If you're considering earning a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT), you probably already know that you don't necessarily need one. Requirements for teacher licensure vary from state to state, but only three—Connecticut, Maryland, and New York—require a master's degree for license advancement. In all other states, a bachelor's degree is sufficient.
Even so, plenty of aspiring educators choose to pursue the degree. Earning a MAT yields myriad benefits, including:
It makes sense to earn your MAT where you plan to build your career. You''ll have opportunities to network with peers, local educators, and future employers. You'll also complete a curriculum designed specifically for your state (or, in the case of DC, quasi-autonomous non-state). That's important because licensing requirements vary from one state to the next. Finally, when you study locally, you'll have the option to continue working as you earn your master's (most MAT candidates are current classroom teachers looking to improve their skills and salaries).
Washington, DC, is a good place to teach and to study teaching. Our nation's capital is home to many schools with excellent MAT programs, and it offers teachers excellent career opportunities. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the estimated average annual salary of teachers in public elementary and secondary schools in Washington, DC, is $78,488 per annum. That's $16,747 more than the estimated national average of $61,730, placing DC teachers among the highest-paid in the nation.
The advantages of becoming a teacher in the District of Columbia don't stop at salary, however. DC residents also qualify for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program and the TEACH grant (an initiative jointly convened by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, ASCD and the U.S. Department of Education). Both of these provide financial aid to prospective teachers who agree to teach in high-need fields in low-income areas.
In addition, all full-time staff members of DC public schools qualify for extensive benefits, including:
And then there's the nation's capital's plethora of extra-educational benefits: museums, monuments, memorials, and of course those fabled cherry blossoms.
If you want to know more about MAT programs in Washington, DC, read on. In this article, we examine your options by answering the following questions:
Above all else, MAT programs are about learning how to teach. They are specifically designed to go beyond teacher certification or a teaching license by improving educators' skill sets on the most immediate level: in the classroom, interfacing directly with students.
The MAT should not be confused with the Master of Science in Teaching, a degree with similar coursework but which tends to be more focused on research and the administrative element of education. Nor should you mix it up with the Master of Education (M.Ed), which typically focuses on education administration and improving education from outside of the classroom. Traditional full-time MAT programs can often be completed in fewer than two years, with some degrees offering one-year programs.
MAT coursework focuses on advanced study in a subject area of your choosing. You'll improve your mastery in your chosen subject, which you'll pass on to your students. The MAT will teach you pedagogical theory and real-world application, and provide you with valuable skills for teaching unique populations, e.g., students for whom English is a second language.
You'll practice your teaching skills as you acquire them by student-teaching in a classroom, so you'll gain authentic teaching experience as well. Regardless of whether you're an aspiring K-12 teacher hoping to obtain your first teaching license via graduate school or a current K-12 teacher teacher looking to advance your professional development through additional certification, a Master of Arts in Teaching can greatly benefit you.
The application process for a Master of Arts in Teaching is routine. Universities offering the degree require most or all of the following application materials:
Beyond the exams required to obtain a teaching license, most schools don't require prospective students to take any tests before admission. Many states mandate one or more of the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators (Core) exams for licensure; therefore, some schools require prospective students to send in their PRAXIS I and/or PRAXIS II subject test scores to be considered for admission. Praxis tests measure the "academic skills and subject-specific content knowledge needed for teaching"; they are used as comprehensive examinations for students entering teacher preparation programs. Each state or licensing agency that utilizes Praxis tests sets its own requirements for which tests teacher candidates must take and what constitutes a passing score.
Once you're in, a standard Master of Arts in Teaching program will teach you learning/educational theories and how to apply them. It will also provide opportunities to practice those skills.
Listed below are some of the courses you'll likely take if you decide to pursue a MAT. You'll also complete required clinical residencies and seminars, as well as elective coursework to concentrate in a specific content area (language arts, science, math, social studies, and the like) and/or developmental group as a "year teacher" (early childhood education, special education, elementary education, high school/secondary education, etc.).
It stands to reason that teachers aspire to earn a MAT to increase their earning potential and advance in the classroom. However, nabbing a master's degree while working full-time is invariably tricky. The school year is nine months long, and there's nary a full residency program that allows you to pack all your learning into your "free" summers.
Teachers are notoriously underpaid in America, making it impossible for many educators to take one-to-three full years off work to return to school. As the United States government continues to defund public education, many teachers must work two or three jobs in order to make ends meet.
