5 Great Master’s Degrees That Teachers Should Consider

5 Great Master’s Degrees That Teachers Should Consider

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Staff Writers
Updated April 15, 2021

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Master's Degrees for Teachers

  • School Counseling
  • School Administration
  • Special Education
  • Adult Education
  • Curriculum Development

Once you finish a bachelor's degree in teaching or education and spend some time working as a teacher, you may want to go back to school and enroll in one of the top master's degrees for teachers programs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, some states actually require that teachers have a license and get a master's degree to maintain that license. The top programs can help you keep working with students but in new ways.

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School Counseling

A popular option for teachers going back to school is a graduate program in school counseling. School counseling, sometimes called school psychology, prepares counselors for working with students who have problems in their personal lives and at home. In addition to taking classes that teach you counseling skills, you'll also do some fieldwork and work with kids. Some colleges have counseling centers on-site where you can do your fieldwork, but other schools will let you do this fieldwork at an off-site center or in a local school.

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School Administration

If you prefer working with budgets and policies than working with students, you might consider earning a master's degree in school administration. Very few schools will promote a teacher to a principal or superintendent because these positions require an advanced degree. School administration programs provide you with the training needed to follow all state, local and federal government education laws, including using the right hiring practices when hiring new teachers and following standards in regards to the classes that students take. You'll also learn about budgeting and school finances.

Special Education

Though you can work as a special education teacher without a master's degree, most schools will require that you get your master's degree and/or certification within a few years of starting that job. Special education is a field that primarily focuses on those who cannot learn through traditional programs or classes, including kids diagnosed with ADHD and other conditions that keep them from focusing on their work and those with handicaps and disabilities. These degree programs are sometimes open to those who do not have a bachelor's in an education field but still want to teach.

Adult Education

A small number of colleges in the United States offer master's degrees for teachers in adult education. Most people think of teachers as those who educate kids in elementary, middle and high schools, but teachers can also work with adult students. These teachers often work in vocational schools that offer training and literacy programs for adult learners or in community colleges. As an adult education major, you'll take classes on working with students who have busy professional and personal lives as well as how to handle students with poor English reading and/or writing skills.

Curriculum Development

Another graduate program that might appeal to you is one in curriculum development. Teachers do not always have the chance to decide what textbooks and other resources they want to teach and which activities they will do in their classes. Curriculum development experts are the ones who put together the resources they use and the subjects they must teach during the school year. With a degree in this field, you can work for an individual school, for a school district or for the Board of Education in your state. Your experience in curriculum design can help you design and create textbooks too.

Teachers can find work with just a bachelor's degree and a teaching license, but you should consider getting a graduate degree too. Some of the top master's degrees for teachers include those in adult education, school administration, special education, school counseling and curriculum development.

Is it worth it for a teacher to get a master’s degree?

Yes, it can be. If you want to pursue an administrative role or advance in your education career, getting a master’s degree can be beneficial or perhaps even necessary to make it happen. Many public school districts will offer bonuses, stipends, or higher salaries to teachers who have graduate degrees, and you can also use a master’s degree to transition into other roles, like school counselor, special education administration, school administration, or a wide range of other roles within education. A master’s degree may even be required for licensing by the state or district you’re employed in, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Why should I get a master’s degree as a teacher?

There are a number of reasons you may want to get a master’s degree as a teacher. These include:

  • A pay increase — Many districts offer automatic pay increases, bonuses, or raises to teachers with a higher level of education, whether that’s licensing, a doctorate, or a master’s degree.
  • An additional endorsement — Earning a master’s can lead to more endorsement areas, which will generally open you up to a higher pay scale and more room for growth.
  • A move to administration — If your goal is to move into administration, you will likely need a master’s degree to meet the requirements at any district.
  • A road to licensure — You may need a master’s degree if you want to get licensed as a teacher but do not have an undergraduate degree in education.
  • To improve your skills — Earning a master’s degree will help improve your skills as an educator and keep you in the loop on the latest research and methods of teaching.

What classes will I take while earning a master’s degree as a teacher?

What you study will depend on the concentrations and degree path you choose, but in general, you will take classes like:

  • Educational Leadership
  • Instructional Theory and Design
  • Planning and Resource Management
  • Child or Adolescent Development
  • Human Resources Administration in Education
  • Classroom management
  • Instructional Supervision

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