UI partnership creates online M.A.

By Kayli Reese

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The University of Iowa College of Education will soon offer a master’s degree in teaching, leadership, and cultural competency.

Beginning in January, the UI and HigherEducation.com will offer the degree exclusively online.

The program is meant to be more of a generalist master’s, said Nancy Langguth, an associate dean for teacher education and student services in the education school.

“It’s designed for teachers who wants to build upon their skill sets,” she said.

According to the school’s webpage, the master’s will advance students’ skills in areas such as educational leadership and best instructional coaching practices. Langguth also said the program will have a human-relations component.

She said the degree is meant for currently employed teachers; one of the requirements of applying for the program is having a teaching license. By taking part in the program, she said, it would fulfill teachers’ requirement of taking classes to keep their teaching licenses, while also adding a master’s degree to their education.

While the tuition cost of this master’s degree will be the same as that of a regular master’s, the application fee will be waived, she said. Practicing teachers choosing to enroll full time can also take advantage of financial aid, she said.

Langguth said officials hope to recruit 20 to 25 students at the start of the program. The program, she said, will be set up a bit differently from a normal semester-by-semester schedule, because teachers have shown an interest in having shorter, more-flexible class schedules.

The classes will be in eight-week blocks with five starting times over the course of the degree, which Langguth said is referred to as a “carousel approach.” The courses can take 18 to 24 weeks to complete depending on how many classes one takes, she said.

Suzanne Guinn, the vice president and managing director at HigherEducation.com, said the company is helping the UI in marketing the new degree, as well as offering retention support to students throughout the course. Also, she said, the company will work with faculty on creating courses, but individual professors will have most of the control.

The connection between the company and the UI made sense because its headquarters is in Iowa City, she said.

Guinn said while online programs may not be for everyone, they have many benefits. For one, she said, taking classes in this manner allows for lots of flexibility for working professionals as well as provides lots of opportunities.

“It gives people access to programs they wouldn’t have otherwise,” she said.

Langguth said having a program similar to the online M.A. has been on her “missed-opportunity list,” and she is now excited to delve into this program. In the past, she said, teachers have only returned to the UI for a master’s in a specialist teaching program. Now, teachers can continue to expand on their education at the UI without having to go into a more specific field, such as special education.

Daniel Clay, the dean of the College of Education, said he is excited about the changes the online M.A. will bring.

“We are very excited to partner with HigherEducation.com to offer this innovative master’s degree program,” he said. “Our faculty [have] developed an outstanding curriculum that will add value for students who can take the degree program at their convenience. We have constructed the degree program with the needs of students as a top priority, which is why the structure of the program is unlike any other we offer.”

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