Department of Education

The Department of Education has three program areas: Curriculum & Instruction, Educational Leadership, and Adult & Higher Education. As the undergraduate teacher education unit, Curriculum & Instruction provides programs in elementary education and secondary education. The Teacher Education Program is nationally accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) as well as by the Montana Board of Public Education (BPE).

Curriculum & Instruction also offers a Master's degree for advanced professional development for practicing teachers and other education professionals, a graduate certificate in Library Media, and two Doctoral degrees (Ed.D. and Ph.D.). In addition, the department offers a Master of Arts in Teaching degree leading to initial licensure in elementary and select secondary endorsement areas.

The Educational Leadership program offers a Master's (M.Ed.) degree for the leading to licensure as a K-12 Principal, a Superintendent' Certificate obtained beyond the Master's degree, an Education Specialist degree, and a two Doctoral degrees (Ed.D. and Ph.D.) to prepare individuals who are seeking careers in a variety of areas of Educational Leadership. The Educational Leadership program is nationally accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) as well as by the Montana Board of Public Education (BPE).

The program in Adult and Higher Education offers Master's (M.Ed.) and Doctoral level (Ed.D. and Ph.D.) degrees and a College Teaching Certificate for those seeking careers in Higher Education or other post-secondary educational venues.

Mission Statement

The mission of the Department of Education is to prepare highly qualified professional educators and administrators through exemplary campus and distance based programs and field placements in quality public and private schools. In addition, the department contributes to the State of Montana and the nation through the faculty's active research and outreach efforts.

Montana State University is one of the units in the Montana University System charged with the responsibility of recommending teacher candidates for teacher licensure. In discharging this responsibility, the College of Education, Health and Human Development attempts to encourage, prepare, and recommend for licensure only those students who show promise of teaching excellence. Consequently, certain criteria have been established for admission to the Teacher Education Program, and screening procedures have been provided at several points in the program.

The Teacher Education Program endeavors to select applicants who have the ability to become highly competent teachers. As an accredited teacher education program, the curriculum in teacher education adheres to the standards of the Montana Professional Educator Preparation Program Standards outlined by the Montana Board of Public Education (BPE) and the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). Within these guidelines, the Teacher Education faculty have the freedom and ultimate responsibility for the selection and evaluation of its students; the design, implementation, and evaluation of its curriculum; and the determination of who should be recommended for a degree and state licensure. Admission and retention decisions are based not only on prior satisfactory academic achievement but also on a range of factors which serve to ensure that the teacher candidate can demonstrate the Professional Expectations required in the Teacher Education Program.

The program does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status, or disability. When requested, the University will provide reasonable accommodations to otherwise qualified students with disabilities.

Undergraduate Teacher Education Program—Conceptual Framework

The Teacher Education Program at MSU believes that learning to teach in educational settings is a complex task requiring a thoughtful blending of content mastery with carefully guided field experiences. In order to meet the multiple demands of an ever-changing profession, we ensure that students demonstrate their competencies in guided field experiences through every phase of our program. Thus, students who graduate from the Teacher Education Program at MSU are engaged in and committed to:

