For many individuals, continuing education is essential. Not only does it open the door for new career paths, but it also allows current teachers to expand on their education with cutting-edge skills.
To stay up to date, many teachers will want to bolster their education with a master’s degree. There are various areas of specialization available to those who do. A Master of Education degree offers a wide path to new opportunities, better career paths, and higher pay.
What Is a Master’s in Education?
In most states, individuals can begin teaching with a bachelor’s degree in Education after obtaining their license and meeting other qualifications. Yet, there is a strong encouragement to further education beyond this point up to and including a master’s degree. There are many benefits to doing so.
In many states, including Connecticut, teachers are required to earn a master’s degree in education to advance from a provisional teaching license to a professional. Master’s degree programs can allow students to specialize or focus their education on specific areas of study. This additional level of study is now available via distance learning as well.
Key Benefits of a Master of Education
First, you need to decide whether or not getting a master’s degree is right for you. Most see the value right away. After all, in some states, teachers are required to continue their education and, eventually, earn a master’s degree. In other states, while this is not a requirement, it is something that can impact your overall ability to get a desired job or to increase your pay over time.
If you’re unsure if you want to get a degree like this, consider the benefits it provides to you, personally, outside of such qualifications.
Better Classroom Skills
In master’s degree programs, students gain better hands-on skills in the classroom. For example, you could pick up management techniques for minimizing disruptive personalities … gather insights into how to limit cell phone use during instruction time … and learn new ways to pull students back to the subject at hand.
Better Learning Outcomes
The core of any teacher’s job is to ensure students walk away with the information needed to thrive academically and in life. Better learning outcomes comes from better teaching skills. Master’s degree students learn how to communicate effectively across multiple learning styles so as to boost test scores.
Fill School Deficiencies
Unfortunately, many schools – and even in whole districts – there are deficiencies in key areas of learning. For example, a lack of tech programs. In others, fewer curriculum options for students with high-functioning autism or for exceptional learners. Students enrolling in a master’s degree program can harness these skills and modify their teaching paths to reach a larger group of students or a very specific group of students.
This is a very versatile degree, and there are various paths that you can take to achieve your master’s degree. Use it to help you to have the type of educational background and study that is right for the career path you hope to take.
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What Can You Expect to Learn in a Master’s in Education Program?
You are able to take courses that fit your interests, ranging from a focus on science or technology to techniques for teaching online or preparing lessons for English as a Second Language classes. If you’re ready to go further on your educational journey and get a degree you feel will benefit you, consider the curriculum offered at the school of your choice.
Some of the best master’s degree programs offer opportunities to expand your education. Here are some of the things you may learn through the program.
- Identifying, evaluating, and then implementing research-based classroom practices – in short, you’ll be able to analyze your current classroom setting and visualize the changes needed to fulfill the long-term goals you have for your students..
- Technology implementation – smartboards, laptops, chatrooms and online programs, learn what it takes to ensure students get all they can out of your instruction with a variety of in-class tools.
- Evaluate their personal teaching effectiveness and the students’ needs – for example, using metrics to measure programmatic, individual student, and institutional goals and successes.
- Compare various methods and theories of teaching – gaining the ability to apply various skills in specific environments to achieve goals. It gives you options for learning and teaching.
- Better methods of collaboration and how to create more inclusive educational programs – this allows for a focus on what is right for individuals and a diverse classroom.
Many other areas of study are provided as well. The key with many master’s degrees is to provide real-world information and resources. This includes research-based data, such as the better ways to manage student behavior and solutions for applying technology across curriculum.
Master’s degree students learn skills on how to apply a variety of solutions to the problems they see in classrooms daily.
Choosing a Concentration
As noted, one of the key benefits of enrolling in a master’s program in education is the ability to choose a specific focus. Some of the best master’s degree programs will give you numerous options to select from here, allowing you to move your education along the path that is right for you. More than choosing just an age group or a specific subject, you’re able to diversify your education to include more advanced areas. Some of those options include the following:
- E-learning Design &Technology – focus education on instructional design theories and practical applications in this field. This includes the development and designing of technology as a component to the educational process.
