If your goal is to become a more effective teacher or to get to the next rung in the ladder in your educational career, a good option may be earning your master’s degree in teaching (MAT). This advanced degree often will open the career door to more opportunities, a higher salary and possibly transition into a lead or supervisory teaching role.
The MAT is the most common educational degree that is sought by experienced teachers who want to enhance their teaching skills, and wish to continue to work with students in their daily work.
The MAT degree focuses largely on advanced courses in various subjects to hone your skills in those areas, such as mathematics, algebra, science, history or English. With more advanced teaching skills, you will be able to have a more positive impact on your students. This can lead to better teaching outcomes that can have a very positive effect on your career.
The MAT also has a strong focus on teaching theory and implementing those advanced theories in the classroom. Most master of arts in teaching programs will have an internship in the classroom to practice what you are learning.
Your MAT degree will provide you with the impeccable credentials to work in these teaching jobs:
- Elementary school teacher: You are preparing students for their future education by teaching them basic subjects to include math, reading, history and writing. You will learn advanced skills in your MAT program to work more effectively with problem learners and also improve your communication skills with both students and teachers.
- High school teacher: You will prepare your students for their lives after they graduate. Teach your high school students advanced academic lessons and skills that they will need to go to college and work in their career. Your MAT degree may teach you more advanced mathematics skills, for example, so that you can teach calculus and other more advanced classes.
- Special education teacher: Work with students that have many mental, emotional, learning and physical disabilities. You will need your advanced MAT degree skills to adapt regular lesson plans to the needs of special learners in math, reading, writing and science. Also, you must be able to work effectively with regular teachers, superintendents, administrators and parents.
Why Earn a Master’s in Teaching?
Many experienced teachers with a bachelor’s degree obtain five or more years in the classroom, and eventually decide to earn their MAT.
The most common reason that teachers do so is to earn a higher salary. Many school districts will automatically increase your pay by 5-10% or more if you earn your master’s degree. Many school districts also will pay for your master’s degree.
Second, getting a master’s in teaching allows you to focus more on your subject area. You will gain more advanced teaching skills in your area of expertise, whether that is science, math, history, reading, foreign languages or music.
Featured Online Master of Arts in Teaching Options
Admission into a MAT program frequently will require the following:
- 75 GPA or higher
- Bachelor’s in education or a liberal arts field
- Some programs require a teaching certificate; others may provide you with your teaching certificate when you complete your MAT
- GRE scores may be required
- Updated resume
- Extensive writing samples
Curriculum and Courses
If you are going to earn your MAT degree, you may want to choose the Master of Arts in Teaching and Curriculum that is offered by Michigan State University.
This two year, online program is made for beginning and advanced teachers, and will help you to grow in your field so that you can teach better and possibly earn a better salary.
The College of Education at Michigan State University is ranked #8 in the US according to US News and World Report for Best Online Graduate Programs. The magazine notes that the school offers a high level of student support and engagement, highly innovative technology, great faculty and a strong reputation among its peers.
This program also offers several concentrations:
- Educational psychology
- Educational technology
- K-12 educational administration
- Science and math education
- ESL and TESOL
Required courses in this program are:
- Professional Development and Inquiry
- Inquiry Into Classroom Teaching and Learning
- Professional Roles and Teaching Practice
- Curriculum in Its Social Context
- Curriculum Design
- Teachers as a Teacher Educator
Career Outcomes and Job Titles
You may have one of these job titles when you graduate with your MAT:
- K–12 teacher
- K–12 lead teacher
- K–12 vocational teacher
- School curriculum coach
- Educational consultant
- K–12 alternative school teacher
- Instructional coordinator
- Teacher coach
- Education consultant
Job and Salary Outlook
- Elementary School Teacher — Job growth for elementary school teachers will be 6% by 2024, which is an average rate of growth. However, there will be greater job demand in school districts that have higher growth in enrollment. Job prospects for elementary school teachers are best for those who have their master’s degree and years of experience. Median salary is $51,000 per year.
- High School Teacher — Employment for all high school teachers will increase by 6%, which is average. If you are working in a high growth area of the country, you can expect to have more job demand. Also, with a master’s degree, you will be able to stand out from other job applicants. Teachers with special teaching skills can be in more demand because schools and school districts must meet certain requirements to continue to receive state and federal funds. Median salary is $57,000 per year.
- Special Education Teacher — Employment will increase by an average 6% by 2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, you can expect that the employment in the field will vary by region and by your special education speciality; if you have focused on autism disorders, you will likely have higher job demand. More students today are diagnosed with autism and this could increase demand for your services substantially. The median salary is $56,800.
Scholarships and Grants
- TEACH Grants: These grants are for up to $4000 per year for teachers or aspiring teachers who are earning their master’s or bachelor’s in teaching. If you agree to work in an underserved area, in a high need field and do so for at least four years after you finish your degree, you can get the US government to pay for much of your education.
- Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program: This National Science Foundation Scholarship program is meant to encourage mathematics, science and engineering professionals to enter the K-12 teaching field. This program is designed to support educational opportunities for undergraduates, graduates and current K-12 educators. This scholarship can be for up to $5000.
- National Science Teachers Association: If you are a science teacher or wish to become one, we recommend that you use this association as a resource for education and networking opportunities. This organization works closely with many other education and science associations in the US and in Canada to promote the interests of the science teaching profession.
- National Association of Special Education Teachers: This association is dedicated to the educational needs and career development of special education teachers across the country. This organization was founded to promote the field of special education and to provide a national forum for new ideas.