  1. Content Mastery
    The Teacher Education Program at MSU has been designed to provide our students with a rich and well-balanced education grounded in the liberal arts & sciences and current educational theory, research, and practice. Students participate in learning communities within our program in which they develop in-depth content knowledge for their work as classroom teachers and school leaders. Our graduates understand the central concepts, tools of inquiry, and structures of the disciplines and can create standards-based learning experiences that are meaningful for students.
  2. Understanding Development and Diversity of Learners
    Graduates of the Teacher Education Program understand how K-12 students learn and develop and can provide learning opportunities which are adapted to diverse learners and support their intellectual, social, and personal development. Our graduates are committed to building a caring, respectful, and supportive learning environment and are prepared to provide access to the necessary tools to help every student learn. They are also cognizant of and committed to Montana's American Indian cultures and the values embodied by the Indian Education for All Act.
  3. Pedagogical and Technological Proficiency
    We believe that professional educators must have sound pedagogical content knowledge and be skilled in the use of research-based instructional practices. Our graduates understand and use a variety of instructional strategies to foster students' motivation for learning and encourage their conceptual understandings through the development of critical thinking, problem solving, and performance/work force skills. Our graduates understand the principles of differentiated instruction and can integrate these concepts and practices into their teaching. The graduates of our Teacher Education Program also demonstrate knowledge of effective verbal and nonverbal communication techniques and effectively use educational technology to foster active inquiry, collaboration, and supportive interaction in the classroom.
  4. Excellence in Instructional Design and Assessment
    It is essential for teachers to understand and practice alignment in curriculum, standards, and assessments. Our program is committed to current models of instructional design in which our candidates focus on defining learning outcomes and determining evidence that all learners have met  curricular goals. Our graduates plan instruction based upon knowledge of subject matter, students, the community, and curriculum goals. They also understand how to analyze pre-, formative, and summative assessment of student learning for individuals, small groups, or whole class settings to ensure the intellectual, social, and personal development of every learner.
  5. Professionalism in Practice and Reflection
    Continuous improvement of the education profession depends upon the systematic practice of professional reflection, inquiry, and collaboration to discover new and more effective educational approaches. Our graduates demonstrate the ability to reflect on classroom decision-making with regard to content, diversity, pedagogy and assessment in order to improve teaching and learning. They are reflective practitioners who examine their own biases and endeavor to provide equitable educational opportunities for students. They also demonstrate an understanding that education happens in a context and develop effective relationships with family and community members. As candidates move from campus to the K-12 classroom, they are expected to adhere to and model our program’s Professional Expectations and Montana’s Code of Ethics for teachers.

Professional Competencies

These are required by Montana State University for all professional educators and are evidenced by the behaviors indicated. MSU professional educators will able to demonstrate the following...

  1. Communication competencies appropriate to one’s professional level and teaching context:
    • Using appropriate grammar (syntax, inflection, and word choice) in oral communication.
    • Speaking distinctly and with confidence.
    • Interacting sensitively to situation and circumstances with professors, students, peers, and colleagues.
    • Using correct spelling, Standard English mechanics, and meaningful word choice in written expression.
  2. Intellectual competencies appropriate one’s professional level and teaching context:
    • Mastering relevant content in subjects commonly taught in K-12 settings.
    • Mastering pedagogical principles and their application in field settings at a level deemed
      appropriate by the MSU faculty.
    • Comprehending, memorizing, analyzing, and synthesizing material.
    • Developing reasoning and decision-making skills appropriate to the practice of teaching.

Professional Dispositions

These are required by Montana State University for all professional educators and are evidenced by the behaviors indicated. MSU professional educators will able to demonstrate the following... 

  1. Dispositions toward professional engagement:
    • Committing fully in all class activities and field settings.
    • Presenting a consistent professional appearance, including dress, body art, and hygiene.
    • Prioritizing obligations to maintain poise and complete all responsibilities punctually and efficiently.
  2. Dispositions toward valuing diversity:
    • Showing habitual respect for and promotion of others’ cultures, languages, abilities, views, etc.
    • Implementing equitable practices when planning instruction or when organizing assessments/testing.
    • Working collaboratively for positive learning environments sensitive to school & community values.
  3. Dispositions toward embracing feedback for professional growth:
    • Accepting, responding to, and seeking out experienced critiques of one’s professional development.
    • Taking responsibility for one’s own growth, regularly reflecting on personal teaching strengths and flaws.
    • Maintaining a calm professional distance during conflict, showing a willingness to “let things go.”
    • Exhibiting resilience by persevering in the face of injustice or challenge.
  4. Dispositions toward a collaborative team spirit:
    • Practicing thoughtful, active listening and mindful observation of people and situations.
    • Including colleagues, learners, and others in setting goals and in making decisions.
    • Using various methods of clear and professional communication to forge connections with diverse colleagues.
  5. Dispositions toward ethical behavior:
    • Understanding and applying professional educator ethics, standards, law, and policy.
    • Exercising judgment and discretion as an advocate for students.
    • Showing commitment to the ethical collection, interpretation, and application of data.
  6. Dispositions toward responsibility and trustworthiness:
    • Showing appropriate accountability to those served through positivity, professional courtesy, self-control, and unbiased concern for others—both in and outside of the school community (including online).
    • Evidencing continuous learning by drawing on policy and research to reflect and improve practice.
  7. Dispositions to responsive, encouraging student-centeredness:
    • Responding to students’ strengths as a basis for growth and to their misconceptions as opportunities.
    • Using varied forms of timely, kind, and meaningful feedback according to each learner’s unique needs.
    • Encouraging flexible learning environments that support learner expression and discovery.
    • Working to develop each learner’s capacity to self-assess and to provide respectful, positive peer assessment.

