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Degree Overview: Master of Science (M.S.) Degree in Education

Majors Overview October 30, 2014

Those that are interested in becoming a teacher and have graduated from a bachelor’s degree program should look into alternative certification programs (ACP) or master’s degree programs in education. Both programs cover the techniques, subject knowledge, and ideas needed for teaching secondary or elementary school.

Master of Science (M.S.) Degree Programs in Education

Students seeking a master’s degree in education can choose from numerous options. Master of Education (M.Ed.), Master of Science (M.S.), and Master of Arts (M.A.) degree programs are offered by many schools.

Broad subject areas such as elementary education or early childhood education are covered with the programs, while education on particular academic subjects is imparted through other programs. Completion of a student teaching internship is usually part of program coursework.

Education Requirements

Qualification for any master’s degree program in education depends on the holding of a bachelor’s degree. While there is no compulsion to hold an undergraduate degree in education, an applicant would benefit if the undergraduate major facilitates the demonstration of communication skills. A student’s preference to teach a particular subject must be underscored by a demonstration of aptitude for the subject in the student’s previous coursework.


Theoretical and practical ideas are included within the coursework of education master’s degree programs. These ideas focus on educational assessment, curricula design, pedagogy, and classroom management. Specialization in their interest areas can be chosen by students by taking advanced courses within their degree program curricula. Core coursework may include topic areas such as:

•Differentiated instruction
•Multicultural education theory
•Behavior control methods
•Educational theory
•Lesson planning

Career Choices

Armed with a master’s degree in education, individuals may seek numerous administrative and teaching positions at private or public schools at the secondary or primary levels. They can choose from popular career options such as:

•Private school teacher
•High school math teacher
•Kindergarten teacher

Continuing Education and Certification Choices

State teaching certification requirements are usually met by students that successfully complete a master’s degree program in education; passage of certification tests or completion of other classes is therefore not needed. The licensure standards for private school teachers are different from those required to be met by public school teachers.

Alternative Certification Choices

Teachers in every state are allowed to obtain certification via alternative certification programs (ACP), whereby they are taught the skills and ideas they would need in instructing any students. Teaching of particular academic subjects is usually not discussed in ACPs, wherein courses are offered on weekends and evenings, thereby facilitating the participation of people in full-time jobs.

Completion of observation internships or supervised teaching is typically required of students before they graduate. Passage of a state certification is required of ACP graduates before they are allowed to teach.

Education Requirement

There is hardly any competition for admission to ACPs, and all qualified applicants can expect to gain admission. Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a bachelor’s degree in any subject, in addition to submitting copies of undergraduate transcripts before they are allowed to start the program.


Similar topic areas in education degree programs are covered in ACPs within a few condensed sessions. It may take no more than 30 hours to complete the program, wherein students are taught about:

•Curricula design
•Classroom management
•Special education
•Educational assessment

Job and Wage Outlook

An average job growth rate of 17% has been predicted for kindergarten and elementary school teachers over the 2010 – 2020 decade (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). Over the same decade, a slower-than-average growth rate of 7% has been predicted for high school teachers.

In May 2012, kindergarten teachers brought home an average annual wage of $53,090 (BLS). The annual average wages earned by elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers were $53,090, $53,430, and $55,050 respectively.

Continuing Education and Certification Choices

Graduation does not automatically imply certification to ACP students; however, they can use the bachelor’s program as preparation to take state teaching certification tests. Passage of a general pedagogy test is required of ACP graduates in most states; those that wish to teach a particular subject would need to take a test in that subject.

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