Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) and teacher certification

M.A.T. Student at Columbia College
A Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) or teacher certification from Columbia College can open doors.

And while it can be difficult to find a teaching position in some districts because of the recession, an MAT or teaching certificate from Columbia College will increase your chances of obtaining a position.

Here are three teachers who have found rewarding jobs through the Columbia College MAT program.

Jessie Starbuck

Jessie Starbuck
A December 2011 MAT graduate now teaching art in Southern Boone County R-1 School
District (Ashland) Primary School. She was hired in 2011 after student teaching at Russell Elementary and Hickman High schools, Columbia, Mo.

Starbuck has an unusual background for a teacher: a Columbia native, Starbuck attended the Rhode Island School of Design after graduating from Hickman High School, spent a year in Chile and another in Baltimore as an urban arts coordinator with Americorps. She has exhibited her artwork in Columbia solo and alongside the photography of her father, Chris, who teaches at the University of Missouri.

“I love being around young people who are working, making art,” she said. “Instead of depleting me, I feel like it gives me more ideas. It makes me more excited.”

Brett Gilbert

MAT graduates Brett Gilbert and Kortney Sebben in Salzburg, Austria. Gilbert proposed a few days after this picture was taken in a monastery converted into a beer garden.
Gilbert’s undergraduate degree is in anthropology from the University of Missouri, and he teaches sixth, seventh and eighth grade social studies in Fayette (Mo.) Middle School. It’s “fun but crazy,” he laughed. “Every day is different.”

Gilbert finds ways to ensure that every day is different for his students, too. He plans to mine his undergraduate degree, for instance.

“I have a project in mind,” he says. “They will be digging in the dirt.”

This hands-on approach to teaching may be genetic. “I come from a family of teachers – my mom teaches elementary at Lee [in Columbia], two aunts and two cousins teach.” Gilbert says the conversation at family get-togethers can rapidly turn to shop.

Gilbert says Columbia College helped him secure his current position before graduating with his MAT last May.

“Yes, Columbia College helped, absolutely ... The market was so tough even with two degrees, and me coming from a family of teachers. Having that master’s from Columbia College is one of the real reasons I did get it.” A good word from his professors, many of whom were teachers themselves, didn’t hurt either. “I feel that I got not just a college education but friends that can help.”

And Gilbert acquired something else in the MAT program: he met Kortney Sebben, who graduated with her MAT in 2010. The couple is engaged and plan to marry this summer.

“Come to the MAT program, find your soul mate!” he said.

Jill Aholt

Jill Aholt
Jill Aholt, who graduated in 2009 with an MAT with an endorsement in special reading and now teaches third grade in Harrisburg, Mo.

“I enjoy going to work every day knowing that it will be nothing like the day before,” said Aholt. “Teaching kids is such a rewarding job! You never know what kind of influence you will have on a child.”

Aholt said that taking classes at Columbia College refreshed many things she had learned as an undergraduate. “I have also learned a great deal about teaching reading that has been extremely helpful with my third graders! One of the things I enjoyed most about working on my master’s is getting to know and network with other teachers. Talking with other teachers is one of the best ways to get new ideas.

“I chose Columbia College because they offered the reading endorsement that I wanted. The eight-week sessions of night classes worked out perfectly with my busy schedule.”

Linda Bradley, Instructor of Education

Linda Bradley
Linda Bradley, education instructor at Columbia College, says the Education staff goes out of its way to help students.

“Last year, we had 47 student teachers,” she said, “of which five decided to opt out of teaching into other careers. Of the remaining 42, all but four got teaching jobs.” This is a better than 90 percent placement rate. “We feel really good about this, considering the economy and all!”
“In today’s market, you can’t just sit and wait for the job to come to you.”
A major factor in the college’s placement rate is its partnerships with nearly every school in Mid-Missouri, allowing student teachers first-hand experience with school districts. Many of the area’s teachers are Columbia College graduates, too. “It used to be, a degree was what it took to climb the ladder,” Bradley said. “Some schools want more now. That’s where our partnership helps.”

Bradley advises MAT graduates to be flexible. “In today’s market, you can’t just sit and wait for the job to come to you,” she said. “You have to draw a perimeter around your town and then apply to all schools in that area, public and private. You have to be flexible and open-minded. Do the research. Get to know the school districts. And if you can’t find a teaching job, be a long-term sub or a paraprofessional, anything to open the door.”


Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if you have a BA degree in business can you complete the MAT online program. I live in Illinois and work as a teachers assistant and would like to get my state certification. Could I take the online MAT program and the state tests and be certified in Illinois?

Unknown said...


Students without certification and with a bachelor’s degree can enroll in the Columbia College online MAT. You must attest you are not pursuing certification in the state of Missouri.

Because the courses are geared toward education, some students may have a more difficult time because of varying background knowledge.

As for Illinois state tests and certification, it’s a good idea to determine exactly what's required before proceeding.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I have a similar question, if you have a BS degree in business administration/human resource management can you complete the MAT online program? Or if you want to teach business classes at a junior college do you need to get an MBA degree?

Unknown said...

Yes, you can complete the MAT online program.

Most colleges, community and otherwise, however, require a masters in the content area. It depends on the institution at which you want to teach.

Anonymous said...

I have a B.S. in Child Development and was thinking of getting my MAT online. I would like to teach K-3 and some day a college course in early childhood education. Would this be the right program for me. The MAT?