Masters Degrees for Teachers

Masters Degree in Teaching Programs could help experienced teachers and aspiring educators alike. For example, active teachers may want to shore up their skills or prepare themselves for the next stage in their careers through masters education. People with little or no experience working in schools, meanwhile, may choose a masters program to help them make that transition.

Typically, a masters degree is not a requirement for a classroom teaching role. However, individual schools or communities may have unique requirements, and specific roles may vary. For example, if you want to teach in a post-secondary setting, you may need at least a masters in your discipline and possibly a higher credential. That said, many school communities do consider masters education as a factor in advancement. i

How to Choose a Masters Degree in Teaching Program

Once you’ve decided that a masters degree in teaching may be for you, the next step is to identify exactly which degrees or programs meet your needs. A few things to keep in mind:

  • Your preferred program format or class schedule
  • Your level of experience
  • The types of skills you want to learn or practice
  • The education or licensure requirements in your state

In addition to the above, several different types of masters degrees in teaching may be available. Each one may have unique advantages or areas of focus, or be preferred by your school community.

Master of Arts in Teaching

A Master of Arts in Teaching, or MAT, is one of several education-specific masters programs. As the name implies, these programs are typically geared toward classroom teaching. Often, students in these programs are teachers who want to apply their new skills and knowledge in their own classrooms, rather than moving into a non-classroom role. However, some MAT programs may also be designed for new teachers with prior education in a different field. In this case, the program would be designed to cover pre-licensure requirements in that state, as well as student teaching experience.

Some schools may instead opt to offer a similar Master of Science in Teaching or MST. Often, the differences between these two are minimal and may simply come down to preferences at that university. Topics emphasized in MAT or MST programs include pedagogy, classroom management, and instructional methods.

Purdue University Global: Master of Arts in Teaching Grades 5-12

Purdue University Global offers an online Master of Arts in Teaching focused on grades 5-12, with options available for students seeking initial certification. The program adheres to the reflective decision-maker model, and emphasized research-based instructional practices and diverse classrooms. Topics covered include curriculum and lesson design, classroom management, literacy, and assessment.

The certification track, offered through the Global Classroom Pathways Bundle, is available to students interested in certification in Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah. Because the program is offered online, in-person elements like student teaching, internships, or field observations, are not included.

Masters of Education

A Master of Education (sometimes abbreviated as M Ed, M.Ed. or Ed.M.) is a somewhat broader degree offered to current and aspiring educators. Many M.Ed. programs do focus on classroom and instructional skills. However, they’re often designed to accommodate many different education-related career paths, including leadership. As such, a master of education program might appeal to teachers that are dedicated to their classroom roles but who wish to keep themselves open to other new opportunities in the future.

Masters of education programs may allow students to select a concentration area that aligns with their current position or goal. For example, classroom teachers may prefer a program that looks at curriculum and instruction over one focused on, say, educational leadership.

While some M.Ed. programs may be open to students still seeking a teaching certification, many other programs may expect students to have a certain amount of instructional experience. In addition to being an application requirement, this could impact the way the material is covered in the classroom, so make sure to choose a program that supports your experience and interests.

Sacred Heart University Master of Education Program

Sacred Heart University’s Master of Education program is designed primarily for students who already hold their teaching certification and have some experience in the classroom. The program focuses on classroom-relevant skills like instruction, curriculum, assessment, and teaching in different content areas.

Students seeking their initial certification may be able to work toward this by participating in the Graduate Teaching Internship option. If that’s something you’re interested in, be aware that this could impact your application process and requirements. Because Sacred Heart is based in Fairfield, CT, the program is likely to align with the licensure requirements in the state of Connecticut. If you plan to certify and teach elsewhere, make sure you’re aware of any differences in the requirements.

Master of Science in Education

Less well-known than MAT and M.Ed. programs, an M.S.Ed may focus more on performing and understanding research, as well as putting it into action. If the program is designed for classroom teachers, this may mean becoming fluent with current education research and implementing research-based instructional practices.

That said, the specifics of what a Master of Science in Education covers, as well as how it varies from the other teaching masters degree types, may vary from case to case.

Walden University Master of Science in Education – Science Grades K-8

Walden University offers an online MSEd program that focuses on leveraging research and data to improve classroom instructional practices. Courses may discuss the use of data in designing, implementing and improving instructional techniques, curriculum planning, and assessments, while meeting the needs of a diverse classroom and supporting families and the community.

The program is accredited by NCATE. 17 specializations, including teaching Science in grades K-8, enable students to focus their learning on what’s relevant to their careers. The K-8 Science curriculum explores hands-on and virtual laboratory exercises, using technology in science classrooms, collaboration between department faculty, and instructional techniques specific to different types of science.

Educational Specialist Degree

The Education Specialist Degree (generally abbreviated as Ed.S.) is technically a step between masters and doctorate. However, these programs are often offered continuously with masters programs and as such may sometimes be included in this category. That said, some EdS programs do require applicants to hold a related masters degree prior to applying, so make sure you review the prerequisites for any program you’re interested in.

Ed.S. programs are designed to help students cultivate advanced expertise in a specific topic within education, such as special education, curriculum design, instruction, or pedagogy. Not every Educational Specialist degree program is designed with classroom instruction in mind, however, so make sure you review the details of any program you’re considering.

Northcentral University EdS in Early Childhood Education

Northcentral University offers an online Educational Specialist program focused on Early Childhood Education. This program focuses on building fluency with research and theory as it relates to early childhood education, as well as applying research findings constructively.

Because this program is offered online, students have the benefit of flexibility, meaning the program could accommodate your busy teaching schedule. It’s also designed to prepare students for doctoral study, if you think you may want to continue. Other specializations available, in addition to Early Childhood Education, include ESL, Curriculum and Teaching, Special Education, General Education, and E-Learning, among others.

Other Potential Teaching Masters Programs

While the above examples constitute some of the more common masters degree options for teachers, they’re by no means the only ones. Different schools may offer unique degree options to meet the needs of their educational communities. This could include different areas of focus (for example, literacy instruction, special education, or a unique approach to teaching), or other degree types not listed here. If you come across a teaching masters degree you’re not familiar with, reach out to the school offering that program to find out more about it.

Find Masters Degree in Teaching Programs

Learn more about these and other education masters programs on Review the sponsored program listings mentioned here, or visit the Masters Degree in Education page for more options!


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