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Your Essential Guide to Choosing a Graduate Degree in Education

Aligning Your Interests with Your Goals: Reasons to Pursue a Graduate Degree in Education

A graduate degree in teaching or education is a noble and rewarding pursuit, one that is essential if teachers and educational leaders are to continue improving outcomes for students and those they serve. Often not given the recognition they deserve, these professionals are on the front lines, working day-in and day-out to transform the lives of children and adolescents.

The true mark of an education professional is that he or she is always seeking to learn, improve his or her capacity for knowledge and strengthen areas that need improvement. A master’s degree offers depth and subject matter knowledge to help teachers and other education professionals to excel in their work and benefit their students to the best of their ability.

Depending on where you want to work and what you hope to accomplish in your career, you could pursue several different graduate degree pathways — each specifically designed to help you achieve your goals. A graduate degree can prepare you for work inside a classroom or in a leadership, advising or research position. There are few limits to the breadth of professional possibilities available with these degrees! This guide will explore those different options in depth, and specifically focus on the Master of Arts in Teaching, the Master of Arts and the Master of Education degrees.

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Choosing a Graduate Degree in Education

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Should I Pursue a Graduate Degree in Education?

When making the decision to return to school for a graduate degree, you’ll probably encounter a lot of questions. Ultimately, these questions will help you decide if this is the best choice for you. To help you through your decision process, here are a few questions you will want to consider:

  • What is my motivation for returning to school? Do I want to make a career change? Do I want to begin teaching in a classroom? Do I need more training and a deeper, broader skill set to feel confident in the classroom?
  • Am I interested in a different professional role within education, perhaps a leadership or supervisory role?
  • Do I want to transition into a specialized role such as a school counselor, psychologist or special education teacher?
  • Do I want or need greater career mobility, more professional responsibility or a higher salary?
  • Am I prepared to take on the advanced coursework needed to obtain a graduate degree?

If you answered yes to some or all of these questions — it looks like a graduate degree in an educational field could be a great choice for you! The next question to consider is — what specific degree should you earn to help you accomplish your goals? With several degree options to choose from, take our quiz below to help match you to a program that’s the best fit for you.

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Quiz: If I Want to Do “X,” What Degree Should I Earn?

Knowing that you want to work in the education field and need a graduate degree to do so is only the first step in deciding which degree path to pursue. With several options to choose from, such as a Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.), a Master of Arts in an educational discipline (M.A.) or a Master of Education (M.Ed.), it’s normal to find yourself wondering — what’s the difference? And which degree should I choose?

To help you navigate that decision, we’ve put together a short quiz that will guide you to the degree that supports your learning and career objectives. Get started below!

Start Quiz!

Question 1:

Have you graduated with or are you about to graduate with a degree in chemistry, math, history, English, biology, physics, etc. and are looking to obtain a license so that you can teach this content area?

Question 2:

Are you interested in earning a license or endorsement in an area of school professional practice (other than teaching) such as educational or school psychology, leadership, counseling or special education?

Question 3:

Is the goal of your master’s degree to help you prepare for a professional role in research or to prepare you to enter a doctoral program?

Question 4:

Is the goal of your master’s degree to prepare you for a leadership or professional role and to equip you with the theoretical coursework and an in-depth understanding of the pedagogy related to your area of interest?

Question 5:

Are you interested in teaching in an early childhood or secondary education classroom setting?

Question 6:

Do you have a desire to explore and evaluate the factors — biological, social, behavioral and environmental — that contribute to a successful and productive learning environment? Do you want to use that knowledge to improve student learning outcomes?

Question 7:

Are you looking for a graduate degree that will offer you the expertise to begin a professional role in one of the following areas: school psychology, school counseling, special education or educational psychology?

Learn More About the College of Education, Health and Human Services at Kent State University

The College of Education, Health and Human Services (EHHS) at Kent State University currently offers 25 master’s programs and 14 doctoral programs across four different schools within the college. The breadth and comprehensiveness of these offerings, coupled with faculty expertise and experience in research and teaching, make Kent State an ideal place to pursue graduate study in teaching and education-related disciplines. Additionally, our students participate in high quality, supervised practicum experiences designed to give them the practical knowledge needed to stand out as an expert in their chosen field.   

If you would like to view a list of our graduate programs, application requirements, and specific department contact information, please click below.

