Academic Programs

Academic Programs

Pathways: Majors and Minors

Male and female student looking at a computer

As a student in the College of Education, you may select from eight undergraduate majors, with many options within majors. The College of Education offers teacher preparation in 20 specialty degree programs leading to an initial level teaching certification (Instructional I) valid in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

In addition, majors in Rehabilitation and Human Services (RHS) and Education and Public Policy (EPP) prepare students for education-related careers in a wide variety of settings including government and non-profit organizations, mental health clinics and vocational programs.

You may choose to enhance your major degree program with the selection of a minor. Education majors may pursue any minor offered by University colleges and programs.

The College of Education offers several minors and a certificate program.

Academic Departments

The college consists of four academic departments:

Curriculum and Instruction

 

Education Policy Studies

 

Educational Psychology, Counseling, and Special Education


Learning and Performance Systems

 

    Minors

    Certificate

    For Additional Information

      Elementary and Early Childhood Education

      In a Penn State undergraduate teacher education program, students gain the experiences necessary to become certified teachers of secondary education. Each program requires:

      • 45 credits of directed general education study to begin the lifelong inquiry into subject area knowledge,
      • professional course work, and
      • various field experiences including student teaching.

      Female student listening

      Students gain additional practical experience with children and adolescents through volunteer activities or part-time employment in related areas as well as the required courses.

      Upon successful completion of all requirements for graduation, students receive a bachelor's of science degree. To be certified to teach, students must also meet any test and clearance requirements as specified by The Pennsylvania Department of Education.

      Emphasis Area

      The PK – 4 teaching option was developed using guidelines recommended by the National Association for Education of Young Children, as well as standards established by the Pennsylvania Department of Education to support the growth and content understanding beginning with the youngest learners and continuing into the fourth grade. 

      Resources

      Childhood Education Teaching Option PK-4  [semester plan]

      Computer requirement:  EDUCATE

      Entrance to Major / Graduation:  Entrance and Exit Criteria

        Middle Level Education 4-8

        In a Penn State undergraduate teacher education program, students gain the experiences necessary to become certified teachers of secondary education.

        In a Penn State undergraduate teacher education program, students gain the experiences necessary to become certified teachers of secondary education. Each program requires:

        • 45 credits of directed general education study to begin the lifelong inquiry into subject area knowledge,
        • professional course work, and
        • various field experiences including student teaching.

        Students gain additional practical experience with children and adolescents through volunteer activities or part-time employment in related areas as well as the required courses.

        Upon successful completion of all requirements for graduation, students receive a bachelor's of science degree. To be certified to teach, students must also meet any test and clearance requirements as specified by The Pennsylvania Department of Education.

        Emphasis Areas

        • 4-8 English
        • 4-8 Social Studies
        • 4-8 Math

        Middle Level 4-8 options were developed using standards established by the Pennsylvania Department of Education to support the growth and content understanding requiring for grades 4-8.

        Sample semester plans for the Middle Level options (English, Social Studies, Math) are available in the University Bulletin.

        Secondary Education

        In a Penn State undergraduate teacher education program, students gain the experiences necessary to become certified teachers of secondary education. Each program requires:

        • 45 credits of directed general education study to begin the lifelong inquiry into subject area knowledge,
        • professional course work, and
        • various field experiences including student teaching

          state_college_high_spring.jpg

        Students gain additional practical experience with children and adolescents through volunteer activities or part-time employment in related areas as well as the required courses.

        Upon successful completion of all requirements for graduation, students receive a bachelor's of science degree. To be certified to teach, students must also meet any test and clearance requirements as specified by The Pennsylvania Department of Education.

        Emphasis Areas

        The Secondary Education major offers nine teaching certification options:

        • Biological Science
        • Chemistry
        • Social Studies/Citizenship Education
        • Earth and Space Science
        • English and Communication
        • Environmental Education (must be earned in conjunction with one of the other Science teaching options)
        • General Science (must be earned in conjunction with one of the other Science teaching options)
        • Mathematics
        • Physics

        Professional study includes course work for the major, two short-term practica and a 15-week student teaching experience, and a variable amount of other course credits depending upon the option selected.

