Applying to the Secondary English PDS Program

The application to the secondary English PDS program with the State College Area School District and the Department of Curriculum and Instruction involves the following steps:

  1. Schedule a meeting with Dr. Michelle Knotts to discuss questions you have about the program and to determine how your past course work fulfills requirements for Pennsylvania certification in English and Communications, grades 7-12. You can schedule an appointment with Dr. Knotts by emailing , or call Jenn Glasgow at 865-1807 for Dr. Knotts' office hours.
  2. Submit a completed application package that includes the following five items:
    • a resume, with complete contact information
    • a letter that explains why you wish to be a part of this year-long internship program and experiences you have had working with youth
    • a copy of your official non-PSU transcripts (or PSU elion printed transcript),
    • two letters of reference with at least one from an academic source
    • a copy of a paper from an advanced level English course

The application review process begins October 1 for the following academic school year and candidates are accepted on an ongoing basis until all internship positions are filled.  After you submit your application, you will be interviewed over the phone, then scheduled for a visit to the high school. During this visit you will meet mentor teachers, some current year interns, and the school district PDS coordinators. During your visit you will have a chance to interact with high school students in one of the mentor's classes, and you will finish your day by writing a reflection on what you have experienced.  One of three decisions is possible: first, an invitation to join the program; second, an invitation to be on the waiting list for the program; three, an offer to complete certification in the traditional on-campus program.  The cohort of interns for the upcoming year’s program meet mentors at a mixer the week after spring graduation, and matches are made by June.  The program generally begins mid-August and ends mid-June.

Undergraduates are strongly encouraged to submit their applications in October, and if they do so will have a decision in time to adjust their spring course schedule accordingly.  Because undergraduates schedule prior to a decision, they should schedule for the spring as if they will be in the PDS internship.  Undergraduates should note that the PDS internship program includes all of the LLED course requirements for the English/Communications certification major; therefore, they should seek admission to the program before scheduling the first LLED block of LLED 411, 420, & 480.

If you are a graduate student seeking certification, you will be able to complete a substantial portion of a M.Ed. degree as part of the internship program. Some graduate courses outside of the program will be required to complete the degree. A separate graduate application is required for graduate students interested in the PDS. Information on that application can be found on the Penn State Graduate School website.

Undergraduate students will be able to graduate in the Spring commencement, but are required to take a 3 credit graduate summer course (CI 501) in May/June. Graduate students also are required to take this course to finish the PDS program.