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How hard are M.A.T. programs [admissions wise]?


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Hey everyone,

I'm interested in applying to M.A.T programs in Elementary Education in the future and I was just wondering how difficult these programs are to get into. None of the programs I am interested in seem to publish admissions rates, specifically for that program at least.

I'm interested in:

(1) Columbia TC - Inclusive

(2) Stanford STEP

(3) Brown

(4) Penn GSE

(5) NYU Steinhardt

Brief Stats:

GRE Score -- not taken yet

GPA -- 3.95 [4.0 in major]

Work Experience -- camp counselor, volunteer coordinator at elementary school etc.

Undergrad Institution -- Ivy League school

Research Experience -- work in early childhood cognition laboratory as research assistant.

So any feedback you have on any of these schools would be much appreciated and if you have any advice on applying to these schools [or M.A.T. programs in general], it would be much appreciated. Thanks!

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My impression, in general, is that masters programs in education are much less selective than doctoral programs (and masters programs in a lot of other fields). The issue for folks is usually in paying for the degree, as you're not at all assured of funding. What do you want to do with your degree? If you want to teach, I'd think carefully about applying to programs that would require you to take out more loans than you'd make in your first year or so of teaching. Also, it might be worth considering alternative certification programs (whatever that looks like in your state) instead of a MAT, especially if those programs give you a lot of classroom experience.

Classroom experience is really the key, IMO, both in making you a better teacher and in making you more attractive on the job market. My (undergraduate) education degree required full time-student teaching (~40 hours/week in classrooms) for an entire semester. I felt like, by the last four weeks or so of that time I had a real sense of what the day-to-day of teaching really was. I know fellow teachers whose programs (masters or undergrad) required less classroom time, and I don't think they felt as prepared as I did.

You also want to think about where you want to teach. Certifications/licenses aren't impossible to transfer from state-to-state, but it's a headache to do so. If you know approximately where you want to work when you graduate, it might make sense to choose a program near there, both because then you'll know for sure you're seamlessly certified to practice in that state, and because you'll know (hopefully) know some principals close to your grad school (I got my first two teaching jobs in part through contacts I made during student teaching/observations and practicums).

What is your undergrad degree in?

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Thanks for responding emilyrobot! Your response was really helpful, I'll definitely look into classroom exposure. In response to the questions you asked:

1) I want to end up teaching Elementary Ed [preferably 4th or 5th grade] in New York.

2) My undergrad degree is in Psychology, concentrating in Developmental. Minor in education.

Also, I have inquired about transferring teaching certification across the programs and they have assured me that everything transfers over. But, I am mostly planning on applying to NY programs [e.g. Colubmia NYU URoch etc] just because it's easier to transfer and make contacts; but some programs like Stanford's seem really interesting, so I'm not going to disregard them just because I'm out of state.

In addition, I'm willing to take out a decent amount of graduate loans because I'll be graduating with basically no undergrad debt and I have numerous contacts in my old school district [principals & teachers] who want to hire me right after graduation.

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Hey, no problem! I'm glad it was helpful. If you know principals in the school district that you want to work in, I would recommend that you reach out to them to ask about masters/certification programs. They'd be able to give you a good picture of what programs are impressive, both in terms of who they've hired and student teachers that have come through their building. I'm not saying you should definitely not go Ivy for your masters, but there might be programs you overlooked that are actually impressive to administrators (and cheaper to boot!)

Likely, no matter where you do a teacher training program, you'd be able to transfer your certification to NY. However, you might have to retake some tests before you get a permanent certificate (either before you begin teaching or within two years of teaching). If you complete your teacher training in NY, you'll just take those tests as part of your program requirements. It's not a big deal (the tests are easy), but it costs money and is kind of a headache. It's no great impediment, but it is something to be aware of.

Besides asking your programs of interest detailed questions about what kinds of field experiences and/or student teaching you'd complete, I'd ask the following questions:

- Specifically what kind of certification will you get? Are there opportunities to gain supplementary certifications or endorsements? Administrators love flexibility, so if you can get a middle school certificate in addition to your elementary certificate, that's great. If you can get any kind of extra training/certification in science, math, special ed or bilingual ed, that'll open doors for you--those are typically areas of need for schools, and if you can't nab a position in a district you love teaching 4th or 5th grade, you might be able to get a different position and transfer to another grade level in a few years.

- At the end of your program, will you count as "highly qualified"? In which subjects?

- How will they prepare you to work with the RTI (Response to Intervention) framework? With differentiated instruction? With the requirements of NCLB? With school-wide positive behavior supports? These are the buzzwordy kind of things you'll need to talk intelligently about in interviews, and IMO, any program that can't answer those questions for you is a program that is not connected enough to what is actually going on in schools.

- How will they prepare you for classroom management? (If courses in classroom management are optional, as they are in some programs TAKE THEM. When you're in field placements, talk to your mentor teachers about their strategies for classroom management, talk to principals about school policies for discipline, think carefully about stuff you see that works and doesn't work. IMO, this is the real make-you-or-break-you stuff for new teachers).

That's all I can think of for now! Good luck to you!

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Thanks again emilyrobot, you definitely gave me some things to think about! I'm probably going to go talk to a couple of principals in my area soon and I'm definitely going to ask them if they have some programs that they recommend.

You make a great point about the pros of completing a program in the state in which you plan on teaching in eventually, and that's why I'm going to gear most of my applications to NY schools.

All of the programs I'm looking at give initial certification for grades 1 - 6. Technically, this would allow me to work in the middle schools, since middle school is grades 6 - 8 in my area. I don't plan on doing dual certification though because I'm not really interested in working in special education and/or middle school.

And if anyone knows admissions stats on any of the above schools, post them here. Thanks!

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