Online General Education Masters Programs offer advanced degrees to current and aspiring educators in a convenient format that makes use of web-based educational technology rather than requiring students to visit their college campus on a daily basis. Online General Education Masters Degrees may be offered as Master of Education, Master of Arts in Education, Master of Science in Education and Master of Arts in Teaching degrees. Whether you are looking to enhance your pedagogical skills for classroom teaching or move your career into the education system, an online master’s program is well worth considering, especially if you are currently working or juggling other duties.
Online General Education Masters Programs are diverse in that some are geared to the student with an undergraduate background in education, while others are designed more for students who have a Bachelor’s degree in another field. Furthermore, some programs offer teaching credential while others may be intended for teachers who have their initial credential. Teachers are sometimes encouraged to take professional development courses to maintain their credentials or they may wish to broaden their horizons through a graduate degree. There are programs that may require you to complete a student teaching experience; completing a thesis is often chosen by students who intend to transfer to a doctoral program in education after earning their master’s degree.
While an undergraduate degree is a requirement for teachers, state requirements may also stipulate a graduate degree. Here are some facts from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):
There are different types of Online General Education Masters degrees, and the right one for you is dependent of your goals and area of interest. Generally speaking, the two main tracks are the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) degree and the Master of Education (M.Ed.) Degree, however other tracks include the Master of Science in Education (M.S.Ed.) and the Master of Arts in Education (M.A.Ed.).
The (online) Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) degree may be a great fit for new and experienced teachers who want to develop pedagogical strategies and teaching skills or build their content expertise. Some M.A.T. programs include a path to initial teacher certification and are intended for career switchers who have a bachelor’s degree in another subject than education.
The (online) Master of Arts in Education is a research degree designed for students who are interested in conducting research studies in the field of Education. This degree is also used as a stepping-stone for students who want to a pursue doctoral-level degree in education, and may be a good fit for those who aspire to teaching and administrative careers in higher education. M.A. Ed. Students typically complete a master’s thesis.
The (online) Master of Education is a practitioner degree designed for students who aspire to advance into leadership positions, such as instructional coordinators[vi], principals, or superintendents[vii]. There is some variance between states – in some states this degree is a requirement for entry-year teachers seeking a teaching license. The MEd. degree often includes three majors: curriculum and instruction, counseling, and administration.
The (online) Master of Science in Education degree offers a more quantitative and scientific approach to the study of education in that the curriculum tends to include topics such as statistics, instructional technology, and educational evaluation and measurement. The M.S.Ed. may be a good fit for students who prefer research to teaching in a classroom.
For students who are juggling a current job, have family duties, or live too far to commute to graduate school on a daily basis, Online General Education Masters programs offer some freedom in terms of scheduling study, and studying from wherever one has a reliable Internet connection.
Format: Online colleges have different formats and may use different education software and technology, but distance-learning means that your courses are available through a web platform, which is often the same portal through which you submit assignments. Most often, seminars are pre-recorded, and with 24/7 access, your autonomy directs your schedule, unless there are live-streaming sessions or due dates on work.
Staying Connected: Email, chat, web cams, texts and online group discussion boards are some of the digital tools used to connect with your professors and classmates. In some cases, there may be in-person requirements which mean you have to attend courses or intensives onsite, but this is usually kept to a minimum.
Accreditation: Online programs may or may not be accredited, but this is the case with other programs as well, so it is up to you to do your homework. Since the NCATE and TEAC have been combined, Educator Preparation programs may be accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).[viii]
Knowing what type of degree you are looking for may help refine your search, and GradSchools.com has a fantastic directory of sponsored listings to choose from. Some of these might include Master of Arts in teaching with Teaching Credential (Online), Master of Education –International Education, M.A. Education with Preliminary Multiple Subject Teaching Credential, Master of Education in Inclusion Education and Master of Arts in Education are a few of many options. As you can see, there are many different aspects to education; graduate school is a time to leverage your strengths and pursue your deepest interests.
sources: [i] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/high-school-teachers.htm |[ii] bls.gov/ooh/management/elementary-middle-and-high-school-principals.htm |[iii] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/middle-school-teachers.htm |[iv] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/kindergarten-and-elementary-school-teachers.htm |[v] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/special-education-teachers.htm [vi] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/instructional-coordinators.htm |[vii] bls.gov/ooh/management/elementary-middle-and-high-school-principals.htm |[viii] ncate.org/Home/tabid/680/Default.aspx