Want a master’s degree in teaching? Online-only classes now offered through USM

Anyone who’s interested in earning a master’s degree in teaching in Mississippi can now take online-only classes through the University of Southern Mississippi.

The state has long been looking for solutions to its teacher shortage, but the Legislature adjourned last week without passing any new bills to address it.

USM’s new program is designed to help fill the shortage, and it’s part of an initiative to reach students who can’t come to campus.

“We know that today’s students have complicated and busy lives,” Dr. Tom Hutchinson, director of the Office of Online Learning, said in a press release. “By offering this program fully online we are able to create more certified teachers and help to improve the pool of qualified teachers in Mississippi.”

The 33-credit hour program offers a Master’s of Arts in Teaching to anyone that already has a bachelor’s degree in a field other than education, and it leads students to a Mississippi teaching license.

The program also offers in-classroom experience with supervision and support from faculty at the Gulf Park and Hattiesburg campuses.

“In the online MAT program, we support students while they are completing their first year of teaching, said Dr. Jay Howell, program director in Hattiesburg. “All of our online MAT classes include virtual meetings with knowledgeable professors just like in the traditional classroom.”

The master’s program also allows current teachers to earn a secondary license to teach grades 7-12 and choose a subject area. Graduates are certified at the AA class level.

“That means they receive pay at the master’s level, which is higher compared to those with a bachelor’s degree,” said Howell.

Southern Miss already offers traditional teacher licensure programs and alternate programs, for those who didn’t major in education. The Teach Mississippi Institute allows students to teach in a secondary content area without earning a degree and requires 12 credit hours, but graduates get only a three-year, non-renewable teaching license. They can apply for a five-year, renewable license after the first full year of employment.

The master’s program requires more credit hours, but also comes with faculty support for three to four semesters, the school says.

Part-time tuition of 8 hours or less is $1,437 per three-hour credit course, and full-time tuition is $4,312 per semester.

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