Elementary Education Degree

Bachelor of Science in Elementary EducationInitial Program – Leads to Initial Teacher Licensure

Offered By: College of Education

Preparing for a Career in K-8 Teaching

A Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education degree is an undergraduate degree program that can help prepare you for a career as a K–8 elementary teacher and to seek initial teacher licensure. This degree pathway is tailored for students aspiring to lead in the mental, emotional and social development of children, while also establishing a strong foundation in early academic fundamentals such as math and reading.

This primary education program can help prepare teachers to identify their students’ strengths and areas of opportunity. Based on those insights, teachers will tailor content, instruction and projects that aim to meet diverse student needs and interests. Other job responsibilities may include:

  • Motivating and engaging students
  • Performing assessments and evaluations
  • Collecting and analyzing student data
  • Establishing behavioral expectations
  • Communicating with parents or guardians

An Institutionally Accredited Elementary Education Program

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GCU’s program meets Arizona elementary education teaching requirements in a K-8 classroom environment. Courses and formats are approved by the Arizona State Board of Education and designed to help you strive toward earning your degree in a primary education program.

GCU’s College of Education is accredited by the Association for Advancing Quality in Educator Preparation (AAQEP), a national accrediting organization recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Courses are also aligned to standards set by the Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (InTASC) and the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE).

Visit the College of Education Accreditation page for information on the accreditations for GCU’s education degree programs.

Study Elementary Teacher Training Concepts

With a BS in elementary education degree, you will be taught the specific knowledge and tools necessary to help you prepare to follow your passion for teaching and make a lasting impression on your students’ future. The teaching profession in elementary classrooms may be challenging; however, you may find the rewards in seeing children understand something or make a discovery on their own, which can make the hard work worth it.

The teacher preparation curriculum at GCU includes:

  • Lesson development to engage diverse learners
  • Methods for teaching English language learners
  • Overview of how to serve students with mild to moderate disabilities
  • Child and early adolescent growth and development
  • Research and examination of science- and evidence-based learning concepts

GCU’s undergraduate teaching degree curriculum includes opportunities for relevant application of concepts, theories and research with an emphasis on elementary educational field experiences. Teacher candidates will complete approximately 120 hours of observational and practice-based experiences in the field. In addition, candidates will complete a 15-week student teaching experience to further shape career-ready individuals to confidently enter the classroom. Graduates who successfully complete the elementary program are eligible to apply for an elementary teaching certificate in the state of Arizona.

Flexible Learning Options

GCU offers maximum learning flexibility by offering this elementary education degree online for independent learning or on campus in a traditional classroom setting. In pursuing your teacher preparation program, you can learn to help children reach their own potential while pursuing a flexible educational experience that works with your schedule.

Students in this online or on-campus instructional degree program engage with foundational and application-based learning material and resources that include:

  • Studies and practices in lesson planning and assessment, classroom management, family and cultural diversity and English as a second language (ESL)
  • Instructional methods/strategies in a broad range of topics
  • Instructors with expertise in their respective fields who facilitate learning by sharing their knowledge and experience in these elementary education areas
  • A well-rounded education program based on a Christian worldview that promotes a spirit of servant leadership
Total Credits: 120
Campus: 15 weeks
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Online: 7 weeks
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Up to 90 credits, only 84 can be lower division
Campus: $8,250 per semester
[Tuition, Fees and Financial Aid]

Online: $455 per credit
[Tuition, Fees and Financial Aid]

Cost of Attendance

Careers With an Elementary Education Degree

Graduates with this degree may pursue careers in education as an elementary school teacher for K–8 learning environments in private or public schools. A bachelor’s in elementary education can also serve as a segue into earning a master’s degree for advanced knowledge, deepened understanding and the opportunity to position yourself for possible upward mobility.

Many of GCU’s education programs lead to an initial teacher licensure in the state of Arizona. For a full list of state-specific licensure requirements, please visit our state disclosures page. This licensure component is completed through many hours of field work in a physical classroom setting. A degree that does not lead to licensure may still have some field experience, but may not have the lengthy time requirements needed per week that a program leading to licensure does. If you would like to find more information about accreditation for GCU’s College of Education and its degree programs, visit the College of Education Accreditation page.

