Curriculum and Teaching MA

Master of Arts in Curriculum & Teaching


The M.A. program is designed for educators who wish to deepen their knowledge, skill, and vision, as teachers and educational leaders, and as developers and designers of curriculum. At TC, we conceive of all teachers as adapters and designers of curriculum, and all curriculum specialists as grounded in first-hand understanding of teaching and learning. We also understand educators in all contexts to have the opportunity and the responsibility to orient their work to ever-present, variously manifested, needs for and goals of social justice.

Our program is especially well suited for students who are intellectually curious, and who wish to play a vital role in shaping their course of study. The program is organized around a core of common coursework, and associated field experience, dealing with principles, history, and skills of curriculum design and of pedagogy, in context of an alert and critical attention to social, ethical, professional and other challenges facing educators and children/young people in schools. This core comprises just under half of the required points. Beyond the common requirements, M.A. students, work closely with an advisor to design a course of study that reflects their particular interests, needs, and desired area(s) of professional expertise. All students conduct an “Integrative Project,” focused on an issue, problem, and/or question identified by the student.

The M.A. in Curriculum and Teaching is designed so that it can be completed by full time students in three semesters (fall, winter, summer). This calls for careful planning and advisement, and some flexibility. The program may also be taken part time, in multiple configurations. Please contact us for questions about scheduling.

 *Note that this program does not lead to certification.

A graduate student smiles while she makes a point in a discussion with her peers at TC.

Admissions Information

Master of Arts

  • Points/Credits: 32
  • Entry Terms: Summer/Fall

Application Deadlines

  • Spring: N/A
  • Summer/Fall (Priority): January 15
  • Summer/Fall (Final): April 15

Supplemental Application Requirements/Comments

  • Prior teaching or other relevant educational experience is strongly recommended. Preference will be given to candidates with such experience.

Program Guide

View our Program Guide for more information on courses, policies, and the M.A. degree.

Additional Degree Information

Sample Program of Study

View our Sample Program of Study. Please contact us if you have any questions.

Requirements from the TC Catalog

View Full Catalog Listing

Overview

The MA in Curriculum and Teaching (MA-CURR) is a flexible but structured 32 point program. It provides students a core of common experiences, driving questions, and shared challenges in conjunction with the opportunity to shape a course of study reflective of their individual needs, interests, and purposes.

The MA-CURR (as it is referred to for shorthand) is designed for educators practicing and/or aspiring to practice in a diversity of contexts, including but not limited to formal school and school district settings (whether as teachers, building leaders, coaches, mentors, cooperating teachers, and the like). Museum educators, community-based educators, activists, and many others also find the program a good fit. Some prior experience is recommended, but not required. A commitment to public education is welcome (but not required). In short, the program is for educators and the educationally minded who wish to deepen their knowledge, skill, and vision as teachers, educational leaders, and developers and designers of curriculum, broadly understood. The program is well-suited both to those who are at a highly exploratory point in their work and those who have very clear ideas of where they want to bear down in their studies. Either way, we seek students who are intellectually curious and who want to play an active role in shaping their own course of study.

Core tenets of the program are:

  • Teachers are necessarily and rightly adapters and designers of curriculum;

  • Curriculum specialists are properly grounded in and informed by first-hand understanding of teaching and learning and real contexts;

  • Inquiry is central to the tasks of education at every point;

  • Educators in all contexts have the responsibility to orient their work to, and assess it in light of, ever-present, variously manifested, needs for and goals of social justice.

Structurally, the program is organized around a core of common coursework, and associated field experience, dealing with principles, history, and skills of curriculum design and of pedagogy, in context of an alert and critical attention to social, ethical, professional and other challenges facing educators and children/young people in schools. Beyond these common requirements, MA students, working closely with an advisor, design a course of study reflecting their particular interests, needs, and desired area(s) of professional expertise. As a source of continuity, and a culminating activity, all students conduct an “Integrative Project,” focused on an issue, problem, and/or question identified by the student.

