Meaning, Quality, and Integrity of a Master of Arts in Education from Cal Poly Pomona

The Department of Education within the College of Education and Integrative Studies is a professional learning community focused on serving the present and future needs of diverse students in our region. We prepare students to become highly qualified educators and leaders in our society. We are committed to the principles of diversity, ethics, and life-long learning. Central to our “polytechnic mission” are innovative and integrative thinking, reflective practice, collaboration, and learning by doing. We seek social justice through actions that promote equity, access, advocacy, and inclusion in the educational process.


Expectations for Incoming MA Students

The Department of Education prepares students for the Master of Arts in Education degree with the following emphases:
  • Curriculum & Instruction
  • Curriculum & Instruction - Design-Based Learning
  • Educational Multimedia
  • Special Education  - Mild/Moderate; Moderate/Severe
  • Educational Leadership.

All Incoming students must hold a Bachelor’s degree and a valid teaching credential or have been admitted to a credential program here at CPP. (The Educational Multimedia program does not require a credential since students are not all from school-based educational settings but serve those in instructional leadership roles from a variety of fields, including business, graphic design, entrepreneurial endeavors, industry, and medical/health sciences). Students in all graduate programs must also have a minimum GPA of 3.0  (3.5 and above preferred) and pass the Graduate Writing Test (GWT). Applicants must be admitted to the university’s graduate school through CSU Mentor.
All students must possess the advanced skills needed to succeed at the graduate level including excellent oral and written communication, critical and creative thinking, a passion for continuous learning, professional dispositions that reflect cognitive and emotional intelligence, a commitment to the betterment of human experience, and the potential for advanced leadership in educational settings.

Future for MA Students

The Department’s learn-by-doing approach prepares MA degree students for success by integrating theory, research and practice to solve problems in educational settings. As members of our professional learning community, students engage in systematic inquiry by observing, analyzing and reflecting on professional practice and sharing and utilizing data to inform and enhance their work and the work of others in the field.
The Curriculum and Instruction program offers advanced preparation for teachers in leadership roles that help shape the design, development, delivery, and assessment of standards-based curricular design curricular design and research-based pedagogical strategies.   Such roles include classroom teaching, staff development, alternative education, school and district-level program development grounded in principles of equity, excellence, and respect for all learners in a diverse society. The program is designed for practicing educators to hone their skills and increase the breadth of their knowledge of the field.  The program is also designed for educators to increase their depth of knowledge relative to  specific areas of the curriculum, developmentally-appropriate pedagogical practices, and research-based strategies for the cultivation of educational excellence in diverse classrooms, schools, and communities. The array of electives allows students to customize a program plan to fit both current needs and future plans as an effective educational leader.
Design-Based Learning is a highly researched, project-based, standards-based methodology that exemplifies the principle of “learn by doing”. It provides tools and techniques for teaching students basic skills and knowledge from any subject so that they learn how to think critically and creatively at the highest level - to invent, extrapolate, adapt and transform information - to gain deeper understanding of subject matter. These techniques promote language acquisition, oral language development and enriched , collaborative learning experiences for all students.
The Educational Multimedia program focuses on the educational, creative, and technical aspects of computer technology to design, create, and present educational and training content for schools and instructional programs in the corporate sector and a variety of specialized settings, such as business and medical applications.
The concentration of this production-based program is on the creative integration of graphics, animation, video, audio, text, and interactivity for educational and training settings based on the sound principles of instructional design. This is the only MA program in the College of Education & Integrative Studies that does not require a teaching credential for admission. Students develop theoretical foundations in creating Multimedia materials, enhance their creative and technical skills, and engage in creating a variety of innovative interactive multimedia-based learning environments.
The Master of Arts Degree (with emphasis in Special Education) offers advanced, standards-based preparation for educators seeking to provide leadership for educational programs that serve students with mild/moderate and moderate/severe disabilities. Required and elective special education courses are closely related to course requirements in the Preliminary Credential (and the former Level I/Level II Credentials).
The Educational Leadership Program at Cal Poly Pomona is focused on preparing experienced, credentialed teachers with the preparation necessary to meet state certification requirements for serving in school and district administrative leadership roles.  The program was collaboratively developed with the input, support, and critical assistance of a team of local public school administrators. Many school and district administrative leaders in the region continue to provide valuable contributions as part of our program advisory board. This collaborative partnership is key to insuring that our candidates are consistently in a position of readiness to meet the current and future needs of today's ever-changing educational environment.

Knowledge and Skills upon Graduation

The MA in Education degree program prepares responsible educators to accept advanced leadership roles in their classrooms, schools, and communities. The Department of Education has established four learning outcomes for students in our MA program.  These outcomes are part of a continuum that is emphasized across all programs in the Department, from the basic pre-service introductory level to ever-increasing levels of development in the MA degree program (including embedded advanced credentials/added authorizations), to advanced development in the Ed.D. in Educational Leadership degree program.  The word education derives from a Latin word meaning “to lead”; thus we view leadership as inherent in the mission of educator preparation.  Whether the leadership is at the entry level of the classroom, at the school level as an instructional leader, at the school or district level as an administrator, at the local community level, or in broader regional, state, or national settings, we prepare all educators in our programs for Leadership grounded in Expertise with Application to real-world settings, and a commitment to honor Diversity, equity, and global consciousness in order to promote social justice and the development of human potential in a pluralistic society.   


