There is more than one pathway to a successful career as a teacher. Two of the most popular are the Master of Education (MED) and Master of Art in Teaching (MAT) graduate degrees. While both prepare graduates for an educational career, they typically focus on different aspects of the teaching profession. Generally speaking, MAT students seek to advance their careers as classroom teachers. MED students may also work in the classroom but often additionally aspire to work in curriculum design or school administration.

Merrimack College has earned a national reputation as a top school for graduate education programs. The school offers both an online Master of Education and an on-campus Master of Education in the Teacher Education program. Students in both graduate programs have the opportunity to focus on a concentration that best prepares them for success in their specific interests.

Merrimack’s MED programs, both online and on-campus, allow teachers to focus on building careers matching their desired career path. Both also differ from a MAT program.

Key Differences Between the MED vs. MAT Degree

Teachers choose between MED vs. MAT degree programs based on their own career aspirations and learning objectives.

Master of Teaching

A MAT program focuses on “practical skills and subject-specific information,” according to The curriculum concentrates on a specific branch or subject of teaching, including early childhood education, elementary education, secondary education, and special education.

Classroom teachers at all levels typically enroll in MAT programs, as well as special education teachers. While salaries vary depending on location, a high school teacher in Massachusetts made an average of $84,130 in May 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Master of Education

A MED program may also offer concentrations in specific levels of education (such as with the Merrimack program). However, it also allows educators to concentrate on curriculum design, which can lead to leadership positions. MED programs also offer concentrations in specialty areas such as moderate disabilities and English as a Second Language (ESL).

A MED appeals to educators who want to understand and critically evaluate educational practice. It can appeal to those motivated to excel as classroom teachers, specialists, curriculum designers, or administrators.

The Merrimack MED Programs

Both the online and on-campus Merrimack College MED programs combine elements of MED and MAT programs.

For example, students in the online MED program can choose from nine programs.

  • M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction (non-licensure master’s degree)
  • M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education (Pre-K-2) (for Massachusetts licensure)
  • M.Ed. in Elementary Education (Grades 1-6) (for Massachusetts licensure, includes Sheltered English Instruction)
  • M.Ed. in Middle School (5-8) and High School (8-12) Education
  • M.Ed. in English as a Second Language (Pre-K-6) (for Massachusetts licensure)
  • M.Ed. in Moderate Disabilities (Pre-K-8) (for Massachusetts licensure, includes Sheltered English Instruction)
  • Add-On License Moderate Disabilities (Pre-K-8) (for Massachusetts licensure)
  • Add-On License in English as a Second Language (Pre-K-6) (for Massachusetts licensure)
  • Add-On License in Early Childhood Education (Pre-K-2) (for Massachusetts licensure)

Students also can choose to focus on non-licensure MED programs. These programs include Child and Family Advocate Programs, Before and After School Programs, Non-profits, Boys & Girls Clubs, and Human Service Agencies.

The online programs offer students many benefits, including the flexibility to do coursework when convenient for their schedule. Teachers also enjoy the variety of concentration options and the ability to earn their master’s degree in 18 months or less.

When choosing between a MED and MAT program, teachers must look at what they hope to accomplish in their careers. Merrimack makes the decision that much easier by combining the best aspects of a MAT into the school’s MED programs, offering teachers the options they need to develop expertise in whatever field of education that best complements their interests, talents, and career goals.