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Graduate Teaching Degrees: Master of Arts in Education

Educating future teachers has been a passion of ours since WCU began as a teaching college in 1889. With that, we pride ourselves on continuing to offer unparalleled teacher education programs for professionals pursuing an advanced degree.

If you already have a teaching license...

And would like an advanced degree, the Master of Arts in Education (MAEd) is designed for you. 


Virtual Open House

Tuesday, August 6, 2024: 5-6:30 p.m.

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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Program Concentrations

Literacy, Masters of Arts in Education (MAEd): Online

Program Requirements:

  • 12 semester hours of professional core coursework
  • 18 semester hours of literacy concentration coursework

STEM Education (MAEd):

Program Requirements:

  • 12 semester hours of professional core coursework
  • 18 semester hours of STEM concentration coursework

Special Education, Master of Arts in Education (MAEd):
Concentration Options:

  • Mild to Moderate Disabilities
  • Severe to Profound Disabilities
  • Gifted Creative and Innovative Education
  • Educational Studies (non-licensure)*

Program Requirements:

  • 12 semester hours of professional core coursework
  • 18-21 semester hours of concentration coursework

*NOTE: The Educational Studies Non-license is a degree program designed with a focus in special education that leads to a non-license teaching degree. Candidates can choose from the following areas of study, a) Gifted, Creative and Innovative Education, b) Mild to Moderate Disabilities, or c) Adapted Curriculum: Severe/Profound Disabilities. While this degree does not provide an opportunity for teacher certification, it can be used for professionals to seek career advancement in educational settings that do not require teacher certification such as private or charter schools. This master’s degree does not lead to North Carolina state certification. 

Secondary English, Masters of Arts in Education (MAEd):

The Secondary English (9-12) MAEd program is designed for individuals who already possess a North Carolina teaching license, usually with a BSEd in English, and are looking to enhance their professional competitiveness. This program emphasizes the development of students' ability to comprehensively assess educational practices. It is a joint program offered by the English and Education Departments.

Program Requirements:

  • 12 semester hours of professional core coursework
  • 18-21 semester hours of concentration coursework


For more information about this program, please contact Dr. Jonathan Bradshaw (, Graduate Program Director.

Key Assessments

In pursuit of academic excellence and ensuring the mastery of essential competencies, students in our MAEd programs are expected to complete a series of key assessments throughout their educational journey. These key assessments serve as critical checkpoints in three specific courses: SPED 620/640, EDCI 616, and EDCI 610. To support students in this process, we have established clear guidelines and support mechanisms, which we outline in this policy.

Key Assessment Overview

In these three designated courses, students will be required to complete one key assessment as part of their academic journey. The key assessments are integral components of the curriculum, designed to evaluate students' grasp of course content and their ability to apply it effectively.

Guiding Principles

  1. Access to Rubrics: Students will have access to the rubrics for the key assessments in their respective courses. This transparency ensures that students understand the expectations and criteria for evaluation.

  2. Passing Requirements: Successful completion of these key assessments is mandatory. Students must pass each key assessment to progress in their academic journey and demonstrate their proficiency in the respective course.

Coming Soon: Rubrics

At our institution, we are committed to transparency and providing students with the tools they need to succeed. We understand the importance of clear guidelines and assessment criteria, and we are actively working on finalizing the rubrics for our courses.

We want to ensure that these rubrics are accurate, comprehensive, and reflective of the expectations in each course. As a result, we are diligently crafting these rubrics to meet the highest standards of quality and clarity.

Rest assured, once these rubrics are finalized, they will be promptly posted for your convenience. These documents will serve as essential resources to guide you through your coursework and key assessments, empowering you to perform at your best.

Thank you for your patience as we work to provide you with the best possible tools for your academic success. We look forward to sharing the rubrics with you soon.

Fail Key Assessment 1: When a student fails their first key assessment, they will receive constructive feedback in the form of a Formative Feedback Form from their instructor. The Program Coordinator will also be notified. Additionally, students will be encouraged to submit key assignments ahead of schedule in the subsequent course to seek feedback from the instructor. To further support their progress, students may be directed towards various university resources such as Brainfuse, tutoring services, office hours with the instructor, or any other needed assistance.

Fail Key Assessment 2: In the case of a second key assessment failure, the student will receive a personalized Action Plan to address their challenges and prepare for key assessment 3. This action plan will include strategies to help the student meet the key assessment requirement. Students will identify specific areas of challenge regarding key assessments, and faculty advisors will provide targeted support. Additionally, students will meet with the Program Coordinator to comprehensively address their challenges and explore available support options. If the course instructor allows for revisions, students will have the opportunity to revise their key assessment.

Fail Key Assessment 3: In the unlikely event of a third key assessment failure, a meeting with the faculty will be convened to discuss potential options for the student to continue in the program. Areas of consideration may include whether the student should continue in the program, the need for a brief stop-out period to address challenges, reducing the course load to one class per term, or exploring alternative options.

