Earning a Master’s in Educational Assessment Online

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment for instructional coordinators to increase by 11% through 2026, significantly faster than the national average. Postsecondary education administrators, many of whom oversee program assessment and evaluation, enjoy similarly strong job growth, as well as salaries that are more than double the national median for all occupations.

This page offers an overview of earning a master's in educational assessment online, including information on admission requirements, common courses, financial aid, and possible career paths after graduation.

Student Profile: Who Earns an Online Master’s Degree in Educational Assessment?

Many students pursue their master's in educational assessment directly after earning a bachelor's degree. This path qualifies them for roles in curriculum assessment in K-12 schools or program evaluation at colleges and universities.

Other students return to graduate school after working for several years in the education sector. This combination of experience and education allows them to take on leadership positions, such as school principal or director of instruction for a district or state agency.

Why Get a Master’s Degree in Educational Assessment?

Pursuing Specialization

A master's in educational assessment prepares students for specialized roles in curriculum and instruction. For example, a graduate student may choose a concentration in universal design and evaluation, learning to create and assess curricula for special needs students in public schools. A student who hopes to work in postsecondary assessment may instead complete coursework in adult education and development.

Career Advancement Opportunities

All instructional coordinators need a master's degree, and many colleges and universities prefer to hire administrators with an advanced degree. Graduate education in assessment and evaluation also allows students to pursue leadership roles in school and district administration. According to Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce, educators with a master's degree earn a median salary of $60,000, while those with just a bachelor's earn a median salary of $46,000 per year.

Online Learning Technology

Educational assessment uses many of the same tools and technologies that students encounter in an online graduate program. For example, an instructional coordinator may use computerized adaptive testing to understand a student's grasp of course material. Additionally, the head of a rural school district's department of instruction may use distance collaboration tools, like wikis and shared workspaces, to remotely design curricula and lesson plans with teachers and administrators.

Prerequisites for Online Educational Assessment Programs

Although prerequisites for online educational assessment programs vary by school, you can read about common admission requirements below. Make sure to contact your school's admissions office for specific information.

    • Work Experience: Most online master's programs in educational assessment do not require work experience. However, prior experience in educational assessment or measurement, including as a volunteer or intern, may strengthen your application.
    • Exams and Test Scores: Applicants to these programs typically must submit results of the GRE from the last five years. The GRE assesses your verbal, quantitative, and writing skills and helps admissions officers determine your readiness for graduate-level study. You may consider retaking the GRE if you score below 150 on the verbal or quantitative section or below 3 on the writing component.
    • Coursework: To apply to master's programs in educational assessment, you must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. Generally, graduate schools in education do not require candidates to major in a particular area during their undergraduate studies, though coursework in statistics and curriculum design may improve your odds of earning admission.
    • Recommendations: Plan to submit up to three letters of recommendation with your application materials. Try to get at least one letter from a former professor who can speak to your academic qualifications and another from a supervisor who can discuss your professional accomplishments. Avoid asking family or friends and give your recommenders at least two months to write and submit your letter.
    • Essays: Many programs ask prospective students to write a personal statement. These statements, usually no more than 1,000 words in length, outline your prior educational experience and future career goals. You should also indicate why you chose the program. You may use your essay to provide additional context to a weakness in your application, such as a low GRE score.
    • Interviews: Increasingly, online programs do not require applicants to participate in an interview, relying instead on your submitted materials to make admission decisions. If requested, however, you can often speak with admissions officers or faculty members online or by phone. Consider practicing answers to common interview questions with a friend or colleague.
    • International Students: International students need to meet the same requirements as students from the United States. They may also need to take the test of English as a foreign language or a similar exam to demonstrate English language proficiency. International students should contact their school's registrar to confirm that the school recognizes the accreditation of degrees earned from foreign institutions.

How Much Can I Make with a Master’s Degree in Educational Assessment?

