University to offer nation’s first online master’s degree in urban education

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

UNC Charlotte's Cato College of Education is launching the country’s first fully online master’s program in urban education.

The 33-hour Master of Education in Urban Education is designed to prepare educators and professionals to deliver high-quality, culturally relevant instruction and services for students in increasingly diverse, urban school systems and communities across the United States. It is the first program of any kind in North Carolina with a focus on urban education and aligns with UNC Charlotte’s focus on improving urban environments through research, academic programming and community engagement.

Curriculum is devoted to bridging theory and practice to prepare educators and professionals such as counselors, administrators, nonprofit directors and community leaders to meet the needs of all students, particularly those from racially, linguistically, socioeconomically and culturally diverse populations.

Nationally, educators and other professionals have reported that they feel underprepared to work in urban schools and communities.

"Given the unique opportunities and challenges in urban schools and communities, I saw a tremendous opportunity for UNC Charlotte to lead the way in preparing education professionals to meet the unique needs of students in an innovative delivery format,” said Chance Lewis, director of the UNC Charlotte Urban Education Collaborative and Carol Grotnes Belk Distinguished Professor of Urban Education in the Cato College’s Department of Middle, Secondary and K-12 Education.

The program’s general curriculum includes courses such as Culturally Responsive Classroom Management, Critical Media Pedagogy and Urban Education, Globalization, Communities and Schools and Race in Education and Schooling.

“I am most excited about the interdisciplinary focus of the program. The curriculum has been designed to offer something for anyone who currently works with, or aspires to work with, urban youth in a school or community setting. You do not have to have a formal degree in education to receive consideration for admission, just a passion to prepare and equip students to be successful,” said program director Bettie Ray Butler, who is an associate professor in middle, secondary and K-12 education.

Graduates of the program will learn culturally responsive teaching practices and will be trained to examine larger issues related to culture, race and racism that influence the quality services in urban communities.

Field experiences will follow a participatory action research model, in which students identify a problem, work collaboratively with external partners to implement solutions, and reflect on the outcomes of implementation.

Program leads say the number of students admitted to the M.Ed. in Urban Education program will be based on available resources, but it is expected that approximately 20 of the most competitive applicants will be accepted for admission and scheduled to begin classes in the subsequent fall. Applicants seeking priority review should submit an application by March 1; the deadline to apply to the program is Aug. 1.