Elementary & Early Childhood Education, B.S. (PK-4)

Teachers play an important role in the life of a developing child. They support students' educational needs as well as act as mentors, guides, helpers, and advocates. Teachers are crucial in the lives of children and the Elementary & Early Childhood Education (CEAED) program helps students develop into educators, professionals who will care for and connect with their future students. This program supports the growth and content understanding beginning with the youngest learners through the fourth grade (PK-4).    

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Teacher candidates within the Elementary and Early Childhood Education program engage in course work and field experiences that are designed to enhance their understandings of teaching and learning. The program provides teacher candidates with a strong foundation of research-based teaching methods in subject and discipline areas. Course work incorporates recent research regarding pre-service teacher education, teaching methods, and children’s learning. 

Undergraduate students interested in the PK-4 option take general education courses and Entrance to Major (ETM) requirements typically during their first two years and apply to the program during their 4th semester. Once in the major, teacher candidates are able to take specific, majors-only coursework in Early Childhood, Language and Literacy, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies Education. Across the entire program, teacher candidates also engage in three field experiences, which includes the culminating experience of student teaching. During student teaching, candidates are placed in a school setting for a semester or longer where they work closely with a student teaching supervisor and mentor teacher to gain extensive experience in teaching.  

Upon successful completion of all requirements for graduation, students receive a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree. For teacher certification, students must also meet all clearance and testing requirements specified by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

The EECE program is a four-year undergraduate degree that requires 127 credits and leads to a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Elementary and Early Childhood Education (PK-4). Students typically take general education courses and meet Entrance to Major (ETM) requirements during their first two years and apply to the program during their 4th semester. The program also features specific approved courses so all requirements of the Pennsylvania Department of Education are met. 

Throughout the program, you will have the opportunity to gain valuable classroom experience in formal field experiences. In your first or second year, you will participate in a supervised field experience of approximately 60 hours in a pre-school classroom. This experience is intended to introduce you to classroom observation and teaching as a career.  In your final year in the program, you will enroll in a pre-student field experience that is a part-time apprenticeship an elementary classroom and then transition to full-time student teaching the following semester.

Upon successful completion of all requirements for graduation, you will receive a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Elementary and Early Childhood Education (PK-4). For teacher certification, you must also meet all clearance and testing requirements specified by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. If you who plan to teach outside of Pennsylvania, you can have your credentials transferred to other states. 

Graduates have often been successful in securing teaching positions in public and private schools. Because school employers seek top quality teachers, graduates benefit from the excellent reputation of Penn State's teacher education programs.

The CEAED PK-4 option is recognized by the National Association for the Education of Young Children and is reviewed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education to ensure that all certificate requirements are being met.

Students participating in the PK-4 CEAED program have required courses as a part of their studies. Click here to see a listing of the different course blocks, prerequisites, and suggested courses to fulfill the program's requirements.


Want help creating your schedule or determining courses? Make an appointment with your adviser.

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The Elementary and Early Childhood Education program views education as much larger than any set of standards or performance-based measures of teachers or students. The program seeks to amplify the voices of students and teachers here at Penn State as well as in school classrooms and daily life around the U.S. and the world.

In recognizing that “education is a complex problem-solving endeavor” (Penn State College of Education Conceptual Framework), the Elementary and Early Childhood Education program takes on the challenge of preparing teacher candidates for the demanding and diverse work of teaching. The program embraces the Conceptual Framework that incorporates research, professional practice, and standards; specifically, the program incorporates the Penn State Teacher Education Performance Framework to support the structure and implementation of course work and experiences in the program. 

Four core values inform the development of teacher candidates who work with students to re-imagine their worlds. 

Core Values

The Elementary and Early Childhood Education faculty understands schools as one important site where democratic citizenship begins.  We recognize citizenship as an active process involving work toward the betterment of community.  The ideal of a sustainable democracy is not an end but a constant process of re-imagining to which each generation must re-commit.  Active citizenship at every level—classroom, local, national and global--requires educated citizens who acknowledge and respect diverse viewpoints, thoughtfully applying concepts and skills such as inquiry, research, and debate, as they participate in public life.  

Penn State Elementary and Early Childhood Education teacher candidates:

  • explore theories of teaching and learning across disciplines that prepare students not only to take tests but to ask questions about their communities and work to solve problems they perceive (starting in the classroom, then moving beyond).  

  • engage in a range of teaching approaches that empower students through the use of processes such as investigation of social problems, active consideration of differing viewpoints, debate, and cooperative civic action.

Teacher educators and students in our program are guided by the core value of diversity.  As we understand and use it here, “diversity” encompasses a variety of ways of being human and includes embodied, cognitive, linguistic, and sociocultural characteristics that in any given context may be considered atypical.  We also use “diversity” to encompass intellectual diversity. To understand diversity is to recognize it as a form of inclusiveness. Understanding diversity requires us to honor others both as individuals and as members of identifiable groups whose values may be different from our own. To value diversity means to be willing to confront racism, sexism, ageism, classism, childism, and bias against gender identity when and where it appears in our schools, our curriculum, and our communities.

Penn State Elementary and Early Childhood Education teacher candidates:

  • consider ways to promote students’ academic learning and their emotional and social development

  • learn ways to regard diversity not as a challenge to be overcome but as a resource that--when acknowledged, appreciated, nurtured, and celebrated--enriches the school experiences and learning of everyone.

  • work together to develop ways that teachers can nurture an appreciation for a wide range of diversities--visible diversities as well as invisible ones.

In the Elementary and Early Childhood Education teacher candidates: program, we value teaching as a field whose professionals continually advance their practice in order to meet the needs and support the development of children as independent, social learners. We do this through inquiry. Inquiry is challenging work that involves engaging in an iterative process of asking questions, collecting and analyzing data, and using evidence to inform pedagogical decision-making.  Engaging in this work supports children in becoming thoughtful problem solvers and able to make informed decisions and contributions as citizens.

Penn State Elementary and Early Childhood Education teacher candidates:

  • engage in teacher inquiry, which uses a reflective practice approach to support evidence-based decision-making about their teaching practice.

  • learn to utilize teacher inquiry as a way to continue to reflect on and improve their teaching practices as they continue throughout their careers.

  • support student inquiry as a way for children to express their curiosity through recognizing tensions and identifying questions and wonderings.

  • elicit children’s prior knowledge and engage them in the practices of collecting and analyzing data and evidence, and using that evidence to critique and expand their knowledge, fostering children’s sensemaking and critical thinking abilities.

  • become advocates for the rights of students, teachers, the profession of teaching, and the value of education for all

  • become leaders in the teaching profession through their abilities to use inquiry as a tool to support other teachers’, administrators’, and parents’ evidence-based decision-making in the school community.

Penn State teachers are leaders in their own classrooms, in their districts, in their universities, and in their local and global communities. They are advocates for students, parents, schools and the teaching profession as a whole. We believe good leaders are people who will listen and be responsive to contexts with humility. They are confident but willing to learn new things; they have a vision grounded in a set of values and enact leadership with integrity.

Penn State Elementary and Early Childhood Education teacher candidates:

  • develop the skills of becoming teacher leaders in their schools, states, and nation

  • learn to seek challenge instead of accepting the status quo, take risks, ask questions, reflect and act

  • build key relationships so that they can be lifelong leaders

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.