Thursday, February 8, 2018

Selecting a Graduate Degree Program as a K-12 Teacher

If you are currently a K-12 teacher and have begun thinking about your future in education, this blog might be of interest to you! There are many reasons for teachers to consider obtaining a graduate degree, but the question we most often hear is “Which one should I choose?” Only YOU can answer that question, but hopefully the guidelines below will assist you in isolating your choice.

1. Ask yourself “Where do I want to be in five years?” Do you see yourself in the classroom, the principal’s office or in the district office? Acknowledging if you want to work with students, work in leadership or work in specialized curriculum will help you begin to narrow down your options.

2. Consider the question “What interests me?” Your Master’s degree is a chance to specialize in something that is of interest to you. Think about what aspect of education you enjoy and take time to objectively identify your values, personality, interest and abilities through self-assessment. Focus your Master’s program in a direction that aligns with who you are and the aspect of education you enjoy most.

To get started in identifying your interests, look around your school campus and think about the various education positions. Whose job do you wish you had? Whose position appeals to you the most? Do you prefer to work with students or with adults? Do you like mentoring new teachers? Do you want to lead others as an administrator? Do you enjoy working with students with disabilities? Are you a master curriculum writer? Do you thrive with technology specialization? These questions are incredibly important as you begin to finalize your choice.

3. Be realistic about your motivators. If you are a new teacher who just wants to advance on the district pay scale, a specialized Master’s program is not for you. You should select a generic Master’s degree with the least specialization and the least required courses. Understand however, if immediate salary advancement is your only motivation, you are excluding yourself from specializing in a specific field that might bring career advancement later down the road.

4. Be honest about your work environment. If you have a strong passion for technology, but your district has severely cut their technology budget, a Master’s degree in this field might not be the best choice for you. If you are willing to transfer to a different school, this opens up new possibilities.

5. If you are beginning to feel burned out in Education, don’t select a Master’s degree in Education. Why continue to do something you are no longer enjoying? Consider moving into other industries that combine an education background with another specialization, such as business.

Hopefully answering the above questions will help bring you to a fairly conclusive decision about which program to choose. If you would like to explore more information on the various Teachers College Master’s programs offered at WGU, we encourage you to view the various degree guides that offer salary information, industry growth statistics, job market forecasting and job searching resources.

If you have additional career related questions, please feel free to contact the WGU Career & Professional Development office at or call 1-877-214-7008.