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Full Tuition Scholarships Await SLU Grads who Pursue Master of Arts in Teaching Degree, Teach in Local Schools

by Bridjes O'Neil on 02/18/2021
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Saint Louis University students interested in graduate school are encouraged to apply for one of 10 full-tuition scholarships funded through a new partnership between SLU and St. Louis Public Schools (SLPS). Students must apply by March 1 to be considered.

“This is an opportunity for SLU seniors to earn a starting salary of approximately $40K and pursue a master’s degree with a full-tuition scholarship while making a meaningful contribution to the community,” said Gary Ritter, Ph.D., professor and dean of the School of Education at SLU. 

M.A.T. student Aliscia Payne graduated from Columbia College in 2012. Submitted photo by Aliscia Payne.

Through the Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) program with Alternative Certification, individuals with B.A. or B.S. degrees in various content areas are provided an accelerated path into classroom teaching. Scholarships are available for any student accepted into the M.A.T. program.

Students do not have to have an undergraduate degree from the School of Education to enroll in the M.A.T. program, Ritter said. Students come from a wide variety of diverse backgrounds and experiences, including those with undergraduate degrees in biology, English, business, and urban ecology.

“Many of these students have graduated from universities in Missouri such as Washington University and the University of Missouri - Saint Louis,” Ritter said. “Students come from locations such as Loyola University in New Orleans, Duke University in North Carolina, and even Université de Nantes in France.”

Students can apply for the program and the scholarship simultaneously, however, only those with both applications complete will be considered for the scholarship. Applicants from underrepresented groups are strongly encouraged to apply. Preference will be given to applicants seeking positions in math or science, Ritter said.

In urban schools nationwide, school leaders struggle to find committed and talented college graduates able to teach high school math and science. This problem is particularly acute in schools in the St. Louis region serving students from low-income neighborhoods. Each August, SLPS begins the school year with a shortage of teachers.

The M.A.T. program was originally created within SLU’s School of Education to serve the Billiken Teacher Corps (BTC) in 2015. BTC is a unique service-learning opportunity for grads in under-resourced Catholic schools in the St. Louis area. Based on this successful model, faculty members expanded the program in 2020 to bolster the teacher pipeline in public schools.

“Currently, SLPS is the only district we have a scholarship partnership with,” Ritter said. “But, we also partner with several other districts in our region to fill vacant teaching positions.” 

2020 M.A.T. Cohort

The M.A.T. program is a two-year, 32 credit-hour program. Summer courses begin in June, preparing students to enter the classroom in August. Courses are more concentrated during the summer, with only one evening course during fall and spring semesters, allowing students to focus on teaching during the academic year.

The first cohort of 16 students in the expanded M.A.T. program began during the COVID-19 pandemic. Aliscia Payne, M.A.T. student and 2012 B.S. in Computer Information Systems grad from Columbia College, said the support of her professors has made all the difference.

"I adore the patient and attentive care I receive from my SLU professors,” Payne said. “I am impressed by the team spirit among SLU’s professors and organizational leaders. I find it easier to care for others when being shown the way.”

Throughout the program, each student is provided a supervisor or mentor who observes their teaching, provides feedback, and is available to assist with support and questions. Joy Voss, Ph.D., assistant professor of educational studies in the School of Education, is one of those supportive professors who have worked with the new cohort from day one. SLU M.A.T. students have learned more than the pedagogy of teaching. They are integrating skills like kindness, compassion and empathy into their lessons, Voss said.

"For this reason and many more, these students and teachers have made an impossible teaching year possible,” Voss said. “I am proud and thankful for their drive and passion for creating positive learning environments for all of their students. The next cohort will have big shoes to fill."

For more information about the Master of Arts in Teaching with Alternative Certification program, please visit our website here or email us at

About Saint Louis University

Founded in 1818, Saint Louis University is one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious Catholic institutions. Rooted in Jesuit values and its pioneering history as the first university west of the Mississippi River, SLU offers more than 12,000 students a rigorous, transformative education of the whole person. At the core of the University’s diverse community of scholars is SLU’s service-focused mission, which challenges and prepares students to make the world a better, more just place.