6 Ways to Use a Master’s in Education (Other Than Being a Teacher)

Eleonora Villegas-Reimers talking to some students
Eleonora Villegas-Reimers teaching a class.

When asked the question, “What do you do with a master’s degree in education?” most people will probably think of teaching in an elementary, middle, or high school. But focusing solely on teaching in the classroom may artificially limit what people can do with a master’s in education (EdM). 

“We in education need to change the perception that getting a degree in education means getting a degree in teaching,” says Eleonora Villegas-Reimers, a clinical professor and the chair of BU Wheelock’s Teaching & Learning department. “Teaching is important, but education is a huge field. There is a wide world out there that can benefit from people who understand the role of education in society.”

We spoke to Villegas-Reimers and Tina Durand, a clinical associate professor and the chair of the Counseling Psychology & Applied Human Development department, about six career paths for people pursuing a master’s degree in education.

Become an educational administrator.

Although deans of students, principals, superintendents, financial aid administrators, registrars, and student services professionals may not teach students directly, the skills these educational administrators learn in an EdM program can still prepare them to succeed in their careers. “An EdM positions you to take a leadership role,” says Durand. 

Master’s degrees in education also provide students with transferable skills they can use in any workplace: “There are a lot of administrative jobs that could benefit from a master in education,” Villegas-Reimers says. “You need to know how to work with people. You have to understand human development. You have to learn how to plan.” 

Become an educational researcher.

An EdM gives students a strong foundation in both theory and practice. Students learn how to interpret data, understand the ideas that underlie approaches to teaching and learning, conduct fieldwork, and compare different research methods with one another. 

“You’re understanding social science research, methods of data collection, the differences between qualitative and quantitative research,” Durand says. 

Prepare for a doctorate in your field of study.

The theoretical and practical knowledge underpinning an EdM can prepare students for later doctoral study in education or human development. Aspiring counselors or clinical psychologists, for example, will benefit from internships and practicums that give them real-world experience. 

Even if you decide not to pursue a doctorate after finishing your master’s degree, you can still apply the skills you’ve gained in your work—for example, you can develop community-based programming or conduct evaluation research. 

“You leave your degree program with a very rich melding of theory and practice,” Durand says. 

Become a producer of children’s media.

You don’t have to teach in a classroom to help children learn. People with EdMs can use their expertise in child development and pedagogy by creating educational video games, books, or television shows, or serving as expert advisors for media companies. 

“I’ve had students who worked with publishing companies who do focus groups with different age groups,” Villegas-Reimers says.

Become a social services provider.

People working in social services can draw on the skills they learned while attaining their master’s degree. For example, someone working to support new parents can use what they learned about teaching to show how parents can best take care of their children. They learn, too, that people exist within systems—that historical, cultural, political, and practical concerns shape them and their actions. 

“There are systemic factors that influence our trajectories,” Durand says. “How do we inspire students to work to change them for the better?” 

Support children around the world through policy and advocacy.

A master’s degree in education gives students the background they need to understand educational policy and advocacy, both in the United States and abroad. Educators who work in politics and policy are “doing the kind of work that needs to be done to create more awareness about social institutions in our society,” Villegas-Reimers says. 

Villegas-Reimers’ former students have gone on to work at international organizations like UNICEF. “They may work in difficult situations in different countries of the world, supporting children and families the best they can,” she says. 

Learn More

BU Wheelock offers master’s degrees in education (EdM) for professionals in many education and human development careers. Check out our Graduate Degree Programs.