        -------------------------------------------------

        [For students beginning their studies after May 2009]

        Biology [semester plan]
        Chemistry  [semester plan]
        Earth & Space Science  [semester plan]
        English & Communications [semester plan] {clusters A-H}
        Environmental Education *
        General Science  *
        Mathematics [semester plan-spring/fall student teaching]
        Physics [semester plan]
        Social Studies [semester plan-spring/fall student teaching]

        *Offered only with one of the other teaching options, which will require additional coursework.

         

        Entrance to Major / Graduation:  Entrance and Exit Criteria

        Computer requirement for English and Communications:  EDUCATE

        World Languages

        In a Penn State undergraduate teacher education program, students gain the experiences necessary to become certified teachers of secondary education. Each program requires:

        • 45 credits of directed general education study to begin the lifelong inquiry into subject area knowledge,
        • professional course work, and
        • various field experiences including student teaching.

        male Student listening in classStudents gain additional practical experience with children and adolescents through volunteer activities or part-time employment in related areas as well as the required courses.

        Upon successful completion of all requirements for graduation, students receive a bachelor's of science degree. To be certified to teach, students must also meet any test and clearance requirements as specified by The Pennsylvania Department of Education.

        Emphasis Areas

        The World Languages Education major offers four teaching certification options:

        • French
        • German
        • Latin
        • Spanish

        Resources:

        French  [semester plan]
        German [semester plan]
        Latin  [semester plan]
        Spanish [semester plan]

          Workforce Education

          To enter the Workforce Education and Development major a student must have completed a formal training period in an industrial or health-related occupation. The training may have been received from a career-technical school, a community college, a private trade school, industry, or the armed services.

          Workforce Ed teacher with studentsThe major also requires that the applicant have two years of work experience in his or her field of specialization beyond the learning period. If a student has completed the training period, but has no work experience, it still may be possible to enter the major and complete work experience during the summer or other semesters. The work will be supervised and the student will earn credit. The program will take five years if a student combines work and study.

          Emphasis Areas

          The Industrial Education, Health Occupations Education, and Occupational Home Economics options lead to the bachelor of science (B.S.) degree in Workforce Education and Development and a teaching certificate. This degree program requires the successful completion of both the learning period and work experience components of an occupation, as well as successful completion of the Occupational Competency Assessment.

          A B.S. degree is necessary to become a supervisor or director of vocational education or a chief administrator of a vocational school. Eventually, a master's degree must be earned in order to qualify for these areas of certification.

          The non-certification Industrial Training option requires that a person complete a practicum experience working in an industrial setting. These experiences have been arranged, for the most part, within Pennsylvania, but there are several opportunities at industrial sites for out-of-state students who may wish to return to their home areas to fulfill this requirement.

          Resources

          Workforce Education [semester plan]

          Special Education

          Effective 2013, the Pennsylvania Department of Education requires educators teaching students with special needs in
          David Lee works with a studentPennsylvania to hold two certification areas (e.g. Special Education plus another certificate).

          The primary area of academic need for students with disabilities is in the area of reading, so PDE has included certification as a Reading Specialist (along with completion of a Special Education certificate) to qualify educators to teach Special Education in Pre-Kindergarten through high school and across exceptionalities.

          The Degree Program

          Pennsylvania is one of a few states currently requiring dual certification, so there are a number of options for students interested in pursuing a Special Education Degree at Penn State.

          • Some current Special Education majors elect to stop at the B.S. because they intend to teach outside of Pennsylvania.
          • Some current students complete the B.S. and then elect to pursue a second certification area in elementary or secondary education as a separate degree program.
          • Some current students choose to complete an integrated undergraduate-graduate program (IUG) as a means to obtain the dual certification. The program currently offers a B.S. in Special Education and an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction (LL ED) with dual certification in Special Education and Reading.

