Majors and Programs: Elementary Education &  Secondary Education

The Cornell College Education Department prepares you for a career in elementary, secondary, K-12 teaching, and for careers in a variety of education-related fields. Courses are small, interactive, and challenging. Cornell education students come from varied places and backgrounds, and after graduation they work in all types of schools across the country and internationally. 

The department offers the following educational pathways:

  • A major in elementary education
  • Coursework leading to secondary certification for grades 7-12
  • Coursework leading to certification in music education, art education, and physical education for grades K-12

Careers in education

Students who major in education at Cornell become certified as elementary and/or secondary teachers and are prepared for a wide range of other education-related fields such as school counseling, coaching, and graduate work in education policy, curriculum studies, psychology, social work, and other social science fields. The education curriculum is grounded in the liberal arts.  Studying education in a liberal arts setting is especially important as the best teachers are those who possess a wide breadth of knowledge and appreciate learning for learning’s sake.

Elementary education majors

As an elementary education major, you will be prepared for Iowa licensure in grades K-6, and licensure in other states is easily attained for students who've completed our program. In addition, you can earn an online reading endorsement that you can complete over the course of two summer sessions. This endorsement is highly recommended as it provides you a competitive edge in the job market. 

Secondary education

Secondary education students major in the subject area in which they wish to teach, and the program is designed to meet the teacher licensure requirements for the State of Iowa in multiple endorsement areas. In addition, Cornell coursework readily applies to other states, and education faculty and staff advise students regarding any extra requirements for states other than Iowa. 

Student teaching and career preparation

Education staff and faculty provide close supervision and mentorship during student teaching, as well as guidance through the job search process. Graduating students get assistance with resumes, cover letters, and application materials, and the department sponsors a career day where local principals conduct mock interviews on campus. 

The State of Iowa is highly regarded for both its public schools and higher education institutions, and this reputation serves Cornell College students well in the job market. Employers actively seek Cornell students, as they have a reputation for content area expertise and professionalism. 

One Course At A Time

Thanks to our small classes and One Course At A Time schedule, students spend a great deal of time with one another and with their faculty members. The strong interpersonal component of our program allows students to develop their own unique teaching styles and philosophies.


The block plan allows you as an education major to complete practicums in K-12 classrooms beginning in your first year. These early experiences help you discover the area of study and level at which you would like to teach. By the time you graduate, you will complete a minimum of 20 weeks in various public school classrooms.

A Cornell practicum is in many ways like a shortened student teaching experience that allows you to feel comfortable and prepared when you begin student teaching in your senior year. Many cooperating teachers request their former practicum students as student teachers because of the relationship that is built during the methods course. 

One Course At A Time is ideal for completing your practicum because you will not need to negotiate scheduling conflicts with other courses. Consequently, you can spend entire days at your school site and get connected with your classroom in a way that is not always possible if you only have an hour or two to be in the classroom each day. 

Study abroad

During the course Comparative Education in Belize, you will spend a block teaching in Belizean schools while experiencing the local culture. Beyond your classroom experience, you'll have the opportunity to visit the Lamanai Mayan Ruins and go cave tubing. Or you might take a course in Cuba that will explore civic education and literacy movements during the Cuban Revolution.

You might also elect to complete your student teaching in another country. First, you will spend two blocks teaching in the United States, and then go abroad for two blocks to student teach.