Getting a Master's Degree in Education

A master's degree in education is a great way to increase your career opportunities.

masters degree in education student with books

Getting your master's degree in educationwill add a depth of understanding to the broader liberal arts education you received in your bachelor's degree studies.

There are many different routes you can take to earn a master's degree in education and a number of different types of master's degrees you can earn. Sometimes the difference between a certificate and master's program is only 15 credits, but some master's programs take an additional year or more to complete, depending on your previous degree and the requirements of your master's.

How to Get a Master's in Education

To get accepted into a master's in education, you'll first need a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. You'll generally also need to choose a specialty:

  •  For a Master in Teaching (MIT), you'll decide whether you want to teach elementary or secondary school, and/or what subject you'll teach. Special education is also a popular choice.
     
  • For a Master of Education (M.Ed.), you'll choose between the following specialties: Curriculum and Instruction, Educational Psychology, Educational Leadership and Policy, or Special Education.

Coursework depends on your area of expertise, but will consist of upper-level courses (400- and 500-level, and above), educational research, exams and term papers.

Students must often complete a final project to fulfill their degree requirements. Depending on the school and specialty, your final project may be comprised of one—or any combination—of the following:

  • A master's thesis overseen by an adviser
  • A written exam
  • A non-thesis work (research project, internship or special assignment)

Program Choices

One of the biggest benefits of holding a master's degree in teaching is the ability to become a National Board Certified Teacher, whose certification will follow them throughout the country. Higher salaries, more advancement opportunities and the option of transitioning into school leadership positions such as educational administration or leadership roles are other common perks.

Fifth Year Master's Degree in Education

Fifth year master's degree programs allow college graduates to take another year of coursework and intensive student teaching to qualify for a teaching credential and a master's in education. Additional state requirements may have to be completed to become a certified teacher; however, almost all master's programs meet state requirements. Many secondary teachers choose this degree because it allows them to focus on their subject area as an undergraduate, then learn pedagogy—the art of teaching—as part of their graduate education.

Master's Degree in Education (MEd)

Of all of your educational master's degree options, the MEd tends to be the most general degree you can get. Teachers interested in entering educational administration, leadership or research and policy do well with this degree as it provides a nice base for further educational opportunities, such as an educational specialist degree or doctorate. It is often a requirement for guidance counselors and other counseling professions.

Master's in Teaching (MIT)

If you are currently studying to become a teacher and are looking to increase your skill level and earn a higher starting salary, a master's in teaching degree may be your quickest ticket to career growth. Master's in Teaching degrees are specialized in a particular area of study, with common degree titles such as Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction, or Master of Arts in Special Education. They offer the most hands-on, classroom-centered classes from among your master's choices. It usually takes a minimum of 30 credit hours and includes a semester of student teaching. It is a common candidate for fifth year programs (see above), as well as night and evening classes.

Online Master's Degree in Education

In states where a master's degree isn't required to start teaching, students with a bachelor's degree may be able to continue teaching while earning their master's degree at night or online. An online master's degree in education is a great option if you work full-time or cannot commute to class, giving you the flexibility to fit continuing education into your busy schedule. See Online Teaching Degrees for more information about online degrees.