The first courses in education were taught in the Department of Philosophy. Education became a department in its own right in 1924. Even before that year, Tufts students were practice-teaching in local schools; this would become a fundamental component of teacher-training. The department has served many populations: undergraduates, Master's and doctoral candidates seeking to teach or to study the fields of education and curriculum-development, and working teachers who want to further their education. It has forged bonds with other departments and institutions, the better to prepare students for specialized fields such as science education and art education.
In the first years of the twentieth century, half-year courses in Pedagogy-later changed to Education-were taught by Professor Herbert E. Cushman of the Department of Philosophy, assisted by teachers from local secondary schools. The Chair of Psychology and Education was created for the academic year 1910-1911, and was filled by Colin A. Scott, formerly of the Boston Normal School and the author of Social Education. The catalog for that year states that "The work of the department is expected not only to prepare for teaching but to give a general idea of the facts of mental life, to study human and animal behavior in such a way as to be valuable to any student." Laboratory work would supplement reading, discussion and lectures. By the next year, however, Scott was gone, the heading was again simply Education, and psychology courses reverted back to the Department of Philosophy.
The next step forward for education studies came in the academic year of 1912-1913, when students were given the opportunity for observation and practice teaching in the schools of nearby Somerville. In the catalog for 1915-1916, the list of major departments included the combined entity Philosophy and Education. Students who desired to go into the teaching profession were advised to choose as their major the subject in which they intended to specialize. They should take the introductory Education classes, and pursue further Education courses for their graduate work.
As of 1924-1925, Education and Philosophy became separate departments. For the next few decades, the number of courses in the Department of Education steadily increased. To classes in the history and philosophy of education were added offerings in the social sciences, some of which concerned the measurement of learning outcomes. The Supervised Teaching component expanded to Arlington, Medford, Chelsea, Winchester and Melrose.
The 1939-1940 catalog stated that "the work of the Department includes a consideration of the pupil, the aims and desirable outcomes of the educational process itself, and the means and techniques for their most effectual achievement." The Department offered Master of Education and Master of Arts degrees. Students were alerted that different states have different certification requirements, so they should seek advice on how to tailor their course work accordingly. They were made aware of relevant courses taught in other departments, such as the teaching of English in the Department of English, history in the Department of History, modern languages in the Department of French, and physical education in the Department of Physical Education.
The academic year 1939-1940 saw the creation of the Division of University Extension (later called Division of Special Studies, then the College of Special Studies). The Division offered late afternoon, evening and weekend courses for the benefit of working schoolteachers. Classes were taught by members of the Tufts faculty. A Bachelor of Science in Education degree, offered to extension school students, was authorized in 1940.
Tufts entered into an affiliation with a number of teacher-training schools via the Division of University Extension. The student bodies of these affiliates were predominantly or solely made up of women.
The Bouvÿ-Boston School of Physical Education, which became an affiliate 1942, offered courses of study in the teaching of physical education and in physical therapy. Bouvÿ-Boston students could take liberal arts and basic science courses at Tufts. The school later moved to the Medford campus, but then ended its affiliation with Tufts in 1963 (whereupon it became associated with Northeastern University).
Tufts' affiliation with another institution proved more fruitful. The Nursery Training School of Boston, with which it affiliated in 1951, eventually grew into the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Development. There had been an on-campus nursery school in 1940, which was suspended during the war years and did not reopen until 1949. It was dissolved upon Tufts' affiliation with the Nursery Training School of Boston, which had been founded in 1922 and was located on Marlborough St. in Boston. After its move to the Medford campus in 1954, the Nursery Training School (renamed in 1955 the Eliot-Pearson School for Nursery and Kindergarten Teaching) offered students of the Department of Education a chance to observe, as well as teach, young children. In 1964, the Eliot-Pearson School became the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study (later changed to Child Development).
The Department of Education grew during the postwar period, both in number of faculty members and courses offered to undergraduates and graduate students. Daniel Waite Marshall, then an assistant professor, became chairman in 1954, a position he would hold until 1971. An increasing area of focus was the training of prospective guidance counselors. In the academic year 1955-1956, a class in Citizenship Education was taught by members of the Tufts Civic Education Center. New course offerings in the 1960s included The Sociology of the School, Child Development (in association with the Judge Baker Guidance Center), and Education in Communist China (changed in the 1970s to Education in the People's Republic of China).
