Beginning next year, students from Ryerson University’s school of early childhood studies (ECS) will be able to graduate with two degrees from two universities.
Ryerson and York University have teamed up to offer 45 students in the ECS program both a bachelor of arts (BA) degree and a bachelor of education degree (BEd) over the course of five years.
Students who apply and successfully complete the joint program, rather than just the ECS program, will be able to skip teachers’ college and still receive the proper accreditation to teach children in their primary and junior years. This is the first partnership program of its kind in Canada.
“Before (this program), they would have had to get their degree and then they would have had to move to York or Ottawa or somewhere for a BEd,” says Ryerson president Sheldon Levy. “Now it’s a single program that students can do together at Ryerson.”
Students who are enrolled in the joint program will take ECS and education courses simultaneously, and will gain extensive real-world experience thanks to the ECS field education courses and the BEd’s required placement program.
“The benefit is that students will leave the program with two credentials,” says Rachel Langford, director of Ryerson’s school of ECS. “So they’re going to be highly desirable teachers. They’re going to have such a strong foundation in understanding the continuum of children’s development and learning from birth to Grade 6.”
Langford says that a significant number of ECS students pursue post-degree programs, with a large portion going into teachers’ college. That’s one of the reasons behind the partnership, but it’s not the only one.
“For many years, education has been very separate from early childhood education,” says Langford. “Now in that concurrent program we’re bringing together the two programs. That’s a very significant development in our two fields.”
It took a few years to get the program to its current stage. The two universities met and began developing the program. Then they went through an approval process at each university to ensure the program met academic standards. According to Langford, the partnership was a long process, but it has developed smoothly and will continue to be a strong collaboration.
Students in their first year next September will be able to apply for the program in winter 2014. Whether or not they are accepted depends on how well they meet the guidelines York’s education program requires. Prerequisite courses, grade point average (GPA) and reference letters will all play a part in a student’s acceptance into the BEd program.
The majority of the BEd courses will be taught by York faculty on Ryerson’s campus, but there is a chance that some courses will take place on York’s campus as well.
Teaching positions are scarce at the moment, but both Langford and Levy agree that this won’t always be the case, and when more teachers are needed, Ryerson graduates will have the upper hand.
“Teacher education goes in cycles,” said Levy. “(There are) many cycles where there is big worry that there are too many teachers, and then before you know it there’s not enough teachers.”
Langford also thinks the program will benefit students.
“But the combined, concurrent program will certainly enhance their ability to get jobs,” she says. “Now people are more aware of the issue … We’ve set the stage for it.”
This story was first published in The Ryersonian, a weekly newspaper produced by the Ryerson School of Journalism, on April 10, 2013.