The Board of Regents approved a new BS/MAT (Master of Art in Teaching) joint degree program between Tech and Georgia State University on Aug. 11. The program will begin this fall.
“[For a long time], Tech students have become teachers. If you go out into the school in the state, you will find math and science teachers who will say ‘I got [my] first degree at Georgia Tech and then decided to become a teacher.’ This program is to make it easy, give students good advice and get them certified on the master’s level,” said Donna Llewellyn, Director of the Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning (CETL).
The new program has been nearly a year in the making and is part of the larger goal of the Institute to develop undergraduates with the degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) into teachers.
“We have an NSF [National Science Foundation] project called Tech to Teaching which the purpose is to facilitate success of students of students who want to teach in STEM fields…The best STEM students in the state and the region come to Georgia Tech, but we don’t have a college of education, so this [program] facilitates STEM students to become STEM teachers,” Llewellyn said.
The NSF push for math and science teachers comes from the lack of qualified people to teach in these areas.
“There is a tremendous shortage of math and science teachers across the state. Even in the current recession, they are still hiring math and science teachers…We contacted some of the local school districts and asked them how many math and science teachers they plan to hire in the next five years; they were in the hundreds,” Llewellyn said.
While the intention of the program is to develop more math and science teachers, students in other fields can also enroll in the BS/MAT program. All the MAT programs offered at GSU are eligible to students in the program.
“This is not just restricted to just math and science teachers. People in other fields can do it too, but their major must align with the field they want to teach in,” said Beth Spencer, Director of Pre-Teaching serving the Georgia Tech community.
Students wanting to enroll in the new program need a 3.5 GPA and have completed at least 30 hours and not more than 90. Students must also maintain a 3.0 to remain in the program. Students will also need to complete 6 hours of graduate level courses in their field while at Tech. Students enrolled in the degree will have the option of cross enrolling at GSU to take education courses to satisfy free elective hours.
“This nice thing about this agreement is that nobody has given up anything, we have just made it easier for students. You get your Georgia Tech degree exactly the same way you would have gotten your Georgia Tech degree. You get the MAT the same way you have gotten the MAT. It is just seamless now,” Llewellyn said.
The estimates of the number students who would enroll in the program are conservative for many reason, including GPA requirements, interest from the student body and knowledge of the opportunity.
“This program is going to start small, because Tech students don’t know about it yet, but I think it will grow. We expect for it to start at maybe a dozen,” Llewellyn said.
“I think this is going to be a small program [not only] because of the GPA requirements, but also because I meet with a lot of juniors and seniors. It is not unusual at all for students to come meet with the spring of their senior year and say they want to become a teacher,” Spencer said.
The Pre-Teaching Department also offers other opportunities for those interested in becoming teachers. Currently there are three classes, CETL 4001, 4002 and 4003, that are offered on campus to give students a feel for what a MAT degree entails. Students pursuing STEM fields are eligible to receive Noyce scholarships ranging from $20,000-$24,000.