What is teacher certification?
Certification is how states verify that a candidate for a teaching or counseling position has the knowledge and skills necessary to do the job well. Certification standards are set by each state. Colleges and universities offer a variety of options for gaining the knowledge and skills necessary for certification: undergraduate teaching programs, fifth-year certificate programs, and fifth-year masters programs are some examples. It's important to determine what type of program works best for you. For more information about the MAT and other options, contact the School of Education.
Can I major in education?
Colleges and universities offer a variety of options for obtaining teacher certification: undergraduate teaching programs, fifth-year certificate programs, and fifth-year masters programs are some examples. At Puget Sound, the School of Education offers a masters level program only. Our faculty believes that a full course of undergraduate study, in addition to a Masters of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.), provides the best preparation for a beginning teacher. Since salaries are considerably higher for those with a master's degree, there is a financial benefit as well. (See Endorsement Requirements below for suggested majors).
When should I begin preparing for the graduate school admission process?
Everything you do as an undergraduate can be relevant to the process: earning good grades in courses (especially in those related to what you will teach), gaining all the related co-curricular, volunteer or work experience you can, and cultivating relationships with faculty who can write you strong recommendations. You need not take any steps directly related to the admission process until your junior year, when you research M.A.T. program options and take any exams required for your graduate program. Applications to most M.A.T. and other graduate programs are due during the spring prior to matriculation. Some schools offer rolling admission deadlines. Watch deadlines carefully, as they will vary widely from school to school.
Do I have to take all three sections of the WEST-B?
Yes, regardless of your endorsement, all applicants to teacher prep programs must pass a reading, writing, and mathematics section of a basic skills exam (includes ACT/SAT, Praxis I, and CBEST).
Does testing need to be completed prior to application? When do tests need to be completed?
Prior to the start of M.A.T. classes. However, applicants who do not hold a major in their endorsement area are advised to take the WEST-E as close to the application deadline as possible.
Can I substitute an exam from another state?
Out-of-state applicants to graduate level Washington programs may substitute either the Praxis I or CBEST for the WEST-B. Scores from the SAT or ACT taken after 2005 may also be used to meet the basic skills requirement. SAT minimums: Math 515; Reading 500; Writing 490. ACT minimums: Math 22; Reading 22; Writing 8. The only substitutions for the WEST-E is a Washington approved, content area exam through National Evaluations System's (NES) . All approved exams are listed on the Pearson's website.
Can I take prerequisites as another institution?
If you have not taken education coursework at the time of your application, our preference is that you complete prerequisites during summer term prior to the start of M.A.T. at the University of Puget Sound. Please be sure to inquire about courses that you have taken at other institutions and if they can be used to satisfy either of our prerequisite courses. Our experience is that some students have often taken a course on American schools that satisfies the ED419 prerequisite.
Can I have the prerequisite courses waived?
If you have previously taken coursework that is comparable in both content and credit, you may submit course descriptions and syllabi to the Dean of the School of Education. Waivers are considered on a case-by-case basis.
What undergraduate majors should I choose if I want to become a teacher?
Elementary Candidates: Elementary teachers teach a wide variety of subjects. For an elementary school endorsement any of several undergraduate majors is appropriate, but you may wish to select a major that will give you greater depth of subject matter knowledge in a subject taught in elementary schools (e.g., social studies, English (especially writing), math, science). When selecting elective courses, consider taking at least one course in each of the areas you might teach. The content test is one of general liberal arts knowledge corresponding to the subjects taught in elementary school. You need to know what you’re teaching.
Secondary Candidates: For secondary teaching you should major, minor, or take the equivalent of five Puget Sound units in the subject you wish to teach. For example, if you want to teach math at the high school level, you should major or minor in math or take at least five math classes. You will need to pass the subject matter test for your endorsement prior to final admission to the M.A.T. program.
Music Candidates: The music endorsement requires candidates to hold the equivalent of a baccalaureate degree in music education. Candidates must must audition and submit transcripts to the School of Music prior to acceptance to the MAT program. For more information, contact Rachel Hanusa in the School of Music.
Can I earn multiple endorsements?
Secondary candidates (5-12) can earn multiple endorsements that share similar methods, e.g. History/social studies and English, or math/science, or multiple sciences. Candidates must have supporting content area coursework for each endorsement and pass the corresponding WEST-E/NES prior to approval. Candidates will complete a field experience for each endorsement as part of the program.
What are the prerequisites for each endorsement?
These courses vary. We ask that at a minimum, secondary candidates have the equivalent of an undergraduate minor in their primary endorsement area. This policy is consistent with Washington state certification requirements.
Can experience teaching with an emergency substitute certificate count towards fulfilling my student teaching requirement?
No, all student teaching must be completed within the program to meet state standards. Field supervisors are responsible for observing and assessing each candidate’s teaching skills in order to make a recommendation to the state for certification.
I have completed coursework for a teaching certificate at another institution; can I complete my student teaching with the University of Puget Sound?
It is not possible to complete only the student teaching portion of the program.
Will I be certified to teach in any state?
Most likely. Washington state has earned reciprocity agreements with most states. This means that most other states agree to accept Washington state teacher certification. However, each state has specific certification requirements and you may be required to take additional coursework or pay additional fees before being issued a permanent teaching certificate in your state of choice (most states will allow you to teach while completing any additional requirements). If you plan to teach outside of Washington, we recommend that you speak with Puget Sound’s Certification Officer (Karen Stump) for specific information about how that state’s requirements may affect you.
Puget Sound’s Teaching and Counseling Professions Advisory Committee (TCPAC) offers advice, help, and information about preparing for a career in education and applying to graduate programs in education. Please contact Professor Terence Beck for more information. All staff and faculty in the School of Education are available to talk to you about your career choices. Areas of expertise are:
Terence Beck: Elementary Literacy and Social Studies,
Secondary Social Studies
Fred Hamel: Secondary English
Grace Kirchner: School and Agency Counseling
Amy Ryken: Elementary and Secondary Math and Science
John Woodward: Secondary Math
All students are welcome to visit Academic Advising (Howarth 114) and Career and Employment Services (Howarth 101). Counselors are available by appointment to discuss your academic and career options. The Career and Employment Services library contains a number of useful resources regarding careers and education.