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Degree Overview

Change in Certification Requirements

The Pennsylvania Department of Education is changing teacher certification requirements for students who graduate after August 2013. Students who plan to graduate after August 2013 should follow the information on this site. Students who plan to graduate by August 2013 will need to meet the requirements listed at the website for B.S. in Elementary and Kindergarten Education K-6.

Field Experiences

Field experiences are required at all levels of the program. Prior to formal admission to the major, these experiences provide valuable hands-on opportunities for students to explore the teaching profession and learn about the process of teaching and learning. Furthermore, these activities will help them decide whether elementary education is the right personal choice as a career. Later on, on-site practicum in school settings will accompany the methods courses during the junior and senior years. Finally, student teaching is a full-time semester practicum accompanied by a seminar.


The degree program is approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education and accredited nationally by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).


Students are assigned a faculty member to be their advisor. The College of Education has extensive advising information available. View advising information »

Degree Requirements

Degree requirements to graduate from Penn State with certification in elementary education can be found on the Internet or they can also be viewed in a checksheet format.

Teacher Education Entrance and Exit Program Requirements

Entrance to the specific major typically occurs during the spring semester of the student’s sophomore year. Baccalaureate degree candidates must meet requirements 1-3 by the end of their third semester:

  1. A minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.00
  2. Qualifying scores from the PAPA for Reading, Writing and Mathematics.
  3. Documentation of at least 80 hours of volunteer or paid education work experience with learners of elementary school age. At least 40 of these age-appropriate 80 hours must be with learners whose cultural, social, or ethnic backgrounds differ from the candidate's own.
  4. Requirements 4-7 must be met by the end of the fourth semester when students typically participate in the Entrance to Major process. Students have only one opportunity to participate in the Entrance to Major (ETM) process.
  5. A grade of "C" or better in all specified courses: Engl 15, Quantification (GQ) for six (6) credits (including Math 200), literature course, HD FS 229, EdPsy 014, EdThP 115, CI 295, Natural Science (3cr.). (Includes Title 22 Pennsylvania Code Chapter 354.31 (4), (5) and (7).)
  6. Criminal History clearances info
  7. Completion of at least 48 semester credit hours
  8. Approval from the professional education adviser or the head of the certification program.

Exit criteria for eligibility for a teacher certificate is based on:

  1. Successful completion of the baccalaureate degree.
  2. A minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.00 consistent with that required for admission to the program.
  3. A grade of C or better in all specified courses, including practica.
  4. Approval by the program coordinator, representing the faculty and by the University Certification Officer.
  5. Successful compliance with and completion of any clearances and tests as specified by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Approval by the program coordinator, representing the program faculty.

Upper level curriculum – Semesters 5-8

Teacher candidates follow a carefully sequenced curriculum during the junior and senior years, including:

LL ED BLOCK – the Language and Literacy Education Block during which students study the teaching of reading, language arts, and children’s literature in elementary school. This block of 3 courses is accompanied by two course in art and music education.

DI BLOCK – in the Discipline Inquiry Block, students attend methods courses in Social Science Education, Science Education, and Math Education. The Block also includes a practicum in which students spend time in elementary school classrooms as a preservice teacher.

STUDENT TEACHING PRACTICUM – Student teachers engage in full-time classroom instruction during the senior year in an area elementary school. Student teachers are supervised by University personnel and professional teachers, and also attend a seminar on campus one day per week. Students are not permitted to enroll in any other courses or have jobs during the student teaching semester.