The USC Rossier School of Education will be adding two new master’s programs this fall, targeting specific niches of education.
The first, the Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (MAT-ESOL) program, will be a combination of two current programs — the Master of Science in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages and the Master of Education in Teaching English as a Foreign Language — and will be geared toward students who want to learn to teach a language to non-native speakers.
The second new degree, the Master in Higher Education Counseling, will provide students with a route to jobs at 2- and 4-year colleges and universities.
Melora Sundt, associate dean for academic programs of the USC Rossier School of Education, described the change to the language teaching degrees as a philosophical shift for the program.
“Most TESOL programs come out of linguistics and have a strong linguistic approach to them,” Sundt said. “This one now still has some of that, but it’s going to come out of the art of teaching. It’s not just a linguistics-based program, but it’s really trying to drill down into what makes an excellent instructor.”
Though the existing programs were primarily aimed at teaching English to adults, the new program will also focus on educating children.
The new degree will also be offered online for those who want to complete the program outside the classroom. Students who opt to complete the program online would only come to campus for a short residential English language immersion, according to Sundt.
The Masters in Higher Education Counseling degree will specifically focus on community colleges, though it covers all types of higher education, Sundt said.
Currently, USC offers a Master of Education in Postsecondary Administration in Student Affairs, but no postsecondary counseling programs. Sundt said this new degree could be an important one for the Rossier school.
“This gives us a chance to take the strengths of the PASA program and blend it with the strengths of the other two counseling programs to create a program that better meets the needs of people who want to go into student affairs in community colleges,” Sundt said. “California has the largest community college system in the country … It’s a group that we have not been able to serve very well in the past so we’re hoping that this will help.”
Alan Green, associate professor of clinical education, said the field of higher education counseling is growing, particularly in light of President Barack Obama’s focus on the role of community colleges.
This kind of program, he said, is necessary to help prepare graduate students not only to be advisers but also to take on the role of counseling academic or social issues, such as helping students make the transition to college, aiding students in life issues and assisting in career and academic choices.
These changes have been approved within Rossier but not yet by the University Curriculum Committee. Because a whole version of the MAT-ESOL program will be offered online, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, a regional accrediting body, will also have to approve it.
Sundt anticipates a positive student response to the degrees.
“We’ve been asking groups who have worked with our alumni and our alumni themselves about what they think of the idea, and so far the results have been pretty positive,” she said.
Elizabeth Warden contributed to this report.