Educating next generations is one of the most fulfilling and rewarding occupations that a person can do. Through patience and hard work, teachers are the first ones who equip us with the basics of reading, math, and other subjects which we use our entire lives.
Becoming a teacher is a challenging task and involves a long path in educational institutions and practical work. Methodologies and teaching approaches are constantly evolving, and in order to communicate knowledge more efficiently, get better job opportunities, and advance in their careers, teachers are also educating themselves continuously. One of the degrees, which many of them complete is a Master of Arts in Teaching otherwise known as an MAT degree.
We will give a comprehensive guide to the MAT degree by discussing its details.
- What is a Master of Arts in Teaching?
- Master of Arts in Teaching vs. Master of Education
- What are the types of Masters of Teaching?
- How long does it take to get a Masters in Teaching?
- What are the requirements for Master of Arts in Teaching?
- Where to do a Master of Arts in Teaching?
- What to do with a MAT degree?
What is a Master of Arts in Teaching?
A Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT degree) is an advanced graduate degree which helps teachers in improving their teaching skills as well as advance their careers. The degree can be attained by experienced teacher professionals and those who lack experience in teaching.
There are two groups of people who usually complete the MAT degree:
- Teachers who have been working in education for some time and have their teaching licenses
- Students who have just completed their undergraduate degrees and are looking to improve their education and then become licensed teachers
In whichever group you are, a Master of Arts in Teaching is a good degree to complete. It offers teachers a new platform to become better at their job and gain the following benefits:
- Learn new teaching methodologies and communication methods
- Be able to adjust their teaching style depending on the type of students (advanced, beginners, special needs students)
- Develop better curricula and teaching plans
- Have the opportunity to get higher paid teaching positions
The MAT degree is a combination of theoretical courses and practical work. Students get in depth knowledge in courses such as:
- Leadership in Classrooms
- Student Development
- Teaching Materials Development
- Integrated Teaching Methodology
- Instructional Design
- Research for Teachers
In order to graduate, students also need to complete practical experience requirements or fieldwork such as:
- Research – where they develop a thesis through gathering information about a specific topic. Research is chosen for teachers who want to further explore and improve teaching methodologies.
- Practical work – by actually teaching in a classroom. Students who don’t have any teaching experience are allowed to teach under the supervision of a more professional teacher. At the end, students are evaluated and a report is provided on what they did right and what areas they could improve in.
Masters of Arts in Teaching vs Master of Education
There are various Master’s Degrees to specialize in the field of education. Most people confuse the two most common ones, the Masters in Teaching vs Masters in Education (MEd). In fact, these two master’s degrees are completely different.
The MAT and MEd focus on two areas, teaching and education. Teaching deals with only the act of transferring knowledge to the student, whereas education also encompasses the administrative and managerial aspects of it.
The main differences between these two degrees is the area of study that they are focused in. The MAT is a degree which seeks to improve teaching styles and promote for example, elementary teachers to high school, or high school teachers to community colleges. The MEd on the other hand is a degree for those who want to work in educational facilities, but not necessarily in teaching. These include positions such as Principals, School Directors, Curriculum Developers, Administrators, Counselors, etc. For a more comprehensive guide to the MED, head over to our article here.
Both degrees are beneficial and bring salary improvements, so the decision on which to choose is based on the student and what their aspirations in the education industry are.
What are the types of Masters of Teaching?
Besides the core course requirements which students doing a Master of Arts in Teaching degree have to complete, students also need to choose electives. These electives, if selected consistently, could lead to the student also gaining a specialization, which has led to the MAT degree having different focuses and types.
Specializations in a Master of Arts in Teaching degree are not required, but they could stand out in the resume of students when they start applying for jobs. Those who are specialized send a message to employers that they are experts in one field, while also having advanced knowledge in teaching.
