‘A whole different way of teaching’: Innovative online education program ranks No. 5 nationally
U.S. News & World Report gives SDSU online Master of Arts in Teaching high marks for quality, student success.
When a group of School of Teacher Education faculty members led by Professor Emerita Valerie Ooka Pang launched San Diego State University’s online Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) in 2014, it was something of a bold step into the unknown.
A decade later, the program is not just thriving, it’s recognized as one of the nation’s best.
SDSU is now tied at No. 5 in Graduate Education in U.S. News & World Report's 2024 Best Online Program Rankings, released Wednesday.
It’s the highest ranking ever in the category for SDSU, which improved two spots from the 2023 list. The University of North Texas shared the No. 5 spot.
SDSU also picked up its first-ever ranking in the Curriculum and Instruction specialty category: No. 17.
“Val deserves the credit as the founding leader of the program,” said Luke Duesbery, a professor in teacher education and current online MAT program coordinator. “She had the vision 10 years ago that this was the future.”
The program has grown steadily from a cohort of just seven students in its first year to 106 today. Most are in-service teachers looking to hone their skills in inquiry-based education. Since the pandemic, the program has also accelerated its focus on teaching in online modalities, now offering three courses on education technology.
The online MAT received high marks from U.S. News & World Report for its strong graduation and retention rates, the technology available to students and the high quality of its faculty.
“I’d like to congratulate Val, Luke and the dedicated team of lecturers — most of them current and former K-12 teachers themselves — who continue to make our MAT one of the nation’s best online programs,” said Y. Barry Chung, dean of the SDSU College of Education. “Through this program, hundreds of teachers have been able to not only advance in their careers but have learned to broaden their impact on generations of students.”
Duesbery notes that since most school districts also offer higher pay for teachers with master’s degrees, graduates often recover the cost of their tuition within two years. But the most important change, he said, shows up not in their paychecks, but in how they operate in the classroom.
“Our program helps teachers change their way of thinking — to approach teaching as a researcher,” he said. “They investigate their students, they analyze the data they gather and they change their teaching practice based on that. It's a whole different way of teaching.”