Secondary Education in English Education, B.S. (7-12)

At Penn State, we see the teaching of English as more than just a school subject. Our vision of English education involves young people reading and writing not only to develop school or workplace skills, but also to understand and change their own lives and the world they (and we) live in.  In this vision, literacy is a powerful tool for learning and action, and the English classroom is a site of authentic encounters with important ideas-- both in the texts young people read and in the ones they create.

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  • Equity is at the heart of everything we do. The program begins with a dedicated equity course, and all program courses are designed with equity and justice in mind, engaging students in not only talking about the issues, but also forming concrete strategies to take action.
  • Immersive, in-school experiences are never separated from learning on the university campus. We share meaningful, living partnerships with local school districts. These enable our students to spend time teaching in classrooms right away and throughout the school year rather than waiting for limited field experience at the end of a program. 
  • We don’t cut corners with respect to preparing teachers with challenging content. There are programs out there promising quick-and-easy paths to certification, but how do their candidates fare when they encounter the real difficulty of working as a beginning teacher? Rather than promising easy strategies and superficial preparation, our Bachelor of Science and Master’s of Education programs include:
    • six different English education-specific courses addressing different aspects of English education. (This stands in contrast to programs in which the teaching of reading, literature, writing, digital media, assessment, and more are all lumped into one “methods course” near the end of a program.)
    • a full school year spent in the field in an actual classroom. (This stands in contrast to the requirement of just twelve weeks in many programs.)
    • additional courses in special education, teaching English language learners, educational inquiry, and more. 
  • Inquiry guides students as they progress through our program. Of course we teach students what we know. But for deeper learning, we also help students dig into what they want to know, through a series of experiences in which students learn to conduct research within their own classrooms as well as draw from published research to better serve students. This is in keeping with our own roles as faculty at a large research university: in addition to being teacher educators, we are scholars who not only have spent real time in K-12 classrooms but who also produce the research and critical lenses that push the field of education forward. We guide students through a yearlong inquiry project that serves as the culminating Master’s Paper/Project for the degree.
  • Our program is coherently linked to frameworks and standards agreed upon by our field: The NCTE/ELATE Standards for the Preparation of Teachers of Language Arts, the Penn State Framework for Teacher Education, the Penn State Values, and the PDE standards for teacher preparation.

The Secondary Education in English Education program is a four-year undergraduate degree that requires 126 credits and leads to a bachelor of science (B.S.) in Secondary Education.

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 approved courses that all requirements of the Pennsylvania Department of Education are met.

Throughout the program, Secondary Education students gain valuable classroom experience as a student-teacher. All Penn State candidates for teacher certification (PK-4, 4-8, 7-12, and K-12) are required to observe and teach in settings that include diverse populations, students with special needs, and students of different ages as an integral part of the undergraduate education major. These experiences are referred to as field experiences. All field experiences are handled through the Curriculum and Instruction Field Experience (CIFE) Office.

As early as their third semester, students participate in an introductory field experience course (C I 295B). This experience is intended to introduce students to classroom observation, educational issues, and teaching as a career.

Students also take part in a mid-level field experience course (C I 495C). This is the next step in field experiences where students spend more time in classrooms with mentor teachers. Students have the opportunity to plan and teach lessons, spending multiple days within the classroom.

Students participate in student teaching, which is the culminating field experience in the teacher education curriculum. Each student-teacher is engaged in full-time teaching responsibilities for at least a fifteen-week period under the guidance of a certified, experienced mentor teacher and a full-time university supervisor.

Student-teaching opportunities are provided at a variety of locations depending on the specific certification program. They are available across town and across the globe.

Steps for Certification:

To qualify for a certificate in Pennsylvania, a student must:

  • Complete an approved education preparation program at the bachelor's or graduate level;

  • Receive the recommendation of your preparing college/university;

  • Meet all testing requirements established by the State Board of Education; and

  • Meet all other requirements established by the School Code.

Qualifications for Certification

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education requirements, applicants must 

  • Hold a minimum of a bachelor's degree

  • Complete a Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) approved preparation program with a minimum 3.0 GPA

  • Meet all testing requirements

  • Submit an online application through the Teacher Information Management System (TIMS)

  • The PDE approved preparation program provider must verify program completion through TIMS

  • Be of good moral character

  • Be at least 18 years of age

  • Be a United States citizen or a legal permanent resident holding a valid green card

Additional Certification:

Given the many K-12 students in United States schools today who are learning English, students may consider a certificate in English as a Second Language (ESL). This certificate can be earned in two ways, one involving courses on the University Park campus and the other blending University Park courses with an immersion experience in Ecuador.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education information about citizenship, when applying for certification, you must:


  • World language instructional certificate

  • Letter of Eligibility (LOE)

  • Commission Qualification Letter (CQL)

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.