MAT vs MEd


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If you want to work in education, a master’s degree can be a good next step: it opens up more and greater job opportunities, boosts your earning power, and advances your pedagogical knowledge. But once you start the process of choosing a degree, you may be confused by variety of programs available.

The two main types of master’s degrees for teachers are the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) and the Master of Education (M.Ed.). While both of these degrees are widely marketable, they vary considerably when it comes to 1. eligibility criteria, 2. program focus and 3. prospective career opportunities. With those cateogries in mind, here are the majordifferences between an MAT and a M.Ed.

Master of Arts in Teaching

The Master of Arts in Teaching is a common choice for someone with a bachelor’s degree who is interested in becoming a teacher. What that bachelor’s degree is actually in isn’t as important as you might think: you can typically apply for an MAT program with a bachelor’s degree in almost any field and often obtain your teaching certificate in conjunction with your with the degree. That means a sports medicine major can transition that education into a physical Education career, or an English lit major can become a passionate ELA instructor. The MAT is a flexible program, especially for individuals choosing to be teachers later in life. Active teachers who plan on staying in the classroom may choose this option–especially in states that require master’s degrees for permanent certification or for career advancement in terms of compensation and benefits–because an MAT program can also be accomplished part time while teaching.

As far as coursework, MAT programs tend to be content specific (e.g. focusing on mathematics education, music education, etc.). Graduate students are trained to be master teachers in their specific content area, and many of programs integrate hands-on experience, such as student teaching and internships.

Master of Education

The Master in Education, on the other hand, is a good option for certified teachers or other professionals already working in education who may be interested in leadership roles like principal, technology coordinator and curriculum specialist. It is not a teaching degree necessarily, but focuses more on education as a system, and on educational administration. Certified and future teachers can apply for this type of program.

M.Ed. candidates typically choose specialties, such as concentrations in administration, counseling or curriculum. According to, an educational administration major focuses on leadership, laws and buildings, and prepares candidates for future professions as principals or in other administrative roles. Counseling focuses on mental health, preparing candidates to become school counselors; curriculum or instruction majors focus on teaching strategies, curriculum design and child development, preparing candidates to become either curriculum specialists or master teachers.

Basically, if you want to teach (and especially if you want to teach a particular subject), an MAT may be right for you. If education itself is what you’d like to learn more about, with a goal of leadership or administration (ie. running a school or school board, making decisions about curriculum, becoming a counselor in a school), than an M.Ed. may be more your speed.

Read More:

All about Masters in Education

All about Masters in Teaching

Teacher Certification