Master of Education in Learning, Cognition, and Development programs prepare graduates to begin or advance careers as educators, leaders, and administrators. It can also be a step toward earning a doctorate degree. It helps teachers expand their knowledge of cognitive theories to crack the code of how their students think, learn and develop in school settings.
With a 6% projected increase in the number of elementary through high school teachers, special education teachers, and education administration professional jobs available between 2014 and 2024, it’s also a promising time to enter the field.  For those seeking to move into leadership roles or advance their earnings, having a master’s in education can lead to an increase in teaching wages by up to 33%. 
Asynchronous or synchronous
There are two main options when it comes to how online programs are delivered: asynchronously or synchronously. The most common type is asynchronous, where students can study at their own pace, completing coursework when it fits around work or personal commitments. Synchronous programs involve students logging in for live classes or webinars at set times. There are also blended programs that offer a hybrid of both these methods. If you’re considering an online learning, cognition, and development master’s degree, be sure to check that the delivery method will work for you.
Cohort or non-cohort
Your cohort is a group of students that you enroll with and then share classes with for the entirety of your program. As most learning, cognition, and development master’s are multidisciplinary, with electives and opportunities for specialization, most programs are non-cohort. This means you’ll mingle with other groups of students depending on your chosen path of study and specific classes. Cohort and non-cohort programs will appeal to different types of students, so be sure you choose a program that reflects how you’d like to study.
As master’s degrees in learning, cognition, and development are strongly theoretical, most do not offer a practical learning element (such as classroom teaching experience). Some programs, however, do offer hands-on experience of research methods through research projects in tandem with faculty.
According to nationwide statistics, the three most common occupations for graduates of learning sciences degrees (which includes those from learning, cognition, and development programs) in 2015 were:
Compared to other education degrees, there was also a significant proportion of graduates working in special education (around 121,000). 
Elementary school teachers have a median salary of $54,550 a year, with a projected growth in the number of jobs of around 6% from 2014 to 2024, near the national average.  An enhanced knowledge of development and learning can benefit teachers in this setting, as they are responsible for ensuring children are able to communicate and pick up basic math, science, reading, and social studies.  It’s also worth noting that certain states might require elementary school teachers to earn a master’s degree after gaining teaching certification — and a degree in learning, cognition, and development could satisfy that requirement. 
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), high school teachers earned $57,200 on average in 2015, with employment expected to grow by 6% from 2014 to 2024. In many schools, students are divided into classes based on their abilities, with teachers altering their teaching methods to fit the diverse needs of each group of students. With students with learning disabilities and emotional or behavioral disorders also included in standard classes, there’s a need for teachers to be able to understand learning, cognition, and development to be able to adapt their teaching strategies to their students’ developmental needs. 
Education administrators include a wide number of professionals who support teaching staff to achieve the best learning outcomes for students. One of these is the instructional coordinator — a role that oversees school curriculums and teaching standards and garnered average annual earnings of $62,460 in 2016. These educators often take the lead on implementing standardized improvements across a school or school district, using teaching observations and analysis of student test data to draw conclusions that seek to improve learning outcomes.  This role could benefit from an enhanced knowledge of how students learn, think, and develop. It also usually requires applicants to hold a Master of Education degree. 
Salaries are subject to many different variables, including variances in state funding, the demand for teachers in a school district, and work setting, particularly for teachers choosing between public and private schools. The average national salaries for the three most common occupations for learning, cognition, and development graduates are similar.
The median salary for elementary school teachers is $54,550, followed by $57,200 for high school teachers, and $75,375 for education administrators (which includes leadership positions, including curriculum directors).] Earning a master’s degree can position you pursue higher wages, with top 10% of elementary school teachers earning more than $81,121; high school teachers earning more than $92,920; and education administrators earning more than $135,770.  
About 41% of education professionals hold a master’s degree. The 75th percentile of bachelor’s graduate teachers earned a median $55,000 in 2011, compared to $73,150 for master’s graduates. 
Since the American education system has no national curriculum, there’s huge variation in the quality and content of teaching across the country. When combined with the varied needs of today’s learners — including those with special educational needs — that creates a disparity in learning outcomes for students. 
That’s where a master’s in learning, cognition, and development comes in. Enriching the practical knowledge of current teaching professionals, as well as enabling movement into educational leadership, research, and academic roles, programs are built to provide a strong theoretical bedrock to the field. Some programs also allow you to specialize in one or more areas of focus, often drawing on other programs in the school as part of a multidisciplinary approach.
A good place to begin is with the school’s reputation and the quality of its teaching. Then look into the specifics of the courses available in each program. It can help to keep the following criteria in mind when comparing programs:
Standard coursework refers to the core classes that make up most of a master’s program in learning, cognition, and development. They usually provide a strong theoretical foundation, which is then built on with elective courses and specialization tracks. Electives are courses you can choose to fit your interests or career path. Specialization tracks allow you to tailor your study to focus on one or two particular areas, allowing you to supplement your knowledge and demonstrate specialized academic experience to potential employers.
Here are some common course topics based on an analysis of more than 20 programs:
Your choice of electives varies from school to school, depending on the research interests of faculty, as well as the breadth of the university’s opportunities for studying multidisciplinary subjects. Having a broad understanding across different fields of study may benefit you after graduation, showing your depth of interest in wider subjects. If you’re looking at online programs, it’s worth noting that some electives otherwise available to on-campus students may not be available online.
Most learning, cognition, and development master’s degree programs enable students to choose from a list of optional electives, usually after studying the initial core courses that give you a theoretical backdrop. Electives allow you to tailor your degree by studying courses in subjects where you have a special interest or want to explore.
