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Graduate Studies in Elementary Education

Graduate Elementary Education

The Graduate Elementary Education program at Texas State University-San Marcos offers advanced studies in curriculum, teaching, and learning at the levels of early childhood through middle grades education (EC-8th grade). Specialization options within the major allow individuals to focus more deeply on a particular area of interest while still interacting within a larger community of intellectual inquiry in education. We welcome both experienced and prospective teachers to explore the different degree plan options that are available. If you're passionate about teaching, learning, and making a difference, consider one of the Master's degree programs in Elementary Education at Texas State.

Areas of Study

Elementary Education (36 hours)
Graduate Elementary Education at Texas State includes early childhood through eighth grade.

The M.Ed. degree program in Elementary Education that does not lead to initial teacher certificaiton typically consists of 24 semester hours in Elementary Education plus a minor of 12 or more hours in an approved area, such as Gifted/Talented or Reading. It is also possible to earn a Master of Arts with a major in Elementary Education. The M.A. degree in Elementary Education, which requires a written thesis, typically consists of 30 semester hours in Elementary Education plus an additional six semester hours of thesis credit.

The Certification with Master of Education Degree (CMED)  program combines initial teaching certification (EC-6 ESL or Bilingual or 4-8 Generalist, English LA/RDG/SS, Math, or Science) with a Master of Education degree in Elementary Education. The CMED program includes a Methods and Materials cognate instead of a minor.

The Teacher Recruitment Program combines initial teaching certification (EC-6 ESL) with a Master of Education degree in Elementary Education.

Elementary Education - Bilingual/Bicultural (36 or 45 hours)
The degree program in Elementary Education-Bilingual Bicultural is designed for bilingual and bi-literate (Spanish and English) individuals interested in teaching in bilingual education programs in grades pre-kindergarten through grade six, including two-way dual language immersion programs. Graduate students in the field of bilingual education help meet an area of critical shortage as cited by the Texas Education Agency, and are prepared to teach students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds applying appropriate and sustaining pedagogical approaches that offer students access to excellence and equity in schooling. Texas certified teachers can choose from two degree program options, a Master of Arts or a Master of Education degree program.  Individuals seeking initial teaching certification in bilingual education may enroll in a Master of Education with certification degree program known as MEd- EC6 Bilingual Generalist.

Elementary Education - Talent Development (36 or 30 hours)
Master's programs in Talent Development have been designed for teachers who seek to continue their professional growth in education and want the stimulation and support of taking classes with other certified teachers. Teachers in this program typically want to grow in new ways, but they are not interested in becoming a school principal or assistant principal in the near future. They want to further develop their own talents and learn how to support talent development in their students and fellow teachers. Graduate students in Talent Development develop advanced-level knowledge and skills for the continued improvement of teaching practices, for the increase of equity in education, and for thinking critically and imaginatively about educational practices, policies, and trends.  Click here to go to the Talent Development website.  

Teacher Fellows
This accelerated mentoring and induction program allows students to complete a Master's degree in 15 months. Application to this cohort program is open to first-year and second-year beginning teachers who are already certified in EC-6. The program, which has long-standing partnerships with many school districts in the central Texas area, provides an integrated curriculum that is focused on principles of constructivist learning, teacher research, project-based learning, diversity, and performance assessment.

Certification with a Master of Education degree (CMED)

Students who wish to earn Texas teacher certification while working towards a master’s degree may pursue the CMED program.  Certification in EC-6 ESL, EC-6 Bilingual, 4-8 Generalist, 4-8 Math, 4-8 Science, and 4-8 English Language Arts/Reading/Social Studies are available in this program option. The M.Ed. program in Elementary Education with certification requirements (CMED) consists of 36 semester hours of coursework followed by a semester of student teaching. Most CMED Courses are offered in the evenings on the Texas State main campus with many courses also offered on the Round Rock campus. Typically students in the EC-6 program will be able to take all of the required CMED coursework at the Round Rock campus.

Before applying for admission into the graduate college, interested students should visit this website the Office of Educator Preparation website for more information.

Teacher Recruitment Program (TRP) Certification with Master’s degree

The Teacher Recruitment Program is an accelerated teacher preparation program that prepares well-qualified mid-career adults to earn a teaching certificate within 2 long semesters (fall/spring or spring/fall) combining 18 credit hours of graduate work plus a field-based semester assisting in a local pubic school and a full semester of student teaching.  Participants may take an additional 6 graduate courses to earn a master's degree (MEd.) in either Elementary or Secondary Education.  The first two long semester course work is mostly daytime because of the strong school-based fieldwork.  The additional coursework for the semester can be taken in the evenings or during the summer semester.   Click here for more information.




For admission as a Master's degree student, as a Certification with Master of Education Degree (CMED) student, or as a non-degree-seeking graduate student: 

·  Apply for admission through the Texas State Graduate College. Students must have a 2.75 or higher GPA on their last 60 undergraduate hours. The GRE is not required at this time. Further admissions information is available at the Graduate College website.

·  Upon receipt of an acceptance letter into Graduate School, students should contact Dr. Cheryll Dennis (Graduate Elementary Education Advisor) at, as instructed in the acceptance letter. Additional information regarding the Master's degree program will be provided at that time. 

