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Information on Master’s Degree Programs in Middle Grades Education

Majors Overview August 10, 2015

This article talks about master’s degree programs in middle grades education and their education requirements, coursework, job and wage outlook, and continuing education and licensure choices.

Information on Middle Grades Education Programs

Master’s degree programs in middle grades education are available in many schools in both on-campus and online formats. Students enrolled in most programs have to complete 33-36 credit hours. Some programs admit students seeking teaching licenses while holding bachelor’s degrees in majors other than education. Other programs only admit licensed students aiming at continuing education. The focus of students may be on the subject sought to be taught.

While the coursework varies by degree sought, common courses include training in curriculum design, teaching methods for middle school age children, and adolescent child development. Courses taken by students with a focus on a particular subject will include teaching it, and a research project may have to be completed by them. Those seeking initial certification will learn about classroom management and gain student teaching experiences.

In all states, licensure is compulsory for teachers seeking to work in a public school. Each state has its requirements, but commonly, a bachelor’s degree, passage of competency exams, and completion of an accredited teacher education program are required. Some states give teachers specific time to obtain a master’s degree after they gain initial licensure.

Master of Education (M.Ed.) Programs in Middle Grades

Enrollees in a master’s program in middle grades education examine the development and issues facing adolescent children in grades 4-8 or 5-9. Importantly, students are taught a variety of teaching methods that recognize the growing independence of middle school children as well as techniques aimed at devising progressively challenging coursework. Varying by program, a specific subject concentration intended to be taught by them is chosen by students; these include English, biology, social studies or math. Numerous universities and colleges offer these programs, and schools award degrees as a Master of Science (M.S.), Master of Education (M.Ed.), or Master of Arts (M.A.).

Education Requirements

Admission criteria, which vary by type of degree sought, typically require incoming students to hold bachelor’s degrees. Applicants to a Master of Education (M.Ed.) program are typically required to hold or be eligible for state teacher certification. Students without a teaching license may seek admission to some MA and MS programs.


Coursework includes psychology, adolescent behavior, social development, classroom management, research methodologies and analysis of current issues in middle school education. Students can expect to enhance their communications skills to enable them to relate to their future middle school students and their parents. Coursework varies by concentration and includes capstone experiences such as comprehensive exams or research projects, within student-teaching experiences in MS and MA programs or Master of Education (M.Ed.) programs. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Education social issues
•Middle grades curriculum
•Teaching literacy
•Educational psychology
•Middle grades diversity
•Classroom assessment

Job and Wage Outlook

Over the 2010 – 2020 decade, a job growth rate of twelve percent has been predicted for middle school teachers (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). The growth is expected to be driven by rising student enrollments; however, while the southern and western regions are expected to see higher enrollments, the Northeast could witness decreases. Additionally, employment opportunities for teachers are also influenced by local government funding. There are more employment opportunities for middle school teachers in less desirable areas, such as rural or urban areas. In May 2011, middle school teachers, excluding special education teachers, brought in average annual wages of $53,430 (BLS).

Continuing Education and Licensure Choices

Licensure is compulsory in all states for public middle school teachers seeking to teach independently. Licensure requirements vary by state, but commonly require students to hold a bachelor’s degree, complete a teacher preparation program and gain student-teaching experience. In some states, teachers are given a specified period to obtain a master’s degree.

Schools offer doctorate degrees in education as a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) or Doctor of Education (Ed.D.). Ed.D. programs are usually devised to train students for administrative positions. The focus of Ph.D. programs is on educational research and graduates are ready for research-oriented occupations.

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