General Education Masters Programs may appeal to a broad range of students, from those who aspire to teach as well as current educators seeking advanced skill-sets or to maintain teaching credentials through an advanced degree. If you seek the tools to fill a variety of potential roles within the broad field of education, masters in general education programs cultivate teaching skills, supervision and leadership abilities as well as prepare students for doctorate degrees in education. In some programs students have the ability to customize their academic courses to focus on their personal goals and interest; if this resonates with you, read on to determine which type of General Education Master’s Degree is right for you.
General Education Masters Programs offer advanced degrees for teachers or administrators that may require 1 to 3 years of study, depending on whether you attend as a full-time or part-time student. While a master’s in education is not a requirement to earn teacher certification, in some states teachers must earn a master’s after a certain number of years of holding an initial certificate – this is the case with high school teachers, for instance. [i]Teachers also commonly earn advanced degrees in order to fulfill professional development requirements in order to renew their teaching certificates and develop their classroom teaching skills[ii].
DID YOU KNOW? Often, teachers are required to complete annual professional development classes to keep their license. Some states require teachers to complete a master’s degree after receiving their certification.(BLS)[iii]
Some General Education Masters Programs may include a directed practicum, student teaching or supervised teaching period, and there may be an option to complete a thesis or not. Students who choose the thesis option typically do so in order to transfer into a doctoral program after earning their master's degree. The thesis offers you research experience and may give you insight into the type of educational research you would like to pursue while earning your PhD.
Admission requirements for General Education Masters programs is likely to vary, both due to individual graduate schools and to the type of program you are interested in. Some programs provide a path to initial certification and may accept candidates who have an undergraduate degree in any academic subject. These programs may suit someone who is looking for a career switch. Programs that are not designed to provide a path to teacher certification may prefer students who are currently certified to teach and have some teaching experience. For master’s degrees in content areas (e.g. science, math, art), candidates may be required to have a bachelor’s degree in that academic field. Many general ed. master’s programs also set a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or above, and may also require minimum GRE scores. Other possible admissions requirements are letters of recommendation, personal essays or statements of purpose, and a professional teaching resume or portfolio.
If you have glanced through the GradSchools.com directory, you may notice that there are quite a few different types of General Education Masters degrees. So how does one determine the ‘right’ one?
The two main types of graduate degrees in education are the Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) and the Master of Education (M.Ed.), however the Master of Science in Education (MS.Ed.) and the Master of Arts in Education (M.A.Ed.) are also offered by some graduate schools.
While there are some similarities between these degrees, there are significant differences between programs. As a general guideline, M.Ed. programs tend to focus on educational leadership and support, whereas MAT programs tend to focus on the development of direct teaching skills. As a broad rule of thumb, Master’s programs may center on:
A Master of Education degree (M.Ed.) is typically formatted for current teachers who aspire to move into a leadership role and may include advanced study into the theoretical aspects of education such as:
Common concentrations for M.Ed. programs are:
Master of Science in Education (MS Ed) degree programs offer a more scientific approach to the study of education. The coursework for this degree may include topics such as:
Master of Arts in Education (MA Ed) degree programs tend to be flexible in that they allow to specialize in several different areas whether they aspire to remain in the classroom or seek administration positions. Some of these concentration areas might include:
The Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) degree may appeal to teachers who want to develop pedagogical strategies and proficiencies or build their content expertise. Some MAT degrees provide a path to initial certification and are intended for career switchers who already have an undergraduate degree in another subject. Master of Arts in Teaching programs usually include a focus area (e.g. elementary, middle, or secondary education) and an academic content (e.g. mathematics or English).
Some Masters programs in education focus on a specialty area. In a General Education Masters Degree program, even though the format of each program may differ between education schools, the courses typically focus on general pedagogy. Some of the courses that students may take could include:
In addition, to different types of General Education Masters programs, there are different learning formats available depending on your needs. Campus programs offer the most face-to-face instruction, and you can search for graduate schools by city, state or country using the location settings on GradSchools.com. If distance-learning is more feasible to your scheduling needs, busy working adults might find that earning a master’s degree in education online is a convenient way to juggle career and academics. Some education graduate programs actually include both campus and online components to blend the need to build in-person communication skills with the flexibility of creating one’s own schedule; these hybrid programs may also be referred to as ‘blended online’.
Educator Preparation programs may be accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) since the NCATE and TEAC have been consolidated. Since teaching is a profession with licensure requirements, you should check whether certain accreditation applies and choose accordingly.[iv] In terms of institutional accreditation, you can check with the U.S. Department of Education.
Ready to initiate a search? Browse sponsored listings such as MA Education, MA/Education-reading and Literacy, Master of Education in Inclusion Education, MEd in Education: Problem-Based Learning/Critical Skills, Master of Education – General Education and Master of Arts in Teaching (Online). Sometimes you will find multiple listings for the same type of degree; it is useful in these cases to request info (the green tab) so that you can fill yourself in on the unique features of each graduate school and their programming.