Masters in Education vs Teaching Degree

If you are interested in becoming a teacher, you do not necessarily need to get a master’s degree. Having your bachelor’s degree in education and a teaching license will get you going in the field.

However, many people who want to be teachers do choose to get their master’s degree. This offers them a higher level of specialization, more skills, and of course, higher pay – according to the National Education Association, starting pay for teachers is in the range of $35,000 per year, and with a master’s degree, you can earn $65,000 or more, depending upon where you live.

There also are teachers who get their master’s degree to boost their knowledge of the teaching field, and they may get either a Master’s in Education or a Master’s of Arts in Teaching. You may think that there is not a huge difference; after all, they are both master’s in education, right?

But there are quite a few differences you should know, so you can get the education that you need for your career path. Below is more information about the differences.

We will also provide examples of specific online universities that offer both degrees; by looking at specific schools and their degrees, the differences in a master’s in education and teaching should become clear.

Master of Arts in Teaching

This teaching master’s degree will focus very specifically on advancing your teaching career by providing you with hands on teaching experience. You will most likely spend many hours during your program working with students in classrooms. You will focus very heavily on advanced teaching coursework, often in a specific area to give you a high level of skill in that area.

The MAT degree will provide you with all of the tools you need to be an advanced teacher by teaching you methodology, approaches and so on. You will spend at least a semester and maybe more as a student teacher to practice what you learn.

The MAT is a route as well for those who have a bachelor’s in a different field and want to become a teacher. It is recommended that you look for programs that are accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).

Online Master of Arts in Teaching Program

An outstanding choice for an online Master of Arts in Teaching degree is offered by the University of Southern California. This program is among one of the best online teaching programs in the country.

The program is designed for teachers or aspiring teachers who want to be the best K-12 instructor they can be so that they can improve student outcomes. You can apply for this program whether or not you have a teaching license.

Earning your master’s in teaching at USC has been shown to prepare educators for success in teaching. According to statistics published on their website, a full 85% of graduates are now working in the field of education in some capacity. Also, 15% of students find employment at their placement site in their community. So for many students, the field experience turns into a full time job.

Once you are accepted into this two year online program, you will need to decide which speciality you want:

  • Multiple Subject Teaching for Elementary Education
  • Secondary English
  • Secondary Mathematics
  • Secondary Science
  • Special Education
  • Gifted Education
  • Secondary Social Science

Master’s in Education

A master’s degree in education is of course similar to the master’s in teaching, but it tends to be geared more towards not just the classroom and teaching students. Many concentrations tend to have more to do with the education system and administration.

Of course, current and aspiring teachers may get a master’s in education and still teach in the classroom. But this degree usually offers a range of concentrations that are not just focused on teaching. Generally speaking, the master’s in education is focused on three areas of education:

  • Curriculum and instruction: This would be the area you would choose if you want to teach, or to continue teaching. This can be a good choice if you want to start teaching, or, want to advance your teaching career with rigorous study of educational theory. This type of degree would focus on teaching, public service, and scholarship. You also would learn about curriculum development and teacher leadership.
  • Counselor education: This is what you want if you want to become a guidance counselor or even a mental health professional in a school, depending upon your state. Some states require you to get a master’s degree in school psychology.
  • Educational administration: This is the concentration for those who want to be a principal or a school administrator. You will learn about educational law, building and community matters, and faculty leadership.

Online Master’s in Education Program

A highly regarded and NCATE-accredited online Master of Education to consider is at Western Governor’s University. This is a great program for a current teacher who wants to build her skills in a specific education area. This will allow you to boost your professional skills and prestige, and usually make more money. This program has a track record in teaching educational professionals advanced skills so that they can become leaders in their school.

One of the advantages of WGU is it offers a huge number of online specializations so it is very likely that you will find something that fits your career goals. Consider these:

  • Curriculum and Instruction
  • Special Education
  • Educational Leadership
  • English Language Learning
  • Instructional Design
  • Learning and Technology
  • Science Education – chemistry, physics, biology, geosciences, etc
  • Mathematics Education

Most students are able to complete this degree program online in two years. You will need to work with your supervisor in the program to find a local school where you can do your fieldwork and student teaching. You also may be able to do your fieldwork in your current school, if you are a teacher.

Penn State World Campus

There are other very interesting options for a Master’s in Education at other schools. Penn State University Online has a unique Master of Education in Lifelong Learning and Adult Education.

This is a very popular online degree program and specialization currently. Careers in lifelong learning and adult education are growing fast. Businesses and organizations are adding tougher hiring requirements and corporations want more training in the workplace as it is very cost effective.

What this means for you is that there is more need for adult education professionals in many businesses, community facilities, and corporate training areas.

With a degree in this field, you can offer leadership in many adult education careers:

  • Teaching and learning for adults
  • Curriculum and instructional design
  • Program planning and administration for adults
  • Curriculum evaluation for adult education programs

At Penn State Online, you can customize this degree, if you choose:

  • Master of Education with no concentration: However, you can add several electives from different areas, such as adult basic education, global online and distance education, qualitative research, and family literacy.
  • Adult Basic Education and Literacy: This is focused solely on ABE and literacy, but you can choose electives such as distance education, administration and theory.
  • Global Online and Distance Education: Learn about historical and current procedures; developments and practices that are relevant to distance education, etc. You can choose elective in theory, program planning, and emerging technology.