Teaching, Learning & Sociocultural Studies
Marcy B. Wood
Department Head, Teaching, Learning & Sociocultural Studies

We are a diverse community of internationally recognized faculty with a commitment to equity, access, and social justice. Our programs include literacy acquisition, sociocultural theory, Indigenous education, heritage-language revitalization, the study of households and community settings, children’s and adolescent literatures and literacy, science and mathematics education, environmental learning and sustainability, curriculum theory, classroom organization and management, and teacher education and development.

Teacher certification programs

Our undergraduate degree programs in Early Childhood Education (birth-age 8) and Elementary Education (grades K-8), with a Bilingual Endorsement option.

We also offer a teaching degree through a new partnership with Sunnyside Unified School District called Pathways to Teaching.

At the graduate level, the Teach Arizona program (available in Tucson and Phoenix/Chandler) leads to a master's degree with certification as a teacher of Math, Science, English, American government, History, or Spanish in middle or high schools (grades 7-12). Additional programs lead to endorsements in bilingual education, reading, and English as a Second Language (ESL). For more information on teacher certification programs, go to the certification programs page.

Another option is our master's degree in secondary education through our Alternative Path Program. This is a two-year, professional, alternative certificate program in which students develop as teachers, meet certification requirements, and earn a master’s degree while teaching full-time in middle or high schools. With a conceptual framework based on equity literacy, the program uses context specific pedagogy to help nurture teachers’ appreciation of the unique schools and students they serve. Students in the program, called teaching interns, receive assistance in placement in a Southern Arizona middle school or high school where, as a teacher of record on an Alternative Teaching Certificate, they deepen their teaching practice while being paid as full-time teachers. Throughout the program, teaching interns receive support and guidance from assigned university coaches and mentors as well as a school-based mentor in the schools in which they teach.

Other undergraduate noncertification programs

If you are looking for noncertification programs, we have two excellent options: Literacy, Learning & Leadership and Adolescents, Community, and Education (ACE) minor.

Graduate programs

These include degrees in Language, Reading & Culture (M.A.), Teaching & Teacher Education (M.A.M.Ed.), and Teaching, Learning & Sociocultural Studies (Ph.D.). The LRC master's program revolves around the study of the teaching and learning of literacy and biliteracy in the educational context of cultural and linguistic diversity. Read our related program position statements. The TTE master's programs focus on a wide variety of aspects of teaching and learning, including teacher preparation and development, curriculum theory and policy, and subject-specific content such as mathematics and science. 

Teachers in Industry is a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math)-focused program providing in-service middle and high school teachers a combination of paid summer work in Arizona businesses and industries with intensive coursework that leads either to a master's degree in Teaching & Teacher Education or professional development credits, depending on individual needs. The doctoral program in Teaching, Learning & Sociocultural Studies prepares students to investigate and address a broad range of issues in teaching and learning. Emphasizing a sociocultural perspective, the program nurtures innovative ways of knowing, methods of inquiry, and approaches to problem-solving.

Visiting Scholars

Read about our Visiting Scholars.

Our statement on social justice

In March of 2014, we unanimously approved a position statement committing ourselves to principles of equity, diversity, and an academic climate dedicated to social justice. This commitment reflects an orientation to our goals and practices in education as well as the stance that individuals bring a variety of linguistic, social, and cognitive strengths from their families and communities into the classroom. As a department, we commit to holding one another and ourselves accountable, through our research and practice, to rejecting entrenched inequalities and to cultivating new discourses as groundwork for imagining new social worlds.

As you contemplate applying to our department for undergraduate or graduate degree programs, please review this statement. The principles in this statement and the overall orientation underlying them will be reflected in your course work and in the academic expectations we have for you.

Read our complete Position Statement on Social Justice

Annual TLS Colloquy

The TLS Colloquy is a fantastic opportunity for educators, students, researchers, visiting scholars, and community members to engage with graduate student research from across departments and programs on teaching and learning for social justice. Due to COVID-19, the annual event has been put on hold, but look for future information on the TLS Colloquy information page.


Ernie McCray in uniform spinning a basketball on his finger
Alumni Spotlight
Ernie McCray

From time to time, we like to tell you about one of our favorite alumni, Ernie McCray, who was a teacher and principal for 37 years. He made connections with children with serious emotional issues and impacted countless young lives. He received a bachelor's in education in 1960 and a master's in elementary education in 1962 from our college.

McCray also played basketball for the Wildcats from 1957-1960 where he averaged 17.8 points and 10.8 rebounds in his collegiate career. The unanimous First Team All-Border Conference selection in 1960 also became the first African American men’s basketball player to graduate from the University of Arizona, an accomplishment that McCray does not at all take lightly. 

And then there's the record. McCray, the second African American student to play basketball at the UA, set the school's single-game scoring record with 46 points in a 104-84 win over Cal State-Los Angeles on Feb. 6, 1960. The record stands today. 

McCray grew up in Tucson and attended Dunbar School, the first and only segregated school in Tucson, which was established in 1912. The school was completed in January 1918 and named after Paul Lawrence Dunbar, a renowned African American poet. African American children in first through ninth grades attended Dunbar until 1951, when de-jure segregation was eliminated from the school systems of Arizona. 

Last month, McCray was inducted into the Ring of Honor at halftime of the Arizona game against Washington and now his jersey hangs from the rafters of McKale Center. He was inducted into the UA Sports Hall of Fame in 1988.

Now 82 and retired from his career as a teacher and principal in San Diego that included work with the San Diego Youth Services Board of Directors and the Juvenile Justice Commission, McCray says that being added to the UA’s Ring of Honor “is the honor of a lifetime for me.”

Read these stories about McCray’s induction in the Arizona Daily Star and the Daily Wildcat.

And please join us in congratulating this Tucson treasure!