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Education Pre-Professional Programs


Pre-Professional Education programs prepare students for teaching positions in Pre-K through 12th grade. These programs are offered by the following colleges:

Description of Education Pre-Professional Programs

James Madison University offers various programs that lead to licensure or advanced study in education. Some initial teacher education licensure programs are completed at the undergraduate level. Most are 5-year programs, which mean that students complete the pre-professional education coursework at the undergraduate level, and complete the remainder of the education coursework at the graduate level, earning a Master of Arts in Teaching. As an undergraduate, students must enroll in the major required for their chosen education program. Students interested in Inclusive Early Childhood, Elementary or Middle grades pre-professional programs must major in Interdisciplinary Liberal Studies (IDLS). Students interested in Special Education K-12 are advised to major in IdLS or Psychology. Students interested in Teaching Students who are Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) are advised to major in a Modern Foreign Language or English. Students are advised to see the program coordinator if they have questions regarding their chosen major. Students interested in the secondary education pre-professional program can select from an approved list of majors (including Biology, Chemistry, Geology/Earth Science, History, Physics, Political Science, Math, English, Modern Foreign Languages) appropriate to complement this program. Along with a pre-professional program in secondary education, students interested in History or Political Science will also minor in Interdisciplinary Social Science. Students interested in Art, Dance, Music (instrumental or vocal), Theater Education, or Physical and Health Education (Kinesiology), major in those areas. The education pre-professional programs in Inclusive Early Childhood Education, Elementary, Middle, Physical and Health Education, Secondary and Special Education are five-year programs with a combined degree, allowing students to earn a master's degree. The Art, Dance, Music and Theater Education majors are completed at the undergraduate level.

Teacher education programs include content on various aspects of education such as human development theory and research, philosophies and history of American education, teaching methods and materials, and educational technology integrated with opportunities for practical experience. Students can declare an education pre-professional program and apply for admission to teacher education programs by contacting the Education Support Center in Memorial Hall. All of the teacher education programs are nationally accredited. Scholarships and financial support are available to students once they have entered an education program. The College of Education also offers undergraduate minors in Educational Media, English as a Second Language, Human Resource Development, non-teaching Special Education (for students not interested in teaching Special Education), and Military Leadership.

Students who wish to pursue a course of study leading to initial teaching licensure must meet the requirements for admission in the Teacher Education Program and any admission requirements of the specialty program. Students should begin the process by contacting the Education Support Center because there are many pieces to the application process. Criteria for admission include a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher, competency in written and oral English, mathematics and GPSY 160 (Human Growth and Development), and a satisfactory score on the Praxis PPST: Reading, mathematics and writing tests, completion of Child Abuse Prevention Training and Universal Precautions training. Once a student has met all the admissions criteria for Teacher Education, he/she will subscribe to TK 20: Campus Tools, an integrated data management system for teacher education students and faculty, by paying a one time user fee ($100-105). Since students must closely follow their licensure program, it is extremely important to obtain and consult with an education advisor.

Tell me more about Specialty Programs in Teacher Education

A variety of opportunities exist in the area of teacher education. The licensure programs combine both educational theory and practice in their requirements. Students in Inclusive Early Childhood Education are prepared to design activities that have an interdisciplinary focus, reflect an understanding of the individual child's development and learning, recognize the importance of family and developmental influences, support the young child in constructing knowledge about self and the world, and involve parents in supporting the child's growth and development. The Elementary Education Program prepares candidates to teach students in grades PreK-6. Drawn from research and theories in child development, teaching, and learning, the course work and field experiences prepare teacher candidates to employ an interdisciplinary approach to instruction that reflects an understanding of the diverse nature of learners and their families.

Candidates who complete the Middle and the Secondary Education programs are able to design and deliver curricula that effectively impact student learning, integrate technology in learning settings, work effectively with faculty and students of diverse backgrounds, cultures, and abilities, collaborate with colleagues, parents, and others and be reflective practitioners who continually evaluate their actions and practice lifelong learning. Students in Middle Education are prepared to design curriculum and activities appropriate to the social, emotional, physical and intellectual needs of children grades 6-8. Secondary Education prepares students to become teachers for students in grades 6-12 in content areas such as English, foreign languages, mathematics, natural sciences and social sciences.

