UM Introduces Online Graduate Program in Educational Leadership

New curriculum designed for working K-12 teachers

Dennis Bunch coordinates the UM educational leadership program, which has the state’s highest first-time pass rate on the School Leaders Licensure Assessment. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Education is offering a new online graduate program in K-12 educational leadership to offer working teachers throughout Mississippi an opportunity to advance their careers in school leadership.

The online, 18-month program provides teachers a chance to earn either a Master of Education or Specialist in Education degree and will feature a rolling admissions policy, allowing new graduate students to begin their course of study in the fall, spring or summer.

“Ideal candidates would include those teachers with at least three years of classroom experience and the desire to improve education in the state of Mississippi,” said Dennis Bunch, associate professor and coordinator of the program. “The flexibility of the program will allow candidates previously unable to fit the program in to their schedule to enter the program and progress at their pace.”

The school plans to admit 20 new teachers in the program each semester.

“Future K-12 administrators in our state deserve training from highly qualified and experienced educational leaders and professors,” said John Crutchfield, UM assistant professor of educational leadership. “They should also have the chance to network and collaborate with highly impactful peers while completing their degree.

“What we are now doing is adding the ability to access these professors and networks online, regardless of where you live in the state of Mississippi.”

Teachers who graduate from the program and pass the School Leaders Licensure Assessment exam will qualify to apply for an advanced school administrator’s license from the Mississippi Department of Education.

More than 80 percent of graduates from UM’s educational leadership program pass the SLLA exam on the first try, and 98 percent of accepted graduate students finish the program, according to UM data.

The university is keeping its established, face-to-face option in K-12 leadership; however, the expansion into the online market will allow teachers from all corners of the state – and beyond – to enroll in the graduate program.

The 30-credit program is designed to be completed in 18 months. Applicants must hold a current teaching license, have three years of full-time teaching experience and have two letters of recommendation.

Students are required to complete at least two courses per semester throughout the program.

Many Ole Miss educational leadership graduates go directly in to principal or assistant principal positions after graduation. The program places a high priority on accepting teachers who have demonstrated leadership potential and the support of their school administration.

“We want to help the best teachers make that transition into becoming strong school leaders,” said Ryan Niemeyer, chair of the UM Department of Leadership and Counselor Education “Schools play a vital role in the economic development of our state.

“With that in mind, we are developing a program that will help future school leaders make positive changes in their schools no matter where they are.”

For more information about the program, visit http://rebelteacher.com/.

About Andrew M. Abernathy