Frequently asked questions
How do I apply for the program?
What are the arrangements for paying for the program?
Are there loan forgiveness programs if I continue to teach in an urban school?
What is process for certification?
What are the differences between the master’s and certification-only program?
How do I decide whether or not to get a Master’s Degree?
What is the master’s degree that I get from GSE?
Where are the GSE/TFA courses held?
When are the GSE/TFA courses held?
Who are the instructors in the GSE/TFA program?
What benefits do I get by being in the GSE/TFA program?
What are the benefits I get from GSE and the University of Pennsylvania?
How much work is required for the courses?
How many courses do I take each semester?
How do I know what courses I have to take?
What is the advantage of the cohort system?
How are GSE and TFA connected to each other?
Applicants must first be accepted by TFA, and offered and accepted the opportunity to come to Philadelphia. Click here to visit TFA site.
Complete an application online at https://app.applyyourself.com/?id=upenn-ed and upload personal statement and resume.
- First Round applicants should apply on line to UPenn by January 9th.
- Second Round applicants should apply on line to UPenn by March 15th.
- Third Round applicants should apply to UPenn by May 7th.
- Fourth Round applicants should apply to UPenn by June 4th.
All applicants need:
- UPenn application (online)
- Three letters of recommendation
- Undergraduate transcripts
- A personal statement
- A Resume
Taking the GRE is OPTIONAL for Master’s students.
We emphasize that Penn GSE is committed to helping corps members meet the cost of their education. A number of programs are available that can reduce your out-of-pocket tuition for as little as one-sixth of the “sticker price” depending on a host of factors.
These include: your AmeriCorps award; forgiveness rates of Direct and Perkins loans; and your deduction on your federal income taxes. It is important to note that there is wide variance in the numbers and is contingent on AmeriCorps funding and other issues. There are different amounts of tuition for certification and Master’s degrees. Both programs are part-time and so the base university tuition and fees charged are priced accordingly. Because of corps members’ commitment to the district, Penn GSE automatically discounts the tuition 20%.
Students are eligible for financial aid.
Year 2 (Master’s):
Yes. Once you have received an Instructional I certificate, you are eligible for a percentage of loan forgiveness for each year that you teach.
The certification program for earning a public school teaching license requires TFA corps members to take seven credit units during their two years at Penn GSE. Enrollment in a certification program authorizes you to teach in a public school in
Pennsylvania. On passing 1) all portions of the state-mandated Praxis examination, 2) a test of competence in teaching your subject (e.g., English, mathematics, social studies or elementary education), and 3) successfully completing our certification program, Penn GSE will recommend TFA corps members to the Pennsylvania Department of Education for an Instruction I Teacher Certificate. A Pennsylvania teacher certification is also recognized by the education departments of most states through a reciprocity agreement.
All students take seven required courses for certification. Master’s and certification-only students take the same courses in the first summer, fall and spring semesters. Master’s students take three more courses, a master’s elective, Inquiry into Practice, and a Master’s Thesis course in order to complete their Master’s Thesis. Click here for curriculum map. Certification students pay a flat rate of $1200 for each CU. These courses cannot be used towards a degree. Master’s students pay a higher rate and receive the TFA Program 20% discount.
One of your first decisions is whether you simply want to get certified (required by the state of Pennsylvania) or apply for a Master’s degree. Here are the major differences between the two options:
- The certification program for earning a public school teaching license requires TFA corps members to take seven credit units during their two years at Penn GSE. All corps members must be certified or enrolled in a certification program.
- A Master’s degree is awarded for taking 10 courses (credit units) and completing a successful Master’s Thesis.
A Word in Favor of the Master’s Program
Here are some reasons why we believe pursuing a Master’s degree deserves your serious consideration.
- If you decide to teach after concluding your two years as a Teach For America corps member, a Master’s degree will qualify you for a higher salary and more career options in the profession. Most states require a Master’s degree within five years of initial certification to be permanently certified.
- A Master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania is a strong credential for whatever career path you choose next, whether you apply for graduate study in another field or seek employment in the public or private sector.
- You can attain a Master’s degree by taking just three more courses beyond the seven required for certification.
- You can switch from the Master’s degree program to the certification track, but not vice versa.
- For the last three years, 65 - 70% of the corps members who came to Penn GSE decided to pursue the Master’s
All master’s degree students receive an MSED – Master of Science in Education.
All of the courses are held on the UPenn campus. Weekend courses are usually in the GSE buildings at 3700 Walnut Street or 3440 Market Street.
Courses are on Tuesday night, 5:30 – 7:30 and one weekend a month (Friday night and Saturday morning). TFA Learning Teams meet in the same location one weekend a month on Saturday afternoon. Click here for curriculum map.
Instructors in the GSE/TFA program are professors, instructors, and researchers at GSE or in the University, graduate students from GSE, and experienced practitioners in the field, including urban teachers, counselors, psychologists, and researchers. Click here for instructor biographies.
Because this program is specifically designed for TFA corps members, master’s students receive a 20% discount. All students receive their books, readings, and other materials from the program and do not have to purchase them separately. The program is designed and implemented by people who are experienced in urban teaching.
As a GSE student, TFA corps members can participate in any and all activities within GSE and many at the University. This includes use of the University library and the GSE computer lab, among other things. Students can get technical support from GSE, borrow cameras and video/audio equipment, and use a variety of other resources through GSE and the University. Students can join the recreation and fitness facilities at the student rate.
All of the courses require some reading and some writing. Some require using Blackboard regularly and doing some independent research. Courses do vary depending on whether or not they are methods courses or foundational courses. Methods courses often include lesson planning and evaluations of lessons as part of the course work. Courses are designed with the understanding that students are full time first and second year teachers in challenging contexts; students are expected to fulfill the requirements, but these are also crafted so that they can be useful to teachers and take into account the realities of day to day teaching.
In the first year, all students take a weekly content area methods course in the fall and spring. Students also take two other year-long courses on the weekends. In the first summer session after the first year (May and June), master’s students take one elective course. In the second year, all students take a content area methods course one weekend a month. Master’s students take one other course each semester. (link to curriculum map)
The program director regularly shares information with all students about their courses. The GSE/TFA program coordinator registers students for all of their classes, following the courses that are required.
The cohort system offers a wonderful resource of other new teachers. Along with TFA, instructors, and other teachers in the schools, this enables corps members to be part of a community of teachers and learners.
GSE and Greater Philadelphia-Camden TFA formed a partnership in 2005. Throughout the two years they work closely together to provide as much support as possible to corps members in their schools, with as many opportunities as possible to learn about teaching and education.