For 19 consecutive years, Michigan State University’s College of Education has been ranked number one for its elementary and secondary education programs at the graduate level according to Susan Dalebout, Assistant Dean of the College of Education.  Every year the U.S. News and World Report do a nationwide ranking of the graduate college of education programs. Once again, MSU has come out on top.

Photo credit: Julia Grippe

But how do undergraduates studying education benefit from the graduate program being ranked number one? According to Joella Cogan, Director of Advising for the Student Advising Office of the College of Education, the secondary and elementary education programs are five-year programs. The students do a full academic yearlong post-baccalaureate internship after their initial four years. During the fifth year, they are enrolled as graduate students and take two graduate courses while working full-time in the classroom.

“You can’t properly train an elementary or secondary teacher with just a bachelors degree,” said Cogan. The fifth year of student teaching is crucial and also one of the reasons MSU is ranked number one.

Another reason MSU’s teacher education program maintains such high rankings is its outstanding faculty who are continuously doing cutting edge research to improve teacher education.  Cogan said just because MSU receives high rankings doesn’t mean they just coast.

“We are never satisfied,” said Cogan. “The teachers are committed to on going research.  All areas are always looking to how we can do it better.”

“Being very highly ranked also gives our faculty and administrators a greater voice in public policy and discourse about education in the United States,” said Dalebout.

Lexi Justice, a senior special education major, is about to finish her fourth year at MSU and will have the responsibility of handling a real classroom during her fifth year.  She said she feels fully prepared to start her internship.

“I feel very comfortable going into my student teaching,” said Justice. “I have been in a classroom every year I’ve been here. I started at the Refugee Development Center in Lansing, spent the next two years part-time in a special education classroom, and during the past year I have been in a kindergarten classroom.”

Lexi teaches for a few hours every Tuesday and Friday at Pleasant View Magnet Elementary School. Photo credit: Julia Grippe

Cogan said MSU isn’t promising students a quick and easy degree, but the extra time spent in the classroom will pay off in the end.  There are other schools whose programs follow a similar model such as Stanford, Colombia, Ohio State University and other IVY League and Big Ten schools. But MSU continues to keep its number one title.

“I applied to 10 schools,” said Justice. “Out of all of them, MSU is number one, which is why I decided to go here.”

“MSU grads from the College of Education are known to be the best,” said Cogan. Many schools where MSU students are hired say the first year teachers from MSU don’t act like first year teachers.

Although Justice would prefer to go back to her home state of Illinois, she thinks she has an advantage of finding a job, especially in Michigan. “If a job arises here, I’d be happy to stay in Michigan,” said Justice.

“When there are openings in Michigan, MSU students are getting the first look,” said Cogan.  Some schools have admitted to Cogan that they have two separate piles of resumes. One pile is for MSU students and the other is for everyone else.

Overall, “having a number of graduate programs ranked highly enhances the reputation of the college and benefits all student’s who graduate from College of Education Programs,” said Dalebout.

“We’re not claiming you’ll get out quick, but we are committed,” said Cogan.

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