How to Get Your Master's and a Teaching Certificate at the Same Time

teacher certification

Teaching at a post-secondary level requires a master's degree. Teachers at any level must also have the right certification and credentials. If you don't have either then you may have some work to do. Thankfully, there are ways to earn both at the same time.

Ways to Earn Your Master's Degree and Teaching Certificate Simultaneously

In order to teach, you must have a teaching certificate or license issued by the state or region in which you will be teaching. If you are planning to teach at the post-secondary level or higher, then a master's degree is usually required as well. Although it's not convenient, many teachers obtain their master's and then pursue the state requirements for teaching. However, if you want to save time and money, here are a few tips for finding ways to earn a master's degree and teaching credentials at the same time.

Look at the Long Term Goals

The first step to earning your degree and certification at the same time is to take a look at your long term teaching goals. If you're not planning to teach above grade level 12 later down the road then you don't need to worry about pursuing your master's degree. A bachelor's degree and teaching certification should suffice in most states. However, if you're not sure what grade level you want to teach take a look at your long-term goals and where you see yourself in the next five to ten years and then decide whether to pursue your master's. If you want to teach post-secondary at any time then you need your master's. In addition, holding a master's degree can put you at the top of the list for advancements, increases in salary and even leadership positions.

Long term goals.

Students who stop at their bachelor's degree must go on to earn their teaching credentials, which creates an added expense and additional training time. This is not a big deal, but down the road if should you decide to pursue your master's then you will be going to school for the third time. Instead, if you choose to go for your master's in education now then you can earn your teaching certification at the same time, which cuts down on cost, time, and the number of times you have to go back to school.

Also be aware that states such as Massachusetts, Maryland, and South Carolina now require teachers to have a master's degree when renewing their teaching certificates even if they aren't teaching at the post-secondary level. If at any time you see yourself teaching in one of these states then you should choose to continue your education and pursue your masters and teaching certificate together. This is one of the best solutions your long-term teaching career.

Look for a Master's Program in Education

Once you've looked at the long term side of your career in teaching and have decided to pursue your master's start your search for the right program by looking for one that offers teacher certification as part of the degree requirements. For instance, the Master's in Education degree program offers the best range of options for those wishing to earn certification at the same. An example is the program found at Franklin Pierce University. This particular school offers a M.Ed. program or Master of Education program that includes the option to pursue a degree and certification at the same time or (if you have your master's) it allows you to pursue certification only. Other programs that may also be offered with combined certification courses include:

  • Master of Science in Education (M.S.Ed.)
  • Master of Arts in Education (M.A.Ed.)
  • Master in Teaching (M.I.T.)
  • Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.)
  • Master's in Academic Content Areas: Master of Arts in English, a Master of Science in Mathematics, or a Master of Arts in History.

Choose the right program.

Explore Alternative Teacher Certification Options

Alternative or 'non-traditional' teaching certification programs are also available for teachers who have their bachelor's but have not yet earned their master's. This program offers a backwards approach to achieving both teacher certification and a master's degree. It was created at a time when teacher shortage was growing and there were immediate teaching slots to fill in the classrooms. Most states require for program applicants to hold a bachelor's degree with a major in an academic subject that he or she wants to teach in. The teacher certification program can take as little as one to two years and provides teachers a fast track path into the classroom. Many of the alternative teaching certification programs also offer credits toward graduate studies enabling teachers to work on their master's degree while completing their teaching certification. Depending on the state, the program may even enable teachers to teach full-time while completing the preparation and certification programs.

Know Where You Want to Teach

A master's degree with teacher certification can be earned at a variety of colleges and universities in different states across the U.S. However, because teaching certifications, requirements, rules and regulations differ from state to state knowing which state you want to teach in ahead of time can help save you additional headaches down the road. If possible, attend a school in the state you wish to teach that way your certification courses included in the master's degree program will meet the state's teaching requirements. There will be no need to pay to be certified in a different state. Websites like Teacher Certification Degrees provide lists of certification requirements for states in regards to general teacher certification and alternative teaching certification.

Know where you wan to teach.

Actively Search for the Best Program

Now that you know there are master's programs that include teacher certification as part of the degree requirements, it's time to get out there and actively search for the best program for you. Research all of your options, talk with admission professionals, and get the facts on program offerings before making your decision. Start studying and launch your teaching career through a combined masters and certification programs.

By Amanda Johnson
February 2017
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