Elementary Education, Master of Education

Department of Teaching and Learning

College of Education

This program offers advanced courses in teaching methods, curriculum, and related areas and is appropriate if you wish to enhance your teaching skills for grades K-8. This plan is not intended to provide grades K-8 teacher certification nor does it provide an institutional recommendation for teacher certification.

  • Available Emphasis Areas:
  • Continuing Professional - Emphasis
  • Multiage - Emphasis
  • Elementary National Board Preparation - Emphasis
  • Positive Behavior Support - Emphasis

  • To receive a master’s degree at Northern Arizona University, you must complete a planned group of courses from one or more subject areas, consisting of at least 30 units of graduate-level courses. Many master’s degree programs require more than 30 units.

    You must additionally complete:

    • All requirements for your specific academic plan(s). This may include a thesis.
    • All graduate work with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0.
    • All work toward the master's degree must be completed within six consecutive years. The six years begins with the semester and year of admission to the program.

    Read the full policy here.

In addition to University Requirements:

  • Complete individual plan requirements.

Candidates in this program are required to demonstrate content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge and skills, and professional knowledge to be eligible to graduate from this program. In addition to course grades, content, pedagogical, and professional knowledge or skills are demonstrated through candidate performance on key assessments embedded in the following course(s):

Minimum Units for Completion 30
Additional Admission Requirements

Individual program admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.

Emphasis Required

An emphasis is required for this degree.

Thesis Thesis may be required by chosen emphasis or offered as an option.
Oral Defense Oral Defense may be required by chosen emphasis or offered as an option.
Research Individualized research may be required by chosen emphasis or offered as an option.
Some online/blended coursework Required
Progression Plan Link View Program of Study

Purpose Statement

The MEd Elementary Education degree program provides students with the necessary framework for augmenting knowledge and skills related to teaching K through 8th grades.  This degree offers students, typically practicing teachers, the opportunity to enhance their content, pedagogical, and professional knowledge emphasizing current research. Students have the opportunity to pursue advanced courses in curriculum and instruction, educational psychology, educational foundations, and educational research. Additionally, students choose from four available emphasis areas: Continuing Professional, Elementary National Board Certification Preparation (NBCT), and Multiage Education. Students who pursue the Continuing Education track will complete a research project as part of a graduate seminar or a thesis focused on a selected topic. Students who choose the NBCT track prepare for the rigorous process of National Board Certification, an advanced teaching credential. Students who choose the Multiage Education emphasis will be prepared to teach and lead in Multiage classrooms, and will become familiar with the contexts, theories, research, assessments and strategies used in Multiage programs.

Throughout the program, students demonstrate outcomes aligned to the elementary standards of the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).  In addition, the Reading Endorsement emphasis is aligned with the Standards for the Preparation of Literacy Professionals through the International Literacy Association.  Students who complete this program will have a deeper and broader understanding of teaching and learning opening up continued opportunities in teaching, as well as other venues where teaching skills, knowledge, and dispositions are valued such as agencies and non-profits.

Student Learning Outcomes

CAEP K-6 Elementary Teacher Preparation Standards

Standard 1 – Understanding and Addressing Each Child’s Developmental and Learning Needs 
Candidates use their understanding of child growth and development, individual differences, and diverse families, cultures and communities to plan and implement inclusive learning environments that provide each child with equitable access to high quality learning experiences that engage and create learning opportunities for them to meet high standards. They work collaboratively with families to gain a holistic perspective on children’s strengths and needs and how to motivate their learning. 

Standard 2 – Understanding and Applying Content and Curricular Knowledge for Teaching 
Candidates demonstrate and apply understandings of major concepts, skills, and practices, as they interpret disciplinary curricular standards and related expectations within and across literacy, mathematics, science, and social studies. 

Standard 3 – Assessing, Planning, and Designing Contexts for Learning 
Candidates assess students, plan instruction and design classroom contexts for learning. Candidates use formative and summative assessment to monitor students’ learning and guide instruction. Candidates plan learning activities to promote a full range of competencies for each student. They differentiate instructional materials and activities to address learners’ diversity. Candidates foster engagement in learning by establishing and maintaining social norms for classrooms. They build interpersonal relationships with students that generate motivation and promote students social and emotional development. 

Standard 4 – Supporting Each Child’s Learning Using Effective Instruction 
Candidates make informed decisions about instruction guided by knowledge of children and assessment of children’s learning that result in the use of a variety of effective instructional practices that employ print, and digital appropriate resources. Instruction is delivered using a cohesive sequence of lessons and employing effective instructional practices. Candidates use explicit instruction and effective feedback as appropriate, and use whole class discussions to support and enhance children’s learning. Candidates use flexible grouping arrangements, including small group and individual instruction to support effective instruction and improved learning for every child. 

Standard 5- Developing as a Professional 
Candidates promote learning and development of every child through participation in collaborative learning environments, reflective self-study and professional learning, and involvement in their professional community. 

