What is the Difference Between a Master’s in Teaching and a Master’s in Education?

Many of those in education decide to pursue a graduate degree. A master’s degree can lead to a higher salary, job security, specialization, and recognition. A graduate degree also shows you are focused on developing your knowledge in education and furthering your career.

However, when it comes to the field of education, it is important to choose the most appropriate master’s degree based on your aspirations. For instance, an MAT is focused on teaching, whereas an MED is focused on education administration. While they sound very similar, they are quite different. One is specific to teaching in the classroom, and the other is looking beyond the classroom.

This article is designed to help you understand the key differences between a master's in teaching vs a master's in education, and choose the degree path that best fits your career goals.

What are the admission requirements for a MAT vs MED?

While most states do not require teachers to hold a graduate degree for certification, it is still highly favored. For example, according to the New York Times article “Do Teachers Need Education Degrees?,” school districts are more likely to hire someone with an advanced degree than one without. To begin your journey towards a master’s degree, let’s look at the general admission requirements.

For both the MAT and the MED, you must obtain a bachelor’s degree beforehand. Also, your GPA will be reviewed, as well as your scores on state-required teaching certification exams. Additionally, if you do not already hold a teaching certificate, you will need to qualify for a provisional certificate. In most MAT and MED programs, there is required field experience; therefore, this provisional certificate is necessary.

What are the different educational pathways for a MED vs MAT?

A master’s in teaching is an advanced degree for those with career ambitions of teaching. Typically, those who pursue this degree are already teachers or those who plan to teach in the classroom. Those already teaching tend to enroll in flex programs, which allow them to be employed as a teacher during the school day and take classes in the evenings or on weekends.

Additionally, those who plan to teach but have not entered the career field yet may pursue a certification MAT program. These MAT programs are completed by non-teachers who want to add on teacher certification. These individuals take the required educational classes for certification, but they will also take content-specific courses for their degree.

A master’s in education is an advanced degree for those interested in career advancement beyond the classroom. For instance, individuals with goals of working in educational administration or school counseling should pursue a MED. Those pursuing this degree may be teachers or may be working in a related field.

Moreover, a MED is used for specific career pursuits. Many education-related careers require the job candidate hold a MED (such as principals). Additionally, most states require the candidate hold a MED for certification in your specific field (such as school administration or educational leadership). Plus, those hoping to be school counselors will need to earn a MED for licensure in most states.

Finally, individuals interested in teaching at the university level or becoming a superintendent will need to earn a MED to pursue a doctorate.

What curriculum differences can you expect in the master’s in teaching vs education?

Naturally, there will be some overlap in the types of classes one will take in a MAT program vs a MED program. The essential differences are found, once again, in the purpose of the different degrees. MAT program curriculum is more focused on how to teach, and MED program curriculum is more focused on educational theory.

Essentially, a master’s in teaching curriculum continues training for teachers. The curriculum will include education classes and advanced coursework in your subject area. It covers classroom management, theories, methods, pedagogy, but it also heavily emphasizes the use of these methods in the classroom. For example, teachers will learn how to apply these practices to their specific content areas or grade levels.

On the other hand, a master’s in education is more theory-based and specialized. MED programs include various fields of specialization, such as educational leadership, school administration, curriculum and design, curriculum and instruction, and school counseling. Individuals in MED programs choose an area of specialization; therefore, in addition to taking classes on educational theories and policies, these individuals will also take courses in their specialization.

What are the instructional differences in MAT vs MED careers?

Master’s in teaching vs education is also defined by how the degree is used for instruction. Those who pursue a MAT are looking to gain more knowledge about how to teach. While they may use this degree to add additional certifications or change subject areas, it is primarily used for teaching.

The master’s in education is used in the field of education, but not necessarily instructing a class of students. For instance, administrators may be tasked with instructing teachers. Furthermore, some individuals who hold this degree may not be in a classroom, but they may be responsible for developing instructional tools.

What types of jobs and salaries are available for MAT grads vs MED grads?

Typically, earning an advanced degree provides job security and a pay bump for teachers. This explains why according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “More than 1 out of every five master’s degrees was awarded in education.” Additionally, the BLS reports that master’s degree holders can earn 43-44% more than their bachelor’s degree-holding peers in the field of education.

