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What Is a Magnet School, and Does it Offer a Better Education?

Parents, students, and educators are drawn to magnet schools for a variety of reasons.

Magnet schools are free public elementary and secondary “schools of choice” that operate within existing public schools in a district—unlike private and charter schools, which are completely separate institutions. Magnet schools focus on specific areas of interest, such as performing arts, world languages, and leadership, as well as science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM or STEAM for short) programs.*

They utilize a hands-on, centralized approach to providing students with a robust learning experience in areas that capitalize on their strengths and interests. Children in magnet programs still learn the basic curricula that regular school programs provide, but those basics are enhanced by the special teaching techniques and more personalized settings of magnet schools.

What Is a Magnet School, and Does it Offer a Better Education?

Typically, students may apply to any magnet school within their district. The programs require special applications.

History of Magnet Schools

Magnet schools may be a new idea for some, but the concept actually dates back to the 1970s, when it emerged as a way to racially desegregate public schools and allow for more diversity in classrooms.* The idea was to bring together students from different backgrounds and neighborhoods who shared a common interest and excelled in certain areas, such as science or performing arts.

This commonality not only helped blur racial differences in the classroom—it fostered academic excellence and shared educational goals. Parents appreciated the opportunity for their children to spend more time exploring their interests and developing their knowledge, in an atmosphere that promotes excellence from students and teachers alike.

Teaching in Magnet Schools

Magnet schools’ specialized programs and mission of excellence in education depend on additional funding that comes from local, state, and federal sources through grants and donations. As a result, magnet school teachers may enjoy the following benefits:

  • Higher Salaries—Because magnet schools receive more funding than regular public school programs, their educators may receive higher salaries than their counterparts, though benefits packages are typically the same as those employed in regular public school programs.
  • Seniority Not a Priority—The school district can hire based on those most suited for that particular magnet school, rather than having to choose educators with the most seniority. As a result, magnet schools are known for having an exceptional faculty.
  • Smaller Classes—Magnet school programs limit the number of students in order to promote a higher-quality education and stronger teacher-student relationships. In smaller classes, educators are able to focus more on each student’s individual experience and progress. 
  • Better-Equipped Classrooms—Extra funds help provide more supplies, books, and other resources for teachers and students.
  • Greater Diversity—Since magnet schools may include children from all over the district, they create a more diverse student body, which can create a more rewarding professional experience for educators.
  • More Focus on Special Interests—Educators at magnet schools are highly specialized and often receive additional training and professional development. Those who excel in math, science, the arts, and other areas of interest will be able to share their own experiences, passions, and techniques with their students.  

Magnet schools offer numerous advantages for students and educators alike. If you’re employed but want to pursue or advance your career as a magnet school educator, consider continuing your education with an online degree program. Not only will you be able to balance your work and personal commitments while you earn your degree, you’ll be able to immediately apply your learning in the classroom and make a bigger difference for your students.

Explore Walden University's online education degree programs for graduates and undergraduates. Get the help you need to continue your education and advance your career goals. Earn your degree in a convenient online format that fits your busy life.

*Magnet Schools of America, What are Magnet Schools?, on the Internet at

†Job Monkey, Teacher and Education Jobs, on the Internet at