BS in Elementary Education Degree Programs FAQs

You may find pursuing a degree in elementary education to be a fulfilling and rewarding experience. This section will provide you with answers to some of your most frequently asked questions, so you can make an informed decision about your academic and professional goals.

Elementary education teachers serve in K–8 settings and can gain an understanding of how to teach content across a wide span of grade levels, whereas early childhood education focuses on birth through third-grade settings. Elementary school teachers specifically prepare to meet the needs of young children through grade eight.

This undergraduate teaching degree can be either a BA or a BS. The curriculum for a Bachelor of Arts degree is designed to be more about liberal arts and communication practices, while a Bachelor of Science, like this particular degree, may be more research-oriented.

Yes, typically, individuals who earn this teacher preparation degree are prepared to teach in elementary schools. This degree can help equip you with the necessary knowledge and skills in curriculum development, classroom management, pedagogy and subject matter expertise to effectively teach students in kindergarten through sixth grade. Additionally, obtaining state certification or licensure after earning your elementary education degree may be required depending on the jurisdiction in which one intends to teach.

An education degree can help you position yourself as a more attractive candidate for a variety of career options. Plus, 10,700 new jobs are estimated to open for kindergarten and elementary school teachers from 2022 to 2032,1 and according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, kindergarten and elementary school teachers have a median annual wage of $61,620 as of May 2022.2 This salary is based on a 10-month school year (two months off for summer break), which is the average length of a teacher’s contract.3

Earning a degree takes time and commitment — a reality that can be challenging if you work full time or have family responsibilities. With the online and on campus modalities being offered at GCU, earning a degree is more possible than ever for busy adults.

Teachers are typically not paid in the summer. However, many school districts offer teachers the option of spreading out their salary over 12 months instead of just the months they're in school, which means they would get paid during the summer. The annual teacher salary will not change, rather the amount in each paycheck changes and can vary based on their assigned school district.


Begin your journey to shaping young minds with a bachelor's in elementary education at GCU. Explore the art of teaching, curriculum development and classroom management in a supportive and innovative learning environment. Prepare yourself to pursue your teaching license with this undergraduate teaching degree.


If seeking licensure or certification, applicants to the program are responsible for contacting their state department of education for licensure requirements and program approval. In addition, fingerprint and background clearance is required.

Excluding observational and practice-based experiences, and student teaching.

1 COVID-19 has adversely affected the global economy and data from 2020 to 2022 may be atypical compared to prior years. Accordingly, data shown is effective September 2023, which can be found here: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers, retrieved on Nov. 13, 2023.

The earnings referenced were reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers as of May 2022, retrieved on March 18, 2024. Due to COVID-19, data from 2020 to 2022 may be atypical compared to prior years. BLS calculates the median using salaries of workers nationwide with varying levels of education and experience. It does not reflect the earnings of GCU graduates as kindergarten and elementary school teachers, nor does it reflect the earnings of workers in one city or region of the country or a typical entry-level salary. Median income is the statistical midpoint for the range of salaries in a specific occupation. It represents what you would earn if you were paid more money than half the workers in an occupation, and less than half the workers in an occupation. It may give you a basis to estimate what you might earn at some point if you enter this career. Grand Canyon University can make no guarantees on individual graduates’ salaries. Your employability will be determined by numerous factors over which GCU has no control, such as the employer the graduate chooses to apply to, the graduate’s experience level, individual characteristics, skills, etc. against a pool of candidates

3 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2022, Oct. 4), Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers - Pay. Retrieved on May 16, 2023.

