In order to become a teacher in kindergarten through the 12th grade in the U.S., you'll need to earn a minimum of a bachelor's degree. However, many teachers pursue additional degrees after they begin teaching. In fact, 52 percent of public school teachers and 38 percent of private school teachers teaching grade 12 or lower in the U.S. hold a master's degree or higher in addition to their bachelor's.
There are no states in the U.S. that require individuals to hold a master's degree before they can teach at a level below college. However, a few states, including Connecticut, Maryland and New York, require teachers to earn a master's degree within a set amount of time. Otherwise, they will be unable to maintain their teacher's license.
Just because the state that you teach in doesn't require a master's degree doesn't mean that you won't benefit from earning one. Doing so can help you to better serve your students and meet their needs. In some cases, it may also help you to reach a higher pay grade.
Before you start earning your degree, though, you'll need to choose a type of degree to pursue. Will you earn a Master of Arts (or Science) in Teaching or a Master of Education? Keep reading to learn the difference between the two.
What Is a Master of Education?
If you're interested in the psychology behind why we learn the way we do or the ideologies that drive current teaching methods, a Master of Education may be the right choice for you. This type of degree program focuses less on the subjects that you'll be teaching or the methods that you'll use to teach them; instead, students learn how to investigate the theories of teaching, and why they are effective or why they are not.
A Master of Education can also be a great stepping stone to a career outside of the classroom. Those wishing to hold administrative positions can benefit from what you'll learn in this degree program. If you want to further your career while still teaching in your current classroom, you can pursue a Master of Education online rather than a traditional program.
What Is a Master of Arts (or Science) in Teaching?
Where a Master of Education focuses on studying the theories of teaching, a Master of Teaching teaches students how to apply those theories in real-life environments. You'll learn how to best improve your own students' experiences in the classroom. Your chosen degree will likely focus on a single area of study, like math or science, that you plan to teach or to continue teaching.
Within this degree program, you'll have two separate degrees to choose from; a Master of Arts in Teaching or a Master of Science in Teaching. Both are similar degree programs with a similar approach, but may vary in title from one university to the next, and may alter your course requirements within that university.
Which Degree Program Is Right for You?
If you want to further your skills as a teacher or take your career to the next level, pursuing a master's degree is a great choice. But first, you'll need to choose whether to pursue a Master of Education or a Master of Arts or Science in Teaching. While both are options for teachers, one may be better suited towards helping you to reach your goals and expand your skills and knowledge.