Master’s Degree offers new path for classroom teachers

August 22, 2016

State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler is optimistic that a new degree program at Valley City and Mayville State universities will help ease North Dakota’s teacher shortage by encouraging mid-career professionals in other fields to go into the classroom.
Valley City State is taking enrollment applications for its Master of Arts in Teaching program, which the school will begin offering this fall. Mayville State has been awaiting permission to offer the program from the Higher Learning Commission, an accrediting agency based in Chicago. Mayville received the needed approval last Friday, said Dr. Keith Stenehjem, Mayville State’s vice president for academic affairs.
Dr. James Boe, director of graduate studies for Valley City State University, said 10 scholarships for $750 each are available to first-semester VCSU students from North Dakota who enroll in the program. Stenehjem said Mayville State is pursuing a way to begin offering scholarships in January 2017.
Classes for the MAT degree offer instruction on teaching techniques and education issues. The degree gives candidates the training they need to be certified as teachers in North Dakota. Both Valley City and Mayville will offer the courses online.
Students must have a bachelor’s degree before beginning the MAT program. An education degree is not required. Some additional undergraduate coursework may be necessary to complete the master’s degree, depending on the subject the candidate wants to teach.
Baesler said she was excited that the MAT provides an opportunity for many people to become teachers who chose a different path as their first career. Veterans coming out of military service, mid-career professionals or retired business people can have a chance to go into a classroom and make a difference in students’ lives, she said.
“This degree gives people who may have thought about going into teaching a chance to become licensed to teach. They have work and life experience that will be valuable to students in North Dakota’s classrooms,” Baesler said.
North Dakota’s Board of Higher Education has given Valley City, Mayville and Dickinson State University permission to offer the MAT degree. Dickinson State is applying to the Higher Learning Commission this fall for the required accreditation, said Dr. Carmen Wilson, Dickinson State provost and vice president for academic affairs.
The Mayville State degree requires 32 hours of graduate coursework. Valley City’s program requires 33 graduate hours.
Mark Hagerott, chancellor of North Dakota’s university system, said the Master of Arts in Teaching program “will fulfill our mission of providing programs people need, when and where they need them.”
“The MAT degree allows people who already have degrees in a variety of areas, including math and science, to complete the coursework necessary to become licensed teachers,” Hagerott said. “This is a great example of when K-12 and higher education work together, the future is brighter for our students.”
Additional information about the MAT programs at Valley City State and Mayville State may be found here:
Valley City State: http://www.vcsu.edu/graduate/vp.htm?p=3602
Mayville State: http://www.mayvillestate.edu/prospective-students/academics/graduate-studies/