Educational Assessment & Evaluation: Master, PhD & Online Degree Info

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What will you learn in an educational assessment and evaluation degree program? Read about program requirements, the pros and cons of a master's and PhD and potential careers.
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Educational Assessment & Evaluation at a Glance

Professionals in the educational assessment field make fair and data-based evaluations of educational programs and outcomes in order to improve education overall. Growth in the field is in part inspired by federal requirements in education. Many educational evaluators work for school districts, government agencies or business training centers and have backgrounds as teachers, administrators or researchers.

Growth in the field of education leadership varies at the different levels of education. While school principals are experiencing job growth that matches the economy, postsecondary administers are seeing higher job growth due to increased enrollments, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Instructional coordinators, who in part evaluate the overall effectiveness of a district's curriculum, should also see higher-than-average job growth in the 2010-2020 decade (

Master's Doctorate
Who is this degree for? People looking to launch a career in program evaluation, or in educational careers where such aspects of assessment are emphasized Individuals looking to begin a career in research or teach these topics in an academic setting
Common Career Paths (with approximate median annual salary) - College or university administrator ($84,000)*
- Middle or secondary school administrator ($87,000)*
- Curriculum designer ($59,000)*
Same as master's, but also:
- University professor of education ($59,000)*
Time to Completion 1-2 years full-time 3-6+ years
Common Graduation Requirements - Roughly 12-15 graduate-level courses
- Master's thesis or project
- Master's-level exams
- Approximately 13-25 graduate-level courses
- PhD qualifier exams
- Dissertation proposal
- Dissertation
- Dissertation defense
Prerequisites Bachelor's degree in social science, teaching or specialist field Same as master's degree
Online Availability Yes No

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Master's in Educational Assessment & Evaluation

If you are looking to start a career in education or improve your opportunities for advancement within the field, you might consider a master of educational assessment and evaluation degree. Students who complete these degree programs will have studied the most up-to-date educational theories and strategies and will be prepared for a variety of challenging positions in education. A Master of Educational Assessment and Evaluation degree program may be taken by students who either have a background in education or who are starting a new career in education. In either case, prospective students should exhibit a lifelong love of learning as well as a passion for education.

Pros and Cons


  • Coursework will help you develop research and analysis skills that you can use to evaluate and improve current teaching approaches.
  • Process improvement is a highly valued leadership skill in educational organizations, allowing you to take the lead in new initiatives.
  • Data-driven analysis is a skill that can be applied outside of the educational field as well, providing broader career opportunities.


  • Some of the more senior leadership positions are competitive, and may require a doctoral degree.
  • For current teachers, completing a master's degree program while working can be challenging.
  • School administration positions may require state licensure, leading to additional educational and testing requirements.

Courses and Requirements

The skills necessary to develop, implement and measure educational program improvement processes rest on a firm foundation of generating and analyzing data. Coursework in a master's program might include such topics as:

  • Design and methods in educational research
  • Educational measurement and instrument design
  • Educational project management
  • Planning and evaluating educational programs
  • Qualitative research theory and methods
  • Statistics in an educational setting
  • Program evaluation: supervised practicum
  • Writing proposals and grants

Online Degree Options

Students may choose to earn a master's degree in educational assessment and evaluation online. These programs may be offered asynchronously, so that students can perform coursework according to their own schedules, instead of having virtual classes to attend at a certain time. These programs are often designed with the working professional in mind.

Stand Out with This Degree

Educational assessment and evaluation programs address current teaching philosophies by measuring and evaluating outcomes. If you want to stand out with this degree, be prepared to understand and balance statistical information with its social implications. While evaluators rely on data, ignoring the human factors can make plan implementation much more difficult. To this end, take opportunities within the program to develop the leadership skills necessary to not just drive innovation and measure results, but to do so in ways that maintain organizational morale.

Doctorate in Educational Assessment & Evaluation

A doctorate in educational assessment and evaluation goes a step further than the master's degree, training candidates to perform innovative academic research. Goals similar to those of the Master of Educational Assessment and Evaluation degree program will be met through coursework, but beyond that, further study of research design might include additional factors such as psychology, politics and policy. The same coursework ideally also prepares candidates for directing research by providing them with a deeper understanding of the factors that go into a program's success or failure in a micro-political environment.

Pros and Cons


  • A doctorate in this in-demand field can act as a springboard into educational administration positions.
  • Completion of the PhD increases competitiveness when seeking leadership positions.
  • A well-chosen dissertation topic can establish a professional reputation for expertise in a specific area.


  • For those without a teaching background, assessment and evaluation roles in educational environments can be initially challenging.
  • The commitment necessary to complete a PhD program is significant in time, energy and money.
  • For educational leadership positions in some states, you will need to meet licensure requirements.

Common Courses and Requirements

In addition to research and dissertation requirements, including a dissertation proposal and oral defense, the coursework for a doctorate in educational assessment and evaluation is heavy in mathematical analysis. Sample course topics might include:

  • Educational research methods
  • Learning outcome assessment
  • Education program evaluation
  • Statistical inference
  • Psychological fundamentals in education
  • Qualitative research methods
  • Reasoning quantitatively
  • Theory of measurement
  • Policy and politics in education
  • Instructional project management
  • Design-based educational research

Online Programs and Courses

At this time, there are no available, accredited programs in educational assessment and evaluation. Because of the nature of PhD programs, although some courses may be transferable from one program to another, this must be examined on a case-by-case basis in consultation with the program.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

In addition to rigorous coursework, doctoral programs require a dissertation, which is considered a significant contribution to the field. The importance of the selection of a dissertation topic for both its academic value and its impact on career options makes this choice critical. At the same time, the goal is to learn how to perform original and significant research and finish the program. For that reason, work with your dissertation advisor to select a topic that is significant but not overly ambitious. At the same time, the dissertation can be an opportunity to be intellectually supported in research that will have lasting impact on the field and your professional reputation.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Walden University

    Program Options

      • PhD in Education - Organizational Research, Assessment & Evaluation
      • PhD in Education - Reading, Literacy, Assessment & Evaluation
      • Doctor of Education (EdD) - Community College Leadership
      • Doctor of Education (EdD) - Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment
      • Doctor of Education (EdD) - Early Childhood Education
      • Doctor of Education (EdD) - Educational Administration & Leadership (For Administrators)
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

      • Education Specialist in Teaching and Learning
  • Durham, NC

    Duke University

  • Stanford, CA

    Stanford University

  • Greensboro, NC

    University of North Carolina at Greensboro

  • Cambridge, MA

    Harvard University

  • Philadelphia, PA

    University of Pennsylvania

  • Online Programs Available
    8. Northcentral University

    Program Options

      • PhD in Education - Curriculum and Teaching
      • PhD in Education - Educational Leadership
      • Ed.D. - General Education
      • Ed.D. - International Education
      • Doctor of Education in Learning Analytics in K-12 Education
      • Education Specialist in General Education

Featured Schools

Walden University

  • PhD in Education - Organizational Research, Assessment & Evaluation
  • PhD in Education - Reading, Literacy, Assessment & Evaluation
  • Doctor of Education (EdD) - Community College Leadership

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Grand Canyon University

  • Education Specialist in Teaching and Learning

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University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Northcentral University

  • PhD in Education - Curriculum and Teaching
  • PhD in Education - Educational Leadership
  • Ed.D. - General Education

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