Elementary National Board Certification Preparation includes the following student learning outcomes:

What Is National Board Certification?
All students deserve accomplished teachers who are equipped to prepare them for success in today's world. National Board Standards and National Board Certification give teachers and schools the tools to define and measure teaching excellence. Similar to certification in fields like medicine, National Board Certification is a rigorous, peer-reviewed process that ensures that Board-certified teachers have proven skills to advance student achievement.

National Board Certification is an advanced teaching credential. As part of this process, teachers must analyze their teaching context and students’ needs, submit videos of their teaching, and provide student work samples that demonstrate growth and achievement. The reflective analyses that they submit must demonstrate:
  • A strong command of content;
  • The ability to design appropriate learning experiences that advance student learning;
  • The use of assessments to inform instructional decision making; and
  • Partnerships with colleagues, parents and the community.
Through this structured and iterative process, teachers expand and refine their content knowledge and pedagogy. The outcome is more powerful teaching that improves student achievement and reflects college and career readiness (NBPTS, 2014)

The Multiage Emphasis includes the following student learning outcomes:
  • Candidates will be able to articulate the rationale for Multiage Education, and communicate its benefits to parents, administrators, other teachers, and community stakeholders.  
  • Candidates will have an in-depth understanding of the historical origins, current national and international contexts, and issues facing Multiage Education including the impact of standards-based instruction, curriculum-centered environments, and the lack of awareness of Multiage programs.
  • Candidates will understand the benefits of cross-age learning in Multiage settings, and will be able to design and implement strategies that foster social interaction and learning through a variety of developmentally appropriate experiences.
  • Candidates will be able to design environments that foster play, inquiry, integrated curriculum, whole-child practices, and child-centered strategies.
  • Candidates will be able to use a variety of authentic assessments to inform instructional practices, and to aid students’ progress along their developmental continuum.

The Positive Behavior Support Emphasis includes the following student learning outcomes;
  • Demonstrate a functional understanding of operant and respondent conditioning and how each contributes to the development and maintenance of challenging behavior;
  • Develop systems for collecting and analyzing data to determine functional relations between the individual's behavior (including verbal behavior) and surrounding environmental events across settings and activities;
  • Utilize the principles and applications of applied behavior analysis (e.g., discrimination training, shaping, chaining, fading, differential reinforcement, self-management, planned generalization) for making problem behavior irrelevant, inefficient, and ineffective, while increasing the individual's ability to accomplish goals in socially acceptable ways;
  • Design behavior monitoring systems to track changes in behavior/skills over time and summarize the results of those observations in visual (graphic) format to facilitate understanding and data-based decision making among all team members; and
  • Describe a problem-solving process in which ethical dilemmas can be identified and resolved using the BACB Professional and Ethical Compliance Code for Behavior Analysts (2014).

Graduate Admission Information
  • The NAU graduate online application is required for all programs. Admission to many graduate programs is on a competitive basis, and programs may have higher standards than those established by the Graduate College.

    Admission requirements include the following:

    • Transcripts.
    • Undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution with a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale ("A" = 4.0), or the equivalent.

    Visit the NAU Graduate Admissions website for additional information about graduate school application deadlines, eligibility for study, and admissions policies.

    Ready to apply? Begin your application now.

    International applicants have additional admission requirements. Please see the International Graduate Admissions Policy.

Additional Admission Requirements
  • Individual program admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.

    • IVP Fingerprint Clearance Card
    • Teaching certificate (if the applicant has one)
Master's Requirements
  • This Master’s degree requires 30 - 31 units distributed as follows:

    • Core Requirements: 12 - 15 units
    • Select an Emphasis: 16 - 18 units
      • Continuing Professional Emphasis
      • Multiage Emphasis
      • Elementary National Board Preparation Emphasis
      • Positive Behavior Support Emphasis

    Take the following (30 - 31 units):

    Core Requirements (12 - 15 units):

    *For the Elementary National Board Preparation Emphasis, select two courses
  • Emphasis Requirements (Select One)
    • Elementary National Board Preparation Emphasis (16 units):
      To be eligible for National Board Certification you must:
      • Have completed three full years of teaching or school counseling
      • Possess a valid state teaching or school counseling license (Exception: If you are teaching where a license is not required, you have taught in schools recognized and approved to operate by the state).
      • Contact the Teaching and Learning Department prior to applying. TandL@nau.edu
      • For more information about the National Board Process please contact info@azk12.org.
      • Please note there may be additional fees associated with National Board Certification.
  • Please note that if you choose the thesis option you may end up taking more than the 6 units of thesis credit you can count toward your degree because you must register for ECI 699 each semester while you are working on your thesis.

    Also note that preparing a thesis generally requires one semester of residency, in Fall, Spring, or Summer.

  • At least fifty percent of your courses must be at the 600-level or above.

    Courses are offered online Fall, Spring, and Summer.

  • Students enrolled in this plan may not enroll in or pursue the following due to the number of overlapping units:

Additional Information
  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also successfully complete. For prerequisite information, click on the course or see your advisor.