Certification, field experience, and student teaching questions are handled by the Office of Educator Preparation.

General questions or concerns related to graduate studies in Elementary Education, such as questions related to the Master's comprehensive examination (taken near the end of coursework), may be directed to Dr. Cheryll Dennis (Graduate Elementary Education Advisor) at  


Written Comprehensive Examination Information

Graduate students who are seeking a masters degree and are enrolled in their last semester of graduate classes can find information on the mandatory written comprehensive examination at the following link: Click here

 Comprehensive Exam FAQs:

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  • The written comprehensive examination (commonly referred to as the COMPS) for graduate elementary education majors is the culminating academic experience in a student’s graduate program. Students may register for the exam by completing the online Registration Form on the elementary education website.
    In order to adequately prepare for the exam, please review the content of the courses you have completed (including those courses in which you are currently enrolled) during your master’s degree program while giving specific attention to courses completed in your major.
    As you prepare for the exam, please be apprised that you should be able to articulate and synthesize in written format a thorough understanding of the basic theories of each course in your graduate program of studies. You also will be expected to effectively convey your knowledge and apply theories of teaching and learning in your responses.
    Preparation for the comprehensive examination is essential, as well as the ability to organize and communicate your written responses effectively using the formal conventions of writing as delineated in the APA Publication Manual(6th Edition). As with course assignments, students should expect reduced scores on the comprehensive examination when they fail to demonstrate effective writing skills including proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation. All lines in your examination response must be double-spaced.
  • All graduate students majoring in elementary education are required to successfully complete the written comprehensive examination prior to being awarded the Master’s degree (MA or MEd).
  • The written comprehensive examination is administered three times a year: Spring (February or March), Summer (June or July), and Fall (October or November). The date and time of the examination are posted each semester throughout the Education Building on the San Marcos campus and in the Avery Building on the Round Rock campus, and on the C&I homepage. Students must register a minimum of two weeks in advance of the examination date in order to be eligible to take the exam.
  • If a student fails to be present on the appointed date and time for an examination, s/he must obtain permission from the Examination Committee Chair to attend the next scheduled examination date which will be the following semester. A student must once again complete the registration form  (the online form that is accessible from the Comprehensive Exam Information webpage).  Students who do not apply will not be allowed to take the examination.
  • Students must register for the examination at the beginning of their last semester of Master’s degree coursework or the semester in which they plan to graduate. Please complete the registration form which is accessible from the Comprehensive Exam Information webpage.
    • Fall examination (October-November) – register in early September
    • Spring examination (February-March) – register in mid-late January
    • Summer examination (June-July) – register in mid May


  • Typically, two – four essay questions.  The questions challenge students to synthesize content across courses and over several semesters.


  • The duration of the examination is four hours or approximately one hour – two hours for each synthesis-type question. 

    Student responses are typed using a computer while following the writing conventions of the APA Publication Manual (6th Edition). Students are not allowed to bring to the examination room any type of supplemental materials including, but not limited to, a dictionary, Thesaurus, disk, class notes, textbooks, or USB flash drive. Students may write directly on the test booklet but the booklet, along with their typed responses to the questions, must be submitted to the test proctor prior to leaving the room.
    NOTE: When students submit their Application Registration Form, it will be dated and the time of submission will be recorded. If the number of requests for computers exceeds the number available, the use of a computer will be assigned on a “first come, first serve” basis based upon the date and time when students submitted their applications. Students who are not assigned a computer will be required to complete the examination in a handwritten format.
  • Graduate faculty review student responses to the questions on the exam. It is their professional judgment whether a student passes or fails the questions. Some faculty may use an analytical scale to determine a pass or fail score on each question. For example, the scoring might follow a modified Diedrich Scale that weighs (a) content, (b) organization, (c) use of references from texts and journals, (d) style, wording, and phrasing, and (e) use of language conventions in a student’s response. Faculty expect graduate students to develop their written responses while following the writing conventions of the APA Publication Manual (6th Edition). Students who select not to follow these writing conventions should not expect to pass the examination. Students receive a pass or fail score by email (approximately three weeks after taking the examination) or as soon as the Examination Committee Chair receives the results from the graduate faculty committee reviewers.
  • Students are strongly encouraged to prepare for the examination by reviewing class notes, textbooks, library resources, supplemental readings, research papers, journals, artifacts, projects, visiting the library and online resources and databases, etc. Sometimes, however, a student may fail one or more questions. If a student fails only one question on the initial administration of the examination, s/he will be allowed to retake the question that was failed in the semester the exam was originally administered. The Examination Committee Chair will set a date and time for the second administration of the examination. If a student fails two or more questions, the earliest a student will be eligible for a retake is the following semester. The Faculty encourages all students who fail one or more questions to meet with their professors to develop a Growth Plan (Remediation Plan) that will help ensure success on the next administration of the exam. The Examination Committee Chair, in consultation with a student’s professors and following their assessment of the student’s progress towards completion of the Growth Plan, will determine the date and time of all future administrations of the examination. When students are notified that they must retake an exam, they retake only the content that was failed on a previous administration of the exam . . . not the entire exam.