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Department of Secondary Education

Frequently Asked Questions

APPLYING TO GRADUATE AND SECOND BACHELOR DEGREE PROGRAMS

How do I apply to the degree programs offered by the Secondary Education Department?
You must have completed a bachelor's degree to apply. Applications for second bachelor degree programs (see "transfer students" in undergraduate admissions) and graduate degree programs can by obtained from www.newpaltz.edu/admissions.

How do I know what degree to apply for in order to get my initial teaching certificate?
Generally speaking, if you have a bachelor's or more advanced degree in biology, chemistry, earth science, English, foreign language, history, mathematics, or physics, then you would apply for a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) to obtain your initial teaching certificate.

If you have a bachelor's degree but it is not in one of the above areas, or you do not have a significant number of credits in one of the above areas, then you would apply for a second bachelor's degree in Adolescence Education and one of the above disciplines. (This degree is housed in the Department of Secondary Education.)

If you have a graduate degree (a master's or PhD) in one of the above subject areas, then you would apply for a second bachelor's degree in Adolescence Education and one of the above disciplines. (This degree is housed in the Department of Secondary Education.)

I already have my intitial teaching certificate. What graduate program do I apply to for my master's degree?
You would apply to the Secondary Education Department's Master of Science in Education (MSED) program. You can also investigate other master degree programs offered by SUNY New Paltz in the areas of liberal arts, humanistic education, reading, teaching English as a second language, and special education that may meet the New York State Education Department's requirements for being functionally related to your initial certificate.

Do I have to take any tests as part of the application to the Secondary Education Department's Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) or Master of Science in Education (MSED) programs?
No. The Secondary Education Department does not require applicants to take any tests; however, other graduate degree programs in the School of Education do require tests.

What are the deadlines for applications to the Secondary Education Department's graduate programs?
The MAT and MSED programs in the Secondary Education Department have the following deadlines: March 1 for fall applicants and October 1 for spring applicants.  Please note that MAT science, math and foreign language students starting the program in the fall semester may take longer than the three semesters outlined.

It is past the application deadline for graduate school, but I really need to get started taking some classes next semester. What should I do?
If you have an opportunity to speak with the appropriate program coordinator and find an acceptable course with availability (go to www.newpaltz.edu/classes for course schedule and availability information), then you can register for up to six credits prior to matriculation into a graduate program. You are allowed to transfer six credits into your degree program if these credits have been approved or pre-approved by the appropriate program coordinator. Do not enroll in any SUNY New Paltz courses prior to matriculation if you already have graduate credits that you wish to transfer into a degree program.

What are the application deadlines for the second bachelor's degree program?
Applications for transfer students are accepted throughout the year. June 1 is the deadline for students wishing to be accepted for the fall semester. December 1 is the deadline for students wishing to be accepted for the spring semester.

I missed the application deadline for my second bachelor's degree, but I really wish to get started taking some classes next semester. What should I do?
Do not take any courses until you have been accepted into a program. If you are accepted into the bachelor's degree program, you will already be transferring in up to 90 undergraduate credits. You cannot exceed 90 credits, so it is best to wait until you are matriculated before taking any courses. If you wish, you may register for a course and then drop the course if you have not been accepted into the program by the time the course starts.

How long does it take to finish the MAT program?
The MAT program is designed to take two years, full time, to complete.

What if I cannot go to school full time?
You can complete these programs part time. The time limit for completion of a graduate degree is seven years.

How long does it take to finish the bachelor's degree program?
If you have few or no transfer credits in your chosen discipline (biology, chemistry, earth science, English, foreign language, history, mathematics, or physics), the bachelor's program will take you four to six semesters to complete, full time. If you have a graduate degree in one of the above subject areas, the bachelor's degree program will take you two to two and a half years, part time.

From whom shall I get letters of recommendation for my graduate program application?
Ask your college professors, professional colleagues, and employers for these letters. Ideally, you will want letters that attest to your disciplinary knowledge, academic skills, and character.

