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English Education (pdf version)

Careers for English Majors 
TeachingResources for Teachers / Web Sites for Lesson Planning / Certification 
Finding a Graduate ProgramPreparing for Graduate School / Graduate School Applications / Some Graduate Programs 

Pursuing Careers in English Education

The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Beliefs Statement emphasizes the role of English teachers as providing access “to the intellectual traditions and debates that inform English and education”; conveying the realities of “English studies [as] a contested subject that encompasses multiple fields of inquiry and ideological perspectives”; and encouraging “the teaching of classic literary texts when appropriate, in addition to other valued literary genres.”

What You Can Teach with a B.A. in English or English Education

  • With a B.A. in Secondary Education, English from USC Upstate and attainment of teacher certification, you are qualified to teach English in grades 9 through 12. Since  the USC Upstate English Education program is nationally accredited, your South Carolina teaching license if valid in most other states.
  • With a B.A. in English, you are qualified to teach English and English Language Arts in grades 7 through 12 in some private/parochial school settings. A B.A. in English also qualifies you for programs leading to teacher certification at the graduate level, such as the M.A.T. in English. See information on graduate education below.
  • With a M.A. in English Education, you are qualified to teach college writing in most two-year and community colleges.
  • With a Ph.D. in English Education, you are qualified to teach future teachers in college and university education departments.

Tips for Completing a Secondary Education, English Degree at USC Upstate

  • As an English/Education major, you will take courses in both English and education.  Naturally, time devoted to education classes will prohibit an English/Education major from taking as many English-oriented classes as a typical English major would.  In close consultation with your advisor, enroll in a variety of classes in all the major areas of the English discipline to ensure that you will be familiar with the content you will teach in your future classrooms one day.
    • Some areas to consider:
      • Grammar
      • Writing
      • Literature and Diversity (e.g. African American, World Literature, Postcolonial Literature, Gender and Sexuality in Literature, etc.)
      • Area Courses (e.g. American Literature, British Literature, Shakespeare, etc.)
      • Genres in literature (e.g. poetry, drama, novels, short fiction, etc.)
    • Other classes to consider if you can make the time in your schedule are:
      • Philosophy, or any other course that particularly focuses on critical thinking skills
      • History
      • Speech/Communications
      • Film and related courses. These courses are reflective of how the English major is growing along with modern technology.  Film and other media can be evaluated using the same strategies applied to the analysis of texts.
  • Education students are required to engage in many group activities and project requirements that require work outside of the university and time outside of your normal schedule.  An English/Education major will also complete many hours of clinical observation, tutoring, and teaching time within the local school systems outside of the university.  An education student should try not to burden him- or herself with any other courses during the student teaching semester.  Think seriously about course scheduling and schedule a day free of classes in which to complete these requirements.  Have your advisor on campus assist you.

Teacher Certification 

Instead of going through the entire Education Program of a specific school, a person with an English (or other) major can gain a Teaching Certificate in order to teach in South Carolina schools. Below are the major requirements for these certificate seeking students. At USC Upstate, all students must have at least a 2.5 GPA and pass the PRAXIS I exam to begin earning a certificate. 

  • Requirements
    • Earn a bachelor’s or master's degree either from an institution that has a state-approved teacher education program and is accredited for general collegiate purposes by a regional accreditation association, or from a South Carolina institution that has programs approved for teacher education by the State Board of Education, or from an institution that has programs approved for teacher education by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). Professional education credit must be earned through an institution that has a teacher education program approved for initial certification.
    • Submit the required teacher area examination score(s) as adopted by the State Board of Education for purposes of certification. Effective July 1, 2006, the required score on the examination of general professional knowledge (pedagogy) as adopted by the State Board of Education for purposes of certification will be required for initial certification. Until that date, the general professional knowledge (pedagogy) examination will be required only for professional certification.
    • Be at least eighteen years of age.
    • Undergo a criminal records check by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and a national criminal records check supported by fingerprints conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. If the applicant does not complete the initial certification process within eighteen months from the original date of application, the FBI fingerprint process must be repeated. Eligible applicants who have prior arrests and/or convictions must undergo a review by the State Board of Education and be approved before a certificate can be issued to them. Background checks from other states are not transferable to South Carolina.
  • Credential Classification
    • An initial certificate is valid for three years. Beyond the initial three-year validity period, teachers who do not yet meet the requirements for professional certification, but who are employed by a public school district at the provisional or annual contract level, as defined in S.C. Code Ann. Section 59-26-40, may have their certificates renewed annually at the request of the employing school district.
    • Teachers who hold initial certificates and are employed in a nonpublic school educational setting may have their certificates renewed annually for an indefinite period at the request of the educational entity, provided that certificate renewal requirements, as specified in R 43-55 (Renewal of Credentials) are met every five years.
  • Types of Certifications
    • Initial
    • Professional
    • Alternative Route
    • International Certificate
    • Internship
    • Temporary
  • Links

How Graduate Study Enhances English Education

Graduate study can serve many different functions for K-12 English educators.

