Master of Arts in Teaching
The Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) is designed to help new and experienced teachers advance their careers in K through 12 education. MAT programs that include a teaching credential prepare students to enter the teaching profession as elementary or secondary school teachers. The MAT degree also allows experienced teachers to broaden their perspective by learning advanced methodologies, reflecting on current practices and implementing new practices in classroom settings.
Although a master's degree isn't required to become a teacher in most states, there are many benefits associated with a Master of Arts in Teaching degree.
Earning an advanced degree can give teachers greater earning potential and more options for employment. For experienced teachers, an MAT degree is an excellent way to become recognized as an expert in the field of education. Many MAT degree-holders go on to long careers as teachers, while others move into school leadership positions as principals and superintendents.
MAT ProgramsDepending on the program and the student's schedule, an MAT degree can take between one and two years to complete. The prerequisites for admission to MAT programs include a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. Prior coursework in education is not required for admission to most MAT programs. However, for students who want to teach a single subject at the secondary school level, many schools of education prefer an undergraduate major in the same subject.
When deciding on a Master of Arts in Teaching program, it's important to consider only programs that have been accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). This independent accrediting association is responsible for ensuring the quality of teacher preparation programs and is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. There are currently more than 600 NCATE-accredited colleges and universities in the nation.
MAT CurriculumMAT curriculum typically includes subject area concentrations that focus on elementary or secondary education. These include multiple subject teaching for elementary school teachers and single subject teaching in English, math, science or social science for high school teachers. Many MAT programs also allow students to earn certificates in specialized instruction areas, such as special education, gifted education and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). The best MAT programs provide coursework that addresses the challenges are currently faced by teachers. Students explore the application of sociological and psychological theories in the classroom, and are exposed to strategies for infusing technology into instruction. They also learn how to plan, implement and assess instruction for ethnically and linguistically diverse student populations.
MAT Practical ExperienceMost MAT programs place priority on practical experience, and a practical component is also required for an MAT program to become accredited by NCATE. The practical component is designed to give students field experience by placing them in community classrooms to observe mentor teachers apply the theories and methodologies covered by the MAT coursework. The field experience should allow students to demonstrate competency as a professional teacher and should provide the opportunity to work with students from diverse ethnic, racial and socioeconomic groups.
For prospective students, the field experience component of the MAT degree satisfies the student teaching portion of state certification. Most MAT programs allow licensed teachers who are working towards an MAT degree to use their own classroom as the site for their field experience.