M.A.T. vs. M.Ed.: What Should I Choose?

Sandra Burns
Sandra Burns
Elementary school principal; M.Ed. in Educational Leadership
A woman looks at a master’s degree on the computer.

Choosing the Right Graduate Program for You

Finally, you earned your bachelor’s degree! Now that you have earned your degree and are excited to continue on with your education, you have several things to think about: what is next? There is no doubt that teachers have the power to transform the lives of their students inside the classroom and even outside of their classroom, but making a decision on what career path is taken is something that is not easily done. Weighing all options, as well as having a clear idea of what your career goals, are something that takes a lot of thought as well as time.

Where do you truly want to be after you receive your degree? Becoming a teacher may not be the stopping point for your career path. Deciding on a master’s of education or a master’s of art in teaching may be the answer to your questions and potentially the best path for you to take.  Knowing where you ultimately want your teaching degree to lead you will help you make the best educational decision.

Master’s in Teaching vs. Master’s in Education

A master’s of education may ultimately begin in the classroom, as most districts require, if not at least support their teachers to obtain their master’s degree. There are times that seeking out a master’s degree can lead to an “out of the classroom” position such as serving in an administrative role, a district office position, or possibly a counseling role. Obtaining a master’s of education will best prepare someone who is looking to extend their career in a higher level position than the classroom setting.

Sometimes, this can also be considered a stepping stone towards earning a doctorate, principal certification, special education supervisor certificate, or even eventually a superintendent letter of eligibility if you want to pursue this career path. Often hands-on-experiences are not part of a master’s in education program, instead it is more research based findings and theoretical discussions that are embedded in the coursework so students can grasp teaching as a whole.

A master’s of art in teaching is more hands on, even if it’s a master’s in teaching online, and benefits those who are looking to secure a master’s degree that is more suited for working with students directly. Often this path is taken when someone does not already have an undergraduate degree in teaching and may be looking to make a career change.  Areas of focus include: elementary education, special education, early childhood education, and methodologies.

One of the main benefits to an M.A.T. degree and any higher education program is gaining knowledge and also experiencing your own personal growth. You will learn new things that can help you be a better teacher, gain important skills that will benefit all of your students, and overall improve your abilities in the classroom and community. Learning more about certain subjects, educational technology, and classroom management will all benefit your career. For someone that may be in a non-teaching profession, an M.A.T. can help get the skills and certification needed in order to make the move to the classroom.

With both degrees, teachers with advanced degrees have the ability to earn raises and have higher salary levels all throughout their career. Some districts will even help cover the cost of tuition as well as move teachers up the pay scale with more educational experiences.

Which Decision is Right for You?

Regardless of what graduate degree program you choose, the educational experiences that you have will better equip you as an educator. Both will elevate your career to possible levels that may not be within your original career path or radar as to how you want to use your degree. Whether you want to be in the classroom or possibly pursue more of a higher level position, both degrees will heighten your expertise, build your educational resume, and give you multiple opportunities to influence our students.

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