Master of Education
Advanced Studies

All-in price:
View Tuition Details
Application due date for January 9, 2023 term:
January 6
Estimated time to completion:
17 Months
All-in price:
View Tuition Details
Application due date for January 9, 2023 term:
January 6
Estimated time to completion:
17 Months

Become a thought leader in your field

If you’re ready to be at the forefront of your profession, our fully online M.Ed. in Advanced Studies can prepare you to take the lead. Customize your degree with the courses that will help you best advance your career in corporate, government or nonprofit training or secondary and college-level education. Gain a solid understanding of how to evaluate, critique, engage and explain intellectual tenets while also acquiring leadership and analytical skills that will empower and enable you to contribute meaningfully to your field.


in the nation for most Master's degrees awarded in Advanced Studies*.

Thinking of starting your journey?

Connect with an ACE enrollment counselor who can help you get started.

How you'll get there.

  1. Start your program with a five-week course on comprehensive research methods and strategies, setting you up for success as you progress through the program.
  2. Choose a major to specialize your degree in Cognitive Science or Interdisciplinary Leadership.
  3. Customize your program further by choosing a three-course focus of study from the following options: Adult and Continuing Education, Higher Education, Instructional Leadership, or Online Learning and Teaching.
  4. If our specialization options do not directly align with your field, build your own degree through the General Studies option, which allows you to choose any 10 courses from those that make up our majors and focuses of study.

What you can expect along the way.

  • Competitive Pricing We are committed to being a solution to the student debt crisis, not a contributor. With a total cost of $9,500, we provide one of the lowest cost master’s degrees in the nation. Most ACE students are able to pay out-of-pocket per course and graduate with no student debt. Explore our payment options to find the right plan for you.
  • Flexible Class Format Our asynchronous online courses enable you to plan your coursework around your life. Each course is five weeks long with a consistent structure, so you always know what to expect.
  • Customize Your Degree to Fit Your Career Customize and specialize your degree to fit your industry by selecting a major and a focus of study. See your options by browsing the program course list. If none of these options fit your career goals, create your own path forward through the General Studies option, which allows you to choose any 10 courses from the program’s list.
  • Support Every Step of the Way A virtual classroom means we can provide accessible ways to access support 24/7. All ACE students have a Student Success Coach who is there to help from enrollment to graduation. They’ll answer questions, offer support and point you in the right direction on your student journey. All ACE students also have free access to 7.5 hours of tutoring each month through and a wealth of digital resources designed to facilitate a meaningful student experience.
  • No Textbooks to Buy Say goodbye to pricey textbooks. Our robust online library provides access to your course readings, Harvard Business Cases, journals, periodicals and other resources – all included in the program’s cost. Like everything else we do, there’s built-in support as well. Our librarians are available through live chat, email, text or phone to assist in your research and obtaining non-digital documents you may need for assignments.

What it costs

Our tuition and fees have nothing to hide. The total cost you see is your all-in price, without hidden fees, add-ons, and even textbooks. See if you can say the same about other institutions. Go ahead — we’ll wait.

Total Tuition

34 semester credits
x $235 per credit



$50 Application Fee

$1,360 Technology & Library Fee
($40 per credit)

$100 Program Conferral Fee


Total Program Cost1


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On average, see how ACE compares to other online universities.

A bar graph comparing the tution costs of ACE programs with other online universities.

Based on information on each institution’s website as of April 9, 2020. Totals include tuition only for M.Ed. in Advanced Studies or comparable programs provided and do not include fees or associated expenses.

Learn how we cut costs.

Partnerships save you more.

ACE has more than 1,750 education partners that provide a discounted rate and other partner benefits.

Learn about ACE partnerships.

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Meet your department chair.

Cathy McKay, Ed.D.

Cathy McKay, Ed.D.

Chair, Professional Educational Studies,
Department of Professional Educational Studies

Read Bio

A degree you can count on.

American College of Education is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission— a federally-recognized accrediting agency. The College’s accreditation includes approval to offer degree programs, in education, healthcare, nursing and business and leadership through distance education via the Internet. Accreditation ensures that an institution’s academic program meets or exceeds acceptable levels of quality and is the most recognized accreditation status for higher education entities. To receive and maintain HLC accreditation and affiliation approval, we must continuously undergo routine peer review cycles and provide proof that our programs meet or exceed HLC accreditation criteria and expectations of quality.


