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MA in Education, Early Childhood Education

Students in who have completed their multiple subject teaching credential course work may study for an MA in early childhood education (ECE) immediately after their credential year. This second year of full-time, weekday study allows students to deepen their understanding of learning and teaching young children, to apply what they learned in the credential year, and to learn to study their own practice. The year includes student teaching, generally done at the Mills College Children's School, where students spend at least one semester in an infant-toddler or preschool classroom. In addition, students may choose to spend one semester in alternative educational settings for young children or in public preschool classrooms. Student teaching placement is decided in consultation with the advisor to the program.

The course work focuses on early childhood development, learning, teaching, research, and policy. All students complete an MA thesis focused on their classroom practice and student learning.

Distinctive Features

  • Cohort-based program: The program begins with a half-day retreat with other students in the ECE Programs and with an orientation to the Children's School. Students meet daily with the teaching team to address issues of practice and to connect the theory they are learning with what they practice as teachers. Students are expected to reflect on their identities as teachers and as researchers into their own practice.

  • Coherent curriculum: Course work reflects a group of core principles which have been developed by the faculty. Faculty meet regularly to ensure the principles are reflected in the program's course work and fieldwork components.

  • Professional focus: Throughout the program, students have multiple opportunities to discuss the roles and ethical responsibilities of teaching, including the specialized body of knowledge that characterizes the work and a set of core ethical commitments that guides it. In addition, students have multiple opportunities to consider the role of early childhood education and its importance to the child, family, community, and society.

  • Inquiry stance: Learning is at the heart of good teaching. The program prepares students with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary to base their teaching on what and how students learn. During this program, students conduct original research, culminating in the presentation of an MA thesis.

Course Work

Course work integrates theory and practice to prepare students to teach in early childhood settings in urban contexts, and is guided by an overarching concern for social justice. Course work includes courses in play, theory and practice, and research methods, as well as courses on social-emotional or language development, and an advanced seminar in child development that links theory and practice to cultural and global policies. See the Requirements page for a list of courses required for this program; see the Course Descriptions page for paragraph-length descriptions of individual courses.

Fieldwork

Students spend the year student teaching in the Mills College Children's School, where they spend at least one semester in an infant-toddler or preschool classroom. Students may choose to spend one semester in alternative educational settings for young children or in public preschool classrooms (such as Head Start) in addition to their semester placement at the Children's School. Student teaching placement is decided in consultation with the advisor to the program.

Students meet daily with the head teachers in their classrooms to consider what has occurred that day and to consult on the reflective and inquiry assignments associated with the student teaching course.

Career Opportunities

Students who complete the degree may become elementary school teachers and early childhood educators. Graduates have obtained jobs in public, charter, and independent schools in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. In addition to the strong alumnae/i support network, the Mills Career Services Office provides support in finding these placements.

 

Last Updated: 9/27/13