College of Arts and Sciences
Liberal Studies

K-8 Teaching Options

  • The B.A. in Liberal Studies is the preferred degree program in the College for any student wishing to teach at the elementary level. Recent graduates are teaching in Seattle, the West coast, and Europe. They have been accepted to a range of graduate teaching and certification programs, from the prestigious Teacher’s College at Columbia University in New York to the highly regarded Masters in Teaching (MIT) program at Seattle University.

    Why Liberal Studies?

    Flexibility and Endorsements.The B.A. in Liberal Studies is designed so future teachers can complete most or all of the preliminary requirements (called "endorsements") for State certification programs, such as the SU Masters in Teaching.

    Changes in teacher assessment dovetail with Liberal Studies coursework. According to the Director of SU’s MIT program, upcoming statewide and national teacher assessment will stress communication skills, collaboration and reflection. The list of skills and traits below shows how the Liberal Studies curriculum has anticipated these changes.

    • Appreciation for Diversity. Many area schools are racially and culturally diverse. Majors develop ways for talking civilly about difficult issues, traditions and cultures in required courses and teaching courses (LBST 321 and 322, held at Bailey Gatzert Elementary when possible).
    • Effective Communication. All LBST courses have a class leadership/oral presentation component, since the number one skill valued in any organization is the ability to communicate well across boundaries or competing interest groups.
    • Adaptability. K-8 educators need to be flexible, able to create common ground in reconciling competing interests, a skill majors practice in required courses.
    • Metacognition. New assessment standards require K-8 teachers to be able to think more reflectively about their lessons and presence in the classroom. This metacognition is a key learning outcome in the major, optimized through the e-portfolio.
    • Strategic Thinking. Being able to sort through the clutter to find the best route, seeing patterns where others simply see complexity, is key to great teaching at any level, and is developed in required courses.
    • Holistic Thinking. Seeing a problem as part of a complete system, thinking comprehensively, is especially valuable in working with children and families in school systems, and is practiced in required courses and elective teaching courses LBST 321 and 322.

    Liberal Studies Pre-Education Preparation

    The Liberal Studies program allows students to attain a broad intellectual experience and satisfy many specific course selections needed to prepare for application to a Master in Teaching (MIT) program in K-8 education. But students should keep in mind that such programs are highly competitive. To be a viable candidate you should have experience working with children in the classroom, you must have a cumulative 3.0 GPA or better, and you must write superbly. There are other expectations as well.

    Get Experience. The single most important preparation you can make beyond your Liberal Studies degree is to get experience in the classroom. Such applicants get priority standing. You can volunteer at a local school through SU’s Center for Service and Community Engagement. Keep in mind that public schools begin several weeks before we start classes. Use that time to volunteer full-time at one of the local elementary schools near your home. Or you can volunteer for after-school tutoring options at these schools. The key? Get as much experience with children as you can.

    Contact a College of Education Now. If your target is the SU MIT program, make an appointment with the pre-education MIT advisor, John Green (206-296-5796 or greenjo@seattleu.edu). Students who make last-minute decisions to apply tend not to be accepted into certification programs, since they are not prepared. The College of Education has offered this advisor to all Liberal Studies majors who want to become teachers. John Green supplements the advice you get from your Liberal Studies Director and our Pre-Education Advisor (Tonja Brown brownt2@seattleu.edu) to help you walk through the shifting minefields of Washington State’s educational requirements.

    GPA of 3.0 or better. Most graduate programs (such as SU MIT) will not consider students whose cumulative GPA is under 3.0. If your GPA has dropped below 3.0, you will need to work especially hard to improve it to that minimum level before you apply for admission.

    Write Superbly. Use your Seattle University courses to hone your writing skills. Since effective writing is such an important part of the teaching profession, most Schools or Colleges of Education use submitted writing samples to screen out people who can’t write well. Make certain that your application materials to a College of Education are grammatically clean.

    Choose References Carefully. Graduate education programs are especially looking for letters of reference from at least two people who have seen you work with children. References from professors are much less important.

    For more information, students planning to become teachers must consult the College of Arts and Sciences Pre-Education Advising Website.

  • Declaring a Major in
    Liberal Studies

    It’s simple! Come to the Liberal Studies Program (Casey 4th Floor) and complete a form declaring your major in Liberal Studies. You will be assigned a faculty advisor right away. And you will be encouraged to meet Dr. Sven Arvidson, Director of Liberal Studies.

    Some Program Alumni

    -Kayce Callen
    Pursuing MIT, Seattle U, certification for Elementary Teacher
    -Stephanie Faddis
    Pursuing M.A. Elementary Inclusive Education, Columbia University, Teachers College, NY
    -Nathan Wheeler
    Attended MIT, Seattle U.; Now 4th Grade Teacher at Lowell Elementary
    -Rhiannon Cadelinia
    3rd Grade Teacher, Daly City, CA., after completing graduate credentialing program, San Francisco State University
    -Mariko Fitzpatrick
    Kindergarten Teacher, St. Benedicts School, Seattle. MIT, Heritage U (2012)
    -Rebecca Lowry
    Community Specialist, HB Lee Middle School, Portland
    -Kyle Rapp
    Fellow, Urban Prep Academies in Chicago (teacher, advocate, mentor)
    -Nathan Ward
    Expanded Learning Program Assistant, Bailey Gatzert Elementary, AmeriCorps
    -Kaytlyn Dill
    Varsity Coach, University Prep High, Lake City
    -Bryan Dalton
    Juvenile Rehabilitation Counselor, State of Washington, Dept. of Social and Health Services
    -Alexa Burwell
    Teaching at Hamlin Robinson School, Seattle. Previously VISTA, Carlson Leadership Center at UW
    -Jennifer Engel
    Instructor, City U of Seattle. Awarded M.Ed. from Seattle University (2012)