The master’s in education degree offers broader opportunities for jobs than the MAT. As the MAT is specific to teaching careers, the MED is wide-open. Those with a MED may choose to specialize in a number of education-related fields. Additionally, with more career options, those with a MED are likelier to pursue jobs with higher salaries.

Here are numerous job titles and salaries as reported by [PayScale](https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Degree=Master_of_Education_(MEd){:target="_blank"}

Various MED job titles and salaries: - Principal – averaging $81,988 annually - Assistant Principal – averaging $70,314 annually - Curriculum Developer – averaging $59,776 annually - Media Specialist – averaging $46,849 annually - Instructional Technologist - averaging $54,810 annually - Educational Consultant – averaging $63000 annually - School Counselor – averaging $49,307 annually

Various MAT job titles and salaries: - Elementary School Teacher – averaging $47,846 annually - Middle School Teacher – averaging $47,543 annually - High School Teacher – averaging $53,123 annually - Adult Literacy Teacher – averaging $44,000 annually

Salaries vary widely depending on location; however, you should expect to earn more than teachers who hold a bachelor’s degree. According to Teacher.org, “Most states offer some level of pay increase for teachers who gain higher education degrees, some up to ten percent or more for each additional level.”

Therefore, those hoping to bump up their pay are advised to pursue higher education. Additionally, those looking to advance their careers are also encouraged to pursue a master’s degree. If you want to be an expert teacher in the classroom, consider a master’s in teaching. If you want to be an expert in a specialized field in education, consider a master’s in education.

Final thoughts on the MAT vs MED

Both MAT and MED degrees offer you great opportunities for professional development and job security, but it is important to choose the degree that is most relevant to your career ambitions. Additionally, it is critical that you look into your state’s requirements for the career you hope to pursue. Some careers require a specific degree for certification and licensing.

When it comes to choosing a MAT or MED program, you should also pay attention to the admission requirements as they vary from one university to the next. Some programs require a certain number of years of teaching experience while other programs do not. Furthermore, some careers that require a MED (such as school principals) require candidates to work for a certain number of years as a classroom teacher before embarking on this career path.

Deciding which advanced degree to seek all comes down to how you plan to use it. Now that you understand the difference between a master’s in teaching vs education, which one will take you where you want to go?

Works Cited: Editors, T. (2009, August 16). Do Teachers Need Education Degrees? Retrieved March 23, 2018, from https://roomfordebate.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/08/16/education-degrees-and-teachers-pay/

Master of Arts in Teaching. (2018, February 28). Retrieved March 23, 2018, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Master_of_Arts_in_Teaching

Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) Degree Average Salary. (n.d.). Retrieved March 23, 2018, from https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Degree=Master_of_Arts_in_Teaching_(MAT)/Salary

Master of Education. (2018, March 19). Retrieved March 23, 2018, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Master_of_Education

Master of Education (MEd) Degree Average Salary. (n.d.). Retrieved March 23, 2018, from https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Degree=Master_of_Education_(MEd)/Salary

Master of Education (M.Ed) Degree vs. Master of Art in Teaching (MAT) Degree: What's The Difference? (n.d.). Retrieved March 23, 2018, from https://www.collegeraptor.com/getting-in/articles/online-colleges/master-of-education-m-ed-degree-vs-master-of-art-in-teaching-mat-degree-whats-the-difference/

Should I get a master's degree? : Career Outlook. (n.d.). Retrieved March 23, 2018, from https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2015/article/should-i-get-a-masters-degree.htm

Teacher Salary. (n.d.). Retrieved March 23, 2018, from https://www.teacher.org/topic/teacher-salary-what-to-expect/

Nedda Gilbert

Ms. Gilbert is a certified social worker and 30 year educational consultant with an interest in helping college-bound and graduate school students manage the process and stress of admissions effectively. She is one of the senior founding managers of the Princeton Review Test Preparation Company, and the author of The Princeton Review Guide to the Best Business Schools and another book, Business School Essays that Made a Difference (Random House). She is a guest contributor to Forbes Magazine on college and college life. Ms. Gilbert is also certified as a collaborative family law professional in New Jersey. She received her BA from the University of Pennsylvania and MS from Columbia University.