          Resources

          Special Education [semester plan]

           

            Rehabilitation and Human Services

            All Rehabilitation and Human Services (RHS) students take a core set of courses that provide the foundation for working in a variety of human service settings including:

            • introduction to rehabilitation and human services
            • case management
            • client assessment
            • group work
            • counseling skills
            • community mental health
            • children and family interventions
            • medical aspects of disability

            Students also take courses related to working with people from different cultural backgrounds. RHS students also develop core skills in writing, communication and critical thinking.MAle Student speaking with group

            Recent trends in RHS have directed efforts and attention to expanding resources for a variety of clients, including people with disabilities. As the American with Disabilities Act of 1990 continues to be implemented, there will beThere is an increased emphasis on services to persons with severe disabilities, as well as on independent living, supported employment, and transitional services.

            Students in RHS receive a solid foundation of specialized education in the rehabilitation and human services field. As a Science degree, students engage in coursework that focuses on biological functioning. Additional coursework will allow students to learn more about culture, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, and diversity.

            Resources

            Rehabilitation and Human Services [semester plan]

            Education and Public Policy

            Three people discussing

            The Education and Public Policy (EPP) major provides the training, knowledge, and experience students need to enter the educational policy world or continue with their education at the graduate level in law, graduate study, or public service.

            The Degree Program

            EPP students engage in an interdisciplinary course of study allowing for flexibility in electives and program emphasis. A summer session field placement hones professional skills, project organization, and research methodology through a hands-on policy project in one of several national locations established through connections with the College of Education’s world-renowned faculty.

            Resources

            Education and Public Policy [semester plan]

            Education Policy Studies Minor

            The undergraduate minor in Education Policy Studies is designed to introduce students to the fundamental tenets of education policy development and analysis in both the U.S. and other countries. Students pursuing the minor may choose from courses on educational policy in the areas of higher education, educational leadership, educational theory and policy, Native American education leadership, and comparative/international education. The minor consists of a multidisciplinary program of study in areas of education related to numerous policy issues including social sciences, history, management sciences, and/or humanities. It is anticipated that students completing the minor will find that these studies can enrich any major degree program and may have the potential to provide opportunities for employment and/or graduate studies in state departments of education, ministries of education, federal and international education agencies, academic institutions, and various professional associations.

            The minor is open to all interested undergraduate students. Schreyer Scholars who pursue this minor may also take 500-level courses where appropriate. There is an honors section available for Scholars to enroll in for EDTHP 115 and EDPSY 014.

            This 18-credit minor may be combined with any undergraduate major at Penn State. Only courses in which the student earns a "C" or better may be counted toward the fulfillment of the requirements. The student begins with EDTHP 115 (3) and EDPSY 014 (3) credits. During the junior and senior years, the student will enroll in 12 additional credits of the 400-level courses listed as acceptable courses. The minor advisor will keep a list of 500-level courses that will be available to senior students in the minor who possess a 3.5 or higher cumulative GPA.

            Click here for more details on this minor.

            Special Education Minor

            This minor provides undergraduate students with the opportunity for concentrated work in instructional practices to support the achievement of students with special education needs in general education classrooms. Students will observe effective teachers at work, and learn strategies for creating a positive classroom environment that will promote student growth and achievement, effective instructional practices for students with special education needs, and techniques for assessing the academic progress of students. The targeted instructional practices have been demonstrated to be effective both with students with and those without special education needs. The targeted instructional practices have been demonstrated to be effective both with and without students with special education needs.

            The minor in Special Education responds to the growing need to provide appropriate instructional services to students with special education needs in general education classrooms.

            Completion of the Special Education (SPLED) minor is evidence to an employer that you have taken additional coursework to help prepare you to work with students with disabilities.

