Tennessee Teacher Certification Program Overviews with School Info

Jul 25, 2019

There are almost 30 schools within Tennessee that have teaching programs. Read an overview of ten of the largest schools' programs, requirements and tuition info and find out which school is the right one for you.

Essential Information

The State of Tennessee is home to many schools that offer programs in education and teaching. Such programs lead to the award of bachelor's and master's degrees, the acquisition of a minor field of study, and include licensing programs for individuals who hold degrees, but require certification as an instructor. Some schools designate their degree programs by grade or discipline, allowing students to specialize their education to the type of subject they'd like to teach. Many education programs include student-teaching opportunities or other practical experiences.

Austin Peay State University

Clarksville's Austin Peay State University is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and offers nearly 20 undergraduate licensure programs at the elementary, secondary and K-12 levels. These include qualifying programs for students who would like to teach children in preschool as well as specialized courses of study in health and human performance, theater and art. In particular, the undergraduate music education program includes topics in aural skills, conducting, music history and clinical teaching.

The Master of Arts in Teaching provides post-baccalaureate students with the training they need for initial teacher licensure and requires a minimum of 15 months of study. It includes five areas of specialization, and qualified graduates will be prepared to teach at the elementary, secondary or special education levels. Instruction takes place during the evening and online.

Belmont University

Belmont University in Nashville offers both an undergraduate licensure program, as well as a special course of study that allows students to earn a bachelor's and a master's in 5 years. At the elementary level, students can receive the training they need to teach students in grades PreK-3 or K-6. Middle and secondary certification programs emphasize grades 4-8 and 7-12, with the latter offering specializations in 12 different academic disciplines. Areas of focus associated with the K-12 licensure program include drama and theater, health, music, physical education and the visual arts. Unique to the school are teacher preparation programs in psychology and sociology (grades 9-12).

A post-baccalaureate licensure option is available though the Master of Arts in Teaching program, and additional graduate offerings include a special education endorsement for those who are already licensed.

Belmont University's teacher certification programs are accredited by NCATE.

East Tennessee State University

Johnson City's East Tennessee State University requires undergraduate interdisciplinary education majors to complete coursework, a clinical experience, student teaching and a professional teaching portfolio. Students enrolled in the undergraduate program in special education can pursue a 19-credit concentration in modified special education, and successful completion of the program will qualify them to teach students in grades K-12. Graduates of the physical education program also fulfill the requirements for K-12 licensure.

Secondary education endorsements are available in over 20 areas, including those in geography, French, government, theater and chemistry. Students who already have a license may be interested in the graduate elementary education degree, and the university also offers a secondary education master's degree for teachers who wish to expand their knowledge of teaching at this level.

Middle Tennessee State University

At Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, students will find an impressive number of undergraduate and graduate programs in elementary, secondary and special education, with both licensure and non-licensure options. At the undergraduate level, students can pursue a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education that can help them acquire the training they need to teach students in Pre-K-3. Individual Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science programs, such as the one in English, include a 12-credit secondary education minor that qualifies aspiring high school teachers for licensure.

Graduate students who are interested in working with disabled preschoolers can earn a 33-credit Master of Education in Special Education with 15-credit hours of licensing courses and 6-credit hours of specialized teaching practicums (additional coursework in math and reading may be required). Qualifying initial licensure programs include a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction with a 9-credit hour internship and concentrations in early childhood, elementary and middle school education.

Unique to the school is the Base-TN licensure program (Become a Special Educator in Tennessee) that provides funding for students with a bachelor's, an associate's or 2 years of transferable college work.

Tennessee State University

Nashville's Tennessee State University offers 15 undergraduate teacher education programs in 18 different areas. These include 12 that can lead to 7-12 licensure in, among other areas, family and consumer sciences, speech, art education, biology and geography.

The 33-credit Master of Education program is designed for students who already hold a bachelor's degree and can be granted on a conditional or an unconditional basis. It features an add-on endorsement for students who would like to teach non-English speaking students. At the doctoral level, students can also pursue concentrations in curriculum planning, reading and secondary education.

Tennessee Technological State University

Tennessee Technological State University in Cookeville allows students to finish their first two years of education at a community college and complete the remaining two through the university's program. The teaching programs are accredited by NCATE and feature professional field experiences for both undergraduates and graduates.

Through the core courses in the Master of Arts program, students learn how to prepare instructional materials, use administrative technology and read up on curriculum. The program also allows for a concentration in music education.

University of Memphis

In Memphis, students at this public university can find certificate programs in urban education, instructional computing and applied behavior analysis. The early childhood education program is recognized by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, and the university also offers endorsements for reading and school library specialists.

While the Bachelor of Science in Education licensure program is no longer available, students can pursue undergraduate certification programs in integrated studies (grades 4-8) and special education (K-12), as well as a unique Teaching All Learners program that can prepare them for elementary (K-6) and special education (K-12) licensure.

