Do I Have to Have Teaching Experience to Get my Masters in Education?

Many people interested in pursuing a master’s degree in teaching wonder if they are qualified without having prior teaching experience. Several universities accept students with bachelor’s degrees who have not taught in classrooms. Just be sure to check the requirements of each university before applying for admittance into a graduate program. Also, be prepared to teach in a classroom setting while going through a graduate program for a master’s degree in teaching.

Common Requirements

Most schools offering advanced degrees in education require the completion of certain undergraduate courses during the pursuit of a bachelor’s degree, usually with a required major or minor in education. These courses are often geared toward psychology and math to ensure the candidate is prepared for the program. Many universities also require some in-class experience prior to applying; however, there are programs that allow students to gain this field experience while obtaining a master’s degree. Requirements also vary by state.

An informative article posted by NCATE discusses the necessary qualities of teachers. Although experience is on every list, there are many other qualities such as education and personality that also have irreplaceable effects on the success of a teacher.

Importance of Advanced Education

Although additional education cannot replace hands-on classroom experience, it can help prepare a future educator for the responsibility of managing a class and influencing lives. Master’s degree programs teach not only factual material, but also teaching methods, handling personalities, maintaining authority in the classroom and other personal skills that are vital to classroom success. People who complete these programs before obtaining field experience are better prepared to take that first step into a classroom.

Master’s degrees in education are often directly related to salary increases. Teachers with master’s degrees statistically make more than those without the advanced education. Some states require a master’s degree in education before allowing tenure for teachers. Many schools also require master’s degrees or higher to teach high school courses. It is possible to teach K-12 with only a bachelor’s degree and teaching certificate, but salaries remain lower and opportunities fewer than if a master’s degree is earned.

Roads to a Master’s Degree in Education

A common path for obtaining a master’s degree in education is to go to obtain a bachelor’s degree majoring in education. Then, go on to graduate school and obtain a master’s degree while student teaching before becoming licensed and getting a first job as a teacher or substitute teacher for a school district. Another route often taken is to obtain a bachelor’s degree, most likely with a major or minor in education and then go work for a while. If teaching is an initial goal, a teaching certificate is earned which leads to a job in education. The bachelor’s degree and teaching experience should suffice for entrance into a master’s program. Others choose another career after school and decide to pursue teaching later in life. These master’s degree candidates benefit from “real world” experience although not in classrooms. Many universities will accept work experience and the required prerequisite classes from undergraduate degrees.

No matter which path is chosen, advanced education has many benefits. With or without prior classroom experience, master’s degrees in education create more effective teachers. The dream of teaching can come true, even starting from only a bachelor’s degree.

Click on “Top 10 Best Online Master of Arts in Teaching Degree Programs” to see what programs are right for you!