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2023-2024 Undergraduate & Graduate Catalog

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Graduate Programs in Education

For additional information about opportunities your college offers, please refer to the College of Education and Community Innovation section in this catalog.


Teaching, leading, and learning in a democratic society.

Believing that schools function as social and political entities as well as for the growth of individuals, the College of Education and Community Innovation prepares teachers and leaders a) to enhance the academic and personal potential of their students, and b) to evaluate the social and ethical implications of educational policies and practices.

The College of Education and Community Innovation values expertise to guide our practice, equity to guide our interactions, liberal education to guide our perspectives, and social responsibility to guide our commitment to democratic education. We value these ideals in our preparation of candidates, our development of faculty, and our relationships with the larger community we serve.

Graduate Studies in Education

The College of Education and Community Innovation offers the Master of Education degree (M.Ed.), Michigan Standard Teaching Certification, School Counseling license and endorsement, programs leading to certificate renewals, certificate endorsements, special education approvals, and professional development.

The major function of the graduate program is to create opportunities for professional renewal and development. The graduate program attempts to increase knowledge and understanding of the learning process and the repertoire of teaching methods and skills.


Admission to graduate study requires the following:

  1. All students seeking degree, endorsement, approval, license, or certificate change at the graduate level must be formally admitted to graduate study.
  2. A maximum of six graduate credits earned prior to graduate admission may apply to degree requirements.

In addition to the requirements listed in the Admissions section in this catalog, applicants must have an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher calculated on the last 60 credits of undergraduate work taken from a regionally accredited college or university. Applicants must submit an application and three professional or academic recommendations on designated forms. Students are encouraged to identify their desired emphasis area with application submission.

Applicants with less than a 3.0 GPA calculated on the last 60 credits of undergraduate work may meet alternate criteria for admission, such as a prior master's degree from a regionally accredited institution, acceptable test scores on the GRE General Test, maintain a 3.0 GPA within the first six credit hours of graduate coursework, or a final appeal to the department chair with faculty support.

Alternate criteria do not apply to all graduate programs in the College of Education and Community Innovation.

The director of the Student Information and Services Center, based on faculty recommendations, will process admissions decisions.

Academic Policies

All students seeking a degree, certification, additional endorsement, special education approval, school counseling license, or a change in certification status must establish a planned program of professional study with a graduate advisor that specifies program objectives, competencies, and course requirements. Degree candidates must complete the degree within eight years from the first course used for the master's program. A maximum of nine credits may be transferred toward the degree from other institutions. A maximum of six credits earned under nondegree-seeking status may be applied to the degree. Applicants for degree, endorsement, or approval must maintain a 3.0 GPA. Endorsement, approval, and professional certification programs require that at least half the credits be earned at Grand Valley. Due to stringent requirements being set forth by the State of Michigan Department of Education, students pursuing initial certification, renewal of their standard teaching certification, additional endorsement, school counseling license, and professional or administrator certification are now being held to a higher standard. Students who have certain misdemeanors, multiple misdemeanors, or a felony may be denied and/or not recommended for any level of certification by GVSU's College of Education and Community Innovation and/or the State of Michigan. If a student is recommended to the Michigan Department of Education for standard teaching certification, additional endorsement, school counseling license, professional or administrator certification, the conviction could have an adverse effect on being granted a certificate. If a certificate is granted, there is no guarantee of employability.

Responsible Conduct of Research

Each College of Education and Community Innovation graduate student must complete Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) training prior to completion of 50 percent of the graduate program or prior to engaging in any research activity.

Refer to The Graduate School section in this catalog for additional information.

Program Areas

Master of Education (M.Ed.)

To obtain the M.Ed., students must successfully complete the university requirements for a graduate degree, the College of Education and Community Innovation's foundation requirements, and the requirements in one emphasis/focus area under a degree program (educational leadership, educational technology, higher education, instruction and curriculum, literacy studies, school counseling, and special education).

  • Emphasis areas for the M.Ed. in higher education include adult and higher education and college student affairs leadership.
  • Emphasis areas for the M.Ed. in instruction and curriculum include early childhood education, educational differentiation, elementary education, and secondary level education.
  • Emphasis areas for the M.Ed. in educational leadership include educational leadership and special education administration.
  • Focus area for the M.Ed. in educational technology is educational technology integration.
  • Emphasis areas for the M.Ed. in literacy studies include reading/language arts.
  • Focus area for the M.Ed. in school counseling is school counseling.
  • Emphasis areas for the M.Ed. in special education include autism spectrum disorder, cognitive impairment, and learning disabilities.

Certification, Endorsement, Approval, and Emphasis Programs

Programs are also available in the following areas:

  • Michigan standard teaching certification
  • Early childhood, elementary, and secondary endorsement
  • Reading endorsement: elementary K-8, secondary 6-12, reading specialist K-12
  • Special education endorsement K-12: autism spectrum disorder, learning disabilities, and cognitive impairment
  • School counseling: license and endorsement
  • Special education approval: directors and supervisors
  • Subject area majors and minors, usually at the undergraduate level.

Students may return to Grand Valley to obtain a postbaccalaureate endorsement to append to their teaching certificate by adding one or more content areas. Students may choose to add any endorsement for which Grand Valley has approval from the Michigan Department of Education (MDE). Students must meet all of the MDE requirements for an endorsement, which includes taking and passing all courses identified on the endorsement planned program (course substitutions will be permitted with prior departmental approval), meeting GVSU G.P.A. program requirements, taking and passing the associated subject area test for the endorsement through the Michigan Test for Teacher Certification, and meeting any and all other requirements, which might include but not be limited to a criminal background check and providing other university transcripts.

Note: To be recommended to the Michigan Department of Education by Grand Valley to add a content area endorsement to an existing Michigan teaching certificate, the student must be certified at the appropriate level. Six credits of the planned program minor and 12 credits of the planned program major must be earned at Grand Valley. For a complete list of the content area endorsements that Grand Valley offers, visit

Foundation Courses

Foundations of education derive its methods from the humanities, social sciences, and a number of other academic disciplines. Its purpose is to understand, analyze, and critique education and schooling in light of their intent, effects, value orientations, and underlying assumptions.

Each candidate for the M.Ed. degree must complete six semester hours in foundation courses in the following areas: research and evaluation (EDF 660) and social foundations of education (EDF 671 or EDF 672).


Students graduating from the Grand Valley State University undergraduate special education program may apply for a full-year paid teaching internship in special education. In addition to completing the required coursework, students must pass the Michigan Subject Area Test and maintain a 3.0 GPA to receive the K-12 endorsement in learning disabilities. Interns may apply the credit hours generated from this internship to the learning disabilities master's degree program.

Because it is necessary to limit the number of students in this program and because paid teaching internship positions must be arranged in the public schools, students must be nominated by Grand Valley faculty members to be accepted as intern teachers. Students must pay tuition and fees for this program.

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