Program in Teacher Preparation

Academic Unit

Program Information

The Program in Teacher Preparation  is an interdepartmental course of study for undergraduates and is composed of a unique mix of coursework, seminars, laboratory experience, field work, and practice teaching. The program, approved by the New Jersey Department of Education and by the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (now called the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation ), allows students to explore teaching as a career option and to become fully prepared and certified to teach successfully at the middle and secondary levels within the regular framework of a Princeton A.B. or B.S.E. Participants can earn certification in art, English, mathematics, music, the sciences, social studies, and world languages.

Upon successful completion of the program requirements, students receive a certificate in teacher preparation from the University and, if they meet the performance levels and additional requirements described below, may also apply for a Certificate of Eligibility with Advanced Standing for teaching in public schools.   It is possible to earn the University certificate without being recommended to the State for licensure.  The New Jersey teaching license is transferable to other states through reciprocity agreements. Independent schools, as a rule, do not require certification in order to secure a teaching position. However, independent school directors have become increasingly interested in teacher candidates who are fully prepared and certified within a liberal arts curriculum.

In accordance with Title II federal regulations for reporting pass rates in teacher licensing examinations, the Program in Teacher Preparation historically reports a 100 percent pass rate.

Admission to the Program

Students are encouraged to apply during the freshman or sophomore year to allow adequate time for scheduling required courses, but applications are also accepted from third and fourth year students and alumni. Admission is based on academic standing, evidence of interest in teaching, personal interview, a letter of recommendation, ability to satisfactorily complete the State Oath of Allegiance/Verification of Accuracy form, and the successful completion of the Introductory Practicum.  Students must have a 2.75 GPA for undergraduate coursework at the time of admission and complete the program with a 3.0 GPA.  Students must also satisfy the New Jersey Basic Skills Requirement by passing an approved assessment or demonstrating a score on the SAT, ACT, or GRE above the established cut score for the year the exam was taken.

Program Requirements

Students should consult the Teacher Prep Handbook for more detailed explanations of the program’s requirements. 

General Education Requirements. The New Jersey Department of Education requires that students preparing to teach complete courses in a variety of academic disciplines within the liberal arts and sciences curriculum. A course is required in each of the following areas: fine arts, humanities, mathematics, science, and social science. Courses taken to fulfill the University distribution requirements will cover all of these areas except for fine arts.

Teaching Area Requirements. Teaching area requirements normally correspond to departmental concentration requirements. A minimum of eight courses related to the area of certification are required, with three of the eight courses at the advanced level (300 or 400 level for all areas except mathematics, which requires three courses at the 200 level or above). With careful choice of elective courses it is possible to be certified in one field while concentrating in another.  There may be additional requirements or prescribed areas of study to be included in the coursework for specific areas of certification, and students should consult the Teacher Prep Handbook for more information.

Professional Education Requirements.

In addition to the general education and teaching area requirements, the professional education sequence includes the following:

Introductory Practicum. The Practicum consists of participation in three one-hour seminar sessions and a six-hour observation in a school. Three brief written assignments and selected readings are also required. The Introductory Practicum is designed as an independent study to accommodate the student and the instructor's schedules and is considered the final step in the application process.

Educational Psychology (PSY 307).  PSY 307 is usually completed during the year prior to practice teaching.  The course includes 12 hours of fieldwork that must be completed in addition to seminar meetings.

Seminar on Student Learning and Methods for Teaching (TPP 301). TPP 301 is usually completed the semester prior to practice teaching.  The course includes 18 hours of fieldwork that must be completed in addition to seminar meetings, and students should block out a full morning each week to accommodate field observations and travel to schools.  If a student earns a grade of B- or lower in TPP 301 or if a student earns below a B- on the teaching portion of the course, the Program director will review the student’s performance with the possibility that the student may not be allowed to continue in the Program.

