Graduate School

Many students who participate in the Williams Program in Teaching go on to attend graduate school to obtain either a Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) degree or a Master of Arts in Education (M.Ed.) degree. Below, read about the differences between these two degrees.

Degrees in Education

by Ben Harder, as reprinted from the US News Web site.

Charting course

Master of arts in teaching. Master of Education. Master of Arts in education. Finding the nomenclature of ed-schooling programs a bit much to master? Here’s a primer.

At some institutions, a master of education, or M.Ed., prepares students to be classroom instructors. By contrast, masters of arts degrees (M.A.’s) at these schools are often research-oriented and may be a step toward a Ph.D., the principal’s or counselor’s office, or a job with a non-profit organization. The M.A. comes in a menu of flavors, from educational psychology to higher-education administration to curriculum development, and “is more of a generalist degree,” says Kelly Trottier, the internship and placement coordinator at Stanford’s school of education. But wait! A Master of arts in Teaching (M.A.T) tends to be a surer ticket to the classroom than even an M.Ed.-because at schools offering M.A.T Programs, the M.Ed. is usually the generalist degree.

The Key

Unlocking ed-school code requires knowing how each institution defines its “professional degrees,” which are intended for teachers, and its “research degrees,” those most useful to nonteaching educators. People planning to teach should compare the professionally geared programs of schools on their list, regardless of what letters would land on the diploma. The best will include instruction in classroom management, plenty of supervised teaching, and a grounding in teaching methods relevant to the grades and subject areas of choice. You might want to favor institutions in the state where you plan to work, since each school teacher to its state’s licensing exam, and transferring credentials from one state to another can be tricky.

State licensure is ultimately what counts, and you don’t need a masters to get it. Most teachers obtain licenses and enter the classroom after completeing four-or five-year bachelors programs that include teacher prep. Others complement a four-year B.A. with a short, nondegree certificate program geared toward licensure. Most complete an advanced degree later, either in the course of accumulating credits required for continuing licensure or to take advantage of higher salary scales.

In Plain English

Summary by Renee C. Dumouchel ’03

A Regular Masters Degree will not prepare a teacher for the specifics of teaching in a classroom, but may prepare a student for a more administrative, policy related field. A M.Ed. is also more generalistic than an M.A.T. At schools where it is the only education degree offered, it can be used to enter the classroom. However, people with these degrees tend to concentrate in another area, such as counseling psychology, or research. Many people who are pursuing a doctorate or higher education will get this type of degree. The M.A.T is the most specific of the three, and is generally sought by those individuals who are looking to go straight into the classroom, and seeking teacher certification. Many programs that offer the M.A.T offer concentrations in specific subject areas such as History, Language Arts, Mathematics, etc.

Keep in mind that these are generalizations, and people who have M.A.T’s have gone on to do research and administrative work, whereas individuals with M.Ed.’s do teach in a classroom setting. These are merely some guidelines to help make your choice more informed.

Additional Resources