What’s a Master’s of Arts in Teaching? Is it the Same as an M.Ed. Degree?


If you’re looking to work in the field of education and earn a degree in education, there are a few graduate degrees that you can pursue like a master of arts in teaching (M.A.T.) or a master of arts in education. In this article, we plan to share the details and compare a M.A.T vs. M.Ed. to help you figure out which degree is more fitting for your career goals. In doing so, we will also clarify the difference between a master’s of arts degree versus a master of arts in teaching. 


Let’s get to it! 




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What is an M.A.?


A master’s of arts is a graduate degree that can serve anyone looking to work in research, leadership, or teaching. It is also the foundation to continue on and further one’s education with a doctoral program. 


An M.A. degree consists of advanced education in your chosen subject that falls under the category of humanities. For example, you can earn a master’s of arts degree in linguistics, English, languages, literature, or teaching. 


Most master’s of arts programs take about two years to complete. When comparing a master of arts degree with a master of science degree, one of the main differences you’ll notice is that a master’s of science will require a thesis. 



What is an M.A.T.?


As briefly mentioned, a M.A.T. stands for master of arts in teaching. The degree is a perfect option for anyone looking to teach students in a classroom setting. It’s also a great option for anyone who has a bachelor’s degree outside the field of education but who is looking to work within education. A M.A.T. focuses on pedagogy and theory. At the same time, students can gain hands-on experience of teaching so that when they graduate, they will be ready to enter the classroom (be it in-person or online). 



What is an M.Ed?


A Master of Education (M.Ed) degree is best for anyone who wants to work in senior level positions and management within the realm of education. For example, those who graduate with a M.Ed are able to work as college counselors, special education teachers, education researchers, and more. 


When enrolling in an M.Ed program, you may have the opportunity to choose an area of specialization, such as:


  • M.Ed in Special Education
  • M.Ed in Reading
  • M.Ed in Online Teaching 



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Masters of Education vs. Master’s of Arts in Teaching


Now that you have the basic understanding of an M.A., M.A.T., and M.Ed. meaning, let’s look at each in more detail. This way, you can evaluate the options and better understand which route may be optimal for your future. 



Career Opportunities /Goals 


Here’s a look at some common careers that each degree holder can obtain. 



Master of Education


  • School Principal 
  • Special Education Teacher
  • Instructional Coordinator 
  • School Counselor 
  • Curriculum Developer 
  • Educational Program Designer



Check out this article to learn more about the job opportunities with a Master of Education degree. 



Master’s of Teaching 


  • Elementary/Middle/High School Teacher
  • Special Education Teacher
  • HS Equivalency Diploma/Adult Literacy Teacher 
  • Dean of Instruction 
  • Athletic Director 


As you can see, a master’s of teaching tends to be for those who are interested in and committed to being in a classroom setting and instructing. On the other hand, a Master of Education opens the door to opportunities beyond the classroom, but still in an educational setting. M.Ed earners can work in administration and set the standards by which teachers are expected to adhere. 


Knowing this major difference is perhaps the most impactful for you to decide which degree to obtain. 





Depending on the institution at which you study, the curriculum will vary. However, here’s a typical outline of what you can expect to earn in each respective program:



Master of Education 


  • Educational Leadership 
  • Cognition and Learning 
  • Curriculum Design 
  • Educational Research Methodology



If you’re interested in studying online, take an in-depth look at our Master of Education curriculum at the University of the People. 



Master’s of Teaching 


  • History and Philosophy of Education 
  • Foundations in Literacy 
  • Technology and Instruction 
  • Pedagogical Theory 



Time Commitment 


While the programs vary in their intended career choices and curricula, the time commitment you can expect to allocate to each is about two years. The amount of time may vary based on whether you choose to enroll part-time or full-time, but based on the required credit hours, each program is expected to take about two years to complete. 



Earn Your Degree Online


Once you decide which degree is right for you, the next step is to find the institution at which you wish to study. For anyone who wants to earn their degree with a flexible schedule and a relatively lower cost, online institutions offer the perfect way to do so. 


For example, at the University of the People, our 100% online Master of Education program is tuition-free. This means that enrolled students can expect to spend between $3,960 and $5,160 (depending on areas of specialization) to obtain the M.Ed degree. To help cover these fees, students can also apply for financial aid and/or scholarships. 






The degree you choose to obtain should reflect your overall career goals. With a master of arts in teaching, you can expect to be in a classroom setting. With a Master of Education, you can work as a teacher or in administration, policy, or research.



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