Western Governors University Master of Arts in Teaching
This Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program at Western Governors University is designed for people who have a bachelor's degree in some field other than teaching and who wish to make a career change into teaching. The program is a fully accredited, fully online degree that is the only completely online program with accreditation from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). One of the key components of any teaching degree for new teachers is the field assignment, or student teaching experience. This program will assist students in obtaining student teaching placement in the school district where they live or one nearby. That is a rare feature for online MAT programs.
The MAT Academic Prerequisites
There are six options for academic specialization in this MAT program. Students can choose a curriculum for teaching classes K-8, for teaching social studies, for teaching mathematics in either grades 5-9 or grades 9-12, and for teaching science in grades 5-0 or grades 9-12. The University makes it clear that there are varying requirements for undergraduate background for these specializations. Prospective math teachers are probably going to need an undergraduate degree in math, statistics, engineering, or one of the sciences. Those who want to teach a science will need substantial academic background or work experience in the field. The academic requirements for teaching social studies include a degree in one of the social sciences. For a general teaching degree covering grades K-8 a degree in one of the liberal arts is necessary.
The Curriculum and Format
All of these degrees have flexibility in terms of the course load students must carry. That's up to the student, within certain limits. Each term is a full six months and students who are studying full time are expected to carry at least eight credits-although more are possible. Standard time to completion is 2-2 years. Some part time students may stretch it to three years. The purpose of the six month terms is to provide continuity to the MAT program. At the end of each term students meet or speak with their academic counselor and plan enrollment commitments for the following term. The University expects every student to meet satisfactory academic progress requirements, which includes a minimum number of credits completed and a B average.
Students may expect to spend about twenty hours a week on schoolwork. The student teaching experience will take between twelve and twenty weeks, depending on the area of specialization, the state in which you are enrolled, and the amount of time spent in the classroom each week. Student teaching can often be a forty hour per week commitment. During the student teaching experience students participate in a weekly conference call with a facilitator and a cohort of fellow students who are going through the field work experience at about the same grade level.
In order to complete the program each student is required to prepare a professional portfolio that contains a Teacher Work Sample. This document defines the experience of planning and teaching a multi-week, standards-based instructional unit consisting of seven components: (1) contextual factors, (2) learning goals, (3) assessment, (4) design for instruction, (5) instructional decision making, (6) analysis of student learning, and (7) self-evaluation and reflection.