M.Ed. frequently asked questions

Questions about applying and paying

You can start at the beginning of any term; new terms start in August, January and May. You can also begin at the 2nd 8-week session in each term. We recommend that you talk with an enrollment counselor to determine the best time for you.  See Northwestern’s academic calendar for specific registration and start dates.

While we advise you to apply early, you can apply as late as a week before a new term starts. 

Yes, you may transfer up to 20% of the total credit hours required as long as the courses you’re transferring are directly equivalent to courses required in your program and have been taken within the last 7 years.

No, undergraduate credits cannot be applied toward a graduate degree.

No, neither GRE nor GMAT scores are required for admission to the M.Ed. program.

To be eligible for financial aid, you need to be enrolled in the M.Ed. program and take a minimum of 6 credits per semester. Each M.Ed. course is 3 credits, so taking one 8-week course at a time for two courses in the 16-week semester qualifies you to be eligible for financial aid.

Early childhood educators pursuing the Birth Through Grade Three endorsement may be eligible for a T.E.A.C.H. grant, offered by the Iowa Association for the Education of Young Children (IAEYC). Visit the T.E.A.C.H. website for details. If you reach or plan to teach in a high need field in a low-income area, you may be eligible for the TEACH grant. 

In addition, there may be other scholarships and grants, depending on your financial situation. Contact us to explore your options.

Questions about the program

If you take 2 courses each term, you should finish in 5 to 7 semesters or about 2 years depending on which track you select and whether you choose to earn an endorsement at the same time. 

Any computer purchased within the last five years should meet the hardware and software requirements necessary for taking online classes. Some students prefer to use tablets, we recommend having a laptop or computer also available to complete most assignments. Please see our technology recommendations for more details.

Expect to spend 9 to 18 hours per week on homework for our 3-credit courses (which include accelerated content requiring a bit more time). Obviously, the amount of time you need to put into a class will vary depending on how much you already know about the content area, how quickly you write, and how adept you are with technology.

You will login through your student account, MyNWC to access your classes in our Blackboard environment. You can use any desktop, laptop or tablet with Internet access.

No, the M.Ed. program is asynchronous, which means you can complete your coursework and even communicate with your instructor and classmates when it works best for you. Deadlines are set weekly, so as long as you meet your deadlines, you can take classes and do homework when it best suits you.

Communication usually happens online via Blackboard, which is our learning management software. Communication may also happen via email, phone and video conferencing if you are working on a project with a group or if you want more direct contact with another student or your professor. Your professors will provide their email addresses and phone numbers, so you may contact them with questions. Each week you’ll engage in online discussion around a topic provided by your professor. The discussion will occur in Blackboard, and though you will be required to participate, you may choose to respond and offer comments at whatever time of day works best for you.

Northwestern M.Ed. professors are top-notch, available and easy to work with! They enjoy interacting with their students and understand the challenges of adult learners who juggle work, personal and educational responsibilities. They're also experts in their content area and speak from their own experiences. Feel free to reach out to them. 

Our curriculum is organized so you take 1 course the first 8 weeks of the term and 1 course the second 8 weeks. Each week, you'll be given modules to complete; modules often contain discussion board questions and reading assignments.

Course syllabi and modules are all online. You will likely need to purchase a textbook for most courses; book purchases can be made at our online bookstore

 At Northwestern, online courses engaging, exciting and (obviously) educational. Our online classes are rich with interaction—with your professor, with your classmates and with excellent materials. What makes it work for people like you (people with careers, families and other grownup commitments) is that you choose when to immerse yourself in that interaction. The goal is to connect what you're learning immediately into your classroom or professional roles.  

Each week you work through a course module. Within the module, you’ll find everything you need to explore, discuss, collaborate and apply what you’re learning. Modules contain some or all of the following:

  • Links to current research
  • Videos by your professor or another expert in the field
  • Online resources
  • Case studies
  • Projects designed to improve your classroom or school district
  • Discussion forums for communication with your classmates about the content of the module

Deadlines will help you stay on track, and as long as you meet them, you can work through each module with timing that fits your schedule best—early in the morning, over lunch, after coaching or after the kids are in bed.

EDU635, the M.Ed. capstone, is the culmination of the master’s degree program. Each student chooses a topic of interest to explore deeply. Most students will choose a capstone project connected to their "day job"—such as actionable research in their classroom, a school improvement project, or an advocacy project. Some students may choose to do a literature review instead of a project, which essentially means reading widely about a specific issue or topic and then categorizing the research into themes or subtopics. All students will write a capstone paper.

Examples of capstone projects:

  • Trying a specific research-based instructional strategy to improve reading comprehension of ELL students
  • Implementing a new collaborative grouping technique to determine if it changes student engagement and behavior
  • Developing a new teacher mentorship program
  • Initiating the use of a data wall to guide professional development
  • Working with a professional organization to propose new legislation
  • Proposing a school-community partnership to reduce childhood hunger

Examples of capstone literature reviews: 

  • Researching a specific condition or disability that impacts one of your students to become an expert in your district
  • Researching the new Every Student Succeeds Act and how it impacts schools
  • Researching the effect of play on cognitive development with preschool students

The options are limitless. The important thing is that each student chooses something she or he is really interested in, explores it deeply, and then writes compellingly about it.

In the last decade, the U.S. Department of Education has developed initiatives to promote state-level programs that advance teachers into teacher leadership positions within their schools. States including Iowa, Arizona, Colorado, Massachusetts, Michigan and Mississippi began pilot teacher leadership programs in 2014. The purpose of Iowa’s Teacher Leadership and Compensation System (TL&CS) is to identify teacher leaders in every school building to “take on extra responsibilities, including helping colleagues analyze data and fine-tune instructional strategies as well as coaching and co-teaching.” In January of 2014, 146 of the 346 school districts in Iowa applied for grants to implement the TL&CS.  Read more at Educate Iowa.