort is considered one of the 10 best in the nation according to the same publication.

Unique among online programs in educational technology, Urbana-Champaign's program is centered on how to promote education reform by using high-tech tools. Students learn how to transform lesson plans, adopt new styles of instruction, and how to incorporate mobile devices into a hands-on, 24-hour learning environment that today's students are most comfortable with. The 32-credit program is highly affordable, with in-state tuition available to Illinois residents.

Western Governors University gets its name from the many governors that came together to form the university several decades ago. The original mission of the university was to create a highly affordable, top-ranked, and flexible institution that could guide adult learners toward earning undergraduate and graduate degrees. Today, the institution ranks as one of the best and most affordable online universities in America, according to U.S. News and World Report.

Students pay $2,980 every six months at WGU, with the ability to take as many courses as they wish during that six-month term. As a result, some educators may find themselves able to complete the school's graduate program in educational technology within a single year. The program's focus is rather broad, with coursework that focuses on technology integration and advocacy, and ethical deployment of high-tech tools in today's schools.

Known as the flagship public university in Indiana, the University of Indiana at Bloomington also offers one of the best online graduate programs in education. The school's graduate degree program in educational technology centers on instructional design, mobile technology, and ethical use of technology in today's classrooms and school administrative offices. Unique among online programs, Indiana also requires a few core courses in traditional IT courses, giving educators a working understanding of how technology works in a behind-the-scenes way.

Indiana University is ranked as one of the best national universities in the country and is consistently touted as one of the best public universities America has to offer. Its online graduate programs in education are ranked in the top 50 nationwide, making this school a particularly prestigious choice for educators.

Post University, located in Connecticut, offers a wide array of online programs to educators, including one that blends instructional design with educational technology. The concentration is part of the university's M.A. in education, which is consistently ranked as a "best value" by several leading publications. Post University is also ranked as a top regional institution in the United States, offering highly affordable tuition rates to students both the graduate and undergraduate levels. As a private university, these tuition rates are uniform for both in-state and out-of-state online enrollees.

Within Post's concentration in instructional design and educational technology, students will take several unique courses. These unique courses include topics like educational reform, technology advocacy, and distance education course design. Graduates will be prepared to teach in a traditional classroom as well as in several online, interactive environments, like Blackboard Lean and Schoology.

Considered one of the best private universities in the Midwest, Purdue University is consistently ranked as a top national university by U.S. News and World Report. The university has also earned accolades for the quality of its online programs, the quality of its education programs specifically, and its flexibility for veterans and others who study online. Purdue's Master of Science program in education offers a combined concentration in learning design and technology, giving students the ability to master both lesson planning and today's technology.

Within the program, students will take 33 credit hours that focus on lesson planning, distance education, technology ethics and privacy guidelines, and technology advocacy within the education system. Students can also opt for an elective course in tech leadership, which could prepare them for administrative roles in their public or private institutions.​

The University of San Diego is one of the leading private, Catholic-affiliated universities on the west coast, with a reputation for academic excellence that has been acknowledged nationwide. To that end, U.S. News and World Report ranks the school in the top 100 national universities. The online graduate education programs offered at USD are also highly ranked, within the top 65 programs across the country. The school has earned top ranking for its academic flexibility as well, particularly when it comes to meeting the needs of veterans, professionals, and online students.

A total of 27 core credits are required of students in this program, in topics that range from mastery of the Internet to modernization of teaching methods and planning styles. Two elective courses, totaling six credits, help students master the implementation of technology in their area of instructional expertise. With affordable tuition and a year-round calendar, the school is an excellent fit with the typical teacher's scheduling needs.

The University of Missouri's graduate program in educational technology might be the most flexible online program of them all. The 30-credit program requires only 12 credits of core curriculum. Students can then choose 18 credits, or six courses, of elective work that fits their unique instructional needs. The primary focus of the program is on education modernization, but electives allow students to focus on integrating technology into mathematics, reading, writing, science, and foreign language as well.

In addition to being a highly flexible program, the public institution's in-state tuition for Missouri residents makes it an affordable choice. U.S. News and World Report ranks Mizzou as one of the top 50 public institutions in the country, one of the top national universities, and one of the top schools for online graduate education.

North Carolina State University is an integral part of the "Research Triangle" in Raleigh-Durham, NC. Ranked 92nd among all national universities, NC State also ranks in the top 200 online graduate education programs nationwide. The school's affordable in-state tuition ensures an affordable education for North Carolina residents.

Unlike most of its competitors, NC State offers both an M.Ed. and an M.S. in educational technology. The shorter M.Ed. Program requires just 30 credits and is a perfect fit for aspiring educators, while the M.S. requires 36 credits and is a perfect fit for aspiring administrators.

Founded as the first all-online branch of a major, public university in the United States, CSU-Global consistently ranks among the best public institutions nationwide. The school has earned recognition as one of the top 125 national universities in the most recent edition of U.S. News and World Report. A recent Princeton Review ranking also lists the school as one of the best regional universities in the west.

CSU-Global, with highly affordable in-state and out-of-state tuition for its online programs, offers an M.S. in educational technology that focuses on educational reform and classroom modernization. Students learn how to transform curriculum with interactive media, online components, mobile devices, and more, through a series of both core and elective courses.

Virginia Tech is an excellent option for educators interested in incorporating technology into the classroom. Unlike most other schools, the educational technology program at Virginia Tech focuses on the advanced IT skills needed to run a high-tech classroom or school building. Students will learn the basic setup of networks, several organization-level educational software tools, and the ethics associated with high-tech privacy and monitoring.

Ranked in the top 75 national universities by U.S. News and World Report, Virginia Tech is also among the top 25 public universities in the United States and ranks in the top 200 for its online graduate education programs.

Arizona State University is one of the best schools in the nation, public or private, for educators in all degree programs. U.S. News and World Report ranks the school as having the 18th best education program in the nation, alongside top marks as both a national and public university. Arizona State University also has one of the most affordable tuition rates among online education programs and has a flexibly, year-round academic calendar that allows teachers to enroll in its technology education program in either January, June or September.

In the classroom, the ASU program in educational technology requires 33 credits and gives students the unique option of aligning their M.A. in educational technology with a concentration in gifted instruction. This unique combination teaches educators how to incorporate technology into everyday instruction as well as how to meet the needs of both advanced and special education students throughout the academic year.

Penn State consistently ranks as one of the best national universities in the country, one of the best public universities in the country, and one of the best schools for educators at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Penn State World Campus, the online arm of this prestigious public institution, is also consistently ranked by U.S. News and World Report as one of the top 10 online programs nationwide. The university is also home to the best online masters in education technology.

The graduate program in educational technology requires 15 foundational course credits, 12 advanced course credits, and six elective credits. The program is one of the few online that focuses on emerging educational technologies, integrating mobile technologies into the modern classroom, and turning everyday tech into instructional tools. Educators who are looking for an edge over their peers regarding both tech proficiency and integrating emerging technologies into the classroom have no better option than this degree from one of the country's most storied public universities.