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Overview

Master’s programs in secondary education provide experienced high school and middle school teachers with the opportunity to pursue special interests in the field of education, training them to be leaders and scholars, as well as educators. Depending on the faculty and course offerings at the program they choose to attend, graduate students focus their studies on academic topics such as mathematics education, science education, foreign language, or language arts, or on alternative topics such as multicultural education, middle school instruction, adolescent values, or arts education. Within these subject areas, students study teaching methodology, theory, and curriculum development.

In addition to theoretical and classroom based work, research and/or fieldwork are integral to the curriculum. Most schools require students to spend at least two semesters in a professional internship or to complete a research based master’s thesis on a relevant topic.

Master’s programs in secondary education usually have a practical focus, aimed at providing current secondary school educators with relevant skills to improve their performance in the classroom. While the majority of programs approach the topic from that perspective, some programs admit students who are new to teaching, allowing them to complete credential requirements at the same time they receive a master’s degree.

Degree Information

Depending on the program they choose, students may pursue a Master of Science (M.S.), Master of Arts (M.A.), or Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Secondary Education. M.S. and M.A. programs usually require subject-specific coursework and a culminating thesis, whereas the M.Ed. may not. Program requirements and courses vary by school; however, all degree options can usually be conferred after one or two years of advanced level coursework in the discipline. Many programs allow part-time or summer options for practicing teachers. A practicum or master’s thesis is a graduation requirement at many institutions.

Some schools also offer the option of pursuing a Ph.D. in Education with a focus on Secondary Education. These programs are geared towards education professionals who want to pursue a career in educational research or in teacher education on the university level.

Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing a Degree Program

  • What is the core curriculum?
  • What specialties or certificate programs does the school offer?
  • Who are the faculty and staff? What professional or academic experience do they bring to the program?
  • Where do students do internships or fieldwork?
  • Where is the school located? Does the school's location influence its philosophy?
  • Does the school offer part time study?
  • Can students pursue a teaching credential concurrent to an M.A./M.S.?

Career Overview

Most individuals who pursue an advanced degree in secondary education already work in the school system, and most return to the classroom with refined skills and experience, sometimes working as master teachers. Master teachers continue to teach in the middle or high school environment, but are also responsible for designing or integrating new concepts (such as technology or multicultural education) into the curriculum. Others return to the school as administrators, using their new skills to oversee school management and function.

Though they are the most common, teaching and administration are not the only career paths that may come from a degree in secondary education. Some graduates go on to work as child development specialists or researchers, investigating new, more effective ways to educate secondary school students.

Career/Licensing Requirements

To work in public schools, teachers are required to hold a valid state teaching credential. Credential requirements vary from state to state. However, they generally require advanced level coursework, student teaching experience, in education as well as successful performance on the state qualifying exams.

Salary Information

New graduates can expect to earn between $40,000 and $50,000, though the exact amount will fluctuate based on demand and experience.

Related Links

National Association of State Boards of Education
The National Association of State Boards of Education has information about state school districts and information about certification requirements and teaching standards.

National Boards for Professional Teaching Standards
The National Boards for Professional Teaching Standards is a national, nonprofit organization of professional educators dedicated to creating and upholding high standards for U.S. teachers. Their web site contains information about credentials, news about education reform, and other education related resources.

National Science Teacher Association
The National Science Teacher Association is a national organization of science teachers. Check their web site for information on conferences, news, publications, and other education resources.

National Council for Teachers of English
The National Council for Teachers of English offers news, publications, message boards, and a member directory.

Socialstudies.org
Socialstudies.org is an educational resource for teachers, maintained by the National Council for Social Studies Teachers.