Why You Should Get a Master’s Secondary Education Degree

Khristina Russell
Khristina Russell
High school instructional coach; Ed.S. in Teacher Leadership from Thomas University, GA

I’m not sure if there is any subset of learning as impactful as a master’s degree. Particularly, earning a master’s secondary education degree in 2011 was such an impactful time for me.

As a learner, I was a better teacher. I was constantly thinking, researching, monitoring, and adjusting. Further, I was abreast the current trends in education from professors as opposed to only my colleagues and building administrators who also had building issues to manage aside from the curriculum and learning.

What Does a Master’s Secondary Education Degree Program Encompass?

A master’s in education (at any level) assumes and requires that you are already a licensed teacher. A master’s degree seeks to do exactly what it claims, to encourage the adult learner to master their content. Teachers who enroll in these programs seek the opportunity to be well-rounded and better prepared to contribute to education.

Typically teachers stay in the same content area. That would only vary if, for instance, a teacher’s undergraduate education degree was in a specific science. They could (depending upon the state and school) earn a master’s in education in a similar science program. Some students can also take additional courses, akin to a minor and add additional certifications.

The first couple of courses in a secondary education master’s program are the same, regardless of content, focusing on concepts like:

  • Research
  • Pedagogy
  • Planning
  • Diverse learning/learners

Some requirements, expectations and outcomes may vary depending on the university and the state that you are in. Check and thoroughly vet all graduate programs to ensure the intended result will meet your future aspirations.

What Skills are Gained in a Secondary Education Program?

One of the biggest skills gained in the secondary education graduate degree program is how the educator approaches content. A master’s program will assume that you have been teaching for at least a couple of years and provides you the opportunity to focus on curriculum, on how to take risks, and collaborate with other adults.

Here are four specific skills anyone should gain when considering a secondary education master’s program.

Parts of Curriculum

An educator must determine which parts of a curriculum are suited for a particular classroom’s culture and how to make adjustments. Certain subjects can be downright scary to cover, particularly in English and social studies classes. A master teacher has the skills to successfully know their classroom, balance out the subject matter to make the learning appropriate and relevant for all learners. This process is part logic and part research.

Research-based Practices

During the program, there is a constant need for research to prove that some concept or strategy is working or disaggregating data to determine why a specific subset of students isn’t successful.

Most programs are two years long, and after using researched-based practices consistently for that amount of time, it is almost impossible to rely only on feeling and instinct to make decisions. Of course, all teachers use intuition in the spur of the moment. However, the research and additional pedagogy a master teacher inherits helps to inform even those spur-of-the-moment decisions.

Comfortable Taking Risks

Trying something new is always scary, but trying something new that is backed by research isn’t necessarily new; it’s just the first time an individual has tried it. During the time (and after) I earned my masters, I wasn’t afraid to try something new that I had researched for my program because it already had a record of success.

The challenge was figuring out how to adapt whatever strategy I was considering to my teaching style and students. Sometimes this included asking a colleague for help or to observe me. Before the program, I didn’t even realize that type of advocacy and collaboration was an option.

True Collaboration

In a secondary education master’s program, there is so much networking and collaboration. Personally, I learned that trusting others is a safe space and is imperative to ensure the best quality learning for all students, not just my own. It does not matter if I’m great if the teacher next door is struggling.

My master’s program definitely helped me exit the silo that secondary education teachers so often get (comfortably) trapped in and allowed me to collaborate better in my content area, and encourage cross-curricular collaboration as well.

Technology

Many of my colleagues who have recently earned master’s secondary education degrees have subsets of their classes updated to include aspects of virtual, hybrid, synchronous, and asynchronous learning due to the ever-changing and unpredictable climate we are existing in because of the pandemic.

In particular, one notes how one of his classes that focused on planning and curriculum also included required sections for remote learning to include remote learners who may not have regular and consistent wifi or electronic access.

That’s the beauty of these programs; they shift and make adjustments to acknowledge current trends while also enforcing the tried and true methods of strong teachers.

Career Opportunities

The career opportunities available to an educator who has earned a secondary education master’s will significantly vary by state and LEA. However, a teacher with a master’s in their content area will almost always have a classroom teaching job. Even if their classroom management isn’t fully mastered, an administrator will often take the risk, because content knowledge is golden.

Teachers with these credentials can also be department chairs and content leads. The skills acquired during the program directly lend themselves to allowing these educators to be teacher leaders.

In some areas, these teachers could even become county-level, content specialists. The combination of classroom experience and research background is just the combination some county’s need to strengthen their practices.

A teacher could even become a creator, builder, or presenter of professional development. If there is some niche that they could capitalize on and bring to life during their learning and earning, the secondary education masters can serve an additional benefit to allow that educator to be certified to share.

The ultimate benefit should be the reward that comes from learning. Professionally, the truest gift comes from others knowing and trusting that you know what you are talking about. So go ahead, apply, get that degree. With a master’s degree in secondary education, you are verified as a content expert and means you have the skills, ability, and desire to learn anything.

Explore our available secondary education graduate programs and enroll today!

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