Elementary Education

Teacher Residency Program Admissions Requirements

Teacher Residency Program Admissions Requirements
Teacher residency programs can be completed within a year or two; offer stipends and scholarships; and hire you as a full-time teacher after your residency is finished. What's not to like? Image from Pexels
Lucien Formichella profile
Lucien Formichella October 29, 2021

Admissions requirements for teacher residency programs are similar to those for traditional education degree programs—you just can’t already be a teacher.

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When you hear the term ‘residency,’ you probably think of medical students being put through their paces by their mentoring doctors as they go through the hospital ward discussing the best course of treatment for each patient. Teacher residencies follow a similar model by placing student teachers pursuing their Master in the Art of Teaching (MAT) degree in the classroom with an experienced teacher for an entire year. This helps prepare the students for successful teaching careers by having them put the education theory they’re learning into practice, under the close guidance of an experienced teacher.

Residents have the full-time job of balancing classroom teaching with their graduate program coursework. It can be difficult, but there’s an upside. Teacher residency programs can be completed more quickly than traditional teacher training paths (which usually offer much shorter periods of live classroom experience) and you’ll log over 1,000 hours teaching in the classroom with a mentor teacher before taking on your own classroom. Plus, many programs offer stipends and scholarships—and hire you as a full-time teacher after your residency is finished. What’s not to like?

As more school districts warm to the idea of hiring teachers from alternative teacher training programs, you may wonder what it takes to be admitted to one of these teacher residency programs. This article on teacher residency program admissions requirements provides information about all your admissions needs, and answers questions like:

  • What is a teacher residency?
  • How do I enroll in a teacher residency program?
  • Which schools offer teacher residency programs?
  • Career paths

What is a teacher residency?

Instead of delaying in-class teaching until the end of—or after—graduate school, as traditional teacher training programs do, teaching residents spend a whole academic year in the classroom under the tutelage of a mentor teacher, while simultaneously doing their MAT coursework at night and on weekends. In many residencies, students work in high-need public or charter schools, and commit to working as a salaried teacher for a set period of time after their residency at the school is complete.

Residency programs are typically offered through a university or educational nonprofit that is partnering with a school or school district. For instance, the Chicago Public Schools residency program offers both bachelor’s and master’s degree tracks for prospective educators.

Background/history of teacher residency programs

Across the US, there’s a shortage of teachers—and student teachers frequently graduate well-versed in teaching pedagogy, but not in actual classroom experience (so they’re faced with a steep learning-curve during the first few years in the classroom).

Currently, “70 percent of teacher preparation programs are traditional programs,” according to New York University. But teacher residency programs are becoming a popular way option for prospective educators to enter the field, as well as a means of tackling the teacher shortage (since teacher retention rates for residency programs are quite good).

Since its inception in 2007, the National Center for Teacher Residencies (NCTR) alone has helped build 40 programs. In 2016, there were over 50 residency programs across the US with more on the way.

How do teacher residency programs make better teachers?

Early research suggests that teacher residencies increase the diversity of people entering this profession and what they are specializing in; improve teacher retention rates; produce effective teachers; and more.

A 2020 annual report by the National Center for Teacher Residencies (NCTR) found that over 60% of teaching residents identify as people of color, which is 40% higher than the number of new teachers of color entering the field from traditional education degree programs. The organization also notes that more than 20% of residents are specializing in STEM subjects, which is helping to address the dearth of STEM teachers at schools across the country.

One of the most useful aspects of teacher residency programs is their high teacher retention rates. Residents are more likely to stay at their schools than graduates from traditional programs—it’s often a program requirement. The NCTR found that 86% of student teachers in residency programs stayed with their host schools in the three years following graduation.

The long-term impact of higher retention rates is teachers who stick around continue to become more effective teachers. According to the Learning Policy Institute, “teaching experience is positively associated with student achievement gains throughout a teacher’s career.” While improvement is “most steep in teachers’ initial years,” it continues “as teachers reach the second, and often third, decades of their careers.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, It turns out that pairing a student teacher with a veteran educator is a recipe for classroom success. Researchers at Glass Frog Solutions found that having a teaching resident in the room increased a host teacher’s effectiveness score (TES). So, not only do student teachers learn the skills they need to go on to become great teachers, but their very presence as a mentee positively impacts everyone else in the classroom during the residency as well.

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Graduate degrees for teachers fall into two categories: the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) and the Master of Education (MEd). Many resources indicate that the MAT is the best master’s degree for teachers, while MEd programs are primarily for aspiring educational administrators, policymakers, and other current education professionals who aspire to work outside the classroom. In reality, it’s not quite that simple.

Both MAT and MEd programs tend to be concentration-based, and while there are more part-time and full-time Master of Arts in Teaching programs focused on advanced pedagogic theories and skills, there are also plenty of Master of Education programs with grade-level, subject-area, and student-population concentrations.

