Biology Masters Degree (M.Ed.), 8-12, Initial


Our Master of Education Biology degree, offered by the Education Department,  is designed to accommodate new educators seeking initial licensure. Courses are offered in the late afternoons and evenings making the program accommodating and flexible.

We offer a Supporting Our Schools Scholarship available to incoming students in licensure programs and a Teacher Incentive Discount throughout the program if MTEL requirements have been met.

For admission requirements please visit our website here.


M.Ed. Initial Licensure Programs

Westfield State University has a history and abiding commitment to preparing educators who serve the educational needs of prekindergarten through secondary school students in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  Our teacher education programs embrace this vision, Education Leaders Building Inclusive Learning Communities,  a vision grounded in our department's five foundational pillars: Critical Engagement with Diversity, Community Building, Social Justice, Scholarship, and Reflection.

Westfield State University teacher education programs are approved by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). Westfield is a member in good standing of the Association for Advancing Quality in Educator Preparation (AAQEP). Westfield State University was awarded full accreditation for seven years in June 2020. AAQEP also awarded our educator preparation program with a commendation for our work in anti-racist education.

Applicants for the M.Ed. initial licensure programs may be required to take additional courses and/or document professional experiences in the cognate area of the license, in addition to the courses required for the master's degree to ensure completion of the Massachusetts Subject Matter Knowledge (SMK) expectations.

Students who satisfactorily complete program requirements leading to a teaching license are recommended for licensure to the Massachusetts Department of Education. Program requirements include completion of all coursework and other requirements for a master's degree, passage of Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTELs), a demonstrated ability to meet program dispositional standards, and successful completion of a practicum experience.

Advising for graduate students seeking an M.Ed. leading to an initial teaching license facilitates student progress in degree programs and offers an opportunity to design and to amend programs of study, acquire career advice and address topics of particular interest to students involved in graduate study for career advancement or professional development. Registration advising is offered in advance of the semester to assist with course choices appropriate for graduate programs. Programs of study constructed during the first semester of matriculation allow students to remain active participants in their course selection.


Program Description

The M.Ed. in Biology 8-12, Initial, leads to a master's degree with initial licensure to teach high school biology. The program requires extensive school-based fieldwork in addition to a practicum.

See Admission  requirements for graduate programs.


Applicants to this 36-credit hour program must also pass the MTEL test in Communication and Literacy Skills as a requirement for admission to this program.




A. Prerequisite coursework or experience

Content knowledge in the following areas must be documented in the student's previous academic record or professional experience. Any gaps in coverage must be fulfilled as determined by the student's graduate advisor.

  • General Ecology
  • Genetics
  • Cell Biology (preferred) or Microbiology
  • Plant Biology
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology

  • History and Nature of Scientific Knowledge
  • General Chemistry I & II
  • Adolescent Development
  • Foundations of Education
B.Required courses (21-24 credits)
C. A total of 12-15 additional credits to include:
  • 3-6 credits of pedagogical coursework at the 600 level; and
  • 9 credits of content area graduate coursework in Biology

Course selections to be made in consultation with graduate advisor.

Additional Guidelines

Required field placements must accommodate a range of characteristics including range of grade level and types of settings. Also teacher candidates must complete either one 30-hour pre-practicum placement or student teaching with students from diverse backgrounds.

Students must pass the required MTEL subject matter tests and have a GPA of 2.8 or greater before beginning the student teaching practicum. Although students may be allowed to apply for the practicum with a 2.8 GPA, a 3.0 GPA must be maintained to remain in the graduate program.

Practicum placements are generally within a 30-mile radius of the university unless otherwise specified and approved.

Students are required to successfully complete a comprehensive, cumulative assessment as part of their master's degree requirement. This assessment will include two parts: (1) a portfolio requirement and (2) a scientific presentation. The scientific presentation will be assigned by faculty members of the Biology Department and will include specific content knowledge related to the student's program of study. The presentation will be evaluated using a rubric that addresses the candidate's content knowledge, ability to present scientific information, and the ability to answer questions.

Practicum placement also requires completion of the following courses: EDUC 0540 , EDUC 0554 , BIOL 0590 , EDUC 0580 ; as well as the recommendation of the student's advisor, program director and Department Chair or designee.


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Graduate Outreach Team