For years, many have wondered if graduate school is “worth it”. The additional years of schooling while peers are already out in the so-called “real world”, the hefty price tag, and the grueling certification tests make even the most ambitious of graduate students question their decision.
However, ultimately, there is no question that a graduate degree is worth it. The pride felt from fulfilling the requirements for a master’s degree is unlike any other. As an added bonus, it will always look good hanging above a desk. (Oh, and it will probably earn you a positive ROI in dollars and cents, too.)
According to a 2014 study, 23.6% of all master’s degrees were earned in education, good enough to be the second-most popular master’s degree in the country. Teachers don’t need a master’s degree. But those that do typically enjoy higher pay, job security, and career mobility. Basically, having a master’s degree in education makes you stand out and helps to put you first in line for promotions or tenure.
So what do you do if you desire all the advantages of a master’s degree, but don’t have the money or time to go through another level of traditional college? Simple. Turn on your laptop.
Online graduate programs have spiked in popularity in recent years, and Master of Art in Teaching (M.A.T.) tracks are among the most in-demand of them all. Here are some reasons why you should get your MAT degree online:
1. Earn an alternative certification while you teach
If you can’t wait to get into the classroom but have not yet passed a certification test, pursuing an online MAT degree allows you the time and flexibility to enroll in an alternative certification program. These sessions are for prospective teachers who have a Bachelor of Education degree (B.Ed.). It seeks to teach in a real classroom setting whilst pursuing their Master’s degree. Thus, it forgoes the traditional route of taking a standardized test and fulfilling state requirements to acquire a license.
Alternative certification programs such as Teach for America and the Academy for Urban School Leadership provide great real-world experience for educators for up to five years. This is all while they pursue their MAT degree via online colleges.
After going through an alternative training program, once a teacher earns his or her MAT, they are issued a teaching license, foregoing the traditional route for a more practical, hands-on approach.
2. Get more flexibility in earning CECs
Continuing education credits, or CECs, is a unit of measure that is put towards your teaching license. Once you have compiled a certain number of credits, you are issued a full license. One CEC is generally defined as ten hours of contact between an instructor and a student, whether the hour is spent organizing classes, student-teaching, or receiving direct instruction.
Due to the grueling nature of graduate school, MAT students sometimes struggle with this aspect of their job. Attending lectures, completing homework assignments and going back and forth to academic buildings takes time. When do students find the time to spend ten hours in a classroom?
With the flexibility of online classes, finding time to earn CECs is much easier. Online students, given more freedom, often opt to build towards CECs in a classroom as a student-teacher during the day. They complete their studies at night, saving time, energy, and money.
3. Become a tech-savvy teacher
Of course, online students will rely entirely on technology to gain their degrees, which, like everything, has advantages and disadvantages. Yes, there may be times when certain websites are down or your Wi-Fi isn’t working. But it is all part of the tradeoff online students make. They gain an implicit and complete understanding of educational technology gained in online learning.
When you think back to the teachers you had in school, the distinction was quite obvious who was familiar with technology. It was also obvious who thought a computer was what IBM engineers built in a warehouse.
Every few years, the educational spectrum adds new tools. Through technological advancements, and online classes help familiarize teachers with everything they’ll be using in the future through constructive use of their own.