Master of Arts in Urban Education


Rhodes College is committed to combining a liberal arts education with opportunities for our students to integrate theory and practice in our complex, vibrant, and resource-rich urban setting of Memphis, TN. The goal of our program in Educational Studies is to build upon this commitment to produce future teachers, researchers, leaders, and education policy makers who can be transformative educators in Memphis and our region.

Purpose of the Master of Arts in Urban Education Degree  

In response to the present and growing need for high-impact, culturally relevant teachers in our local urban schools, and in keeping with our commitment to the liberal arts as the basis of our academic mission, we aspire to:

  • Prepare thought leaders and teachers who can work in asset-based ways in high-needs, high-poverty school contexts;
  • Recruit recent graduates nationally from peer institutions who seek to teach in culturally relevant ways in an urban setting;
  • Recruit and retain students of color, first-generation students, and under-represented persons in the teaching profession;
  • Place high quality teachers in local public schools who will make Memphis their home, and who will become exemplary veteran educators;
  • Respond to the immense need for quality teachers and educational leaders in our city, state, and nation;
  • Become a hub in the community for dialogue, advocacy, and professional development for graduates, local teachers, and administrators.


The M.A. in Urban Education curriculum is aligned to state and national standards for teacher education.  These standards include the Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium Standards (InTASC) from the Council of Chief State School Officers and the International Society for Technology in Education Standards as a part of our alignment with the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) and the Tennessee Educator Preparation Policy. 

Students will complete an intensive 15-month program (52 credits) in which they will gain substantial experience working in local schools. Each student will prepare a master’s thesis that will be defended in the final summer in the program. Students will advance through the program in a cohort-model, wherein the courses are taken in sequence with the same group of candidates, to build community, and strengthen connections to other culturally relevant educators.

Course sequence

Summer 1 (1st term):        

  • EDUC 501: Foundations of Urban Education (4)
  • PSYC 522: Educational Psychology (2)
  • PSYC 529 or 530: Infant and Child Development (K-6) or Adolescent Psychology (2) (7-12)

Summer 1 (2nd term):      

  • EDUC 555: Curriculum and Instruction in Urban Schools (4)
  • PSYC 511: Educational Statistics (4)
  • Participate in Urban Education Institute with scholar-in-residence


  • URBN 530 Social Contexts of Urban Schools (4)
  • EDUC 510: Reading and Literacies in Content Areas (4)
  • EDUC 500: Educational Technologies (4)
  • EDUC 560: Methods-Centric Field Experiences (4)


  • EDUC 520: Urban Education, Culture, and Identity (4)
  • EDUC 660: Clinical Practice (student teaching) (8)
  • EDUC 684: Master’s Thesis I (2)

Summer 2 (1st term):     

  • EDUC 685: Master’s Thesis II (2)

Summer 2 (2nd term):     

  • EDUC 585: Capstone (with scholar-in-residence) (4)

Summer Institute

We believe and affirm that teachers are lifelong learners. To this end, we are committed to involving the entire Educational Studies program and community in our work. Each summer, we will host a nationally recognized, visiting scholar. Participants in the institute will include undergraduate research fellows, master’s students at the beginning and end of their programs, program alumni, Rhodes faculty, and local teachers seeking professional development credits. Our desire to yield teachers who have a commitment to the teaching profession has led us to structure a summer institute model that will include teachers in every stage of their development, from pre-service teacher candidates to veteran teachers. Institute participants will collaborate on research, teaching, curriculum, and service projects and will have enriched learning and professional development experiences through courses and seminars with world-renowned scholars. All program alumni will be invited back each summer to continue to refine and improve their practice, support and connect with other culturally relevant educators, and sustain their work as high-impact educators in our city and region.

Who Should Apply

This program is ideal for high achieving graduates from liberal arts colleges and honors colleges who wish to earn a Master of Arts in Urban Education. We strive to accept students who affirm our strong commitments to diversity, inclusion, and social justice. African American, LatinX, and first-generation students who meet the admissions requirements are especially encouraged to apply. Students in the program will make a significant contribution to the need for high impact, culturally-relevant teachers who can become leaders in our local schools. Memphis is at the heart of the education reform movement and an incubator for innovative teaching. Our program builds on a student’s liberal arts background(s) and provides close learning in classrooms and rewarding hands-on experiences in local schools.

