How is a Master of Arts in Teaching Different From a Master of Science in Education?

Master of Science in EducationWhen choosing a graduate program, education professionals often carefully consider the difference between Master of Arts in Teaching and a Master of Science in Education degrees in order to best prepare for future roles in the field. Whether pursuing an advanced degree in order to lead students in a classroom or to work in administration or intervention programs, programs are available to gain skills, knowledge, and experience to match career goals.

Master of Arts in Teaching

The main focus of a Master of Arts in Teaching at most institutions is to prepare future educators for licensure and certification to teach in a classroom. In some cases, programs may be designed for professionals who already have experience teaching in a classroom; however, there are a number of options for various graduate programs that are designed for non-education professionals looking to begin a career teaching in a classroom.

In order to prepare for certification and licensing, master of arts in teaching programs require graduate students to complete course work in various areas of teaching, typically concentrating in either early childhood development, elementary, secondary, or special education.

Early childhood development and elementary concentrations often include course work in reading development, language acquisition, and teaching in mathematics, science, social science, and writing. Secondary concentrations might include courses such as middle school curriculum, teaching writing across disciplines, and subject-specific course work in a major area of study. Special education programs include many of these same courses, along with educational assessment, managing transitions, creating an inclusive classroom, and intervention strategies.

Some course requirements in each of these concentrations will be the same as well. This typical core course work will likely include classes in advanced educational psychology, testing and measurement, classroom management techniques, foundations of education, curriculum fundamentals, and behavior management. Additionally, graduate students in a master of arts in teaching program will be required to complete field work, classroom observation, and student teaching.

Additional information on licensing by state can be found at the Teach website.

Master of Science in Education

While the Master of Arts in Teaching is focused on preparing future educators for classroom instruction, the Master of Science in Education is primarily designed to prepare education professionals for leadership, intervention, or educational support positions within school districts. These programs are often designed for educators with experience in classrooms, administration, or special programs. Concentrations for this graduate degree most often include options for gifted education, reading specialist, educational technology, and school administration.

Like graduate programs for classroom teaching, the Master of Science in Education starts with core course work for regardless of concentration. Common courses are school law, professional development supervision, effective leadership, advanced instructional strategies, school improvement research, curriculum development and implementation, administration of schools, and school organization.

Additional course work will also be required for each concentration. Programs might offer courses such as education policy, instructional uses of technology, collaboration for school improvement, instructional design for online learning, media integration in curriculum design, culturally responsive teaching, teacher leadership seminar, and evaluation of supported intervention programs.

Related Resource: Gifted Resource Teacher

The field of education is both professionally and personally rewarding. By exploring the difference between Master of Arts in Teaching and a Master of Science in Education, educators can begin to prepare to pursue those rewards and individual career goals.