2020-21 Catalogs

BA in Self-Designed Major - Elementary Teacher Education

The undergraduate Self-Designed Contract Major is designed to prepare those students seeking elementary and middle school (K–8) certification in Maine with a strong foundation in mathematics and science and essential knowledge in integrating the disciplines through modeling, engineering, research, and technology. The overarching goal of the program is to prepare pre-service teachers with a deep understanding of the Common Core Mathematics and Next Generation Science Standards. Coursework models best teaching practices, emphasizes using reading and writing across the STEM curriculum, and focuses on hands-on, problem-based learning. Interested students should see the STEM education coordinator upon acceptance at USM, matriculation, upon choosing this major, or as early in their time at USM as possible. The Concentration in Elementary Education offers a continuous focus on both the theory and practice of teaching through a sequence of pre-internship education courses and field experiences.

Students completing the degree will have satisfied the USM Core Curriculum, the STEM Education Major, and Elementary Education Concentration, as well as liberal arts courses required for initial K-8 teacher certification. Graduates who complete the degree are eligible for recommendation for K-8 teacher certification in Maine. A minimum of 60.5 credits are required for the STEM Education major (note: additional credits are required for the Elementary Education Concentration and liberal arts courses required for initial K-8 teacher certification in Maine), and USM requires 120 credits total for graduation.

USM Core Curriculum (including pre-internship education courses that are required for the Concentration in Elementary Education; 24 additional credits above those required by the major)

  • Entry Year Experience - EYE 108 Culture, Identity and Education (recommended for the Elementary Education Concentration (3 cr)
  • College Writing - ENG 100 (3 cr)
  • Quantitative Reasoning - MAT 132 Quantitative Reasoning for Elementary School Teachers (required) (4 cr)
  • Socio-Cultural Analysis - HRD 200/SBS Multicultural Human Development (required for the Elementary Education Concentration) (3 cr)
  • Science Exploration - fulfilled by several courses required for the major
  • Cultural Interpretation - ENG 140 Reading Literature or ENG 145 Topics in Literature (recommended) (3 cr)
  • Creative Expression - EDU 230 Teaching through the Arts (recommended for the Elementary Education Concentration) (3 cr)
  • Ethical Inquiry, Social Responsibility, and Citizenship - EDU 310 What is the Purpose of Education in a Democracy? (recommended for the Elementary Education Concentration) (3 cr)
  • Core Electives - EDU 305 Foundations of Cultural and Linguistics Diversity (required), SED 335 Students with Exceptionalities in General Education (required), and SED 420 Multi-tiered Systems of Educational Support (required) (9 cr)
  • Diversity and International met with EDU 305 and EDU 310, respectively 
  • Engaged Learning met with EDU 100, EDU 222, EDU 305, EDU 445, and SED 335 (required)

Major Requirements: (Total credits required for the major is 60.5-69)

Mathematics Content (a minimum of 24 credits)

  • MAT 108 College Algebra (4 cr) or MAT 140 Pre-Calculus Mathematics (3 cr)
  • MAT 120 Introduction to Statistics (4 cr)
  • MAT 131 Number Systems for Elementary Teachers (3 cr)
  • MAT 148 Applied Calculus (3 cr) or MAT 152 Calculus A (4 cr)
  • MAT 231 Algebra for Elementary Teachers (3 cr)
  • MAT 232 Geometry for Elementary Teachers (3 cr)
  • MAT 242 Applied Problem Solving (3 cr)

Science Content (27.5-30 credits)                                                           

