Early Education Degree Program, PreK-4 (Bachelor of Science)
Help Young Students Develop a Love of Learning
If you dream of becoming a certified teacher who helps shape young children’s social, language, and reasoning skills, start your journey with our B.S. in Early Childhood Education degree program. Our program focuses on early childhood development and includes a path to PreK-4 teacher certification.
At GMercyU, we have been helping students become the teachers they’re meant to be for more than 60 years. You will have access to expert faculty and all the resources you need to develop your teaching and classroom management skills.
Certification: This program was designed to meet the certification requirements of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. If you reside in a different state, you should carefully review your home state’s certification requirements prior to enrolling in this program.
Exciting News! The Pennsylvania Department of Education has waived the requirement to pass a Basic Skills assessment in order to pursue Teacher Certification. Read more under Teacher Certification Pathways below.
About the Program
How soon will you spend time in an actual classroom? As early as the second week of September of your freshman year!
As part of our Teacher Apprentice Program (TAP), Early Education students gain first-hand insight into how the real world of education works through classroom observations.
In all, you will spend 8 semesters in actual classrooms! Your final two semesters will be dedicated to pre-student teaching and student teaching experiences where you can take your turn at the head of the class.
While it is important to be knowledgeable about your curriculum, it is also important to develop your personal teaching style for the classroom. Through GMercyU's hands-on approach in the classroom, you will learn effective classroom management styles, an array of communication methods, and will be able to handle conflicts within the classroom. Our real-world approach to teaching will prepare you to better understand your students in a dynamic setting.
*Please note, Education students must provide their own transportation to and from their various field experiences.
No matter your major, all GMercyU classes are taught by full-time or part-time faculty members – no teaching assistants. In fact, the professors in our Education Programs have more than 130 years of combined experience as educators!
As an Early Education major, your support includes:
- A personal advisor who will guide you through all four years.
- Field Placement Coordinator, Dr. Cheryl Malfi, who will help ensure that you have a successful student teaching experience.
- A Certification and Placement Specialist. Once on the teacher certification track, Dr. Pat McAleer will ensure you meet all requirements to become a certified teacher in Pennsylvania.
Education Degree Program – Teacher Certification Update
To help address the national teacher shortage, the Basic Skills requirements for candidates entering teacher preparation programs have been waived. This means incoming Education majors do not need to pass a Pennsylvania Department of Education Basic Skills assessment prior to entering a teacher certification track. Here is the information from Dr. Kerry Helm, Pennsylvania Department of Education:
Act 55 of 2022 signed into law by Governor Wolf on July 8, 2022, requires the Secretary of Education to waive the requirement to satisfactorily complete the assessment of basic skills required under section 1207.3 and 22 Pa. Code § 49.18(c) (relating to assessment) for 3 years from July 8, 2022 through July 8, 2025. This applies to all students who enter preparation programs during this period as well as otherwise qualified candidates for licensure who make application during this period.
Students are still required to meet the 3.0 GPA requirement, as described below.
Transfer Students admitted to the University with a cumulative 3.0 GPA or higher and at least 48 credits will be admitted directly into the Teacher Certification track of their choice.
All Other Admitted Students, including incoming freshmen will enter as Education Studies majors. They will be eligible to enter a Certification track once they have earned between 48 and 60 credits with a cumulative 3.0 GPA or higher. Students will work with their respective advisors to monitor this progress.
With the signing of this waiver into law, students who aspire to be teachers will have a smoother path to a Certification track during the approved waiver period. Incoming students will work with the Program Coordinator to pursue that path.
An essential part of becoming a certified teacher in Pennsylvania is passing the required Pennsylvania Department of Education tests.
At GMercyU, we will help you prepare for these tests. Not only will you work closely with your advisor, but our Student Success Center provides many opportunities to help you prepare for these tests, including a series of basic skills workshops, a computer program to practice for the tests, private one-on-one tutoring, and a variety of materials for you to take and prepare on your own.
Gain leadership skills, grow professionally, and make friends by getting involved!
Education Outreach Club
Its mission is to provide an opportunity for those with a passion for helping the community to come together to learn, collaborate, and share educational experiences. This club offers its members the option to connect with professionals, participate in educational and social events, and volunteer. Being a member of this club will promote understanding, education, and best practices for the GMercyU community.
