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Harvard ends undergrad teaching program, tells students to get a master’s instead

Education students must obtain a master’s degree now

Aspiring teachers at Harvard University will no longer be able to just obtain an undergraduate certificate under a recent decision by the Ivy League school.

Harvard announced the end of its Undergraduate Teacher Education Program and said students could obtain a Master’s in Education from the Graduate School of Education’s new Teaching and Teacher Leadership program.

In the fall of 2021, over 1,000 students were in the education master’s degree program compared with just seven enrolled to get an undergraduate degree in education, according to the university’s enrollment statistics.

The Undergraduate Teacher Education Program consisted of four courses, totaling 16 credits that allowed students to obtain a license to teach in middle and/or secondary public schools in Massachusetts and 40-other states, according to the Harvard 2021-22 student handbook.

Harvard did not respond to multiple emailed requests from The College Fix that asked what the extra costs of the master’s program would be, as well as any research the university could provide on the benefits of having a master’s degree for a teacher versus an undergraduate degree.

The decision comes after low enrollment and a $40 million donation in February to create scholarships for students in the new TTL program.

“This is a game-changing gift that underscores not only the central importance of teachers in our communities, but also Harvard’s longstanding commitment to the teaching profession and to the field of education writ large,” Bridget Long, dean of the graduate school, stated in a news release.

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Orin Gutlerner, the associate director of UTEP from 2003-2008, told Harvard’s student newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, a “fundamental challenge” with the UTEP was that it was perceived as an add-on program.

“It was not an actual concentration, it satisfied very few concentration requirements in spite of the incredible demands and rigor of the program,” Gutlerner stated. He told the paper “it was really all we could do to barely meet state licensure requirements and offer UTEP and still be able to attract even five or ten Harvard College students a year.”

Garrett Rolph, a peer advisor for the secondary field in educational studies, told The Crimson that the removal of the UTEP would make it “harder for you to become a teacher at Harvard than it is at any other state school.”

“Now, it doesn’t even make that much sense to come to Harvard if you want to go into education,” Rolph said.

The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education reported that the number of undergraduate education degrees awarded annually decline in the past ten years. In 2018–19, fewer than 90,000 bachelor’s degrees were conferred in education, according to the report.

The College Fix contacted two education professors to ask for comment on any research about the added benefits of a graduate degree in education but both declined to answer.

The Fix emailed Carleton College Chair of Educational Studies Jeff Snyder and Associate Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of North Texas Barbara Pazey.

“I don’t have the expertise to answer this excellent question,” Snyder told The Fix.

Pazey said she was “not familiar” with what happened and declined to comment.

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IMAGE: The Harvard Shop/Instagram

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About the Author
Ashley Carnahan -- USC Annenberg