The University of North Carolina Board of Governors gave its approval Friday, Oct. 24, for Western Carolina University to begin offering its master’s degree programs in middle grades and elementary education exclusively online.
The approval enables WCU to phase out its existing residential-based graduate programs in middle grades and elementary education and replace them with online programs consisting of 30 credit hours each. The new programs, both with a strong focus on professional development, can be completed in as little as two years.
Moving the programs to a totally distance-education format will better serve the needs of prospective students, most of whom are professional educators already working in elementary and middle schools in the region, said Dale Carpenter, dean of WCU’s College of Education and Allied Professions.
“This change will greatly increase the access of our programs to teachers across Western North Carolina and beyond,” Carpenter said. “Public and private school teachers who are interested in enhancing their classroom skills, honing their leadership abilities or moving into other educational positions in their schools or districts often find it difficult to attend evening classes. Those teachers will now be able to access our programs online.”
Completion of the programs will lead to a master of arts degree in education (MAEd), with a concentration in either elementary or middle grades education.
Students in the elementary education program can choose a literacy or academically/intellectually gifted track, while those in the middle grades education program will focus on how to integrate language arts and literacy courses into all content areas including mathematics, science and social studies.
The curricular and instructional delivery changes sought by the College of Education and Allied Professions and approved by the UNC board are pedagogically sound and will have a positive impact in attracting, retaining and teaching students, said Mimi Fenton, WCU’s dean of the Graduate School and Research.
“These changes are poised to make a positive difference by enabling the programs to be able to better serve the needs of teachers in the region and state,” Fenton said.
Applications for the revamped graduate degree programs in middle grades and elementary education are being accepted now for enrollment in the spring semester.
For more information or to apply, contact Roya Scales, program coordinator, at email@example.com or 828-227-2061, or visit WCU School of Teaching and Learning website at http://www.wcu.edu/learn/departments-schools-colleges/ceap/stl/.
By Bill Studenc