How to Apply

We welcome applications from students who meet our admissions criteria and are passionate about working for educational justice in Memphis and in our region.  Students who have earned a bachelor’s degree will need to formally apply to the program and meet the admission’s criteria, which are aligned with CAEP and TN state standards.

Successful applicants will be required to have a bachelor’s degree in the content area they wish to teach (for secondary candidates) or in a liberal arts or science field (for elementary candidates). It is preferred that applicants have an undergraduate GPA of 3.00 or higher. Applicants must submit:

  • A completed application
  • An entrance essay (500 to 700 words) that focuses on one’s skills, dispositions, knowledge of culturally relevant pedagogies, and commitments to working with students in urban schools.
  • College transcript(s) showing all coursework completed to date. Official undergraduate transcripts will be required prior to program start date.
  • Two letters of recommendation from college faculty who have worked closely with the applicant.
  • Qualifying PRAXIS I (Praxis® Core Academic Skills for Educators) and subject area PRAXIS scores (Praxis® Subject Assessments) or GRE scores.

Passing scores are determined by the Tennessee Board of Education and can be found on the ETS Tennessee requirements webpage. Applicants submitting GRE scores must be in top 40% of all test takers.

*We will begin accepting applications in January 2018 pending state approval of our program and accreditation by the Southern Association of
Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC).*

Financing your Masters in Urban Education

Every student applicant for the Rhodes Masters in Urban Education is considered for merit aid. There is no separate application to complete and students will be notified with their acceptance letter.  In addition, to the Rhodes Masters in Urban Education Scholarship students may apply for Federal and Private Educational Loans to help finance living and other educational expenses associated with the program.

Federal Loans

Students seeking federal loan funds must first complete the 2018-2019 Free Application for Federal Student Aid at

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan

Eligible students may borrow up to $20,500 from the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan program each year.  You are responsible for the interest from the time the unsubsidized loan is disbursed until it's repaid in full. You can choose to pay the interest during periods of enrollment and the grace period or allow it to accrue (accumulate) and capitalize (that is, added to the principal amount of your loan). Capitalizing the interest will increase the amount you will have to repay over the life of the loan. You can find out more about all this federal program at

Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan 

In addition to the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan program, students can borrow additional federal funds through the credit based Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan. Please proceed to the U.S. Department of Education's website,, to complete the three steps: 1) Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan Master Promissory Note, 2) PLUS Request Process and 3) Entrance Counseling. You will need your FSA ID in order to log in to the website. Please make sure that you complete all forms using your legal name and the same name used on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You can find out more about all this federal program at

Private Educational Loans

Careful consideration should be given when making any borrowing decision. We recommend that you examine all other options before pursuing private loan options, as these loans may be more expensive than other options listed above. Numerous lending institutions offer private educational loans, which may be combined with federal loans, up to the cost of attendance. To review information about private educational loan products which our students have used over the past five (5) years and advice related to private borrowing, please review our Historical Lender List for Private Educational Loans (PDF). Please note that all private educational loans that are not certified by Rhodes must be reported to our office so that we may account for that funding in the financial aid package. This is per U.S. Department of Education guidance.

Graduation Requirements:

In order to successfully graduate students will be required to demonstrate:

  • A willingness and ability to positively impact students’ learning and development as demonstrated through field experiences and clinical practice assessments conducted by program faculty and clinical educators.
  • An understanding of the expectations of the profession, including codes of ethics, professional standards of practice, and relevant laws and policies by completing the Educational Studies program requirements and all required assessments.
  • An overall GPA of 3.0. or higher in the program, a requirement determined by the Tennessee Board of Education.
  • An understanding of professional knowledge by passing the Praxis® Core Academic Skills for Educators, the Praxis® Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT), and separate Praxis subject tests for each area of endorsement sought.  Passing Praxis scores are determined by the Tennessee Board of Education and can be found on the ETS Tennessee requirements webpage.
  • Knowledge of the profession during the clinical practice (i.e., Student Teaching) as indicated by passing edTPA scores. Passing edTPA scores are determined by the Tennessee Board of Education and can be found on the Tennessee edTPA website.

Ongoing Support:

We are not a program that graduates teachers and then leaves them to fend for themselves.  We are committed to robust teacher induction, professional development, and support of all program graduates.  We are a community of educators who work for just social and educational outcomes for students in Memphis and our region, and we will do everything in our power to support our graduates to be impactful, culturally relevant educators over the course of their teaching careers.