Pennsylvania’s public schools have 1.7 million students from Pre-K through 12th grade and 500 public school districts. With public education making up nearly 90% of school enrollment in the state, Pennsylvania needs a lot of qualified teachers who complete the Pennsylvania Department of Education approved degree program and certification requirements.
Because Pennsylvania is a member of the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC), teachers from Pennsylvania or other member states can more easily transfer their certifications to other member states. Part of being a NASDTEC member state means that Pennsylvania has several stages of teaching licensure in additional to a vast array of content area certificates required of each license. With over 30 universities offering online education degrees, especially at the graduate level, Pennsylvania is a great location for early childhood education degrees.
Requirements for Teaching Licensure in Pennsylvania
The requirements to attain a teaching license in Pennsylvania are extensive. Teaching licenses are split across 4 stages of training and education level, with a Stage 3 License being the first stage that allows teachers to be responsible for their own classrooms. At Stage 3, teachers must have a bachelor’s degree and an Instructional I, Educational Specialist I, or Program Specialist certificates that determine what level and content area they are allowed to teach in the state. Stage 4 requires post-baccalaureate credit or a master’s and an Instruction II or Educational Specialist II certificate. With over 50 instructional certificates, 14 world language certificates, 8 specialist certificates, 31 supervisory and administrative certificates, and 8 other endorsements, Pennsylvania teachers are certain to know their content area. To gain a Stage 3 License, as well as Instruction I, Educational Specialist I, or Program Specialist teaching certificates, teachers in the state of Pennsylvania must complete a state-approved teacher education program that includes student teaching or field experience (as appropriate for the given certificate). Additionally, teachers must also take the Pre-service Academic Performance Assessment (PAPA) Reading, Writing, Mathematics, as well as the correct content assessments as indicated by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
Admissions requirements vary according to the degree sought. At the undergraduate level, students must meet the university’s entrance requirements. These vary widely from school to school, especially among public and private universities. Often undergraduate students are only admitted to the specific education degree program after they have completed an associates degree or the university’s general education requirements. Sometimes, undergraduate education programs will require certain GPAs or additional letters of recommendation for admittance. At the graduate level, applicants need to have a bachelor’s degree. Sometimes that degree will need to be in education or a closely related field. Students without an education degree may be asked to complete additional coursework in order to be accepted into or graduate from a M.Ed program. Most M.Ed programs also require transcripts, test scores, and letters of recommendation. In order to pursue a Teacher Education Certification, teachers must also meet the Pennsylvania state content course requirements, which are reviewed upon application to most graduate programs. Many graduate programs will also require a current teaching certificate for acceptance. Most M.Ed programs will also require students to successfully complete Praxis content area exams in order to graduate.
Average Salaries for Common ECED-holding Roles in Pennsylvania
- Preschool Teacher: $28,060
- Elementary School Teacher: $62,250
- Middle School School Teacher: $62,620
- High School School Teacher: $64,320
- Professor of Education: $67,350
- School Principal: $99,010
- Special Education Teacher: $64,160
- Career/Vocational Teacher, High School: $61,470
- School Psychologist: $72,640
Scholarships for Future Educators in the State of Pennsylvania
Works with early childhood educators and their employers to pay for 10-25% of the cost of tuition, as well as funding for fees, books, and travel.
Rising STARS Tuition Assistance Program
Designed for educators looking for post-baccalaureate or master’s degrees. Pays 95% of tuition costs for eligible college coursework taken by early learning professionals up to $6,000.
Provides scholarships to outstanding Pennsylvania college and university students who are enrolled in accredited teacher preparation programs. Applicants must be members of the Pennsylvania State Education Association.
The 5 Best Early Childhood Education Degree Programs in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania has a total of 32 education degree-granting institutions that provide online education degrees. These schools range from small private liberal arts schools to large public research universities offering bachelor’s degrees in education to master’s degrees in various subspecialities or with additional teaching certificate endorsements, especially in regard to special education. Because Pennsylvania has so many specialized teaching certificates, and very strict qualifying rules to earn those certificates, it is important that students choose the degree that offers the right certification or endorsement. A great resources is the complete list of teacher certification programs, broken down according to certification category, approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. To select the following top five universities, we’ve looked at several factors: the cost of tuition, the number of online education degrees, and the institution’s academic prestige according to national ranking numbers.
