A master’s degree in elementary/middle school education comes in many different forms. Depending on what university/college you enroll in, there are many different degree options offered. It is important to discuss the options for after graduation with the admissions office to make sure to choose the degree that will be most beneficial to you.
What is a Master’s Degree in Elementary/Middle School Education?
A master’s degree in elementary/middle school education can be for preschool-3rd grade, kindergarten-6th grade, or kindergarten-12th grade with subject specialization. Each of these degrees comes with a separate set of requirements that differs between colleges and universities. Many colleges also offer this degree with a concentration in students with disabilities, so when you graduate, you can also obtain that certificate.
There are courses common to each of the three degrees, such as a child psychology course, an instructional design course, and an ethics and foundations course. These types of courses are beneficial to teachers of students of any age. Other courses are more specific to the degree, such as secondary instruction courses (middle school), mathematics and reading instructional courses for elementary, and early childhood courses for preschool.
What Jobs Are Available With a Master’s Degree in Elementary/Middle School Education?
There are many different job options available to a person with a master’s degree in elementary/middle school education. Completing one of the above-mentioned degrees won’t give you the ability to make a vertical move in your career; however, you can take on more leadership roles as an educator in the classroom (i.e. mentor other teachers or coach other teachers). If you complete a degree in administration and leadership, you could be a supervisor or principal in an elementary or middle school. You could take on a leadership role in the school and have many different responsibilities other than being a classroom teacher.
Another job would be a school counselor or a learning consultant. As a guidance counselor in an elementary or middle school, you would be servicing students by giving them advice on an educational and personal level, while also having various other professional roles within the building. A learning consultant (or LDTC) might report to the director of special services in the district and create and update Individualized Education Plans, educate teachers on incoming students, and have many other important job responsibilities to ensure the special education population’s needs are met.
You can also become a reading specialist or work closely with special education students. Other educators with this degree may work in the special education department, which can provide an opportunity for growth as a professional while servicing a population of students that contains many of the learners that struggle most.
You will gain many skills while earning your master’s degree. Along with learning how to better prioritize and manage time, you also gain much more specific knowledge of education and how the system works. This can be applied to your classroom or whatever new career path you choose. Understanding school laws, state and district mandates, curriculum requirements, how teachers/administrators are evaluated, and collecting and analyzing data are some of the different topics you will dive into in great detail in graduate school. It is also my belief that graduate school helps you to understand things on a more global level, and understand the “Why” behind school and district decisions with more ease.
Speaking of why, what is your “Why”? Meaning, why do you work in the school system? Is it because you love making a difference and instilling the love of learning, or you enjoy taking on leadership roles, or simply that you love studying curriculum and data? Depending on how you respond to this question can determine the job path you choose to take with your master’s degree in elementary/middle school education. Teachers teach their students the notion of lifelong learning, and what better way to impress this upon them than by modeling it?