I have a bachelor's degree in an area other than biology, chemistry, earth science, English, foreign language, history, mathematics, or physics. How do I become certified to teach in one of those areas?
If you have fewer than nine credits in the discipline for which you wish to be certified, you will need to apply for a second bachelor's degree in Adolescence Education and your specific discipline. In highly sequenced degrees (e.g., science, mathematics, and foreign languages) you may not be able to apply for a second bachelor's degree until prerequisite courses are completed. If your chosen discipline is English, the nine credits in English must be in addition to required courses in English composition.

I have a graduate degree in an area other than biology, chemistry, earth science, English, foreign language, history, mathematics, or physics. How do I become certified to teach in one of those areas?
If you have fewer than nine credits in the discipline for which you wish to be certified, you will need to apply for a second bachelor's degree in Adolescence Education and your specific discipline. In highly sequenced degrees (e.g., science, mathematics, and foreign languages) you may not be able to apply for a second bachelor's degree until prerequisite courses are completed. If your chosen discipline is English, the nine credits in English must be in addition to required courses in English composition.

I have my Master's in Business Administration. Can I become certified to teach business?
You cannot become certified to teach business in a degree program at SUNY New Paltz. However, you can learn more about business education programs by going to the New York State Education Department (NYSED) Web site for certificate questions: http://www.highered.nysed.gov/tcert

I already have my Master's degree in one of the secondary education discipline areas (biology, chemistry, earth science, English, foreign language, history, mathematics, or physics). How do I get a teaching certificate?
Apply to the college as a transfer student in order to obtain your second bachelor's degree. You will most likely have satisfied your undergraduate disciplinary requirements. Thus, you will take the required education courses (which includes fieldwork and student teaching) to obtain a bachelor's degree in Adolescence Education and your discipline. Students with an MA in English from SUNY New Paltz can apply for a joint MAT/MA degree in English Education.

I did not take six credits of a foreign language. Does that mean I cannot be accepted into an MAT degree program?
You may still be accepted into an MAT degree program as long as you agree to complete six credits (a two-semester sequence) of a language other than English to remedy this deficiency. This deficiency can also be satisfied by taking one intermediate-level course. American Sign Language (ASL) is considered a language other than English. These courses can be taken at a college other than New Paltz.

I have a bachelor's degree and my certification is now lapsed. Now I want to teach. What should I do?
If you have an older provisional certificate, you must apply to the New York State Education Department for an initial certificate before you can be accepted into our Master of Science in Education (MSED) program.

I have heard that student teaching can sometimes be "waived." Is this true?
Student teaching and pre-student-teaching fieldwork are never "waived" in the degree programs at SUNY New Paltz. For information about evaluation of teaching experience by the New York State Office of Teaching, go to http://www.highered.nysed.gov/tcert for more information.

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OBTAINING A NEW YORK STATE TEACHING CREDENTIAL

For more information on the credential process, please visit the New York State Education Department's Web site: http://www.highered.nysed.gov/tcert. Please know that after February, 2004, New York State will issue credentials and credential extensions only to applicants who have completed approved degree programs or approved "alternative certification" programs.

I wish to extend my grade 7-12 certificate to include grades 5-6. How do I do that?
For certificate extension information, go to the New York State Education Department Web site. SUNY New Paltz no longer offers this program.

I wish to extend my elementary grade certification to include grades 7-9. How do I do that?
For certificate extension information, go to the New York State Education Department Web site. SUNY New Paltz no longer offers this program.

I have had my transcripts evaluated by the New York State Education Department, and they say I am deficient in "professional education" courses. Can I take professional education courses at New Paltz without being in a degree program?
SUNY New Paltz is a public institution. You may take any course here provided you satisfy its prerequisites. In some cases, you will need permission of the instructor.

