Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is the Woodrow Wilson Graduate School of Teaching & Learning?
A: The Woodrow Wilson Graduate School of Teaching & Learning (WW Graduate School) is a nonprofit graduate school of education that seeks to transform teacher preparation, creating a new model that readies teachers and school leaders to succeed in the diverse classrooms of today and to shape and lead the schools of tomorrow. Encompassing both a teacher preparation program and a research and development laboratory, the WW Graduate School will at the same time prepare educators, test the effectiveness of different approaches, and share its findings on an open-source basis with teacher preparation providers nationwide.
The WW Graduate School offers a competency-based master’s degree (M.Ed.) program. Its first degree offerings are aligned with the areas in which the nation most urgently needs strong educators—science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) for the middle and secondary grades, with an initial focus on math, biology, and chemistry. A school leader strand is also anticipated for later development. In 2017–18, a class of Design Fellows co-designed and refined the program alongside faculty and staff. The Graduate School enrolled its inaugural class in 2018.
Q: What should one expect from the WW Graduate School program?
A: The WW Graduate School provides all learners a program with the following components:
- A competency-based approach grounded in practice. The best learning happens when it is rooted in real-world problems. The WW Graduate School curriculum is designed in the form of challenges that mirror the real work of teachers. Master’s candidates progress through the Graduate School’s program by demonstrating the knowledge and skills that novice teachers need to be effective in the classroom. The challenges—based on teaching situations similar to the ones they will encounter as professionals—are designed so that students can learn, practice, and demonstrate their abilities.
- Individualized instruction. Students learn best when they can proceed at their own pace, accelerating in some instances and taking more time in others. Because the WW Graduate School curriculum focuses on outcomes, candidates progress through the challenges based on their own readiness rather than a semester calendar. As candidates work through the challenges, they receive ongoing feedback and guidance from faculty mentors, staff, and teacher coaches who support their progress and tailor the learning and assessments to meet their needs.
- Deep experience in schools. Great learning happens when practice is facilitated by reflection and support. The WW Graduate School’s candidates are placed in a partner school in one of our partner districts and participate fully in the life of the school. Candidates benefit from the guidance of both school-based expert teachers and WW Graduate School faculty mentors as they integrate their learning in challenges with experience in actual classrooms.
- Blended curriculum. Sometimes technology supports learning; sometimes small-group work is instructive; and sometimes learners just have to practice techniques in a real-world setting. The WW Graduate School is creating a curriculum that offers all of these possibilities. The approach engages candidates in multiple ways to provide them with both knowledge and opportunities to practice their skills. Online experiences are complemented by collaborative projects with peers and in-person seminars, along with meetings with both Graduate School faculty and expert teachers at the schools where candidates do their practice teaching.
- Mentoring after graduation. Even the best-prepared new teachers need guidance, so the WW Graduate School is committed to supporting graduates in their professional practice. Each WW Graduate School graduate will receive support through the first two years of teaching.
- Continuing innovation. Learning is most compelling when students play a role in developing the curriculum and is connected to a deeper sense of purpose. At the WW Graduate School, master’s candidates are not consumers of a degree program but co-developers of a model that is constantly being refined.
Q: What credential will I earn from the WW Graduate School?
A: The WW Graduate School has been authorized by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to grant master’s degrees in education (M.Ed.) and to endorse teachers for licensure in Massachusetts in high school biology and chemistry, and middle and high school math.
Q: How does the WW Graduate School compare to other teacher preparation programs?
A: Virtually all teacher preparation programs today require candidates to complete a set number of credit hours in a set order. The WW Graduate School believes it is more important for aspiring teachers to both learn and demonstrate the knowledge necessary to be a beginning teacher. Instead of offering time-based courses tied to credit hours, the WW program is based on a series of teaching-based challenges that measure teaching ability. For the WW Graduate School, it is a matter of both knowing and doing.
The Graduate School’s personalized learning approach ensures that the focus is on the learner, empowering candidates who complete the curriculum to lead current and future classrooms where they can emphasize individualized learning and the needs and preferences of the student.
Q: Is this an online program?
A: No, the WW Graduate School has a physical location in Cambridge, Mass. The WW Graduate School recognizes that effective teaching requires strong face-to-face learning and practice. Our degree program is specially designed to provide a mix of in-person and online experiences, with individual learners determining the approaches that work best for them, their learning styles, and their educational goals. In-person requirements include a clinical placement in one of the WW Graduate School’s partner school districts, and participation in a regular practicum seminar and studio session.
