Online Degree Program in Education Planned

Master of Arts in Teaching will be focused on elementary education in science, technology, engineering, and math

Tufts will launch an online graduate degree program in education in the fall of 2019. The first degree offered will be a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT), with a focus on elementary education in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

The new online program “will allow us to prepare more stellar teachers who will make a difference in the lives of children across the country,” said James Glaser, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at Tufts.

The MAT Elementary STEM degree program is being designed to prepare its graduates to teach STEM subjects in urban elementary schools. The program, developed in partnership with education technology firm 2U, will combine online education with in-person, hands-on fieldwork in a school setting. Tufts and 2U will work with each student to facilitate field placement practicums at partner elementary schools under the supervision of a local educator. 

Students will be able to complete the degree in two years. Tufts faculty will teach weekly live classes of fifteen to eighteen students and develop interactive coursework on an online platform that’s accessible on mobile devices. Students will not be required to visit Tufts, although they will be welcome to do so.

The program is expected to start with a cohort of eighteen students, but is projected to grow over time, said David Hammer, professor and chair of the Tufts Department of Education.

“I’m excited to have new reach,” he said. “What we do is pretty different from most of what’s out there.”

The Tufts department focuses on what’s called “responsive teaching,” which involves listening carefully to students and helping them develop their ideas, rather than simply providing information for students to memorize. “We want students to engage in science and math and engineering as things people do rather than just as bodies of knowledge,” Hammer said. “They are kinds of activity, something like playing games or sports.”

Along with addressing the STEM disciplines, the curriculum will cover ways to integrate reading, writing, social studies, and art in STEM education for children.

After launching the MAT Elementary STEM degree program, the department plans to introduce an online MAT program focused on middle school education, and will explore the possibility of other online graduate degrees, Hammer said.

The Tufts Department of Education will maintain responsibility for admission decisions and the curriculum, while 2U will provide digital marketing, course production, and technical support. The university plans to add administrative staff and faculty as needed to respond to the expected increase in overall enrollment.

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