Graduate Certificates in Teacher Education are post-bachelors programs of study that might extend the knowledge and skills of current and future educators. Teacher education could involve coursework on educational theory and methods of instruction, in addition to supervised practice. Students could learn about a specific topic, as well as how to instruct it in their classrooms through effective lesson plans and other best practices strategies. Because they are available in many topics, students could look for a top graduate certificate that mirrors their interests and goals as educators.
written by Rana Waxman
Some Graduate Certificates in Teacher Education are designed for teachers who want to add onto their teaching license. Others are intended for students who want to pursue an initial teaching certificate. Students who successfully complete either type of teaching and teacher education certificate might be prepared to take any next steps required by their state education board. For further information on the process, you might check with your state board of education and prospective school.
One of aims of graduate certificates in teacher education is to help students expand their professional credentials once they have their initial teaching certificate. Many, but not all programs entail about eighteen credits, as the requirements needed for a second state endorsement or certification often varies. Once enrolled in their program, teacher candidates must successfully complete the requirements set by their school, and, set by the state for that endorsement. Then, teachers usually go through their state department of education to obtain their official credential. This could involve a test or other paperwork, so it is best to clarify these details ahead of time.
Whereas certification refers to licensure to teach, an endorsement is for the area in which you choose to teach, i.e. elementary, secondary math, special education, etc. Subject endorsements are in a specific area like Mathematics or Science. Field endorsements are broader in scope, and could refer to several areas such as social sciences. Some teachers may work to achieve more than one endorsement, as it might be a way for them to pursue new career paths or opportunities.
A letter of eligibility is similar to a teacher's license but applies to positions at the administrative level, such as superintendent. Letter of eligibility programs are usually post-masters programs designed to prepare students to meet state requirements. Again, these vary by state, but candidates typically need a measure of coursework and experiences to make their application to a state board.i For instance, future superintendents might take courses in personnel leadership and labor relations, and may need to complete an internship.
Admission requirements for teacher education certificates vary by school and program. Generally, applicants need to have earned a bachelors degree. Certificates in specific content areas like Mathematics or Biology may also require candidates to have majored in that subject, and be licensed to teach it. Check with individual schools for details.
Another option in teacher education is a post-bachelors teacher certification program. These are designed for individuals who have a bachelors degree or a masters degree, but do not have their initial teaching certificate. The specific path to an initial teaching licensure varies by state. However, teachers in public or private schools are typically required to have completed several steps. They may need to earn a bachelor's degree with a teachable major (e.g. math, science) and complete a state-approved teacher education program that focuses on how to present information in the classroom.ii
Programs for teacher certification after a bachelors degree presume you have earned your degree already. Some schools set a minimum GPA of 3.0 and might want to see that you have passed the Praxis I exam. They might also suggest that you pass the Praxis II exam prior to admission. You might need to furnish professional references, an essay, and submit to a personal interview as well.
In some schools, a teacher certification program entails twenty-seven credits of graduate courses. Typically, students take their courses first, then move into the student teaching phase of their program. Below are some general examples of the types of courses that students might engage with. You should refer to individual schools for more information, as course names vary.
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High school teachers typically are awarded a secondary or high school certification, which allows them to teach the 7th through the 12th grades.iii
Graduate Certificates in Teacher Education could be available in multiple subjects, though each certificate tends to focus on one content area. Physical Education, Reading, Art, English, Foreign Language, Math, Music and Science are some examples. In some schools, coursework could be based on Core Curriculum Content Standards in their region. Therefore programs might vary from one school to the next.
Below are a few examples of the types of programs you might find. Make sure to choose one that mirrors your goals and interests. Then, if any type of licensure is your aim, you might check with your state to verify that they accept your program before you apply.
Graduate Certificates in Physical and Coaching Education might help current teachers work to add an additional endorsement in physical education to their current teaching certification.
Health Education Certificate: A Graduate Certificate in Health Education is an example of a secondary education program. Applicants typically need certification/licensure in another content area before they seek admission. Coursework could provide instructional methods in human sexuality, as well as explore school health issues and applied risk behavior. Graduates who complete their program may also be required by their state to pass the Health Education Praxis II Content Test before pursuing a position.
Graduate Certificates in Reading and Literacy could be designed to help students prepare to pursue an endorsement in their state. Students could develop a deeper grasp of how to work with students who have various challenges in reading, writing, speaking and listening.
Reading/Literacy Specialist Certificate: A Reading/Literacy certificate is often intended to provide K-12 classroom teachers with a set of courses that could broaden their knowledge and skills in areas such as language arts, literacy and reading.
