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The Benefits of Pursuing a Masters in Teaching

The master of arts in teaching (MAT) is a pre-service teaching degree, which combines graduate-level work in the teaching field with education courses, in addition to internship requirements under the mentorship of trained teachers. The masters in teaching degree differs from the masters in education degree, in that the MED is intended for practicing teachers who endeavor to work as professional school or public counselors or as educational administrators. Masters in teaching programs and the online masters degree in teaching enables graduates to receive degrees and certification in elementary education for grades 1 through 6 or secondary education, for grades 7 through 12. Masters in teaching programs are available to students who have undergraduate majors in English, mathematics, social studies and the sciences.

MAT Careers and Salaries

Masters in teaching degrees are beneficial for individuals interested in becoming a teacher in elementary school, middle school, high school or in special education. Masters in teaching programs and online masters degree in teaching programs enable graduates to embark on specialized educational careers teaching subject-specific classes. Graduates of the MAT are typically offered higher entry-level salaries as compared to teachers without it, in addition to receiving greater scheduled pay increases after hire. Generally, secondary school teachers earn approximately $35,000 and $55,000 per year, depending on the area. Teachers in urban public schools typically earn more than those in rural schools, and private schools generally provide higher salaries than public schools.


Since the masters in teaching designation is designed to prepare graduates with professional-level teaching degrees, it’s essential that students attend accredited institutions offering masters in teaching programs. Academic institutions receive accreditation by an outside governing body by certifying that the college or university effectively meets certain criteria and requirements. Additionally, accreditation is an essential “stamp of approval,” which states that the institution is dedicated to educational improvement and quality by committing to a certain level of continuous improvement for students and faculty regarding class offerings, programs, teaching and learning. The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Certification NCATE utilizes a criterion that is specific to teaching preparation programs, such as masters in teaching and masters in teaching online programs. The NCATE offers a list of accredited institutions that are committed to the organization’s conceptual framework standards, which include knowledge, skills and professional dispositions; unit evaluation and assessment systems; clinical practice and field experience; diversity, governance and resources; and faculty qualifications, development and performance.

Admission Requirements

Admission requirements for traditional masters in teaching programs and masters in teaching online programs generally state applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution in liberal arts with a major in the area of discipline they intend to study. Typically, application packages for admission into masters in teaching programs include official transcripts showing a minimum cumulative grade point average GPA of 3.0 or better, acceptable Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, writing samples demonstrating proper English writing and grammar, up to three professional letters of reference and recommendation; and a personal statement, which describes the applicant’s commitment to teaching, students, the community and teaching-related goals. Generally, masters in teaching programs and online masters degree in teaching programs have course prerequisites in biology, literature, history and mathematics.

Curriculum and Degree Requirements

Curriculum requirements for traditional masters in teaching and masters in teaching online degrees are dependent on the student’s individual interests and professional needs; however, they generally require core courses in English, history, math, social studies and science. Other required classes in masters in teaching programs include elementary curriculum, health, literacy, writing, methods of teaching, field experience in teaching and learning, educational research, classroom evaluations, educational assessments and instructional planning, development of school-aged students, social justice, exploration of families, and classes that lecture about the importance of and connection to schools and the community. Generally, students pursuing masters in teaching degrees in order to instruct at the elementary school level are encouraged to choose a curriculum that emphasizes geography, math or English. Those intending to teach middle school must meet in-depth subject knowledge criteria related to the subject they intend to teach, and graduates who anticipate becoming high school teachers are required to major in subject areas they are planning to teach in. All masters in teaching graduates must meet state licensure requirements; therefore, accredited institutions emphasize advanced coursework in specific academic disciples that enhance the graduate’s subject area knowledge. Additionally, masters in teaching programs require that graduate candidates complete one semester as student teachers in their academic disciplines before earning their degrees in order to ensure they have exhibited practical and successful teaching skills.