            As a SPLED minor, you will gain additional preparation in the areas of:

            * the use of assistive technology to aid in reading, writing, and communication activities;
            * teaching valued skills to students with autism;
            * supporting speech and language development for students with disabilities and other areas related to working with children with disabilities (depending on your course selections).

            Rehabilitation and Human Services

            The minor in Rehabilitation and Human Services (RHS) supplements the educational needs of students across disciplines who wish to gain advanced knowledge and skills related to health, disability, and interpersonal interactions. In today’s society, due to medical advances and an aging population, more people are living longer with chronic illnesses and disabilities, and many jobs require advanced interpersonal skills and knowledge of health, disability, and human service skills.

            The minor in RHS is responding to this growing need by providing students with specific applied knowledge about living and working with a disability or chronic illness, as well as adjusting to a variety of social needs and problems, such as poverty, addiction, family violence, and homelessness. The minor is appropriate for any student interested in learning how to effectively work with people, particularly as they adapt and adjust to life with a disability. The minor enhances the education of students majoring in social and behavioral sciences, as well as business majors who work in settings that hire and maintain work environments for persons with chronic illnesses and disabilities. The minor will also enhance graduate study preparation for many students interested in working with people in applied settings.

            Curriculum Checksheets & Sample Semester Plans

            The Penn State College of Education provides pdf files online that list the latest requirements for each of its undergraduate majors.

            The Sample Semester-by-Semester Academic Plans are  only one of many possible semester-by-semester sequences of courses for each major in the College of Education.

            The plans are intended to be used simply as a guide and an advising tool in conjunction with students' curriculum checksheets and online degree audits.

            Students must regularly consult with academic advisors as they plan their course schedules.

            Curriculum Checksheets & Sample Semester Plans


            Elementary and Early Childhood Education

            Elementary and Early Childhood Education [sample semester plan]


            Middle Level Education

            English Education Teaching Option 4-8 [sample semester plan]


            Education and Public Policy


            Rehabilitation and Human Services


            Secondary Education (7-12)

            Biology [sample semester plan]
            Chemistry [sample semester plan]
            Earth & Space Science [sample semester plan]
            English & Communications [sample semester plan] {clusters A-H}
            Environmental Education *
            General Science *
            Mathematics [sample semester plan-spring student teaching] [sample semester plan-fall student teaching]
            Physics [sample semester plan]
            Social Studies [sample semester plan-spring student teaching] [sample semester plan-fall student teaching]

            *Offered only with one of the other teaching options, which will require additional coursework.


            Special Education (PK-8 & 7-12)

            Special Education (PK-8 & 7-12) [sample semester plan]


            World Languages (K-12)

            French [sample semester plan]
            German [sample semester plan]
            Latin [sample semester plan]
            Spanish [sample semester plan]


            Workforce Education

            Workforce Education [sample semester plan]

            Entrance, Retention and Exit Criteria

            Specific entrance, retention, and exit criteria apply for ALL Teacher (Educator) Preparation Programs offered at Penn State. Based upon current Pennsylvania Standards for Teacher (Educator) Preparation Programs and Penn State graduation requirements, all candidates seeking entrance to a specific teacher preparation program (or major) must meet the following criteria.

            Entrance Criteria

            [Participation in the Entrance to Major (ETM) process is initiated via LionPATH]

            BACCALAUREATE  DEGREE CANDIDATES MUST MEET REQUIREMENTS PRIOR TO ENTRANCE TO MAJOR.

            1. A minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.00.*

            2. Qualifying scores from one of the Basic Skills Testing options.  This requirement may be satisfied by Praxis Core.  For more information on this requirement, please contact your academic advisor.

            3. For Secondary Education (SECED) and World Languages (WL ED) programs – Documentation of at least 40 hours of volunteer or paid education work experience with learners of the age group the candidate plans to teach, with younger learners in the candidate’s intended content area, or with adults with special needs. Part of this experience should include working with some learners who come from backgrounds that are different from the candidate’s. These experiences must be post high school.

