Tell me about the Walden University M.A.T. in Early Childhood Education.
August 26, 2013 9:29 PM   Subscribe

Can you help my girlfriend become a licensable early childhood educator?

My girlfriend has a B.A. in Anthropology and wants to teach small children. We've been looking at the best ways to make this happen. We are looking at some local options around NYC, but also considering Walden University's M.A.T. in ECE.

Some hesitancy due to Walden's online and for profit nature, but they are regionally accredited, the price isn't outrageous, and they are a Minnesota state approved program. Completion of the program makes you eligible for MN licensure.

Since they are MN approved it seems to us that it can lead to a license usable in pretty much any state, either directly from another state, or by getting a MN license and using that to obtain a license from another state under reciprocity rules.

Are we missing anything here? Will completing Walden's program reasonably lead to the legal ability to teach small children in NY or NJ? Does anyone have any personal experience with Walden's education degrees? Any other amazing options for doing this (or teaching small children with her existing B.A.) in the NYC area are welcome too!
posted by pseudonick to Education (9 answers total)
I can't imagine why she would need a Master's to teach in a daycare. A certificate in early childhood education from the local community college plus her existing BA should be fine. Until recently my wife was a Center Director for a large national chain of daycare centers and all her teachers got the certificates online from Rasmussen College. Unless there is something really weird about NY, which is certainly possible, she should be able to get a job as an Asst Teacher with her degree, and then work on her CDA online and probably get it at least partially covered by the employer.

I would not recommend investing money to qualify for a job that will pay less than she could make waiting tables at Applebee's. Here in the DC suburbs in a high cost of living area pre-school teachers top out at about $12 an hour.
posted by COD at 5:08 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

The laws to become a teacher in NYS are insane. My mother in law has been a teacher's aide for maybe 20+ years. She can never teach in NYS unless she gets an MA in education (not sure if that's the specific degree). I heard a professor of education talk about how he couldn't teach in an NYC high school without earning that degree, which entailed him taking classes that he has taught. Albert Einstein, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Stephen Hawking would not be allowed to teach in NYS without earning additional credentials.

If she wants to teach in NYC, you need to make sure that this specific degree will count. Personally, I don't understand how people can get degrees like this one without stepping foot in a classroom but I'm old school.

Has she looked up how much daycare teachers make? Considered becoming a nanny? Teaching in s private school where they are less rigid? My mother taught for years at the Catholic school I attended. She had a MA in library studies but that wasn't enough to qualify her to teach in a public school and she didn't want to go back to school. My alma mater didn't care.
posted by kat518 at 5:53 AM on August 27, 2013

I would do an old-fashioned cost-benefit analysis.

What is the cost of the degree? What can she earn once she has it. How long will she have to work before the degree is paid for?

Most of the people that I see doing work in early childhood education are folks paid minimum wage at day care centers.

Really research the job market for this.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:20 AM on August 27, 2013

To the OP: I have a relative who got one of those online degrees in education and then discovered it was worthless unless she moved to the state where the school was located. In general, certification is highly variable and the vast majority of folks who work in a state completed their degrees in that state.

To my fellow MeFites: I don't know how it is in other states, but in Georgia "Early Childhood Education" is the certificate to teach elementary school through fifth grade, not pre-school. It appears from the OP's link that the Minnesota program qualifies one to teach through Grade 3. So don't assume "daycare" when you see "early childhood".
posted by hydropsyche at 6:40 AM on August 27, 2013

My personal experience with Walden degrees is that they are legit, even though it's not, perhaps, the most prestigious uni in the US. I used to work on precisely these teacher education issues in conjunction with Walden, and at that time (10+ years ago) we launched a website that specifically spelled out reciprocity regulations for all 50 states for teacher licensure/certification/credentialing. It's been a while, and the website no longer exists, but the entire purpose of it was to clarify these complicated issues. Because they're complicated. So the short answer is yes, if you get a MAT in early childhood ed you will be able to, through reciprocity, do some sort of teaching in NJ and NY. But the longer answer is that the regs are always changing, you may face some additional educational requirements, and it's not necessarily the home-run slam dunk it can sound like. Have you spoken to anyone in the teacher licensure offices in NJ and NY?
posted by BlahLaLa at 6:54 AM on August 27, 2013

If you want to teach in NY and NJ, go the state certification website and see what their requirements are.

Personally, I'd rather do education classes at a local university with other people. It's WAY cheaper and there's something about mixing and mingling with other teachers.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:13 AM on August 27, 2013

Yeah, Early Childhood certification in South Carolina is through third grade. I teach in such a program at a state college. I would seriously stay away from for-profit programs; public colleges and universities train most American teachers.

If your friend really wants to work with pre-school kids she may be able to work in a Head Start center. Federal law requires that a certain percentage of Head Start teachers have bachelor's degrees. If there is one near her she could volunteer there and see if she likes it. Some of them run on the public school calendar and pay close to public school salaries.
posted by mareli at 10:45 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

What age ranges does your gf want to teach? "Small children" can translate to ages 2-5, which is preschool, or ages 7-12, which is elementary school. Your girlfriend should be aware that these are separate career tracks and while some teachers cross over from one age group to the other, it isn't terribly common, at least in my experience. Preschool and elementary ed are vastly different beasts, in terms of what you will be expected to do all day, work environments, pay, ect.

If your girlfriend wants to teach ages 2-5, she should get a job at a preschool and start a certification program at night. I recommend this route because (a) preschool is an extremely low paying field, (b) a MAT will make her overqualified, and (c) a preschool may be willing to pay for her professional development.

If your girlfriend wants to teach at an elementary school, she can go a couple of different routes. Personally, I would recommend that she find a bricks-and-mortar college or university and get her teaching certificate. Having a certificate gives her the minimum qualifications she'll need in most states. (I can't speak to the specifics of the states you mentioned in your post, unfortunately.) I recommend this path over the online program because the job market is tight for teachers; she needs to get herself a competitive edge. I also suggest this, instead of your gf getting an MAT, is because your post says nothing about her qualifications and background in education. Let's say she tries teaching and hates it. She is better off with a certification rather than an MAT because its a really specific degree and its hard to make yourself be marketable with it outside of education, especially in this economy.

(FYI, I am a former educator, with an MAT who has taught preschool, middle school, and high school. )
posted by emilynoa at 12:01 PM on August 27, 2013

I am very familiar with the Walden MAT and inter-state teacher licensure reciprocity (especially with NY as the target state). The Walden degree does what it says--it offers a route to licensure in Minnesota.

I would recommend that your girlfriend pursue alternative certification in New York and bypass the master's degree entirely. She should be able to achieve NY state licensure directly and avoid the bizarre reciprocity/exchange rules that NY sets for teachers. She will also likely spend 1/5 of what she would have spent on the Walden degree.
posted by yellowcandy at 10:30 PM on August 27, 2013

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