By adhering to this policy, we aim to provide a structured and supportive environment for our students, helping them successfully navigate the key assessment process and ensuring that they achieve the academic excellence they aspire to. It is our commitment to empower students to excel in their educational journey while providing the necessary resources and guidance along the way.

Field and Clinical Experiences

As a part of your journey towards becoming an accomplished educator, you will complete early field experiences during EDCI 609 and EDCI 616. These experiences are designed to provide you with valuable insights and hands-on exposure to the world of education, helping you grow as a future leader in the field.

EDCI 609 - Field Experience (15 hours)

In EDCI 609, you will engage in a 15-hour field experience that immerses you in the classroom environment. Here, you will have the opportunity to visit classrooms, engage with teachers and students, and explore the diverse landscape of assessment methods, including formal, informal, alternate, alternative, teacher-made, and standardized assessments. Throughout the course, you will work on learning modules that enable you to document your experiences and insights gained from your time in the field.

EDCI 616 - Field Experience (8 hours)

In EDCI 616, you will embark on an 8-hour field experience that takes you into schools and classrooms. During this experience, you will have the chance to engage with school administrators and teachers, focusing on the concept of teacher leadership. Additionally, you will observe various aspects of school culture that support and facilitate the work of teacher leaders. Your goal will be to identify concerns and issues within these settings that can benefit from the influence of teacher leaders operating through professional learning communities. Like EDCI 609, this experience will also require you to document your activities and reflections through learning modules.


These early field experiences are invaluable components of your MAEd program, providing you with the practical knowledge and insights necessary to excel in the field of education. We encourage you to embrace these opportunities for growth and development as you work towards your educational goals.

Application Process

To successfully complete these requirements, you will submit an application through the Office of Field Experiences. Please review the For information on how to complete the application for these courses

The practicum or capstone experiences represent the culmination of your academic endeavors, offering you the chance to apply the knowledge and skills you have acquired to your chosen field of education.

Special Education

Mild to Moderate Disabilities, Severe to Profound Disabilities, or Gifted Creative and Innovative Education

Practicum (SPED 687 or SPED 500)

Your practicum experience is a 3-credit hour graduate course that serves as a defining moment in your MAEd program. It provides you with a unique opportunity to showcase the advanced teaching skills you have developed, particularly when working with students who have disabilities. Beyond teaching, this course also emphasizes the crucial aspects of data literacy, research, and their practical applications.

During this practicum, you will embark on a journey to make a meaningful impact in your educational setting. You will have the option to choose from various avenues, such as writing a grant, conducting action research, or implementing a study, all of which will allow you to contribute significantly to the field of special education. Collaboration with school personnel will be encouraged, fostering a dynamic exchange of ideas and experiences.

Furthermore, your practicum will challenge you to embody professional dispositions and standards that are not only reflective of your expertise but also align with the high expectations of your chosen field. Your practicum experience will serve as a testament to your commitment to excellence in education and your ability to effect positive change in the lives of students with disabilities.

Literacy and STEM Education

Capstone (EDCI 697)

Your capstone experience is divided into two parts, with EDCI 697 being the second and final component. In EDCI 696, the initial stage of your capstone journey, you will have identified an area of study within instructional improvement and conducted an exhaustive review of the relevant literature. Based on your findings, you will have formulated a research question with the aim of enhancing that particular area of practice.

Now, in EDCI 697, you will take your research and ideas to the next level. This is where you will have the opportunity to design and implement a comprehensive study to answer your research question, ultimately leading to tangible improvements in instructional practices. Your journey will culminate in the creation of a finalized research paper that encapsulates your capstone project's outcomes and contributions.


These practicum and capstone experiences are not just academic milestones; they are transformative opportunities for you to make a lasting impact on the field of education. Through rigorous research, thoughtful analysis, and dedicated implementation, you will have the chance to contribute to the betterment of educational practices, leaving a lasting legacy as a future educator and leader.

Application Process

To successfully complete these requirements, you will submit an application through the Office of Field Experiences. Please review the Graduate MAED Practicum/Capstone Application Overview and ensure that you follow the established application deadlines on the Office of Field Experiences website.

Secondary English Education

The Comprehensive Exams represent a crucial two-semester culmination of your academic journey. In these exams, you will apply the knowledge acquired throughout your program. Here is how it works:

  1. In the semester preceding the exams, you will collaborate with a committee comprising two faculty members to create a reading list for your research. This list will require approval from the graduate program coordinator.

  2. Together with your faculty committee, you will craft problem-based questions that will form the basis of the exams.

  3. The actual exam takes place over a 48-hour period, occurring between the 8th and 11th weeks of the semester.

  4. It is important to note that there w will not be any associated classes during the comprehensive exams process.

The comprehensive exams most closely align with "Application of professional dispositions, laws and policies, codes of ethics and professional standards appropriate to their field of specialization." 


Learn more about the graduate comprehensive exam process on the Secondary English MAEd Comprehensive Exams website by visiting

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