Getting a Masters in Education: What It’s Like and Where It Leads You

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For those of you who have decided to pursue a career in education, or another role in education – congrats! Working with students and professionals is among the most rewarding career paths one can pursue. One of the challenges in pursuing a path in education is receiving the right training. In this article, we’ll cover the difference between a Master’s in Education and Master’s in Teaching, who should consider these programs, and the benefits and career paths that result from them.

1. What’s the difference between a Master’s in Teaching vs. Master’s in Education?

The primary difference between a master’s in teaching and a master’s in education could be found by reviewing the curriculum requirements and aligning the outcome of the degree with your long-term career paths. Generally, an MS in Teaching focuses on the importance of what goes on inside of the classroom – managing the class, pedagogy, curriculum development, and practical application of various techniques that will help you become a better teacher. In contrast, a Master’s in Education provides various concentrations, including school leadership, curriculum development, learning design, and more. It is important to remember that those who are ready to pursue a Master’s in Education are often expected to have classroom experience, meaning that they’ve been teaching already. Meanwhile, many Master’s in Teaching programs are designed for those without classroom experience.

2. What are the benefits?

Since the goal of a Master’s in Teaching is to improve your performance inside of the classroom, those who are interested in continuing their careers as teachers, and not so much in administration, leadership, or similar roles, will benefit from this degree program. The Master’s in Teaching is also beneficial for those who are transitioning into a career in teaching. If you don’t have ample classroom experience, the Master’s in Teaching option provides more relevant preparation for working with 30 or so students per class, and between 100-200 students a year. The benefits to a Master’s in Education are aligned with your career path – if you’ve already been teaching and are looking to switch to an administrative or leadership role, the degree program will help you prepare for those responsibilities. Oftentimes, the expectations for those roles require applicants to have at least a M.Ed. with the proper concentration (such as Educational Policy, Curriculum Development, or another concentration.) Besides transitioning into a different role in either degree program, both come with increased salary. If you’re already in a public school district teaching, the salary increase is limited on an annual basis, with some districts offering around $5,000 more. In the private sector, it depends entirely on the position, location, and role.

3. Should I get a Master’s in Education or Teaching?

Factors to Consider
Master’s in Education
  • Interested in pursuing a different role in education
Master’s in Teaching
  • Interested in becoming a teacher
  • Have minimal teaching experience
  • Coming from an unrelated undergraduate degree program
Both Degrees
  • Interested in a pay raise
  • Already working in a school district in any role

4. How much does it cost?

According to Education Data, the average costs for a master’s degree in Education is $55,200, and one can expect similar costs for a Master of Teaching (especially with the teaching credential included). However, it’s important to note that program pricing depends on the university and whether the university is public or private. Many public universities offer affordable master’s programs, as low as around $10,000 for in-state residents. For some private universities, a master’s in education or teaching can also be inexpensive or cost upwards to $80,000. Remember, if the program you’re pursuing requires completion or teaching licensure, you may need to be present instead of remote, and room and board need to be taken into account.

More and more online universities are offering affordable and flexible options for graduate degrees in education that should be considered. Western Governors University, for example, offers a flat rate semester tuition instead of by credit, so master’s degrees can be completed faster if more credits are taken during a semester, meaning less money spent in the long run. Online programs can also alleviate some of the financial burden of going back to school because the flexibility of the program allows for an individual to maintain full-time employment while gaining a master’s degree.

5. What is the Master’s in Education program like?

Both a Master’s in Teaching and Master’s in Education can take between one to two years to complete. The requirements for a Master’s in Teaching include clinical experience, meaning that you will need to teach in the specific area that you are pursuing. For example, if you are pursuing a 6th-12th grade specialization in social studies, teaching middle or high school students will be part of the degree requirements.

Professional education courses make up the remainder of the degree requirements. For a Master’s in Education, it will depend on the concentration. For example, if you are pursuing an MEd in Educational Policy, you will likely have to complete 10-12 classes in total, with a few of those being electives. For more information about what the program will look like, research the specific university websites for which you are interested in applying and/or reach out to graduate admissions advisors for those universities.

6. What happens after school? Career Paths, Average Salary, and More

For those who are interested in a Master’s in Education, various career paths are available, which include: curriculum designer, digital learning, school administrative roles, guidance counselors, researchers, independent educational consultants, district board opportunities, and more. For those interested in a Master’s in Teaching, career paths include: a teaching specialization, academic advisor, curriculum developer, gifted and talented program director, literacy specialist, private tutor, standardized test developer, textbook editor, and more.

Remember, the most important factor in choosing either degree program begins with you. What are your career goals? What do you want to learn? Which degree requirements are more aligned with your plans? By answering these questions and reviewing the steps above, you’ll be able to confidently pursue one of these degree programs and begin a meaningful career in education!

To learn about the differences between a Master’s Degree and a PhD, click here.

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  • Chris Kado

    For over a decade, Chris has supported students across the globe in fulfilling their college aspirations. Chris started out as a college admissions consultant, where he helped community college students reduce their loan obligations by constructing comprehensive transfer strategies, maximizing the use of CLEP and AP credits, and scoring scholarships. ‍ During his graduate studies at Harvard, Chris held numerous roles in education, including working as a research assistant and advising students on the college admissions process. Chris holds extensive experience in essay development and preparation for the SAT and SAT Subject Tests. His guidance has enabled students to gain admission into diverse programs at institutions including UC Berkeley, Princeton, the University of Chicago, Michigan, Harvard, Fashion Institute of Technology, Embry-Riddle, Notre Dame, and Duke. ‍ Chris holds an Master's in History from Harvard University and is currently working towards a Master's in Education at UIUC. He also received a College Advising Program Certificate from Columbia University, completed the Independent Educational Consultant Certificate from University of California Irvine, and earned the Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA) from Cambridge. Nowadays, Chris continues to serve a full-time role as a College Counselor for WeAdmit, write insightful articles for Magoosh, and teach at Education First summer camps!

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