Have you thought about getting your master’s degree? Two years can feel like a long time to be in school, especially if you’ve just finished your undergraduate degree. Applying for a fellowship can be a viable option that many teachers don’t consider. In fact, lots of teachers haven’t even heard of a fellowship program! Here’s what you need to know:
1. It’s quick.
Most fellowship programs are just one year long. Traditional graduate programs are often at least two years, sometimes longer depending on finances and other life circumstances.
2. The instructors and curriculum are outstanding.
The curriculum is usually focused and targeted, covering the most important concepts and methods while still giving you the opportunity to polish those key skills in your own teaching. Because fellowship students often spend a full day in the classroom, faculty are able to help fellowship students make connections between the program curriculum and what they may be experiencing with students in their own classroom each day.
3. It’s often tuition free.
Yep, that’s right. Free. You have to apply for most fellowship experiences, and admission can be competitive. However, once accepted into the program, your tuition is often covered. There aren’t many traditional graduate programs like that out there.
4. Your classmates care as much about education as you do.
Have you ever sat in a staff-development session with people who really don’t care? People who are only there for the P.D. credit? It can be deflating. Because the admissions process for a fellowship is so selective, you can know that your classmates are going to be top-notch professionals who care as much as you do about making things better for kids in the classroom.
5. You can spend a year immersed in your passion.
There’s something intriguing about the prospect of packing up your life and devoting a year to the things that you care about the most. None of us went into education for the money. Most of us are dedicated to becoming outstanding teachers. We teach because we believe it matters. Immersing yourself in something that matters for an entire year is no small thing. It might turn out to feel pretty amazing.
6. Financial aid is available to cover living expenses.
Of course taking a year off to focus on getting your degree can feel a bit intimidating, especially when you consider all of your financial obligations. Fortunately, many fellowship programs are affiliated with universities where you can apply for financial aid. This aid can help cover living expenses and other costs that may or may not be covered through your fellowship program.
7. You get a full year of field experience.
My student teaching experience was three months long. I started in September and ended in December. I knew how to start the year, but I had no idea how to finish it. Honestly, it didn’t feel like enough. Many teachers can say the same thing. A fellowship can be the perfect way for a younger teacher to have a more thorough introduction to teaching. With many fellowship programs, you participate in a residency program that allows you to spend the entire year in the classroom working side by side with mentor teachers who are prepared to guide you and help you fine-tune your own teaching practices.
8. Your classes are small.
There are no giant lecture halls like you might remember from your undergraduate days. While your weekdays are generally spent working with students, your afternoons and evenings are often spent attending to your own learning. Because fellowships are so selective, the classes are usually small, and we teachers know the benefits of small classes!
9. You walk away with your master’s degree and a year of classroom experience under your belt.
How amazing does that sound? You’ve spent far less money than you might for a traditional program, dedicated a year to doing work that really matters, improved yourself as an educator, and have a degree to show for it. How can you beat that?