  • For students who do not obtain certification as an undergraduate, a Masters of Arts in Teaching will provide advanced coursework as well as requirements for certification.
  • Students who are certified and/or those who have worked as teachers after graduation may wish to return for a Masters of Education or higher degree in order to gain further expertise in practicing education. Often higher education is a requirement for advancement and pay increases within the teaching profession.
  • Some students may also wish to pursue a Masters of Arts in English to develop greater expertise in their subject area. Often higher education is a requirement for advancement and pay increases within the teaching profession.
  • Students, particularly those who have worked as practicing teachers for some time, may wish to return to graduate education at the Ph.D. level in order to become college-level educators of future teachers.

Finding the Right English Education Graduate Program for You

Students should consider their goals for graduate education and select a program that offers the desired specializations. Specializations range from reading and literacy, to curriculum and instruction, to Teaching English as a Second Language. 

  • Search directories of English Education graduate programs to find schools with relevant programs. offers a directory of Teaching English Graduate Programs.
  • Research individual programs through Web sites and published materials.
  • Consider needs for financial support.
    • At the graduate level, programs may offer research or teaching assistantships that may make out-of-state programs more affordable than in-state ones. Most programs list financial support opportunities on their Web sites, but also feel free to contact program directors to ask for more information about possible support.
    • Working teachers should also research funding assistance through your school district or state.
    • Also, contact your student loan adminstrators for undergraduate and graduate loans. Many loan programs offer loan reductions or forgiveness for teachers who work in high needs areas.
  • Match your level of teaching experience to the requirements of the programs. Some programs require between 2-5 years of teaching experience before entering the graduate program.

Applying for English Education Graduate Programs

  • In the junior year of study, the English/Education major should consider whether to attend graduate school after college or to pursue a particular position within the field.  Students who wish to pursue higher education immediately should look into the requirements for specific graduate schools or job positions to ensure that he or she is taking courses that reflect program need.  Your university may or may not require the specific courses applicable to your graduate degree or job field requirements.  It is therefore up to you as an individual to ensure that you are preparing yourself as much as possible for your intended future.
  • Remember, an English/Education major does not have a lot of “wiggle” room in scheduling; it is therefore imperative that you familiarize yourself as much as possible with the area of English you intend to pursue after graduation with your Bachelor’s degree
  • Though each school has different requirements, the general requirements for entrance into graduate school are listed below.

    • Completion of undergraduate studies
    • Recommendation letters from professors and mentor teachers in the schools
    • Completion of either the GRE general test or the MAT.
  • Work with your advisor to prepare your statement of purpose or application essay. Drew and Karen Appleby list several tips for avoiding application mistakes in "Kisses of Death in the Graduate School Application Process," published in Teaching of Psychology 33.1 (2006): 19-24. Several online communities also offer advice and serve as a sounding board for students applying to graduate school.
  • Select and edit a 10-page writing sample. Consult your advisor for help in selecting and editing your sample.