  • ESP 101, 102 Fundamentals of Environmental Science and Laboratory (4 cr) 
  • AST 100, 103 Astronomy and Laboratory (4 cr) or STH 112 Physical and Earth/Space Science for K-8 Teachers (4 cr)
  • CHY 113, 114 Principles of Chemistry I and Laboratory (4.5 cr) 
  • PHY 111, 114 Elements of Physics I and Laboratory (5 cr)
  • BIO 105, 106 Biological Principles I: Cellular Biology and Laboratory (4.5 cr) or ESP 125, 126 Introduction to Environmental Ecology and Laboratory (4 cr)
  • Two of the following upper-level science courses: BIO 201 Genetics; ESP 207 Atmosphere: Science, Climate, and Change; ESP 260 Soil and Water Conservation Engineering; ESP 275 Energy Use and Societal Adaptation; ESP 280 Research and Analytical Methods; ESP 303 Wetlands Ecology; ESP 412 Field Ecosystem Ecology; or ESP 413 Forest Ecology (3-4 cr)

Mathematics and Science Content and Pedagogy (9-15 credits)

  • MME 400 Elementary Mathematics Methods (3 cr)
  • EDU 452 Teaching Science K-8 (3 cr)
  • Professional Internship (3-9 cr)


Students must complete elective credits to complete the 120 minimum credits for graduation. For those students seeking elementary certification, the Core Curriculum allows students to meet the minimum requirements for distributed credits across the liberal arts (i.e., all students must have at least 6 credits in English, math, science, and social studies). The following courses are also recommended: 

Social Studies: HTY 101 Western Civilization I or HTY 102 Western Civilization II and HTY 122 United States History 1800 to 1900 or HTY 123 United States History Since 1900 (6 cr)

Elementary Teacher Education Requirements:

In addition to meeting all major and Core requirements the following teacher education requirements must be met.

The Elementary Teacher Education Pathway is designed to prepare elementary and middle school teachers, grades K-8, who are knowledgeable of the content they will teach and who have the skills to apply that knowledge to teaching. Elementary education students major in a discipline and take a series of teacher education courses that fulfill their University Core Curriculum requirements as well as the requirements for teacher certification in their discipline. These courses introduce students to aspects of teaching and learning and provide hands-on field experiences in schools and community organizations where they can make connections between theory and practice. At the time of degree completion, students will have met the degree requirements for a major and for initial teacher certification.

Program Declaration and Withdrawal

All students must formally declare their entry into a teacher education pathway by completing the Declaration and/or Dropping of Undergraduate Teacher Education Pathway Form with the registrar’s office. The form is located in the forms section of the Office of Registration and Scheduling Services.

Academic Requirements

The minimum academic requirements to be a student in good standing in the Elementary Teacher Education Pathway are as follows:

  • A grade of B or better in all professional education coursework.
  • A grade of C or better in content courses required for the area of teacher certification.
  • An overall GPA of 3.0 or better.

Failure to maintain the above requirements may result in program dismissal. Appeals may be made in writing to the Director of Educator Preparation.


Upon declaring the Elementary Teacher Education Pathway, a student becomes a pre-candidate. The pre-candidacy phase of the program is the first three years of the program prior to the professional internship. Pre-candidacy coursework is as follows:


  • EDU 310: Purpose of Schooling in a Democracy* (3 cr)
  • EYE 108: Culture, Identity and Education (3 cr)
  • SED 300: Ethics and Youth with Exceptionalities (3 cr)


  • EDU 100: Exploring Teaching as a Profession* (3 cr)
  • EDU 222: Foundations of Language and Literacy Development* (3 cr)
  • EDU 305: Foundations of Cultural and Linguistic Diversity* (3 cr)
  • HRD/SBS 200: Multicultural Human Development (3 cr)
  • SED 335: Students with Exceptionalities in General Education* (3 cr)

*Course includes required service learning or practicum hours in a school or community setting to give pre-candidates hands-on experience with K-12 students and create connections between theory and practice.

These formal placements are linked to each course and are arranged by the Field Experience Coordinator in the Office of Educator Preparation. Other education courses may require observation experiences in field settings that students arrange on their own.


