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Elementary & Secondary Education 4:1 Accelerated Master’s Program

5 Year Teaching Degree
Get your B.A./B.S., M.Ed. and Certification from Lehigh University!

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The College of Education's teacher certification and degree programs are built upon the premise that expert teaching occurs at the intersection of discipline-specific knowledge and pedagogical knowledge. Good teachers know how to adapt their instruction accordingly to ensure that each child is learning. For this reason --and unlike other four-year undergraduate education programs-- our master's-level teacher education program is in addition to (not in place of) the depth and breadth of coursework required to complete a bachelor's degree in a discipline-specific area. If you're working toward the completion of a bachelor's degree at Lehigh, we can shorten the time it takes for you to add a master's and teacher certification from two years to just one additional year.

Lehigh undergraduate students with a minimum cumulative 2.75 GPA can apply for permission to take education classes in the Elementary & Secondary Education 4:1 Accelerated Master’s Program. To request an "Application to Take Education Classes as an Undergraduate" and apply to the Elementary & Secondary Education 4:1 Accelerated Master’s Program contact the Teaching, Learning, and Technology Program at djt2@lehigh.edu.  Those accepted will begin education classes during the second semester of their sophomore year (or junior year).  After graduating with their bachelor's, students continue their master's and certification program with coursework in the summer (12 credits), fall (9-12 credits), and round out their experience in the spring with student teaching (3 credits).

All of our teacher education courses explore best practices in evidence-based teaching and learning carefully designed to integrate real-word classroom experiences. The actual number of credits required will vary depending on undergraduate degree and area of certification selected by the candidate. Although any student can apply to the program, in order to finish in 5 years, the student's major must be tightly aligned to the intended area of certification. Students must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of at least 2.75 each semester and have attained a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 by the end of the senior year in order to continue on to the fifth year. During the fall semester senior year, students must apply to the graduate Elementary Education or Secondary Education program for the Master of Education (M.Ed.) degree and teacher certification (fifth year).

Lehigh University undergraduate students can earn their Bachelor's (in their major of choice) and Master of Education (M.Ed.) degree in Elementary Education or Secondary Education plus Pennsylvania Teacher Certification in 5 years. 

We are accredited by the Pennsylvania Department of Education to certify general education teachers in:

  • Biology 7-12
  • Chemistry 7-12
  • Earth and Space Science 7-12
  • English 7-12
  • General Science 7-12
  • Mathematics 7-12
  • Physics 7-12
  • PreK-4
  • Social Studies 7-12
Program of Study and Curriculum for Elementary and Secondary Education and Certification
Master of Education in Elementary Education and Grades PreK-4 Certification Program of Study

Distribution of coursework across undergraduate and graduate study:

Sophomore Year (3 credit hours)
Junior Year (3 credit hours)
Senior Year (12 credit hours)

College of Education - Summer (12 credits)
College of Education - Fall (9 credits)
College of Education - Spring (6 credits)

Those accepted will begin education classes during the second semester of their sophomore year. Although any student can apply to the program, in order to finish in 5 years, the student's major must be tightly aligned to the intended area of certification. Students must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of at least 2.75 each semester and have attained a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 by the end of the fall semester senior year in order to continue on to the fifth year.

Students in the 5-year program will take 18 credits pre-bachelor’s and an additional 27 credits post-bachelor’s. However,the University requires that master’s degrees carry at least 30 credits minimum. This means students in the 5-year program must have at least 3 credits “left over” from their bachelor’s program to move across to the College of Education to put toward their master’s degree.

Curriculum - Grades PreK-4 Certification only
Course Number Course name Credits
Core Course Work (21 credits)  
SPED 332 Education and Inclusion of Individuals with Special Needs 3
TLT 380 Child Development and Cognition 3
TLT 404 Diversity, Families, and School Collaborations in K-12 3
TLT 405 Principles and Applications of K-12 Assessment 3
TLT 407 Instructional Design for K-12 Classrooms 3
TLT 409 K-12 Classroom Environment and Management 3
TLT 411 Early Childhood Education> 3
Development of Professional Skills (18 credits)
TLT 412 Social Studies in PreK through 4th Grade 3
TLT 420 Literacy in PreK through 4th Grade: Reading and Its Foundations 3
TLT 422 Literacy in PreK through 4th Grade: Writing and Its Foundations 3
TLT 426 Science in PreK through 4th Grade 3
TLT 428 Mathematics and Numeracy in PreK through 4th Grade 3
SPED 465 Advanced Inclusionary Practices in K-12 3
Extended Field Experience (3-6 credits)  
TLT 444 General Education Student Teaching and Seminar 3
Master of Education in Secondary Education and General Education 7-12 Certification Program of Study

Distribution of coursework across undergraduate and graduate study:

Sophomore Year (3 credit hours)
Junior Year (6 credit hours)
Senior Year (6 credit hours) 

College of Education - Summer (6 credits)
College of Education - Fall (9 credits)
College of Education - Spring (3-6 credits)

Those accepted will begin education classes during the second semester of their sophomore year. Although any student can apply to the program, in order to finish in 5 years, the student's major must be tightly aligned to the intended area of certification. Students must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of at least 2.75 each semester and have attained a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 by the end of the fall semester senior year in order to continue on to the fifth year.