The BLS reports that instructional coordinators earned a median salary of $64,450 in 2018. The lowest 10% of earners made less than $36,360 that year, while the highest 10% commanded salaries in excess of $102,200.

Colleges and universities often pay higher salaries. Postsecondary education administrators, for example, earned a median salary of $94,340 in 2018. The highest 10% of administrators, typically those with at least a master's degree and multiple years of professional experience, made more than $190,600.

Traditional Careers for Master's in Educational Assessment Graduates

Careers Stats Description

Instructional Coordinator

Median Salary: $64,450

Job Growth: 11%

Instructional coordinators design, assess, and oversee school curricula and teaching standards. They often observe teachers and students in the classroom, analyze test data, and offer training to teachers and administrators on how to implement new instructional practices and policies. These roles require at least a master's degree and state licensure.

Postsecondary Education Administrator

Median Salary: $94,340

Job Growth: 10%

Postsecondary education administrators direct the work of various offices at colleges and universities, including admissions, financial aid, academic affairs, and operations. Administrators who specialize in assessment often work for their school's teaching and learning department, helping to design curricula and evaluation tools. Most postsecondary administrators possess a master's.

Elementary, Middle, or High School Principal

Median Salary: $95,310

Job Growth: 8%

Principals are responsible for the administrative and academic functions of their school. They may create and monitor the school's budget, hire and terminate teachers, deal with student discipline issues, and represent the school to the community. Most principals play an integral role in curriculum design and instruction and may benefit from earning a master's in educational assessment.

Special Education Teacher

Median Salary: $59,780

Job Growth: 8%

Special education teachers work with students with various mental, emotional, and physical disabilities. They may lead classrooms dedicated to students with unique needs or collaborate with a general education teacher in universally designed learning environments. Some master's programs in educational assessment offer concentrations in special education evaluation.

Source: BLS

Nontraditional Careers for Educational Assessment Graduates

After earning their online master's in educational assessment, most graduates finds jobs in K-12 education or higher education administration. However, these programs also develop skills and knowledge applicable to a variety of other industries, including employee training and development, consumer data analysis, and policymaking. Some students also continue their education at the doctoral level, preparing for teaching and research roles in academia.

Careers Stats Description

Training and Development Manager

Median Salary: $111,340

Job Growth: 10%

Skills Overlapped: Needs assessment, learning design, instructional skills

Training and development managers plan, design, and coordinate programs meant to enhance the skills and knowledge of their organization's employees. Some of these jobs require an advanced degree. Training and development professionals may particularly benefit from graduate-level training in instructional design and educational psychology.

Survey Researcher

Median Salary: $57,700

Job Growth: 2%

Skills Overlapped: Survey and assessment design, statistical analysis, and critical-thinking skills

Survey researchers design evaluation tools and analyze the data those tools collect. They may work in many different industries, including government, healthcare, education, or financial services. Research positions often require at least a master's degree and the completion of coursework common to educational assessment programs.

Postsecondary Teacher, Education

Median Salary: $64,780

Job Growth: 10%

Skills Overlapped: Curriculum design, interpersonal skills, and communication skills

Postsecondary teachers instruct students at colleges and universities. They may also advise students and perform certain administrative tasks, like reviewing admissions files or hiring new faculty. While community colleges and trade schools may hire instructors with just a master's degree, most of these jobs require a doctorate.

Statistician

Median Salary: $88,190

Job Growth: 33%

Skills Overlapped: Study design and quantitative and qualitative analytical skills

Statisticians apply statistical techniques to better understand and solve problems in business, healthcare, engineering, and other fields. A statistician working for a state education agency, for example, may oversee the design and implementation of a statewide comprehensive assessment system. Statisticians typically need at least a master's degree.

Source: BLS

Paying for an Online Master’s in Educational Assessment

The cost of earning a master's in educational assessment varies by several factors. For example, graduate programs at public universities are usually less expensive than those at private institutions. Part-time students may also need to pay more per credit than full-time students.

