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Graduate Programs in Elementary and Middle Grades Education

Comprehensive Elementary or Middle Grades Education, M.A.Ed.


About M.A.Ed. Program

Program Overview

Location: Online

Months to Complete: 24

Full-Time or Part-Time

App. Deadline: Aug. 1, Dec. 1, May 1

Program designed to grow leaders

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Virtual Open House

Wednesday, August 7: 5-6:30pm

Join us at one of our upcoming virtual Graduate School Open House events on Zoom! You'll have the opportunity to learn more about Western Carolina University,  understand the Graduate School application process, and meet key program representatives.

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Teaching professionals looking for an advanced degree can pursue a Master of Arts in Education (M.A.Ed.). Our online-only programs offer innovative and challenging curriculums designed to prepare teachers to develop and apply research skills, expand and deepen content area knowledge, and further the understanding of child and educational psychology in order to provide opportunities for curriculum development and exploration of current methodology.

The coursework enables students to be inviting, reflective decision makers who can give leadership to the local school system in order to implement or improve elementary and middle grades programs. This program is for teachers who already have an "A" level elementary or middle grads education teaching license.


The curriculum requires the completion of 30 credit hours: four "Core" courses, four "Track" courses, and two "Capstone" courses. All courses are offered online only. While the program can be completed in two years, your advisor will work with you to develop a plan for completion that fits your unique needs.

Both the Comprehensive Elementary and Middle Grades Education M.A.Ed. degrees require:

  • 12 hours in the Professional Core
  • 18 hours in Elementary or Middle Grades Education
  • A satisfactory portfolio demonstrating advanced competencies for all concentrations.
  • Elementary Education majors track options are Literacy, STEM, or Academically and Intellectually Gifted Education (AIG).
  • Middle Grades majors track option are Language Arts/Literacy or STEM.
  • Language Arts/Literacy coursework prepares candidates to serve as lead teachers and be recognized literacy specialists at the school and district levels.
  • AIG coursework prepares candidates to work the AIG population at the creative thinking and problem solving, and methods for gifted instruction.
  • STEM coursework prepares candidates to become leaders in STEM education, such as STEM specialists, STEM coaches, and professional development facilitators.

Successful completion of the program will lead to a Master of Arts in Education (M.A.Ed.) degree with a concentration in Elementary or Middle Grades Education and recommendation for Advanced Competencies licensure from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction for teaching at the elementary (K-6) or middle grades (6-9) level.

Contact Dr. Jennifer Barrett-Tatum for more information.

Admissions and Transferring

You may apply at any time. Applications must be submitted online through the Graduate School's Apply Yourself system. In addition to the Graduate School Admission requirements, applicants must submit:

  • A letter of intent describing reasons for pursuing a masters' degree in education, professional goals as a participant in the program, and possible research interests.
  • Three recommendations from former instructors or employers who can judge the applicant's aptitude for graduate study.
  • Applicants must hold a North Carolina Class A teaching license, or a comparable license from another state.

We welcome transfer students! Students may request to transfer up to six credit hours of graduate coursework completed in the past five years to apply to this program. Contact Dr. Jennifer Barrett-Tatum, program coordinator, with your request.

Cost, Funding, & Financial Aid

Please refer to WCU Graduate School link for information related to cost. There are several funding sources for graduate education majors. To find out more about financial aid eligibility, contact the financial aid office.

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