Some English Education Graduate Programs

    • An undergraduate GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
    • A GRE score of 500 on the verbal and quantitative sections, and 4.5 writing score. Those with a GPA or GRE score lower than the requirement may be considered for admission under probationary status.
    • Two letters of recommendation from those familiar with the applicant’s academic or work experience
    • Students applying for the M.Ed. are required to have a minimum of one year of teaching experience and a valid teaching certificate
  • Emory University, D.A.S.T, M.Ed., M.A. Education, M.A.T. (Teaching), Ph.D. Educational Studies
    • D.A.S.T. (Sixth-Year Diploma for Advanced Study in Teaching) for practicing teachers
    • M.A.T. (Masters of Teaching) for those seeking both a master's degree and initial teaching certification
      • GPA of 3.0 or above in junior and senior undergraduate years
      • GRE in 50th percentile or above in 2 of the 3 exam areas
      • Undergraduate degree in a major appropriate for an area of specialization (English, math, science, social studies)
      • Statement of purpose
    • M.Ed. (Masters of Education) for practicing teachers
    • M.A. Education (research-focused--requirements will be more rigorous than those listed for the M.A.T.)
      • GRE test scores
      • Application Packet
      • Transcripts
      • Three Graduate School Rating Sheets from persons familiar with the candidates academic and/or professional performance
    • Ph.D. in Educational Studies (research-focused--requirements will be more rigorous than those listed for the M.A.T.)
      • Statement of purpose
      • GRE test scores
      • Application Packet
      • Transcripts
      • Three Graduate School Rating Sheets from persons familiar with the candidates academic and/or professional performance
  • Florida State University, M.A. English Education, M.S. English Education, Ph.D. in English Education
    • The M.A./M.S. in English Education offers five tracks for students:
      • Traditional Track for teachers or prospective teachers who wish to expand expertise, and a Traditional Track with Secondary English Certification for students who did not obtain certification in their undergraduate career.
      • National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) Track for practicing teachers with three years of experience who wish to obtain NBPTS certification.
      • Community College/Junior College Track for experienced teachers who wish to qualify for teaching above the K-12 level, including dual-enrollment high school courses and college composition courses.
      • Teaching English as a Second Language Track.
      • Reading Track for teachers and prospective teachers who wish to add a reading emphasis to their certification.
    • Requirements for the M.A./M.S. tracks include the following:
      • 3.0 or better GPA during last two years of undergraduate work
      • Score of at least 1000 combined verbal and quantitative GRE
      • 21 credits or more in undergraduate English courses, not including English 101/102
      • Academic writing sample
      • Letter of intent/statement of purpose
      • Three letters of recommendation
      • Application form
    • The Ph.D. program is open to students who have already earned a Masters Degree in English, Linguistics, English Education or a related field. Applicants must also have at least three years of teaching experience.
  • University of Georgia, M.Ed. Secondary English Education, M.Ed. with Certification, M.A. Secondary English Education, Ed.S. in Secondary English Education, Ph.D. in Language and Literacy
    • The M.Ed. in Secondary English Education is designed for students who have obtained certification. Students may specialize in areas of ESOL, Reading, Gifted, or Educational Leadership.
    • The M.Ed. with certification is designed for students who majored in English and did not earn certification as undergraduate.
    • The M.A. in Secondary English Education is designed for students who wish to enhance their expertise and plan to pursue doctoral study later in their careers.
    • The Ed.S. offers a specialist in education degree to teaching professionals who wish to pursue leadership roles in their schools. Students are required to have a masters degree before entering this program.
    • The Ph.D. offers advanced study in Language and Literacy Education. Students must have earned a masters degree before entering this program.
    • Requirements for the Masters programs include the following:
      • Undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university with cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.
      • Teaching certification (except for programs that include certification)
      • Minimum of 900 total (400 verbal) on the GRE or minimum 402 on the MAT
      • Application form
      • Three letters of recommendation
      • Statement of Purpose and cv
    • The M.A. English Education program includes courses in language, literacy, literature, and pedagogy. Students may apply at any stage in their careers, including those without teaching certification and those who have been practicing teachers.
    • Requirements for this program include the following:
      • Application form and transcripts
      • Three letters of recommendation
      • GRE or MAT scores
      • Current teaching licenses
  • Western Carolina University, M.A.Ed. (Education), M.A.T. (Teaching), M.A. English
    • The M.A.T. is designed for English majors who would like to obtain teaching certification and education expertise in order to enter the teaching field.
    • The M.A.Ed. allows students to specialize in English or English/Language Arts and Reading.
    • Requirements for these programs include the following:
      • GRE test scores
      • Three recommendations from instructors and/or employers who can speak to potential for success in graduate school
      • 3.0 GPA or better for last 60 hours of undergraduate career
      • Eligibility to hold a North Carolina Class A teaching license or a comparable license from another state (M.A.Ed. only)
      • Writing Sample for M.A.Ed. in English or Two-Year College Teaching
      • M.A.Ed. in Education Supervision must have at least three years of teaching experience

Resources for English Teachers

Since teachers are the educators of tomorrow’s youth, they must be active learners in their daily experiences and research to ensure that high school students are prepared for college and the real world.

