I must admit that when I was looking for a master’s and Ed. S. program the first thing on my list was convenience. Where could I get a degree without driving a long distance? Which program offers a good number of classes in the summer when I am not working as much? And, of course today, there is the whole online degree topic.
These are all valid questions but before you even go there, you need to consider what you want to study.I had come from an excellent undergrad program [from an international university, if you allow me to brag a bit!], but it didn’t take me two years to realize I needed to know more about how to teach reading and writing in my third-grade classroom! So, add the what to your list of questions.
What would help you better help your students?
My initial thought was that if I was going to pay for this degree, I wanted to study in an area that would help me answer my questions for my classroom. Before looking at universities, you must also think about adding to your areas of licensure on your teaching certificate. You just don’t know where you will be in five years and if you are like me, not working is / was not an option. Keep yourself marketable!
Explore your options!
Ask your fellow teachers who have advanced degrees and find out where they went to school. Check out the websites for various universities they mention and those in your area. If online learning is appealing to you, the world is your oyster! You can study anywhere! Look at the programs of study in as many locations as are feasible and read about the courses. Do they cover topics where you have questions? I would also suggest you read the info posted on the professors teaching in the program. Do they have a broad base of experiences? Are their research interests in areas you are interested in knowing more about? Professors tend to teach about their interests regardless of the title of the course! (It’s called academic freedom.)
The website should tell you who oversees the program. After you have done your homework, call or email the program coordinator and talk about your questions. Ask the person what he/she thinks are the strengths and needs of their program. It is all about finding the best match possible between what you want to know and what the program offers! Once you have done your homework go back to your first question about convenience and ask yourself: What is doable in my situation? That is key! You can make the program work for you if you are committed to learning to be the best teacher you can be!