Candidacy takes place in the spring semester of the third year or when a student has completed the pre-candidacy teacher education coursework and has made satisfactory and sufficient progress in their major. Candidacy is the process pre-candidates go through in order to be admitted to the professional level courses and internship. To be eligible for candidacy, pre-candidates must be in good academic standing, have passed the Praxis Core, and provided evidence of their Criminal History Record Check.

See USM’s Professional Licensure and Certification Notice located on the Office of Registration Services website for more information. 

Pre-candidates are required to complete and show documentation of the fingerprinting process outlined by the Maine Department of Education.

Pre-candidates must complete the Candidacy application in Tk20 (more information below) as well as provide a current resume and two letters of recommendation. The candidacy application is due on January 31 of each year. Upon review eligible pre-candidates will be invited to participate in a 30-minute internship admission interview.

Professional Internship

The professional internship is a full-year experience that fulfills Maine’s student teaching requirement and provides elementary education teacher candidates the opportunity to apply what they are learning in their teacher education courses in a more sustained and in-depth setting. The first semester internship is the equivalent of 20 hours per week in a partner school, and the second semester internship is a full-time, five days per week experience in a partner school. Students take the internship courses concurrently.

Required courses are as follows:

  • EDU 405 Teaching Mathematics K-8 (3 cr)
  • EDU 442 Seminar in Teaching, Learning, and Assessment (3 cr)
  • EDU 445 Student Teaching (9 cr total, 3 credits first semester and 6 credits second semester)
  • EDU 451 Teaching Social Studies K-8 (3 cr)
  • EDU 452 Teaching Science K-8 (3 cr)
  • EDU 465 Teaching Reading K-8 for All Students Including those with Diverse Abilities and Backgrounds(3 cr)
  • EDU 466 Introduction to Writing Process for All Students Including those with Diverse Abilities and Backgrounds (3 cr)
  • SED 420 Multi-Tiered Systems of Educational Support (3 cr)

Content Requirements

Students interested in completing the Elementary Teacher Education Pathway must complete 6 credits each in English, mathematics, science and social studies. The following mathematics courses are required:

  • MAT 131 Number Systems for Elementary Teachers
  • MAT 231 Algebra for Elementary Teachers or MAT 232 Geometry for Elementary Teachers

It is recommended that those interested in specifically teaching at the middle school level (grades 6-8) complete coursework in a second content area (e.g. English, mathematics, social studies or science) to become highly qualified to teach an additional content area. Finally, students should consider taking additional education courses, which will support them in becoming more well-rounded teachers, in topics such as literacy, technology, and collaborating with families.


Tk20 (Watermark) is the comprehensive web-based, assessment management and reporting system used by all students in Educator Preparation programs at USM. All undergraduate and graduate students who matriculate into an Educator Preparation program at USM and are accepted as a candidate for their internship year are required to subscribe to Tk20. Students use Tk20 (Watermark) to provide evidence they have mastered state and professional standards for their profession. The subscription fee of $103 covers some of the expenses related to the administration and assessment of the program. For loan purposes, Tk20 (Watermark) is eligible for consideration as part of educational costs. The subscription is a one-time payment and must be made by each student after they have passed their candidacy process and before the first semester of their internship year. Subscription instructions are posted on the Office of Educator Preparation website.

Professional Education Council Policy: In order for USM’s Education Preparation Unit program- completers to be recommended by the institution to the state for certification or licensure, the candidate must provide evidence of meeting all certification requirements including proficiency on the standards relevant to his/her state approved professional program and this evidence must be compiled and assessed within the context of the Unit’s data management system (i.e., Tk20).

Recommendation for Certification

Graduates who successfully complete all the Elementary Teacher Education Pathway requirements are eligible for recommendation for teacher certification in Maine. In order to be recommended for certification, students must complete the Recommendation for Certification form. Students who fail to meet the academic or professional requirements of the Elementary Teacher Education Pathway or choose not to pursue teacher certification may withdraw from the pathway and graduate with their major.

NOTE: Course requirements are subject to change based upon changes in teacher certification regulations.