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Educational Studies Q&A

What is the difference between a traditional teacher certification program and Dickinson’s educational studies program?
Students graduating from a traditional teacher certification program receive training to become public school teachers upon completion of their undergraduate degrees. In addition to coursework, they are typically required to engage in a series of field experiences in local schools, complete a full-time student teaching semester, pass a series of PRAXIS exams, and, in some states, achieve a certain GPA. If this is successfully accomplished, graduates can begin teaching upon graduation.

Dickinson’s educational studies (EDST) program is built around a broad-based major designed to give undergraduates a foundation in the issues, theories, and concepts shaping education today. It prepares students for careers in a range of education-related fields or for graduate school. Those students wanting to become public school teachers complete the certification process after leaving Dickinson through master’s degree programs or through alternative certification programs.

What careers do Dickinson EDST graduates pursue?
Many of our graduates become K-12 teachers either in public schools after completing master’s programs or in independent schools immediately upon graduation. Others choose to teach abroad or in non-traditional school settings such as alternative schools or those designed for students who have special needs.

Our majors may also choose graduate programs that prepare them to work in school districts, but not as teachers. Many are interested in school psychology, counseling, social work, or English as a Second Language (ESL) training.

Some graduates work in teaching fields outside of the traditional school setting. They, for example, become educators in museums or environmental centers.

Other EDST graduates work in education-related non-profit entities, policy organizations, or government agencies. Some pursue careers in higher education administration (e.g. student life, admissions, advancement) or at independent schools in non-teaching roles.

Without teacher certification, do I have to go to graduate school right away to get a job in education?
No. Many students begin working straight out of college. Through close advising, we help students determine if graduate school is the best option for them based on life and career goals. Many of our students pursue various types of graduate assistantships, including some of our student athletes who seek coaching assistantships while earning their graduate degrees.

Do I need to declare the educational studies major early in my time at Dickinson?
No. Many of our majors choose to declare during the second semester of their first year in order to get priority scheduling, but others wait until their sophomore year. Although some courses have prerequisites, course sequencing is relatively flexible once students have taken the introductory courses. Students interested in learning more about the major should contact the chair of the department or one of the other EDST faculty members to arrange a meeting.

Can I double major in educational studies and something else while at Dickinson?
Yes. We designed the Dickinson EDST major to make it possible for students to double major. Many of our students choose to do so. Those who plan to become middle school or high school teachers usually double major with educational studies and the subject area they would like to teach (e.g., English, biology, history, math, Spanish). Other popular majors to combine with educational studies include psychology, sociology, Africana Studies, and political science. Students majoring in other disciplines who prefer not to double major can complete the educational studies minor.

Do EDST majors at Dickinson get experiences in local schools or other educational settings?
While our majors do not have as many formal field experiences as students in traditional teacher certification programs, they do have complementary learning experiences outside of their college coursework. All EDST majors must complete an 80-hour, education-related internship designed to help them build important skills, to clarify future goals, and to establish professional networks. In addition, many of our majors are members of Dickinson’s chapter of Kappa Delta Pi, the international education honor society. Through this active organization, students participate in a variety of programs for K-12 students (e.g. after school homework help sessions, literacy events, essay contests).

Is there an opportunity for EDST majors to study abroad?
Yes. In our program, students can study abroad for a semester or for a full academic year. While we partner with the educational studies program at the Danish Institute for Study Abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark, students can choose any program based on their interests, goals, and/or other majors.