The department endeavored to welcome undergraduates who wanted to pursue a teaching career, graduate students working towards teacher certification, and working teachers who sought to further their education. To serve the latter population, an increasing number of courses were scheduled in the late afternoon, evenings, weekends, and summers. During the 1960s, the department started a Placement Office, through which a prospective teacher could learn about job opportunities in consultation with members of the nationwide network of Tufts alumni.
Degree requirements were further refined during this time. Undergraduates could follow a five-year program leading to a Master's degree. They were urged to decide early on whether to prepare for a career teaching in secondary or elementary school, since the respective accreditation requirements were different. The department had a recommended course selection list for each of those options. Student-teaching in local schools was emphasized as a crucial component of Tufts' teacher training. The graduate program offered Master of Arts and Master of Education degrees. The department identified several tracks which students could follow towards their degree. These included Preparation for Guidance, Teaching of Physically Handicapped Children (in cooperation with the Massachusetts Hospital School), Teaching the Emotionally Disturbed, Child Care Counselors, Health Professions, and, for a short time, Reading Specialist.
While a core group of courses persisted, there was some fluidity in offerings during the later decades of the century. Upon the establishment of the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study, some courses focusing on younger children migrated from the Department of Education to the newer department. Similarly, a cluster of courses centering on nutrition-offered in cooperation with the Department of Preventive Medicine together with the Frances Stern Food Clinic of the Boston Dispensary-moved out of the Department of Education during the 1980s and into the newly created Department of Nutrition. The department participated in the interdisciplinary Internship in Urban Social and Environmental Policy program in the late 1970s. Additions to the course offerings, such as Multicultural Concerns in Counseling and Psychotherapy, Learning Disabilities in the Classroom, and Teaching Through Drama and Improvisation continued to reflect contemporary issues and techniques.
In 1973, the department joined with the Department of Child Study to participate in a study-abroad program called Tufts in Education in England. Juniors and seniors were given the opportunity to attend the Alsager College of Teacher Education in Cheshire. The first enrollees took classes at Alsager in the spring semester of 1974. The program ended in 1978.
The academic year of 1991-1992 saw the launch of the H. Dudley Wright Program in Innovative Science Education, which offered fellowships for talented school science and mathematics teachers. According to the Wright Center's website in 2011, the institution is "dedicated to the creation and sharing of novel instructional techniques and interdisciplinary resources for pre-college teachers." The Wright program has been located in the Center for Science and Mathematics Teaching since its inception.
The late 1980s into the early 1990s was a period of flux as far as degree offerings were concerned. During this period, the Master of Education was discontinued. Thenceforth, candidates could pursue an M.A. or M.A.T. (Master of Arts in Teaching). In 1989, the undergraduate major in Education was discontinued (a minor in Education is still offered). Undergrads could choose a five-year B.A./M.A.T program. Starting in 1992, a C.A.G.S. (Certificate of Graduate Study) could be pursued in a specialized area, such as School Psychology. In the 1993-1994 academic year, the Department of Education and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (which has been linked with Tufts for many years) collaborated to offer students who held a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree the chance to earn a certificate to teach art. This was followed by a Master of Arts program in Museum Education. The department similarly collaborated with the Department of Child Development to offer a certificate to teach elementary school children.
In the 2000s, a doctor of philosophy degree was offered in certain areas of specialization. There was a program to earn a Master of Science or a Ph.D. in Mathematics, Science, Technology and Education Engineering (MSTE Education), and one to earn an M.A. or Ph.D in German with Teaching Licensure (candidates were encouraged to take advantage of Tufts' study-abroad program in Tòbingen, Germany). The decade also saw a number of M.A. degree programs created in association with specific institutions, such as the Shady Hill School in Cambridge, the Newton Teacher Training Institute in Newton, and the Advanced Math and Science Academy Charter School in Marlborough. In addition, an M.A. in Educational Studies was offered.
In the Department of Education's Faculty and Student Handbook of Programs and Degrees 2010-2011, ten different Master's degrees are listed, as well as the Ph.D. in MSTE Education (the Ph.D. in teaching German is no longer offered). The handbook lists as affiliated programs the Center for Science and Mathematics Teaching and the Center for Engineering Education Outreach.