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At the request of students, Central Washington University will be offering the first master’s education degree with a STEM Leadership specialization in Washington state. This program is different than a standard master’s degree in education because students are able to dive deep into science and math areas that are of interest to them.

An undergraduate program specializing in education STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) was brought to CWU in 2017, with the first students graduating in 2019. This master’s degree is an extension of that undergraduate program, which will make students experts in their field, according to Rachel George, CWU academic adviser and recruiter for the STEM Teaching Program.

“This degree allows students to really hone in on the STEM aspects of education,” George said. “Students are required to take core classes that include education foundation classes that are part of the core masters program. There are also STEM pedagogy, STEM leadership classes and department approved STEM content electives.”

This master specialization is not only for student who have been through the related undergraduate program, it’s for anyone who has a bachelors degree and is a teacher. The program began with eight students in the first class, most of whom were graduates from CWU, but not all graduates from the STEM undergraduate program.

“A lot of our students are already teachers so they are looking to take that step up in the STEM world so whether that’s just furthering their knowledge or working to become a department chair in their school or it could be to become a specialist in their districts,” George said.

People taking a graduate degree are usually already teaching other students, but want to be better at it, meaning the program is designed for students who are also teachers. Most classes are online, with in-person meetings usually happening during the weekends. This lets students work their job as an educator while earning a master’s degree.

Mark Oursland, CWU mathematics and STEM education professor, said they surveyed the potential students about the schedule and it was decided that this was the best option for them.

“We surveyed all the teachers and this is the way that they would like it to happen,” Oursland said. “It is a little different than what Central usually does, so that part was kinda hard to go and figure out with the registrar, but other than that, for us teachers and the students, it actually works out pretty nice.”

According to Oursland, the university already had all the resources and assets needed to begin this master’s specialization in the undergraduate program.

“The students had said what they really wanted was to be able to continue this onto their early careers into their careers as STEM teachers and so that’s what we have done,” Oursland said.

The master’s degree takes about two years to complete with 48 credits required, 12 of which are electives. The cost for the program depends, but ranges around $16,000 to $22,000 for each student.

“We started classes this weekend, and the feedback was really positive from our students and I think they are excited to get going,” George said.

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