Behind the degree: Mastering education

The path to a teaching position in your field can take as few as two years to complete.

By 2009, Melanie Fidler had been working as a freelance photographer and a teaching artist for four years. But she soon found she was yearning for a more stable career as a K-12 teacher.

For Melanie — like almost every second-career teacher —  a master’s degree program was the clearest path toward training and certification. And that goes for almost any concentration, from math to art.

“I just got turned on to the idea of teaching. I felt like I could combine my passion for helping others and working on the kind of art I love,” says Fidler, who received an M.A. in Art Education from Adelphi University in May and currently lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. “The program I chose wasn’t just a master’s [degree] in art education. It also included my certification … and testing. And I could do it in two years.”
 
Fidler currently teaches part-time, and is hoping to find a full-time teaching job in the near future.
“For me, writing lesson plans and thematic learning plans was probably the most important part of the
curriculum,” she says of her M.A. program. “Now I’m in the field, and I have to create different kinds of lessons every day.”

Making the right choice
   
It’s helpful to first understand the distinction between the M.A. (Master of Arts) and the MEd (Master of Education). “Those interested in the MEd are typically already certified. They’re interested in advancing their knowledge base and getting an additional credential,” explains Dr. Mickey Fenzel, interim dean of the Loyola University Maryland School of Education. “If your goal is to become a certified teacher, the M.A. makes the most sense.”


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