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What do you look for in a BA or MA degree program?
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 4300
Location: Terra firma

PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2012 2:58 am    Post subject: What do you look for in a BA or MA degree program? Reply with quote

Regardless of your TEFL experience...

If you're looking to get a university/college degree or are presently in a degree program or have completed your degree, which of the following factors of the program and choice of school are/were important to you and why:

    -- "Fancy Name" University for prestige, recognition in the TESOL community and with employers
    -- Specific course content (coursework)
    -- Degree title or program of study (e.g., Applied Linguistics vs. Education vs. English Literature vs. ...)
    -- Non-TEFL related field that fits my interests or future career goals
    -- None; I just need/needed a degree, any degree
    -- Convenience (location or mode of delivery)
    -- Cost
    -- Other
If you're looking into bachelors or masters degree programs, what are your reasons for doing so?
If you're currently completing your studies or have already obtained a degree, what regrets, if any, do you have about your academic choice(s)? On the other hand, what positive impact has it made?

Thank yew!
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DebMer



Joined: 02 Jan 2012
Posts: 211
Location: Southern California

PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2012 3:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This thread is of interest to me! This topic is currently at the top of my list of things to research.

I'm looking at masters programs, preferably online or mostly online (my life is crazy busy, and I don't think I can swing it otherwise) and economical. I know those aren't the noblest of features to seek out in a program, but it's reality for me right now. My goal is to be equipped and qualified to teach ESL to adults and university level in the future, either here in the U.S. or abroad. I currently teach a non-credit class through the local community college, and absolutely love it.

I'm looking at TESOL or applied linguistics. (Anybody have a recommendation for one or the other? If so, why?)
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Denim-Maniac



Joined: 31 Jan 2012
Posts: 1238

PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2012 3:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I completed my BA with the UK's Open University in Dec 2009.

It's probably the most famous distance learning provider in the UK, and at the time was probably the only distance learning provider I was really aware of. They also offer options of 'unnamed' degrees, where you just choose modules according to your own areas of interest. Their 'Open' degree is actually their most popular degree I believe.

When I studied, their costs were also very low, with a number of support options available to those who qualified, and a number of payment options for those that didnt. Financially, it was certainly a good choice.

They also offered a degree without honours, which could be completed in less time. I started my studies in Feb 2007, and completed them around October 2009. That time factor was also a big plus for me. A degree with honours requires 360 academic points, without honours was awarded at 300, which means I didnt need to do a final 60 point, 9 month course to get the all-important certificate I needed for visa requirements.

Overally I was quite pleased with my course and my module choices. The materials and support was quite good, and I recently completed another course with them called 'Beginners Chinese', which I did for personal interest rather than as part of my degree.

My modules were as follows; An introduction to the Humanities, An introduction to the Social Sciences, Creative Writing, English Grammar in Context and The World of English.

Each of these courses were 9 months in duration. Only one featured a written exam. The OU states that full time Uni education requires 120 points of academic study per year, with the typical honours degree being completed in 3 years of full time study or 6 years of part-time. I had fortunate circumstances that allowed me to double up (and even triple up) for a while meaning I completed my course quickly.

I was planning on being a life-long learner and was intending to do more OU courses for personal interest. However, recent changes to education in the UK has meant the course costs have increased four-fold, which means they are a lot more expensive now and I just cant justify continual study for personal rather than professional reasons.

Anyway ... it was a good choice for me. I can now officially call myself
Denim-Maniac BA (Open) DIP ELS* (Open).
* Diploma in English Language Studies*
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jpvanderwerf2001



Joined: 02 Oct 2003
Posts: 1077
Location: New York

PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2012 6:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I will finish a regionally accredited, online, M.Ed in July. It will have cost me all of $7000 by the end (this is of course mega cheap for an RA Master's in the USA).
www.ace.edu --check it out!
Good luck.
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jpvanderwerf2001



Joined: 02 Oct 2003
Posts: 1077
Location: New York

PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2012 6:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

By the way, to answer the OP: Cost and relevance were the biggest determiners for me; it had to be distance, too, since I've been living abroad this whole time.
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tttompatz



Joined: 06 Mar 2010
Posts: 1951
Location: Talibon, Bohol, Philippines

PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2012 6:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For me it was course content.

3 undergrads, 2 masters and ABD and each one was taken as a specific step in where I wanted (or in the case of the ABD where I thought I wanted) to go next.