- Curriculum & Instruction – hands-on, research-based access to creating a creative, innovative, or more effective curriculum in their classroom. The key here is to choose a program that offers a research-based approach to creating these applications.
- Educational Technology – a bit different than just technology, this area of focus is about current and emerging technologies and how they can be applied to various types of learning needs and styles to create an effective level of communication.
- Online Teaching – obtain key skills necessary to teach in one of the most profound and most important educational paths required today. This type of concentration allows for learning how to create and implement online training programs for a wide range of services.
- Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)– another area of growing importance today and an area with high demand, ESL teachers need to learn the skills necessary to reach this large audience of students.
There are many other concentration options available. Some students may wish to enroll in psychological aspects of growth and development. Others may wish to concentrate their education on economics and policy. Museum education, higher education, and even educational administration are additional types of concentration options that may appeal to some students. Once a student understands his or her goals for their career, finding a concentration that fits is ideal.
What Are Capstone Requirements?
Many master’s degrees will require students to move through the educational process to reach a capstone. This is where the student will develop a graduate thesis or a dissertation. This is the culminating project.
In a bachelor’s degree, many educational students would do this through student teaching. That does not fit here, of course, but there will be other areas of development for a capstone. The ultimate goal is to develop a project in which the new skills of the student are put on display so that they can showcase their skill. Every student must create their own capstone. This can be a research paper. It could be a curriculum designed with a specific focus.
In other cases, students are working to develop educational applications for tablets. Others are working to develop skills for grant proposals. There is a wide range of areas in which students can display their knowledge.
What is important here is to choose a capstone that interests you and provides you with the education foundation you need to move forward within your career. Real-world research and application is often best in the development of a capstone.
Continuing Education Requirements and Master’s Degrees
As noted previously, continuing education is often a requirement to remain employed as a teacher. In nearly all cases, these requirements can be met with a master’s degree in Education. It is important to understand your state’s specific requirements in this area. However, nearly all students are able to enroll in a master’s degree program and take courses over a period of time to reach all of the CE requirements. And, of course, using a master’s degree program can help to ensure this is done in an efficient and beneficial manner.
What Can Students Do with a Master’s Degree in Education?
One of the most important reasons to take this type, of course, is to use it to help you achieve key goals you have for your career. The good news is there are a wide range of opportunities available to you to achieve that. Consider some of the career paths today’s students take after obtaining this degree.
- Work in administrative positions. Many times, those with a master’s degree want to move beyond classroom teaching into administrative positions within their school districts.
- Work as an educational consultant. For those with specific skills, it is possible to go from school to school providing consultations to help with key problem areas.
- Work in other fields of education. Some wish to move into education in museums, zoos, or through other programs in their community.
- Work in a university. Some students with experience will be able to work towards a professor position or work in administration within this field.
- Work as a school principal. Those with a master’s degree may qualify for principal positions at elementary, middle and high school levels.
There are many career paths available to those who work to earn this type of education. Keep in mind that the pay you earn will increase as well. However, pay rates will depend on the path you take significantly.
Those with a Master of Education working as a high school teacher can, on average, earn $53,475 a year. Special education teachers with these degrees can earn $48,743 a year, according to Payscale.com.
Those who use their education to become an executive director average $71,659 per year. Your master’s degree may also open the door for more challenging or hard-to-get positions within a school.
Online Master’s Degrees in Education
One of the most encouraging benefits of working toward a master’s degree is being able to do so on your time. Many times, teachers cannot imagine leaving their classroom to enroll in a full-time master’s degree program. With an online master’s degree in Education, they don’t have to. Many online programs allow students to learn at their own pace while still meeting all of the requirements set forth by their state for continuing education.
There is little pressure here. However, there are a wide range of concentrations available to students who enroll in these programs.
Not sure whether or not a master’s degree in Education fits your needs?
Think about what you could do with it. Could it help you to enhance the quality of education you provide your students? Can it help you solve classroom issues you’re seeing now – from classroom disruptions to ineffective lesson plans?
In many cases, it may be just what you need to pursue your long-term career goals and help you to develop your passion for education within your specific area of need.