With the increasing need for qualified teachers in Mississippi, the University of Southern Mississippi is helping to fill this need by offering a fully online Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) degree, which will ultimately lead to a Mississippi teaching license.
Dr. Jay Howell, the coordinator for the program at the Southern Miss’s Hattiesburg campus, says the school offers both the traditional licensure programs and alternate route teaching licensure programs. The alternate route licensure programs are designed for people who did not choose education as their undergraduate major.
“Not everyone can come to campus for classes and not everyone who wants to be a teacher makes that decision as a freshman in college,” said Howell. “Offering our MAT program fully online gives students who want to make a difference as a teacher a pathway to get their Mississippi teaching license while earning their MAT degree.”
The MAT degree is a 33-credit hour program where students learn knowledge and skills in education while earning real-world classroom teaching experience. Students are provided supervision and mentorship throughout the program by Gulf Park and Hattiesburg faculty with expertise in secondary education.
“Our faculty are committed to student success,” said Howell. “In the online MAT program, we support students while they are completing their first year of teaching. All of our online MAT classes include virtual meetings with knowledgeable professors just like in the traditional classroom.”
The program is for students who hold a baccalaureate degree in a field other than education and are interested in seeking a secondary license for grades 7-12.
“But these students are not on their own,” says Howell. “Our dedicated faculty deliver the most current evidence-based instruction using approaches that ensure our students are able to complete their training and are prepared to meet the challenges of classroom teaching.”
An additional perk of the fully online MAT program, according to Howell, is that graduates emerge with a master’s degree and are certified at the AA class level.
“That means they receive pay at the master’s level, which is higher compared to those with a bachelor’s degree,” said Howell.
Dr. Tom Hutchinson, director of the Office of Online Learning at Southern Miss, says the new fully online MAT program is part of the university’s targeted outreach to students who cannot come to campus.
“We know that today’s students have complicated and busy lives,” said Hutchinson. “By offering this program fully online we are able to create more certified teachers and help to improve the pool of qualified teachers in Mississippi.”
According to Dr. Amy Chasteen Miller, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, Southern Miss is strategically targeting online program offerings.
“Southern Miss has a solid foundation of degrees offered on campus,” says Miller. “Our selectivity in offering online programs to students across the state is our way of answering a need while maintaining the academic rigor of all of our programs.”
Admission for the MAT program will occur three times a year with admission deadlines in May, August, and January.