Drexel University is a private research university in Philadelphia. With more than 26,000 students and over a 100 graduate programs, Drexel has a wide variety of educational options. This variety and quality carries over to their online programs. Drexel University founded National Distance Learning Week to bring greater attention to exceptional leaders in distance education, and since founding its online arm—Drexel University Online—Drexel has gone on to win the Sloan-C award for institution-wide excellence in online education, as well as, the United States Distance Learning Association’s Best Practices Awards for Distance Learning Programming.
Some of Drexel’s online degree programs include undergraduate and graduate programs in Education. At the undergraduate level, students can complete the fully online Bachelor’s in Education to prepare for PK-4 elementary teacher certification or PreK-4 & Special Education certification. At the graduate level over a dozen education degrees to choose from and even more graduate certificates. For instance, Drexel online students can earn a Master’s in Teaching, Learning, and Curriculum with tracks for either PreK-4 or Secondary Education. Graduate students could also earn a Master’s in Special Education and choose between 7 concentrations like multisensory reading instruction and collaborative special education law. Drexel also has a range of graduate degrees and certificates that focus on educational technology, as well as a doctorate degree in Educational Leadership and Management.
- Online Education Degree Homepage
- Online Ed Degrees: 17
- In-state Tuition: $39,021
2. Pennsylvania State University – World Campus
Pennsylvania State University World Campus or Penn State Online, is the online campus of Pennsylvania State University. Launched in 1998 from the University’s long established distance education program, Penn State Online offers more than 120 online undergraduate and graduate degree or certificate programs. With nearly 13,500 students, Penn State Online has become a major resources for flexible, online education for today’s busy students. In the 20 years that Penn State Online has been around, it has constantly been recognized as providing one of the nation’s best online educations.
A number of Penn State Online’s degrees cover the field of education, all of which are at the graduate level. For instance, online students can earn a Master’s in Learning, Design, and Technology. While the program focuses on teaching in a K-12 setting, students also move into careers as curriculum designers for higher ed, corporations, and the military. Another online degree option through Penn State Online is a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction. In this program, students choose between 5 emphasis areas: children’s literature, STEM education, elementary education, curriculum and supervision, and theory and practice in English, social studies, and world languages. If students aren’t ready to enter a master’s program, Penn State also offers several online post baccalaureate certificate programs that can count towards a later master’s degree. These certificates include: educational technology integration, e-Learning design, and teaching and learning online in K-12 settings.
- Online Education Degree Homepage
- Online Ed Degrees: 7
- In-state Tuition: $23,129
3. Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania
Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania is a public, master’s-level university in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania. Founded in 1889, Slippery Rock started as a teacher training school. While it eventually adopted a wider range of degree options in the 1960s, it remains known for its quality teacher education programs. Today, Slippery Rock offers a range of liberal arts and professional degree programs to its more than 8,500 students. Included in those degree options are several online undergraduate degree completion programs, and several master’s and doctoral degree programs.
Slippery Rock University offers 15 online education degrees at the master’s and doctoral levels. Online students can earn Master’s degrees in Elementary Education with different tracks including: K-8 Math/Science, K-12 Reading Specialist, and K-12 Reading with a Coaching Literacy Endorsement. Similarly, for Master’s in Secondary Education, online students can choose between a range of content areas, including math and science, english, and history. Many of Slippery Rock’s online education degrees are designed to help working teaching gain additional certifications, professionalization hours, or advance their careers. With that in mind most programs require students to successfully pass the Praxis II exam in their degree’s content area in order to graduate.
- Online Education Degree Homepage
- Online Ed Degrees: 15
- In-state Tuition: $17,443
4. Saint Joseph’s University
Saint Joseph’s University, or St. Joe’s, is a private, Catholic university in the Philadelphia suburbs. Founded in 1851 by the Jesuits, St. Joe’s is the 7th oldest Jesuit university in the nation. Today, St. Joe’s works to maintain it’s Jesuit Christian mission by promoting service and social justice. St. Joe’s meets the needs of its 9,200 students by offering a wide range of degrees including: over 60 undergraduate majors, 53 graduate programs, and over a dozen study-abroad, special study, and joint degree programs. The variety of degree options at St. Joe’s carries over to their online offerings. With 29 online degrees and certificates, students have the flexibility to explore their interests.