M.Ed. in Advanced Studies

Explore the classes you'll take to fulfill this program's 34 semester credit requirement. For more information, a complete list of requirements, and course options, see the College Catalog.

Research Courses  (3 semester credits)

3 semester credits
This course enables students to become informed consumers of research and to develop skills to prepare them to carry out action research in their professional organizations. An emphasis is placed on providing students with knowledge they can apply in determining whether particular research findings are relevant to their leadership and instructional practices and to distinguish between trustworthy and non-trustworthy research. The course places action research within the context of various types of research and examines research in terms of basic concepts and various purposes, methods, data, and paradigms. Emphasis is placed on how research can become a vital and relevant tool for professional practice.

Capstone Course  (1 semester credit)

1 semester credit
The Capstone Expereince is designed for candidates to demonstrate and document the impact of their knowledge and competencies gained throughout and as a result of studies related to the various Professional Education Studies programs. 

General Studies 

Students choose 10 courses (30 semester credits) from the courses in the major and focus of study options.  ACE students also have the option to transfer in courses from other ACE Master's level courses if so desired. 


Cognitive Science 

3 semester credits
Distinguishing between intelligence and the intellect, this course establishes a foundation for examining the role that the intellect, with specific focus on cognition, plays in learning, growth and development, and daily life. Theories of intelligence, including cognitive intelligence and emotional intelligence, are examined in the context of the performance of the intellect. Topics include constructivist and neo-constructivist theories of cognitive development; processes and strategies related to decision making, problem solving, and creative thinking; and the structural features of language, the processes of language acquisition, and the relationship between language and thought.
3 semester credits
This course explores the nature of psychological theories and how they relate to real-world applications and explanations of psychological phenomena. Specifically, learners trace the historical development of major ideas in psychology and the work of Freud, Jung, Erikson, Skinner, Piaget, and Thorndike, and others. Students gain an understanding of psychological research and basic quantitative and qualitative methods psychologists use to gather and analyze evidence. Emphasis is placed on the emergence of psychology as an empirical science, ethical considerations in psychological research, the use of reference materials and electronic technologies, and the communication of psychological information in written form.
3 semester credits
Principles create a framework for testing the value of information and ideas. Knowing is an intellectual process which shapes daily actions and how individuals relate to the world. This course explores principles, evaluating their performance as an aid to selection of enduring guidelines for making personal and group decisions. Topics include the characteristics of memory, memory storage and retrieval, and factors interfering with the retention and retrieval of memories, and the theories and primary internal and external factors impacting motivation.
3 semester credits
This course provides learners insights into the nature of psychology as a profession, the opportunity to gain in-depth knowledge of the theoretical and research basis of current issues in psychology, and the links between theoretical developments and professional practice. Topics include challenges associated with providing services to complex, vulnerable, and diverse populations; the ethical responsibilities of practitioners; stress and strategies for its alleviation; definitions and characteristics of psychological disorders and their treatment; primary internal and external factors affecting motivation, and political, social, economic, and medical issues related to mental health and behavioral disorders in contemporary society. Comparisons are made between cognitive/perceptual psychology, abnormal psychology, and social psychology. These subfields are related to the diversity of careers in psychology and the tools and theories used by various psychologists to determine and interpret personality and individual differences.
3 semester credits
Utilizing theories and principles, this course addresses the stages of human development, factors associated with personality development, and critical issues related to human development from infancy through adulthood. These concerns are woven into physical and social, affective and cognitive domain changes influenced by family dynamics, education, relationships, and individual perspectives. This course addresses the impact of change across time and circumstances as a way to guide life choice responses. Topics include emotions and their effects on perception, cognition, and behavior; the development of moral reasoning, and the effects of heredity and environment on human and personality development.
3 semester credits
This course investigates the role of neuropsychology in the context of socio-psychological development with specific focus on the context of socioemotional learning. The distinction between neuroscience and psychology frames the investigation of the course, especially in terms of physiological factors that influence brain development across the lifespan. Learners also explore how the nervous, endocrine, and sensory systems interface and affect thinking, memory, personality, development, and behavior. The effects of alcohol and drugs on consciousness are also discussed.

