Responding to changing needs of its undergraduates and in the field of education, the USC Rossier School of Education is phasing out its undergraduate teaching program.
The school now emphasizes its Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program, through which full-time students can complete their teaching credential and master’s degree in 13 months.
Students of all majors are eligible to apply and may pursue two programs of study: a multiple-subject credential to teach in elementary school (K-6) or a single-subject credential to teach a specific content area in high school and middle school.
“Federal laws like No Child Left Behind have affected requirements for teaching,” said USC Rossier Dean Karen Symms Gallagher. “And fewer students decide as freshmen or sophomores to become teachers. Many USC undergraduates are choosing to go into teaching as seniors, so they could not get their teaching credentials with us.”
Since its inception in 2004, MAT enrollment has grown from 40 to nearly 100 students. “Graduates are in high demand and can place higher on salary scales in most school districts,” Gallagher said.
In two years, USC Rossier will award graduate degrees exclusively.
“This decision does not in any way reduce or minimize our commitment to teaching or to our students here at USC,” Gallagher said. “The change will allow us to attract young men and women with undergraduate degrees in liberal arts, sciences and engineering to the teaching profession.”
The MAT program draws a diverse range of undergraduate majors, said Gisele Ragusa, director of teacher education and undergraduate programs. “Many of them come from psychology, child development or liberal arts majors, but some come from business, engineering, English, foreign languages, music/performing arts and hard sciences fields as well.”
Added Gallagher, “We can give them the instructional skills and practice they need, particularly in our area of primary interest, urban education. In fact, I’m convinced this is the most effective way to prepare new teachers for the rigors of teaching in urban schools.”
MAT students are instructed in teaching methods tailored to the linguistically and ethnically diverse student body they will find in urban schools, including theories of language and literacy for both primary and second-language learners and the application of these concepts across all content areas.
Supervised field experiences in local public schools are integrated into each phase of the program. Beginning in the first summer, students are placed in local classrooms to learn practical applications of theories and instructional methods from experienced teachers. In addition, students complete two semesters of student teaching.
“The curriculum is evolving in response to the changing needs of diverse children in urban schools nationally,” Ragusa said. “As faculty, we desire to prepare novice educators as urban teacher leaders who are change agents in diverse settings.”