Contact: Jenni Smith
SMU News & Media Relations
(214) 768-7650


May 03, 2002


DALLAS (SMU) -- For the first time in nearly 20 years, Southern Methodist University will offer a master’s degree in education for qualified teachers.

The new 36-hour, part-time program will begin in fall 2002 and is designed for elementary and secondary school teachers with at least three years of classroom experience who want to obtain a master’s degree to broaden and enrich their knowledge in their academic discipline and improve their pedagogical skills. The program can be individualized for teachers at all levels, kindergarten through grade 12. Classes will be offered in the evenings, and possibly on Saturdays, to enable working teachers to participate. Candidates must complete the degree within seven years.

“SMU has a responsibility as a comprehensive university in an urban area to respond to the needs of the community,” said U. Narayan Bhat, SMU dean of Research and Graduate Studies. “With area school districts losing a significant portion of their teachers due to a lack of job satisfaction, we hope this new program will help energize teachers and introduce them to new strategies to help them regain satisfaction in their classroom experiences.”

Because the teacher shortage has forced the Texas State Board of Educator Certification to allow non-certified individuals to teach for at least three years without regular teaching credentials, it is important to keep certified teachers in the classrooms, Bhat said.

SMU currently offers graduate certificate programs for teachers in bilingual education, reading education, learning therapy and a gifted and talented endorsement. Up to 12 credit hours earned in these programs can count toward the master’s in education degree, Bhat said. More than 500 teachers have completed the specialized programs and more than 150 currently are enrolled.

Most master’s in education programs in the state consist of curriculum exclusively in education. A distinctive feature of SMU’s new master’s degree is the requirement that at least one third of its curriculum includes courses in other disciplines, to allow teachers to grow in the content area, as well as pedagogy.

SMU’s new master’s degree in education will be comprised of three modules of 12 credit hours each. Candidates will be in one of two tracks, depending on whether a graduate certificate for specialized education is sought. All candidates will take a graduate education core of 12 semester hours that will include educational psychology, philosophy of education, research in education, and urban problems and multicultural education. Candidates also will take between 12 to18 credit hours in their chosen academic disciplines (such as English, math or science) and electives to broaden and enrich their knowledge in their primary or a related academic discipline.

An increasing number of public school districts and private schools require their teachers to earn a master’s degree. SMU will work cooperatively with school districts in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex to identify and support these master teachers. The university anticipates that local area school districts will support the program by providing partial tuition support to teachers. Tuition is $285 per semester hour.

An oversight committee of faculty members from across the university, chaired by Bhat, will govern the master’s degree in education program. Members include Alan Brown, psychology department chair; Tom Fomby, economics professor; Montie Monzingo, mathematics professor; Charles Helfert, theatre professor; Mary Vernon, art professor; Alan Wagner, music education professor; James Hopkins, history department chair; Bijan Mohraz, associate dean of engineering; and James Ode, music education professor. Kathy Hargrove, director of Teacher Education and the Gifted Students Institute, will serve as an ex-officio member.

For more information, contact the Division of Education and Lifelong Learning at
(214) 768-1495 or visit the Web site at