In some areas of the US, a teacher with a master’s degree at the top of the salary schedule can earn close to $40,000 more than a teacher with a bachelor’s degree. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that going to graduate school will lead to a substantially bigger paycheck. The only way to know how much you’ll earn after graduating with a master’s in teaching or master’s in education is to look at the salary schedule in your district. You should be able to see at a glance how your education and experience will translate into dollars. (source)

University and Program Name Learn More

How do I enroll in a teacher residency program?

Residency programs typically have similar admissions requirements to traditional degree programs, but the application process can differ by school. Certain programs have one application deadline, while others may have a rolling admissions process. You’ll need to fill out an online application, including letters of recommendation, a resume, official transcripts from previous education, and standardized test scores.

What are admissions requirements for teacher residency programs?

Eligibility requirements include not being a current teacher. That means you likely have a degree outside of education; many residents are changing careers. For instance, in Chicago, “candidates cannot currently hold any Illinois state-issued teaching license (excluding paraprofessional or substitute teaching licenses), must have an associate’s degree OR 42 college credit hours from a regionally accredited institution, and at least a 2.7 GPA.”

NYU has two master’s in teaching tracks for its residency program: a master’s in inclusive childhood education and a master’s in secondary education. You can’t just sail into the program solely with your bachelor’s degree, however. NYU applicants must meet credit requirements for their chosen track. If you want to pursue a English focus, for instance, you’ll need at least 30 relevant credits unless you attend their Florida program, which requires 18.

Curriculum

Individual residency programs differ, but coursework centers around preparing for and the enhancing classroom experience. For instance, the University at Buffalo program combines theory with practice “and residents hone their skills with the support of mentor teachers and university faculty.” You’ll complete classes in pedagogy and your chosen track in every program.

Specialization

Common specializations in MAT programs include:

Elementary education

In this specialization, you’ll work with elementary school students—NYU’s program focuses on grades one through six. Students learn inclusive teaching methods for subjects like math, literacy, history, arts, and science.

Secondary education

Secondary education is another word for high school. Here, you’ll likely choose a subject area, such as math, English, or biology.

Special needs education

This specialization prepares you to teach students with a variety of learning disabilities, and behavioral and emotional issues. NYU’s secondary education track includes “Special education generalist” as an option, alongside choices like social studies and English.

How long are teacher residencies?

Teacher residencies typically last around one year—sometimes a little longer—but that’s just the MAT coursework and mentorship time. If you include the time you’ll be expected to stay and teach at your host school, it can be much longer. Most residency programs require that you commit to teaching full-time at your residency school for several years after you graduate in exchange for the scholarships and stipends that the programs provide their student teachers. Typically, this is a period anywhere between three to five years (through the University of Louisville teacher residency program).

Are there scholarships and stipends available for teacher residencies?

Universities will offer unique compensation and financial aid packages. NYU helps candidates combine scholarships, district or charter school stipends, grants, and federal student aid. Teachers College at Columbia offers a $70,000 stipend for the student teachers to split between tuition and NYC living expenses.

Which schools offer teacher residency programs?

Here are a few schools that offer teacher residency programs. This list covers features that programs can offer but shouldn’t be looked at as a guide for where to apply. Each state has a unique set of licensure requirements, meaning the best school for you may depend more on proximity than anything else.

In addition to schools previous covered in this article—Teachers College at Columbia University, NYU, University of Buffalo, and University of Louisville—teacher residencies are offered at:

Lesley University

Students at this Massachusetts school’s approximately year-long program can earn their initial license and a Master of Education (MEd). Lesley offers two tracks: early childhood education and elementary education. One unique aspect of Lesley’s program is both tracks come with an English as a Second Language (ESL) specialization. The per credit cost for this program depends on your track. According to the school’s financial aid website, an MEd with Initial License is $850 per credit, while the MEd Early Childhood with ESL Preparation in Somerville and M.Ed. Elementary Education with an ESL Preparation are both $300 per credit.

Montclair State University

Montclair State offers an Urban Teacher Residency MAT, meaning it focuses on preparing graduates to teach in an urban setting. Residents receive a $44,000 stipend in the first year of this 18 month program. Graduates commit to three years of teaching in Newark or Orange Public Schools and continue to receive “induction and professional development support” during that time.

Northern Arizona University

Northern Arizona has developed a two-year program with the Arizona Department of Education and Arizona K12 Center. Students complete a year-long apprenticeship first, then spend their second year, which comes with a stipend, as a “teacher-of-record.” You’ll graduate from this program with a master’s degree and must continue teaching in a partner district for three or more years.

Career paths

Teacher residency programs directly lead to a career in the classroom, meaning there isn’t much room to prepare for other education careers. That said, a residency program can give you more financial flexibility than a traditional one, provided you’re able to take advantage of a stipend or scholarship opportunity. If you want to go back to school for a degree to become a school leader or administrator after spending a few years teaching, you may be in a better position to do so.

(Last Updated on February 26, 2024)

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Tom Meltzer spent over 20 years writing and teaching for The Princeton Review, where he was lead author of the company's popular guide to colleges, before joining Noodle.

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