Education bachelor’s not just for teachers

Zakira AliBy Douglas Esser
An interesting thing about the new bachelor’s degree in educational studies at the University of Washington Bothell is that it’s not just for people who want to become school teachers, although that’s a great outcome.

Photo: Zakira Ali (Marc Studer photo)

The interdisciplinary degree is for students interested in all forms of education. It’s an appealing option for students who might use it in the business world or with nonprofits, hospitals, museums or as a step toward graduate school. 

“There is a great deal of interest in and demand for workers in a variety of fields who have a background in and knowledge of education – multicultural education, research, theories of learning and educational foundations. The educational studies degree provides this,” says Antony Smith, associate professor in the UW Bothell School of Educational Studies.

The program launched in the fall of 2016 and currently has more than 100 declared majors. There are two concentrations. One is educational leadership, policy and social justice. The other is curriculum, instruction and equity. There’s an option for K-8 (elementary school) Washington state teacher certification. 

“This pathway to certification promises to bring many more skilled new teachers from diverse backgrounds into the region’s public schools,” Smith says.

One of the first students in the major, Zakira Ali, is preparing to graduate in June with her bachelor’s in education studies. She likes working with children, as she has at Kenmore Junior High School, but she’s not sure that’s her calling.

“I want to see if anything else really intrigues me,” she says. 

As an assistant in the Student Success Center, she’s particularly aware of career options with her degree. The education skills could be applied in positions dealing with curriculum development and instructional design or in human resources, recruiting or corporate training or educating children in unusual environments such as a hospital.

“It has really helped expand my knowledge,” Ali says. 

The most valuable skills she has learned are communication and approaches to working with different communities. She says it’s like customer service where she can apply lessons from behavior theory and abnormal psychology classes.

She also learned how to connect her education with her interests.

“This bachelor’s degree has really helped me expand in the sense of knowing who I am,” Ali says.

Before she started the program, Ali thought teaching was the only way to go.

“Now I see all the other aspects of education and what education brings to our community and society,” she says. “You’re able to really find what you’re interested in.”

Education degrees have been offered at the University of Washington Bothell since its founding in 1990. In addition to the bachelor’s, the School of Educational Studies offers K-8 teacher certification to students who already have a college degree (post baccalaureate) and secondary and middle level teacher certification as part of a master’s degree (M.Ed.) The school also offers three minors and two administrator preparation programs.