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MAT vs. MEd: Comparing Degrees and Career Options

MAT vs. MEd: Comparing Degrees and Career Options

Many people want to get a master's degree in education, but choosing which degree to pursue can be difficult. Master's in teaching and master's in education are the two most sought-after degrees. 

While the Master of Education (MEd) is generally thought to be for those who aspire to administrative roles, the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) is often thought of as helping classroom teachers advance their skills. 

That distinction is, however, muddled by certain specializations and overlaps between the MAT and MEd. Whatever your professional aspirations, do not automatically rule out either option. 

To assist you in choosing the best master's degree for your field of interest and career objectives, we will examine the variations and parallels among online master's in education programs in this post.

What is a MAT Degree?

The Master of Arts in Teaching is a graduate-level academic degree that focuses on preparing individuals for careers in education, specifically in teaching. The program is designed for individuals who already hold a bachelor's degree in a subject area other than education but wish to pursue a career in teaching. The MAT program typically includes coursework related to teaching methods, educational theory, and classroom management.

Key features of a MAT program may include:

  • Content Specialization: MAT programs often allow individuals to specialize in a particular subject area, such as mathematics, science, English, or social studies. This ensures that graduates are well-versed in both educational theory and the content they will be teaching.
  • Teacher Certification: Many MAT programs are designed to lead to teacher certification, which is a requirement for teaching in K-12 public schools in many regions. The program usually includes a student teaching or practicum component, providing hands-on experience in a classroom setting.
  • Flexible Formats: MAT programs are offered in various formats, including full-time, part-time, and online options. This flexibility allows individuals to pursue a teaching career while accommodating other commitments.
  • Integration of Educational Theory and Practice: MAT programs typically blend theoretical knowledge with practical teaching skills. This integration helps prospective teachers develop effective teaching strategies and understand the pedagogical principles that underlie their practice.
  • Admission Requirements: Individuals applying to MAT programs usually need a bachelor's degree, often with a minimum GPA requirement. Some programs may also require standardized test scores, letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose.

What is an MEd Degree?

An MEd degree stands for Master of Education. It is a postgraduate academic master's degree typically pursued by individuals who already have a background in education and seek to enhance their knowledge and skills in the field. The MEd degree is designed to provide educators with advanced training in educational theory, research, and practice, preparing them for leadership roles within the education system.

The specific focus and requirements of MEd programs can vary, but common areas of concentration include educational leadership, curriculum and instruction, special education, counseling, educational technology, and adult education. Students may choose a specialization based on their career goals and interests.

Key features of an MEd program may include:

  • Comprehensive Education: In-depth exploration of educational theory, policy, and practice.
  • Diverse Specializations: Options to specialize in areas like leadership, curriculum development, counseling, or technology.
  • Advanced Research: Opportunities for theoretical coursework and research projects.
  • Experienced Educators: Geared towards certified teachers or individuals with prior education experience.
  • Career Advancement: Designed to enhance leadership skills and open doors to advanced educational roles.
  • Flexibility: Often offers part-time or online options to accommodate working professionals.
  • Networking Opportunities: Platforms for building professional connections and engaging with a broader educational community.
  • Alumni Success: Strong track record of alumni achieving leadership positions in education.

 Also read:     Difference Between CGPA and SGPA

What's the Difference Between an MAT vs. M.Ed.?

The Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) and Master of Education (M.Ed.) are both advanced degrees in the field of education, but they have distinct focuses and purposes. Here are the key differences between an MAT and an M.Ed.:

Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT):

1. Focus on Teaching Skills:

  • The MAT is primarily geared toward individuals who are seeking initial teacher certification or those who want to enhance their teaching skills.
  • It often includes practical, hands-on experiences such as student teaching, classroom observations, and a focus on instructional methods.

2. Preparation for Licensure:

  • MAT programs are commonly designed to prepare individuals to meet the requirements for state teaching licensure.
  • Students in MAT programs often include career changers or individuals with a bachelor's degree in a field other than education.

3. Content Knowledge:

  • MAT programs emphasize the development of content knowledge and pedagogical skills necessary for effective teaching in specific subject areas or grade levels.

Master of Education (M.Ed.):

1. Broad Educational Focus:

  • The M.Ed. is a more comprehensive degree that encompasses a broader range of educational topics.
  • It is suitable for individuals who may already have teaching certification or experience and want to deepen their understanding of educational theory, policy, and leadership.

2. Diverse Specializations:

  • M.Ed. programs often offer various specializations, including educational leadership, curriculum and instruction, counseling, educational technology, and more.
  • Students can tailor their M.Ed. to align with their specific career goals and interests within the field of education.

3. Career Advancement:

  • While an MAT is often pursued by those seeking initial certification, an M.Ed. is frequently chosen by educators looking for career advancement opportunities, leadership roles, or a shift into areas like curriculum development or educational administration.


  • Practical vs. Theoretical: MAT programs tend to have a more practical and hands-on focus, emphasizing classroom teaching skills. M.Ed. programs may have a more theoretical and research-oriented approach.
  • Certification: MAT programs often include the requirements for initial teaching certification, while M.Ed. programs may be pursued by individuals who are already certified or working in education.

Ultimately, the choice between an MAT and an M.Ed. depends on an individual's career goals, prior education experience, and whether they are seeking initial certification or looking to advance their career in education.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Between an MAT and an M.Ed.

Choosing between a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) and a Master of Education (M.Ed.) involves considering various factors that align with your career goals, background, and preferences. Here are some key factors to consider:

1.    Career Goals:

MAT: For initial teaching certification.
M.Ed.: For career advancement, leadership, or specialization.

2.    Prior Education and Experience:

MAT: Often for those without an education background.
M.Ed.: Geared toward certified teachers seeking advanced knowledge.

3.    Specialization Options:

MAT: Subject or grade level focus.
M.Ed.: Diverse specializations like leadership, counseling, or technology.

4.    Program Structure:

MAT: Practical, hands-on teaching methods.
M.Ed.: Theoretical coursework, research, and leadership training.

5.    Time and Format:

MAT: Usually shorter duration, suitable for quicker entry into teaching.
M.Ed.: May offer part-time or online options for flexibility.

6.    Cost and Financials:

MAT: Potentially lower cost, quicker return on investment.
M.Ed.: Consider overall career advancement and potential salary increases.

7.    Licensing and Accreditation:

MAT: Often aligned with state teaching certification.
M.Ed.: Verify accreditation and alignment with career goals.

8.    Networking and Alumni:

MAT: May focus more on practical experiences.
M.Ed.: Opportunities for networking, leadership connections, and diverse career paths.