The University requires that master’s degrees carry at least 30 credits minimum. This means students in the 5-year program must have credits “left over” from their bachelor’s program to move across to the College of Education to put toward their master’s degree. Students unable to accrue enough credits outside their undergraduate degree programs may need to take additional credits after beginning graduate study to reach the requirement.

In order to be eligible for secondary certification, by the time a student finishes the program he or she must have demonstrated competence in the subject matter area of that certification. Each student upon admission meets with the content-area specialist in the field in which that student seeks secondary certification. The content-area specialist, who is a faculty member in the College of Arts and Sciences, reviews the student’s transcripts and compares that student’s coursework with the content-area guide sheet approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE). Following this audit, the content-area specialist will identify what additional coursework in the content-area is needed, if any. The student is responsible for completing this coursework prior to applying for secondary certification.

Students in this program who wish to obtain the Master of Arts (M.A.) degree rather than the M.Ed. degree may petition to change to that degree after admission to graduate study. The M.A. degree requires 42 credits instead of 33 credits and has specific content-area expertise requirements. See the M.A. degree description for its requirements.

Curriculum - General Education 7-12 Certification only
Course Number Course name Credits
Core Course Work (15 credits)  
SPED 332 Education and Inclusion of Individuals with Special Needs 3
TLT 404 Diversity, Families, and School Collaborations in K-12 3
TLT 405 Principles and Applications of K-12 Assessment 3
TLT 407 Instructional Design for K-12 Classrooms 3
TLT 409 K-12 Classroom Environment and Management 3
Development of Professional Skills (12 credits) - Content-area teaching methods course with the approval of your adviser (one of the following):
TLT 431 Social Studies in Middle Level and High School Education 3
TLT 434 English in Middle Level and High School Education 3
TLT 436 Science in Middle Level and High School Education 3
TLT 438 Mathematics in Middle Level and High School Education 3
Plus:    
TLT 432 Reading and Critical Thinking in Middle Level and High School Education 3
SPED 465 Advanced Inclusionary Practices in K-12 3
TLT XXX Elective (with advisor approval) 3
Extended Field Experiences (6-9 credits)  
TLT 440 Pre-professional Seminar 3
TLT 444 General Education Student Teaching and Seminar 3-6
Pennsylvania Department of Education Requirements for Teacher Certification

It is important for individuals considering teaching as a career to be aware of the fairly rigorous academic, health, and personal character requirements for teacher certification that are required by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) for teacher candidates statewide: 

  • An overall GPA of at least 3.0 (both graduate and undergraduate)
  • Clearances.  See Office of Professional Certification.
  • Refer to the Pennsylvania Department of Education for information on Pennsylvania Certification

Pennsylvania certification is widely accepted nationwide under reciprocity agreements with many other states.

Frequently Asked Questions

Hello! We are pleased that you are interested in our College of Education’s Elementary & Secondary Education 4:1 Accelerated Master’s Program!

What is the 5 year program? 

Lehigh University undergraduate students can earn their Bachelor's (in their major of choice) and Master of Education (M.Ed.) degree in General Education Elementary Education or Secondary Education plus Pennsylvania Teacher Certification in 5 years. 

We are accredited by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) to certify general education teachers in 

  • Preschool and Elementary Education: PreK-4th grade 
  • Secondary Education (Grades 7-12)  in Specific Content Areas:
    • English
    • Mathematics
    • Science (science has very specific certification areas): General Science, Biology, Chemistry, Earth and Space Science, and Physics
    • Social Studies 

You must meet the following requirements to complete the program:

  • Undergraduate degree :121 credits. But See Question 4 - you really want to finish with 124 credits minimum.
  • Master’s degree: minimum 30 credits.
  • Eligible for PDE Certification: Complete all of the coursework and fieldwork required in your certification area.
Are there prerequisites?

Technically no.

For PreK-4th grade certification, there are no prerequisites. Students may major in any area they choose. For Secondary certification, it is STRONGLY recommended that you major in the content area in which you wish to seek certification (e.g., individuals who wish to teach English will be best served by having an undergraduate major in English).  If you major in another area, then you will likely need to take additional content area courses in order to meet PDE’s requirements for certification.  Once you are admitted to the Secondary Certification program, we will do a transcript review with you to officially determine your program of study.  If you have questions about this, please email Dr. Sawyer for more information.

