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Depending on the bachelor's degree you earned, you might have a semester or a couple of years worth of pre-requisites before you can start on your master's education classes. There are bridge programs that help those trying to change careers and go into areas such as teaching and nursing. These programs are offered at an accelerated rate and some offer teaching opportunities as the student attends school.
Talk with a counselor about the opportunities available or go to Teachers Count (teacherscount.org) for more information.
The cost of an on-line masters degree can range from $10,000 to $100,000, depending on the program. Make sure before deciding on an on-line masters degree program you research the institution and verify it has the classes and degree program you are seeking. Also, check with DETC.org to verify the schools accreditation. Some companies have tuition reimbursement programs so when considering an on-line masters degree, you might want to inquire about the details of this program.
Depending on what your professional goals are, this will help decide your master's degree plan. Some school districts require a master's degree before they will hire for certain grade levels so check with the school districts you want to teach for, asking them their requirements.
Others who plan to earn a master's degree are doing so to go into administration. Universities offering masters degrees in Education Administration are plentiful but verify their accreditation and if the school district you want to work in recognizes on-line degree plans.
Check out several degree plans, costs, availability of classes and caliber of instructors. Not all programs are created equal, so it's important to do the research and find out what program is the best fit for your education needs.
If you have an elementary education bachelor's degree but you want to get your masters in secondary or special education, there will be additional classes you'll be required to take prior to starting your master's classes. Talk to your school counselor about your options and what applies to both degree plans. If you are feeling adventurous, it's possible you can earn masters in both fields but talk to your counselor before making any decisions.
A Doctorate in Education (EdD) or a Doctorate in another subject is the next education step after earning a master's degree. Most people pursue a doctorate plan as a pathway into education administration or teaching at a college/university level. This can take any where from three to 10 years, depending on the course requirements, life, work and family commitments. Earning a doctorate is a huge education/professional commitment and requires a great deal of discipline.
With that said, the best place to start is at the universities you hope to attend. If they are not where you earned your bachelors and/or master's degrees, do your homework on what will transfer, what classes you'll have to take for that specific program, and the amount of time and money involved. Shop around and find the best program that works with life commitments, your professional goals, and your pocketbook.
Even with a traditional degree, some say it's better to find a different master's program from where you earned your bachelor's. This can give you a wider range of experiences, help you learn from different instructors, meet new students and expose you to a wider range of thought processes and avoid inbreeding.
The advantages to staying at the same institution where you earned your bachelor's degree are that you know the staff and programs, your college credits will transfer easier, and you know the system. Plus, if you are getting financial aid from your university, the paperwork can be a lot easier when applying again versus a new school where you will have to fill out all the financial aid paperwork again.
There is no perfect answer for everyone. Each student will have to do their own research and ask their own questions. Be sure when talking to any institution about master's degree programs that you get things in writing and verify them before signing up with any school. This will save you significant time, money, and trouble later.
Before obtaining a master's degree, you have to complete a bachelor's degree. Depending on the program, the bachelor's degree can take approximately 4-5 years and the master's degree can take 2-3 years. There are some accelerated programs, promising you can earn a masters degree in a 12-18 months. When considering these programs, do your homework. Ask if your bachelor's degree will apply, how many credit hours will the master's take, and how many hours are allowed a semester.