Launching or furthering a teaching career? Alternative ways to move forward

Amy Potthast served as Idealist’s Director of Service and Graduate Education Programs until 2011. Read more of her work at


From isafmedia (Flickr/Creative Commons)

A week after our graduate degree fair season started this fall, I went back to grad school myself—a part-time, low-residency Masters in Education program focused on adult learning and education (rather than K-12) from Oregon State. I’m a mother to two young kids and a program director at Idealist, and beginning this program has made me realize how crucial alternative format grad school options are for people at mid-career, with families and full-time jobs.

Here are some other programs worth highlighting:

Online programs
Some for-profit schools have made people leery of online education. But reputable nonprofit and public universities are offering more online opportunities all the time. For example, our host at tonight’s Washington, D.C. grad fair—George Washington University’s Graduate School of Education and Human Development—offers five different online masters programs, ranging from masters programs in Bilingual Special Education, to Educational Technology Leadership. For people who don’t need the masters degree right now, the school offers a slew of online certificate programs.

Teacher residencies
Other programs around the U.S. enable people to attend graduate school for education while they teach full time in public schools. Mississippi Teacher Corps brings people from all over the country to work as teachers throughout Mississippi while earning a tuition-free Masters degrees in Curriculum and Instruction at University of Mississippi. Boston Teacher Residency and NYC Teaching Fellows offer similar programs (though the fine print varies).

Re-careering support
For established professionals from any background, programs like EnCorps Teachers Program in California can be a lifeline for starting a brand-new teaching career later in life – and putting skills in math and science to work, helping new generations of students. EnCorps is a public-private partnership dedicated to increasing the number of critically-needed STEM teachers in public middle and high schools. Teach For America, famous for recruiting top recent college grads, also enlists older professionals in the movement to end education inequity; TFA is sponsoring tonight’s grad fair and hosting a special networking event after the fair.

More resources
If you’re thinking about a graduate degree or other career transition into the education field, you might enjoy our Education Graduate Degree Overview or a visit to one of our graduate degree fairs. Tonight’s is from 5:00-8:00 p.m. in Washington, DC.

[This blog entry first appeared on an older version of Idealist; any broken links are a result of having re-launched our site in Fall 2010.]

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