Can There Even Be An M.A. / DELTA Debate?

Following a TEFL Logue post on the Great MA / DELTA debate, in response to a similarly themed TEFLtastic post, metaTesol had an insightful post about the difficulty inherent in comparing these qualifications, specifically because MA programs vary so much. I think this is a fair enough point to make and I certainly do not presume to present a true comparison of the variety of MA programs and the DELTA in a 400 word post. I suppose I would argue that the DELTA is the most widely known higher qualification in EFL which is not an MA, and as such, it makes sense to make some comparison, albeit an imperfect one, and I don’t think the complexity of the topic means it shouldn’t be touched on.

It does seem while that there is a uniformity to the DELTA, regardless of where you take it, there is not to the various MA programs. There is not, for example, a DELTA in Applied Linguistics, Educational Psychology or English Literature, nor one DELTA which involves teaching practice and one which does not. There are, however, a wide variety of MA programs in these and other areas..and the fact is that some do not incorporate teaching practice. Common sense tells me there are advantages and disadvantages both to the DELTA’s relative uniformity.

Still, as someone who does not hold either (any) of these qualifications but is similar to those in a position to chose between (among) them, it strikes me that often in practice, there is not a large distinction drawn between different MA programs. This tends to work more to the benefit of MA holders than to others.

I certainly don’t mean to disparage every/any MA or the DELTA – both take a great deal of hard work, blood, sweat and tears. But I also don’t think it’s wrong to note that something is amiss when a program which does not involve any teaching practice is attributed the same level of quality (or more) as one that does. I think there is no shortage of those holding any MA in higher regard than a DELTA, but it’s fair to allow for the possibility that in at least some cases or comparisons, the DELTA may in fact turn out to be the “better” qualification.