In an Initial program, candidates complete a general education program that gives them content knowledge and a firm foundation in the behavioral sciences, natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, and fine arts. Within the general education program, candidates are required to demonstrate proficiency in quantitative skills, writing, and computer technology. In addition, each candidate completes an academic major. The academic major is the same major taken by any student completing an academic major at the College. For teaching at the adolescence level, the academic major is the content area in which the candidate is seeking teacher certification. For teaching early childhood and childhood education, content courses, called cognates, are specified in the general education program. These cognate courses focus on content knowledge specific to the early childhood/childhood curriculum for Pre K-6. Candidates in health science and physical education also major in their content areas. The strong content base of the unit's teacher education programs is seen as necessary, but not sufficient, for the preparation of teachers.
At the Advanced level, candidates have the opportunity to further study content knowledge in their discipline. Through a combination of courses in subject matter knowledge that include developing the candidates' ability to convey and teach the content to others, candidates develop additional knowledge of the concepts and ideas being taught. A combination of a strong background in content helps teachers in planning, organizing, and implementing lessons that are sequential and interactive (Berliner, 1986; Darling-Hammond, 1996, 2000; Goldhaber & Brewer, 2000).
Candidates in the counseling and educational administration programs develop the knowledge bases that allow them to counsel and administer in P-12 schools.