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Earning Your Master’s While Teaching in Oklahoma

For teachers wanting to advance in their careers, furthering their education is an obvious next step. However, most educators are balancing busy schedules. Between managing a classroom and personal responsibilities, many teachers feel that completing a master’s program while juggling other responsibilities would be too time-consuming.

Thankfully, there’s a way for teachers to earn a graduate degree while balancing work, life, and school. In Oklahoma, earning a Master of Arts in Education Leadership (MAEL) from Southern Nazarene University can open a world of opportunities and is more doable now than ever before.

Advancing in Educational Leadership

A master’s degree is required for most leadership roles in educational settings, such as a principal, superintendent or school district position. An MAEL degree represents an understanding of instructional leadership, education law, as well as administrative knowledge in areas of school finance and human resources.  These areas of expertise are needed in a well-rounded, academic leader.

Students in the Southern Nazarene MAEL program learn from real-life practitioners—courses are often led by working principals and other education professionals in the Oklahoma region. Since MAEL professors have relevant experience, they can accurately teach on subjects like school budgeting, grant writing, and administration.

New Ideas and Expanding Perspectives

Courses in the Southern Nazarene MAEL program cover everything from Evaluation of Curriculum and Instruction to Supreme Court Rulings. Julie Miller, deputy executive director and general counsel of the Oklahoma State School Board Association, is a professor of educational law at Southern Nazarene. When discussing how studying law expands perspectives, Miller states, “[Students] watch how legislation affects their school districts. They relate what they learn in the program to their own schools and are better able to understand why certain laws are in place.”

Students in her class discuss famous rulings like Brown v. Board of Education and Tinker v. Des Moines. She also encourages students to pay attention to the current political climate as it pertains to education. By watching, students begin to understand finite details and start thinking like administrators while viewing their districts on a larger scale.

Teachers sit on a couch while working on MAEL course homework together.

Miller also says that growth comes from MAEL students connecting with other students. Since many come from different districts and backgrounds, there’s plenty of perspectives to go around. For example, elementary school teachers and high school teachers may have different approaches to dealing with disruptive behavior, but each one has his/her valid reasoning to do so. When taking an MAEL course together, these educators can try to understand and learn from other’s experiences.

These experiences help to widen the students’ perspective, gain practical administrative skills, as well as prepare them for their future leadership roles. 

Increase in Pay

Not every teacher aims to become a principal, but that doesn’t mean they can’t benefit from a graduate degree. In Oklahoma, having a Master’s degree can increase the yearly salary for teachers. Along with personal growth in knowledge and leadership, the opportunity to earn more money can be more appealing.

Master Programs Can Fit into Your Life

Teachers have packed schedules, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible for them to enroll in a graduate program–they just need a program that takes their needs into consideration.

The MAEL program at Southern Nazarene is designed with educators in mind. The format of the class moves teachers through the courses they need at an efficient pace. The once-a-week class time on Wednesday nights  is strategically designed so that students have time to process new information and deeply discuss new topics with their instructors.

“The program is doable for working teachers,” Miller says. “The instructors are practitioners and understand the constraints of students. It can fit in with family, job, and faith commitments.”

SNU Is Ready to Help

We’ve ushered hundreds of Oklahoma educators into the next steps of their career. These teachers, principals, and superintendents continue to be a part of the SNU family of educators and create a statewide support network.

We’re ready to help you find the right master’s program. Request more information about our MAEL program ( or contact our offices at (405) 491-6346.