Brown University’s Department of Education was established in 1909. For two decades before it was established, education courses had been available through the “Pedagogy Division” of the Philosophy Department, including History of Educational Theories and Institutions, The Fundamental Principles of Education, A Study of Educational Values, and Practical Introduction to Teaching. Professors and courses transferred to the new Department, which granted its first Ph.D. in 1910 and in 1912 began to train college graduates to become high school teachers, principals, and superintendents.
In 1916, Brown added a short-lived School of Education (discontinued in 1929) to provide graduate training for teachers in cooperation with other teacher-training institutions in Rhode Island. The Department continued to offer educational courses to Brown undergraduates and ultimately a concentration, adding professors and courses in Educational Measurement and Educational Psychology. The faculty and fields continued to grow and by 2019 it boasted 14 full-time faculty members in anthropology, history, political science, sociology, policy, economics, teacher education, and psychology.
In 1957, the Brown Education Department instituted a new degree program for the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT), and two years later received a large Ford Foundation grant to expand the reach of the program for “teacher recruitment and preparation, professional service to schools, and helping the general public to resolve educational programs.” With generous scholarship support from the Foundation, the program grew steadily for the next decade, to a program-high of 127 MAT graduates in 1967, in subjects including Art, Classics, French, German, Linguistics, Science, History, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, Social Sciences, and English.
In 1969, the program established Brown Summer High School, which has run continuously ever since, providing free or low-cost educational enrichment experiences to local high school students and an immersive teaching experience for MAT students. When scholarship funding dwindled in the following decade, the program shrank to 28 students per year by 1980, which remains the approximate average.
In 1997, in partnership with the Wheeler School, Brown added a program in Elementary Education, which was discontinued in 2017. In 2019 the Education Department approved a redesign of its MAT program, adding a year-long residency, partnerships with local urban schools, different coursework, and a new five-year combined baccalaureate/MAT degree for Brown undergraduates.
In 2006 the Department established the Master of Arts in Urban Education Policy in partnership with the Annenberg Institute for School Reform. It has graduated 20-25 students per year since then.