The Secondary Education major with a Science Education (SCIED) option prepares students  to become science teachers for grades 7-12 and and leads to a bachelor of science (B.S.) in Secondary Education. There are several areas to choose from in the SCIED program:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Earth & Space Science
  • Environmental Education
  • General Science
  • Physics
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Students can also certification through a master’s and Certification Program, either as a 4+1 (science undergraduate degree plus a one-year master’s in education degree) or as an Integrated Undergraduate/Graduate (IUG) program. 

Throughout the program, Secondary Education students gain valuable classroom experience as a student-teacher. All Penn State candidates for teacher certification (PK-4, 4-8, 7-12, and K-12) are required to observe and teach in settings that include diverse populations, students with special needs, and students of different ages as an integral part of the undergraduate education major. These experiences are referred to as field experiences. All field experiences are handled through the Curriculum and Instruction Field Experience (CIFE) Office.

As early as their third semester, students participate in an introductory field experience course (C I 295B). This experience is intended to introduce students to classroom observation, educational issues, and teaching as a career.

Students also take part in a mid-level field experience course (C I 495C). This is the next step in field experiences where students spend more time in classrooms with mentor teachers. Students have the opportunity to plan and teach lessons, spending multiple days within the classroom.

The culminating field experience in the teacher education curriculum is student teaching. Each student-teacher is engaged in full-time teaching responsibilities for at least a fifteen-week period under the guidance of a certified, experienced mentor teacher and a full-time university supervisor.

Student-teaching opportunities are provided at a variety of locations depending on the specific certification program. They are available across town and across the globe.

  • Students also have the opportunity for student teaching experiences through the Professional Development School (PDS), which is a partnership with the State College Area School District. 

  • Students can student teach in the U.S. at participating school districts across Pennsylvania and in South Dakota.

  • Another student teaching abroad possibility is a short-term option where they complete 12 weeks of full-time teaching in Pennsylvania, followed by 5 to 7 weeks student teaching at an international site. Students have the opportunity to choose one of sixteen countries for a supported teaching experience (Australia, China, Costa Rica, Ecuador, England, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, Scotland, Spain, Turkey, and Wales).

We offer teacher education options for undergraduates majoring in Secondary Education (SECED) or for those majoring in scientific subject domains. If you are an undergraduate majoring in a science subject, you can even begin your studies as an undergraduate and complete them as part of a master's program.

Penn State undergraduates are not required to major in Secondary Education in order to pursue teacher certification. They have the option of majoring in Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Geosciences, or many other majors. However, completing all of the requirements for Pennsylvania certification in four years—whether majoring in Secondary Education or in a science—requires very careful planning.

Undergraduates majoring in science subjects can elect to receive their bachelor's degree first, and then complete student teaching as part of a master's degree in Education or a relevant science. Finally, it may soon be possible to formally combine undergraduate and graduate studies through an IUG (Integrated Undergraduate-Graduate) program option. For more information, see our Certification Options page.


  • If you are currently seeking certification as an undergraduate SECED major (in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction), complete the course requirements described on the curriculum checksheet that you received when you were admitted to the SECED major.

  • If you plan to seek certification as an undergrad SECED major, please note that there are requirements for the major that are not listed in the Common Requirementsdocument above, such as the General Education requirements that are specific to undergraduate degrees. In your first and second years, we strongly encourage you to complete as much science course work as possible; in particular, do not postpone required science courses that are only offered once a year. Your adviser can help you choose the right courses. The Entrance to Major process is described online by clicking here. See also the "Notes on the Entrance to Major Process," below.

  • If you plan to seek certification while majoring in a "Qualifying Scientific Discipline" (these majors are listed in the Common Certification Requirements document above), you must complete the Education Requirements and the Option 2 requirements listed there. Please note that you will need a minimum GPA of 3.0, pass certain State-required PRAXIS exams, be in at least 4th semester status, and be formally admitted. See "Notes for students majoring in science fields or pursuing studies at the garduate level" below. In the Common Requirements document above, you will note that there are two possible sequences for completing special education training that is now required in Pennsylvania. If you intend to complete all certification studies as an undergraduate, we usually recommend Sequence A (see Note 3 in the document). If you intend to complete certification course work at the graduate level (e.g., for students in IUG programs), we recommend Sequence B. Please contact us if you have questions. We do not recommend postponing completion of your bachelor's degree in a science major in order to finish certification requirements. It usually makes more sense to finish your undergraduate degree in four years and, if necessary, complete certification requirements as a graduate student.

  • If you would like to become certified in science and have already completed a bachelor's degree, but do not have a master's degree, then you should pursue certification as part of a relevant master's degree. The most common option is to complete an M.S. or M.Ed. in Science Education (part of the graduate program in Curriculum & Instruction), but you may also complete certification requirements while pursuing a master's degree in another scientific field (with the consent of your graduate committee in that field and the permission of the Science Education program).

  • If you would like to become certified in science and have already completed a master's or doctoral degree in a relevant field, you do not need to complete another master's degree. You may complete the certification program requirements as a non-degree student. For more information on this option, please consult a faculty member or Tiffany Benner ([email protected], 814-863-1496). Also, note that you must complete a non-degree admissions review and be formally admitted to the program; Cathy can help with that process.

The need for new science teachers is strong, and if you are interested in teaching, we hope we have an option that matches your needs and ambitions.

Entrance to Major (ETM) is the process through which undergraduates are formally admitted to the Secondary Education major (College of Education). For the appropriate paperwork, please visit 228 Chambers. The ETM process is completed each Spring.

If you plan to complete an undergraduate degree before taking SCIED 412 and C I 495C (these courses are taken concurrently; SCIED 411 is a prerequisite), your admission to the certification program will be done through the Curriculum & Instruction graduate admissions process. You will not need to go through the College of Education's Entrance to Major process, and you may have greater flexibility for completing certification requirements.


If you intend to complete the certification requirements as an undergraduate science major, you must be formally admitted to the SCIED certification program prior to taking SCIED 412 and CI 495C (again, please note that SCIED 411 is a prerequisite). You will not need to go through the College of Education's Entrance to Major, but you do need to be formally admitted (that is, submit a written Application for Admission to the SCIED Program, for Students Majoring in Science Disciplines) and receive a written acceptance. For more information, please consult an adviser in 228 Chambers Building.

Many US states and territories require professional licensure/certification to be employed. If you plan to pursue employment in a licensed profession after completing this program, please visit the Professional Licensure/Certification Disclosures by State interactive map.