The Special Education program is designed to prepare students to work collaboratively while enhancing the K-12 students' with disabilities success in the general academic curriculum. The special education content meets the requirements for Highly Qualified in Special Education. Field experiences provide students with the opportunity to learn and practice skills in working with learners with disabilities. Drawing heavily upon theories of linguistics, research on social and cultural variables that influence second language acquisition, and the knowledge required to facilitate second language learning, the Teaching English as a Second Language (TESOL) program prepares students to work effectively in promoting English language acquisition by students (PreK-12 grade) who have not used English as their primary language. The Physical and Health Education Teacher Education (PHETE) concentration is committed to educating future leaders in the profession of teaching physical and health education PreK-12 grades. The program encourages the teacher candidate to advocate for effective educational changes, work collaboratively and collectively for social change, and to continue to grow professionally. Students desiring PreK-12 teaching licensure in art, dance, music or theater education must complete additional course work education and student teaching.

Complementary Majors and Minors 

Inclusive Early Childhood, Elementary, and Middle Education pre-professional program participants are required to declare Interdisciplinary Liberal Studies as their major. Special Education pre-professional program participants are advised to declare Interdisciplinary Liberal Studies or psychology as their major. Students pursuing Art, Dance, Music, Theater Education , Health and Physical Education or Secondary Education as their pre-professional program should choose a major in the appropriate content area. Students wishing to pursue Secondary Education Social Studies licensure are advised to major in History or Political Science and must minor in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Since required majors and the education pre-professional programs are quite rigorous and time intensive, students should consult with their education and major advisors prior to pursuing an additional major. Minors that complement pre-professional education programs include TESOL, Educational Media, Special Education (non-teaching) as well as coursework leading to add-on endorsement in Algebra 1 and Gifted and Talented. To obtain information about additional options, students should consult with an advisor in the education program and major in which they are interested.

Characteristics of Successful Students

Strong communication skills, in both oral and written expression, are very essential. Leadership ability, patience, enthusiasm, and an ability to handle a variety of situations are also important.


The occupations listed below provide a sample of career options one may choose with this academic background. Many more occupations exist and are worth investigating.

Classroom Teacher:

  • Head Start Teacher
  • Teacher (Early Childhood, PK-3)
  • Teacher (Elementary, PK-6)
  • Teacher (Middle, 6-8)
  • Teacher (High School, 9-12)
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Drama
    • Earth Science
    • English
    • Foreign Language
    • Geography
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Social Studies
    • Technology Education

Special Education:

  • Early Childhood Special Education
  • Early Intervention Specialist
  • School-based Special Education Teacher
  • Transition Specialist
  • Teacher at Residential Treatment Facility


  • Resource Teacher (Art, Music, Physical and Health Education, Reading)
  • Camp Director
  • Community/Outreach Coordinator
  • Day Care Teacher or Director
  • Nursery School Teacher
  • Educational Consultant
  • Tutor
  • Peace Corps Volunteer
  • Recruiter

Who Employs Education Graduates?

Boards of education, book publishers, bookstores, colleges / universities, community organizations (i.e. YMCA, Red Cross), day care centers, federal government (i.e. Department of Education, Department of Defense, Department of State), magazine publishers, Montessori schools, nursery schools, Peace Corps, private schools, professional organizations, public schools, state / local government (i.e. school boards, Department of Education), technical schools, VISTA, and vocational services centers employee teachers.

Internships and Experiential Opportunities 

Students pursuing teacher licensure are required to have various practicum experiences and to student teach. Student teaching allows students to implement skills and knowledge learned in their teacher education programs under the guidance of a cooperating teacher and university supervisor. These experiences are coordinated through the Education Support Center. Practicum opportunities also exist through other education courses. 

View our list of internship coordinators for each major.

Career Profiles 

Childcare Workers
Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals
High School Teachers
Instructional Coordinators
Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers
Middle School Teachers
Preschool Teachers
Self-enrichment Teachers
Special Education Teachers
Teacher Assistants

Research Careers

Visit our Career Outcomes page to find out what alumni were doing right after graduating with this major.


Log in to Vault for access to detailed information on over 900 professions including employment prospects, estimated salaries, possible job titles, and top companies.


Visit our Research Careers page for even more career research tools.



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All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without permission from JMU Career and Academic Planning. Content for each major has been written/reviewed by faculty in the respective department and is revised each year. Requests to update content can be submitted to

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