What Is the Difference Between a Master’s in Teaching vs. a Master’s in Education?


The degrees are sometimes referred to interchangeably, but there is a Difference Between a Master’s in Education and a Master’s in Teaching. Both are education degrees, but they are intended to foster different careers.

States don’t usually require a masters’ degree to become licensed. Many teachers, however, earn their masters’ degrees because they want to advance their careers, or because they want more expertise in teaching methods.

Getting a master’s degree in your subject area can also establish you as an expert in that area of teaching. In addition, people with advanced degrees typically earn more.

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Knowing the difference in the two degrees can help you decide which major will best serve your educational goals. If you’re looking to earn either of these degrees fast you can check out our ranking of the fastest online master’s in education programs.

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Master’s in Teaching

This degree focuses on the process of teaching. It is intended for people who want to work with students in a classroom. According to Teach.com, people who seek this degree usually want hands-on teaching experience. It is a practical degree which usually requires about 30 credit hours to complete. It is often offered as a “5th year program,” meaning that in five years you earn your baccalaureate degree and your master so that you can become licensed to teach in your state.

The degree can also be pursued as a Flex program. This track is usually taken by middle school and secondary teachers who want to advance their teaching skills in a specific subject, but the degree usually offers a concentration in elementary, or multiple-subject education. With additional courses, you can specialize your degree in special education, bilingual studies, gifted and talented education and other areas.

Master in Education

The M.Ed. is a degree that looks beyond the classroom to the general field of education. Majors in this program include Curriculum and Instruction, Counselor Education and Administration.

Students in this degree program usually want to work as principals or superintendents or in higher levels of administration, as researchers or as school counselors. Often, according to Wikipedia, the Curriculum and Instruction major involves research into how people learn so that materials can be developed which address special learning needs or that improve current curriculum.

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There is on offshoot degree, offered at a Boston school, called the Neuroscience Interdisciplinary Degree in Education, which explores the processes of learning. People who follow the Counselor Education major often have baccalaureate degrees in other disciplines such as psychology, sociology or social work. They earn the M.Ed. degree so that they can work as school counselors or mental health professionals.

Because states differ in their licensing requirements for counselors, candidates for this degree and major should check the requisites in the state where they want to work. The Administration major addresses the need for leadership and organizational behavior courses as well as other classes that will equip these students to be principals, superintendents, college deans and presidents or other careers in higher educational administration. Educational Law is one area of focus in the degree along with courses that deal with issues that may arise in the facility or in the community.

How Salaries Compare

There is no completely reliable way to measure the difference in salaries. Teacher salaries vary greatly by geographic area and by employer. Teachers in rural southern communities, for example, may earn half of what a teacher in urban California would earn, and teachers in private schools may earn more than those in public institutions.

In general, a teacher with a MAT will earn less than a school principal with an M.Ed. In New Jersey a secondary school teacher with experience would earn a median salary of $61,040 while a principal in that state would earn a median salary of over $97,000.

The degrees are not interchangeable in the careers they prepare students to pursue and in the concentrations available. That is why, in deciding upon the direction you want your teaching career to take, it is important to know the Difference Between a Master’s in Education and a Master’s in Teaching.