New Careers with a Master of Arts in Teaching Degree
When it became evident some years ago that the shortage of teachers in our public schools was only going to get worse, state authorities and universities both began to take action. Some states developed programs that provided interim teaching credentials for individuals with the right academic background. Others reduced their academic requirement for a master's degree in education (M.Ed) to a bachelor's degree with the appropriate student teaching hours.
Development of the MAT
The colleges and universities developed the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) degree. This program is designed to allow people who are interested in making a career switch into teaching to do so as rapidly as possible. The MAT provides the basics in educational theory and the psychology of managing kids and classrooms. The M.Ed. is a more scholarly endeavor. An MAT is meant to provide basic teaching skills for the student and provide sufficient academic exposure in the field of education such that MAT graduates can pass state licensing exams. MAT programs at the various universities have curricula that align with the state licensure exams for teaching in the states where the university is located.
There are several versions of the MAT, based on the student's academic background and goals. The full time immersion program is like a fifth year master's degree for undergraduates that includes a year's internship and can lead to the provisional license most states offer to new teachers. Some schools incorporate elements of the MAT into undergraduate work for students who enroll in an accelerated version of the program. That allows undergraduates set on a teaching career to get there as quickly as possible.
The MAT for Elementary Education
This form of this version of the degree provides MAT students with the academic background and the skills to pass the basic teaching exam for licensure. MAT graduates in this program can teach any subject in a single classroom. Many people with teaching assistant credentials will return to undergraduate study and then complete this MAT option to become classroom teachers.
Teachers with a bachelor's degree have taken advantage of the MAT programs to earn an advanced teaching credential in a particular field. There are options for MAT degrees with specializations in mathematics, in biology, in physics, chemistry, history, and the other topics that secondary education teachers typically specialize in. These MAT programs for licensed teachers provide a route to a higher paying position in the field, as high school teachers are usually paid more than middle school or elementary school teachers. Most districts also pay teachers with master's degree at a higher pay scale than teachers with a bachelor's degree.
Mid-Career Transfer to Teaching
For people who hold a bachelor's degree in a field unrelated to education the MAT presents several options. Those with a background in one of the sciences or in a math related field such as engineering can obtain qualification for a state licensing exam in those teaching specializations within a year. There are a lot of undergraduate prerequisites for a teaching credential in biology, for instance, but someone who has worked in the field and studied molecular biology or worked in biotech may qualify for an MAT with that specialization. Engineers have the background in mathematics to specialize in that area; the one remedial class they may need would be in statistics.
Depending on academic background, and your goals, the MAT can take either one year or two years to complete. In either case it can lead to a general teaching license or a license to teach in a specialized field.
When it became evident some years ago that the shortage of teachers in our public schools was only going to get worse, state authorities and universities both began to take action. Some states developed programs that provided interim teaching credentials for individuals with the right academic background. Others reduced their academic requirement for a master's degree in education (M.
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