Interdisciplinary Leadership  

3 semester credits
Ways to develop and sustain a thriving school culture are examined through the utilization of effective communication and collaboration strategies within and beyond the community. Governance strategies for ethical and legal policies, organizational development and optimization, and decision making are covered. Students explore ways in which their ethical code protects and ensures equity, fairness, tolerance, and respect in various educational and organizational cultures.
3 semester credits
This course focuses on the impact of leaders in recognizing and promoting the power a system's culture has in establishing and maintaining the exemplary performance of an organization. Through the development of a shared vision and mission, distributed leadership practices, effective communication, and the use of data to inform decision making, students develop the knowledge and skills to work collaboratively with diverse stakeholders, develop civic and global partnerships, and empower leadership skills in others to sustain or, perhaps, re-culture an organization.
3 semester credits
This course examines the leadership process in the context of developing and distributing or sharing leadership within an organization. It investigates team and group dynamics, team building, interpersonal and group relations, and effective problem solving and decision-making skills within collaborative environments. The course places particular emphasis on the development of human resources skill sets for leaders, including risk-prone behaviors and conflict management; relationships among leaders internal and external to the organization; and how leaders build other leaders, contributing to effective succession plans to maintain organizational cohesion and performance.
3 semester credits
This course focuses on individuals as leaders from an individual perspective, emphasizing  principles and practices of interpersonal relationships for leadership development, professional role modeling for those who look to them for guidance, and advocacy for change within and outside the organizational environment. In the course, students will take an introspective look at their leadership as a personal and professional journey - how their past life experiences set them on a course toward leadership, where they are today in their journey, and how they envision and are preparing for future destinations.
3 semester credits
Students will evaluate and compare different leadership theories, frameworks, and philosophies. Students will also reflect upon their own leadership experiences through the perspectives of those theories. This course places emphasis on bridging theory to practice for leadership development and how to be an effective leader in a variety of settings. As growing leaders, students will learn about making data-informed decisions and how these decisions influence future results or actions.
3 semester credits
The course focus is on theory, research, and practices related to ethical administration. Students will compare-and-contrast ethical decision making and implications for policy.

Focus of Study

Adult and Continuing Education 

3 semester credits
This course examines the theory and research of andragogy, with an emphasis on the historical influences, practical applications, and critical analysis. Topics include fields of practice, schools of thought, clarification of concepts, and emerging issues and challenges.
3 semester credits
This course examines a variety of learning and teaching strategies to enhance adult learning. Students analyze methods suited for adult learning in different settings, apply knowledge of adult learning theories, and explore ways in which adults learn critical thinking.
3 semester credits
This course focuses on theories and processes of measuring student learning to evaluate the effectiveness of instructional programs. Students conduct a program evaluation and apply the results to develop an improvement plan. 
3 semester credits
This course provides an introduction to the historical developments, theoretical perspectives, fundamental approaches, and real-world practices of evaluating adult learners. Students learn to apply a variety of methods to assess learning outcomes effectively and to analyze assessment data to improve teaching and learning.

Higher Education 

3 semester credits
This course will focus on examining statutory and regulatory compliance issues impacting institutions. This course is designed to heighten analytical skills to ensure an understanding of the intricacies influencing higher education in today's society. The interrelationship between law and policy is explored through the use of readings, case studies, and scenario analysis, serving to establish a context for practice with the governance of an organization.   
3 semester credits
This course considers how to strategically manage human, financial, and data resources. Strategic thinking, planning, and development establish effective ways to 1) strengthen working relationships, 2) engage in financial practices which contain costs and advance the mission of an institution and 3) utilize data for continuous improvement. By comparing and evaluating institutional advancement strategies, activities are assessed to determine how they complement strategic priorities and goals, build and enhance program relevance, and add practical value.
3 semester credits
Dependent upon function and service, student affairs influences the relationship between adult learning and instructional outcomes. Leadership practices, as seen through theoretical lens, explore personnel issues, student support, success, and retention, and assessment options which guide decision-making. Consideration is given to ways student perspectives shape the college experience and how these can be leveraged for change.
3 semester credits
Through the application of statistics, this course reviews data warehousing to support decisions including institutional planning, program viability and quality, and how these impact retention and attrition. Current trends with institutional assessment and evaluation help to inform constituents and support student achievement.

