How to Become a Teacher: Earn your BA in Education and Human Development at CU Denver
An undergraduate student engages in discussion in a Teacher Education class.

How to Become a Teacher: Earn your BA in Education and Human Development at CU Denver

February 29, 2024

Teachers are often some of the most influential people in a person’s life. And if you’ve ever dreamed about leading in a classroom and helping young learners reach their potential, now is a good time to explore your options for the next step in your career at CU Denver. 

Teachers are an essential part of our educational system, and there is a shortage of qualified teachers that is impacting classrooms locally and nationally. As the field continues to evolve, the need for passionate educators capable of shaping tomorrow’s students continues to grow. If you’re wondering how to become a teacher, CU Denver’s Bachelor of Arts in Education and Human Development can help you start the process, while also offering specialized coursework, certifications, and necessary licenses, as your educational career progresses. 

CU Denver’s BA in Education and Human Development program helps prepare educators for this workforce environment. And, as the demand for educators equipped with skills in special education, bilingual education, and early childhood development rises, CU Denver offers specialized concentrations that cater to various educational roles.  

What Will I Learn in the BA in Education and Human Development Program at CU Denver? 

At CU Denver, the BA in Education and Human Development and Licensure program is designed to empower future educators by providing a broad understanding of educational theories and practical teaching methods. This undergraduate program offers multiple pathways to becoming a teacher and provides deep clinical experience so that students can use coursework in classrooms. This hands-on experience allows our learners to practice, implement, reflect, and get feedback—all while earning their degree. And CU Denver’s students start gaining that real-world experience from day one of the program.  

Students can also focus on a variety of specific endorsement areas , including Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education, Secondary English Language Arts, Middle School Math, Secondary Math, Secondary Science, Secondary Social Studies, and Special Education.  

People often criticize teacher education, because there is a stereotype of ‘it’s all about theory, but never practice,’ but in our program we have clinical experiences starting in their first year. It’s a hallmark of our program. Instead of having students in isolated student teaching experiences, we partner with schools who are committed to growing teachers alongside us.

—Barbara Seidl, PhD, Associate Dean for Teacher Education and Undergraduate Experiences 

CU Denver’s faculty includes experienced educators and scholars, and students benefit from a rich learning environment that encourages critical thinking, social equity, and direct application of knowledge in real-world environments. The university’s commitment to academic excellence, coupled with its urban location and proximity to some of the state’s largest school districts, offers unique opportunities for students to engage with diverse communities and educational settings. 

Teacher Education at CU Denver: The Right Fit at the Right Time 

The program aims to serve a diverse student population and offers several approaches that differ from the typical four-year undergraduate degree. The NxtGEN pathway serves students of all ages who want to work part-time as paraprofessionals to mitigate the cost of investing in a higher education degree. 

The Paraprofessional to Teacher Advancement Pathway (P-TAP) serves full-time paraprofessionals across Colorado who want to complete a bachelor’s degree with licensure in Early Childhood, Elementary, or Special Education. All courses in this remote initiative are offered after 5 p.m. (MST) and in a flexible format to fit your life and work around your other commitments.  

Another educational pathway is the Partnership for Rural Educator Preparation (T-Prep), a collaborative effort between CU Denver and rural community colleges. T-Prep allows students to complete the first half of their degree at designated community colleges in the region, with the option to complete the second half of the degree in a combination of face-to-face courses taught locally, and remote, online, and hybrid modalities. This gives students the opportunity to stay and live within their community, without relocating to Denver, through the entire process. 

We have a strong commitment to social justice, culturally sustaining curriculum, equity-focused pedagogies, and multilingual learners throughout our program so that candidates are learning to teach across race and across socioeconomic class.

—Barbara Seidl, PhD, Associate Dean for Teacher Education and Undergraduate Experiences 

How to Become a Teacher in Colorado 

To become licensed to teach in Colorado, individuals must navigate several steps and requirements outlined by the Colorado Department of Education. From earning a bachelor’s degree to completing specialized coursework, working through certifications, and obtaining the necessary licenses, the process is equally rewarding as it is nuanced. The network at the School of Education and Human Development (SEHD) is set up to guide students through every step of this process, and offers personalized support to free resources. 

1. Prerequisite Work 

In Colorado, teacher certification requires a bachelor’s degree with specific credit hour restrictions. The degree must include a teacher preparation program, which CU Denver offers. Elementary educator licensure has no specificized coursework, while Special Education Licenses require 24 credit hours of designated content. The Special Education Generalist Initial License requires a bachelor’s degree, depending on the special needs of the students you plan to work with.  

2. Colorado Certification Programs 

Obtaining a teaching certificate in Colorado involves completing an accredited course with pedagogical theory and classroom practice components. Student teaching is mandatory. Upgrading to professional certification requires a teacher induction program with mentor supervision, ongoing professional development, and training. The Colorado Department of Education lists Approved Educator Preparation Programs.  

3. Multiple Measures for Licensure 

To apply for a teaching certificate, there are multiple measures that can be used to prove competency including coursework, standardized testing, and portfolio measures. Colorado approves Praxis exams for most content areas as the standardized test. Unlike most states, Colorado does not require a basic skills test. All that is required is a Subject Area Competence test. 

4. On-Going Teacher Certification 

Earning a Colorado teaching credential requires completing undergraduate coursework, completing an accredited certification program, and demonstrating competency through one of the multiple measures. Colorado offers a three-year Initial License for beginning teachers. A Teacher Induction Program is necessary to qualify for a five-year Professional License. Certifications include Early Childhood, Elementary, Secondary, Special Education Generalist, Special Education Specialist, Middle School and Secondary Math, Secondary Science, English Language Arts, and Modern Languages.

More information is available through the Colorado Department of Education Office of Educator Preparation, Licensing, and Enforcement.  

Career Outcomes for Teachers 

Graduates from CU Denver’s BA in Education and Human Development program are well-positioned to embark on rewarding careers in teaching, curriculum development, educational leadership, and various educational support roles. If you’re drawn to making a meaningful impact, CU Denver’s program is a gateway not only to a rewarding career but a chance to address the urgent need for dedicated educators in our communities.  

Are you ready to be a part of shaping the future of education? Take the first step by exploring more about our program and applying to join our community of passionate educators. 

Barbara Seidl, PhD, Associate Dean for Teacher Education and Undergraduate Experiences 

Dr. Barbara Seidl is the Associate Dean for Teacher Education and Undergraduate Experiences in CU Denver’s School of Education & Human Development. She supports the school’s many teacher education pathways, urban and rural. She also guides initiatives and infrastructures that serve and promote the success of undergraduates in the school. Her commitment is to support diverse and first-generation students, and her research focuses on the preparation of teachers for diverse communities. She has more than 20 years of experience in developing and administering teacher education programs.