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Harvard Ends Undergraduate Teacher Education Program, Closing Off a Path to Teaching for College Students

Harvard's Graduate School of Education is located on Appian Way in Cambridge
Harvard's Graduate School of Education is located on Appian Way in Cambridge By Soumyaa Mazumder
By Paton D. Roberts, Crimson Staff Writer

The Harvard Undergraduate Teacher Education Program, which provided College students with teaching credentials prior to graduation, was recently ended as part of an effort to direct students interested in teaching to the Graduate School of Education’s new Teaching and Teacher Leadership master’s program.

UTEP is the second undergraduate education program to be ended in recent years after the Harvard Teacher Fellows was rolled over into TTL last October.

The UTEP allowed “Harvard undergraduates to earn certification as a secondary teacher during their time at the College,” according to an archived version of its website.

Students completed the program — consisting of both classwork and fieldwork — across two semesters, often during their junior or senior year. Participants took four academic courses and clocked a minimum of 460 hours in the field over the two semesters.

“When HGSE redesigned its master’s program, one of the key goals was to advance the training and engagement of aspiring educators, while building on the lessons and all of the success of earlier teacher preparation programs, including UTEP,” HGSE spokesperson Bari E. Walsh wrote in an email. “Now, all of HGSE’s teacher preparation efforts are wrapped into the new Teaching and Teacher Leadership master’s program.”

Former UTEP student teacher Karolina M. Dos Santos ’14 said the program was difficult, but also valuable for her career.

“It was very challenging, both academically and being able to meet the expectations of the student teaching, but it was so helpful to me in thinking about a career, in getting out of the Harvard bubble, in thinking about next steps,” she said.

Orin M. Gutlerner, the associate director of UTEP from 2003-2008, also described the challenges created by the program’s intensity.

“A fundamental challenge was that UTEP was, in many ways, seen as an add-on program,” he said. “It was not an actual concentration, it satisfied very few concentration requirements in spite of the incredible demands and rigor of the program, and it was really all we could do to barely meet state licensure requirements and offer UTEP and still be able to attract even five or ten Harvard College students a year.”

Meaghan E. Townsend ’21, a frequent advocate for pathways to education at the College, said she was disappointed by the cancellations of HTF and UTEP during the pandemic.

“It was disheartening, over the course of the pandemic — at a time when the University and so many schools were talking a big game about just how important education was, and what an educational crisis we were in — to now, as you've seen in coming to me, both of those programs are no longer there,” she said.

Obtaining a teaching license, which Townsend described as a “clunky bureaucratic system,” is now available to Harvard College students through HGSE’s TTL master’s program.

Garrett M. Rolph ’22, a peer advisor for the secondary field in educational studies, said the removal of HTF and UTEP have negative effects on the pathways for students interested in the teaching profession.

“Now, it doesn't even make that much sense to come to Harvard if you want to go into education,” he said. “It is harder for you to become a teacher at Harvard than it is at any other state school, at any other school that has some kind of a pathway to licensure, which Harvard has kind of eliminated now at the college level.”

Gutlerner said it is important to encourage prospective teachers at the College, reminiscing on meeting students who aspired to join the profession even from the start of their freshman year.

“I think there’s a non-trivial number of students at Harvard — I imagine the same is true today — who do come to the College already with those kinds of intentions,” he said. “If those intentions are nurtured, and their desire to become great at this profession is nurtured over time, those are people who could literally change lives.”

—Staff writer Paton D. Roberts can be reached at paton.roberts@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter at @paton_dr.

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