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What Is a MAT Degree? Curriculum & Outcomes

October 28, 2022

The nation needs teachers—especially teachers equipped to educate students amid the myriad challenges facing the education field and society in general.

A National Education Association (NEA) survey from January 2022 shows that 55 percent of educators were considering leaving the profession early, nearly double the percentage considering leaving early in July 2021. This statistic points to the prospect of many job opportunities for teachers in the coming years. 

New teachers, however, are likely to benefit from an advanced education in issues ranging from community engagement to cultural competence. A Master of Arts in Education (MAT) offers the practical skills and subject-focused learning that can arm current and aspiring teachers to meet the demands facing educators.

A MAT degree is an advanced teaching degree that focuses on practical and subject-area instructional skills. Bachelor’s degree holders interested in starting or developing a career in classroom education may want to learn more about what a MAT program entails.

What Is the Goal of a MAT Program? 

MAT degree programs emphasize the subject expertise and skills that can enhance classroom instruction, with a focus on effectively implementing lessons and working with students. They can concentrate on a specialty area, such as elementary or special education, and typically include a classroom experience component. 

MAT degree programs help to develop leaders in the classroom. They aim to provide current and future teachers with the high-level knowledge and skills to educate students with various aptitudes and from diverse backgrounds.

Curriculum Subjects for MAT Programs

The MAT curriculum includes instruction on how to teach specific subjects, such as social studies or math. It also typically includes courses related to working with students from all backgrounds, including those who are exceptional learners.

Skills to Gain in MAT Programs

MAT programs aim to strengthen instructional skills, generally through both coursework and in-classroom practice. Among the skills that MAT graduates can build and enhance are those related to:

  • Classroom management
  • Student assessment
  • Instructional technology use
  • Family, community, and educator collaboration

What Are the Benefits of a MAT Degree? 

Another issue to consider when looking into what a MAT degree is are the benefits it can offer.

A MAT degree can help current and aspiring teachers strengthen their instructional skills. It also can open doors to a broader range of positions and greater pay. The instructional benefits of a MAT degree can include:

  • Developing the ability to adjust to different learning styles
  • Discovering the best practices for designing and implementing curriculum
  • Finding ways to connect with all types of learners and their families and communities

Additionally, holding a MAT degree can help teachers compete with other teachers as they seek new roles. While not all states require teachers to have a master’s degree, the latest data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) indicates that many teachers do have a graduate-level education. Data that NCES released in 2021 indicates that, during the 2017-2018 school year, 58 percent of public school teachers held an advanced degree.

Salaries can vary according to factors such as location and experience. The NCES data issued in 2021, however, shows a significant difference in median annual salaries between public school teachers with master’s degrees and those who had only bachelor’s degrees. Bachelor’s degree holders earned a median annual salary of $49,900, while those with master’s degrees had a median annual salary of $63,100. 

What Are Some MAT Degree Career Paths? 

A MAT degree can provide a solid foundation for a variety of classroom-based roles. Its focus on education strategies and subject matter-specific material also can serve as the springboard for other types of careers. Following are some jobs MAT graduates can pursue:

Classroom Teacher

Classroom teachers can be responsible for educating students in elementary, middle, or high school settings. They also can work with different populations, such as those for whom English is their second language or adults seeking basic skills.


Tutors work with students individually or in groups to help them better understand their academic materials and improve their performance in school. They can help students with tasks like completing school assignments or with improving test-taking or note-taking skills.

Academic Specialist

The role of the academic specialist involves working with staff in school support services to help students reach their potential. These professionals can be responsible for garnering tutoring help for students and counseling students on study habits and time management.

Educational Consultant

Educational consultants assist students and their families as they prepare for college. They assess students’ strengths and weaknesses and identify colleges and universities that are a good fit for students’ interests and aptitudes. 

Educational Software Developer

Software developers design computer applications, such as games, often developing software to meet a specific need. A MAT degree can provide software developers with the advanced education knowledge to design applications that help schools and educators in teaching their students.

Strengthen Your Teaching Knowledge and Skills Instruction 

Now that you’re familiar with what a MAT degree is, you may be considering graduate study to strengthen your education expertise and teaching skills. The American University online Master of Arts in Teaching program focuses on essential teaching skills and learning principles while also ensuring its graduates can address the issues of institutional and systemic racism that are prevalent in the education system and society.

Explore how AU’s MAT program can help you meet the growing need for teachers to educate the leaders of tomorrow while confronting the issues of today.