M.Ed. vs MAT: The Difference Between a Master’s in Education & a Master of Arts in Teaching

By Sarah Nguyen

You’re passionate about education and want to pursue an advanced degree. But which one is right for you: a Master of Education (M.Ed.) or a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT)? The answer to that may depend, in part, on how you answer this next question: Would you rather be inside the classroom or outside of it?

While the master’s in education and master’s in teaching degrees may appear similar at first, they’re actually quite distinct. Take a look at the differences in an M.Ed. vs MAT below to determine which one suits you and your career pursuits best. Advance Your Career at Regent.

M.Ed. vs MAT

A Master of Education (M.Ed.) is for those who may begin in the classroom but with the possibility to move beyond the classroom eventually. If you’re thinking more broadly about your role in the education system … perhaps to serve in administration, leadership, curriculum design, counseling, or another area, the M.Ed. will help prepare you.

Often, coursework is more theoretical in nature, with less focus on practical skills and more emphasis on the critical evaluation of educational practices. An M.Ed. is also a good stepping-stone toward a doctoral and/or terminal degree should you want to pursue further advanced study. Examples of concentrations in this program include curriculum & instruction, administration, and leadership — with potential careers as a principal, reading specialist, instructional coordinator, and more.

A Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) or master’s in teaching, on the other hand, is more suited for those who want practical, hands-on experience teaching in a classroom and working with students directly. The degree program is ideal for individuals who do not hold an undergraduate teaching degree and are seeking a career change and/or licensure to teach.

The MAT is a very practical degree that will hone in on the specific subject matter you wish to teach (i.e., math, biology, etc.) in addition to instructing on teaching methodologies, learning styles, and so forth. Examples of concentrations in this program are early childhood education, elementary education, secondary education and special education — all leading toward a career as a teacher in elementary school, middle school, or high school.

Whether your desire is to serve in the classroom or in higher levels of administration, know this: Either degree can help elevate your teaching career, increase your expertise, and offer you a chance to impact and influence students — both directly and indirectly. The M.Ed. may simply open additional doors.

Advance Your Career With A Master’s in Education

Did you know? Regent University’s master’s-level education programs are ranked among the top-five best online graduate education programs in Virginia, according to U.S. News & World Report 2019.

Regent’s Master of Education is available both online (Top 35 Best Online Master’s in Education) and on campus in Virginia Beach and offers several unique concentration options —including some with endorsements and even an M.Ed. career switcher program with initial licensure.

Regent also offers an educational specialist (Ed.S.) degree designed to help bridge the gap between your master’s and a doctoral degree in education should you choose to continue toward a terminal degree.

Ready to take the next step? For questions or to speak with a member of our admissions team, please contact the School of Education Admissions Office at 888.713.1595 or email edadmissions@regent.edu.