Students might also learn ways to apply effective instructional strategies in their classrooms that aim to enhance student literacy. For example, they might take a course on how to effectively integrate technology into literacy lessons. Other courses could focus on the techniques and instruments used in the diagnosis of reading problems. Here, students might practice writing reports for reading evaluations and state required ISIPS - Individual Student Improvement Plans. In addition to courses, students may have to take part in a supervised clinical practicum. This might be in a clinical reading setting or other location.
Classroom Reading Endorsement (P-12): A Classroom Reading Endorsement program is usually intended to broaden the expertise and knowledge base of current educators at various levels. In their courses, students could study topics in literacy research and theory, as well as advanced reading methods for P-12 students. Other topics could be designed to help teachers learn how to measure and diagnose their students’ abilities to read and write. Courses in language knowledge and acquisition could accompany courses in cultural differences, so that teachers could be prepared to work with diverse student groups.
Some students might pursue the endorsement as a stand-alone award, while others might complete it as part of a Master of Education programs. To be eligible for enrollment in the Classroom Reading Endorsement (P-12), applicants usually need a bachelor’s degree and a valid initial teacher certification.
Some Graduate Certificates in Teaching English are designed to help teachers instruct students whose mother tongue is not English. This type of certificate is sometimes called ‘English as a Second Language’, abbreviated ESL.
An English as a Second Language Specialist Certificate could be devoted to the language and culture of the United States, as well as effective methods of instruction. In some schools, this type of program might entail eighteen credits which could help students fulfill the requirements for a second certification in their state as an ESL Teacher. Students might also be able to apply their credits toward a 36-credit Master of Arts in Education (for certified teachers) degree.
Courses in ESL methods and curriculum could help students develop a grasp of the nature of language and how it is learned. Other courses might examine lexicon and English language grammar as compared to other languages, so that students might expand their knowledge of linguistic sciences. Moreover, students might explore strategies for the multicultural classroom through topics that relate to race, ethnicity, gender, and achievement.
Graduate Certificates in Teaching Mathematics could prepare students to pursue the credentials required by regional agencies to teach collegiate math courses. Prospective students might use their certificate as part of, or as an add-on to a masters degree.
Two possible aims of a math graduate certificate are to help students develop a broad grasp of the field of mathematics and strengthen the ways they formulate and communicate math as educators. Coursework often builds on applicants’ strong background in areas such as Linear Algebra, Calculus III, Abstract Algebra, Real Analysis, Geometry, and Statistics. Students could study both theory and application of advanced variations of these topics to help solve mathematical problems.
Graduate Certificates in Teaching Science tend to include courses in one’s technical field along with instructional methods for the classroom. To tailor your studies, you might look for a certificate that aligns with your interest in a specific topic (e.g. biology or physical sciences).
Graduate Teaching Certificate – Biology: A Graduate Biology certificate might be intended for students who seek the credentials that many regional agencies required to teach collegiate biology courses. Some students may want to use the certificate as an area of emphasis within, or in addition to, a masters degree. Applicants typically need undergrad courses such as Introductory Biology, Introductory Biology Lab, General Chemistry and General Chemistry Lab.
Coursework is likely to explore some of the main topics in biology. These could include microbiology, genetics and biological chemistry. Aside from exploring advanced topics in biology, students could develop a stronger grasp of scientific analysis and instructional methods.
Graduate Teaching Certificate – Physical Sciences: Some Teaching Certificate in Physical Sciences programs might offer current teachers the opportunity to do coursework within the disciplines, while working to gain extra skills in science education techniques and curriculum development. The physical science emphasis could provide graduate work to help enhance the backgrounds of licensed chemistry, earth-space science, physics, or physical science teachers.
You might look for Graduate Certificates in Teacher Education programs online or on-campus. Either format could be flexible and convenient, it just depends on you. Distance education makes use of web-based courses which are usually archived so you could access them any time. Campus programs are sometimes available in summer or evenings. Each type of program may give you access to resources such as libraries, databases and student services. Contact individual programs to learn what support might be available to you.
Both campus-based and online graduate certificates in teacher education could be offered at regionally accredited universities. These schools undergo a process every few years to maintain approval. Some of the things that could be reviewed are the school’s finances, curriculum and faculty. Individual programs might be alsoapproved by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). This type of accreditation may speak to the individual program's coursework and help ensure they are staying current in the field. Visit accrediting bodies' websites or contact admission advisors if this is of interest to you.
Ready to search for Graduate Certificates in Teacher Education? Here are a few easy steps. Choose a subject (e.g. literacy), refine by program format (online, campus) or look for schools by location. Any preferences you use will yield different programs to read about. Find a few that draw your interest? Great! Contact schools with the on-page tools right away. Take the next step now.
[i] bls.gov/ooh/management/elementary-middle-and-high-school-principals.htm | [ii] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/kindergarten-and-elementary-school-teachers.htm | [iii] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/high-school-teachers.htm