You’ve finally taken the plunge to pursue your master’s degree – an exciting and rewarding decision.
While your state may not require a Master of Education or Master of Arts in Teaching, choosing to advance your degree is a smart choice for:
- Working towards your Rank I and Rank II certifications, and increasing your earning potential
- Becoming a better teacher, with more expertise in pedagogy and educational technology
- Opening doors for promotions to administration positions in education
- Improving opportunities to teach at the university or college level
Whatever the motivation, obtaining your master’s degree is an excellent way to advance your career and understand how to help your students succeed.
But, you’ve found yourself at a crossroads.
Of all the teaching graduate programs, which one is best tailored to your interests, motivations and goals?
Key Differences Between Teaching Degree Programs
At a glance, the Master of Arts in Teaching and Master of Education degrees seem similar, and prospective students often use these terms interchangeably. However, it is important to note the differences in curriculum and admission requirements between teacher education programs. While subtle, they can be critical to your career path.
Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT)
A MAT degree is focused primarily on advancing your teaching career by enhancing your ability to work directly with students through hands-on teaching experience.
The MAT program emphasizes advanced coursework to help you hone your expertise in a specific subject area such as Art, Music or Early Elementary Education. MAT candidates focus on pedagogical theory and developing the practical skills needed for implementing this theory in the classroom. In other words, the MAT teaches teachers how to teach.
Master of Education (MEd)
A MEd is less centered on developing skills in a specific subject area. Instead, this is the path to choose if you need to fulfill continuing education requirements, maintain or add to your teaching credentials, or expand your knowledge and skills beyond the classroom to widen your career opportunities in the field of education.
As a certified teacher, you can pursue this degree and still remain in a classroom setting. The framework of the MEd degree, however, is designed to equip you with additional proficiency in specialized areas including curriculum development, counseling, policy development or administration. In other words, the MEd focuses on attaining career-specific credentials.
Master of Arts in Education (MAEd)
Less popular than the MEd and MAT degrees, a MAEd primarily emphasizes classroom teaching rather than administrative work. This is the most fitting degree if you want to gain practical, hands-on experience in the classroom but do not have an interest in pursuing administrative education roles.
Master of Science in Education (MSEd)
The MSEd degree, also less well known than the MAT and MEd, is an excellent choice if you are more interested in data and statistics behind different pedagogical theory and practice. This is the ideal degree for students interested in educational research.
Master of Education in Teacher Leadership (Teaching & Learning) (MEdTL)
This graduate degree at the University of Louisville is available completely online. The curriculum prepares you to serve as a leader, work strategically with learners of all ages, facilitate change at the classroom and institutional level, and coach others to lead in the teaching field.
Developed especially for Kentucky-certified teachers, this innovative program centers on pedagogical theory and practical teaching techniques that will help you pursue a successful career in supporting new teachers, developing professional training and transforming the way education is delivered.
What’s Your Next Move?
If you are already teaching and balancing life inside and outside the classroom, thinking about pursuing a master’s degree can be daunting. However, an online learning format can allow you to pursue your degree when and where it works for you.
UofL currently offers two master’s degrees 100% online: the Master of Education in Special Education and the Master of Education (Teaching and Learning) with endorsements in ESL, Classroom Reading, and Instructional Technology. Our advising team is exceptional and can help you navigate the various options available, providing guidance at every step of the way.
Obtaining a master’s degree in education can sharpen your teaching and leadership skills, improve your career opportunities and, most importantly, prepare you to best serve your students and school. Having clear career goals and knowing your options for earning your next education credential can help you choose the path that’s best for you and your students.
Know your options inside and outside the classroom, and choose the path that’s best for you and your students.