As you move through your career, the idea of getting additional education will likely enter your mind at one point or another.
The obvious benefits of pursuing additional education include higher pay or career advancement opportunities. But there is also an allure for many to simply continue to learn in such a structured setting. After all, we spend most of the first 17 years of our lives inside a classroom.
Within the education industry, the appeal can be especially strong. Not only do these factors come into play, but if you work in education then it’s pretty likely that you value education very highly–and so do many of your peers. It’s not uncommon for school teachers or administrators to have Master’s degrees or higher. And many positions may require these degrees for a candidate to even be considered.
If you’re considering pursuing a Master of Education (MEd) or Master of Art in Teaching (MAT), then you may be wondering if it’s the right choice.
This article looks into MAT vs MEd to help you identify if one of these two-degree paths might be right for you.
MAT vs MEd: The basics of MAT and MEd degrees
First, there are some basic things you should know about these two degrees that will help you better understand if and which one might be right for you.
Master of Art in Teaching (MAT Degree):
- Meant for current teachers who want to advance/improve their career within the teaching profession
- Most programs require or strongly encourage teachers to have at least 2-5 years of teaching experience before pursuing a MAT
- Can lead to a higher salary
- The curriculum focuses on advanced teaching and classroom management skills, theories, and strategies
- Specializations will focus on specific teaching subjects, such as math, history, or reading
Master of Education (MEd Degree):
- Can be pursued by students from a variety of backgrounds
- Generally used to pursue a career in education management or administration. Not favored by those planning to stay in a classroom setting
- The curriculum will focus on educational management, planning, legal issues, technology integration, and more
- Specializations usually cover a variety of potential areas of focus such as technology management, special education, or counseling
Beyond the basics, though, how do you know if the degree is actually right for you or will be a good investment?
Here are a few scenarios that might tell you it’s a good time to pursue either an MEd or MAT degree.
1. You’re a teacher who can earn a higher salary with a MAT
In many cases, a teacher with a few years of experience can earn significantly more by obtaining a MAT.
This isn’t always the case–it tends to vary a lot by state–but, in a state like Illinois, teachers with a master’s degree will earn about 41% more, on average, than those with just a bachelor’s.
So, from a purely dollars and cents standpoint, a MAT often easily pays for itself and then a lot more.
2. You are aiming for a career in education management or administration
Not sure that teaching is right for you, but still hoping to get involved in education?
You might be a good candidate for an MEd.
Whether you’ve spent time in the classroom or not, an MEd can prepare you for a career in the education field and with a variety of specialization options. Everyone from school counselors to principals and technology directors often have obtained an MEd degree.
3. You’re interested in research or policy in education
Looking to affect change from a higher level? Again, an MEd might be right for you.
Many school districts, local and state governments, and federal agencies are involved in the research, assessment, and policy that goes into measuring and improving our education system. If this is of interest to you, then you’ll likely want to pursue a master’s in education.