Can I be certified in other areas as well?

Yes!  COE also offers PA certification or pathways to additional endorsements in:

Adding on certifications will require additional time beyond 5 years. If you are interested in additional certifications, please seek additional information, including information on the program requirements and any application processes, from the individuals named above.  Beyond these, we do not certify in other areas (e.g., Foreign Language, Music, Art, or Business Education).  

What states will I be certified to teach in when I am done?

Pennsylvania! Pennsylvania certification “travels” well to most other states (approximately 45 other states).  You can investigate with the receiving state’s Department of Education to determine how to transfer your license.  

How does the 5 year program work?

While you are an undergraduate, you will still be working toward your undergraduate degree/major.  You will have both an undergraduate and a graduate COE advisor who will help guide you through a specific course plan, so that you stay on track to complete your undergraduate degree in 4 years AND your Master’s degree + PA certification one year later.

You will meet with both your undergraduate and COE advisor each semester.  Please stay in close contact with both of your advisors to be sure you stay on track to complete the program on time.

Typically the pace of courses is as follows:

  • For PreK-4 certification: 1 course Sophomore year (300 level only), 1 course Junior year (or 2 if you start as a Junior), 4 courses Senior year (2 per semester). 
  • For 7th-12th grade certifications: 1 course Sophomore year (300 level only), 1  course Junior year (or 2 if you start as a Junior), 2 courses Senior year (1 per semester)
Will I get experience in schools?

Yes!  For the vast majority of COE courses, you will have experience in local classrooms (“fieldwork”).  We set those experiences up for you through our Office of Professional Certification. In order to do fieldwork, you will need to have clearances to work in schools.  For more information, see: https://ed.lehigh.edu/insidecoe/otc/college-education-clearances-policy

When I take COE courses as an undergraduate, do they count toward my graduate degree?

No. This can be confusing to many students, so make sure you talk with your COE advisor about this! While you are an undergraduate, the courses you take in the COE automatically count toward your undergraduate degree.  

In order to complete the 5 year program on time, you will need to be able to count  at least 1 course (3 credits) that you took as an undergraduate toward your graduate degree.  Thus, you really need to complete your undergraduate degree with 124 credits (minimum).  

To have a COE course count toward your graduate degree, you will complete the Undergraduate Petition to Reserve Courses for Graduate Degree.  You do this petition the Fall of your Senior year.   Students typically petition to have 3-6 credits moved toward their graduate degree.  

Are there any restrictions that I need to be aware of when taking graduate courses as an undergraduate?

Yes. If you are taking 1 graduate course, you are limited to 18 credits per semester. If you are taking 2 graduate courses, you are limited to 15 credits per semester.

Can I study abroad and still be eligible to finish in 5 years?

Yes!  We encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity. Often our students study abroad during their Junior year. If you plan to study abroad, please discuss this (and your timing) with your COE advisor.

Do I pay extra to take COE courses while I am an undergraduate?

No, COE courses may be taken as part of your regular Lehigh tuition. However, if you take courses in the Winter or Summer, then this is an extra cost.

This sounds great! How do I apply to the 5 Year Program as an undergraduate?

You cannot apply until you are a Sophomore. We recommend applying the Fall of your Sophomore year. 

You need a 2.75 undergraduate GPA to be eligible for enrollment. Donna Toothman will provide you with a google survey application; email her at djt2@lehigh.edu. You will answer several questions about your interest in the program, and we will verify your undergraduate GPA. You do not need letters of recommendation and will typically hear a decision within 4 weeks of applying.

Do I have to apply to graduate school?

    Yes!  During your Senior year, you need to officially apply to COE graduate school.  Requirements are a 3.0 undergraduate GPA (or 2.75 for conditional acceptance), personal statement, resume, official transcript, and 2 letters of recommendation.  GREs are not required. You will typically hear a decision within 4 weeks of applying.

    When I am officially in graduate school, is COE graduate tuition the same as undergraduate?

    No. Currently, COE tuition is less than $600/credit.  If you plan your program optimally and do not add on additional certifications, you will likely pay for 24 credits.

    Still have questions?

    If you have additional questions, please reach out to:

    • Donna Toothman, TLT/SPED program coordinator, who can answer questions about requirements and processes of applying: djt2@lehigh.edu
    • Brook Sawyer, TLT program director, who can answer questions about general education certification or the social emotional behavioral wellness endorsement: lbs211@lehigh.edu

    Apply today!

    Please contact our Program Coordinator, Donna Toothman, for an application today!