Teaching and Curriculum Studies

Whether you’ve always wanted to teach, are considering it for the first time, or are an experienced professional looking to hone your skills – we have a teacher education program for you. Students who graduate from our programs are truly prepared to teach in any schools- from the urban core to suburban and rural schools.

There are lots of pathways to becoming a teacher, and even more opportunities for those who hope to specialize and build on their teaching experience. From the beginning of your teacher education, you start to discover the kind of teacher you want to be. We can help you through that entire journey. Our active learning environment helps you to provide students with a meaningful, culturally responsive learning experience. Students meet with their advisor to design a program of study that meets their educational experiences and professional goals. 

Students enrolled in programs leading to teacher certification are eligible to apply to the Institute of Urban Education (IUE). Those in the Bachelor of Arts programs, 4+1 program and Master of Arts in Teaching program are eligible to apply for the IUE scholarship.

Undergraduate applicants can sign up for a free TEACH Kansas City account to receive access to tools and resources like 1-on-1 coaching, application fee reimbursements, and the chance to win a $1,000 scholarship. 

Interested in becoming a teacher but don't know where to start? Read our step-by-step guide. 

How to become a teacher


Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education

The Early Childhood program is designed for those who want to be certified to teach learners from birth through age eight (3rd grade). This degree is field-based, meaning students learn by directly applying research and theory to working with children in diverse classroom placements at one of our nine partner school districts.

Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education

Our Elementary Education program will prepare you to successfully teach in urban schools, classrooms and communities. Your classwork connects theory with real-world experience. This degree program is field-based, meaning that students are prepared by taking courses in Kansas City area schools and working with master teachers and elementary school students.

Minor in Exercise Science

Provided through a collaboration with the School of Nursing and Health Studies, students in this program will learn how exercise and the human body intersect and how to implement and evaluate evidence-based health assessments.

Program Features

  • A good fit for those pursuing careers in fitness, coaching, health promotion, or those in the allied health field, preparing to enter programs in occupational or physical therapy
  • Requires 23 hours of courses in personal wellness, anatomy and physiology, human movement, fitness assessment and more with additional courses in weight training and first aid strongly recommended, but not required

Contact the Exercise Science Program Coordinator for more information.

Teresa Dilley, M.A. 

Coordinator, Exercise Science 
Visiting Assistant Teaching Professor 

Minor in Education

The program is designed for undergraduate students interested in learning more about the field of education or for students considering teaching as a career. This 18-hour program combines foundational courses in education with elective choices focused on the area of most interest. The Minor in Education can also help students begin taking some coursework towards teacher certification while earning their bachelor's degree in a content area. It is aligned with the 4 +1 program, more information below.

K-12, Middle and High School Subject Matter Teacher

There are two primary pathways for students interested in becoming a middle or high school teachers, or interested in becoming an Art, French, German or Spanish teachers in a K12 setting.

  1. Current undergraduate students can begin working towards their teacher certification through the 4 +1 program.
  2. Students already holding a bachelor's degree can apply to our Master of Arts in Teaching program and earn a master's degree and teacher certification in three to four semesters.

Master of Arts in Teaching

This program is ideal for individuals who already hold a Bachelor’s degree in any number of fields and who are interested in becoming certified as a teacher. 
This is a developmentally-sequenced program designed to help students gain foundational knowledge, understand their discipline and classroom practices, plan instruction and assessment, and demonstrate effective teaching. It is rooted in a deep commitment to equity, social justice, and PK-12 public education. 

Advanced Programs for Certified Teachers

Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction

This program is a solid fit for any teachers who already hold teacher licensure or for those who will be teaching in alternative settings that may not require teacher licensure. This graduate program has been structured to strengthen teachers' knowledge and understanding of theory and practice. Students in this program will also gain research skills to embed their practices as teacher-researchers in data-driven decision-making. There are four emphasis areas in this program:

  • General
  • Subject Matter Speciality
  • Early Childhood Education 
  • Teaching English as a Second Language 

Graduate Certificate in Reading Intervention

This program is designed for current teachers who want to gain specialized knowledge in reading and literacy instruction without completing an M.A. or Ed.S. degree. It also serves supervisors, administrators, and community educators working in various educational settings (including schools, afterschool programs, non-profit organizations, private industry) who want to develop additional expertise in reading and literacy instruction.

Program features

  • All courses available online
  • Total of 12 credit hours (4 classes) which can be completed in less than one year
  • Tailored program of study to meet your professional goals
  • Applications accepted year-round with availability to begin the program in any semester (applications must be received at least 10 days prior to the start of classes for the following semester to ensure a timely admissions decision)

The online graduate application and the official transcripts will need to be sent directly to the UMKC Admissions Office. 

Read more about this program and discover which Language and Literacy program is right for you.