Lack of funds isn't the only reason an educator might not be able to take time off of work to attend a full-time on-campus graduate program. Many people hoping to return to school have other responsibilities requiring constant attention and/or maintenance, like caring for children or other relatives. However, most people can go back to school, provided they do their research and choose a school of education that aligns with their specific needs and aspirations.
That's where online programs come in—pursuing a reputable online MAT degree allows you to maintain your lifestyle and job responsibilities while advancing your career just as much as you would in an on-campus program. Plus, if you're without teaching certification and you're raring to command a classroom of your own, an online MAT program can function as an alternative certification program. All you need is a bachelor's degree.
Online degree programs were once considered less rigorous and credible than on-campus programs, but that's no longer the case. Today, online education offers numerous online MAT programs that are every bit as challenging and rewarding as on-campus programs. In many cases, the two are indistinguishable, from the curriculum to the degree you receive when you graduate.
You'll find online MAT programs everywhere, including Washington DC. An online MAT degree is, for all intents and purposes, the same degree as a traditional MAT degree. While it is delivered through a combination of internet technology and field-based teaching assignments, the goal is the same: prepare new teachers to create positive classroom environments that will meet today's education system challenges.
As in traditional MAT degrees, coursework in online MAT programs focuses on grade level and subject area, offering multiple subject certification (English, social studies, science, mathematics) for prospective middle school and high school teachers, and subject-specific certification (special education, gifted education). As a distance learner, you may have to do more independent research and spend more time and energy proving to your far-away professors that you understand the course material.
However, online MAT programs also allow you to pursue your teacher education with more flexibility and often at your own pace, sometimes in less time than it would take you to complete a traditional MAT education program. Programs like Americorps' Teach For America may provide you with an educational stipend to use for future studies like a graduate degree or other teacher certification programs.
American University's MAT program offers on-campus degree programs for Early Childhood Education, Secondary Education, and ESOL, and both online and on-campus options for the Elementary Education track. It also offers numerous scholarships and partnerships, including City Year/AISGW, Career Switcher, TEACH Grants, and a recent partnership with the Peace Corps.
Optimal for students looking to build their careers as teachers in DC, the School of Education at American University provides an active network within DC, Maryland, and Virginia, with over 50 K-12 schools offering placements for American University students. American boasts a 100% placement rate after graduation.
Prospective MAT students at American have the option of pursuing a dual MA/MAT. Graduates receive an MA in International Peace and Conflict Resolution from the School of International Service and the MAT in Secondary Education from the School of Education (to be considered for admission, students must apply to both the School of International Service (SIS) and the School of Education (SOE)).
The Catholic University of America offers a Master of Arts in Secondary Education and a Master of Arts in Learning and Instruction. The program prides itself on providing quality courses based on "common historical, philosophical, psychological, sociological, and research foundations." By graduation, students are expected to be skilled practitioners in their chosen field of expertise.
The Master of Arts in Learning and Instruction is designed for students looking to explore the teaching-learning process. Graduates of this non-certification program are qualified for various professional positions such as educational consultants, professional development staff members, curriculum developers, special education advocates, tutors, and policymakers.
The Master of Arts in Secondary Education, in contrast, prepares students to be middle school and high school teachers in English, mathematics or social studies. It consists of 10 courses, a semester of supervised student teaching, two research papers, and an "action research paper."
Trinity stands out for its inclusive education dual licensure program, the first and only dual licensure MAT program in the District of Columbia. Candidates receive licensure in their primary focus area in early childhood education, elementary education or secondary education, as well as licensure in special education.
Trinity's featured courses include Early Childhood Development in Family and Culture, Children's Literature, Adolescent Culture in Literature, Teaching Students with High Incidence Disabilities, and Diversity in Culture. The school demonstrates an authentic commitment to racial and ability-based diversity. Tuition is relatively low compared to other private universities in the region.
All students spend their final semester in the field, pursuing full-time teaching internships at public, private, and charter schools in the Washington metropolitan area.
UDC offers a Master of Arts in Teaching: Elementary Education. The program is specifically designed for teachers who aspire to teach grades one through six.
The UDC MAT focuses primarily on classroom training. It prides itself on training top-notch teachers to serve in the DC area specifically. The program aligns closely with trends and curricula at local institutions, with many adjunct faculty members actively serving as principals at local public schools.
The UDC MAT is ideal for local students who need to continue working full-time day jobs throughout the program. All coursework is delivered during the evening to accommodate working professionals.
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