Our Best Buddies chapter matches GMercyU students with members of the community who have Intellectual and developmental disabilities, hosts monthly events, and participates in fundraisers.
Kappa Delta Pi Honor Society
It is the oldest and largest honor society in education. Invitations to join are based on academic achievement, a commitment to education as a career, and a professional attitude that assures the member’s steady growth in the field of education.
In addition to general education requirements, you will complete the following courses for an early education degree:
Core Courses: 69 Credits
|EDU 100||Education in America|
|EDU 104||Health & Motor Development Pre K-4|
|EDU 216||Foundations of Teaching & Learning Pre K-4|
|EDU 223||Teaching Science Pre K-4|
|EDU 224||Teaching Social Studies Pre K-4|
|EDU 226||Reading Sequence I – Foundations of Early Literacy Research|
|EDU 227||Math Methods for Pre K-4|
|EDU 228||Art and Humanities|
|EDU 229||Reading Sequence II – Lang. Dev. & Early Literacy, Instruction & Assessment|
|EDU 309||Technology Integration in Education Pre K-8|
|EDU 314||Reading Sequence III – Early Literacy Instruction & Assessment|
|EDU 316||Reading Sequence IV – Literacy Instruction, Assessment & Intervention|
|EDU 351||Meeting the Needs of English Language Learners|
|SPE 205||Exceptional Person|
|SPE 231||Mild/Moderate Disabilities in the Inclusionary Setting|
|SPE 331||Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment Methods for Mild/Moderate Disabilities|
|EDU 414||Classroom Management for Pre K-4|
|EDU 415||Pre-Student Teaching Pre K-8|
|EDU 498||Student Teaching Pre K-8 (12 Credits)|
|PreK-12 Special Education Certification - Additional Courses|
|SPE 232||Students with Complex Needs in the Educational Setting|
|SPE 332||Research-Based Practices in the Assessment and Instruction of Students|
A minimum of 120 credits is required for a bachelor’s degree in early education.
This program requires a criminal background check, child abuse clearance, and certain immunizations and other health-related clearances in order to participate in all field experiences.
Increase the value of your early childhood education degree by adding an undergraduate minor that best meets your personal and professional goals.
Here’s a closer look at just a few of the courses you’ll take as an Early Education major at GMercyU.
EDU 226 Read Sequence I Foundation Early Lit Research
This is a foundational course on literacy instruction for PreK-4 students. The course will provide students the opportunity to: review the evolution of American Reading Instruction, explore various instructional processes for teaching reading and writing, investigate techniques for teaching reading and writing, discover the role of assessment in literacy instruction and become familiar with the Pennsylvania Literacy Standards.
EDU 414 Classroom Management for PreK-4
This course is designed to prepare teacher candidates to understand and use provisions and procedures needed to create and maintain an environment in which effective teaching and learning can occur. Various discipline models will be introduced.
EDU 415 Prek-4 Pre-Student Teaching
The student is required to participate in classroom activities of local schools one day each week during the semester. Two different placements are offered to the student in preparation for the student's anticipated certification categories. The experience is to promote the development of professionalism in the school and community setting while affording the opportunity to apply teaching methodology and educational concepts mastered in coursework. A weekly seminar provides an opportunity to analyze the experience. Application to the Education Committee of Gwynedd Mercy's School of Education is required early in the spring semester prior to the experience.
For all courses in GMercyU’s Early Education program, please refer to the undergraduate catalog.
Mary Jo Pierantozzi, MS
Position: Assistant Professor and Program Coordinator, Education
Did You Know? Professor Pierantozzi has presented nationally on many topics in education including math, social studies, hybrid online courses, and cooperative learning. She is also the advisor for Best Buddies and Kappa Delta Pi.
Deb Schadler, PhD, CPCRT, PRSE
Position: Assistant Dean, School of Business and Education
Did You Know? Dr. Schadler is also the Director of GMercyU’s Autism Institute. She has developed and taught GMercyU’s undergraduate special education curriculum.
Marianne Boyd, M. Ed.