The Master of Arts in Teaching program is designed to prepare students for initial licensure and includes field-based coursework in child development, educational theory and the social foundations of teaching. Special education licensure is offered in two concentration areas, including modified and comprehensive special education.

University of Tennessee

The University of Tennessee is located in Knoxville and features a child and family studies program that prepares students for jobs as teachers, administrators and therapists. The university also offers a number of professional licensure programs, including those for transitional, educational administrator and teacher education licensures. Each professional licensure program has been approved by both the Tennessee State Department of Education and accredited by NCATE.

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

At the university in Chattanooga, students will find over a dozen undergraduate teacher preparation programs, including those in middle and secondary academics, instrumental and vocal music or art. The master's degree program has been accredited by NCATE and includes concentrations in early childhood, elementary or special education, art, reading and inclusive education.

Concentrations for the special education master's degree program include those associated with severe and moderate disabilities, gifted education and early childhood special education. Unique to the school is an online master's degree program that covers topics in qualitative research methods, educational technology, inclusive instructional strategies and multicultural perspectives.

Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt University is based in Nashville, and as elementary and secondary education majors, undergraduates receive the training they need to teach students in grades K-5 or 7-12 respectively. Requirements for the undergraduate early childhood education program include a second major in child studies, and students are also able to participate and observe in local schools.

Students who have already earned an undergraduate liberal arts degree may be interested in the post-baccalaureate program that leads to elementary (K-6) or secondary (7-12) education licensure. While earning their master's degree, future professionals also have the opportunity to complete a 1-semester student teaching experience.

At the doctoral level, Vanderbilt offers a specialized program with four concentrations in language and literacy, development, learning sciences and mathematics.

Career Requirements

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, teachers employed by public schools must be licensed in all states. Licensing requirements include a bachelor's degree, completion of a teacher preparation program and a supervised student teaching experience. In Tennessee, applicants must also receive a passing score on the Praxis II exam.

The ten schools profiled below include public and private (not-for-profit) universities that offer programs in education. Students will also find a school table that allows them to compare degree programs and costs.

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type and Setting Teaching Degree Programs Offered Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2018-2019)
Austin Peay State University 4-year, public; midsize city Undergraduate elementary, secondary and K-12 licensure programs,
Bachelor of Science in Music Education,
Master of Arts in Teaching
$8,159 (in-state);
$23,399 (out-of-state)*
Belmont University 4-year, private not-for-profit; large city Bachelor of Arts in Education,
Bachelor of Science in Education,
Master of Arts (teaching or special education),
Master of Education
East Tennessee State University 4-year, public; small city Minors in physical and special education,
Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies in Education (K-6),
Bachelor of Science (physical or special education),
Master of Education (elementary or secondary education)
$8,935 (in-state);
$27,199 (out-of-state)*
Middle Tennessee State University 4-year, public; midsize city Bachelor of Arts (secondary education licensure in English or history),
Bachelor of Science (early childhood, secondary or special education),
Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction
$8,858 (in-state);
$27,098 (out-of-state)*
Tennessee State University 4-year, public; large city Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies and Elementary Education (K-6),
Bachelor of Science (K-12 physical education or 7-12 secondary education, among others),
Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction,
Master of Education (elementary, secondary or special education)
$8,792 (in-state);
$21,512 (out-of-state)*
Tennessee Technological State University 4-year, public; remote town Bachelor of Science in Child and Family Studies (Early Childhood Education/Special Education, PreK-3),
Bachelor of Science (Early Childhood Education, Early Childhood/Special Education, PreK-3),
Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction
$8,731 (in-state);
$24,595 (out-of-state)*
University of Memphis 4-year, public; large city Bachelor of Science in Education,
Master of Arts in Teaching,
Master of Science (early childhood or special education, among others)
$9,317 (in-state);
$21,029 (out-of-state)*
University of Tennessee 4-year, public; midsize city Minors in elementary, middle school or secondary education,
Bachelor of Science in Health and Human Sciences (Early Childhood Education Teacher Licensure Requirements, PreK-3),
Bachelor of Science in Health and Human Sciences (Early Development and Learning Teacher Licensure Requirements, PreK-K)
$13,006 (in-state);
$31,426 (out-of-state)*
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga 4-year, public; midsize city Bachelor of Science (art, music or early childhood education),
Bachelor of Science in Middle Grades (English, math, science or social science)
Bachelor of Science in Secondary English,
Bachelor of Science in Exceptional Learning (K-12),
Master of Education (elementary, secondary or special education)
$8,664 (in-state);
$24,782 (out-of-state)*
Vanderbilt University 4-year, private not-for-profit; large city Bachelor of Science (early childhood, elementary or secondary education),
Master of Education

Source: *NCES College Navigator

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