Is There a Student Teaching Requirement in Master of Arts in Teaching Programs?

Nearly all Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) programs, including online versions, have student teaching requirements.

Although most graduate degree programs are pursued to gain advanced knowledge in a discipline in which one already has foundational knowledge, MAT degree programs accommodate career switchers who already have undergraduate degrees in subjects other than education. These people can learn teaching methods and techniques in MAT programs and appropriately apply their knowledge and skills from their academic and professional backgrounds for use in the classroom. Since these aspiring instructors are new to teaching, most programs require them to take extensive student instructing assignments to put classroom training into practice.

Resource: Top 10 Best Online Master of Arts in Teaching Degree Programs

Mid career instructors who know that they want to remain in front line positions as teachers in the education industry also pursue MAT programs to hone their teaching techniques and leadership skills. Here are some things to expect from student instructing assignments that are associated with MAT degree programs.

Shadowing the Experts

Student teaching assignments are common for any education related degree, and MAT assignments can average 20 weeks in duration. A portion of this time is spent observing a seasoned teacher in a real classroom environment. When aspiring instructors enter most MAT programs, their professors match them with appropriate student instructing assignments that are based upon their chosen specialties or interests; students usually do not have to hunt for assignments on their own. Also, the weeks of observation are usually not taken consecutively; most programs incorporate the observation sessions throughout the academic year to reinforce theoretical concepts that students learn in the classroom.

Field Assignment

After observing a teacher in the real world, a MAT student is given an actual field assignment that allows them to put into practice the methods, skills and techniques that they learned both theoretically and experientially. During these assignments, students practice developing lesson plans for a variety of subjects, and they execute these plans in small group classes. The seasoned teachers who were shadowed before usually double as supervisors for field work assignments. Student teachers can practice instructing actual pupils in a couple of subjects or a full load of topics.

Constructive Feedback

Supervising teachers are on hand to give feedback in real time to enhance the learning experience for MAT program participants. The field work assignments also get a boost from technology as many MAT programs record student instructing sessions. This is especially helpful because other experts besides the supervising teacher can observe MAT students’ actions and provide feedback.

Special Projects

Many MAT programs feature special research projects that are accomplished in tandem with field assignments. During these projects, professors often ask MAT candidates to identify their weak areas and come up with plans to overcome those challenges. The field assignments and special projects are designed to prepare teachers for hands on classroom instruction, and this type of MAT degree can lead to successful acquisition of one’s teaching certificate.


MAT programs like the online one at University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education do not require an undergraduate degree in education for admission, and these programs tend to be ideal for business professionals who want to transition into teaching. For these MAT degree candidates, the student teaching assignments are some of the most important elements in the teaching programs’ curricula.