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School of Education offers experience-based masters program in lieu of bachelor's degree

In June, the School of Education will be implementing a Master of Arts in Teaching program that will provide a more experience-based approach to learning.

Catherine Scott, a professor in the School of Education, said instead of students doing an undergraduate program and then getting a teaching license, they’ll do a MAT program, which is a master’s degree plus a teaching license. This will enable students to have a longer sustained experience in the field.

“The focus of the new program is experiential education, so it’s allowing us to put a lot of those pedagogies into the new program,” Scott said. “The teachers will now get a one-year experience instead of a semester-long experience out in the school setting.”

The MAT program, which includes 40 credits, will allow students to take four of those master’s degree courses as undergraduates. Scott said the School of Education plans on admitting between 35-40 MAT candidates for the opening of the program.

Hailey Truitt, a junior psychology major and education minor, came to UNC wanting to attain the bachelor’s degree in education, but had to change course after learning her class would be the first one phased out of the program.

“I am now a psychology major, which was kind of rough at first,” Truitt said. “I looked into transferring and stuff like that because I was like, ‘I’m paying a lot of money to be at a school, I want to be studying what I want to study,’ which was education.”

Truitt said with the psychology major, she’s been able to explore different disciplines which has led her to discover new passions in education.

Some of the new courses offered through the MAT program include “Innovative and Engaging Teaching,” “Teaching English Language Learners” and “Schools and Community Collaboration.”

First-year Dana Shemer, who planned on getting a bachelor’s degree in education, said the transition did not alter her decision to attend UNC, but forced her to explore other options within the School of Education.

“What I like about it more is that it’s not just education and not just teaching, but it’s a combination of social work, counseling, psychology, etc. I think it’s more appealing that it’s not just education anymore and it’s more experience-based,” she said.

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