Is Teaching College with a Master’s in Education Right for You?

A master’s degree in education provides graduates with advanced knowledge of how people learn, how lessons should be organized, and how the educational system functions. It is important to note that many graduates with a master’s in teaching work in positions below the college level because most of them were at one point either elementary or secondary teachers. Should a master’s degree in teaching be the goal of someone who wishes to teach at the college level? This depends on what you plan to teach and what your undergraduate degree was.

What Colleges Look for in Professors

Becoming a college professor is different than becoming a regular elementary or secondary teacher. The fact, reinforced by this online article, is that many postsecondary teachers are not actually “teachers” in the general sense of the term. Many are simply experts and researchers in the fields they are instructing. Most have very little, if any, actual teaching instruction unless they are educational instructors preparing the next generation of elementary and secondary teachers. Colleges are more likely to hire a professor based on their expert background and the work they have done in their field. If all they have to show is a master’s in education included with some other bachelor’s degree, then they are not very attractive candidates.

The Case for Professors with Teaching Instruction

It can also be said that many college professors are not the best teachers from an educational standpoint. They may be very knowledgeable and experienced in their field, but they will be poor professors unless they can effectively pass this information on to their students. This means that the teaching instruction and methodology provided by a master’s in education may be of great benefit to a college professor that does not have a teaching background. For example, someone with a bachelor’s in biology and a masters’ in education may be an excellent professor in biology. Keep in mind the first point, however, that the person will not look very attractive to a college board unless they have decent experience in their field. This may very well mean that the said biology teacher should have a master’s in biology on top of a master’s in education plus good work experience and research related to biology.

Keep in Mind a Clear Goal

If your desire as a graduate is to teach at the college level, and you did not graduate with a bachelor’s in elementary or secondary education, then a master’s in education should probably be seen only as a professional development step. College boards will like that you have developed teaching skills, but this is not a requirement for the position unless you plan to give instruction on education itself. It will certainly help you to be a better teacher to your students, but it is not the magical key to opening up a postsecondary teaching career. Your field of experience is still the primary component of making you an effective postsecondary teacher. Ensure that you have mastery in your field, with at least a bachelor’s degree and several years of good experience, before you set your eyes on teaching.

The bottom line is that a master’s in education is something extra for most college professors unless they plan to teach in education. However, it is an option that should not be overlooked in making you an effective teacher that will be able to provide quality instruction to college students.