How to Choose a Specialization for Your Master of Education
3 Questions to Consider
There are many reasons you may pursue a graduate-level education degree, and choosing the right specialization can help narrow the focus of your program to your unique career goals. Roles in education can vary greatly depending on whether you're teaching or working in administration, as well as the type of students with which you're working. This makes it especially important that your specialization prepare you directly for the kind of work you hope to do. While there are no definitive rules for how to choose an education specialization, we've compiled some tips and questions to consider below.
What age group do you want to work with?
The demands and educational goals for various grade levels are often vastly different, requiring different teaching styles, curriculum, and tools/technology in the classroom. For this reason, students pursuing a Master of Education degree might seek a specialization tailored to the specific needs of students in specific grade levels (or adult students).
Sometimes, how to choose an education specialization may just come down to the group you want to teach: elementary, secondary or adult education. If you have very clear goals of teaching a specific range of students, one of these concentrations may be your best option.
Do you want to teach or work in a more administrative role?
Sometimes choosing an education specialization is more complicated than just picking a grade level or group of students. If your goals include moving into an administration role, consider a specialization that prioritizes educational organization management, budgeting, program development and assessment, and planning. These specializations often focus on learning about different educational models, federal and state regulations, leadership strategies, accreditation, and monitoring and evaluating academic goals and outcomes.
You should also look into whether leadership and administrative specializations are available for the specific types of institutions in which you hope to work. For example, if your goal is to play an administrative role in a college prep program, helping to develop and implement ongoing quality standards for students and instructors, you may choose a different specialization than someone hoping to become the principle of a grade school or high school.
Are you interested in designing educational materials and teaching tools?
While all teachers must understand how to design class materials and assignments, there are specializations that focus more exclusively on curriculum development and program design. If you're interested in learning more about how to plan courses in conjunction with institutional or state goals, or want to move into a position where curriculum development is a main responsibility, you may consider one of these specializations.
Similarly, for those who want to focus on designing and implementing instructional tools and technology at an institutional or district level, an instructional design and technology specialization may be the right option. With the evolving role of technology in the classroom, this option can also help provide new insights into how to utilize technology to achieve various learning outcomes.
Assess Your Current Strengths and Experience
In addition to some of the above questions, you should also ask yourself what kind of position you may be best suited for based on your current teaching experience and strengths in addition to your interests. For example, do you like talking in front of people and leading discussions? If being in such a position makes you uncomfortable or you have little or no experience speaking in front of others, you may consider specializations that can help you prepare for more curriculum, assessment and development, or administration-based roles.
Likewise, if you enjoy creating schedules and planning, breaking down complex goals into manageable chunks, and providing support for others, curriculum and instructional design-focused specializations may better help you prepare for a range of possible positions.
Possible Education Degree Specializations
Some options for specializations with an education degree include:
Remember also that you have a team of advisors and instructors at your disposal within your program. Don't hesitate to ask them for help or advice when trying to decide whether a particular specialization is right for you and your career goals.
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