I am changing careers and have a family to support. Is there an easier way for me to get certified?
Probably not. All certification applicants must meet all coursework, examination, workshop, and other requirements specified in State regulations.

How do I register for the teacher certification exams?
You can go to http://www.nystce.nesinc.com. You also can obtain information about these exams from the New York State Department of Education Web site: http://www.highered.nysed.gov/tcert

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GENERAL QUESTIONS

Why does it take so long and so many credits to become certified to teach?
Simply said, teaching is tremendously challenging, difficult work. Today's secondary teachers are working to help a wide range of students become thoughtful, productive citizens and successful learners in a variety of disciplines. Teachers need skills to help English language learners and special education students. They need skills to work collaboratively with their colleagues to address diverse students' needs and to advocate for youth. Teachers also need skills to work with parents, families, and communities to ensure young students' success. They need skills to facilitate young students' collaborative group work, to develop project-based curriculum, and to design productive assessment activities. Finally, teachers need to be experts in their subject areas and to be exemplary writers, speakers, listeners, and readers.

Teachers who are not adequately prepared to meet these challenges often either leave the profession prematurely because they are unhappy in their work or are not effective, competent professionals.

Will there be a job for me when I am finished with the program?
This all depends on your willingness to relocate, your success in the program, and your area of expertise. SUNY New Paltz graduate programs have an excellent reputation with regional schools and top graduates often have more than one job offer. Graduates in the areas of foreign language, math, and science education have excellent employment opportunities as these areas currently have a teacher shortage.

Once I get my bachelor's degree and initial certification, what do I do next?
You will start to seek your professional certification. One of the requirements for professional certification is a master's degree (e.g., M.S. in Education) that is functionally related to your discipline. You need to obtain this degree within five years. (Extensions are possible under certain conditions.) You can apply for your professional certification once you have completed three years satisfactory teaching experience. For more information on professional certification, go to the New York State Department of Education Web site http://www.highered.nysed.gov/tcert.

I have had my transcripts evaluated by the State. The State says I only need to complete three more courses for a credential, but SUNY New Paltz is telling me I need to complete five more courses in order to complete my degree and credential. Why is SUNY more stringent than the State?
The State requirements are the minimum. Institutions such as SUNY New Paltz can develop higher thresholds for degrees or for completion of their programs. SUNY New Paltz's teacher preparation programs have outstanding reputations as a result of the high standards our students meet.

Who can I talk to for advisement?
Advisors will meet with you after you have attended a Secondary Education Department information session or have met with Caroline Murphy, Graduate Admissions Advising, 845-257-2907.

Information sessions will be held on campus twice a semester.  The sessions are held from 4:00 - 5:30 p.m.  Please check the events link on the Secondary Education web site for the day and location, or call the department secretary at 845-257-2850.

If you are unable to attend one of these sessions, a friend or family member can attend to gather information for you.

After attending an information session, you will be able to make an appointment to receive additional advising from a program coordinator in the appropriate discipline:

Foreign Language: Dr. Marinella Garatti - garattim@newpaltz.edu or 257-3485

Mathematics: Dr. Devon Duhaney- secondaryed@newpaltz.edu or 257-2850

English: Dr. Mary Sawyer - sawyerm@newpaltz.edu or 257-3114

Second Language: Professor Vern Todd - toddv@newpaltz.edu or 257-2818

Science: Dr. Rosemary Millham- millhamr@newpaltz.edu or 257-3118

Social Studies: Dr. Laura Dull - dullj@newpaltz.edu or 257-2849

Application Deadlines:

For the fall:

Review of applications for the fall semester will begin March 1. Late applications will be considered; however, enrollment for the fall semester is not guaranteed. Please note that MAT science, math and foreign language students starting the program in the fall semester may take longer than the three semesters outlined.

For the spring:

Review of applications for the spring semester will begin October 1. Late applications will be considered; however, enrollment for the spring semester is not guaranteed.