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What is the Purpose of the Master of Arts in Education Program?

 The primary goal of the Master of Arts in Education program is to provide quality professional opportunities to teachers so that they can influence decision making in the classrooms, schools, and communities in which they teach.

 Today's classroom teachers must be better prepared to handle a wide range of instructional and non-instructional tasks. Given tremendous sociological changes in society, the teacher for America's future classroom must be prepared to work as a social change agent, collaborating with the home and community in order to address issues of literacy and diversity. Today's teachers must be ready and willing to not only make a difference within their classrooms, but also within the school districts, and communities in which they teach. It becomes both the social and ethical responsibility of today's teacher to make a difference within the context of the classroom.


The MA in Education is a program of study for the teacher practitioner that provides for opportunities of professional growth and personal development through applicable course work and relevant experiences. Constructivist theory is integrated with faith and learning applications. The program's core addresses four areas of teacher development: peacebuilding and conflict resolution, cultures of change, social and ethical issues and action research in educational settings. 

 The Master of Arts in Education program consists of 36 semester hours including a required core of 12 hours, a concentration area of 21 hours and 3 hours of reflective practice through completion of an action research project. Concentration areas include literacy agent, diverse needs strategist and curriculum and instruction practitioner. A master’s degree plus a reading specialist endorsement in Virginia requires a minimum of 40 hours; Pennsylvania requires a minimum of 39 hours. A separate program for only a reading specialist endorsement/certification requires 25 hours in VA; 24 hours in PA. Programs leading to an ESL endorsement and a master’s degree require at least 39 semester hours in VA and 37 hours in PA.

NOTE: Course requirements may change as the program evolves. Candidates are accountable for the sequence of course work listed in the catalog for the year in which they entered the program.

Program Core (12 hours)

Required by all candidates, this core emphasizes:

1) examining peace and justice issues within educational environments, 2) collaborating with teachers and administrators to establish constructivist environments, 3) understanding social and ethical issues which inform change and 4) engaging in action research within the classroom in order to foster more effective instruction. Program core and concentration area courses provide a rich context for identifying a significant question to explore in EDCC 551 Action Research in Educational Settings.

Core Courses:

[Recommended early in program]

EDCC 501 Creating Cultures of Change (3 hrs.)

EDCC 521 Peacebuilding & Conflict Resolution (3 hrs.)

EDCC 531 Social & Ethical Issues in Education (3 hrs.)

 [Recommended later in program]

EDCC 551 Action Research in Educational Settings (3 hrs.)

Reflective Practice – Action Research Project (3 hrs.)

The completion of the program will be marked with an action research project which has been designed by the student in collaboration with an academic mentor. Action Research Projects may take a variety of formats: curriculum restructuring projects, staff development projects, research for public policy change, research for publication, etc. Final projects are presented and approved by the mentor.

 EDPC 611 Action Research Project (3 hrs.)

Candidates must be registered for EDPC 611 Action Research Project before participating in graduation ceremonies. In addition, candidates who prolong the completion of their final Action Research Project beyond one year from the initial registration date must register for a thesis extension course.

Concentration Areas (21 hours)

It is in this component of the program that the practitioner begins to specialize in one of four areas of concentration: Literacy, Diverse Needs, Curriculum and Instruction, or Restorative Justice in Education.

1) Literacy 

Practitioners focus on the study of literacy in a broader sense than traditionally encountered in schools of the past. Literacy is approached beyond reading and writing into integrated approaches for the development of communication, thought and interpersonal interaction.  Emphasis is placed upon literacy programs from emergent to adult, integrated literacy instruction, literacy in community and family arenas, and classroom assessment of literacy. Virginia endorsement as a reading specialist may be obtained with additional course work, a clinical practicum and passing scores on the Reading for Virginia Educators: Reading Specialist (Praxis #5304).  Pennsylvania certification as a reading specialist may be obtained with additional course work, clinical practicum hours, a passing score on Praxis test #0300 and submission through TIMS to the PA Department of Education. 

2) Diverse Needs

Practitioners focus on special needs of diverse populations. Options built into this concentration provide further emphasis in one of three areas: (1) Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL), (2) Trauma and Resilience in Educational Environments; and (3) Special Education. This component contains a common core of course work which addresses language/literacy competence with diverse populations; intervention strategies for diverse learners; and developing leadership skills in teaming, collaboration and consultation with parents, school and community social agencies. Endorsement is available in ESL with additional course work and supervised practicum hours. In Virginia, initial PreK-12 teacher licensure is available in ESL with additional course work, a practicum and supervised student teaching.  A separate 15 semester hour certificate in Trauma and Resilience in Educational Environments is available within the concentration. 

3) Curriculum & Instruction

Practitioners focus on a course of study for elementary, middle or high school practitioners to enhance existing skills and meet the challenges found in today's schools. Emphasis is placed upon adapting and designing curriculum for diverse populations, designing integrated interdisciplinary instruction, upgrading professional knowledge in recent research in current issues, teaming with school and community professionals and enhancing specific professional and specialty area competencies. Participants may choose one of three emphasis areas toward completion of this concentration: Elementary School Emphasis, Middle School Emphasis or High School Emphasis.

4) Restorative Justice in Education

Practitioners focus on helping teachers, administrators, and other school personnel to develop skills in peaceable and restorative ways of teaching and leading. Emphasis is placed on infusing elements of restorative justice and peacebuilding, providing teachers not only with tools for understanding and responding to student behavioral concerns, but by also fostering the types of dispositions central to building healthy relationships within educational settings. Courses are available in a variety of formats and designed for practicing local and regional school personnel, community leaders, social workers, school counselors, international candidates, and persons serving in informal educational settings. A separate 15 semester hour certificate in Restorative Justice in Education Settings is available within the concentration.

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