From an analysis of more than 20 programs, some of the available electives might include:
This can take the form of a literature review or position paper, exploring an area of interest in greater detail, normally in consultation with a faculty member. As you’re able to tailor your capstone to your particular interests and needs, it can help to further prepare you to enter a specialization or field of expertise after graduation.
This can be a quantitative, qualitative, or evaluative project that will close the gap between theories you’ve learned in the program and practical experience, contributing to the field.
Usually in tandem with either a research project or a capstone, students may be asked to give a formal presentation on their findings and answer questions from an assessment panel.
In the few programs that do offer practical, hands-on research experience, the number of credits assigned can vary widely.
Some schools will allow postgraduate students to participate in current research, helping to embed the strong research and statistics learning gained in most learning, cognition, and development programs.
Where do the leaders in your chosen specialty teach? If you have a particular area of interest, it’s worth checking whether your chosen schools are conducting research in that field.
While each program will set its admissions requirements based on its own criteria, many requirements are universal across all programs. No matter where you apply, you can expect to provide items like transcripts from previous degrees or coursework; standardized test scores; a personal statement or essay; letters of recommendation; and an overview of relevant work experience.
In certain cases, some of these requirements may be waived.
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Undertaking your master’s degree is a big commitment, both academically and financially. It’s important to do your research to make sure your educational plan is a good match for your desired outcome.
The following master’s degrees touch on the same topics and learning outcomes as the M.Ed. in Learning, Cognition, and Development, but they offer a different focus or specialization. As you do your research, consider learning more about these degrees to see whether they might be a better fit for your goals and interests.
For instance: 
Most learning, cognition, and development programs draw from different academic disciplines to provide a multidisciplinary approach, where you can choose to study a range of other related subjects. The aim of many degrees is to provide a strong theoretical background, founded in the study of how the brain learns, thinks, and develops through education. That’s why it can suit both those who are already educators looking to strengthen student outcomes and those interested in academic research or further study.
An M.Ed. in Learning, Cognition, and Development is for students wishing to study the psychology and development of adolescents as it applies to learning and growth in the classroom. In addition to helping teach students the competencies required to succeed as educators, coursework will focus on how humans learn and think.
The M.Ed. in Learning, Cognition, and Development degree is primarily intended for those currently working in the education field as it provides a theoretical background for the education professional on adolescent learning and development. It is also ideal for those wishing to continue on to Ph.D.-level studies. 
There are several reasons that teachers pursue their M.Ed. Teachers with an M.Ed. can establish themselves as highly qualified experts in their field, and they can use the degree as an opportunity to expand their knowledge of teaching and advanced coursework in teaching. 
Many see the M.Ed. as an avenue through which to raise their salary. According to a recent study by the Council of State Governments, M.Ed. graduates can earn up to 10% more than their counterparts who only have their bachelor’s degrees. 
Yes. The largest provider of student financial aid in the nation is the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid Office. It supplies college-level or career school students with loans, grants, and work-study funds. You can apply for federal financial aid through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
There are numerous other scholarships available, but you will need to research which opportunities you’re qualified to pursue. Many states, associations, websites, and businesses award scholarships based on specific criteria. Be sure to do your research and apply for any scholarships for which you qualify. 
No. However, M.Ed. programs are primarily geared towards those that are currently working in the field of education or those that wish to pursue Ph.D.-level studies. 
Whether you will need to complete the GRE prior to applying for a program will largely depend on what school you have chosen. There are many programs that do not require a GRE. Check the admissions requirements for your school before applying.
Key factors that may influence your decision on which M.Ed. program to choose include:
Core courses will vary by institution, but they will generally focus on competencies required to be an effective educator, as well as those that can help you understand cognition. These programs are multidisciplinary and include coursework in teaching theory, psychology, biology, neuroscience, statistics and human development. List and describe course titles that you may find in your research.
Asynchronous coursework can be completed on your own time — a big plus for many online graduate students who may be working around a busy work schedule or home life. Synchronous coursework has to be completed within a set timeframe. This is typically done for group projects, seminars, presentations, and other learning initiatives that require multiple attendees. The elements of asynchronous and synchronous learning in your online program depend on the professor and class itself. Once you enroll, reach out to teachers for specifics, but remember that the curriculum may be divided into these two subsets.
Yes. Many institutions offer M.Ed. degrees online.
Online and on-campus degrees typically look identical. Most institutions do not indicate on the degree that it was earned online.
Yes, schools typically follow the same curriculum for their online programs as they do for their campus-based programs.
No, attaining management/senior positions is not guaranteed through the completion of a master’s degree. These positions often require many years of experience and a significant level of career achievement. However, an advanced degree can help you develop the necessary knowledge and skills required for these positions and also prove your dedication to the field.
NCATE is the national accrediting body for educational programs recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Attending an accredited institution ensures that the program has met rigorous quality standards and students are prepared to enter the education field. 
The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) has identified four key goals for accrediting and developing standards for accreditation. 
The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) is the national accrediting body for educational programs recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Attending an accredited institution ensures that the program has met rigorous quality standards and students are prepared to enter the education field.
The State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) applies only to distance education programs in the United States that cross state lines. This agreement is made between member states and establishes comparable postsecondary national standards for distance education courses.
Not every state is a SARA member. Through SARA, member states only have to receive authorization in their home state. Without SARA, non-member states would have to receive authorization in their home state and the state of each of their online students. 
Every school has a department or team responsible for online education. This department will be able to answer questions regarding compliance for your home state. Additionally, you can locate the school through SARA (if it is a SARA institution) to confirm compliance.