KSU-Education-Table-Cover-1 DOWNLOAD THE PDF Every one of our graduate degree programs is inquiry-based and student-centered, meaning that everything from a student’s degree plan to his or her coursework is designed to help meet specific learning objectives and interests. Additionally, knowledge is acquired, not through memorization or complacent absorption, but by encouraging our students to continually question, evaluate and reevaluate the information that is presented. Within our graduate programs at KSU, we are always innovating, seeking to add transformational value to the degrees our students earn and working to reflect the increasingly globalizing world we live in. 

internationa-baccalaureate

One of the concrete ways we do this is through our partnership with the International Baccalaureate Organization. As part of the Master of Arts in Teaching, for the early childhood concentration, graduates who receive their Early Childhood Education licensure are certified to teach in Primary Years International Baccalaureate (IB) programs around the world. This opportunity is the first in the world for a primary years education program. The curriculum is adjusted to include all the necessary teaching objectives and students are accredited by the International Baccalaureate Organization. Graduates are not only able to teach in IB schools around the world, but also within some of the most prestigious school districts in the United States.

 

Want to teach in a classroom? Earn an M.A.T.!

The Master of Arts in Teaching is intended for students who have earned their bachelor's degree in an unrelated discipline, or are looking to make a career change, and are interested in becoming certified to teach a specific age group or subject in a particular state. This degree is frequently a combination of classroom and field placement experiences, designed to provide future educators with the pedagogy and theoretical foundations needed to engage and effectively communicate information to students, as well as the hands-on learning experiences that will inform their daily work. 

KSU’s Master of Arts in Teaching

The Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) program at Kent State University offers two degree track options: the M.A.T. in Early Childhood Education and the M.A.T. in Secondary Education

M.A.T. in Early Childhood Education 

The early childhood program is for those interested in becoming certified to teach Preschool through grade 5 (beginning in Spring 2021) in the state of Ohio. This degree is offered in an 18-month intensive, five-semester program. We are working to offer classes through a combination of online and traditional courses to accommodate our dedicated adult students. To earn this degree, students must complete 64 credit hours and a minimum of 1175 field hours.

Admissions requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university
  • Minimum 3.000 undergraduate (cumulative/overall) GPA for unconditional admission
  • Official transcripts
  • Goal statement
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Praxis Core tests in reading, writing, and mathematics
  • Résumé
  • Supplemental data form
  • Questions in Anticipation of Licensure form
  • Interview (conducted prior to full acceptance into the program)

M.A.T. in Secondary Education

The secondary education program prepares candidates interested in teaching language arts, mathematics, science or social studies for grades 7-12, or multi-age teachers (pre-K through 12) in art, dance, foreign language, music and health. This degree is offered in an 11-month intensive program or a two-year part-time program. To earn this degree, students must complete between 40 and 43 credit hours and a minimum of 140 field hours.

Applicants will be assessed holistically, considering academic credentials, standardized test scores (reading, writing and mathematics), academic or professional references, non-academic dimensions and other specific program criteria. Candidates must first specialize in their chosen subject/content area and complete any remaining course requirements at the post-undergraduate level prior to being reviewed for admission to this program.

Admissions requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university
  • Minimum 3.000 undergraduate (cumulative/overall) GPA for unconditional admission
  • Official transcripts
  • GRE scores
  • Goal statement (1000-word essay explaining your desire to teach)
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Praxis Core tests in reading, writing, and mathematics
  • Résumé
  • Content evaluation showing completion of prerequisite content area coursework (sErin Harwood, Graduate Academic Advisor in 418 White Hall, eharwood@kent.edu)
  • Interview (conducted prior to full acceptance into the program)

In addition, it is expected that applicants have experience with the age group they are hoping to teach (7th - 12th graders). Substitute teaching, coaching and tutoring are just a few options to help fulfill this expectation. Evidence of these experiences will be presented to the faculty at the admission interview and should be highlighted in the prospective student’s essay.

Career Outlook for M.A.T. Graduates

Graduates of an M.A.T. program generally begin a career as a classroom educator after completing their degree. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that job growth for kindergarten and elementary school teachers will remain on par with the national average for all professions (7%). A career as a high school teacher has a similar outlook at 8% growth. On average, kindergarten and elementary school teachers make $57,980 per year, while high school teachers make $60,320 per year.

In Ohio, kindergarten teachers earn an average annual salary of $59,750, elementary school teachers earn $62,430, middle school teachers earn $62,130 and high school teachers earn $61,930. Special education teachers earn between $56,000-64,000 on average depending on the grade level. 

Want to work as an education professional? Earn an M.A.!

The Master of Arts (M.A.) degree is a professional degree designed to prepare graduates for a career in one of the following areas: a leadership role as an education professional, research or continued study in a doctoral program. Students who pursue this graduate degree are looking at options beyond classroom teaching and want to use their career to positively influence the systems and procedures surrounding education as a whole. The specific focus of this degree will depend on the student’s chosen area of interest. 

