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How an MA Education degree can help your career

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Studying for a master's degree in education will equip you with a range of valuable skills and knowledge relevant to the field, but how can gaining this postgraduate qualification help your career? Here, you can find out more about the MA Education courses we offer at the University of Sunderland, as well as discover what jobs you can go into and how you can progress within your current role in education.

A student teacher sitting with secondary school pupils around a table

What is an MA Education and who is it suitable for?

A master's in education is a highly specific qualification which can be beneficial to someone already in a career within the education sector, whether that be in the classroom or outside of it. It can be a valuable step from your current role towards other opportunities, such as more specialised teaching, leadership positions, or administrative roles.

The MA Education courses we offer at Sunderland are geared towards practising educators who want to gain more knowledge and enhance their job prospects, but they may also be suitable for recent graduates who already have some experience of working in the sector. Many of our students who have studied for an undergraduate teacher training course or PGCE have gone onto enrol onto one of our master's courses, often choosing to study part-time alongside their full-time teaching role. You can even carry forward 60 credits from your PGCE over to some of our MA Education degrees (excluding MA TESOL courses), so you're benefitting both academically and financially!

Having a recognised teaching qualification can certainly be an advantage when you apply, but studying for a master's degree in education can be useful for roles outside of teaching too. Please note, these courses do not qualify you as a teacher.

MA Education courses at the University of Sunderland

We offer the following postgraduate courses which will allow you to qualify with a master's in education:

  • MA Education

The MA Education course is a highly flexible degree, tailored to teachers or other education professionals who want to develop their skillset and progress their careers. You'll have the opportunity to tailor the course to your own interests and carry out research specific to your workplace, with a wide range of optional modules to choose from. The course can be studied full-time over one year or part-time over two years. We also offer a specialist Early Years Teaching route as part of the MA Education.

  • MA Education (DL)

We provide a distance learning version of the MA degree, allowing you to study from anywhere in the world with internet access. There are many advantages to studying a distance learning course, as they give you extra flexibility over your schedule, making them ideal for parents or those in employment who may not have the time to study in a traditional university setting. This is a part-time course studied over two years.

  • MA International Education (DL)

The MA International Education course is also delivered via distance learning. This postgraduate degree has been designed to prepare those in roles linked to teaching or educational management in an international school setting for professional advancement. This is a part-time course studied over two years.

  • MA SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities)

The newest addition to our courses is the MA SEND, which is suitable for teachers and other educational professionals who wish to specialise in working with children and young people with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities. This flexible degree allows you to study the course in alignment with your own interests and follow a clear progression route within SEND. The course can be studied full-time over one year or part-time over two years.

  • MA SEND (DL)

We've also recently launched a distance learning version of the MA SEND. The course covers many of the same topics as the on-campus version but is studied part-time over two years and there will never be a need for you to come to university as all teaching and course materials are delivered online.

  • MA TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages)

The on-campus MA TESOL course will provide you with a highly desirable teaching qualification for many overseas and UK teaching roles. The degree offers hands-on experience of your teaching practice and in-depth knowledge of contemporary theory and policy in TESOL. The course can be studied full-time over one year or part-time over two years. We also offer a specialist Young Learners route as part of the MA TESOL.


We also offer a version of the MA TESOL delivered via distance learning, offering flexibility to those who may already be working as teachers or in other jobs, with the material available to work through in your own time each week.

“I completed the PGCE Primary Education with QTS and my thirst for more knowledge and a desire to keep learning led me to enrol on the MA Education, a course which is opening my mind to even more ways of thinking. Both courses I studied were designed to lead me to the point I’m at now and completing the master’s is taking that to the next level. Sunderland holds an amazing reputation across schools as producing some of the best teachers, and a lot of that comes from the guidance of the academic team. I wouldn’t be in the role I’m in today without the University."

Kendel Gilbert
MA Education
PGCE Primary Education with QTS

What skills will I learn on an MA Education course?

Having a master's in education will provide you with valuable skills and knowledge you wouldn’t necessarily acquire studying a different degree. An MA Education will allow you to develop your skills in critical thinking, research methods, reflective practice, effective leadership, and much more, in order to enhance your own professional practice. Both the on-campus and distance learning versions of the MA Education require the completion of a thesis where you can put your research skills into practice within your chosen field of study. As well as this, the courses will improve your personal development and increase your confidence as an education professional.

If you’re studying the MA SEND course, you’ll gain additional skills as you learn about the approaches to these learners, focusing on issues facing those identified as having special needs. Having this specialism will make you a significant asset to your workplace, as diversity and inclusion are incredibly important concerns within the sector.

When studying for the MA International Education course, you’ll also gain a deeper understanding of the international school curriculum and how to lead and manage within an international school setting.

The MA TESOL focuses specifically on teaching English to speakers of other languages, with modules covering topics such as applying linguistics and language awareness to classroom-based methodologies and the research process in relation to TESOL. Read more about our MA TESOL courses.

A student in the library looking at a book just taken from the shelf

What can I do with a master's degree in education?

Having an MA in education will open up lots of new opportunities for graduates thanks to the skills and fundamental theoretical knowledge around education they'll learn.

Once you can show that you have a wider skillset, you'll be better prepared to apply for more demanding or leadership roles within education, as you'll be able to show that you can effectively manage change and ultimately make learning better. If you’re a teacher, a master's in education will significantly boost your employability and prepare you for roles which may include head of year, head of department, headteacher, or SEND specialist.

An MA Education doesn’t just benefit teachers or those in a school environment. The world of education encompasses a wide range of job prospects, and the degree will equip you with transferable skills gained from exploring a variety of topics, for example, issues around policy and frameworks within the education system. Potential career opportunities with a master's in education can include working within the government, working within education policy, educational consultancy, teacher training, administration, curriculum development, or becoming an Ofsted inspector.

Another career advantage to studying a master's in education is that it can be financially beneficial, as higher salaries are available in the UK for those who develop their professionalism. Official data also shows that those holding a postgraduate degree tend to earn more on average than those who only possess an undergraduate qualification.

If you want to take your education even further once you graduate, you'll have broadened your knowledge considerably if you wish to pursue doctoral research.


Sound interesting? Find out more about the Teacher Training and Education courses we offer here at Sunderland. If you’re thinking about coming to study with us on campus, book yourself onto one of our postgraduate open days.

Published: 22 November 2022