Each was a stepping stone but none were predetermined. I gained one, went to work, decided that the next would serve me better in what I was doing and kept going up from there.

Cost, in the long run, is/was largely irrelevant. I paid as I went so there was no huge accumulation of debt to worry about.

The name, provided the school is a proper school and not a diploma mill, really doesn't matter. The same with the "title" of the degree. Content is the master.

Convenience was a factor in my first and 2nd undergrad but I just went with the flow after that. None of them were "distance" degrees (not an option when I started out).

Only 1 was TEFL related but ALL of them have impacted on my career and current situation.

I have no regrets about my academic choices. They all, cumulatively, add up to what I am now and they have all helped along the way. There is no "bad" education.

On a more positive light, it has enabled me to be debt free at 50, own a house in my home country (bought and paid for), a vacation house on 5 hectares in the Philippines (bought and paid for), an assured retirement in comfort when I am ready to retire, savings and the ability to not worry about what I spend, where I spend it or what crisis may be around the corner.

Oh, and almost as an afterthought, a job I like, in a country I like with a decent remuneration package that allows me to continue to live in comfort.

.
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Matt_22



Joined: 26 Feb 2006
Posts: 193

PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2012 12:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Name Recognition & Legitimacy - Picking up a Master's degree in ESL from a school you've never heard of, or from a university in a non-English-speaking country, wouldn't look that good on a resume if I were a hiring manager.

Not Online - This goes along with the last point, but pure distance degrees aren't viewed as being equal. Perhaps in some places, but not all. No sense in pursuing a degree that isn't viewed in the same light by pretty much everyone.

Convenience - Have to find a program that is suitable for your situation. Fortunately, there are many degree plans out there with different schedules and means of flexibility.

Cost - If this was no object, I would be doing my coursework in New York or Monterrey. Wink

Course Length - There are many programs out there that have near double the time requirement of equivalent degrees. This can be a huge factor professionally and financially.
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 4300
Location: Terra firma

PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2012 12:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Matt 22: The questions presented ask for your personal experience. Oops! Wink But what I understand you to say is that cost is important to you and that you're particularly attracted to well-known universities in NY and Monterrey, California. I assume this would be for an MA? In? And what's your interest or objective in getting the degree?
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DebMer



Joined: 02 Jan 2012
Posts: 211
Location: Southern California

PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2012 1:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jpvanderwerf2001 wrote:
I will finish a regionally accredited, online, M.Ed in July. It will have cost me all of $7000 by the end (this is of course mega cheap for an RA Master's in the USA).
www.ace.edu --check it out!
Good luck.


Thanks for the info and link. Very Happy
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Matt_22



Joined: 26 Feb 2006
Posts: 193

PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2012 1:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

nomad soul wrote:
Matt 22: The questions presented ask for your personal experience. Oops! Wink But what I understand you to say is that cost is important to you and that you're particularly attracted to well-known universities in NY and Monterrey, California. I assume this would be for an MA? In? And what's your interest or objective in getting the degree?


All factors I mentioned were critical in deciding where to take my MA in TESOL, so it is based on personal experience. I simply gave my line of reasoning in explaining each factor.

Sure - if money were no object, I would be enrolled in a four semester MA in TESOL at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, taking advantage of the extra focus in Computer Assisted Language Learning. It would seem to give an excellent foundation for a future career working in the US or the UAE.
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 4300
Location: Terra firma

PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2012 7:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I chose to complete a MAT in Multidisciplinary Studies with a TEFL emphasis that also included a teaching practicum. The course content was a huge factor for me because it focused on the practical components of teaching and teacher preparation, which was vital since I was a career changer and new to teaching. (My other education isn't related to teaching.) I wanted to make sure I had the essentials top employers were looking for in terms of academic credentials. In fact, once I decided to change careers, I used the requirements from various Mid East TEFL job ads as a guide in determining what degree program and courses would best suit my interests, needs, and career goals---a backwards strategy for education and career planning and with a target job in mind.

The title, an MA in Teaching, was also important. I wanted a credential that allowed for some flexibility for when I eventually transition from TEFL into other areas of learning such as corporate training, instructional technology, and e-learning. (I'm also in the midst of completing a Grad Cert in Instructional Technology.) I'll be able to present my degree solely as a MAT without the multi blah blah blah and TEFL components, essentially stripping it down to a general teaching degree. (A cupcake without all the sprinkles on top!)

