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Distance Learning Masters in Teaching: Program Overviews

Nov 29, 2017

Find important info about online master's programs in teaching. Read about program requirements, course topics, and check out career and continuing education options to find out if this degree is right for you.

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Essential Information

A Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) degree is suited for individuals who already possess a bachelor's degree in the subject that the candidate wishes to teach, such as English, math, science or history. Graduates who obtain a MAT typically teach at the middle school or high school level.

Many online MAT programs are offered as part-time options that accommodate the schedules of working students, but full-time programs are available as well. MAT programs focus on teacher education and include courses in classroom management, curriculum development and child development. Though all coursework can be completed online, students must also complete an in-school internship.

When choosing a MAT program, make sure it meets your state's teacher licensing requirements. These requirements vary, but generally include having at least a bachelor's degree, completion of an accredited teacher education program and passing competency examinations.

Master of Arts in Teaching

The typical MAT program can be pursued in one of two ways. The first program option allows a master's degree to be completed in one additional full-time year, taken at the end of a student's undergraduate studies. A second option allows students to earn this degree through a part-time program of evening and weekend classes. This latter option is designed for working individuals who wish to transition to a career in teaching. Most distance learning master's programs train candidates to pass state certificate exams and become licensed teachers. However, it is the student's responsibility to ensure that they have met all state requirements for licensure.

The emphasis of a Master of Arts in Teaching program is on mastering teaching methodology. Presumably, students enrolled in a MAT program have already mastered the specific field of study they wish to teach during their undergraduate years. MAT programs usually conclude with an internship or practicum.

Program Information and Requirements

Online or distance learning MAT programs generally take 1-2 years to complete. The coursework consists of approximately 30 semester hours. This is followed by a face-to-face internship at a nearby school, which typically lasts 1-2 semesters. Online programs assist students in finding local teachers willing to act as mentors.

Online master's in teaching students need access to a computer and online video viewing capability in order to take advantage of multimedia online platforms such as Teachscape. These platforms feature video lectures and case studies and provide for interactions with faculty and fellow students.

Course Topics

Courses in a MAT program are typically organized into three categories, including teaching theory, guided practice and subject knowledge.

Diversity in the Classroom

In this course, prospective teachers are taught to encourage achievement and self-confidence in children who belong to groups that often experience discrimination. Through the use of video, text and direct observation, students learn strategies for making classroom decisions based on equity, fairness and an acceptance of individual differences. An important part of the diversity mission is to imbue students with a sense of equality, fair play and acceptance of others.

Classroom Behavioral and Organizational Management

Aspiring teachers learn the best practices to establish a productive learning environment, help students become responsible for their behavior, and build positive student-teacher interactions. Consideration is given to techniques for time management, and candidates learn to handle such matters as classroom organization.

Guided Internship in Teaching

In a guided internship the candidate becomes a student-teacher. He or she now has the chance to put into practice the educational theories learned in previous coursework. Student-teachers are sent to local schools, where they are paired with more experienced teachers. They participate fully in teaching activities as they occur both in and out of the classroom.


Career Information

Graduates with a Master of Arts in Teaching who have also passed a state teacher certification exam may find positions as middle school teachers, high school teachers or tutors. They might work in public or private schools or in after-school learning centers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for both middle school and high school teachers is expected to grow by 6% from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). A teacher's salary is highly dependent on his or her level of education and experience, but, as a guide, the BLS lists the median annual wage for high school teachers as $57,200 and middle school teachers as $55,860 as of May 2015.

Continuing Education Information

Graduates with a Master of Arts in Teaching who wish to continue their education may choose to pursue either a Ph.D. in Education or a Doctor of Education (Ed.D). A Ph.D. is designed for individuals interested in doing scholarly research, while an Ed.D. may be tailored to someone interested in school administration. Candidates may want to carefully investigate the focus of a given doctoral degree before deciding to pursue it.

Master's degree programs in teaching are offered online, though students also need to complete a student teaching experience in a classroom. This program teaches students about diversity and classroom management.

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