Spring Gillard

Master of Arts in Education at UBC

Alice Aeju Jeon, First Year MA student in Educational Studies

I have been hired by my department to help promote their new Master of Arts (MA) program in Educational Studies (EDST). I’ve been working primarily on their website content, so I’ve been interviewing professors and students and the process is teaching me a lot about my own department.

The MA program was launched this fall, which means I’m in the very first cohort. I arrived in this department somewhat serendipitously. I had been looking at other programs, other universities, but nothing clicked. Either I wasn’t going to be able to do what I wanted to do, or it was too expensive, or the commute would be too onerous. So when a friend suggested I try the Faculty of Education at UBC, I did. When I received a warm welcome in EDST, I decided to apply, and here I am. I have to admit, I didn’t really know what my department was all about. I was just happy that I had a supervisor who had a lot of sustainability experience and I was able to specialize in adult ed. After a semester, I understand more about the department, but talking to fellow students has given me a deeper understanding.

Amy, a second year MA student who is auditing one of the new core courses, said the department was full of scholars who are studying the education system from outside the system. What she meant was, most of the professors in EDST are from other disciplines. They are sociologists, historians and philosophers. There is a real breadth and depth of experience, so you can be matched up with a supervisor, who then becomes a key member of your coaching team. Alice liked the fact that the professors were so available and student-focused. Mina, a recent law graduate, felt the educational research training would make her a better advocate for children in aboriginal communities.

Perhaps most surprising to me has been the discovery that I’m in a department full of social activists. The people here want to change the world, they’ve chosen to do so through the education system. Some are involved in cultural or gender-based work, some are focused on environmentalism, sustainability or the arts. The diversity is rich and exciting.

I am being trained to be a researcher and while that probably wouldn’t have attracted me if I’d read it on the website, I realize how marketable that skill will be: the ability to professionally collect and analyze data. I’m also seeing how valuable it is to understand the theory behind the educational practice and how one enhances the other. From a purely practical point of view, most of the courses are offered in the evening or on weekends (some are on-line), so I can still fit some work in.

Even though I entered this MA program somewhat reluctantly, I now see that I am in exactly the right place. If you know someone considering a Master of Arts, tell them to check out the EDST program in the Faculty of Education at UBC.

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