“A Historic Moment”: Undergraduate Teaching Degree Created at Pitt School of Education

School News

A teacher in a classroom

The University of Pittsburgh School of Education has received approval to establish a new four-year bachelor’s degree program in teacher education to support undergraduate students working toward degree completion and state certification.

The Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Teacher Education will begin accepting students—including recently graduated high school students, transfer students, and others—for the fall semester 2023.

The program will offer six academic tracks: five in the secondary grades (7-12) content areas of Mathematics, Social Studies, Science, World (Foreign) Languages, and English Education, and one in Special Education for grades PreK-12. These tracks are aligned with the current Pennsylvania Department of Education certification guidelines.

Additionally, students will be required to complete a student-teaching practicum. In the student-teaching experience, they will teach full-time under the supervision of a mentor teacher in a Western Pennsylvania school district.

“The creation of our undergraduate degree in teacher certification is indeed a historic moment for our School of Education,” says Valerie Kinloch, Renée and Richard Goldman Dean of Pitt Education.

“Through this program, our undergraduate students will learn evidence-based and culturally relevant pedagogies, engage in valuable student-teaching experiences, become leaders who contribute to an important profession, and serve as advocates for equity, justice, and inclusion inside classrooms and beyond. It also has the rich potential to productively contribute to diversifying teaching and teacher education,” says Kinloch.

Decades ago, Pitt Education offered an undergraduate teacher education program. However, that program was eliminated.

In the time since, Pitt Education has provided in-depth training to thousands of pre- and in-service teachers, as well as to school administrators, through its highly ranked graduate programs in teacher education and school leadership, and with its undergraduate minor in teacher education.

These programs will continue to offer students an education in high-quality theory and practice.

Now there is a new path to teacher certification for undergraduates. 

Inspiring Future Teachers 

A female student puts post-it notes on a wall during a learning activity

The new B.S. in Teacher Education program will provide a pathway to teacher certification for a new and more diverse group of future educators, including Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and Other Students of Color; students from low-income backgrounds; first-generation college students; and transfer students, among others.

“What makes me most excited about this program is that we can now offer Pitt students the opportunity to earn a PA teaching certification during their undergraduate program,” says Michelle Sobolak, Associate Professor and Director of Teacher and Professional Education. “This allows us to leverage the strong disciplinary background offered by our colleagues in Pitt’s Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences with our school’s strong pedagogical knowledge and the core values of our mission-vision." 

Sobolak was part of a faculty group that worked on the proposal through the school’s Reimagining Teacher Education Committee.

The other committee members were Lindsay Clare Matsumura, Katrina Bartow Jacobs, Cassie Quigley, Anna Arlotta-Guerrero, Lori Delale-O'Connor, Mary Kay Stein, Sheila Conway, and Emily Rainey.

Matsumura, Professor in the Department of Teaching, Learning, and Leading, and former chair of the reimagining committee, says they studied undergraduate teaching programs across the country, especially those known for centering equity in their programs. 

“Teachers have a profound impact on children,” says Matsumura. “Most people can identify at least one teacher in their life who significantly impacted their life or shaped them in some way. We hope that future students will take advantage of the opportunity we offer to be 'change agents' in society.”

Sabina Vaught, Professor and Inaugural Chair of the Department of Teaching, Learning, and Leading, says the new undergraduate teacher education program will enable the school to carry out its commitment to transforming schools. 

“Undergraduates energized by global activism and committed to the local communities within which they live will bring transformative knowledge to their study and practice,” says Vaught. “We are so excited for the work of justice this major promises to bring.”

Building on a Legacy of Teacher Education

Cathedral of Learning shining in the sunlight through the trees

Founded in 1910, Pitt Education has a rich legacy of preparing tens of thousands of educators to become teachers, curriculum supervisors, principals, and superintendents.

The school currently offers the following teacher education programs at the master’s level:

Early Childhood and Elementary Education

Early childhood/elementary education programs offering teacher certification in grades PreK-4

Secondary Education (Grades 7-12) Teacher Certification 

Secondary Education (Grades 7-12) teacher certification through Master of Arts in Teaching or Instructional I Certificate programs in a variety of content areas:

Special Education

Special Education programs that provide state certification at a variety of levels, including:

Visual Impairment and Blindness 

Visual Impairment and Blindness programs offering certifications for Teacher of the Visually Impaired and for Orientation and Mobility

Learn More

The new Bachelor of Science in Teacher Education program will begin in fall 2023. 

Are you interested in being added to a waiting list or do you simply want to learn more? Request info here.