School of Education plans new masters of art in teaching degree

Summerour building. Tuesday, November 2, 2021. (Photo by: Xander Ordinola)
Summerour building. Tuesday, November 2, 2021. (Photo by: Xander Ordinola)

Southern Adventist University’s School of Education and Psychology is currently awaiting approval from the State of Tennessee for a new master’s of art in teaching (MAT) degree, according to Director for Master of Science in Education programs Monty Murdoch. Murdoch said the school hopes to begin offering a few classes in the degree by the Fall 2022 semester. 

According to Murdoch, the purpose of the new program is to provide teacher certifications to people who have received an undergraduate degree in a field other than education.  

“This degree is really a degree for someone looking for a change in careers,” Murdoch said. 

The degree is also mostly online, which makes it “unique in the marketplace,” according to Murdoch.

“There are other MAT programs [in the area], but we are unique in that we will be a fully online MAT degree except for the student teaching portion, which has to be done face-to-face,” Murdoch said. 

Certification Officer Kathryn McGrath said the program will allow graduate students to continue working their regular jobs while taking courses. Once the students have completed their coursework, they will be eligible for hire and can complete the student teaching portion of the degree while also receiving a full salary. 

“I’m pretty sure that we’re going to have a lot of area professionals who are looking for a career change who do take advantage of the program just because it offers them a way to change without exercising that full nuclear option and quitting [their] jobs and going back to school,” McGrath said. 

Participants in the program will be able to choose between tracks leading to either elementary or secondary licensure, according to McGrath. They will also have the option of obtaining Tennessee state certification, North American Division certification or both. 

Murdoch said students who want state teaching certification must complete their student teaching in Hamilton County, while students who only want North America Division certification can complete the entire degree long-distance. 

Requirements for admission include a bachelor’s degree with a minimum GPA of 2.75 and a passing score on the Praxis content area exam, according to McGrath. Graduate students are required to have a minimum GPA of 3.0 on their last 60 hours of graduate coursework. 

School of Education and Psychology Dean Tammy Overstreet, Murdoch and McGrath worked together to write the proposal for the MAT program, according to Murdoch. McGrath said they submitted the proposal to the state in early October and are still awaiting approval.  

“It is very unlikely that they would say ‘no,’” McGrath said. 

The proposal has already been approved by Southern’s Graduate Council and the Strategic Planning and Budgeting Committee, she added.

McGrath said once the proposal is approved by the State of Tennessee, the next steps will be to hire a director for the program, advertise, finish developing the classes and start enrolling students.

“Honestly, I’m really excited about the program,” she said. “I think it’s going to be a big benefit to a lot of people.” 

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