Position: Professor of Practice, Education
Did You Know? Professor Boyd has extensive experience as a classroom teacher and an elementary principal and brings a wealth of experience to her courses. She is the co-advisor of the Education Outreach Club.
There is nothing that compares to the joy of watching students learn and grow. That applies to my years of classroom teaching as well as my years at GMercyU. My love and passion for teaching has never wavered. There is an old saying, 'Do what you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.' Teaching has never been a 'job' for me. It has been, and continues to be, my passion and my calling.
—Mary Jo Pierantozzi, MS, Assistant Professor and Program Coordinator, Education
Early childhood education is a field where educators care for and teach children of a young age. Typical ages of children within early childhood education include children from birth until about 8 years of age. This type of education is important since early childhood education teachers help to shape a child's education from the start and can set a precedent for them to succeed later in life.
Early childhood education encompasses teaching fine and gross motor skills, cognitive learning, and social development for children.
Once you have an early childhood education degree, you have a variety of career that you can choose to pursue depending on your specific interests. Some early childhood education jobs include elementary school teacher, school counselor, pre-school teacher, daycare manager, or in-home nanny.
There are numerous locations where you can choose to work within the early childhood education field. Elementary schools, daycares, private homes or specialty care centers are all possible workplaces. A degree in early childhood education can unlock various potential career paths for you in a variety of locations.
Pennsylvania is a state in need of educators. According to the Pennsylvania State Education Association, the number of new teacher certificates issued in Pennsylvania dropped by 74 percent between 2012-13 and 2018-19, with the number of college students completing Pennsylvania teacher prep programs dropping by 32 percent between 2013-14 and 2017-18.
There is opportunity beyond Pennsylvania, as well. Assistant Dean of the School of Business and Education Deb Schadler, PhD, reports that these states have been aggressive in recruiting GMercyU students:
- North Carolina
- West Virginia
In these districts and more, GMercyU students have recently completed student teaching and landed teaching positions after graduation:
- Abington School District
- Bensalem School District
- Central Bucks School District
- Colonial School District
- Council Rock School District
- Hatboro-Horsham School District
- Lower Moreland School District
- MAST Charter School
- Methacton School District
- Neshaminy School District
- North Penn School District
- Perkiomen Valley School District
- Philadelphia School District
- Phoenixville School District
- Springfield School District
- St. Malachy School
- Upper Dublin School District
- Upper Moreland School District
- Wissahickon School District
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in May 2021, the median annual wage for elementary school teachers was $61,400, with the top 10% earning more than $99,420.
The median annual wage for special education teachers was $60,900 with the top 10% earning more than $98,440.
Pennlive.com reported Pennsylvania's 50 top paying school districts, including average salaries for teachers.
Melissa Russo '18
Current Position: 5th grade teacher in Horry County Schools, Myrtle Beach, SC (formerly a 3rd grade teacher for the Wissahickon School District)
Melissa landed her job just three days after graduation. While at GMercyU, she served as President of the Special Education Club and attended GMercyU’s annual Autism Conference to complement her education. She also led our field hockey team to two conference championships in 2014 and 2017.
“Ms. Pierantozzi continuously helped me prepare lesson plans and prepare for teaching positions. She actually helped me prepare for an interview with Wissahickon School District where I was hired. GMercyU’s Education Department is a very close community. We, as students, knew the professors were there to support us no matter what.”
Read more about Melissa’s GMercyU experience.
Meet more Griffin Success Stories.
If you’ve already earned college-level credits at other accredited institutions or early education colleges, you can transfer them to Gwynedd Mercy University in order to achieve an early education degree. All you need to do is submit your transcript and course description to the Registrar, who will determine whether the course counts towards the credits required for graduation. Read more on our Transfer Credits page.
In addition, Gwynedd Mercy University has articulation agreements with Bucks County and Delaware County Community Colleges, Harcum College, and Manor College to speed your path to become a teacher with teacher certification.
Delaware Community College
AS Early Education to BS Early Education PreK-4 Certification
At GMercyU, we strive to make a quality education accessible to all through financial aid, scholarships, and grants. As a military-friendly university, we welcome service members and participate in all VA educational benefits programs.