Flexibility is the watchword for SUNY Oswego's newly approved path to professional certification for graduate students teaching K-12 health education and physical education -- many of whom also coach sports or have other career commitments.

The new specialist track for teachers pursuing a SUNY Oswego master of science degree in curriculum and instruction recently earned SUNY and state Education Department approvals. In New York, teachers must obtain a master's degree in education within five years of their initial certification, which means their early career includes classrooms in graduate school, as well as in elementary, middle or high schools.

Oswego's program, though, offers an option of online or face-to-face classes.

"Many of the courses for professional certification (in health or physical education) -- including all of the health courses -- are offered online," said Sandra Bargainnier, SUNY Oswego's chair of health promotion and wellness in the School of Education.

Marcia Burrell, chair of curriculum and instruction, said all of the content needed for the new professional teacher certification track was already in SUNY Oswego's catalog. Classes are taught on the main campus, at SUNY Oswego in Syracuse or online.

"Why not use that content and build that for people who are coaches and those with other after-school commitments?" she said. The online courses "provide them with the flexibility to keep their certification (studies) within their master's degree program."

Graduate student Morgan Nandin, assistant coach of the college's softball team, expressed delight at the timing of the state's approval for the new specialist track. She expects to earn her master's degree in education by August.

"My goal with graduate school was to work toward my professional certification in physical education," Nandin said. "Once I graduated from Oswego, I was going to have to apply to the state to see if (the coursework) would count. I'm so glad this went through." 

Burrell suggested there also might be people in health care fields taking graduate certificate programs who may want to convert to this master's degree program.

For more information on the new specialist track, in particular, or on graduate studies at SUNY Oswego, in general, contact Sandy Bargannier at 315-312-6386, email gradstudies@oswego.edu or visit https://www.oswego.edu/graduate/curriculum-and-instruction-msed.