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General Program Information

Candidates who wish to teach children in classrooms that are largely self-contained (Grades 1st-6th) should major in elementary education. This area of specialization combines the required general and professional coursework with exposure to a variety of educational settings, different professionals in the field, and a wide range of children at the elementary school level. Candidates engage in field experiences that include observations, site-visits, tutoring opportunities two practica, and a full-time student teaching experience. These field experiences are structured so that candidates have opportunities to apply what they learn in class to real teaching situations.  (For more information on this see Field Experience tab).

Using Catholic University's conceptual framework, this concentration emphasizes the development of a reflective stance towards teaching in elementary settings. The ability to reflect independently on teaching practice and educational contexts is essential at this level. Elementary school teachers are constantly engaged in student interactions, problem solving, and decision making. Catholic University's goal is to prepare dynamic, creative, and stimulating individuals who can overcome the institutional and occupational constraints that elementary school teachers face and who are willing and able to collaborate with other professionals in order to satisfy the educational needs of every student under their care.

Concentration in elementary education offers a combination of a strong liberal arts education, research and field-based professional preparation, an emphasis on computer literacy and technological awareness, and a commitment to serving children with special needs in multi-cultural classrooms.

Elementary candidates' program of studies includes Catholic University's general education requirements, professional education courses required by the certifying authorities in most states, and a teaching specialization. This program generally takes candidates eight semesters to complete. Recommended courses for elementary candidates' distribution requirements are included under the tab entitled Program of Studies.

Elementary candidates have the opportunity to take the two additional courses early childhood education majors take if they are interested in obtaining an early childhood education license in D.C. also as long as they plan out their four-year plan with their advisor.

For additional information, contact Melissa Mitchell: 

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Recommended Program of Studies

Elementary Education (ELE) Program Course Requirements: Education Courses

  • EDUC 101 (1 credit; optional)
  • EDUC 251
  • EDUC 261
  • EDUC 271
  • EDUC 301 & 302 (1 credit courses)
  • EDUC 311
  • EDUC 312
  • EDUC 313
  • EDUC 381
  • EDUC 320
  • EDUC 321
  • EDUC 323
  • EDUC 324
  • EDUC 400 (1 credit course)
  • EDUC 411
  • EDUC 412
  • EDUC 413
  • EDUC 498 & EDUC 499 (non-credit courses)

ELE Program Course Requirements: Non-Education Courses

[Courses shown are recommended; substitutions within the same department are permitted, unless otherwise noted]

  • Philosophy 201* ˣ
  • Philosophy 202* ˣ
  • TRS 201* ˣ
  • TRS202* ˣ
  • ENG 101* ˣ
  • ENG 326 or approved substitute
  • Literature- For example, GER 230/ENG 206*, ENG 231*, ENG 235, or HUM 124
  • Math 168*
  • Math 187
  • BIO 102 or 103, 106, 108, or 109*
  • PHYS 240, 103, or 122
  • CHEM 110*, 125, or 126
  • HIST –United States History course- For example, HIST 257* or HIST 258*
  • HIST – Non-United States History course- For example, HIST 140*, 142*, 143*, 202, or 235
  • PSY 201*, ANTH 101*, ANTH240*, ANTH 260* or approved substitute
  • DRAMA 205, 410, or approved substitute
  • Art elective- For example, ART 211* or 212*
  • Free Elective
  • Free Elective
  • Free Elective
  • Free Elective
  • Free Elective
  • Free Elective

*University Liberal Arts Curriculum - Foundations Course

ˣ No substitutions allowed


Candidates can obtain the form to declare their minor from the Dean's office (107 McMahon). Once the form is completed, candidates must meet with their minor and major advisor to plan their program of studies for a timely graduation.

Elementary Education Majors - can minor in many disciplines, such as religion, philosophy, language, music, art, biology, chemistry, drama, history and others. See the undergraduate list of minors for a complete list of minors and their requirements.

Arts & Sciences Majors - can minor in Elementary Education. In order to get a minor in Elementary Education, students must declare the minor in Elementary Education in the dean's office (107 McMahon) and take the following courses:

EDUC 251 Foundations of Education
EDUC 261 Human Growth and Development
EDUC 271 Psychology of Education
EDUC 313 
     (offered only in fall)
Classroom Management for Regular and Special Needs Children
EDUC 301 
     (offered only in fall)
Practicum Early Childhood/Elementary Education
EDUC 312 
     (offered only in fall)
Curriculum and Instruction in Early Childhood and Elementary School
EDUC (elective)  Any Education course

 Policies on Arts & Sciences minors can be found here.


Candidates are required to meet with their advisor every semester to ensure they register for the appropriate courses to fulfill all program requirements on time.  Candidates should never take a class that does not fulfill a distribution requirement on the tracking sheet without advisor permission. Candidates should use the "click to view" function on the tracking sheet to select from courses. If a course that, a candidate is interested in, is not listed, the candidate should contact his/her advisor.

Field Experience

Candidates are expected to start visiting schools at the beginning of their program. During the freshman year, all undergraduate candidates are encouraged to take EDUC 101: Introduction to Teaching. In this course, candidates work in small groups to examine the ways in which particular schools function. Observing students, interviewing faculty, and touring facilities all provide data to allow reflection and comparison among schools.

Site visits are also an important part of EDUC 251: Foundations of Education. Candidates visit different schools selected to provide exposure to an array of school settings. The purpose of these visits is to give candidates the opportunity to learn how different types of schools are organized and to observe teachers working with students in a variety of teaching situations. Candidates record their observations while touring school facilities and interacting with school professionals and students. They prepare written reflections after each site visit focusing on the identification of specific instances related to the elements of the learning environment. They use the conceptual framework (three modes of deliberation and dilemma language) to discuss schooling dilemmas they observe and the implications of teachers' decisions for practice.

In EDUC 261: Human Growth and Development, candidates continue to observe students of various ages in various settings. Based on observational data, candidates relate theory to understanding of human development in real-life settings.

Tutorial Program

Elementary candidates participate in a tutoring program when they take EDUC 271: Psychology of Education. Candidates travel to neighborhood schools to provide remedial help for students primarily in mathematics and reading. Tutors work with small groups or individual students on skills specified by the classroom teacher. Candidates complete journal entries on the basis of tutoring interactions and reflect on their ability to integrate theory learned in class into instructional practice.


Elementary majors must demonstrate their ability to work effectively in supervised field experiences in different settings. They complete regular practicum experiences both in the fall and spring semesters of their junior year.  The goal of all these more advanced interactions is to have the candidates practice newly learned methods in a comfortable setting, use problem solving and reflective analysis of classroom situations, and actively participate in the teaching/learning process. 

For practicum experiences elementary education majors are placed in primary (1st-3rd) and upper elementary (4th-6th) grades and attend a weekly practicum seminar.  In the first professional semester, EDUC 301, candidates intern for two mornings a week in the same classroom. Candidates are exposed to the daily routines of classroom life and have opportunities to develop their own classroom presence. During the second professional semester, in EDUC 302, candidates intern for one full-day and one-half day a week with their cooperating teacher. Concurrent class work in major methods courses requires that candidates plan and implement an interdisciplinary unit. Candidates must demonstrate their ability to work effectively for a total of at least 300 clock hours in supervised field experiences in at least two different settings, serving children of two different age groups and with varying abilities.

The practicum experiences are designed to work hand-in-hand with the assignments in the associated methods courses and are scaffolded to help candidates prepare for the student teaching capstone experience. For information on student teaching, please see the Student Teaching Handbook.