Admission to the Teacher Education Program

Students must apply to the Teacher Education Program during the semester prior to taking their upper-division methods and practicum coursework. Admission to the Teacher Education Program requires completion of the "Application for Admission." These forms are available at and must be turned into the Education Advising Center, Reid Hall 132. 

The requirements for admission to the Teacher Education Program are:

  1. a 3.0 grade-point average in the teaching major, minor and option (content and pedagogical coursework), with no grade below a "C" in any of these areas
  2. a current background check completed as outlined by Sec. 20-4-110 of the MCA

Application and Approval for Student Teaching

Certain requirements must be met by all students desiring to student teach:

  1. maintenance of the same standards required for admission into the program including satisfactory clearance on a federal criminal background check
  2. completion of all required courses (meeting academic requirements as listed above) prior to student teaching
  3. a 3.0 grade-point average in the content and pedagogical coursework for any teaching major or teaching minor
  4. certification in first aid with CPR

Student teaching is limited to seniors. A completed application must be submitted to the Office of Field Placement and Licensure before any placement is made.

If special services or accommodations (for a disability) are needed or required while student teaching, requests must be submitted to the Office of Field Placement and Licensure and arrangements will be made.

Successful Program Completion

The requirements for successful program completion include:

  • completion of all courses in the Teacher Education Program as outlined in DegreeWorks meeting the GPA standards according to catalog year
  • maintenance of the same standards as are required for student teaching including Montana Assessment of Content Knowledge (MACK). The MACK includes three measures of content knowledge: program GPA, verification of content knowledge demonstrated during student teaching, and a passing score on the Praxis or an approved alternative as agreed upon by the Department of Education and its University Teacher Education Committee partners.

Recommendation and Approval for Licensure

The requirements for recommendation by Montana State University for licensure include:

  • completion of all courses in the Teacher Education Program as outlined in DegreeWorks meeting the GPA standards according to catalog year
  • maintenance of the same standards as are required for student teaching including Montana Assessment of Content Knowledge
  • meet the Office of Public Instruction (OPI) assessment requirements
  • completion of the OPI licensure application

Residency Requirements for Professional Education Courses

In order to recommend prospective teachers in elementary and/or secondary education for Montana teacher licensure, students must enroll in most methods, teaching practicum(s), and student teaching through the MSU-Bozeman campus.

Based on MSU graduation requirements, twenty-three of the last thirty credits earned to meet the graduation requirement must be MSU credits. Specific majors may have program-specific requirements for courses that must be taken from MSU to meet graduation requirements. Such requirements are clearly identified in the curriculum description for that department.

Second Degree and Non-degree Licensure

Students already holding valid Bachelor's degrees may fulfill licensure requirements by completing a second undergraduate degree, or in some cases, a non-degree program. Students completing a second degree are required to complete 30 credits, nine of which must be 300-400 level. Students should contact the Office of Field Placement and Licensure for further information. Non-degree and second-degree students must meet the same standards for program entrance and student teaching as first-degree students

Elementary Education K-8

The following options may be added to the Elementary Education K-8 major, but students are not required to add an option. 

Secondary Education (Grades 5-12 and K-12)

The Department of Education administers secondary education degrees in General Science Broadfield (5-12) and Social Studies Broadfield (5-12). Additional teaching degrees at the 5-12 and K-12 levels are offered in cooperation with other departments across campus.

Teaching Minors

A number of teaching minors are available for students majoring in Secondary Education or Elementary Education.