Cost wasn't a factor because I was fortunate to have received tuition assistance through my old job. My total tuition came to about $15,000 with my employer covering 40% of those costs.

So far, my MAT has served me quite well in the classroom and provided me the know-how to design comprehensive exams and ESP curriculum with confidence. Moreover, it has complemented and enhanced skills gained from my previous professions. My only regret is that I didn't change careers sooner. Smile
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Denim-Maniac



Joined: 31 Jan 2012
Posts: 1238

PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2012 11:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I should have added the cost of my degree ... I mentioned the grants and payment options available, but not the total I paid. My degree is rather low ranking, but for what I needed it has sufficed so far...but the cost was rather appealing. Around 800.

Sadly Im not sure the price I actually paid between 2007 - 2009 still applies.
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cmp45



Joined: 17 Aug 2004
Posts: 1377
Location: KSA

PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2012 2:26 am    Post subject: Re: What do you look for in a BA or MA degree program? Reply with quote

nomad soul wrote:
Regardless of your TEFL experience...

If you're looking to get a university/college degree or are presently in a degree program or have completed your degree, which of the following factors of the program and choice of school are/were important to you and why:

    -- "Fancy Name" University for prestige, recognition in the TESOL community and with employers
    -- Specific course content (coursework)
    -- Degree title or program of study (e.g., Applied Linguistics vs. Education vs. English Literature vs. ...)
    -- Non-TEFL related field that fits my interests or future career goals
    -- None; I just need/needed a degree, any degree
    -- Convenience (location or mode of delivery)
    -- Cost
    -- Other
If you're looking into bachelors or masters degree programs, what are your reasons for doing so?
If you're currently completing your studies or have already obtained a degree, what regrets, if any, do you have about your academic choice(s)? On the other hand, what positive impact has it made?

Thank yew!


I completed a Masters degree in Post Secondary Education on line part time, while working in KSA. It took me about 3 1/2 years to complete as I had to complete a required undergrad course in statistics to be accepted into the M.ed program.

I chose this particular program because of the general course content that covered a range of teaching, administrative and leadership courses. I also consider myself a life long learner, therefore my reasons for taking on a master level program was to further challenge and improve my research, writing and analytical skills as well build upon what I already learned regarding teaching and learning at the adult level.

I also factored in location. I chose a Canadian university that was from my home province and fortunately, had a strong reputation for distance on-line learning.

The cost was reasonable compared to others I had researched and was also a major consideration.

I thought it would also help improve my job prospects. Unfortunately, in KSA, most still do not recognize on-line degrees, but I still believe it was a valuable experience on my life long learning journey.

It was difficult managing the course work and teaching, but at the same time, it was extremely rewarding.

In addition, it certainly helped me to better understand the on-line distance technology and improve my computer skills.

NO REGRETS!
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contented



Joined: 17 Oct 2011
Posts: 136
Location: اسطنبول

PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 8:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I completed my studies and I can't think of any regrets. Factors that I considered were: name of school, courses and languages offered, location and cost. I didn't want to graduate from a school and have people ask, "Where's that at?" I selected a major that focused on my interests. Friends would ask me what I'm going to do with it, but it has helped in attaining work abroad (employers comment on it during my interviews). I earned a TESOL certificate at university, and this of course has been beneficial for me. Location was important and so were costs. I was able to attend my hometown university, so it couldn't have been better. Campus was a 10 min. drive from my home.
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AnneCO



Joined: 11 Feb 2012
Posts: 53
Location: US

PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2012 12:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great thread Nomad Soul.

I studied for my masters before online degrees were available. The content of this education degree was not very good. It contained quite a bit of theoretical ideals without a lot of practical information on how to make it happen in a classroom.

I chose this course or rather fell into it as it was a convenient school University of Colorado Boulder. After completing the degree, I learned from others that many education programs in Colorado are like this.

Taking an online course is an experience in itself and has not been bad for me. If the choice is between sitting in a class and being talked at by a professor or taking an online course I'd probably go for online. If the classroom course incorporates working with the other students and group discussions, I would much prefer the classroom. The social element of school can be wonderful.

Now looking at taking another online course, I feel like I'm drowning in possibilities. I'm trying to look at some reviews of courses - any suggestions out there?
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