A teacher in a classroom assisting a young student with work

Elementary Education

Add greater depth and understanding to your classroom by exploring all curriculum and instructional areas related to teaching in preschool, kindergarten, the elementary grades or child care related settings.

Master Your Elementary Education Skills

Strengthen your future teaching experiences by expanding both your knowledge of elementary education and the opportunities inside your classroom. At USD, you will find supportive faculty and curriculum that allow you to continue your passion for teaching while also pursuing a graduate degree. The M.A. in Elementary Education prepares and strengthens teaching skills and exposes you to a variety of materials and programs used in elementary schools. This convenient and flexible online program allows you to continue your employment as you become a leader in your field. Here you can decide on different paths of specialization, such as culturally and linguistically diverse learning; reading and literary coaching; and science, technology and math pedagogy. Build upon your foundation and experience with a variety of new materials and programs that elevate your teaching career.

Become a leader who's prepared for all aspects of the education world as an elementary education graduate student at USD.

Degrees & Offerings

Elementary Education (M.A.)

  Vermillion Main Campus

The Master's in Elementary Education requires students to select an area of specialization.

Elementary Education: Early Childhood Education (M.A.)

Master's with Specialization
  Vermillion Main Campus

The importance and benefits of early education have created a strong need for elementary education teachers. This specialization prepares students for a wide variety of career options through the study of current trends and practices in the field.

Elementary Education: Culturally & Linguistically Diverse Learners (M.A.)

Master's with Specialization
  Vermillion Main Campus and Online

Teachers at all levels must be aware of and trained to meet the needs of learners from a variety of cultural backgrounds and experiences. This specialization explores evidence-based methods and materials for adapting practices, programs and policies to meet the needs of all learners, particularly English language learners and other cultural and linguistically diverse communities.

Elementary Education: Reading Specialist/Literacy Coach (M.A.)

Master's with Specialization
  Vermillion Main Campus and Online

Success in literacy is highly correlated to success in life. Reading specialists and literacy coaches work with teachers and students to ensure growth in literacy. This specialization prepares teachers to use research-proven practices and programs, to effectively teach students and adults, and to lead literacy efforts in schools. Students who complete the program also are eligible for an additional teaching certificate as a reading specialist.

Elementary Education: Science/Technology/Math (M.A.)

Master's with Specialization
  Vermillion Main Campus and Online

 Now more than ever, there is a need for STEM education in our schools. As society has moved to an information age, teachers must be able to provide meaningful experiences which integrate science, technology and math into their curriculum to prepare students for the world. This specialization prepares teachers to use current evidence-based proven practices to design, carry out and evaluate STEM education in elementary schools.

Accelerated Elementary Education: Culturally & Linguistically Diverse Learners (B.S.Ed./M.A.)

Major + Master's
  Vermillion Main Campus and Online

You can also choose an accelerated option when specializing in culturally and linguistically diverse learners. If you are a current USD undergraduate student who would like to begin a master's degree while completing your bachelor's degree, you may apply and begin the program after the completion of 90 undergraduate credit hours.

Program Details





Graduate Admissions

Known for Excellence

With qualities like small class sizes, specialized programs and incredible student opportunities, USD is not your typical university. What makes us unique is what makes your education exceptional.


As a student at USD, the opportunities available to you extend beyond the classroom. Explore your interests, find your community and experience your education to the fullest extent through the following opportunities.

There are plenty of ways you can get involved as a student in the School of Education at USD. Whether you want to serve the community of Vermillion, work with children who have special needs, promote literacy or explore another interest related to education, you'll be able to find the right organization for you.

Explore Student Organizations

The National Association for the Education of Young Children and the National Education Association are professional organizations for educators. Connect with a wide network of teachers and be an advocate for students in one of these organizations.

Explore Student Organizations

Enrich your education and see the world by participating in one of our many study abroad experiences. Here are a few benefits of studying abroad during your time at USD:

  • Gain a new perspective on your academic field of study
  • Improve your language skills
  • Explore a new culture
  • Gain independence and increase self-reliance
  • Become more prepared to work in a global economy
  • Set yourself apart from other job and graduate school applicants
  • Learn more about yourself and your own culture

Learn More

A unique part of your USD education is access to undergraduate research opportunities. As an education student at USD, you will have the chance to explore your interests and conduct innovative research with the support of professors who care about your success. Grants and travel funding are available through the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.

Learn More

departments & facilities

Explore the departments, facilities and centers that contribute to your education in curriculum and instruction.
USD students participate in an in-class activity.

Curriculum & Instruction

Preparing professional educators to be tomorrow’s leaders in teaching through developmental, integrative and reflective practices.

Faculty & Staff

Get to know your professors in the Division of Curriculum & Instruction. Our faculty are nationally recognized for their research and have a national network of connections to help students progress in their careers.
Bio Image for Faculty Member Gary Cheeseman

Gary Cheeseman

Associate Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Susan Gapp

Susan Gapp

Associate Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Lisa Hazlett

Lisa Hazlett

Bio Image for Faculty Member Monica Iverson

Monica Iverson

Senior Lecturer
Faculty Default

Marilyn Jensen

Adjunct Instructor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Kevin Reins

Kevin Reins

Associate Professor
A teacher speaking to a student.

Tailor the Program to Your Interests and Career Goals

Graduate with a degree that reflects your passions, prepares you to lead and sets you apart.

USD's graduate degrees in educational leadership are unique in that you can craft the program to fit your interests and career goals. You'll learn from supportive faculty and take classes from other departments across campus to expand your skillset and knowledge. This unique structure provides a versatile and supportive climate that prepares you for success in today's information-rich society.

A teacher and younger student in a classroom near a chalkboard smiling at camera

Impact the Lives of Children

Master your leadership skills and study in greater depth all curriculum and instructional areas related to teaching in elementary schools. Strengthen your teaching skills and expand your knowledge to include a variety of current materials and programs used in elementary schools.
A woman teaching a class of children.

Discounted Tuition for South Dakota Teachers and Vocational Instructors

If you live in South Dakota, be sure and take advantage of the 50% reduced tuition program for currently contracted elementary/secondary teachers and vocational instructors.

Learn More

Surprisingly Affordable

Whether you’ve recently completed your undergraduate degree, or you want to kick your career up a notch, graduate school is the next logical step. The good news is there is funding for both online and on-campus students to get you through your program. 
GA (Resident*)
Tuition (1 cr.)
GAF Fee (1 cr.)

More About Tuition & Fees

Tuition rates are subject to change and may vary depending on the program or department. Visit the Graduate Tuition & Costs page for more information.

* Graduate Assistant (GA) rates are available for resident, non-resident and online students.

student success story

Success story Sidney Bitz smiling.
For art, I always loved creating. I made it a career. And then, when I was student teaching, I was shown the devastating literacy rates and I decided to work in that area. I chose these paths because I wanted to make a difference, and USD made the difference for me.

Sydney Bitz

M.A. Elementary Education '23
B.A. Art Education '21

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