Students in the MA-CURR take some courses, and engage in some joint activities, with students in other Curriculum and Teaching programs, in particular, the Master of Education (Ed.M) in C&T (60 points) and the MA in Curriculum and Teaching with Professional Certification, Elementary (MA-CUED) or Secondary (MA-CUSD). Faculty, as well as students, work together across all of these programs—all of which are devoted equally to the critical study and improvement of pedagogy, curriculum, and society.

Please see “MA in Curriculum & Teaching Program Guide” for further information about program purposes, structure and expectations; and for answers to Frequently Asked Questions.

 

Advising

All students are assigned an advisor upon admission. It is essential that students begin working with their advisor well before commencing their studies  at Teachers College. Advisors can help students decide what program timeline makes best sense for them; students and advisors work together to develop the Program Plan; students are required to consult with their advisor prior to initial course selection and registration.

Please see “MA in Curriculum & Teaching Program Guide” for further information about advising.

 

Courses

Requirements and schedule notes are correct as of publication. Please check the online schedule for most current scheduling information: https://www.tc.columbia.edu/courses/. In case of confusion, consult with your advisor. Students are responsible for meeting all program requirements. Please plan accordingly.

Common (core) courses. All students in the MA in Curriculum & Teaching are required to take the following (14 points):

C&T 4005    Principles of Teaching and Learning (4 credits) 

Fall only (includes a required 50 hour field experience component: see below) To be taken concurrently with C&T 4502 semester 1

C&T 4002    Curriculum Theory and History (3 cr) Fall, Spring, Summer

C&T 4052    Designing Curriculum and Instruction (3 cr) Fall, Spring, & Summer; Consult with advisor to assure proper section

One of the following age/level specific courses:

C&T 4130    Critical Perspectives in Elementary Education (K - 6) (3 cr) Fall only; OR

C&T 4145    Critical Perspectives in Secondary Education (3 cr) Fall only;

OR    If teaching focus is in Early Childhood or Higher Education, consult with advisor

C&T 4502.002    Integrative Project seminar (0-1 cr) Fall only

Pre- or co-requisite: C&T 4005

Register for section designated for MA-CURR students

Consult with advisor regarding credit allotment

C&T 4502.002    Integrative Project seminar (0-1 cr) Spring only

To be taken immediately following first semester of C&T 4502

Field Experience (in conjunction with C&T 4005)

Students who are, while in the program, working in a school or other setting organized for teaching and learning may (but are not obliged to) do their field experience in that setting, although mostly not in their own classroom or comparable space, with program approval. In other cases, program staff work with students to find placements in New York City schools or informal educational spaces for 50 hours of observation and reflection on instructional practices, interactions between and among students and teachers, critical issues, curricular enactments, and design activities. The field placement typically spans ten weeks and averages five hours per week.

Elective courses (18 points)

In addition to the core courses, students create their own program plans in consultation with and subject to approval of advisor. Advisors may recommend coherent sets of courses or course possibilities aligned with particular student interests and departmental strengths, for example, early childhood, literacy, diversity, equity, urban education, inclusive education (elementary), gifted and talented education, further depth in curriculum theory and design. Advisors may also recommend or approve courses reflective of student interests that do not fit neatly into these categories but that cohere around other desires, needs, and purposes. Elective courses may be taken in the Department of Curriculum & Teaching, in other departments of Teachers College, and at Columbia University.

Breadth Requirement

In order to assure breadth of study, the College requires students to earn at least six credits at Teachers College (which may mean two or three courses) outside of their home department (i.e., outside of the Department of Curriculum and Teaching). MA CURR students frequently take more than six credits outside of the Department.

Please note that a minimum of 20 credits (of the minimum of 32 required for the degree) must be earned in the Department of Curriculum and Teaching.

