5 Common Courses in a Master’s of Education Degree Program

Essential Classes for a Master’s of Education

  • Multicultural Teaching
  • Basic Special Education
  • Student Assessment
  • Learning Theory
  • Legal and Policy Issues

Master’s programs in education are as diverse as the field itself, allowing students to combine essential common courses with a selection of specialized classes. Common courses cover everything from classroom organization to public policy regarding education. Programs present many of these subjects from a practical and theoretical perspective to fully prepare students for the challenges and opportunities of a teaching career.

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1. Multicultural Teaching

America’s population has an incredibly diverse blend of ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds. Multicultural studies explore how these issues impact education and how education can play a part in fostering growth and mutual understanding for all pupils. Multicultural education courses may focus on specific regional and demographic topics, or simply help prospective teachers learn how to effectively communicate and guide a diverse student population.

2. Basic Special Education

Special education is one of the most common concentrations for students pursuing a master’s in education. However, most programs include at least a few general courses covering the subject due to the rising prevalence and importance of these issues across the country. Teachers in elementary, middle and high schools are likely to encounter students with learning disabilities and developmental disorders that interfere with their academic performance or social ability. These courses help prepare future educators to recognize, understand and manage special needs in a classroom setting.

3. Student Assessment

In addition to learning how to design a strong curriculum, educators also need to know how to properly assess their students through examinations and other methods. Public school teachers often devote a significant portion of the school year towards helping their pupils prepare for standardized testing. Common coursework in this area shows future teachers how to design and conduct their own assessments, as well as address issues related to standardized tests.

4. Learning Theory

Common learning theory courses cover a wide range of strategies and ideas related to the process of acquiring, retaining and utilizing information, emphasizing an evidence-based approach that can be consistently duplicated. The human brain is one of the last great frontiers in science, so there is still a lot of learning about how it works. As the fields of psychology, cognitive science and biology continue to explore the brain and mind, students of education focus on actionable information that they can use.

5. Legal and Policy Issues

Education is an issue of national and local importance, so there are numerous laws, policies, and organizations that wield influence over schools and professional teachers. Law and policy are common coursework for many master’s students, even if they don’t intend to pursue a career in administration. These classes show future professional the major forces that will shape the future of their field, as well as potential legal issues that could impact them personally.

A graduate degree opens up more career options and has a notable positive impact on the average salary for teachers compared to an undergraduate degree, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Part of the reason people with a master’s in education earn more is because of the advanced and foundational knowledge gained from core common courses found in advanced programs.