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ESU now offering master’s degree in elementary education

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Emporia State University was approved to create and implement a master’s degree in elementary education program March 14. The program is designed for persons who have already completed a bachelor’s degree program, have been working in the field but have then decided to become an educator. 

“In the past, the only way to be licensed as an elementary ed teacher was to go through a traditional bachelor’s, four year, program,” said Melissa Reed, associate professor of literacy, elementary education, early childhood and special education and director of the elementary education masters program. “For someone who has life experience and possibly already a master’s degree, that wasn’t very appealing to them.”

The Teacher’s College had been toying with the idea for a while before president Allison Garrett put forth a challenge with an innovation program she was starting, according to Reed. The college saw this as an opportunity to move forward with the program. 

“About a year and half ago we put a committee together on campus and said ‘what would a person need in order to become a good teacher?’” Reed said. 

Then the idea when through the faculty department for a vote, Reed said. After that it had to go through ALC in the Teacher’s College and then the graduate programs at the univeristy leve.

“Once we had all of the university approval it had to go to the Kansas Board of Regents and they had to approve the program,” Reed said. “Then it had to go through the Kansas Department of Education, and it has to go through a couple reviews there, and then the State School Board has to give its final approval.”

It is a 33 credit hour program that is broken up into three steps, according to the program’s brochure.  Step one is the foundational course such as application of developmental theories, teaching or learning models and classroom management and student motivation. 

Step two is the methods and practice classes where students learn best practices in each subject along with having to complete two credit hours of practicum experience, according to the brochure. The third and final step is the clinical experience in an elementary school. 

The application process for the program is pretty standard to other master’s degree programs except for a two things, according to Reed. 

“You have to have two dispositions to demonstrate your temperament or personality for being a classroom teacher,” Reed said. “If they currently have a license, for example if you are a secondary teacher and are licensed to teach six through 12 (grade) so you may already have a secondary license but you want to come back for an elementary license, so you would show your license to us.”

The program offers online courses and clinical experience placement near students, so students can obtain this degree without changing locations, according to the Teacher’s College website. 

Applications for the program are open and they have had two people apply. Those looking to gain more information about the program can check out the Teacher’s College website or contact Reed at

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