Candidates demonstrate leadership by communicating, collaborating, and engaging in concrete actions that model and effectively influence and inspire others to promote educational policies, pedagogies, and practices that promote the maximum academic and social development of all learners.

Candidates demonstrate Expertise by engaging in the reflective study, application, synthesis, and evaluation of educational theories, pedagogical practices, and technologies to develop an informed, problem-solving perspective to promote educational excellence for all learners.
Candidates demonstrate Application of knowledge by integrating theory, research, data, appropriate technologies, and reflective practice to render informed professional judgments and decisions that enhance the quality of teaching and learning in diverse educational settings.
Diversity, equity, & global consciousness

Candidates demonstrate Diversity, equity, & global consciousness by continuing to learn about the world in the context of rapidly emerging social and technological change in order to make informed decisions to cultivate, develop, and celebrate human potential in all its diverse forms
The aforementioned competencies will allow graduates to be LEADers in the field as they continue to develop broader and deeper levels of understanding and effectiveness in addressing the immense challenges and opportunities inherent in educating students for full membership in a free society in a largely unfree world.


The quality of our Cal Poly Pomona MA program is ensured through ongoing collaboration with dedicated stakeholders, including full and part-time faculty, staff, students, alumni and public school teachers and administrators, many of whom serve as active members of our educator preparation advisory board. 
Cal Poly Pomona’s “learn by doing” ethos is evident in the ways in which the Department of Education prepares students to provide leadership in educational organizations in the region. All courses are student-centered professional learning communities where faculty and students share, discuss, analyze and evaluate educational theories, research, curriculum, instruction, assessment, resources, and technologies to inform and enhance professional practice. Faculty and students in the program co-construct learning experiences, co-present best practices and research findings at local (including our graduate research symposium), regional, state, and international forums and conferences; some have also co-published in scholarly journals.
Data-informed decision making is emphasized throughout all aspects of the MA program as an essential feature of effective educational leadership at all levels.  Students engage in statistical data analysis of student achievement at the classroom, school, district, state. national, and international levels. They also engage in the analysis of evidence-based qualitative data to assess student performance in order to inform decisions about the appropriate design of instructional and behavioral intervention strategies to enhance student progress.  They learn how to analyze and interpret data and to construct relevant strategies for cultivating communities of teaching and learning that enrich educational experiences for all students. Data analyses are used to transform policies and practices to exemplify educational excellence.
All MA students must successfully complete a culminating experience that reflects the key elements of their leadership preparation.  These include a project or thesis for all programs; students in the special education program may elect the comprehensive examination option. All students complete extensive training in the protection of human research subjects before beginning their research.
Hallmarks of our MA program include: a) specialized knowledge of advances in educational theory, research and practice; b) knowledge of best practices to support diverse students and close the achievement gap; c) analytical and ethical reasoning; d) professional communication and collaboration, and e) innovative and integrative thinking based on critical analysis, and creative problem-solving.


Achievement of Student Learning Outcomes

Students are provided with multiple opportunities to develop and hone their knowledge and skills through course papers, projects, individual and group presentations. As students complete foundation, elective, core content, and research coursework. Faculty provides extensive support and ongoing feedback on student work. Students also reflect on their progress through various self-and peer assessments. Assessments are conducted to ensure that students meet all standards-based requirements for degree programs with advanced or specialized credentials embedded in the program, such as California Teaching Performance Expectations (TPEs) for Special Education or California Administrator Performance Expectations (CAPEs) and related California Administrator Content Expectations (CACEs) for the Educational Leadership program.

Students work closely with a faculty advisor as they complete their culminating thesis project or comprehensive exam.  The exam is designed to assess the student’s ability to apply the expertise gained during the program by requiring analysis of case study scenarios. The project/thesis experiences reflect practical kinds of applications of student expertise to connect research and best practices to address real-world needs in classrooms, schools, and communities.  Typically, a public school educator will serve as a member of the project/thesis committee.  For example, topics include guidelines for constructing inquiry-based science labs for secondary special education students; integrating art and literature to enhance literacy development; linking community experience in the workplace with educational activities in alternative school settings, community-based literacy programs; developing programs to increase parental involvement in school activities; integrating technology into classroom teaching and learning.

Continuous Program Improvement

Faculty systematically monitors student success through direct and indirect measures in a biennial cycle. In year 1 faculty reviews the course anchor assignments that provide formative feedback on state and department learning outcomes along with student admissions and exit survey data. In year 2, faculty reviews student culminating experience data including their final theses, projects and/or comprehensive exams. Results are shared with our educator preparation advisory board to identify strengths and weaknesses and determine next goals to target for continuous Credential Program improvements. In addition to these measures focused on specialized and advanced credentials embedded in the degree program (special education and educational leadership), students in the MA program complete an annual survey.  This information is shared with the educator preparation advisory board in order to identify program strengths and areas for continuous improvement.  In the most recent review, every program was specifically mentioned for excellence in program content, quality of instruction, faculty, staff, and peer advisement, support, networking, and mentoring.  One commented that the excellence of the Education MA program is the “best kept secret at Cal Poly”; another that “the most outstanding products of the MA program are the student graduates” since they “feel empowered by a program that has prepared them with the expertise, professional values, and inspiration for continuous learning to provide leadership for transformative educational reform.