ASU makes teacher-preparation programs more accessible, affordable

ASU makes teacher-preparation programs more accessible, affordable
July 21, 2021
Meghan Ensell

Arizona State University’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College has redesigned its teacher-preparation programs to make them more accessible and affordable to more people pursuing both undergraduate and graduate-level teacher certification. 

New offerings include two remote formats for graduate-level teacher-certification programs and one remote format available to undergraduate students who live outside Maricopa County. The expansion of Arizona Teachers Academy tuition scholarships means that more ASU teacher-preparation students, both undergraduates and graduate students, will have all their tuition and fees covered if they commit to teaching in Arizona schools after certification. 

Nicole Thompson, vice dean of teacher preparation at MLFTC, says: “These changes are designed to lower the barriers to entering the teaching profession while maintaining the quality of our programs, which is recognized nationally. We want to do everything we can to prepare students to succeed and persist in the teaching profession so they contribute to the strength of the communities in which they live.” 

All remote-format teacher-certification programs also include on-site, in-person residencies conducted in schools. “We want to preserve the best qualities of our rigorous on-site professional experiences while making it easier for more people to experience the curricula designed by our faculty,” says Thompson. “Basically, our program design lets students do the things remotely that can be done well remotely and requires students to do in person what can only be done well in person.”   


Graduate-level programs

ASU will deliver several master’s programs remotely, through both synchronous and asynchronous remote instruction.

  • ASU Sync offers regularly scheduled classes via synchronous learning over Zoom. Instructors and students are not in the same physical space but do meet at the same time, offering a live learning experience with peers and faculty.

  • ASU Online offers classes via asynchronous instruction. Instructors and students are not in the same physical space and do not meet at the same time, allowing students to complete coursework on their own schedules.

Three master’s programs lead to initial teacher certification:

MLFTC now also offers an online graduate certificate leading to teacher certification via ASU Online, an option that requires fewer credits and takes less time to complete than the options that also include a master’s degree:

 Students pursuing principal certification in Arizona can also choose from either ASU Sync or ASU Online:

  •  MEd Educational Leadership (principal certification): This degree is a standards-based leadership program that prepares students to become an administrator or teacher leader in a K–12 setting, committed to providing excellent and equitable educational opportunities for all students. Students pursuing principalship certification will conduct a rigorous and innovative internship with a mentor principal at an approved school location.

Undergraduate programs

In order to make the ASU’s teacher-preparation programs available to in-state students living outside of Maricopa County, MLFTC will offer two of its undergraduate degree programs via ASU Sync. 

  • Bachelor of Arts in Education, Secondary Education: Allows students to earn certification and develop the knowledge and skills to successfully teach grades 6–12. Choose from concentrations in math, science, English or history.

  • Bachelor of Arts in Education, Special Education and Elementary Education: Allows students to earn dual certification to educate children: Mild-Moderate Disabilities Special Education in grades K–12 and Elementary Education for grades K–8. Students develop the knowledge and skills to successfully teach elementary school kids, as well as children requiring special education in any grade.

Previously, these programs were only available to students on location through ASU’s partner sites in the Gila Valley, Northland Pioneer College service area, Yavapai and Yuma. 

Most students who have an associate degree can transfer in those credits and complete either program in just two years, including internships, residencies and other requirements for earning a teaching certificate. Students will complete their residencies in person at schools near where they live. 


The Arizona Teachers Academy at ASU scholarship covers tuition and fees when students complete an initial teacher certification program and fulfill a commitment to teach in Arizona public schools after graduation. 

ATA at ASU tuition scholarships are available on a first-come, first-served basis for eligible undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in programs that lead to teacher certification. Priority is given to Arizona residents. For undergraduates, priority is also given to students with junior standing or higher. That includes community college transfers and other transfers. 

“Overall,” says Thompson, “this is the kind of innovation we reach for at ASU. It delivers on ASU's commitment to combining access and excellence. 

“And these are excellent programs,” she adds, noting that MLFTC is the only college of education in the country to rank in the U.S. News & World Report top 15 in both on-campus and online graduate education degrees. “Two things drove us to this. Commitment and capability. We have an obligation to do everything we can to strengthen Arizona’s education workforce. And, because of our excellence in remote instruction and our network of great school partners throughout the state, we are in a position to do this and do it well.”