  • One of the most popular sites for information and further resources for teaching English in the school systems is the site organized and operated by the National Council for Teachers of English.  With a membership, they offer publications such as journals, books and electronic items, tools for professional development such as conferences and online help, and programs and collections of resources in different areas of English to use in the classroom.  
  • Many states also have websites designed for teachers or prospective teachers to research qualifications, job listings and other important information teaching in that state.  South Carolina’s Department of Education Web site presents top news, topics in education, and linked pages specific to parents, students and educators for resources and questions. 
    • SC Department of Education 
    • ADEPT--South Carolina's resource for "assisting, developing, and evaluating professional teaching" based on professional standards.
  • Teachers can also join many organizations and institutions related to teaching and this specific subject area, such as English Language Arts.  Like the NCTE, membership is required for special access to the pages, but each group offers its own array of journals, conferences and other teaching resources and materials.  
  • The Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention, & Advancement (CERRA) ( is a website where you can go to find out openings in South Carolina for teachers.  You can also fill out an electronic application on this site. The purpose of CERRA is to provide leadership in identifying, attracting, placing and retaining well-qualified individuals for the teaching profession in our state. In doing so, CERRA will respond to changing needs for teachers from underrepresented populations, in critical subject fields and in under-served geographical areas in South Carolina. The Center will work cooperatively with other organizations to promote the teaching profession.

Web Sites for Lesson Planning and Course Development

The internet is a great place for English teachers to go for resources. Some examples include the following: 

  • EDSITEment--Hosted by the National Endowment for the Humanities, this site offers a clearinghouse of well-research lesson plans and online learning supplements designed to promote active learning and the use of high-quality, primary sources in humanities courses.
  • Teaching Tolerance--Administered by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Teaching Tolerance provides a database of diversity-related lesson plans and classroom resources, as well as a magazine and newsletter for educators, an opportunity for teachers to submit their lesson plans for publication, and a grants program for enhancing diversity-based education in the schools.
  • Web English Teacher--Compiled by English teacher, Carla Beard, the site compiles links to online resources about common skills, topics, authors, and text in English classes.
  • TESL-EJ: The Electronic Journal for English as a Second Language--Online, peer-reviewed journal with articles, book and media reviews, teacher education and resources for English language learners.
  • Stephanie Watson's article, "The Importance of the Pedagogy Process" (published in Nebula June 2005) gives great advice on teaching writing as a process, including sample lessons and assignments.
  • The Alliance for for Excellent Education Issue Brief from September 2007 discusses "High School Teaching for the Twenty-First Century: Preparing Students for College," including advice on specific skills and assignments to help improve college readiness in high school students.
  • The National Center on English Learning & Achievement has produced "Guidelines for Teaching Middle and High School Students to Read and Write Well: Six Features of Effective Instruction." This detailed brochure includes lists of activities that do and do not work (based on extensive education research), as well as classroom examples from schools throughout the US.
  • The US Department of Education's site, Doing What Works: Research-based Education Practices Online offers examples of what works with video and audio interviews with teachers and experts. See the general principles, lists of effective strategies, and "Site Profiles" featuring schools throughout the US and the materials and approaches they used to improve in adolescent literacy or other educational areas.
  • The Center on English Learning & Achievement (CELA) is a source of research reports, articles, and resources for teachers of literature, reading, writing, and literacy. It also refers users to helpful articles, such as Jane Agee's "What Is Effective Literature Instruction? A Study of Experienced High School English Teachers in Differing Grade- and Ability-Level Classes," which is available on the USC Upstate library shelves in the Journal of Literacy Research (2000).
  • shares classroom resources, lesson plans sorted by grade level, parent and afterschool activities, and professional development activities for teachers. The site is sponsored by the International Reading Association and the National Council of Teachers of English.
  • Google Lit Trips allow students to travel through books on Google Earth maps with educational notations that help them learn. Teachers can find instructions for making their own lit trip at the techknowteach wiki.
  • Help students "see" the connections between related words and their meanings at Visuwords, the online graphical dictionary. Enter a word to see related words with a map of the ways they are related. A similar service with a slightly different look is available at Lexipedia.
  • At Free Rice students can develop vocabulary while donating rice to end world hunger through the World Food Programme. It makes vocabulary lessons a game, and students can compete to see who can reach the highest level.
  • Quizlet offers a good study guide, self-test, as well as games to test students on words or concepts. Teachers can write their own lists of terms and tests, and thousands of existing quizlets are available. Before using an existing quizlet, do check the definitions provided as some might not fit the definitions being taught in all classes.
  • Reading Rockets offers classroom strategies, podcasts, research, reading guides, and other resources for helping struggling readers learn and improve.  The site is sponsored by WETA, Washington's educational television station.

Compiled by Dr. Celena E. Kusch, with contributions by Lisa Barfield, Anthony DeClue, Cassi Harman, Rachel Sims, and Chad Waters.

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