The Flexibility of a Master’s in Teaching

female teacher with master's in teaching works with her classroom on textbook curriculum
female teacher with master's in teaching works with her classroom on textbook curriculum

About the Master’s Degree in Teaching (MAT)

Degree Type:

Master of Arts in Teaching, Master of Science in Teaching


Online, Classroom, Hybrid


1 – 3 Years

Total Credits:

28 – 35, depending upon the program

Aid Eligible:

Yes, if the program is accredited

More now than ever, teachers face challenges in the classroom. As the world integrates and classrooms become more diverse, teachers must expand beyond traditional thinking and skills to accomplish their goals. Technology, language and the way teachers themselves must learn to teach, constantly changes and evolves.

With a Master’s in Teaching degree, you learn effective teaching and classroom management skills-plus your teaching certification or state licensure as well. You’ll also learn the skills to become a teacher leader and expand your own knowledge base.

The most common master’s degree in teaching is the MAT, or Master of Arts in Teaching, though the MST, or Master of Science in Teaching, is also offered.

Admission into a Master’s in Teaching Program

Before you apply to a Master’s in Teaching program, you’ll need to meet the requirements to enter. Completed prerequisites usually consist of holding a bachelor’s degree, and some programs may further require that your bachelor’s be in a related field. Other programs may make allowances if your bachelor’s has been earned from an accredited school or program.

Some schools may request an autobiographical statement of your commitment to teaching or outlining your experience working with students. Master’s level programs may also require letters of recommendation from advisors or teachers who can attest to your experience working with students in a K-12 setting.

You may also need to submit an endorsement verification form, submit to an interview, write additional essays, have passed required educator skills tests for your state, and have a minimum GPA-usually a 3.0-to be accepted into the program.

Duration of the MAT Program

The MAT generally takes one to three years to complete and is essentially a “5th year model” degree, which means you have the option of spending one additional year after earning your bachelor’s degree to earn your master’s AND your teacher certification if you choose. As such, the MAT is considered a flex program, and students may find weekend and evening courses to help them earn their master’s more easily by accommodating work and school schedules.

You may also take the traditional or online route and complete your postgraduate degree in the usual two-year span, but many people prefer the flex degree not only because of time saving, but tuition saving as well.

What an MAT Requires

An MAT program usually requires two quarters (or one semester) of student teaching in addition to the other coursework and graduation requirements. Earning an MAT degree can also signal to potential employers that you’re serious about learning the most effective teaching techniques. Some of these techniques may include:

  • Memory retainment techniques
  • Skills for working with gifted students
  • Skills for working with differently-abled or challenged students
  • Education psychology courses
  • Creative problem solving

MAT programs often offer specialized courses of study, including math, science, English, or social studies tracks. While the MAT degree therefore takes longer to earn, many students prefer the convenience of wrapping up their certification at the same time as their degree requirements. This way, after graduation, they’re immediately ready to start looking for teaching positions.

Some MAT programs are highly specialized and geared toward experienced teachers who are looking to learn the most cutting-edge teaching methods, and can be used in part to prepare for national certification.

Why Would You Choose an MEd, MA or MS Instead of an MAT?

Master of Education degrees can be used more flexibly than an MAT, such as in some business roles. Corporate trainers, for example, can benefit from an MEd degree. Master of Education degrees are also more commonly earned by students intending to go on to pursue a doctorate degree.

If you’re not sure in which state you’re going to live and seek work after you earn your master’s degree, it may be a wise choice to first earn a general master’s in education degree, instead of the MAT. That way, you’ll be able to earn your certification or state licensure in the state in which you know you’ll be working.

For example, if you earn an MAT in Texas and then try to find a teaching job in California, it’s very likely you’ll have to take the extra time and extra expense of earning the additional certification for the state of California before you’ll be allowed to work there.

Typical Curriculum in a Master’s in Teaching Program

Depending upon where you specialize, your coursework will change, however, your core classes will cross specialty lines and provide the foundation for your teaching skillset. Many of your classes will be theory-based and help you fine-tune critical analysis skills and student development methods. As an MAT degree-earner you can expect to take classes in the following types of subjects:

Writing Assessment and InstructionLanguage Diversity
Clinical Literacy InstructionDifferences in Literacy Learners
Literacy LeadershipDiverse Learners and Learning
Teaching School Subject Matter with TechnologyEvaluation of Educational Programs and Policy
Contemporary Issues in EducationProfessional Development
Community LiteracyResearch Ethics

If you specialize in a particular area, your classwork will likely require the core coursework plus focus more on the subjects you’re interested in. For example, if you choose social studies as your endorsement, your coursework might include classes such as Teaching and Learning K-12 Social Studies, K-12 Social Studies Curriculum, Global Perspective in Social Studies, and Law-Related Education in Social Studies. No matter if you choose ESL or science as your area, expect classes that will help you grow in your field.


If you choose to specialize in your Master’s in Teaching program, you’ll have a couple of options to select from. Concentrations in the MAT program are designed to allow students to further differentiate themselves and focus their study on a content area of their choice. Here are the most common areas you can pursue:

Multiple Subject Teaching (Elementary): You’ll specialize in elementary school education with foundational coursework across a range of subject areas.

Single Subject Teaching (Secondary): You’ll explore strategies for teaching individual subjects in the middle or high school classroom.

Literacy and Language: Theory and research are the primary applications in this specialization, which concerns issues in language and literacy development.

K-12 English as a Second Language (ESL): Your focus will be teaching ESL and working with students facing challenges in grades K-12.

Students may also choose to enhance their degree with a Special Education Credential or Gifted Education Certificate. Endorsements are also available, and these are generally subject specific, such as Mathematics, Physical Education or Science, among others, and allow you to teach those subjects specifically.

Salaries for Master’s in Teaching Holders

As in any career field, your salary will be commensurate with your degree, location of your work and years of experience. As a rule, those with a master’s degree usually earn more. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says the difference in weekly earnings is significant for those who have earned a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and a doctorate. Take a look at their survey results:

Degree TypeMedian Weekly Earnings
Bachelor’s degree$1,334
Master’s degree$1,574
Doctoral degree$1,909

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections, 2021

To be more specific, here are salaries for some education careers that require a master’s degree.

Education CareerMedian Annual Salary
Instructional Curriculum Coordinator$66,490
Educational Administrator$101,320
Postsecondary Teacher$66,930
History Teacher, Postsecondary$79,400
Language and Literature Teacher, Postsecondary$74,280
Mathematics Teacher, Postsecondary$77,420

Other Careers and Job Outlook for Master’s in Teaching Degree Holders

There are other types of education careers available for MAT holders, and the beauty of the degree is you can sometimes determine your own career course and have the flexibility to work as you see fit. For example, here are some careers where you can teach on your schedule if you choose, and which require a Master’s in Education, depending upon grade level you wish to teach:

Athletic CoachTutor
English as a Second Language (ESL) InstructorOnline Education Instructor
Adult Education or Night School InstructorSubstitute Teacher

There is great news for those who wish to pursue teaching at the postsecondary level and who have earned a Master’s in Teaching degree. The BLS reports that careers in the field will enjoy a much faster than average job growth over the coming decade. With the national average for all careers resting at around 5%, a 3.7% job growth is expected for postsecondary educators through 2032 as students seek higher education to meet career goals in evolving fields such as healthcare and technology.

With everything looking up and the opportunity to make a profound difference in the lives of your students, why not push beyond the norm and earn your Master’s in Teaching? An MAT will provide the sturdy base on which to build your classroom experience and become your best self as a teacher and leader. We can help you find accredited master’s programs and get you started on the path to higher education.

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