The Integrative Project

The Integrative Project is an opportunity for MA – CURR students to design and conduct a disciplined and substantial inquiry into an issue, problem, and/or question of particular interest, germane to the student’s curricular and/or pedagogical investments, educational and social values, and professional contexts and aims. Students’ inquiries may take multiple forms, for example, practice-based action research, design study, or academic paper synthesizing and critiquing prior research. In all cases, an end goal is for students to arrive at a well-grounded, articulated perspective and/or a set of recommendations for their own practice and continuing thought. Students present their projects, to colleagues, faculty, friends and family, at an “Academic Showcase” at the end of the spring term.

Only 1 credit is earned for the Integrative Project (in CT 4502, see next), but the work is substantial, and spans two semesters/a full academic year. The two semester seminar sequence, CT 4502 fall and CT 4502 spring is the primary site for support in conceptualizing, designing, and carrying out the project. Full time students ordinarily take the seminar sequence beginning in their first fall semester. Part time students who will be enrolled for two fall and spring semesters ordinarily take the seminar sequence in their second fall and spring. (In other words, to whatever extent it may be possible, the seminar sequence is taken towards the end of a student’s studies.) Please note that the seminar may only be taken in consecutive fall and spring semesters. The Integrative Project is also supported in CT 4005 (Principles of Teaching and Learning), which must be taken prior to or concurrent with the fall semester of CT 4502. The critical observation and reflection on customs and practices of teaching, learning, curriculum, and assessment that play a big part in CT 4005, in conjunction with course readings and discussions, typically prompt  new or deepened thoughts, curiosities, and interests, and often lead to inquiry questions that may catalyze the Integrative Project.

As noted, the Integrative Project is a substantial undertaking, one that demands significant independent effort on the student’s part. For this reason, students sometimes find it helpful to apply for a “Certificate of Equivalency” (“COE”) while conducting it—typically during the second semester of CT 4502. The COE is the student and advisor’s statement that, during the semester in question, the student is doing academic work equivalent to what is ordinarily done for a specified number of credits, but is not actually earning credit for the work. For example, a student might be conducting observations or interviews, and/or doing extensive readings, for their Integrative Project but are not required to receive credit in any course. Given this effort, a full time student (for example), might prefer to take ten credits of course work in a given term, and to apply for a two credit COE. In such a case, the student would be considered full time for Financial Aid purposes (and/or certain other purposes), even though they would be carrying less than the mandated full time allotment of credits. (In this same case, the student would thus have to earn those two credits at a later date. A COE does not count towards the degree.)

Consult with your advisor if you think a COE may be helpful. You should, in any case, consult with your advisor early in your program—preferably, at initial advising—about when to take CT 4005 and CT 4502.

New Student Advising and Online Registration

Please see note above and in the MA in Curriculum and Teaching Program Guide: Newly admitted students need promptly to seek advising with the assigned advisor or Professor Roosevelt and begin to draft their Program Plan. A PIN (Personal Identification Number) will be assigned after consultation and agreement about first semester courses. The student will then be able to register for courses online. The Office of Admission may provide further information to assist you in the registration process (https://www.tc.columbia.edu/admission/; 212-678-3710; admission@tc.columbia.edu). If you have not been notified of your advisor, please seek guidance from the Program Director. 

Graduation Deadlines

Teachers College students must apply (i.e., declare their intent) to graduate by a specified date well in advance of each of the College’s three annual graduation dates: http://www.tc.columbia.edu/registrar/pages/degree-information/ how-to-file-for-a-masters-degree/

Please note there is only one commencement ceremony each academic year, at the end of the Spring Term     . Participation in this ceremony presumes successful completion of all degree requirements as of the end of the spring term. Under certain limited circumstances specified by the College, students in good standing who have not yet completed all degree requirements may also participate (“walk”) in the May ceremony. Please consult Registrar’s Office and/or your advisor about criteria and procedures for “walking” (taking part in the ceremony without yet being awarded the diploma).

Graduation application due

Degree awarded

August 1

October

November 1

February

February 1 

April

Please also see: http://www.tc.columbia.edu/registrar/pages/degree-information/how-to-file-for-a-masters-degree/

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