If you are wondering what the purpose of a master’s degree in education is, you are not alone. Until I was in the market to become a licensed elementary teacher, I would not have known what credentials were necessary to obtain this title. If you have an undergraduate degree already, there is no point in obtaining another. So, the master’s degree allows for a focused study to fulfill the accredited hours of education at an approved institution of learning.
However, it is not as straightforward as education, and licensure is a complicated process depending on what licensure you wish to obtain. For example, if you had an undergraduate degree in elementary education, you could go for a master’s degree as a higher accreditation in your field. This would be advantageous in pay scale as well as keeping your position.
However, teachers often apply for a master’s degree for those reasons as well to obtain additional skills in areas of technology, curriculum development, or a specialized area, to name a few. Also, if you are licensed for middle school or high school, you must obtain a completely different licensure and accredited hours in an elementary licensure program. In other words, each licensure has its own requirements of college courses and licensure exams.
The master’s degree in education allows for the courses needed to obtain teaching licensure. The program allows for earning licensure as well as a master’s degree, which are two additional courses at the end of the program (this is optional). However, it is highly encouraged as it is only two courses which can earn you a higher degree and make you more marketable in a competitive field.
In addition to the required coursework, there are observation hours required by the state in a school that fits your licensure, as well ad the EdTPA, which is another state mandated requirement that follows rigorous guidelines overseen by an outside party to validate your ability to create curriculum and teach in a classroom. This requirement is fulfilled during your student teaching, which is the last requirement in the program.
At Concordia University St. Paul, there are different models to complete this program. With the understanding that adults going back to school have busy lives and are already working, there is a 100% online program which meets weekly on a video chat forum and there is an in- person model that meets on campus.
The online program is what I completed in a little over two years, while going to school year-round. It allowed me to support myself while fulfilling the obligations of the program. I would recommend this program to someone who is highly self-motivated to complete projects, both independent and in a group, as well as finding schools to observe, which is something you will do on your own. Most of your questions will be directed to your Concordia advisor who will be your guidance counselor especially at the end when you are completing your EdTPA, as well as your student teaching placement and supervision.
Your program will give you best practice; the theories and pedagogies of educational forefathers that have withstood the test of time; exposure to core content subjects like math, science, physical education, art, music, language arts; as well as the practical aspects of application such as technological tools and current models of learning. If you decide to take the additional courses to earn a master’s degree, you will do extensive research on a subject that you are passionate about and able to defend in your Capstone thesis which will be the synthesizing conclusion to your coursework.
You may wonder how this will equip you to teach in a classroom? While no program can truly mimic real life and the unforeseen challenges you will face once in your field, professors will provide you with tools and background knowledge; but the rest is up to you.
The experiences of observations in a classroom will expose you to some of the challenges of differentiation and classroom management. This is not, however, enough. Once you are student teaching, you will experience the weighty responsibilities you have as an educator. Your time will be stretched in many directions, you will have multiple demands and expectations, and you will feel like you’re not ready.
One of the sustaining and saving graces of your experience will be the relationships and connections you build during your program. Those mentors and colleagues will be the people you will go to again and again for advice and moral support. While you are building relationships with teachers and principals at the schools you observe at, ask if you can use them as references in the future. It will be a lot to navigate once you are done with your program and looking for a job.
In closing, a master’s degree in education is a necessary step in the journey of becoming an educator. It will create a stronger, more independent you who has faced many challenges during your program and met them with grace and perseverance. Already, you will be able to network and understand the current state of education. It will make you better equipped to meet the challenges you will face as an educator.
Ready to expand your knowledge as an educator by obtaining your master’s degree? Explore all of our available M.A. Education programs with specializations here and enroll today!