How Can I Specialize a Master’s Degree in Education?

Master's in EducationThere are many ways to specialize a Master’s degree in Education. Most Master’s of Education programs involve several specialized tracks, and a student is usually expected to choose one of these tracks right from the start. Schools of education within larger universities are usually organized into departments, each of which offers its own Master’s degree. Hence, specialization is a fundamental aspect of the Master’s in Education degree, and it is important for students to be aware of their options and to determine which focus best suits their skills, interests, and professional aspirations. A number of websites, including U.S. News and World Report, offer listings and descriptions of different programs that can aid students in making an informed choice.

Specializations within a Master’s program in Education fall into a number of broad categories. Following are brief descriptions of the kinds of programs one might find in these areas.

Teaching and Curriculum Development: This is the most basic content area, involving teacher preparation for particular grade levels and subject areas. Although this kind of specialization is mainly the province of the Master of Arts in Teaching, it can also be a key component of Master’s in Education programs. Along with traditional multi-subject elementary preparation and secondary preparation for mathematics, science, English, and history, there are also Master’s specializations in the arts within education, environmental education, athletic program leadership, kinesiology, music education, and vocational education. Still another emerging focus within teaching and curriculum development is the use of technology to transform classroom instruction and the educational process as a whole.

Educational Services: Other key areas of specialization in Master’s in Education programs involve training in the diverse array of services provided in educational settings. Such specializations include counseling, literacy and reading support, special education, autism education, and education for at-risk and diverse learners.

Educational Theory: Many programs offer specializations that focus on the theoretical foundations of education, whether through the study of educational philosophy or psychology, or through scientific approaches to understanding the process of learning.

Educational Leadership: Many Master’s programs are designed to train educators for leadership roles in K-12 public schools, charter schools, and other educational institutions. Training for such roles often focuses on school reform as well as the fundamentals of school management and engagement with diverse constituencies.

Education Policy: A policy specialization builds upon the educational theory framework to train students in understanding and shaping education policy, both nationally and internationally. Many programs offer a focus on urban education and the particular challenges it poses for policymakers.

Related Resource: Master’s in Education Careers

Higher Education Administration: While Master’s in Education programs are not primarily focused on college or university teaching, they do provide training in the many facets of administration for higher education. Students interested in the higher education specialization often pursue careers in student affairs, admissions, financial aid, residential life, academic affairs, and institutional research.

As this brief survey demonstrates, it is not only possible, but essential to specialize a Master’s degree in education. Education is a complex process, and graduates of Master’s programs have critical roles to play in ensuring that the nation’s educational systems function effectively to prepare the next generation for the future.