Master of Arts in Teaching vs. Master in Education

masters of educationBecoming a teacher in most states does not require a Master's in Education or Master of Arts in Teaching, but many aspiring teachers still opt to pursue an advanced teaching degree.

Pursuing a Master’s is a great way to potentially earn more money as a teacher, as well as establish yourself as a highly qualified expert. There are many teachers who pursue their Master’s to further enhance their knowledge of teaching itself.These aspiring educators pursue either a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) or a Master's in Education (M.Ed).

When thinking of a Master’s in Teaching, many people use the terms Master of Arts in Teaching and Master's in Education interchangeably, assuming the difference is subtle or nonexistent. The difference, however, is actually much larger than you might think, and knowing the difference between a Master of Arts in Teaching and a Master's in Education can steer you in the direction that’s right for you.

Master’s in Teaching

The Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) focuses primarily on the advancement of your teaching career. This is the degree most often pursued by people who want hands-on teaching experience and are seeking to work directly with students. The MAT focuses heavily on advanced coursework in a specific subject to hone your expertise.

Coursework for the MAT also focuses on pedagogical theory and implementation. Essentially, the MAT will teach you how to be a teacher: methodology, stylistic approach, etc. Oftentimes, the Master of Arts in Teaching consists of hands-on experience that places you in a classroom as a student teacher  to practice what you are learning.

Read more about the Master of Arts in Teaching program at USC Rossier School of Education here.

Master's in Education

A Master's in Education (M.Ed) is an advanced degree geared more towards moving beyond the classroom and into the education system itself. Certified teachers and aspiring teachers can pursue an M.Ed and still remain in the classroom, but the Master's in Education allows for a broader range within the educational sphere. The M.Ed. is divided into three majors, or focuses, around different aspects of education:

Curriculum and Instruction

This major focuses on teaching and learning, and is ideal for people who want to begin their teaching career or advance their career with excellent preparation in educational theory. An M.Ed of Curriculum and Instruction focuses primarily on teaching, public service, and  scholarship. You will also gain a better understanding of curriculum development, teacher leadership, and human development.

Counselor Education

This major is right for you if you are seeking to become a guidance counselor or a school’s mental health professional.  Mental health, however, is an entirely different field in and of itself, so if you’re interested in becoming a mental health counselor, you should find out about your specific state’s requirements.

Educational Administration

This major will prepare you to become a principal or a higher level school administrator. Coursework in this major is built around educational law, building and community issues, and faculty leadership.

Other Teaching Degrees

Also great for enriching and advancing your teacher career are the Master of Arts in Education and the Master of Science in Education, both of which are less known than the MAT or M.Ed. A Master of Arts in Education allows for more flexibility in focusing more heavily on in-classroom teaching than administrative work. The Master of Science in Education is more appropriate for people interested in educational research.

Whether or not you want to impact the education system by working at a high-level administrative level with a Master's in Education, or on a more fundamental level in the classroom with a Master of Arts in Teaching, any program can greatly benefit your teaching career. Pursuing an advanced degree makes you more appealing to your employer, and can even entitle you to greater benefits. You will also have a far reaching impact on society by ensuring you are fully prepared and qualified to teach, allowing you to inspire and influence your students in ways that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

Further Reading