A teacher at work
A teacher at work

Master of Education vs Master of Teaching: what’s the difference?


In a world that never stands still, few professions have the same future-shaping potential as teaching, and the demand for qualified teachers is high. 

The Federal Government has reported Australia is facing an "unprecedented" teacher shortage, which means qualified teachers will be in great stead for long-term and lucrative employment. And as society, technology and the employment landscape continue to evolve, so will the nature of - and need for - comprehensive education. 

If you're looking to tackle more senior roles in your teaching career, or you're hoping to move into the teaching profession, a postgraduate teaching degree is worth considering. But which one is best for you? 

Here, we examine the differences between a Master of Education and a Master of Teaching to help you ensure you’re making the right choice for you. 

What is a Master of Teaching?

A Master of Teaching will prepare you for a rewarding career as a registered teacher. You will learn how to apply a variety of approaches to teaching and learning and step into a classroom with confidence.

In many regions, the qualification is classified as an Initial Teacher Education (ITE) program. ITE programs prepare and certify prospective teachers to successfully facilitate learning in classrooms. The certifications are generally required for anyone who wishes to teach in Australian schools.

What is a Master of Education?

A Master of Education is an advanced postgraduate qualification, designed to equip students with enhanced knowledge and expertise in the academic sector. Different institutions offer different specialisations for students looking to increase their knowledge and job prospects in particular areas of education. This may include educational leadership, special education, education psychology, STEM education, early childhood education, adult and continuing education - and more.

A Master of Education is typically best for current teachers or education professionals who are looking to grow their knowledge, step up into leadership roles, or specialise in a certain area of the education field. 

What are the key differences between a Master of Teaching and a Master of Education?

While a Master of Teaching and a Master of Education are both masters degrees in the education sector, there are a number of core differentiators that set the two apart - primarily in who they serve, what they offer, and why they exist.

Let‘s unpack the key differences between a Master of Teaching and a Master of Education.

Goals of the degree

A Master of Teaching is designed specifically to help students become a registered teacher. This education degree is for aspiring teachers who wish to learn how to facilitate effective learning in a classroom, as well as current teachers who want to expand their skill set.

On the other hand, a Master of Education is designed mostly for existing educational professionals across the industry who may want to specialise in a certain area or take their teaching career to a more advanced level.

Prior teaching experience

Most often, a Master of Education student will have prior experience as a teacher or administrator in the educational sector. While some Master of Teaching students may have some teaching experience, many have none at all as they seek to pivot into a teaching career or start their professional teaching journey.

Core curriculum focus

One of the biggest differences between a Master of Education and a Master of Teaching is in the primary focus of the course content. The specifics of each degree will vary depending on the institution and specialisation that’s chosen, but a Master of Education offers a wide exposure to different aspects of the education sector spanning research, leadership, policy, educational theory and beyond.

A Master of Teaching is all about equipping prospective teachers with the knowledge and teaching skills needed to thrive in the classroom - which includes practical in-classroom experience as well. Upon graduation, you will be eligible for registration to teach.

Learning outcomes

As above, the specific learning outcomes of each education degree will vary depending on what the student wishes to achieve. A Master of Education can be tailored to a number of aspirations or interests, and common learning outcomes include research skills, leadership, curriculum design and advanced knowledge in education.

A Master of Teaching can also be tailored. For example, a Master of Teaching (Primary Education) will arm graduates with the skill set to make a positive difference to children, families and communities. A Master of Teaching with a secondary school focus provides graduates with the ability to facilitate effective learning for young adults.

Career outcomes

A comprehensive Master of Teaching qualification will empower you to become a registered teacher, equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to teach across diverse classrooms.

The career paths of Master of Education graduates are varied, and can include counselling, educational leadership, research or educational technology.


Students looking to undergo a Master of Teaching can choose from a number of specialisations, depending on their classroom career ambitions. Popular focus areas include primary education, early childhood education, secondary education, health and physical education and Indigenous or Aboriginal education.

Master of Education students can also choose from a number of industry specialisations. Popular focus areas include educational policy and reform, educational leadership or administration, special education, counselling and guidance, literacy and reading, educational psychology - and more.


Both a Master of Teaching and Master of Education can vary in duration between 1-3 years, depending on which program students undertake, which institution, and whether students elect to fast track the degree, or complete it part time.

A key difference is the time spent doing coursework and practical experience. A Master of Teaching will place greater emphasis on in-classroom practice and placements, which is included in the duration of the degree. Contemporary institutions like VU also provide online postgraduate degrees to fit with students’ work and life commitments.

Entry requirements

Again, the entry requirements for each qualification may vary slightly between different higher education institutions. Both qualifications require entrants to have completed a bachelors degree, but the specifics of that requirement differ between the two.

While an undergraduate degree within the education industry is preferred for Master of Education entrants, a Master of Teaching does not require the undergraduate degree to be within the education sector. Similarly, some Master of Education degrees may require previous teaching experience to be accepted, where a Master of Teaching qualification does not.

Which degree is right for you?

When you’re weighing up the suitability of a Master of Education against a Master of Teaching, the most important question to ask yourself is what you want to use it for. What are your career ambitions? Do you see yourself working hands-on in a classroom, or working in the wider education sector?

If you’re already working in the field of education and you want to hone your expertise in a specific area like leadership or policy, a Master of Education may be the right choice for you. But if you want to be in the classroom, making a positive difference to students each day, a Master of Teaching may be the right step toward your ambitions.

VU Online's Master of Teaching (Primary Education) is designed to empower students who want to become primary school teachers and make a positive difference to children, family and communities. The fully accredited program is delivered through an award-winning learning model that includes online coursework and practical experience to leave graduates classroom-ready.

This degree is accredited by the Victoria Institute of Teaching (VIT), which means graduates will be eligible for registration to teach in the whole of Australia.

If you’re interested in discussing whether a Master of Teaching is the right fit for you, speak to a Student Enrolment Advisor today about our flexible learning paths, or visit our website for more information.