There are many great programs both in public higher education and in private colleges and universities. For the most part, acceptance rates in M.Ed. and M.A.T. programs are high, with some schools accepting nearly all applicants. A few of the programs are quite selective, however, particularly if you are applying in highly subscribed areas such as English or Social Studies Education. You may pursue a master's degree if you already have certification or you can obtain both a teaching certificate and a master's degree concurrently. Most programs require that you take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) but some allow you to substitute the Miller Analogies Test (MAT). GPA requirements range from about 2.5 to 3.0. Many schools look most carefully at the GPA in your major or your GPA in the last two years of undergraduate work. But unlike some other graduate school fields, schools of education rarely have GPA cutoff scores.
Schools that have a competitive admissions process are looking for applicants who have a strong academic record in their discipline, show real enthusiasm and commitment for a career in education, and whose prior experiences in education (tutoring, classroom assisting, coaching etc.) demonstrate that the candidate has given this career choice some thought. Prior coursework in education is not essential but can be helpful, particularly if a field placement was part of the course.
Application deadlines for some of the private universities are in January. Most of the public institutions have rolling admissions or spring deadlines. For the best private schools, expect to pay tuition similar to the Haverford/Bryn Mawr rates. Financial aid or internships/teaching assistantships are available in some of the programs. The public universities are much cheaper especially if you are a resident of that state.
If you are looking to get certified through a graduate school program it may make things easier for you in the long run to go to a college or university in the state in which you plan to teach. Schools will only certify students for their own state. Transferring certificates is up to the student, and while many certificates are easily transferable, some state requirements vary. Furthermore, schools often have contacts in the area to help in the job search later on.
The best-known schools/departments of education include the following (this refers to the overall reputation of the education school, including its doctoral programs):
Public Universities: UCLA/UC Berkeley, Michigan State University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Virginia-Curry, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Ohio State University-Columbus, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Indiana University-Bloomington, University of Texas-Austin
Private Universities: Harvard Graduate School of Education, Teachers College-Columbia University, Stanford University, Vanderbilt University-Peabody, New York University, Northwestern University, University of Pennsylvania, Cornell University, Bank Street College of Education, Boston College
An invaluable resource in the graduate school search is Peterson's on-line guide to graduate schools (by subject).