Undergraduate Elementary Education Program

In Fall 2021, the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) established new certification structures for teachers. Currently, the Young Children: Birth to Kindergarten (B-K), Lower Elementary (PK-3rd Grade) and Upper Elementary (3rd-6th Grade) Education programs have been approved. Beginning in Fall 2021, students seeking teacher certification in Birth to Kindergarten or Elementary education must enter teacher preparation programs aligned with the new teacher certification structure.

Final drafts of preparation standards and guidance from the Michigan Department of Education for the other certification grade bands (grades 5-9, and grades 7-12) are forthcoming.

Elementary Program Options (for students beginning Fall 2021 or later)

Explore the new Elementary Program double majors:

Beginning Fall 2021, incoming students interested in teaching Elementary Education double major with the Educational Studies major and the PCKET major.

Educational Studies Major

Educational Studies Major

The Educational Studies major is designed for students seeking certification at the Elementary level. Students in the Educational Studies program can earn certification for teaching pre-kindergarten through 3rd grade (PK-3) and/or 3rd grade through 6th grade (3-6).  Students also have the option to take additional courses to earn an endorsement in Special Education (K-12) or teaching English as a Second Language (K-12).

The Educational Studies major ensures that novice teachers are:

  • prepared to address the needs of the whole child
  • use relevant, research-based criteria to establish a supportive, engaging environment that fosters learning
  • and use practices that meet individual children’s needs. 

Students complete several structured field experiences embedded throughout the program.


To earn Elementary Teacher Certification, all GVSU students must complete the Educational Studies major through the College of Education and Community Innovation, and the PCKET (Pedagogical Content Knowledge for Elementary Teaching) major through the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. This double major program offers courses that meet Michigan Department of Education Standards for the Preparation of Teachers of Lower and/or Upper Elementary Education.

In the PCKET major, students learn content and pedagogy in the academic disciplines that are taught in an elementary curriculum: English language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, fine arts, and health and physical education. PCKET faculty engage students in discipline-specific teaching and learning, opportunities for research and scholarly activity in the disciplines, experiences in area classrooms and in the community, and study abroad programs. 

Elementary Grade Bands

The Elementary programs (for students beginning in Fall 2021 or later) prepares you to teach in one of the following areas:

Lower Elementary (Grades PK-3) Advising Guide

Upper Elementary (Grades 3-6) Advising Guide

Dual Elementary (Grades PK-6) Advising Guide

See the Advising Guide for PCKET & Educational Studies Majors for additional information. Please consult with your advisor for assistance scheduling classes and navigating the PCKET degree.

Study Abroad Opportunities


Courses may be viewed on the Education programs’ Course List page.

Information on the courses for each subject area can be found by searching GVSU's Catalog.

Page last modified August 8, 2023