Earning a master’s in education can seem like a daunting task. Master’s programs generally require two years of full-time study, and the cost of tuition combined with the loss of full-time employment can be significant. However, the benefits of earning this degree are many, especially for teachers who hope to advance in their careers or to consider different career options within secondary and higher education.

Advantages of a Master’s Degree

In general, earning a master’s degree in any field raises earning potential and opens doors for higher-level positions. In the field of education, a master’s degree offers a number of significant benefits. Teachers with a master’s degree earn higher salaries and have better overall odds in the primary and secondary education job market. The master’s also opens the door to college and university teaching, where a graduate degree is almost always a prerequisite. Another benefit of the master’s in education is that it promotes career mobility through a variety of administrative and other non-teaching positions within education. Finally, the master’s degree can serve as an excellent career networking tool. The ties you form with fellow students and professors can be extremely useful as your career progresses.

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Types of Master’s Degrees in Education

It is important to note that there are two basic kinds of master’s degrees in education. The Master of Arts in Teaching, or M.A.T., is primarily geared to preparing K-12 teachers for effective classroom teaching. Coursework in pedagogy, teaching methodology, the philosophy of education, and educational technology, as well as hands-on supervised practicums, help teachers improve skills and develop an overall philosophy of teaching. The M.A.T. also provides focused preparation in specific subject areas, including English, mathematics, science, social studies, or a combination of these for elementary educators. M.A.T. programs can also prepare teachers in areas like special education, reading instruction, or teaching English to non-native speakers.By contrast, the M.Ed. degree is a broader program that prepares educators for roles both inside and outside the classroom. While including coursework on pedagogy and educational philosophy, M.Ed. programs also provide instruction in areas like counseling, management, and curriculum development. In addition to traditional teaching positions across the educational spectrum, M.Ed. degree recipients also serve in a range of administrative and other positions. In K-12 education, such roles include principals, lead teachers, and curriculum coordinators. In higher education settings, those with M.Ed. degrees often serve in admissions, financial aid, student affairs, and counseling departments. Other opportunities available with this degree include working as an adult educator, serving as a curriculum developer for textbook companies, or even working as a corporate trainer.

Career Opportunities

A master’s in education allows you to expand your knowledge and offers the opportunity to consider working in a variety of areas within education. There are hundreds of education programs across the country, including online programs, and it is important to have a sense of the direction you want to take. The U.S. News Survey of Graduate Schools in Education can offer helpful information, and a list of accredited programs is available from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. Average salaries for mid-career M.Ed. degree holders are not exceptional, but they are well above the national median income. The field is projected to grow at a rate of nearly 2% per year over the next ten years, according to theBureau of Labor Statistics.