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March 11, 2014

MSU education programs No. 1 for 20 straight years

For the 20th consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report on Tuesday ranked Michigan State University No. 1 in both elementary and secondary education on the graduate level.

The remarkable feat is just one example of MSU’s growing stature in a wide array of graduate fields. Programs ranking in the top 5 in U.S. News & World Report’s 2015 edition of Best Graduate Schools range from nuclear physics (No. 1) to industrial/organizational psychology (No. 1) to supply chain/logistics (No. 2).

But the major story this year is the continued dominance of elementary and secondary education. The two-decade run started in 1995, when Bill Clinton was serving his first term as president, Google was three years from reality and gas averaged $1.15 a gallon.

Donald E. Heller, dean of the College of Education, said the rankings are a reflection of internationally respected faculty members and highly accomplished doctoral students who are helping transform K-12 education and teacher training through their research and classroom collaboration.

“The research conducted by our faculty and doctoral students is recognized for the impact it is having on education not just here in Michigan, but beyond the state’s borders and around the world,” Heller said. “We are proud of this milestone, but even more proud of the work we are doing to improve teaching and learning at all levels.”

One of those stellar graduate students is Mark Helmsing, who left his job as a high school social studies teacher in 2009 to obtain his doctorate in the College of Education’s Curriculum, Instruction and Teacher Education program (which focuses on both elementary and secondary education).

Helmsing already has two job offers from universities to be a tenure-track assistant professor after he finishes his dissertation this summer. He came to MSU to work with renowned professors including his adviser, Avner Segall, in the college’s Department of Teacher Education, and said the experience has been “transformative.”

During the past five years Helmsing has worked on a National Science Foundation research project exploring professional development for science teachers in New York City; participated in an education fellowship in Africa; published chapters in books and research papers in academic journals; taught multiple MSU courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels; and mentored future K-12 teachers during their required yearlong classroom internship.

“The high caliber of our teacher preparation programs has been a major talking point with university search committees when they vet my credentials and inquire about my experiences as MSU,” Helmsing said. “I don’t need to remind them that MSU is number one in elementary and secondary education – that fact is already well known.”

All told, the College of Education had eight programs ranked in the top 10. In addition to elementary and secondary education at No. 1, the list includes rehabilitation counseling at No. 2; curriculum/instruction at No. 4; higher education administration at No. 5; educational psychology at No. 6; administration/supervision at No. 7; and education policy at No. 10.

U.S. News also ranks colleges of education overall, and MSU’s education school came in at No. 15.

Other high-ranking MSU programs include: African history at No. 3 and veterinary medicine and primary care in the College of Osteopathic Medicine, both at No. 9.