MEd or MAT: Which is best for you?

  • Whether or not you are required to get a master's degree, many employers appreciate teachers who have earned an MEd or MAT.
    Whether or not you are required to get a master's degree, many employers appreciate teachers who have earned an MEd or MAT.

    MEd or MAT: Which is best for you?

    If you’d like to enhance your career in education, you might consider getting a master’s degree. Not only can an advanced degree improve your career mobility, but it can also increase your earning potential.

    Some states, including Massachusetts, New York and Ohio, require all elementary and secondary educators to earn a master’s degree in the first five years of teaching. In addition, many states require educators who teach special education to have a master’s degree.

    Whether you are required to get your master’s or want to improve your salary potential, there are different types of education programs you will need to consider. Should you get a Master’s in Education (MEd) or a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT)? You can figure out which program is the best option for you based on your career goals and learning objectives.

    Master’s in Education

    A master’s in education can provide you with rewarding knowledge about education at a systemic level. MEd students are typically interested in improving their career opportunities outside the classroom, in either curriculum design or administration. While individuals who graduate with an MEd can work in a classroom setting, their advanced degree provides them with the expertise to move beyond hands-on instruction, into the education system, where they can improve policies and procedures at a district, state or national level.

    In MEd courses, students evaluate the practice of education as a whole, figuring out ways in which they can influence change among a broad group of students. While many MEd programs provide students with an all-encompassing understanding of the education system, some provide students with the opportunity to specialize in an area of the field. They may be able to specialize in curriculum and instruction, education administration or school counseling.

    Master of Arts in Teaching

    The master of arts in teaching provides students with insight they can use to directly impact children in a classroom setting. Most MAT candidates are individuals who are trying to advance their careers in teaching. The coursework of an MAT program provides practical insight in lesson planning and working with students. These advanced degrees typically require students to gain hands-on teaching experience in the form of student teaching practicums and observation hours in local schools.

    Most MAT programs offer students a specialization that focuses on a specific age group or subject of teaching, including:

    • Early childhood education: Young children, up to kindergarten.
    • Elementary education: Kindergarten through sixth grade.
    • Secondary education: Grades seven through 12.
    • Special education: Students with disabilities.

    Many MAT programs in elementary and secondary education provide students the opportunity to gain extra credentials in special ed, so they are qualified to provide extra attention to students with disabilities in their desired age group.

    Deciding between the MEd and MAT

    When choosing between these two comprehensive master’s degrees, you will want to consider two major factors:

    • What you’d like to learn.
    • The type of career in education you want to pursue.

    As mentioned above, an MEd promotes the study of the education system, evaluating existing curriculums and policies, while an MAT allows you to study the practical elements on teaching children while enhancing your skills as an educator.

    No matter which advanced degree in education you’d like to earn, both programs can improve your career in the education sphere. Whether or not you live in a state that requires you to consider continued education, a master’s degree can make you more appealing to future and current employers, opening doors for increased benefits and career potential. Whether you are more interested in hands-on instruction or policy-making from an administrative position, you can create an immense impact on your individual students and on a large scale.

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