Instructional Leadership 

3 semester credits
This course focuses on the improvement of curriculum, instruction, and student achievement throughout diverse school and organizational settings. To make these improvements, leaders must first develop the skill set and knowledge base necessary to build leadership capacity among staff members. Instructional leaders can then collaboratively set learner-centered goals to promote higher levels of student progress, achievement, and post-secondary and college and career readiness.
3 semester credits
This course promotes the concept of leaders serving as role models of professional development for their staffs to achieve higher levels of performance within the organization. To do so, leaders must utilize effective strategies, programs, and services based on data-driven decisions and the needs of stakeholders in the organizational community. Emphasis is placed on the impact of relevant, high-quality, job-embedded, differentiated, technology-integrated professional learning opportunities aligned to organizational goals. The course also prepares leaders to serve as advocates for sufficient preparation, time, and support for colleagues to work collaboratively in job-embedded professional learning.
3 semester credits
This course emphasizes the importance of understanding state, federal, and other accountability standards in relation to the needs of learners within schools, school districts, and organizational communities. The focus of the course remains on identifying learners' academic strengths and areas in need of improvement to eliminate achievement gaps, improve achievement levels, ensure progress, increase graduation rates, and promote post-secondary and college/career readiness.
3 semester credits
Success is attributed to effective decision making, a skill required for professional and personal reasons. An essential ability required by leaders, decision making is a process which identifies critical elements of a choice to determine a course of action. The focus for this course considers ways decisions are made and how these techniques can be evaluated to improve outcomes. Specifically, the course addresses the development of skills to efficiently and consistently make informed decisions using data to maintain awareness of organizational needs, demographics, and performance levels. The role of collaboration in decision making is also a major focus.

Online Learning and Teaching 

3 semester credits
Students will compare theories of teaching and learning with applications to online instruction. Content includes emerging technology and use of Open Educational Resources.
3 semester credits
Students will critique research on social presence and best practices for connecting online with students or colleagues, as well as best practices for social media use within education organizations.
3 semester credits
Students will implement and assess the concepts of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) for accessible online courses and compare models of instructional design.
3 semester credits
Students will demonstrate effective online teaching and assessment; analyze and compare Learning Management Systems; and advocate for professional organizations which provide continuing development for online educators.

General Track

Choose any four courses in the focus of studies listed above.

Admission Requirements

M.Ed. in Advanced Studies

ACE General Admission Requirements

  • Complete and submit all application components including the admission application, the enrollment agreement, and the payment agreement.
  • Submit the nonrefundable application fee.*
  • Provide official transcripts from a regionally accredited institution indicating successful completion of the level of education required for entry to the program.**

*The application fee is valid for one year from date of submission.
**Additional evidence may be required to fulfill state requirements, including but not limited to verification of professional experience, test scores, or an interview.

Program Admission Requirements

  • Bachelor's or Highest Post-Baccalaureate degree earned
  • Minimum Grade Point Average 2.50 on a 4.00 Scale for full admission
  • Minimum Cumulative Grade Point Average of 2.00 on a 4.00 Scale for Provisional Admission
  • Applicants must achieve and maintain a 3.0 GPA throughout their program

A Note About Licensure:

While this program provides a comprehensive understanding of the intended program outcomes, it does not lead to licensure, certification, or endorsement. ACE offers several programs that do provide a pathway to licensure, certification, or endorsement and they can be found here.

1This is an estimated value of the cost for tuition and fees. Amounts may vary depending on number of transfer credits applied to the selected program hours or program pathway credit hours, the pace and satisfactory completion of the selected program or program pathway credit hours, receipt of, or eligibility for, institutional or non-institutional scholarship and/or grant amounts, and adjustments to tuition or fees as described in the Catalog Right to Modify Tuition section.

State of California Student Tuition Recovery Fund (STRF)

It is a state of California requirement that a student who pays his or her tuition is required to pay a state-imposed assessment two dollars and fifty cents ($2.50) per one thousand dollars ($1,000) of institutional charges, rounded to the nearest thousand dollars, for the California Student Tuition Recovery Fund. For more information and to see if you must pay the state-imposed assessment for Student Tuition Recovery Fund (STRF) click here.

For information on international transcript requirements, see the Admissions Information section of the College Catalog.

For English as a second language applicant information, see the Admissions Information section of the College Catalog.

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