KSU’s Master of Arts 

The Master of Arts program at Kent State University offers a degree track in educational psychology that prepares students to evaluate the factors that contribute to a successful and productive learning environment, specifically within the context of advanced research as part of a doctoral program. 

Students in the M.A. in educational psychology will be given rigorous training in research methods and an education in the major theoretical perspectives of educational psychology. As part of this degree, students will design and conduct their own research in educational psychology under the mentorship of a faculty member, which will culminate in the crafting and defense of a thesis. 

The coursework consists of a minimum of 39-credit hours and will cover areas such as educational psychology core coursework, research and methodology as well as electives. 

Admissions requirements

  • Application 
  • Goal statement describing reasons for seeking a master’s degree
  • Official transcripts for all prior coursework
  • An undergraduate GPA of 3.0 for unconditional admission
  • Combined verbal and quantitative GRE scores of 1000 or better and a minimum of a 4.0 on the analytical writing section of the GRE
  • Three professional letters of recommendation
  • An interview — in person or by telephone — with at least one faculty member in the program area

Career Outlook for M.A. Graduates

Graduates with an M.A. in educational psychology primarily go on to work as a college counselor or in a role researching and developing better programs to enhance student learning. To work as a licensed school psychologist, you will need to obtain either your Ph.D. or Ed.S. degree. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the career outlook for psychologists is faster than the national average, growing at 14 percent over the next several years. 

The average annual salary for all psychologists is $79,010 and the average annual salary for school psychologists in Ohio is $75,710. College counselors earn between $45,000 and $68,000 on average and educational researchers earn between $41,459 and $97,28, depending on the organization and years of experience. 

Want to specialize in a school professional practice? Earn an M.Ed.!

The Master of Education is for individuals who are looking to enter the field of education in a mid- to upper- level position, working in an area of school professional practice. There are several different licenses and endorsements available, which allow students to tailor their degree to their specific area of interest including curriculum and instruction, school psychology, school counseling, special education and educational psychology.

KSU’s Master of Education

The Master of Education program at Kent State University offers five degree track options – curriculum and instruction, school psychology, school counseling, special education and educational psychology. 

The M.Ed. in curriculum & instruction provides a wide range of graduate study opportunities in progressive, research-based curriculum and teaching practices. The program prepares educators for continuing professional development, education in a multicultural society and leadership for curriculum reform and renewal.

The Curriculum and Instruction major comprises the following concentrations:

  • Curriculum and Teaching Studies
  • English/Language Arts Education
  • Mathematics Education
  • Middle Childhood Education
  • Physical Education Teacher Education
  • Science Education
  • Social Studies Education

The concentrations do not lead to teacher education licensure or endorsement with the exception of the Physical Education Teacher Education concentration. The Physical Education Teacher Education concentration may lead to a multi-age pre-kindergarten through grade 12 license to teach physical education in Ohio. The program includes field experience components at the elementary and secondary levels, and culminates with a full-semester student teaching experience.

Admissions requirements:

  • Bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university for unconditional admission
  • Minimum 3.000 undergraduate GPA on a 4.000 point scale for unconditional admission
  • Official transcript(s)
  • GRE scores if GPA is below 3.000 (Physical Education Teacher Education concentration only)
  • Application essay
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Interview (Physical Education Teacher Education concentration only)
  • English language proficiency — all international students must provide proof of English language proficiency (unless they meet specific exceptions).

The M.Ed. in school psychology explores the core principles of school psychological practice. This M.Ed. is not considered a terminal degree and is not sufficient for earning Ohio state license in school psychology. Additional training beyond the M.Ed. (e.g., an Ed.S. or Ph.D.) is required in order to work as a licensed school psychologist at state and national levels.

Graduates of this program will be able to demonstrate knowledge and skills associated with the National Association of School Psychologists’ Domains of School Psychology Training and Practice.

This degree can be completed over one year of full-time study, on-campus study and requires a minimum of 30 graduate credit hours.

Admissions requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university
  • Minimum 3.000 undergraduate (cumulative/overall) GPA for unconditional admission
  • Official transcripts
  • GRE scores
  • Goal statement
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Résumé or curriculum vitae
  • Sample of written work
  • Interview (conducted prior to full acceptance into the program)

The M.Ed. in school counseling prepares students for employment as professional school counselors in K-12 schools. This program is designed to fulfill the educational requirements for licensure as a licensed school counselor in the state of Ohio. This graduate degree is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). 

The program may be pursued on a part-time or full-time basis, and courses are offered on campus. This degree is typically completed over two to four years of study and requires a minimum of 48 graduate credit hours. Candidates who seek to obtain an Ohio license are required to pass specific assessments in order to apply for licensure. 