Q: How long does it take to complete the program?
A: The WW Graduate School believes that a clock or calendar is an ineffective tool for measuring whether one is prepared to become a teacher of record. The Graduate School program is competency-based, allowing each master’s candidate to progress at his or her own pace. Just as no two teachers are identical, the path to completion will differ based on the candidate. Candidates are eligible for graduation and licensure once they have completed all challenges and demonstrated proficiency with each competency as evidenced in a capstone portfolio. While every learner is different, the program is designed to take about 12 months. Some of our graduates have completed the program more quickly; some take longer.
Q: What can I expect in the two years of support after I complete the program?
A: The WW Graduate School is committed to ensuring that every new teacher who earns the M.Ed. has the help and support needed to succeed as a teacher of record. The Graduate School provides two years of mentoring, and a peer network to ensure that all Graduate School alumni progress through long and successful teaching careers.
Q: What does a typical week look like for a WW Graduate School student?
A: There is nothing “typical” about the WW Graduate School and its approach. A standard week will be adapted to the individual learner and his or her needs and pursuits. Each master’s candidate should expect a regular schedule of demonstration, clinical experience, collaboration, feedback, and assessment. See more in this video.
Q: What is MIT’s role in the WW Graduate School?
A: The WW Graduate School and MIT are working together to develop the challenge-based curriculum, assessments, and learning resources (including teaching games and simulations) that the Graduate School offers. Graduate School students and faculty also have access to a wide range of MIT resources, but will not receive an MIT degree.
Q: What school districts is the WW Graduate School currently partnering with?
A: The WW Graduate School currently has partnership agreements with the public school districts in Burlington, Cambridge, Natick, Revere, and Somerville (MA). The Graduate School is also working with TechBoston Academy and a range of out-of-school-time (OST) learning programs WW Graduate School candidates will gain clinical experiences working with one of the partners. We are regularly looking for new partner districts to join the effort. Interested schools or districts should contact the WW Graduate School. Learn more about our partners here.
Q: How much does the degree program cost?
A: The WW Graduate School believes in a holistic approach to tuition. The WW Graduate School has a flat fee for completion of the program, rather than the tuition for only a semester or academic year, as one would find at other institutions. Tuition for the 2020 class has been set at $27,000. Click here for an estimated cost of attendance based on 2019 numbers.
Q: How does the WW Graduate School balance academic content and teaching pedagogy?
A: The WW Graduate School recognizes that successful teachers must master both academic content and instructional pedagogy. The Graduate School’s competencies reflect both of these areas, and challenges have been constructed to measure a candidate’s ability in both. All WW Graduate School students are expected to bring some STEM (science-technology-engineering-math) knowledge to the program, acquired either through an undergraduate degree or career experience. That content knowledge is then strengthened throughout the program.
Q: What resources does the WW Graduate School make available to its students?
A: The WW Graduate School staff has carefully curated a library of multimedia resources aligned to individual competencies and challenges. This online library is available to all Graduate School students, both as they go through the program and after they complete it. WW Graduate School faculty, staff and students curate and update these resources to reflect the latest research in content areas, teaching, and clinical sciences. In addition, all WW Graduate School students will have access to MIT library and online resources.
Q: Where is the WW Graduate School physically located?
A: The WW Graduate School is located at 24 Thorndike St., in Cambridge, MA, within easy walking distance of Kendall Square and MIT. WW Graduate School faculty and staff are based in our Cambridge office. Master’s candidates will pursue their clinical placements in nearby partner districts.
Q: How do I apply to the WW Graduate School?
A: You can apply through this online application. There is no application fee.
Q: When does the program start?
A: Orientation begins shortly after Labor Day each September. That flows directly into the start of the program.
Q: Can you complete the program on a part time basis/does the current schedule allow for part-time jobs? Is there employment assistance available?
A: The current schedule does allow for part-time jobs, and many master’s candidates have them while completing the program on a full-time basis. Those interested in completing the program part-time should discuss their circumstances with the WW Graduate School staff so that we can determine if the program is practicable. The Graduate School does not provide formal employment assistance (beyond assistance with placement), but staff do pass on opportunities they hear of.
Q: What is the size of the class?
A: Due to the self-paced nature of the program, the class size varies based on how many new master’s candidates begin in the fall, and how many candidates remain from the previous starting groups. The first class, or cohort, was 21, with 12 new candidates admitted for fall 2019.