Accelerated Certification for Teaching (ACT)

Program of Study
Course Descriptions

The Accelerated Certification for Teaching Program (ACT) is designed to prepare women and men with non-teaching degrees for teaching careers. It is a non-degree, graduate-level, state-approved teacher education program.

Participants include recent college graduates, career changers, retirees seeking a second career and persons already teaching who wish to become certified.

Through the Accelerated Certification for Teaching Program, eligibility for Maryland certification is possible in elementary education or in secondary education in one of the following: business, computer science, English, world languages, mathematics, science, social studies, or theatre. Early childhood and special education courses are offered which make it possible for the elementary education candidate to earn dual certification in early childhood and special education when such courses are taken in conjunction with the elementary program of study. Secondary education candidates may also earn dual certification in special education.

New students may begin the program in any term. A schedule of weekend, evening and summer classes allows most students to continue full time jobs while enrolled. Although a program of study can be tailored to accommodate a variety of personal circumstances, continuity in pursuing the coursework is necessary. An internship, normally the final step in the program, requires a full-time commitment.

Occasionally, students can secure a "conditional" teaching position to use in lieu of a semester of internship. This circumstance must be approved and will require registration as an internship course and University monitoring.

Students are expected to complete the entire sequence of professional education courses at Notre Dame of Maryland University. With permission, a limited number of courses may be considered for transfer into the program. However, methods courses must be taken at Notre Dame.

Candidates who complete the ACT program may choose to apply for admission to the Master of Arts in Leadership in Teaching. Specific courses completed in the ACT program with a 3.0 or above may be applied to the degree.

Program of Study

The ACT program offers professional education courses which provide the knowledge and skills essential to the beginning teacher and which are necessary for certification by the Maryland State Department of Education. A minimum of 21 credits is required for the secondary education track; 24 credits for the elementary education track; additional credits as prescribed for dual certification with early childhood or special education.

Each student will develop a plan of study with the ACT coordinator upon admission. In addition to the coursework in education proper to the ACT program, this plan requires the fulfillment of any undergraduate liberal arts content courses necessary for certification. These undergraduate liberal arts content courses may be taken concurrently with ACT courses at Notre Dame or at other colleges and universities. Frequent and consistent contact with the ACT advisor is expected of each student to assure steady progress in the program.

Upon entering the program and periodically thereafter, candidates attend a series of non-credit workshops orienting them to the teaching profession. Throughout the program of study, participants will prepare a professional portfolio documenting their competence according to departmental and state standards.


Content relevant to prospective teachers includes the following strands: human growth and learning, curricular and instructional planning, classroom organization and management, working with diverse populations, assessment, application of technology to management and instruction, and educational professionalism. Through the ACT program these strands are integrated into required core courses, curriculum and methods courses particular to the certification track, and field experience and student teaching.

Core Courses

EDU-519 Human Development and Learning (3)
EDU-556 Technology for Instruction and Management (3)
SPE-526 Special Education for the Classroom Teacher (3)

Curriculum and Methods Courses

Secondary Education

Select one Methods of Teaching in Secondary School course from the following (3)

EDU-530 Art
EDU-531 English
EDU-532 Teaching World Languages in the K-12 Classroom
EDU-533 Mathematics
EDU-535 Music
EDU-537 Science
EDU-539 Social Studies

EDU-544 Educational Assessment (3)
EDU-580 Teaching Reading and Writing in the Content Areas Part I (3)
EDU-551 Teaching Reading and Writing in the Content Areas Part II (3)

Elementary Education
EDU-509 Processes and Acquisition of Reading (3)
EDU-510 Elementary Reading Materials (3)
EDU-511 Assessment of Reading (3)
EDU-542 Instruction in Reading (3)
EDU-592 Mathematics in the Elementary School (3)

Early Childhood Education (Dual Certification with Elementary Education)

EDU-515 Curriculum and Methods in Early Childhood Education (3)

Special Education (Dual Certification with Elementary or Secondary Education)

SPE-543/544 Assessment of Special Needs Populations I (3)
SPE-546 Methods of Teaching Students with Special Needs (3)
SPE-570 Individualizing the Curriculum (Elementary) (3) OR
SPE-571 Vocational Skills in Special Education Methods (Secondary) (3)
SPE-576 Communication Skills for the School-Based Professional (3)

Field Experience and Student Teaching

Some courses may include observation and participation activities in schools. Upon completion of prescribed courses, supervised student teaching in the appropriate area(s) of certification for a total period of 20 weeks will satisfy the student teaching requirement for career changers and others not yet teaching. See description of internships EDU-601 through EDU-611 and SPE-601 under School of Education Course Descriptions.

For teachers already in service, one year of documented satisfactory teaching as prescribed by Notre Dame, and at the appropriate level and in the field of certification, will satisfy the student teaching requirement of the program.

ACT Program Requirements

  • An overall average of 3.3 or higher must be maintained.
  • A "B" or higher in all methods courses, passing scores on Praxis Core tests (or MSDE-approved test equivalent) and on the Praxis II content test specified for the expected area of certification, and approval of the School of Education are required for admission to student teaching, or, for teachers in service, for receiving the approved program stamp on the transcript signifying completion of the program.
  • EDU-519 Human Development and Learning must be taken prior to or concurrent with the first curriculum and methods course.
  • An Application for Student Teaching Placement must be filed early in the semester prior to the semester for internship. No other courses should be taken during the internship experience.
  • All liberal arts and education courses prescribed in a student's program of study must be completed prior to the internship, or, for teachers in service, prior to receiving the approved program stamp on the transcript signifying completion of the program.
  • Students must pass Praxis Core tests (or MSDE-approved test equivalent) I to enter the ACT program and Praxis II* prior to internship. These are national teacher examinations required by the Maryland State Board of Education for certification.

*Due to the fact that NDMU’s world languages program is nationally recognized by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL),teacher candidates who are seeking certification in Maryland for Spanish or French are required to achieve a passing score of “Advanced Low” or better on BOTH the Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) and the Written Proficiency Test (WPT), both of which are administered by an interviewer/proctor who is certified by ACTFL.  Note that some teacher candidates in lieu of the OPI may elect to take the OPI(c) which is a computer version of the OPI. Teacher candidates may take these two assessments at any time during their program of study but prior to their methods course of study.  Teacher candidates are encouraged to explore opportunities that will enable them to meet the “Advanced Low” standard/score, including participation in study abroad, volunteer and service learning opportunities, language clubs, and film festivals and by viewing films and television programs in the world language they will be studying.  More information about these assessments can be found at 


Course Descriptions

Education Course Descriptions

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