M.Ed Degree vs. MAT Degree: What’s the Difference?

If you’re a teacher considering getting a Master’s Degree (and you probably should be–there are a lot of reasons to look into it) then you’ve likely realized that there are a number of directions you can take. One of the biggest decisions is whether to pursue a Master of Education (M.Ed) or a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT). The education field respects both degrees and both help you advance your career.

But, as you probably guessed, they aren’t the same thing.

There are some things you should know when choosing which one is right for you.

Hands-on vs Theoretical

One of the biggest differences between MEd and MAT programs is–surprise, surprise–what you’ll be learning.

MEd programs tend to focus on the theoretical and strategic aspects of education. That means curriculum and course planning. Plus, a range of topics related to human psychology and behavior that apply to the science of education instruction.

On the flip side, a MAT is much more focused on the actual act of teaching and practical skills and knowledge. It’s what a teacher will need to instruct groups and individual students. In this program, you’ll also be more likely to drill into specific topics and subjects that you’re planning to teach (or are already teaching) to apply these principals to the specific course materials you’ll be covering.

Teaching vs. Education

Teaching and education go hand in hand, right? Well, not quite.

Obviously, teachers play a huge, huge role in education. But, they aren’t the only ones involved.

In order to keep an educational organization functioning, you need administrators, assistants, technologists, counselors, and any other number of qualified professionals.

MEd programs often offer several different tracks related to education. These programs prepare you for careers within the education industry such as principal, superintendent, or school counselor. The degree is generally more broadly applicable and can lead to a number of different careers–from teachers to curriculum planners.

MAT programs offer a range of paths as well. But, each of them is rooted entirely in the art and science of teaching itself, with the variation coming from the subject matter being taught.

Although a MAT degree won’t necessarily lock you into a teaching career for life. It’s the most common path taken by those who obtain one of these degrees.

Specialized vs. Programs

As mentioned above, there is another huge difference between MAT and MEd programs.

In particular, the way in which students are specialized will be vastly different.

Those studying to receive an MEd will likely be choosing from various educational career paths with which they wish to align themselves. Some examples include a focus on administration, counseling, or curriculum development.

In the case of a Master of Arts in Teaching, students will all take similar kinds of courses related to the fundamental and advanced teaching strategies, tactics, and research. But, they’ll also likely choose a focus–like mathematics or English–and learn some teaching practices that are more specific to the subject that they’re planning to teach.

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