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WESTERN GOVERNORS UNIVERSITY Bachelor's vs. Master of Arts in Teaching Programs

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Teachers play a unique and supremely important role in society. Teachers act as a major influence on the budding minds of students beginning at a very young age, through early adulthood, and beyond, which is why it’s important that you consider all your options when deciding which teaching degree to pursue. This page will explore the steps to becoming a licensed and educated teacher, including degree options, areas of concentration, and initial licensure.

What is Initial Licensure?

A career in teaching allows you to dedicate your life to helping others, change lives for the better, and foster a lifelong love of learning in countless young people. Initial licensure is important for rising teachers because it ensures that you were properly educated and that you’re qualified to provide a safe learning environment for your students.

Initial licensure covers the essential steps in the journey to becoming a teacher, which include:

  • Completing your bachelor’s degree program
  • Submitting transcripts
  • Clearing a background check
  • Passing required entrance exams and skills tests
  • Meeting any other requirements of your state

WGU’s education degrees give you essential skills that prepare you for initial licensure and a career in the classroom. Both the bachelor and master degrees discussed on this page will prepare you for initial licensure. To ensure that our graduates are best equipped to help students learn, WGU’s Teachers College is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) and by the Association for Advancing Quality in Educator Preparation (AAQEP).


Education Bachelor's Degrees

photo of a teacher helping a student

Who Pursue an Education Bachelor's Degree?

Students who wish to have a career in teaching must first earn a bachelor’s degree. The online bachelor’s degree programs at WGU are specifically suited for students who may be coming out of high school, have some college experience, or have an associate degree. Once you have earned your bachelor’s degree, you are one step closer to your initial teaching license. For a complete list of WGU’s bachelor’s degrees in education, click here.

What Will I Learn in an Education Bachelor's Program?

No matter which area and age group of teaching you choose—whether it be special ed, high school math, or elementary education —every bachelor’s degree includes the same general education and professional core sections. This coursework covers all the important areas of primary and secondary education and is designed to provide students with a well-rounded foundational education. Following these courses, there are a number of specialty courses that pertain to the area of education you choose to pursue. WGU’s education programs prepare up-and-coming teachers to pass licensure exams with flying colors and expertly transfer their newly acquired expertise to a classroom setting.

General Education Classes

  • English Composition I 
  • Introduction to Humanities 
  • English Composition II 
  • Survey of World History 
  • Mathematics for Elementary Educators I 
  • Introduction to Communication 
  • Survey of United States History 
  • Mathematics for Elementary Educators II 
  • Integrated Physical Sciences 
  • American Politics and the US Constitution
  • Mathematics for Elementary Educators III 
  • Health, Fitness, and Wellness

Professional Core

  • The School as a Community of Care
  • Fundamentals of Diverse Learners
  • Managing Engaging Learning Environments
  • Introduction to Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment
  • Educational Technology for Teaching and Learning
  • Educational Foundations
  • Educational Psychology and Development of Children and Adolescents 
  • Assessing Impact on Student Learning 

What Careers Will An Education Bachelor's Degree Program Prepare Me For?

WGU’s bachelor of education degrees prepare you to become a teacher. The grade level, subject, and student-type you study for your degree are all factors in determining what licensing you need and the jobs you qualify for. For example, if you study middle grades education on the topic of science, you’ll have to complete an internship of in-class student teaching and any relevant licensure tests that your state requires for middle grades-level science teachers. At this point, you’ll be qualified to apply for pertinent jobs. Careers in education are many and they even go beyond the classroom. Learn more about positions in education you become eligible for with a bachelor’s degree with licensure. 


Master of Arts in Teaching Programs

children in a robotics lab

Who Should Pursue a Master of Arts in Teaching?

Master of Arts in Teaching degrees were made for those who want to pursue an education career inside the classroom. These programs are ideal for individuals have already earned a bachelor’s degree in a non-education area of study. They will prepare you to secure a teaching license and to lead a classroom and are specifically geared toward initial licensure. Like the education bachelor’s degrees, there are MAT programs for teaching students at all levels and ages, as well as different topics. 

What Will I Learn in a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) Program?

The curriculum in each MAT program depends on the area of teaching you choose to pursue. However, there are many courses in each MAT program that are the same across the board and are designed to prepare you for real-world experiences of classroom teaching. These courses are broken into four sections: education, professional core, pre-clinical experiences, and demonstration teaching. Everything you’ll learn in your MAT program is timely, relevant, and practical so that when you earn your degree, there’s no question that you know your stuff.

What Careers Will A MAT Program Prepare Me For?

By completing an MAT program at WGU, you are qualified to work as a teacher in a classroom setting. The area of education you choose to study during your MAT program and your state requirements will determine your licensing. For example, if you earned an MAT in special education, you’ll need to get the licensing that qualifies you to work with those students. For a complete career guide for teachers with a Master of Art in Teaching, click here.


How Are the Education Bachelor's Degrees and MAT Degrees Unique at WGU?

What’s special about the education bachelor’s degrees and the MAT degrees at WGU is they are specifically designed for teachers seeking initial licensure. At WGU we know the true value of great educators, which is why these education degree programs enable anyone to seek a teacher education, complete with affordable tuition. We also have master’s degree options for already-licensed teachers who want to further their career. To learn more about those programs, click here. Ready to join thousands of passionate teachers? Start the enrollment process for an online degree program at WGU.

"My graduate degree has awarded me many more opportunities that my undergraduate degree could not provide including increased salary, multiple job offers, and the ability to be given specialized work." Lacie Smithee
M.A. Teaching, Elementary Education

WGU Alumni Shine on the Job

They're Prepared

95% said that their WGU graduates were prepared for their jobs

95% of employers said that WGU graduates were prepared for their jobs.

They're Top Candidates

96% said they would hire another WGU graduate

96% of employers said they would hire another WGU graduate.

They Wow

98% of employers said WGU graduates meet or exceed expectations

98% of employers said WGU graduates met or exceeded expectations.

Source: 2020 Harris Poll survey of 300 employers
“My degree from WGU has allowed me to help both special-needs students and their families, and I've felt well prepared since day one on the job.” Miranda Good
B.A. Special Education (K–12)

Why WGU?

It's Affordable

Tuition is charged per six-month term—not per credit hour—which means you can complete more courses in one term without paying more money.

It's at Your Pace

Competency-based education means you can use your knowledge and professional experience to your advantage. Move through courses at your own pace to accelerate your program and graduate faster.

It's Flexible

Because our courses are all online, you can continue to work full-time and manage your responsibilities while earning your degree. You don't have to leave your job to pursue your degree—something you and your employer will both appreciate.