            4. A grade of “C” or better in all specified courses, including English 015 or 030, three credits of literature, six credits of quantification, and practica. (Specific Quantification courses necessary for ETM may be prescribed by major/option. See checksheet or degree audit).

            5. Completion of an early field experience specified by the certification program. (except Special Education students, who complete an early field experience after ETM) **

            6. Completion of core Education courses specified by the certification program. **

            7. Completion of additional credits as specified by the certification program. **

            8. Completion of at least 48 credits.

            9. Approval from the professional education advisor or the head of the pertinent certification program.


            *Based on Title 22 Pennsylvania Code Chapter 354.31 (4), (5) and (7).
            ** See accompanying entrance criteria table.

            Retention Criteria

            Candidates must maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.00 to meet the retention criteria.

            Exit Criteria

            Eligibility for a teacher certificate is based on:

            1. Successful completion of a Teacher (Educator) Preparation Program with the conferral of a baccalaureate degree. (Vocational Certificate candidates: See Advisor).

            2. A minimum 3.00 cumulative grade point average.

            3. A grade of at least “C” or better in all specified courses, including practica.
            .
            4. Approval by (a) the pertinent program representative and (b) the University Certification Officer.

            5. Successful completion of any clearances, tests, and any other requirements as specified by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE).

            Testing Requirements for all Instructional I Teacher Certification Programs

             

            Candidates must apply for teacher certification using PDE’s online Teacher Information Management System (TIMS) before a certifying officer for Penn State can recommend them for certification.


            Additional Information

            Inquiries about the information and policies related to specific certification programs are welcomed by academic advisors and administrators representing departments which offer teacher education programs. General inquiries about teacher education at Penn State may be directed to the Advising and Certification Center at (814) 865-0488 in 228 Chambers Building, University Park, PA 16802.

            To view the Education Work Experience Form (80 hours) or the Secondary Education Work Experience Form (40 hours), you will need access to Adobe Acrobat.

            Education Majors in Other Penn State Units

            Some education majors leading to certification are offered through other Penn State units or campus. They are listed here.

            For information on teacher certification programs offered by other Penn State academic units, please contact the appropriate college or campus:

             

            Entrance, Retention and Exit Criteria Additional Information

            Entrance, Retention and Exit Criteria

            A. Implementation of Entrance Criteria
            Students in a baccalaureate degree program are expected to meet the entrance criteria in order to enter into their major.

            The Basic Skills Testing for Reading, Writing and Mathematics are available year round by appointment, at flexible times and locations. Candidates must take these tests prior to formal entrance to a specific Penn State major that is also a Teacher (Educator) Preparation Program. Basic Skills Testing registration information, including test dates, locations, deadlines, and costs, etc., is available by speaking to your Academic Advisor.

            The volunteer or paid education work experience hours with an age-appropriate population are planned by the candidates and reported on an Education Work Experience Form (pdf) available online, from the advisor or in 228 Chambers Building. Completed forms are sent to the appropriate area listed on the work experience form to be reviewed for applicability to the candidate's intended program area. Post high school experiences are required for Secondary Education (SECED), Special Education (SPLED) and World Language students (WL ED).

            B. Implementation of Retention Criteria
            Candidates must maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.00. If a student’s cumulative GPA drops below 3.00, a warning letter will be sent to the student, their adviser and the program head. Traditionally, a student is given one semester to achieve a cumulative GPA of 3.00 or higher or they will not be permitted to continue in a Teacher (Educator) Preparation Program.

            C. Implementation of Exit Criteria
            Representatives in the Advising and Certification Center verify a candidate’s successful completion of all necessary exit criteria for a Teacher (Educator) Preparation Program in conjunction with the program representative’s approval. The certifying officer also confirms a candidate’s eligibility for the teaching credential on the Teacher Information Management System (TIMS).

            Candidates must apply for teacher certification using PDE’s online Teacher Information Management System (TIMS) before a certifying officer for Penn State can recommend them for certification.