One in five new teachers earn a master’s degree in education before entering the classroom. In Massachusetts, it’s a needed step to earn a professional license as a teacher. Massachusetts has a structured, tiered system for teachers that has helped make the state one of the leaders in education across the country. It’s also created a system in which teachers are paid more and report higher job satisfaction than most parts of the country. A master’s degree provides a major step along the career pathway for teachers in Massachusetts. Here’s a look at how it comes into play.

Massachusetts Test For Educator Licensure

The Massachusetts Test For Educator Licensure (MTEL) is part of the initial, preliminary license teachers must first earn to lead a classroom in the state, as overseen by the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The minimum requirement is a bachelor’s degree. Teaching candidates must then pass the sections of the MTEL appropriate for the grade levels and content areas in which they wish to teach. Once they pass, teaching candidates apply for a preliminary teacher’s license. This license is valid for five years, during which time the new teacher must complete a state-approved teacher preparation program.

Initial License

Once they’ve accomplished all the above, teachers earn an initial license. This is valid for 10 years. During this time, teachers must prepare for and fulfill the requirements of a professional license.

Professional License

Earning a Master’s Degree in Education fulfills the requirements to attain a professional teaching license in Massachusetts. While there are alternative routes, the master’s degree provides the most direct path. Teachers may also have to pass additional sections of the MTEL. It also benefits graduates in a variety of ways.

Better Pay

Overall, those with master’s degrees tend to make more than those with bachelor’s degrees across all professions. Nationwide, that number is about $12,000 annually. In Massachusetts, those with a master’s degree make as much as $3,000 to $5,000 more in the Boston school district. The average teacher pay is $76,442 in Massachusetts, according to the state Department of Education. In 16 districts, the average pay is more than $90,000 a year. Those with master’s degrees tend to be on the higher end of the salary spectrum.

Become A Better Teacher

Those who graduate a master’s program learn the latest approaches to solving teaching challenges, both in theory and practice. The Merrimack College master’s degree in education program, for example, features keynote and workshop speakers on significant education and educational policy issues. While a master’s degree can help you achieve the certification you want, it’s also a wonderful opportunity for professional and personal development. Graduate programs focus more on how to be a teacher, preparing graduates for leadership at their schools in areas such as educational theory and innovative technology.


Because a master’s degree is needed to attain the top-level, professional status for a teacher, schools have expanded their offerings to include degrees offered completely online. Merrimack College offers online courses so that students can learn at their own pace. The university also offers a competency-based model that allows those who have mastered a topic to move on to the next step in the curriculum. They also offer field-based experience and preparation for the MTEL. Massachusetts is one of the best states to work as a teacher. But getting a teaching position there requires effort and commitment. A master’s degree in education prepares graduates to handle some of the top teaching jobs in this education-focused state.