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New Online Masters in Teaching Great for Career-Changers

Atlanta — August 20, 2008

The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia (USG) today approved an online graduate teaching degree that targets career-changers – people with bachelor’s degrees in mathematics, one of the sciences or in related fields who are ready to do something different – and also those already teaching who wish to add certification in mathematics or one of the sciences.

By sharing faculty expertise and resources, the five USG institutions that have teamed up to offer the degree completely online are not only helping to boost the number and quality of Georgia’s math and science teachers, but enabling Georgians to save gas and time that would have been spent commuting to a campus to earn the degree.

The online master of arts in teaching (MAT) degree will offer degree seekers teacher certification in either mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics or earth/space science. Beginning in January 2009, the degree will be offered by Columbus State University, Kennesaw State University and the University of West Georgia. Faculty from all three institutions – as well as faculty from Georgia Southern University and Valdosta State University – will teach the courses in this 39-semester-hour program. Beginning in Fall 2010, Georgia Southern and Valdosta State also will offer the degree.

On the Georgia ONmyLINE website (, which offers easy access to online and distance-education offerings System-wide, students will soon find a common application for the institutions offering this degree. Applicants will be asked to select one as their home institution, and that university will award the degree.

“Today’s action supports a key goal of the regents’ Strategic Plan to strengthen teacher quality and will increase our production of teachers,” said Jan Kettlewell, the USG’s vice chancellor for P-16 Initiatives. “This program will increase the number of teachers who have full certification in the subject areas they are teaching, and it will also increase the number of science and math teachers in Georgia overall.”

Kettlewell explained that Georgia allows high-school teachers equipped with a broad-field science certificate – requiring college course work in multiple sciences, but not a college major in a science field – to teach biology, chemistry, physics, earth sciences, etc. She cites the following statistics on Georgia public schools from the Georgia Certified Personnel Index for Fiscal Year 2006:

  • 2,139 high-school teachers were teaching Algebra 1; only 68 percent of them held a 7-12 grade certificate in mathematics;
  • 2,067 high-school teachers were teaching Biology 1; only 26 percent of them held a 7-12 grade certificate in biology;
  • 1,031 high-school teachers were teaching Chemistry 1; only 13 percent of them held a 7-12 grade certificate in chemistry; and
  • 514 high-school teachers were teaching Physics 1; only 6 percent of them held a 7-12 grade certificate in physics.

Due to a combination of increased student enrollment and teacher attrition, the Georgia Professional Standards Commission estimates that, by 2010, the state will need 4,500 new science and math teachers, including more than 1,700 equipped to teach high-school math.

The five collaborating USG institutions will reconfigure existing courses and use other existing resources, so no new funds will be required to offer the online degree program, Kettlewell said.

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