Universities offer different specializations, but some of them might be in:
- Elementary or High School Mathematics
- Literacy and reading
- Teaching for Community Colleges
- Special Education
- Any subject in teaching such as Science, English Literature, History, Music, etc.
Whether students choose to do a specialization, and in what specific subject, is entirely dependent on their goals and career aspirations.
How long does it take to get a Masters in Teaching?
As with any Master’s Degree, an MAT also takes quite some time and effort. If students are enrolled full time in the program and dedicate themselves to completing it, they could graduate within 12 months, where 9 months are for completing courses and the rest to do the practical or fieldwork.
There are also opportunities to complete the degree part time or through distance learning. These will take longer, up to two years or more, since most of the students who are enrolled have work or other family obligations. In addition, if students choose to do dual degrees, they could take longer to complete and get their MAT credentials.
What are the requirements for Master of Arts in Teaching?
The requirements and qualifications that students need to fulfill to gain admission into MAT programs are not much different from all other Master’s Degrees.
The usual university requirements are:
- To have a relevant Bachelor’s Degree
- Graduate test scores (most preferably GRE scores)
- Submit official transcripts and good grades
- Letters of recommendation
- Statement of purpose or other essays
- For international students, English proficiency test scores are needed too
- Teaching experience and license are desirable, but not mandatory
- Fulfilling the university application form
- Paying applicable university fees
Where to do a Master of Arts in Teaching?
The Master of Arts in Teaching is available in many countries and states. You can complete it in the United States, Europe, or other places.
If you are planning to do your MAT degree in the US, the best universities to graduate from are:
- John Hopkins University School of Education
- Stanford University Graduate School of Education
- University of Wisconsin—Madison School of Education
- University of Texas—Austin College of Education
- University of Washington College of Education
These are the top five universities to do your MAT degree, but the admissions criteria are stringent and it’s difficult to fulfill all of them.
So you could also decide to apply to universities such as:
- University of Pittsburgh
- University of Oklahoma
- University of Iowa
- Boston College
- University of Utah
Grad school is expensive, so no matter which university you choose to attend, you will incur a high amount of student debt. These university tuition fees all range between $16,338 to $45,568 per year. The way you can lower this debt burden is by trying to get scholarships, research grants, or complete your degree online which decreases the cost.
What to do with a MAT degree?
A Master of Arts in Teaching degree is highly valuable and those who graduate with such a degree have many options on where to work and what field to be involved in. The job prospects for MAT degree holders are expected to increase 7% until the year 2020 based on data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The course work for MATs is intense with students having to complete advanced courses to get their degree. However, the hard work pays off, since those who have an MAT degree can go through different career paths, such as:
Teachers in community colleges or post-secondary schools
The average annual salary of post-secondary and community college teachers is $72,470.
These job positions allow teachers to skip from teaching children and teenagers to having a more adult audience. They will not be allowed to teach university level classes, since professors need to have a PhD, but they could teach science, math, or literature classes in college level courses.
Special Education Teachers
The median annual salary for Special Education Teachers is $56,800.
The advanced teaching degree coupled with a specialization in Special Education makes these teachers equipped to work with students who have special needs. They may need more attention and time to complete tasks, so Special Education Teachers learn different methodologies and techniques which increase their effectiveness of teaching with students who might have disabilities or learning problems.
The median annual salary for Adult Literacy Teachers is $48,590.
Teachers who hold an MAT degree may choose to also work with adults in teaching them basic school skills. They equip adults with skills so that they can improve their lives, incomes, or job positions. They could also go on to work in developing countries and teach a specific subject to adults who have not had the opportunity to attend school at an earlier stage in life.
Other job positions, which graduates of Master of Arts in Teaching programs can do are:
- Preschool and elementary school teachers with a median salary of $51,000
- Middle school teachers with a median salary of $52,000
- High school teachers with a median salary of $53,230
Whichever career you choose, the MAT degree will bring you fulfilling work which you can use to attain your goals and have the opportunity to also influence the lives of your students for the better.