College of Education > Department of Curriculum and Instruction > Social Studies Education > Post-Bachelor Teacher Certification for Secondary (Grades 7-12) Social Studies

Post-Bachelor Teacher Certification for Secondary (Grades 7-12) Social Studies

Can I get Social Studies teacher certification at Penn State University if I already have a Bachelor’s Degree?

For individuals who already have a B.A. or B.S. in an academic field, routes are available that meet the requirements for Secondary Social Studies (Grades 7-12) teacher certification and, upon completion, provide eligibility to apply for an Instructional I (initial) teaching license from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (or most other states; see the Teaching in a State Other than Pennsylvania webpage). Typically 4 semesters (2 years) are needed to complete certification, though actual time depends on how your prior coursework maps onto Penn State’s Social Studies Education requirements (http://ed.psu.edu/current-students/undergrad/academic-programs-1/checksheet-soc-file). 

Courses taken at other accredited institutions are often accepted in place of comparable courses required for certification at Penn State. General Education requirements are considered fulfilled by a previously completed undergraduate degree. Furthermore, faculty usually will accept a completed major in Economics, Geography, History, Political Science, Anthropology, Psychology, Sociology, or a similar field in place of the Concentration requirement.

The best place to start is with an evaluation of your prior collegiate transcripts. Advisers in the College of Education Advising & Certification Center in 228 Chambers (814.865.0488; futureedstudents@psu.edu) can go over your transcripts (unofficial copies are acceptable) to estimate how many additional Penn State credits will be needed.

These post-bachelor routes to certification are available only in residence at Penn State’s University Park campus.

What are the post-bachelor routes to certification?

Three available routes are detailed below. Applications may be submitted at any time and are accepted on an ongoing basis without deadlines. Decisions typically can be expected within 2 weeks during the regular academic year (may take longer from May 15–August 15).

The sequence and flow of each route is illustrated by a sample typical timeline. Actual time will vary based on prior coursework and personal schedule. It may be possible to adjust your timeline by taking some needed courses during a summer term or in an extra semester before starting the teaching methods sequence (SSED 411, SSED 412).

Sequential Major (B.S. in Secondary Education)

While it is almost always more cost-effective and time-effective to pursue teacher certification as part of the initial undergraduate degree (concurrent major), it is possible for former Penn State undergraduates to apply for re-admission to pursue another undergraduate degree (http://handbook.psu.edu/content/sequential-majors-program). Penn State does not admit students as undergraduates who have already earned a B.A. or B.S. from another institution. This route leads to teacher certification plus a baccalaureate degree in Secondary Education. As a sequential undergraduate degree, tuition is calculated at the undergraduate level.

Semester 1

Semester 2

Semester 3

Semester 4

  • Acquire mandated legal clearances
  • CI 295
  • Up to 15 cr. of other needed courses
  • Complete 40 hrs. work experience requirement
  • SSED 411
  • Up to 15 cr. of other needed courses
  • Sign up online with CIFE for student-teaching field experiences
  • SSED 412
  • CI 495C, Section 004
  • No more than 9 cr. of other needed courses is recommended
  • Take PRAXIS II Test (5081)
  • CI 495E
  • (Other courses cannot be taken)

Before candidates can be formally entered into this Sequential Major, they may need to fulfill Pennsylvania’s Basic Skills Examination requirement (CORE by ETS, PECT PAPA, or state-specific minimum SAT/ACT scores). They also must complete work experience (40 hours) with young people. Current or recent volunteer work can be counted. Special summer sections of CI 295 (Urban or Rural Seminar) also fulfill this work experience requirement. The form for this work experience requirement is available from the Advising & Certification Center in 228 Chambers and online (http://ed.psu.edu/current-students/undergrad/seced-work-exp-form).

Certification Only (Non-Degree)

Individuals with a baccalaureate degree from another institution may apply to Penn State just for teacher certification. This route leads only to recommendation for teacher certification (no additional degree). As this is technically a graduate program, tuition is calculated at the graduate level.

Semester 1

Semester 2

Semester 3

Semester 4

  • Acquire mandated legal clearances
  • C I 295
  • Up to 15 cr. of other needed courses
  • SS ED 411
  • Up to 15 cr. of other needed courses
  • Sign up online with CIFE for student-teaching field experiences
  • SS ED 412
  • C I 495C, Section 004
  • No more than 9 cr. of other needed courses is recommended
  • Take PRAXIS II Test (5081)
  • C I 495E
  • (Other courses cannot be taken)

By Pennsylvania Department of Education guidelines, graduate certification students do not need to fulfill the Basic Skills Examination requirement. The undergraduate Secondary Education major’s work experience requirement is not needed for this route.

Certification + M.Ed. (Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction)

This route leads to recommendation for teacher certification plus a Master of Education Degree. It serves individuals who are committed to an extended career in classroom teaching. The M.Ed. is a terminal practitioner degree that can qualify the holder for an Instructional II (professional) teaching license, but generally it does not lead to teaching opportunities in higher education (most colleges and universities require an earned doctorate). As this route includes a graduate degree, tuition is calculated at the graduate level.

