Master of Arts in Teaching Guide: Curriculum

Master of Arts in Teaching

Photo by MC Quinn

Welcome to our Master in Arts of Teaching Guide series. Check back for additional information on getting your MAT.

There are multiple benefits to getting a master’s degree, and teachers hoping to advance their careers or those with bachelor’s degrees who wish to become teachers may both consider a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program a good option. For those considering their options, Certification Map has a wealth of information on potential graduate programs. Future MAT students may be curious as to what their curriculum will be like. The following is a glimpse of what you should expect in a typical MAT program. Keep in mind that all schools vary in their coursework offerings and philosophies, so this information is not all-inclusive.

MAT in a Nutshell

An MAT is ideal for individuals who already have bachelor’s degrees and decide to become teachers later, or teachers who plan on staying in the classroom but would like to advance their pedagogical knowledge. It is also a good option for teachers in states that require master’s degrees for professional or permanent certificates. MAT programs often offer a great amount of flexibility, with part-time and online options, so individuals can work while achieving their degrees. Coursework is often content-focused (e.g. history, secondary language arts, middle school math), so graduate students become “master teachers” in their subject area. Many programs also integrate hands-on education, such as with student-teaching and internships.

MAT with Teaching Certification

An MAT with teaching credential, like the ones offered at USC Rossier Online, engage students in four terms of rigorous academics that focus on literacy, student development, effective teaching strategies, media integration and content knowledge. Future teachers complete student teaching, often for a semester, under the guidance of both a cooperating teacher and a college-appointed mentor. By graduation, students should be ready to apply for teaching certificates in their respective states. All teacher candidates should check certification requirements with their state’s department of education to ensure that their MAT program fulfills all of them.

General Coursework

Whether teaching elementary or high school, students should expect to take coursework in literacy, since all teachers need to be able to integrate literacy into their content areas, and human development. Classroom theory and management are often taught as courses or components of courses. There is also a large focus on integrating technology and media into education. Since MAT programs focus on specific teaching content areas, students should expect to take a group of courses on how to teach their specific subject areas (e.g. English as a second language, social studies, physical education). USC Rossier Onlineoffers sample course descriptions on their website so prospective students can get a general idea of what courses they should expect to take.

Skills and Emphasis

MAT programs offer rigorous courses that are combined with hands-on practice so that prospective teachers are equipped to teach modern students. The programs often emphasize integrating technology into learning and engaging multiple intelligences, as well as being able to teach diverse groups of learners, including students with disabilities and English language learners. Today’s classrooms are more inclusive, so teachers need to be skilled in differentiation and collaboration with other teachers. Teachers should be aware of current trends and theories, and be able to apply these practices into their instruction. Hands-on practice helps teachers become more reflective practitioners and be able to receive feedback from their mentors and professors. Ultimately, graduate students are prepared to be lifelong learners, as teaching is continually evolving.