Master of Arts in Teaching – MAT

If you are considering advancing your teaching degree to higher levels, it makes sense to weigh your options prior to choosing the right graduate degree program. Depending on your interests, it may be more in your favor to choose a degree program that focuses on the art of teaching children or a degree that investigates the function of educational facilities as a whole.
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The Master of Arts in Teaching degree is a great option if you wish to apply your knowledge in classrooms across the United States. Our experienced team has put together this guide to assist you with making the best decision for your future degree.

What Is the Master of Arts in Teaching Degree?

The Master of Arts in Teaching is a degree that adds to the expertise of educators on any platform. The MAT is a doorway to more knowledge in the field of teaching as well as a useful tool for current teachers that are looking to broaden their capabilities as a professional in the field of education. Abbreviated as both M.A. and M.A.Ed., this degree program is designed for those with a strong desire to teach children, adolescents, or even adults.

Since this is a graduate level degree program, it also caters to those that currently teach at the undergraduate level that wish to seek more education in their current field. Considering the application of the arts portion of this degree program, it is meant to broaden students’ knowledge of the different fields of education from an intellectual standpoint, focusing on the various topics to find wealth and meaning in the subjects that are taught.

The most common enrollees of this program are current teaching professionals and recent undergraduates that want to get ahead of the game early.

What is the Difference Between a M.Ed and MAT?

There are two commonly obtained master’s degrees for teachers and educators across the country. When deciding on which is the most appropriate for your situation, you should consider the perks that each degree provides to learners. The Master of Arts in Education is a great choice for individuals that are interested in working hands on with students in a teaching environment. This degree program focuses on the various aspects of teaching from a proactive standpoint, making it great for current educators.

A Master’s in Education can be used to further teaching knowledge as well, but it includes other topics in education that can allow for career possibilities in higher tier positions in the field of education. Education professionals that seek careers in education – not necessarily teaching careers – could benefit from this degree program in comparison to the Master of Arts in Education program. Our team has provided a visual comparison of the two degree programs below.

Classroom and Curriculum Theories in MAT

One of the easiest ways to define the differences of what you learn in a MAT program versus an M. Ed. is to look at the theories each one introduces. We’ve sampled potential theories in both to highlight the difference.

Practice-Based Learning

One thing you can likely expect to experience when earning this degree is to go through what they call “practice-based learning”. The idea behind this is taking your learning from a theory-based approach in the classroom and instead applying them directly in the “workplace”. In this style of learning, you might be actively learning new teaching information and practices while in these real world situation.

Subject-Based Curriculum

When you decide to earn your masters degree in education you might have the option to specialize in a specific subject that you’re interested in teaching. When you’re masters degree becomes focused on a particular subject, you might find yourself getting involved with developing new curriculum or even working on standardized test materials.

There are plenty of critiques out there about subject-based curriculum that you will need to review before making a decision (lacks a wide enough curriculum scope, pupil motivation, etc.).

Student-Driven Focus

A common theory often taught in many MAT programs is Student-Driven Focus. The idea is that the teacher will encourage students to interact with peers to develop solutions and utilize problem-solving skills. The idea is that by having this level of collaboration between students, they engage in new levels of reasoning and even social skills.

Theories in a Masters in Education

Here are a couple of the theories and approaches to curriculum development you could see while earning your Masters in Education degree.

Theory-Based Learning

The idea behind theory-based learning is more of a systematic approach to knowledge. The knowledge is often facts or general knowledge that is then applied in the classroom.

Planning and Strategy-Based Curriculum

The idea behind strategy-based curriculum is to identify all of the possible variables that could occur in different teaching situations throughout a specific course. You analyze those variables, the behavior of your students, and the desired learning goals that should be achieved.


The Master of Arts in Teaching program can provide learners with focus in either early education (Grades 1-6) or secondary education (Grades 7-12). Some universities also provide general MAT programs which include topics from both age groups. Most graduate programs in this discipline require 36 credit hours to complete and some can be completed in as little as 1 year.

One program offering this degree requires extensive field experience that is completed throughout the length of the program. Some of the common theories taught in this program as well as some of the common courses are listed below.

Curriculum Development

One of the most common ideas taught through the MAT program is efficient curriculum development. In order to provide students of any age with relevant educational topics in a meaningful order, teachers must be educated on proven curriculum development theories prior to applying them in a classroom situation. This course sets the foundation for proper teaching methods throughout a career.

Adolescent Development

In order to be a great teacher, it is important that teachers be able to connect with students on their mental level. Gaining an understanding of how children develop will provide educators with a more inward look at how their curriculum is gathered and stored by students.

Teachers as Leaders

Leadership is a topic that is often overlooked when thinking of teaching fields. However, it is vital for educators to have leadership skills when teaching children of any age. This course teaches instructors how to productively gain the attention of students and maintain it throughout the school year.

Education Policy

Educating children begins with learning what is required of educators nationally. By gaining the knowledge of policies and law concerning teachers, professionals in this field will be able to adhere to regulations more easily. Courses such as this one provide more trusted and reliable teachers for schools across the country.

Learning Skills

Depending on specialty, if applicable, this course will have a different dynamic across different subjects. In order to ensure that all children are receiving a good quality education, teachers must have the skills necessary to reach each student individually. Courses like this one are important to increasing the quality of each teacher’s personal skills.

Job Outlook

Elementary Teachers' Salary in 2015-16 DollarsTeaching is a career field that is most likely going to always be needed. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that high school, middle school, and elementary school teaching as individual fields will grow at a rate of 6% from 2014 to 2024 (BLS;, 2015). With this growing need, new educators in the field will be an important aspect to good quality education for children of all ages. The level of wages for each teacher can vary greatly, depending on where a professional works and how much experience is gained. Our team has provided some common figures for you to browse below.

  • High School Teachers – $37,800 – $91,190 per year on average (BLS;, 2015).
  • Middle School Teachers – $37,350 – $87,060 per year on average (BLS;, 2015).
  • Elementary School Teachers – $33,940 -$79,960 per year on average (BLS;, 2015).