Educational Research, Evaluation and Assessment, M.S.


Our Master of Science (M.S.) in Educational Research, Evaluation and Assessment program prepares professionals with broad training in the theory and practice of qualitative and quantitative research, program evaluation and assessment/measurement. Completing our program helps you meet data and evidentiary demands of today’s workforce, move ahead in your current places of employment, and fulfill research requirements of advanced degree programs.

You'll learn to design, conduct and evaluate educational research and evaluation studies; select and implement suitable qualitative and quantitative data analytic procedures; design and evaluate assessments and other instruments; and relate empirical findings to educational and social science policies and practices. Such skills are highly-valued and marketable in today's workplace.

Within our comprehensive and rigorous curriculum, you can pursue specialized areas of professional interest (e.g., advanced qualitative research design, statistical analysis) through elective courses. The M.S. degree also combines student-centered courses with a variety of engaged learning experiences (e.g., research, internships) to provide a top-quality graduate school experience. Graduate certificates of study are available in advanced qualitative methodology in education and advanced quantitative methodology in education.

Our program can be completed entirely online or via combination of online and face-to-face coursework. Courses are designed to be flexible to accommodate a variety of schedules with synchronous and asynchronous options. Graduate assistantships are available for well-qualified applicants.

While any undergraduate major is eligible for admission, this program is a logical next step if you are majoring in education, psychology and sociology. It's also attractive to those currently working in educational settings, including K-12 schools, districts and institutions of higher education.

Our program is well-positioned to equip you for a research-focused doctoral study in education and the social sciences. Pursuing your M.S. degree in educational research, evaluation and assessment provides you with an opportunity to: Develop research methodological and analytical skills necessary for advanced doctoral training; explore research topics that can be pursued during later dissertation work; establish connections with ETRA department faculty; and demonstrate your capability to engage in doctoral-level work.

Application Process

If you are interested, submit your application, statement of purpose and official transcripts from all institutions attended. International students must also submit TOEFL or IELTS scores. Although GRE or GMAT test scores and letters of recommendation are not required, they may be submitted to supplement your application.

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During your program of study, you will:

  • Design a study of an educational research problem or phenomenon using appropriate methodologies.
  • Design and/or select appropriate assessment or evaluation tools for a given educational problem.
  • Distinguish between ethical and unethical behavior when conducting educational research or evaluations.
  • Select appropriate analyses for a given research question.
  • Apply appropriate technology to conduct analyses of educational data.
  • Conduct a study pertaining to an educational research problem or phenomenon.
  • Demonstrate effective communication skills by presenting and defending a research project.
  • Engage in research-related activities in diverse settings.
  • Ximena Burgin has been involved in many federal, state and non-profit grant projects, including projects funded by the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Labor, the Illinois State Board of Education and the Missouri Foundation for Health.
  • Cynthia Campbell and David Walker are past-presidents of the Mid-Western Educational Research Association, and other faculty are highly engaged in this professional organization.
  • Laura Ruth Johnson published "Community-based Qualitative Research: Approaches for Education and the Social Science" (2017, Sage Publications), which is an internationally recognized text in the field. She was also featured as an expert in community-based qualitative methods in Sage's research methods video series.
  • Todd Reeves was twice recognized for his peer review activity by Publons (Sentinel of Science: Social Science Award in 2016, and Top Reviewer: Social Science in 2017).
  • Thomas Smith was named an NIU Presidential Teaching Professor in 2017 to recognize his excellence in the practice of teaching.
  • Our faculty have published their work in a number of top-tier journals, such as Journal of Applied Statistics; Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis; Computers & Education; Journal of Educational Measurement: Issues and Practice; Journal of Research on Technology in Education, Teaching and Teacher Education; and Theory Into Practice.
  • Our department is ranked as " Recognized Publishing Activity" by Cabell's 2016 IPA Report. The ranking acknowledges institutions with authors published in journals listed in the " Educational Technology Systems" and " Tests, Measurement and Evaluation" categories. We're one of three public universities in Illinois that hold this ranking, which is currently bestowed on only 120 of 2,000 institutions in the United States.

Our students are prepared for careers as researchers, evaluators, assessment specialists and data analysts in educational, business, government, community-based and other professional settings, as well as for advanced training in social science disciplines.

Required courses:

  • ETR 501 Proseminar in Educational Research and
    Evaluation (3)
  • ETR 520 Introduction to Research Methods in Education (3)
  • ETR 521 Educational Statistics I (3)
  • ETR 525 Qualitative Research in Education (3)
  • ETR 530 Test Construction and Evaluation (3)
  • ETR 531 Program Evaluation in Education (3)

Research design elective courses:

  • ETR 535 Mixed-Methods Research (3)
  • ETR 540 Survey Research Methods (3)
  • ETR 556 User Experience (UX) Research (3)
  • ETR 720 Advanced Research Methods in Education (3)
  • ETR 739X Fieldwork Methods in Educational Research (3)
  • ETR 745X Interpretive Methods in Educational Research (3)
  • ETR 746 Interview Methods in Educational Research (3)

Data analysis elective courses:

  • ETR 522 Educational Statistics II (3)
  • ETR 526 Advanced Technologies in Qualitative Research (3)
  • ETR 537 Methods of Learning Analytics (3)
  • ETR 560 Computer Data Analysis (3)
  • ETR 562 Applied Categorical Data Analysis (3)
  • ETR 722 Methods of Multivariate Analysis (3)
  • ETR 724 Multilevel Modeling (3)

Assessment/measurement/evaluation elective courses:

  • ETR 524 Assessing Students with Special Needs (3)
  • ETR 529 Principles of Educational Measurement (3)
  • ETR 555 Technology-Enhanced Assessment (3)
  • ETR 750 Culturally Responsive Evaluation (3)


  • ETR 586 Internship in Research and Evaluation (3-15)

One of the following capstone engaged learning experiences:

  • ETR 699A Master's Thesis
  • ETR 699B Master's Project
  • ETR 699C Master's Portfolio

The Department of Educational Technology, Research and Assessment also offers two 18-credit Certificates of Graduate Study (CGS). Such CGSs can be earned on their own, or in combination with another graduate degree, and equip students with specialized methodological expertise.