Master of Arts in Language and Literacy 

This program is designed to prepare reading and literacy educators in PreK-12 school contexts for careers as reading specialists, literacy coaches, Title I reading teachers, reading clinicians, Response to Intervention (RTI) instructors, developmental reading and writing instructors, and more. It is also designed for classroom teachers, administrators, and education professionals who want to obtain specialized knowledge and advanced skills in reading, writing and literacy development. This practitioner-focused program prepares students to interpret research on literacy instruction, assessment, and program development in culturally and linguistically diverse contexts. Students apply their knowledge in home, school, and community-based field experiences. 

Program Features
  • Flexible program delivery meets the needs of busy teachers and professionals: All courses are available online, and no campus visits are required
  • Program includes 30-36 credit hours, and includes an option to earn Missouri K-12 Special Reading Certification – without additional time or expense
  • Choose to take classes on a full or part time basis. Most students take two classes per semester and earn their degree in under two years

Read more about this program and discover which Language and Literacy program is right for you.

Master of Arts in Special Education

Admission to this program is temporarily suspended. 

This program is framed by a sociocultural perspective. Become a certified teacher skilled and sensitive to the realities of how disabilities intersect with race, gender, socioeconomic status and culture in the classroom.

Program features

  • 76 credit-hour degree program 
  • Includes coursework leading to Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education certification in Special Education (mild to moderate cross-categorical disabilities)
  • Enhances knowledge and skills in educating children and adolescents with exceptional learning needs, help candidates serve as advocates for children and their families, and to work collaboratively with colleagues

The online graduate application and the official transcripts will need to be sent directly to the UMKC Admissions Office. 

For mor information about this program, please contact Dr. Jennifer Waddell.

Educational Specialist in Curriculum and Instruction

This is an advanced graduate degree that is designed to support educators for career paths as leaders in curriculum and instruction. Students in this program build off their existing knowledge and skills in education with a focus on transformative practice, learning leadership, engaging in teacher research, and guiding educational experiences by data-driven decision-making.

For program information, contact Candace Schlein, Ph.D.

Educational Specialist in Language and Literacy

This program prepares educators for leadership roles in reading, literacy, and curriculum design and instruction. Students in this program develop expertise in effective, evidence-based strategies, programs, and policies that support literacy learning and reading achievement at PreK-12, college, or adult levels. The program curriculum emphasizes collaborative inquiry and innovation, equity, advocacy, and professional leadership and learning. The degree is geared towards teachers, administrators, and others who already hold a master’s degree and have a special interest in language, literacy, and reading education.

Program Features
  • Flexible program delivery meets the needs of busy teachers and professionals: All courses are available online, and no campus visits are required
  • Program includes an option to obtain Missouri K-12 Special Reading Certification
  • Choose to take classes on a full or part time basis. Most students take two classes per semester and earn their degree in under two years
  • Graduates pursue careers as literacy coaches, reading specialists, curriculum specialists, instructional coaches, community college instructors/developmental literacy instructors - and more

Read more about this program and discover which Language and Literacy program is right for you.

Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction

If you are considering undertaking a career in higher education and/or advancing to a senior position in curriculum and instruction at a school or school district, then the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction is a program that is tailored to your goals. Students may select Curriculum and Instruction as either a Primary Discipline or as a Co-Discipline, and they choose a second coordinating discipline to complement their studies.

Students in this program complete advanced courses in curriculum theory, curriculum design, diversity, educational technology, and research methods. The culminating experience for this program includes developing and implementing a research project and composing a doctoral dissertation to share research results.

Program Admissions

For program admission requirements information contact Candace Schlein, Ph.D. or visit the School of Graduate Studies


Faculty, Staff and Leadership

Rita Barger

Adjunct Associate Professor
Email: bargerr@umkc.edu
Phone Number: 816-235-5655

Teresa Dilley

Assistant Teaching Professor
Email: dilleyty@umkc.edu
Phone Number: 816-235-2753

Connie Fisher

Office Support Assistant IV
Email: fischerci@umkc.edu
Phone Number: 816-235-2245

Etta Hollins

Professor Emerita
Email: hollinse@umkc.edu

Molly Mead

Associate Teaching Professor and CAFÉ Director of Instructional Support
Email: meadmo@umkc.edu
Phone Number: 816-235-1128

Louis Odom

Email: alodom@umkc.edu
Phone Number: 816-235-2468

Gina Paese-Margiela

Assistant Teaching Professor
Email: paeseg@umkc.edu
Phone Number: 816-235-6681

Nora Peterman

Assistant Professor
Email: petermanno@umkc.edu
Phone Number: 816-235-2493

Candace Schlein

Professor, Chair, and Director of the Preparing Future Faculty Program
Email: schleinc@umkc.edu
Phone Number: 816-235-5754

Jennifer Waddell

Sprint Foundation Endowed Professor in Urban Education, Associate Professor, Director of Teacher Education, and Director, Institute for Urban Education
Email: waddellj@umkc.edu
Phone Number: 816-235-2443

Michael Wei

Email: weiyou@umkc.edu
Phone Number: 816-235-2498