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Innovative Teacher Pathway Program Removes Barriers for Career Changers

The Kansas State University College of Education is adding a new pathway to the teaching profession for career changers who want or need to work full time while pursuing their teaching license and master’s degree in education.

The Kansas State Board of Education recently approved the Master of Arts in teaching residency, which leads to elementary licensure. It is an 18-month online program with three entry points each year: August, May and December. The equivalent program for those seeking licensure for secondary classrooms was approved in March.

Debbie Mercer, dean of the College of Education, said the residency program is the college’s most recent viable, practical and high-quality innovation addressing the need for teachers in Kansas.

“Many people expressed interest in the Master of Arts in teaching but couldn’t afford to step away from their salary for an entire year while working on their graduate degree,” Mercer said. “Our faculty examined the issue then developed a fresh approach, which has removed a significant financial barrier for many professionals who want to teach in Kansas.”

This newest offering of the Master of Arts in teaching program provides candidates with a limited apprentice license that allows them to earn a salary as a teacher in a Kansas classroom for one school year while they complete their coursework. The residency program supports “grow your own” initiatives by local districts and equips future teachers with invaluable experience.

Thomas Vontz, professor and director of the Master of Arts in teaching program, said student achievement is at the heart of the Master of Arts in teaching residency programs.

“Educators have known for quite some time that the classroom teacher is the single best predictor of student success,” Vontz said. “Our programs are designed so that newly minted teachers hit the ground running and possess the tools and skills to become the best teachers possible.”

The College of Education first offered the Master of Arts in teaching in 2016. It quickly became one of the university’s most popular graduate degree programs. The program offerings are available in 12-month or 18-month formats in elementary education and in the secondary content areas of English language arts, social studies, modern languages, and agriculture education.