Admissions requirements

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university
  • Minimum 3.000 undergraduate (cumulative/overall) GPA for unconditional admission
  • Official transcripts
  • Goal statement
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Interview (conducted prior to full acceptance into the program)

The M.Ed. in special education is designed to provide students with an advanced understanding of contemporary research and practice issues in special education. Within the degree, students can choose from a variety of concentrations including: 

  • American Sign Language/English interpreting
  • Deaf education
  • Early childhood intervention specialist
  • General special education
  • Mild/moderate educational needs
  • Moderate/intensive educational needs
  • Transition-to-work 

Each of the concentrations within the M.Ed. in special education degree require varying amounts of coursework and have different application requirements.

Admissions requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university
  • Minimum 3.000 undergraduate (cumulative/overall) GPA for unconditional admission
  • Official transcripts
  • Goal statement
  • Two letters of recommendation

For a full list of degree and admissions requirements, please visit the program website. The M.Ed in SPED does not result in eligibility for the Ohio Intervention Specialist nor any teacher endorsements. For licensure or endorsement programs in SPED, please visit https://www.kent.edu/ehhs/ldes/sped/graduate-programs.

The M.Ed. in educational psychology is built upon a foundation that is drawn from both the college’s mission statement and the Teachers Education Program conceptual framework. Graduates emerge as professional educators grounded in an in-depth knowledge of the field, learner-centered pedagogy, reflective practices, professional teaching methods and collaborative strategies.

This degree is typically completed over three semesters of full-time, on-campus study and requires a minimum of 33 graduate credit hours.

Admissions requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university
  • Minimum 3.000 undergraduate (cumulative/overall) GPA for unconditional admission
  • Official transcripts
  • Goal statement
  • Two letters of recommendation

Career Outlook for M.Ed. Graduates

Depending on the concentration, those who earn their Master of Education can pursue a wide range of career options. The following are just a few available possibilities and associated salary ranges:

Check out our guide for Career Changers!

For more advice on how to navigate graduate school and switch careers, explore our
comprehensive resource — The Career Changer’s Guide to Graduate School!

career-guide

Doctorate and Educational Specialist Degrees

Those who wish to pursue an advanced graduate degree beyond the scope of a master’s program can choose either a doctorate (Ph.D.) or an educational specialist (Ed.S.) degree. A Ph.D. is primarily focused on cultivating, evaluating and disseminating research related to the field of education.

An Ed.S. is not a doctoral degree but is more advanced than a master’s program. It is not as heavily research focused as a Ph.D., but is more concerned with the practical application of evidence-based practices and leadership development within the student’s chosen area of expertise.

Kent State University offers a Ph.D. in educational psychology and both a Ph.D. and Ed.S. in school psychology and special education.

DOWNLOAD KSU’S GRADUATE SCHOOL DECISION
AND ADMISSIONS GUIDE

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Exploring Certificates, Licensures and Endorsements

In addition to earning a master’s, students can choose to further enhance the value of their degree by adding a certificate, license or endorsement to particular graduate programs. The primary difference among the three is, in general, certificates convey expertise to practice, licenses represent permission to practice as granted by the state of Ohio and endorsements are additions to licenses in specific subject areas.

Students can also choose to pursue a graduate certificate. These certificates require between nine and 24 credit hours. For more on requirements, please visit the program website.

 

In addition to the M.A.T. program, students can choose to pursue one of many initial or additional teacher licensure programs or endorsements. These licensure and endorsement programs vary greatly and can require anywhere between six and 54 credit hours. Programs include:

EARLY CHILDHOOD

MIDDLE CHILDHOOD

Initial Licensure

Additional Licensure

SPECIAL EDUCATION

Initial Licensure

Additional Licensure

Special Education Endorsements

SCHOOL HEALTH EDUCATION

GIFTED eDUCATION

READING ENDORSEMENT

COMPUTER/TECHNOLOGY ENDORSEMENT

ADAPTIVE PHYSICAL EDUCATION

CAREER-BASED INTERVENTION


Start Your Graduate School Journey

In addition to earning a higher salary and experiencing greater career mobility, one of the best benefits of earning a graduate degree in education is the vast breadth of opportunities available once you complete your degree. Whether you are already working in the field of education or are hoping to transition into a career as a teacher or in an education-related discipline, know that a graduate degree is a smart, strategic step that offers you a noticeable return on your investment. 

If you have any questions about the degrees we have mentioned or how they will prepare you for a rewarding career, please feel free to reach out to us or request more information today. If you are ready and eager to get started on your graduate school journey, you can begin your online application here. We look forward to working with you as you achieve your educational goals!

 

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