Seminar on Education-Theory and Practice (TPP 401). TPP 401 is taken concurrently with Practice Teaching (TPP 402). The seminar allows students to consider issues in education and their impact on schools, to examine current philosophies of teaching and successful classroom practices, and to explore instructional goals and rubrics appropriate for assessing student work. The course assignments and requirements are closely linked to the practice teaching experience.

Practice Teaching (TPP 402). TPP 402 is a 12-week assignment as a student teacher completed during the senior year (if done prior to the spring of 2020) or during an additional ninth semester (see The Practice Teaching Option below).  Candidates are placed in local school districts, and while the goals and needs of candidates are taken into consideration, the Program cannot guarantee placement in specific schools or districts.  While not required, access to a car provides greater flexibility in placing candidates in schools.  Candidates may be required by the district to successfully pass a criminal background check prior to their clinical practice. Prior to Practice Teaching (TPP 402) candidates will complete the New Jersey application for state licensure, which includes the Oath of Allegiance form. If the program determines the submitted information raises significant concerns regarding their suitability for state licensure, the candidate may be denied enrollment in Practice Teaching.  Candidates are expected to adhere to their host district’s or school’s professional code of conduct. Failure to abide by the code of conduct may jeopardize continued placement.  Teacher Prep candidates must earn a minimum grade of B- in Practice Teaching (TPP 402) to be recommended by the Program for the New Jersey Department of Education initial teaching certificate (the Certificate of Eligibility with Advanced Standing).

Professional Portfolio Defense:  The portfolio is a collection of artifacts and evidence gathered throughout the Program, which, along with written reflections, document the student’s progress in their professional skill development and ultimately the achievement of the New Jersey Professional Standards for Teachers. The portfolio is evaluated at two checkpoints. The first evaluation occurs at the end of the semester just prior to the beginning of practice teaching, and the candidate must receive a “Pass” on the portfolio evaluation by his or her advisor in order to begin student teaching.  The second is a formal defense of the portfolio that occurs at the completion of practice teaching. The defense must be successfully completed before the student’s application for certification can be submitted to the New Jersey Department of Education.  The portfolio must receive a “Pass” by a majority of reviewers for the program to recommend the student for state licensure.

The above requirements are subject to change, pending regulations approved by the New Jersey State Department of Education.  Students should consult the Teacher Prep Handbook for the most current requirements and information.  Currently, students are required to complete a single semester of student teaching during senior year or in a semester after graduation. Beginning in the spring of 2020, students will be required to complete 175 additional clinical hours the semester prior to the full semester of practice teaching. The full semester of student teaching must be done in a semester after graduation to accommodate the new requirements. In addition, students will be required to successfully pass a performance assessment (edTPA) in order to earn a New Jersey teaching license.

Program Options

The Reduced Course Load Option.  Students who choose to do their practice teaching in either the fall or spring semester of their senior year, prior to the spring of 2020, have the option of reducing by one, the number of courses taken in that semester so as to devote full time to TPP 401 and TPP 402. This option requires that students complete 26 courses prior to the senior year. The arrangement does not alter distribution, departmental, or language requirements, nor does it reduce the total number of courses required for graduation. Students wishing to select this option must secure the approval of a program staff member and the appropriate academic dean.

The Practice Teaching Option (PTO). Program participants who find that they are unable to schedule TPP 401 and TPP 402 in a semester of their senior year can take those courses in a term after graduating or in a term during a one-year leave of absence between the junior and senior years. There is a modest tuition charge for the extra semester, and students are responsible for their own room and board. Students considering this option should discuss their plans with a member of the program staff, since special arrangements are required. Financial assistance is available to eligible students.

Preparation for Independent School Teaching. Students not enrolled in the program who are seeking preparation for teaching in independent schools may enroll in PSY 307 or TPP 301 provided space is available. Students considering this option should contact the program office and schedule an appointment with a staff member prior to registration.

Certificate of Proficiency

Students who fulfill all program requirements receive a certificate of proficiency in teacher preparation upon graduation.

Placement. The program also provides placement services for all Princeton students and alumni seeking teaching and administrative positions in elementary and secondary schools, both public and private.