The first step in identifying ways to pay for your master's degree is completing the FAFSA. The FAFSA determines your eligibility for state and federal grants, work-study opportunities, and low-interest student loans.

Scholarships for Online Educational Assessment Master's Students

Because their are so few scholarship opportunities for educational assessment master's students, you may need to apply to general graduate-level aid programs. You may also qualify for programs that serve certain demographics, like students of color and recent immigrants, or programs that fund educators planning to work in a particular field, such as elementary education.

What to Expect from a Master’s Level Online Educational Assessment Program

The nature of your online master's program in educational assessment depends on a variety of factors. For example, students on accelerated tracks may choose to opt out of internships or field experiences, focusing instead on completing coursework as quickly as possible. Students who hope to work with special education students may take different elective classes than students who plan to work in policy. However, there are several components that many programs share, which are outlined below.

Major Milestones

  1. Enrollment

    Once admitted, reach out to your academic or faculty adviser to begin selecting classes and designing your course of study. You should also contact the financial aid office to receive guidance on applying for institutional scholarships and grants.

  2. Completing Foundational Coursework

    Most master's programs in educational assessment begin with foundational coursework in areas like statistics, educational theory, and curriculum design. If you plan to write a thesis, you may also start collecting research in the first year of your program.

  3. Completing Elective Coursework

    Electives allow you to pursue unique academic interests and prepare for specific professional roles. Depending on your goals, you may take electives in subjects such as differentiated instruction, practitioner inquiry, and survey design.

  4. Submitting Thesis/Completing Internship

    Students interested in jobs in academia or research may benefit from writing a research-based thesis. Students pursuing careers in practice may instead participate in an internship or field experience at an educational organization.

  5. Completing Capstone

    Capstone projects require students to synthesize and apply graduate learning in a real-world context. For example, a capstone project might involve consulting with a school on the design of a new gifted learner assessment.

  6. Meeting Final Graduation Requirements

    Before graduation, contact your school's registrar to make sure you paid all outstanding bills, earned all necessary credits, and met any remaining graduation requirements. You should also consider joining your school's alumni network.

Coursework

While the course of study in an educational assessment master's program varies by your goals and interests, five common classes appear below.

Foundations of Assessment, Testing, and Measurement in Education

This course covers basic assessment data literacy, research methodologies for assessment, and common assessment tools, like the IQ test. It also covers legal and ethical issues in the field.

Group Comparison Designs and Analyses

Group comparison allows researchers to make inferences about the effects of an intervention without needing to randomly assign participants, an especially valuable approach in educational settings. Students in this course learn the methods associated with group comparison.

Educational Measurement

In this class, students explore classical and modern assessment theories, analyze how evaluation specialists develop and validate measurement instruments, and learn to change raw scores into scaled scores through the use of various transformations.

Item Response Theory

Item response theory helps explain the connection between unobservable traits and observable outcomes. When researchers understand item response theory, they can design reliable assessments that control for latent characteristics.

Assessment Engineering

Assessment engineering represents a comprehensive framework for creating student assessments. Topics covered in this course include cognitive model development, item model development through auto item generation, and psychometric model development through the use of computer adaptive testing.

Degree Timelines

The time required to earn your master's in educational assessment online depends on how many credits you take each semester. You may graduate faster by transferring in previously earned graduate credits or testing out of introductory courses.

Enrollment Status Time to Complete Description

Part-Time

4 years, 3-4 credits per semester

Part-time study often appeals to students balancing coursework with full-time jobs or family responsibilities. While part-time study offers flexibility, these students may pay more on a per-credit basis than full-time students. They typically also require twice as long to earn their degree.

Full-Time

2 years, 7-8 credits per semester

Full-time students usually take three or four classes each semester, graduating in as little as two years. Although full-time study typically requires students to take a break from their career, it also allows them to take advantage of extracurricular learning opportunities, including optional discussion sections, research conferences, and internships and field experiences.