Semester 1

Semester 2

Semester 3

Semester 4

Semester 5+

  • Acquire mandated legal clearances
  • C I 295
  • C I 590 (M.Ed.) on campus/online (WD)
  • Up to 15 cr. of other needed courses
  • SS ED 411
  • Up to 15 cr. of other needed courses
  • Sign up online with CIFE for student-teaching field experiences
  • SS ED 412
  • C I 495C, Section 004
  • No more than 9 cr. of other needed courses is recommended
  • Take PRAXIS II Test (5081)
  • C I 495E
  • (Other courses cannot be taken)
  • Finish courses for the M.Ed.
  • Master’s Paper submitted to adviser by the deadline prior to graduating

Up to 12 credits of 400-level courses taken for certification also can be counted toward the 30 credits required for the M.Ed. (in consultation with your graduate adviser). However, the M.Ed. will require you also to take at least 18 credits of 500-level graduate courses. Some of these can be done while also taking courses and field experiences for certification, though more commonly they are completed in extra semesters after qualifying for certification (it is possible for complete certification and pursue employment before graduating with the M.Ed.). A variety of applicable graduate courses are offered every Fall, Spring, and during Summer, some residentially on campus and many online through Penn State’s World Campus.

How do I apply for a post-bachelor certification route?

To apply for re-admission as a sequential major or for certification only, contact the College of Education Advising & Certification Center in 228 Chambers (814.865.0488; futureedstudents@psu.edu).

To apply for certification plus Master’s Degree, contact the College of Education Advising & Certification Center in 228 Chambers (814.865.0488; futureedstudents@psu.edu) for certification and C&I Graduate Programs administrative assistant (814.865.2168) to process the Master’s Degree application.

What are the expectations to be considered for admission?

Admissions into these post-bachelor routes are decided by the faculty based on competitive application. Numbers are limited teach year by available program capacity. Consideration for admission is based on the following expectations:

  • Cumulative GPA in prior degree (at least 3.0)
  • Grades in prior courses to be applied to certification requirements (at least “C” or 2.0)
  • Recent prior academic coursework (completed within the past 10 years) to be applied to certification requirements (the faculty may accept older coursework when the applicant's knowledge has been kept current through relevant professional practice or research/scholarship)

What are the certification courses and field experiences?

CI 295 includes an initial field experience that involves a small number of visits to or observations of different types of schools or classrooms. CI 295 must be completed before or in the same semester that you start the certification sequence (SSED 411). Special intensive, two-week CI 295 Urban and Rural Seminar are offered every year in mid-May (http://ed.psu.edu/cife/field-experiences/ci-295/ci-295-summer).

SSED 411 is the first on-campus social-studies teaching methods course. It is a prerequisite for SS ED 412, so they cannot be taken together in the same semester.

SSED 412 is the second on-campus social-studies teaching methods course, taken in the same semester as the CI 495C field experience. Some SSED 412 sections meet two mornings a week for only part of the semester; others meet one evening a week for the entire semester.

CI 495C is a field experience in a middle or high school during weekday morning hours over two months. You must enroll for SSED 412 and Section 004 of CI 495C during the same semester, and you cannot take any other courses (except SSED 412 only) that start before 12:00 pm Monday through Friday. School placements must be assigned by the CIFE office (in 170 Chambers, http://ed.psu.edu/cife/contact-us). School placements are up to a 70-mile radius from the University Park campus. Approximately 30 visits to the school are expected. You will need to arrange transportation to your school placement, though carpooling is facilitated.

CI 495E is the final student-teaching practicum. It involves a full-time workload, and it is not possible to take any other courses (neither on-campus nor online) during that semester. You will need to sign up for CI 495E online with CIFE (see http://www.ed.psu.edu/educ/cife) one year in advance. This online form gives you the opportunity to indicate your preferences on where to be placed for student-teaching. Many placements are outside Philadelphia (in Bucks and Montgomery counties) or by Pittsburgh (in Allegheny county), with a limited number of placements within a 70-mile radius of the University Park campus. Since student-teaching must take place where a Penn State supervisor is present, you cannot negotiate your own school placement. Approximately 75 visits to the school are expected for CI 495E. You will need to arrange housing and transportation for your placement, though apartment-sharing and carpooling among student-teachers at nearby schools are facilitated.

Are there other legal requirements?

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania requires all individuals applying for teacher certification to have a certain minimum Grade Point Average (GPA). This is why the College of Education expects at least a 3.0 GPA to enter and remain in a certification program.  Furthermore, you must earn a grade of “C” or better in all required courses (if you receive a lower grade, you will need to retake the course until at least a “C” is earned).

You will be required to obtain and keep current a number of mandated legal clearances before you will be allowed to participate in school field experiences (http://ed.psu.edu/cife/clearances). This involves fingerprinting and criminal background checks. If you have any concerns about your legal background, you are encouraged to speak confidentially with the CIFE office (http://ed.psu.edu/cife/contact-us) before applying.

You will need to pass the PRAXIS II Social Studies Content Knowledge (5081) teacher test before you can qualify for certification. More information is available in the Advising & Certification Center in 228 Chambers and from ETS’s PRAXIS website (http://www.ets.org/praxis).

How much will these routes cost? Is there financial aid?

Federal and state financial aid often is limited to the initial baccalaureate degree. Loans may be more widely available to Master’s Degree students. For more information and assistance, contact Penn State’s Office of Student Aid (http://studentaid.psu.edu/).

The College of Education does have some scholarships for which post-bachelor students may apply (http://ed.psu.edu/current-students/financial-aid/fin-aid).

Tuition at Penn State can be calculated at: http://tuition.psu.edu/CostEstimate.aspx

Contact Information:

Dr. Scott Metzger
Associate Professor of Education
sam59@psu.edu
160 Chambers Building
University Park, PA  16802
(814) 863-4443