The professional degree tells students, parents, schools and potential employers that the teacher has advanced knowledge and training in the field of education. While degree programs vary, there are a few common master’s degrees to consider:

1. Curriculum and instruction degree

A graduate program in curriculum and instruction can help teachers strengthen their analytic and problem-solving skills, as well as strategize ways to approach students with learning difficulties. This research-intensive type of program relies on case studies and studying the psychology of learning, as well as teaching styles. Since this program is flexible and broad, it helps educators look at a variety of ways to teach different subjects and handle classroom challenges. Studying curriculum and instruction can help educators design learning plans for a large group, while also catering to how an individual student learns.

2. Higher education

A higher education graduate program prepares those looking for a career in education administration. These programs, which concentrate on supporting student learning, can be a great way for educators to conduct their own research and get published in journals and books. This degree helps educators focus on leadership and school policy compliance, as well as critical thinking, understanding organizational behavior and group dynamics. Someone with a master’s degree in higher education would be qualified for jobs in student services, admissions, financial aid and faculty research.

3. Early education

This area of study focuses on preparing educators to provide a quality education for students under age five. Research indicates teaching kids aged five and younger has positive long-term benefits, such as the students are more likely to graduate high school and own a home. Early education master’s programs train teachers how to plan and implement meaningful curriculum for young students, typically those in pre-K and kindergarten.

4. Adult education

Earning a master’s degree in adult education can help teachers develop the theory, research and best practices for instructing adults. Focus areas include creative problem solving and successful collaborations. With this degree, educators can be adult literacy and GED diploma teachers, as well as training coordinators.

5. Educational leadership

Getting a master’s degree in educational leadership can prepare educators to be leaders in the classroom, on campus and district-wide. Students in this program work on creating a vision for the schools; building their decision-making skills; and promoting a culture of learning in their K-12 classrooms. They’ll also learn how to manage human resources and financial matters. This program is suited for educators who want to become administrators, representing schools and districts inside and outside the classroom.

6. Certification

Additionally teachers can take classes to earn certificates in a specific field such as bilingual education, as well as in content area instruction including math, social science and history and government. These certificates may give teachers the semester credits needed to meet the guidelines from the six regional institutional accreditors of post-secondary educational institutions in the U.S.