Accelerated

1 year, 12-15 credits per semester

On an accelerated track, educational assessment students advance through coursework as soon as they demonstrate mastery of the material. Because accelerated programs usually feature significantly less interaction with instructors and classmates than more traditional courses of study, self-paced students must possess strong internal motivation and exceptional time-management skills.

Licenses and Certifications

All instructional coordinators, curriculum designers, and educational assessment specialists working in K-12 public schools must hold some form of state licensure. If they work closely with students, they may need a teaching license. Assessment professionals who collaborate primarily with teachers may instead seek an administrative license. While teaching licenses sometimes only require a bachelor's degree, most states require education administrators to earn a master's.

If you plan to work outside of the education sector, you may consider pursuing an optional certification in an area like the design and evaluation of professional development programs.

    • Teaching License: While criteria vary, all states require public school teachers to hold at least a bachelor's degree. In addition, most aspiring teachers and classroom-based educators must complete an approved preparation program and pass a criminal background check and general teaching certification exam.
    • Educational Administrator License: School administrators, including curriculum directors and assistant principals, typically must earn a master's degree to qualify for licensure. They usually must also pass a background check and exam. Some states require prospective administrators to shadow an experienced school leader.
    • ATD Instructional Design Certificate: Offered by the Association for Talent Development, this credential signals expertise in conducting needs assessments and designing professional development programs. Candidates complete seven online or in-person workshops on topics like evaluation planning and drafting learning objectives.

Professional Organizations and Resources

After completing your master's in educational assessment online, you may consider joining a professional organization. These groups often organize networking events for members, allowing you to meet new colleagues, share ideas, and learn about professional opportunities. Many organizations also publish scholarly journals and maintain online resource libraries, helping you stay abreast of the latest developments in measurement theory and technology. Finally, professional organizations usually host job boards and career centers that cater to professionals in the assessment industry.

  • American Educational Research Association AERA is the most prominent educational research association in the United States. Members can attend the association's annual conference, participate in webinars and online training programs, read policy briefs and research articles, and apply to fellowship and scholarship opportunities.
  • Association for the Assessment of Learning in Higher Education AALHE is a professional association for assessment practitioners at colleges, universities, and higher education support organizations. It promotes collaboration among assessment professionals through an annual conference, an assessment book club, webinars, Twitter chats, and a podcast.
  • National Council on Measurement in Education NCME represents professionals involved in assessment, evaluation, and testing, focusing on those working in K-12 education. Its resources include an assessment glossary, multiple scholarly journals, and a career center.
  • International Association for Educational Assessment Founded in 1974, IAEA works to enhance international cooperation and communication on matters of educational assessment. It primarily does so through an annual research conference organized around topics like big data, testing validity, and assessing creativity.
  • American Evaluation Association Though not specific to education, AEA represents more than 7,000 professionals working in program and personnel evaluation. Educators benefit from the group's research and professional development resources, and students of color may apply to the AEA Graduate Education Diversity Internship Program.
  • Federal Student Aid The U.S. Department of Education provides several forms of financial aid, including grants, student loans, and work-study opportunities. Students who plan to work in public education for at least 10 years may qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.
  • Usable Knowledge Hosted by the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Usable Knowledge summarizes research and policy developments for educators. Topics related to assessment include how to design evaluations for bilingual learners and the dangers of allowing assessment to unilaterally shape education policy.
  • National Assessment Governing Board NAGP oversees the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), commonly known as the Nation's Report Card. In addition to designing NAEP assessments, NAGP publishes reams of data invaluable to students, researchers, and practitioners.
  • National Center on Educational Outcomes NCEO seeks to improve educational assessment for special education and bilingual education students. The center shares measurement tools for practitioners and maintains a database of state policies regarding assessment accommodations.
  • Purdue Online Writing Lab Graduate students and assessment professionals must know how to write well to succeed. The Purdue OWL is a comprehensive writing guide with advice on topics like how to properly cite academic sources and how to draft a persuasive cover letter.