Students Can Earn Two Teaching Licenses for Elementary Education and Moderate Disabilities

Elementary school kids

With the new Bachelor of Arts degree in education, students are able to earn dual certification.

By Karen Angelo

Responding to the growing demand from school districts for elementary and special education teachers, the university is introducing a new Bachelor of Arts degree in education. 

With the new degree, students may earn dual certification to teach elementary school children in grades one to six and children with moderate disabilities in grades pre-K to eight in Massachusetts. Prospective students may apply now to enroll this fall. 

“Building on UMass Lowell's long legacy of preparing excellent teachers, this new degree will develop a generation of teachers who have the skills to work with all students in today’s increasingly diverse classrooms,” says College of EducationDean Anita Greenwood. “They will be technologically competent, community-engaged and ready to make a difference.” 

The U.S. Department of Education and the Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce each report shortages of teachers prepared to work with special needs students. The College of Education surveyed partner school districts and found that 95 percent needed dual-licensed elementary teachers who had the skills to teach children with disabilities in inclusive classroom settings. 

“We designed this program to fill a void in the Commonwealth for more elementary teachers who can teach children with moderate disabilities,” Greenwood says. “The curriculum includes a rich blend of liberal arts and sciences courses, together with education courses that give students the confidence and knowledge to succeed.” 

The unique elements of the program include an immediate introduction to teaching during the freshman year, field-based coursework throughout the program, a curriculum that blends course work in the liberal arts and sciences as well as education, and two full-time teaching practica in senior year. The senior-year practicum experiences — teaching elementary students and students with moderate disabilities in local public schools — give teacher candidates opportunities to work side-by-side with experienced teachers and students. 

College of Education Returns to its Roots 

With the introduction of the bachelor’s degree program, the Graduate School of Education has been renamed to the College of Education, a title it held until 1998. The College now offers undergraduate minors in education including the UTeach program, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in education. 

In the 1980s, the university stopped offering undergraduate education degrees in the wake of changing state teaching requirements. UMass Lowell took a step toward reviving undergraduate teacher training with the launch of the UTeach program in 2012, a national initiative in which undergraduates majoring in the sciences and engineering can earn a minor in secondary STEM education. The success of the UTeach program, coupled with the demand from school districts for more elementary teachers who are prepared to work with children with moderate disabilities, led to the development of the new undergraduate degree. 

With the new bachelor’s degree program, the College of Education will return to its roots on campus. The college will relocate to Coburn Hall, the original home of State Normal School, Lowell, one of the university’s predecessor institutions where hundreds of teachers were trained during the late 19th and the 20th centuries. 

Plans are under way to restore the building to its position of prominence as the signature building on South Campus. Planned renovations include new, innovative instructional spaces, seminar rooms, additional academic offices and a comprehensive replacement of the building infrastructure. Construction is scheduled to begin in summer 2018, and the building is expected to be ready for classes at the start of the spring semester in 2020.