Several of those online degrees and certificates are in the field of education. St. Joe’s offers 3 Master’s in Education degrees: Deaf and Hard of Hearing PK-12, Secondary Education, and Special Education. Within the Master’s in Special Education degree, online students can also add one of 5 certification tracks (which are also offered as certificate options outside of the master’s degree). These certificates include: Applied Behavior Analysis, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Wilson Reading System, and Special Education. Students in this program must also have a related bachelor’s in education, as well as a Level 1 teacher certification in one of several areas. Upon completing any of St. Joe’s online Master’s in education degrees, students are eligible for related Pennsylvania state teaching certificates.
- Online Education Degree Homepage
- Online Ed Degrees: 19
- In-state Tuition: $36,058
5. Robert Morris University
Robert Morris University is a private doctoral university in Moon, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Pittsburgh. Founded in 1921 as the Pittsburgh School of Accountancy, Robert Morris University quickly changed its name to honor the Declaration of Independence signer. Slowly the school expanded its course offerings, until it became a comprehensive university in 2002. Today, RMU has a little over 5,000 students. With a small student body, RMU can ensure that each of its students have individualized educational experiences. Despite its size, RMU offers a wide range of degree programs including 60 bachelor’s as well as over 20 masters and doctoral programs. At RMU students not only get the benefits of a small school, but the variety of options at a large university and the numerous resources of a major metropolitan area.
RMU also offers a number of online degree programs to meet the needs of busy students. Several of those programs are in the field of education. For instance, online students can earn a Master’s in Instructional Leadership. This program is designed for teachers looking to advance their careers. As such, students can combine the master’s program with 5 online certification and endorsement options, including: autism spectrum disorders, instructional technology specialist, online instruction, principal certification, and post-baccalaureate teacher certification. In order to graduate from RMU’s online Master’s in Instructional Leadership, students must complete additional certification programs to earn an Instructional I Teaching Certificate.
- Online Education Degree Homepage
- Online Ed Degrees: 5
- In-state Tuition: $24,536
|Pennsylvania State University-World Campus||University Park, Pennsylvania||Online Ed Degrees: 7|
|Robert Morris University||Moon Township, Pennsylvania||Online Ed Degrees: 5|
|University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh Campus||Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania||Online Ed Degrees: 4|
|Wilkes University||Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania||Online Ed Degrees: 8|
|Duquesne University||Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania||Online Ed Degrees: 4|
|Gannon University||Erie, Pennsylvania||Online Ed Degrees: 5|
|Eastern University||Saint Davids, Pennsylvania||Online Ed Degrees: 6|
|Point Park University||Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania||Online Ed Degrees: 6|
|La Salle University||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania||Online Ed Degrees: 2|
|Cedar Crest College||Allentown, Pennsylvania||Online Ed Degrees: 1|
|DeSales University||Center Valley, Pennsylvania||Online Ed Degrees: 1|
|Gwynedd Mercy University||Gwynedd Valley, Pennsylvania||Online Ed Degrees: 3|
|Clarks Summit University||South Abington Township, Pennsylvania||Online Ed Degrees: 4|
|East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania||East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania||Online Ed Degrees: 2|
|Wilson College||Chambersburg, Pennsylvania||Online Ed Degrees: 1|
|Lehigh Carbon Community College||Schnecksville, Pennsylvania||Online Ed Degrees: 3|
|Delaware County Community College||Media, Pennsylvania||Online Ed Degrees: 2|
|Gratz College||Melrose Park, Pennsylvania||Online Ed Degrees: 2|
|Community College of Allegheny County||Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania||Online Ed Degrees: 1|
|Northampton County Area Community College||Bethlehem, Pennsylvania||Online Ed Degrees: 1|
|Pennsylvania Highlands Community College||Johnstown, Pennsylvania||Online Ed Degrees: 1|