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Information on Graduate Degree Programs in Teaching

Majors Overview July 20, 2015

This article talks about different graduate degree programs in teaching and their education requirements, coursework, and job and wage outlook.

Information on Teaching Programs

Students enroll in doctoral programs in education for leadership and administrative roles; the emphasis of these programs is on education research. An area of concentration, such as education policy or urban superintendents, may be chosen by students. Students in many schools are allowed to work with advisors in crafting a plan of study that could meet their specific goals. Students are usually required to complete a dissertation.

Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) Programs

In a Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) program, teaching courses may be combined with classes in selected content area such as mathematics, biology, English, history, or science. Coursework includes topic areas such as lesson planning, classroom pedagogy, student assessment and educational psychology. MAT programs are often for current teachers who are looking for an advanced degree in their content area. Schools have devised other MAT programs for students with bachelor’s degrees, but without initial teaching license. While a specific content area may be available to major in by some MAT students, specialization in secondary, elementary, early childhood, or special education may be chosen by others.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria in some MAT programs require students to obtain professional teacher licensure; a bachelor’s degree will suffice for admission to some other programs. In some states, educators must pass specific testing before they get into a MAT program. They may also be required to have professional and academic references, many years of work experience, and submit a personal essay.


Coursework includes assessment techniques and teaching methodology. An internship may also be completed by students without teaching licensure. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Educational Technology
•Education in America
•Curriculum theory
•Educational Leadership
•Sociology of Teaching

Job and Wage Outlook

In 2012, more than one million individuals in the United States were employed as teachers at the levels of kindergarten through high school (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). By 2022, job opportunities for kindergarten through middle school teachers are expected to grow by 12% with a growth of 6% at the high school level (BLS). In May 2012, teachers brought in an average annual wage ranging between $53,090 for kindergarten teachers and $55,050 for secondary school teachers. Earning a master’s degree could lead to a wage increase for teachers (BLS).

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Programs in Education

Students enrolled in this Ph.D. program are trained to assume greater leadership responsibilities as educators. Students learn about the policies and systems that influence education today through the incorporation of practice and research in numerous subject areas. These areas include ethics in educational leadership, the sociology of higher education and theories in teacher education. Concentration areas such as educational policy, early childhood education, and literacy are available through many Ph.D. programs. A doctoral dissertation is a requirement for students in this program; this demonstrates mastery in the field of education. Program graduates may seek careers as school administrators, professors, policy makers, or researchers.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a bachelor’s degree; applicants for admission to some programs are required to hold a master’s degree. Attendance of an interview with a faculty and submission of letters of intent are requirements in some programs. A master’s thesis or published scholarly article may also be requirements in many programs.


Faculty and advisors help students in a doctoral program to tailor coursework according to their individual goals and needs. Courses also vary by concentration. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Analysis and research
•Education Policy
•Ethics in higher education
•Learning and teaching

Job Outlook

By 2022, a job growth of six percent has been projected for elementary, middle and high school principals. In 2012, over 230,000 individuals were employed in these careers (BLS). The projection owes itself to a need for more schools, given the growing student population.

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