Friday, September 1, 2017
Are you ready to earn your Master of Education degree? Finding the right education master’s program to fulfill your career goals and applying to and submitting all the correct paperwork for admission may seem daunting. Here’s a list of the top 8 things to consider when choosing a master’s in education program.
1 - What are the application requirements?
Of course, it would be impossible to include a list of every application requirement at every school. Each school has its own unique needs. We can, however, outline some of the most common master’s in education requirements and give an in-depth look at each one.
The GRE, or the Graduate Record Examination, is a standardized test similar to the SAT or ACT you would have taken to gain admission for your undergraduate degree. The test features three separate timed sections:
- Verbal reasoning
- Quantitative reasoning
- Analytical writing
In more colloquial terms, we might call them reading, math and writing. The reading and writing section are both scored on a scale from 130 to 170, and the writing section is scored on a scale of one to six.
Not every school requires the GRE. Messiah College, for example, does not. Many schools do, however, so do your homework about the schools where you want to apply to see if they want you to take the test.
Almost all schools will require your undergraduate academic transcripts. These transcripts are official documents issued by your school that list what classes you took and what grade you earned in them, as well as your overall GPA. Check with your undergraduate school to be sure, but most schools have an official process where you can request your transcripts be sent to any other school you want to apply to.
Every school has a different set of expectations for what it likes to see on a transcript. Some schools may have specific GPA requirements, while others will not. Most schools list this on their website along with the other application requirements. While many schools do not set a GPA benchmark, it is still a good idea to put your best foot forward. The higher your GPA, the better your chances are of being accepted into the programs of your choice.
The personal statement is a brief essay almost every school requires for admission. Most schools will tell you how many words they want. It usually falls somewhere around one or two pages.
Most schools provide a prompt for this personal statement. It might be unique to the school, or it might be an extremely general question. Most commonly, the personal statement asks you to answer questions about your intentions for pursuing graduate school:
- What work are you planning to do in school?
- What do you plan to study and research?
- How do you plan to use grad school to further your career?
- Why are you interested in pursuing a graduate degree?
The personal statement serves a few different purposes. It helps the admissions committee get a taste of your writing style and of how skilled you are at putting your thoughts onto paper in a logical and grammatically correct way. It also gives them honest information about who you are, what your plans and interests are, and why you want to attend the school.
Some schools require writing samples while some do not. Prepare at least one, so you have it ready when schools ask for it. Even if it turns out to be unnecessary, it doesn’t hurt to prepare one just in case.
As with the personal statement, most schools will provide more specific prompts for this. They may ask for a specific minimum page number or word count.
Your best option is to see if you have a paper from your undergraduate career that would suffice. You might consider slightly modifying it to fit the requirements. If you no longer have access to these documents, or if nothing you wrote in the past fits the requirements, roll up your sleeves and write a new one.
As with most of these items, this is a possible requirement. Not every school requires this, but some do. It’s not hard to see why some schools want an interview. While an admissions committee can read your transcript, writing samples and personal statement, it is not the same as meeting you in person.
An interview allows the admissions committee and professors to meet you and see if you seem like a good fit for the school and the program. It also gives you as an applicant the chance to ask any questions you may have and to see if the school and the program seem like a good fit for you.
If such an interview is necessary, treat it like a job interview. Be confident and friendly, dress the part and do your research ahead of time.
Application requirements at Messiah College
The application requirementsfor the Master of Education program at Messiah College are:
- Bachelor’s or master’s degree
- Completed application
- Minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0
- Official transcripts
- 300-500 word statement of purpose
- Two letters of recommendation
- PA teaching certificate
2 - What Are the financial aid options?
Higher education is an investment. Often getting a master’s degree results in better career options for teachers, including higher-paying jobs. You can find ways to ease the financial burden of attending graduate school.
Ask the school
Every school has its own financial aid policies. Each school may have different options available, including programs you can apply for and enroll in and different ways you can manage your finances as you embark on your graduate studies. Here are a few of the possible options you might find:
- Employer tuition reimbursement — check the requirements through your human resources department, such as length of employment
- Discount programs such as those offered by Messiah College
- Federal financial aid or federal loans
- Federal work study
- Institutional aid
- Scholarships and fellowships
- Assistantships — working as a TA, RA or in a similar position
None of these are guaranteed options, but most schools will offer some combination of these programs. Ask your school of choice if they assist you in exploring and investigating aid options. Some schools, like Messiah College, may even have a financial aid staff dedicated to helping graduate students figure out what options are available to them.
Depending on the circumstances and qualifications of students, Messiah College offers financial aidin the form of:
- Grants — students may be eligible for the federal TEACH grant program
- Program discounts
- Student employment
- Employer assistance/tuition reimbursement
- Private scholarships
- Graduate program discounts
3 - What is the program’s reputation?
A master’s degree is a significant commitment, both in terms of money and time. When you invest that much into something, you want to get a good return on your investment.
In the case of higher education, you want to be sure the degree will pay off with increased job opportunities or personal edification. You should attend a school that commands respect among your peers. You want a school whose name means something.
