Undergraduate Teacher Education

Elementary school teacher in classroom

Elementary Teacher Education (K-8)

The University of Southern Maine (USM) Teacher Education program offers a unique approach to teacher education. Our Elementary Teacher Education Pathways allow you to combine teacher preparation courses and student teaching experience with a major in the liberal arts or sciences.

You’ll graduate with a Bachelor of Arts, and you’ll be qualified to obtain elementary school and middle school teacher certification (Grades K-8) in public school settings through the Maine Department of Education.

The Benefits of Our Elementary Teacher Education Pathways

  • Expertise and insight in the curriculum you’ll teach: By majoring in the liberal arts or sciences, you’ll be prepared as an engaging and resourceful educator. Because elementary teachers cover a broad curriculum, you’ll also take courses in reading and writing development, mathematics, science, and social studies.
  • Experience in the classroom: You’ll gain more classroom experience here than any other teacher preparation program in the state of Maine. Field experience begins with classroom observation during your first year and continues during your second and third years. Your final year includes a year-long student teaching internship, during which you’ll gain experience in two grade levels in the K-8 range.
  • Expanded career options: By graduating with a BA and being certified to teach Kindergarten through Grade 8, you’ll be qualified to teach in both elementary and middle schools. You’ll also be qualified for careers outside the field of education.

Selecting Your Major

As a student in an Elementary Teacher Education Pathway (K-8), you'll select a major from the list below:

  • English (BA)
  • Geography-Anthropology/Social Studies (BA)
  • History/Social Studies (BA)
  • Liberal Studies: Humanities (BA)
  • Natural and Applied Sciences (BA)
  • Self-Designed Major in STEM (BA)

As you review the options for your major, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • If you’d like to teach elementary school students (K-5):
    • When considering your major, ask yourself: What subject am I most interested in? What topics make me excited about teaching in the future?

  • If you’d like to teach middle school students (6-8):
    • You should look at the majors offered by both the Elementary and the Secondary Teacher Education Pathways.
    • Choose a major in a subject you are most interested in. If you’re unsure, we’ll help you to determine which major and which pathway best suit your interests and your needs.

  • Not sure which major you’re interested in yet? That’s okay —  if you just know you’d like to teach elementary or middle school, that’s a great place to start!

Looking for a Different Teacher Education Pathway or Major?

Becoming a Teacher

Our Teacher Education Pathways provide a rigorous, authentic learning experience. When you graduate, you’ll have expertise in a broad curriculum and a superior background in educator preparation. You’ll also know which school setting suits you best, and you’ll be ready to tackle the professional challenges ahead.

The skills and attributes we emphasize and cultivate in future teachers:

  • Passion for working with children and for the subject matter you’ll teach.
  • Commitment to equity.
  • Skills and creativity in classroom technology use.
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills.
  • Adaptable team player.

Advising and Support

You’ll receive academic and professional development support on several levels:

  • Selecting courses: During your first and second years, you’ll work one-on-one with a professional advisor to plan your schedule and track your progress toward graduation.
  • Staying on track to graduate: During your third and final years, you’ll receive guidance from a faculty advisor. Faculty advisors ensure that you’re meeting requirements for your Teacher Education Pathway and your major, and they’ll discuss career plans with you.
  • Establishing your student teaching internship: You’ll work with our Office of Educator Preparation to determine which school district best matches your career goals, your Teacher Education Pathway, and your geographic location.
  • Learning from professional teachers: During your final year internship, you’ll be mentored by an on-site teacher.

Learn More


Our Admissions Counselors would love to answer any questions you have about our Teacher Education Pathways.

Visit Us!

The best way to learn more about our University is to visit our beautiful campuses. The Elementary Teacher Education Pathways are taught on our Portland and Gorham campuses. Students majoring in Natural and Applied Sciences will also take courses on our Lewiston campus. Register for a tour today.