NYS Approves New UAlbany Teacher Certification Programs

A smiling graduate in a black cap and gown holds a diploma as she poses for a portrait on stage with two others dressed in black graduation robes.
School of Education Dean Virginia Goatley, left, is all smiles as one of her school's graduates crosses the stage at UAlbany's 2022 commencement ceremony. (Photo by Brian Busher)

ALBANY, N.Y. (Jan. 29, 2024) — The New York State Department of Education has approved three new undergraduate teacher certification programs at the University at Albany, marking a return to the University’s roots as a teachers college.

On Friday, NYSED approved UAlbany’s new Bachelor of Science degrees in Adolescent Education, Childhood and Special Education, and Early Childhood/Childhood Education.

Enrollment for College of Saint Rose students for the Fall 2024 semester is open immediately through the teach-out plan, and interested students should contact the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. Admissions procedures for current UAlbany students, transfers and new first-year students will be announced shortly.

The new programs join the UAlbany School of Education’s nationally ranked graduate programs — including top-ranked online programs — and mark the first time the University has offered undergraduate teacher certification programs since 2004.

Helping Saint Rose students complete their degrees

The programs, which will lead to New York State Teacher Certification, are a critical component of UAlbany’s comprehensive teach-out agreement with The College of Saint Rose and will be offered on a permanent basis after the teach-out period for Saint Rose students has ended.

“I am thrilled to bring undergraduate education programs back to the University at Albany. UAlbany was founded 180 years ago as a teachers college, so bringing these programs back is a return to our roots and an important part of our commitment as the main teach-out partner for The College of Saint Rose,” said UAlbany President Havidán Rodríguez. “UAlbany is one of the nation’s most diverse research institutions and with these new programs, we will be able to fulfill the regional need for a sustainable and diverse teacher pipeline now and in the future. We are grateful to the New York State Education Department and SUNY for their partnership in establishing these programs.”

“For 100 years, Saint Rose has been preparing the highest quality elementary, middle, high school and special education teachers, transforming the lives of students in schools across New York State and around the country," said Marcia White, president of The College of Saint Rose.  “At a time when there continues to be a critical shortage of teachers statewide and nationally, we are proud that the University at Albany is a Saint Rose teach-out partner, enabling undergraduate education students to pursue their dreams of becoming teachers — ensuring the legacy of Saint Rose endures.”

Education programs are among some of Saint Rose’s largest, and providing an affordable, public option for Saint Rose students to continue their education is important both for them and for keeping this critical pipeline open in the Capital Region. The new degree programs were supported by Questar III BOCES, Capital Region BOCES, numerous local superintendents and educational organizations.

“As the only public research university in the region, UAlbany is well positioned to provide students with an outstanding teacher preparation program and we are excited to now be able to offer undergraduate degrees in adolescent education, childhood and special education, and early childhood/childhood education,” said Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Carol Kim. “We know that the introduction of these new programs is critical for current Saint Rose students and equally important to meeting the educational needs of the Capital Region.”

“The School of Education has strong and longstanding relationships with P-12 partners, which will bring about rich field experiences and opportunities as we address critical teacher shortages with these new programs,” said Virginia Goatley, dean of the School of Education. “As a research institution, our faculty and staff bring expert knowledge in teacher preparation, particularly in areas of early childhood, literacy, special education and secondary content areas. We look forward to collaborating with Saint Rose faculty to transition students and to opening new pathways for current UAlbany undergraduate students interested in teaching.”

Rising demand and a shortage of teachers

Even before Saint Rose announced its closure, UAlbany had begun exploring the possibility of reactivating undergraduate teacher preparation programs amid rising demand for teachers and increasing interest from students. In 2016, the School of Education launched an undergraduate major in human development, which has quickly grown to more than 400 declared and intended majors, many of them in the elementary, special education and literacy concentration.

While there is no official statewide data on unfilled teaching positions in New York, some estimates project New York will need about 180,000 new teachers over the next decade to keep pace with expected retirements and other vacancies, even as enrollment in teaching programs has declined.

School districts in New York have also struggled to recruit teachers who represent the students in their classrooms. But UAlbany’s student profile uniquely positions it to ensure New York’s teacher pipeline reflects the state’s rich diversity. More than 42 percent of UAlbany undergrads identify as Black or Latina/o.

For more than a century after its founding in 1844 as the New York State Normal School, UAlbany was exclusively a training ground for aspiring teachers. Until 1977, the University was home to an experimental teaching laboratory, which eventually became known as The Milne School.

That legacy remains strong. At the graduate level, UAlbany’s School of Education already offers nearly two-dozen master’s and doctoral programs, nine certificates and nearly a dozen microcredentials — and is a major pipeline for P-12 and higher education leaders across New York.