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What Kind of Degree?

Let’s face it, many professionals who are practicing Instructional Design, did not actually begin their careers in Instructional Design (myself included). Because of this, sometimes, especially for people who are switching careers, the prospect of graduate school is appealing (or appalling). There are so many options available when it comes to graduate-level education degrees, that it can be kind of overwhelming to decide which one(s) will be applicable. Keep in mind, the institution you choose often determines the available credentials as well. Let’s go over some of the options:

  • M.Ed. (sometimes abbreviated Ed.M.) (Master of Education) – The most recognizable Master’s degree type. Usually the curriculum of M.Ed. programs are very wide-ranging from Instructional Design and Educational technology to educational psychology to teaching and instruction.
  • M.S.Ed./M.A.Ed. (Master of Science in Education/Master of Arts in Education) – These degrees, while education-related, allow you to focus on a specific field on the education spectrum. I earned an M.S.Ed. with a focus on Learning Design & Technology. Keep in mind, you can definitely earn an M.S.Ed or an M.A.Ed. and teach in a classroom if you are licensed. I decided to use my M.S.Ed. outside of the classroom as a Training Director and it is equally applicable.
  • M.A.T. (Master of Arts in Teaching) – My first foray into graduate school saw me pursuing an M.A.T. degree. This degree is usually for individuals who begin as professionals in other fields and want to move into the classroom. Its focus is a little more narrowed than the other options in that most of the coursework surrounds teaching methods/pedagogy and coursework for your teaching major/minor. That was my goal; moving from mechanical engineering to secondary Math and Computer education.
  • Ed.S. (Education Specialist) – This degree is a post-Masters degree. While it is considered a terminal degree, those who hold this degree do not have the title “Doctor”. Also, Ed.S. programs typically require you to complete coursework beyond a Masters degree, which sets this degree apart from the others. Usually, Ed.S. coursework is transferrable to a corresponding Ed.D. program. The Ed.S. is becoming more popular as it is great especially for practitioners who are interested in educational leadership and administration.

With all the options that are available, be sure to first decide what your professional goals are, then choose the program. With that plan, you can’t go wrong. All of these degrees garner respect in the education field. Just be sure to choose the one that is right for you.

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