Although the standard admission requirements for a master’s in education list the related bachelor’s degree as necessary, there are alternative avenues to be considered here.
Teacher shortages, the growing need for educational specialists, and a significant impact of distance learning platforms – all this has dramatically changed how we perceive and approach education today.
As a consequence, new trends have emerged in admission policies across the globe.
For example, according to the recent report by the US Department of Education, Office of Postsecondary Education, one in five teachers becomes a teacher by bypassing the four-year undergraduate program or a master’s degree.
However, there isn’t a general rule of thumb that would be applicable in each particular case. A lot depends on the state’s policy, academic institution, and a candidate’s background.
Here’s what you should all consider if you’re opting for alternative avenues in higher education.
Can You Get a Master’s Without a Bachelor’s?
Not only is it possible to enroll in a master’s in education without the related undergraduate degree, but you can also skip the bachelor’s programme entirely in some cases.
True, this happens extremely rarely – especially in the field of education – but it’s not impossible as it might seem.
In a nutshell, there’s only one way of applying for a two-year master programme if you’ve never set foot at an undergraduate level institution – you have to have a lot of relevant working experience. Or, put somewhat differently, you have to be a senior professional in your area of expertise.
In such a scenario, most admission boards will likely perceive your application as a means to enrich your practice with supporting theory and allow your enrolment.
However, take note that you would have to reach out to the institution’s Enrolment Advisor because bypassing bachelor’s is not a standardized application process.
Furthermore, you should know that there are hybrid learning programmes from accredited institutions worldwide that allow you to complete a preparation programme and award you a sort of “micro-master.” You are then eligible to take the entry test and earn enrollment with high performance (for instance, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology offers this kind of master’s programme).
But, because only certain areas of study allow accrediting candidates with “advanced standing,” your options might be restricted to particular majors, such as Business Administration or programming, for example.
In each case, it’s crucial to do proper research according to your specific situation and adjust it to your own development goals.
Educational Degrees: M.Ed, MAT, MS
When it comes to obtaining higher degrees in education, things tend to be a bit more perplexed.
For one thing, there are three types of master’s programmes, each suitable for different career paths: master of education (M.Ed), a master of arts in education (MA), and a master of science in education (MS).
An MA degree, also referred to as MAT (Master of Arts in Teaching), focuses on developing classroom-related skills. It aims to upgrade the teaching experience through a curriculum that offers a theoretical and practical foundation for gaining lecturer expertise. Typical coursework includes pedagogical theory and its implementation, classroom management, and teaching with technology. In a word, MAT is designed for professional educators whose future role will entail working directly with students.
Although the coursework of MA and M.Ed tend to overlap at some points, they are not quite the same.
A master of education is primarily designed for educators looking to advance their careers outside the classroom as curriculum designers, educational leaders, or policymakers. The specialization is focused on understanding and critically evaluating the practice of education, thus providing future graduates with the skill set needed to influence broader scope changes in the school system.
In contrast to the previous two, MS is suited for students looking to build their careers in academia as researchers and usually proceed with their studies at a doctoral level. Many of the MS programmes offer a deeper understanding of evaluating strategies, statistics, and assessment procedures. In other words, this kind of specialization requires robust research that students will crown in the final master thesis.
Generally speaking, all three types of master’s programmes in education take approximately two years to complete. However, some universities may offer accelerated, fast-paced options for students ready to commit full-time to their studies.
Requirements For Master’s in Education
Even though prerequisites for enrolling into a master’s in education may vary from institution to institution, some requirements are reasonably common.
To apply for this programme, you will usually need to submit the following:
- An education or related field bachelor’s degree
- An acceptable GPA, typically 3.0 or higher
- Letters of reference
- GRE (Graduate Record Examination) score
Do You Need a Bachelor’s in Education?
This is a question each institution of higher education answers differently. Generally speaking, a bachelor’s degree in a related field is highly recommended if you’re aiming to work in a public school system because most states have strict licensure procedures.
However, this doesn’t always mean that unrelated bachelor’s will automatically disqualify you at the admission process.
First, each background is different, and the admission board does take this into account. If you’ve spent five years working in a K-12 facility, for example, and are searching to upgrade your experience – you very well have the chance of being admitted into the programme.
Also, M.Ed is a very versatile degree that can provide you with many opportunities outside the traditional education system. Because both the corporate world and the government sector rely on educating its workforce, it is not uncommon for educators to take on jobs in these environments.
Finally, many accredited institutions do not require you to have a bachelor’s in education to enroll in the M.Ed programme. Especially since distance learning has flourished, an increasing number of authoritative universities offer online master’s in education, without listing the related bachelor’s as a necessary prerequisite.
All in all, the best solution to the particular admission situation is usually found through direct contact with the university you wish to attend.
Alternative Teaching Certifications
As we said, jobs after a master of education can have many faces and range from the school principal to the administration specialist.
However, if we’re considering teaching prerequisites only, things tend to form somewhat different scenarios.
If you’re interested in teaching without an education degree, you’ve probably majored in another field and are now searching for ways to apply the knowledge in the classroom.
The good news is that there is more than one path that can get you there.
The road that leads B.Ed (Bachelor’s in Education) through licensure and teaching preparation programme is probably well known. Lesser are we familiar with the fact that there are ways to become a teacher without a degree in education.
Before anything else, it is critically important to research the licensure requirements in your state and proceed by following them.
The second thing you should know is that many people chose the M.Ed or MAT because they want to earn their teacher certification and transfer their skill set to the classroom.
Many states have recently approved alternative licensure procedures, allowing anyone with an unrelated undergraduate degree to enroll in an alternative certification programme and acquire classroom skills quickly.
Aside from the jobs that are tied to official teaching credentials, there are also career opportunities in private, charter, and not-for-profit schools that don’t require applicants to have a teaching degree or hold state licensure.
At the end of the day, everything is highly dependent on individual career goals and specific educational backgrounds.
Integrated Master’s Programme
There’s another scenario in close connection with contemplating a master’s in education without a bachelor’s degree. You could be just starting your education or proceeding after an associate degree.
If this is the case, and if you are entirely sure that you would like to embark on a teaching profession, then integrated masters can be your ideal educational choice.
Namely, most integrated master’s are colloquially referred to as the “two in one” programmes because they combine bachelor’s and master’s curriculum in four to five years of study. The primary benefit of this kind of education is that it dramatically reduces the costs of the study and the time it takes to graduate.
Can You Get a Master’s of Education Online?
Absolutely. As open distance learning platforms are taking over the education field, there are many accredited online master’s programmes that you can take without the related bachelor degree as a requirement.
What’s more, because online education tends to have lower tuition fees and doesn’t require on-campus presence, the overall cost of master studies can be significantly more affordable.
The only thing you have to watch out for is choosing an institution of higher education that is accredited and recognized in your state.
Final Advice: Let Enrolment Advisor Guide You Through The Admission Process
Our admission guide tried to cover all conceivable scenarios that might emerge during the enrolment process.
Of course, as we noted several times, different backgrounds will yield specific solutions. It is not always possible to state with certainty what the particular admission board will decide. A great deal of its decision will have to do with the institution’s standardized procedures, including willingness to make an exception.
Whatever might be the case, we can say for sure that the field of education is shifting rapidly – faster than ever before – and the general trend is to loosen the enrollment barriers, especially in the field of online education.
That’s why the best piece of advice you can get is to contact the Enrolment Advisor first and decide from there.
Here at the University of Zambia, we are more than happy to guide you through the admission process, whether via our recent prospectus or direct contact.