Do You Need a Master’s in Education Degree To Qualify for Tenure?

TenureIf you are currently an educator or you are mapping out the route that you will take to become one, you may want to know if you need a Master in Education degree to qualify for tenure. To work as a full-time, tenure-track educator, you must meet certain requirements and prove that you are skilled and passionate about your role. Tenure offers you great protection in your career but every state and educational system has their own path that you must take. Read on, and find out when a master’s is and is not required.

What is a Tenure and Why is it So Important?

Tenure is technically defined as the right to due process so that high schools, colleges and other educational institutions cannot legally fire a teacher or professor without providing evidence that they are not competent or they have been inappropriate, according to the National Education Association. Since evidence must be provided and there is an entire process that school officials must follow, only about 2% of professors on the tenure-track lose their job annually.

How is Tenure Earned?

To get your tenure, you must complete a probationary period and show that you are professional and competent in your role. While a professor is on probation, it is okay for the seniors in charge of hiring to fire the professor without cause at any time and go with a new faculty contract. The senior professors in charge of evaluation will work with administrators and new non-tenured faculty to evaluate their research capabilities and how they service the classroom to decide if they are deserving of tenure. If there are not recommended for tenure, the professor will lose their job and probation starts over when they begin under a new teaching contract.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Tenured Educator?

Only about one-third of college professors are tenured faculty, and this is a major cause for concern in the field. If you are hired on the tenure-track in a college setting, it typically will take about three years at a junior college and seven years at a four-year college to be granted tenure. If you are working in a high school, middle school or primary school, everything is based on the state law that applies to public schools.

Some states have five-year requirements and others have 10-year requirements where all public school teachers are considered ‘on probation’. The average tenure-track duration in the United States is about seven years when you average the laws across the country.

The Pros and Cons to Getting a Master’s in Education Before Being Tenured

You might assume that getting a graduate degree is the number one way for getting through probation, but that is not always the case. A master’s degree in education will help you strengthen your knowledge on curriculum development, instruction, administration or counseling, but it is not centered around teaching specifically. It is more focused on the educational system than educating your students like a Master’s of Arts in Teaching.

One drawback of having your master’s before you are tenured is that it tempts the school to let go of you and secure a contract with a young, Bachelor’s degree holding teacher who will cost less. If you wait until after you are tenured, the school cannot let you go because you decided to advance your education level.

Related Resource: Education Administration Careers

If you would like to research types of M.Ed. programs that you can take and schools that offer them, it is time to seek out accredited programs. Once you know that you do not need a Master in Education degree to qualify for tenure, start focusing on teaching first and then focus on graduate programs.