Bluefield College will begin its second-ever semester for its master of arts in education (MAEd) program on Jan. 13.
Registration for the spring 2014 term is running now through the first day of classes, but as leaders in the School of Education prepare for the new term, they do so with great expectations based on the success of the historical first semester of master’s instruction at BC.
Bluefield College launched its first-ever master’s degree program in August of this year in what was said to be the school’s most significant academic achievement since becoming a four-year college in 1975. Approved by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to begin offering master’s degrees, BC went straight to one of its most recognized and critically acclaimed programs, the School of Education, to begin its master’s level instruction.
“As a 1980 alumnus of Bluefield College, I am thrilled that we are now able to offer the master’s degree in education,” said Dr. Donna Hardy Watson, dean of the School of Education. “Not only will we be able to help teachers in this region and beyond reach professional goals, the new program has put me in touch with wonderful teachers and past graduates whose expertise adds to the program’s development. In addition, we are able to offer the graduate courses for our high-achieving education students in their senior year, so they can get a head start on earning a master’s degree.”
Eight students enrolled in the first class of students this fall, studying “Research in Education” and “Assessment and Evaluation for Student Growth,” all in an online environment. As part of the instruction, the students created classroom assessments and developed school improvement plans.
“I’m learning about teacher effectiveness through the investigation of research, assessment, and evaluation,” said current MAEd student Kalyn Dolan of Gladys, Virginia. “I’m also learning how to initiate and carry through plans that can affect an entire school, so I feel that I will be prepared and more apt to initiate a change that could benefit students. Not only that, but I will be closer to obtaining a doctorate degree toward my career.”
Dr. Watson said the different perspectives from each of the students brought “a richness” to the online classrooms. The instruction and discussions, she added, brought immediate benefits to teachers already on the job.
“We learned from one another’s unique experiences,” she said, “and the students encouraged one another as we explored questions, such as ‘Should we abolish zeroes?’ and ‘Should teachers offer extra credit?’ The assignments were geared to each individual’s teaching situation, so the work they did could enrich their own teaching practice.”
While the MAEd program is designed for practicing teachers who are interested in renewing their license, growing professionally or increasing their salary, those who are credentialed to teach in their current situation may also benefit from the convenience of the online program. Even current undergraduate students, like Dolan, who is dually enrolled in BC’s undergraduate and graduate education programs, are signing up to earn their master’s degree.
“By being enrolled in this program, along with finishing my undergraduate degree,” said Dolan, “I am definitely learning how to better manage my time and set my standards higher for my graduate work.”
Offered entirely with the convenience to allow students to earn a master’s degree without sacrificing professional and personal commitments, the BC master’s in education is a 30-hour program. With two courses per semester, including summer term, students can finish in two years.
“I’m enjoying how the program is deepening my knowledge of education before I even have a teaching position,” said Dolan. “This program is preparing me to be the best teacher that I can be.”
Courses this spring – like “Teaching Strategies for Student Learning” and “Classroom Management and Behavior in a Diverse Society” – will begin Jan. 13 and run through May 3. Students who have not taken the GRE or GMAT can still enroll and take up to six hours of academic credit before completing the entrance exams.
For those seeking loans to assist with costs, current teachers who borrow from the government may be able to get their student loans forgiven. Visit www.bluefield.edu/loanforgiveness to see if the government will repay your student loans for the MAEd program.
For more information about the master’s degree in education, visit the BC web site at www.bluefield.edu/MAEd, e-mail Dr. Watson at , or call 276-326-4475. To apply online for spring classes, go to