MAT vs MSEd: Which is Right for You?

Teaching is one of the most fulfilling and rewarding careers that one can pursue. Yes, it has its challenges, but in those moments where you see the impact that you have on your students’ lives, it’s a feeling unlike any other.

This is actually a great time to become a teacher because there are many job opportunities available and accelerated programs designed to help people earn their teaching credentials and get into a classroom.

How to Become a Teacher: A Step-by-Step Guide ➡️

Master of Arts in Teaching

Right now, there is a need for licensed teachers all over the country—which means that school districts everywhere are streamlining the requirements to become a teacher.

The Master of Arts in Teaching, commonly referred to as the MAT degree, is designed for people from all career backgrounds and experiences to begin their career path as a teacher. 

MAT programs are designed to provide the practical skills you’ll need to succeed as a teacher: classroom management, planning and instruction, evaluation and assessment, and how to teach your specific area of interest. 

What makes MAT programs so appealing to people who want to begin their careers in teaching is that you can qualify for most Master of Arts in Teaching programs with a bachelor’s degree in a wide variety of majors. Of course, every program is different, but generally speaking, you don’t need to have a career or educational background in teaching in order to qualify.

So, if you are thinking about breaking into a teaching career, earning an MAT might be a great option for you.

Discover Southern’s Master of Arts in Teaching ➡️

Master of Science in Education

Unlike the MAT, the Master of Science in Education (MSEd) is designed for currently-licensed teachers who want to further their education, hone their discipline, and increase their earning potential.

Whereas the MAT focuses more on building foundational teaching skills, the MSEd offers more of a focus on theory, leadership, and developing expertise in select areas of education, such as literacy education. MSEd students often have ambitions of becoming school administrators where they can influence policy and change at a larger scale, such as principal or superintendent. They may also want to develop areas of interest to improve classroom practices, such as literacy education or outdoor education.

In other words, MSEd programs aren’t about building teaching careers, they’re about taking teaching careers to the next level.

So, if you already have teaching experience and are seeking ways to enhance your knowledge in a specific area like leadership or literacy, or even outdoor education, and increase your earning potential, the MSEd might be the right path for you.

Discover Southern’s Master of Science in Education ➡️

MAT vs MSEd: Which is Right for You?

Teaching is a wonderfully rewarding career, and both the MAT and MSEd degrees are great educational options available to help individuals become the best teachers they can be.

Both programs prepare teachers to excel in their field, but they’re designed for different people at different points in their careers.

How do you know which is right for you? It really comes down to one question: are you already a certified teacher?

If you are, then earning an MSEd is the next step for you. If you aren’t, then you should consider earning an MAT.

If you’d like to talk through each option in more detail, schedule some time with an admissions counselor who can understand your specific needs, walk you through the different program options, and help you decide which is right for you.

Exploring Teaching as a Career Change

Every year, more and more people are exploring teaching as a second career. Here at Southern Adventist University, for example, many of our MAT students are career changers who have worked in other fields and have made the choice to make the switch to teaching.

For these people, teaching is a calling. It’s something that they feel they are meant to do and want to help teach, inspire, and challenge the next generation. We cover that in more depth in our blog post: Teaching as a Mission: Building a Brighter Future.

If you’re thinking about making the switch to a teaching career, be sure to check out The Career Changer's Guide to Becoming a Teacher. Inside this extensive guide, you’ll find

  • An action plan with your next steps in becoming a teacher as a career-changer
  • Real industry and career insights for teachers
  • The benefits of a teaching career and why it can be so rewarding 
  • A closer look at the MAT and MSEd programs

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About the Author

Southern Adventist University

Southern Adventist University

Southern Adventist University is a private Seventh-day Adventist college in Collegedale, Tennessee. Our practical graduate programs equip you with in-demand skills and experience that transfer directly into your career path. We hope to help you accomplish your dreams!

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