“This is a historic moment in the life of the College, and we could not be more pleased or proud of this strategic step,” he wrote in a memo delivered to students, faculty and staff on Tuesday, Sept. 28.
The college’s current strategic plan calls for graduate programming, “consistent with the College’s mission and interests.” In a video announcing the M.A.T. program, Coker said, “The work continues, with more potential graduate programs in the pipeline.”
In the memo, Coker added that offering a degree focused on science, technology, engineering and math also aligns with the college’s desire to be “of and for the region.”
President Bryan F. Coker announced this week the college has been approved by its accrediting body and the Tennessee Department of Education to offer a master of arts in teaching (M.A.T.) degree with an emphasis in secondary STEM.
Maryville College officials say the most recent reference to offering a graduate degree they have found was in 1888.
“With the Great Smoky Mountains, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the Tennessee Valley Corridor all nearby, this region is an opportune place for STEM education,” he stated. “Our program will send highly qualified teachers into middle and high schools to inspire and prepare more students to pursue these fields, all of which are so crucial to our region’s economic and environmental health.”
A high demand for workers in STEM fields and decreased interest in teaching as a profession are among the factors causing a national shortage of teachers in areas such as science and math.
One-year program The program is not intended for people who have teaching degrees or licensure. Instead it is designed for those who already have a degree in a STEM field and are interested in teaching as a second career.
Maryville College will offer an M.A.T. in one of three secondary school licensure areas: biology, chemistry or mathematics. The deadline to apply for May 2022 enrollment is Jan. 15. Requirements for admission include already having a bachelor’s degree in a STEM field or nearing completion of a four-year degree in a STEM field.
Cynthia Gardner, associate professor of education and director of teacher education, said the college’s M.A.T. degree program has several advantages. “First, it’s an accelerated program, allowing students to finish in just one year,” she said. “Also, our small cohort model gives students a supportive group that enters and remains in the program together.”
And the investment in the M.A.T. pays off. “In East Tennessee, first-year educators with a master’s degree in teaching earn, on average, $8,300 more than those who enter the profession with only a bachelor’s degree,” Gardner said.
Gardner cited individual attention from qualified professors and long-standing relationships with area schools that yield unique collaborations as other benefits to students enrolled in the program. All courses will be offered as hybrid asynchronous or online, and candidates will complete a full year of full-time student teaching. A job-embedded pathway will allow a school to hire a candidate to teach while finishing the M.A.T. program.