Do thorough research on any schools you think about attending:
- Ask friends, family and colleagues
- Look at the school’s website and resources
- Browse online “best of” master’s in education degree program rankings
See what the general impression of the school is. Does it seem to have a reputation for excellence? If not, consider if a degree from this school would be worthwhile.
Messiah College has a widely recognized commitment to academic rigor and excellence. In 2015, our M.Ed. program was ranked in the top 10best online master's in education programs. A degree from Messiah College signifies participation in a program that demands discipline, innovation and dedication.
You should also ask yourself what the program is most known for. Does it have any widely-recognized specializations? Are any of its faculty members national leaders in a specific area? At Messiah College, our Master of Education program focuses on TESOL, special education, including autism spectrum disorders, curriculum and instruction and online teaching.
4 - Is the program online or on-campus?
Undergraduate students, for the most part, are a homogenous group of late-teens and 20-somethings. There are non-traditional students, of course, but the vast majority are young people coming directly out of high school.
That is not the case for graduate students. Graduate students can be any age, and they often are. They might be in their 20s and coming straight from their bachelor’s degree programs, or they might already be established in the careers and have families.
Regardless of which group you fall into, your life may be more complicated than it was when you were completing your undergraduate work. Your time may be divided between a job and/or a family. Graduate programs should offer flexible options to allow you to complete your coursework while juggling these other duties.
Online master’s in education: A flexible option
Online coursework provides a desirable choice for graduate studies. Some programs are entirely online while others require some time on campus. Such programs allow you time to work face-to-face with peers and professors, but it also allows you the flexibility to work when and where you want. It gives you the freedom to fit your classes in around the rest of your busy life.
Graduate programs, particularly online ones, also have a more flexible time frame for graduation. Unlike an undergraduate degree, where you’re expected to graduate in four years, most graduate programs are more open-ended. Schools understand you have a busy, full life, and might not be able to attend full-time. A good graduate program will allow you the freedom to tailor your education to your schedule.
At Messiah College, we offer our Master of Education in an online format to provide the best fit for your busy life. You still get the top-tier education you’re looking for without having to spend valuable hours commuting, and a fixed class schedule will not interfere with your work day. Instead, you can fit in your coursework whenever is most convenient for you.
5 - Is the curriculum stimulating?
When you look at different schools, another thing to consider is what the curriculum offers. It should be mentally stimulating, meaning you should look for a school where the material will be new, challenging and interesting.
More importantly, however, the curriculum should prepare you for a future job. The information you learn should consist of topics that will be imperative to future promotions and better jobs. In other words, the curriculum should be useful.
It should also be applicable. Classes might be thought-provoking and stimulating, but if they are not applicable, they will not prepare you for a future job. Coursework should include:
- Hands-on work
- Practical applications
- Real-life situations
Messiah College’s Master of Education offers a wide range of courses and multiple degree tracks to choose from. Our coursework includes classes on:
- Instructional design
- Community partnerships
- Behavioral support
- Bilingual education
These classes will not only be interesting, but they’ll also be immediately applicable in educational jobs at every level.
6 -What experience and practice is gained during the program?
Graduate programs in any field should offer hands-on experience. Make sure any Master of Education programs you apply to include plenty of field work and experience in their curriculum. Field experience allows you to develop instructional, leadership and collaboration skills and integrate professional knowledge under the supervision of an experienced educator. It gives you the chance to network with teachers and school administrators who can support you with advice and mentorship as you move forward.
Field experience and practical application are critical components of the M.Ed. program at Messiah College.
7 - Is the faculty experienced?
When comparing the best master’s in education programs, look at the faculty at each school. Read about them and ask yourself:
- Are they experienced in the field?
- Are they innovative, forward-thinking leaders who have years of knowledge and experience to share?
- What are their particular specializations and do these align with your career aspirations?
The professors in Messiah College’s M.Ed. program are experienced educators and internationally recognized leaders in their field.
8 - How many students graduate and receive jobs afterward?
Of course, one of the key questions you can ask is this — how many students actually graduate and receive their degrees? How many of those students manage to find jobs afterward? If hardly any students pass the program, the problem may be with the coursework or the faculty, and you should ask yourself if this is a program you want to apply for.
Similarly, if few students can secure jobs after graduating, something is wrong. Perhaps employers lack respect for the program, or perhaps students do not gain the knowledge and experience they need to impress employers. Either way, this may not be the program to apply for.
Messiah College’s education program is highly respected. Many schools and educators are familiar with the name Messiah College and immediately associate it with capable, experienced graduates who make a difference in the classroom. Almost all of our students complete the program and go on to find rewarding jobs in the education field.
Contact us for more information on a master’s in education at Messiah College
Messiah College’s online Master of Education program is designed to fit into the lives of busy professionals just like you. The coursework will help you deepen your knowledge and understanding of educational practices. It will not only look great on a resume and job application, but it will also help you to grow as an educator and as a person. We also offer multiple degree tracks so you can pick the one that best fits you and your career path.