What Are the Prerequisites for a Master’s in Education?

All Master’s in education degrees require a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. Most programs also require that international students demonstrate competence in English. Some programs also require teaching eligibility or experience although other types of programs are designed for people with expertise in specific subject areas who wish to explore teaching careers.

Types of Master’s Degrees in Education

The term “Master’s degree in Education” is often used to describe a wide range of different Master’s degrees in educational fields. There are actually two different types of Master’s degree for education. One is the Master of Arts in Teaching or MAT, which is designed for classroom teachers interested in improving their skills or credentials or people with subject-matter backgrounds interested in entering the field of teaching. The Master’s in Education (M.Ed), on the other hand, is usually designed for people who already have teaching experience or licenses who are interested in developing skills in administration, educational policy, instructional technology, or other educational areas, but it tends to be less focused on classroom teaching.

General Graduate School Admissions Prerequisites

Universities have both general requirements for admissions to Master’s degrees and program specific requirements. All accredited programs require that you have a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited United States institution or foreign equivalent. Many programs require specific numbers of hours in specific subject areas and a minimum GPA. You will be required to show proof of this by having your undergraduate institution send an official transcript directly to the university to which you are applying. Next, most schools require three reference letters, preferably from educators such as professors, teaching internship supervisors, or school principals. Many programs also require that you submit scores from standardized tests such as the Graduate Record Exam (G.R.E.) Finally, most programs require an admission essay.

Specific Prerequisites

In addition to the general prerequisites and admissions requirements, many programs have program-specific requirements. As some are related to state licensure standards, they vary from state to state. Programs that have internship components may require proof of eligibility to teach including criminal background checks and fingerprinting having been done by local law enforcement. Some M.Ed. programs require an existing teaching license and one or more years of teaching experience. For MAT programs, you may be requires to have significant undergraduate coursework in the area in which you intend to specialize. For example, if you are seeking advanced certification in teaching chemistry, you should have a BA or BS in chemistry while a Spanish teacher should have a BS in Spanish and fluency in the language.

International Students

Students who are not US citizens may need to prove that they have an equivalent educational background as well as fluency in English. International students usually take the TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE-A tests to demonstrate fluency, although students from the UK, Canada, or Australia are normally exempt. International students may also be required to show proof of ability to pay for tuition and living expenses.


Because the prerequisites for admission to Master’s in education programs vary from program to program, you should choose a program that matches your background. If you don’t have teaching experience, choose an MAT but if you have teaching experience you can choose an MAT or M.Ed.

See also:

Bambi Majumdar

Melissa Anderson

Julie McCaulley