Course List

General Education Requirements:
34-40 credits
68 credits
Open Elective Credits:
12-18 credits
Degree Requirements:
120 credits


General Education Requirements

General Education coursework prepares Grand Canyon University graduates to think critically, communicate clearly, live responsibly in a diverse world, and thoughtfully integrate their faith and ethical convictions into all dimensions of life. These competencies, essential to an effective and satisfying life, are outlined in the General Education Learner Outcomes. General Education courses embody the breadth of human understanding and creativity contained in the liberal arts and sciences tradition. Students take an array of foundational knowledge courses that promote expanded knowledge, insight, and the outcomes identified in the University's General Education Competencies. The knowledge and skills students acquire through these courses serve as a foundation for successful careers and lifelong journeys of growing understanding and wisdom.


Upon completion of the Grand Canyon University's University Foundation experience, students will be able to demonstrate competency in the areas of academic skills and self-leadership. They will be able to articulate the range of resources available to assist them, explore career options related to their area of study, and have knowledge of Grand Canyon's community. Students will be able to demonstrate foundational academic success skills, explore GCU resources (CLA, Library, Career Center, ADA office, etc), articulate strategies of self-leadership and management and recognize opportunities to engage in the GCU community.

Course Options

  • UNV-103, University Success: 4
  • UNV-303, University Success: 4
  • UNV-108, University Success in the College of Education: 4


Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to construct rhetorically effective communications appropriate to diverse audiences, purposes, and occasions (English composition, communication, critical reading, foreign language, sign language, etc.). Students are required to take 3 credits of English grammar or composition.

Course Options

  • UNV-104, 21st Century Skills: Communication and Information Literacy: 4
  • ENG-105, English Composition I: 4
  • ENG-106, English Composition II: 4


Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to express aspects of Christian heritage and worldview. Students are required to take CWV-101/CWV-301.

Course Options

  • CWV-101, Christian Worldview: 4
  • CWV-301, Christian Worldview: 4


Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to use various analytic and problem-solving skills to examine, evaluate, and/or challenge ideas and arguments (mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics, geology, astronomy, physical geography, ecology, economics, theology, logic, philosophy, technology, statistics, accounting, etc.). Students are required to take 3 credits of intermediate algebra or higher.

Course Options

  • MAT-154, Applications of College Algebra: 4
  • MAT-144, College Mathematics: 4
  • PHI-105, 21st Century Skills: Critical Thinking and Problem Solving: 4
  • BIO-220, Environmental Science: 4


Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to demonstrate awareness and appreciation of and empathy for differences in arts and culture, values, experiences, historical perspectives, and other aspects of life (psychology, sociology, government, Christian studies, Bible, geography, anthropology, economics, political science, child and family studies, law, ethics, cross-cultural studies, history, art, music, dance, theater, applied arts, literature, health, etc.). If the predefined course is a part of the major, students need to take an additional course.

Course Options

  • HIS-144, U.S. History Themes: 4
  • PSY-102, General Psychology: 4
  • SOC-100, Everyday Sociology: 4


Core Courses

Course Description

This is the first in a two-course sequence designed for prospective elementary school teachers. Concepts include set theory, functions, numeration systems, number theory and properties of the natural numbers, integers, rational numbers, ratios, proportions, decimals, and percents, with an emphasis on problem solving and critical thinking.

Course Description

Teacher candidates survey how children and early adolescents grow and develop, recognizing that patterns of learning and development vary individually within and across the cognitive, linguistic, social, emotional, and physical areas while understanding the implications for designing and implementing developmentally appropriate and challenging learning experiences. This survey of the seminal concepts, principles, theories, and research related to development of children and young adolescents allows teacher candidates to build foundational knowledge for constructing learning opportunities that support individual student's development, acquisition of knowledge, and motivation. Practicum/field experience hours: None. Fingerprint clearance not required.

Course Description

Teacher candidates build foundational knowledge on planning instruction and formal and informal assessment strategies. Teacher candidates will examine instructional planning based on knowledge of students, learning theory, connection across the curriculum, curricular goals, and community. Formal and informal assessment strategies for planning, evaluating, and strengthening instruction for elementary students are also examined. Practicum/field experience hours: 5. Fingerprint clearance required.

Course Description

This course provides an overview of the principal political, economic, and cultural themes and constitutional developments that shaped the United States from the Colonial period into the 20th Century.

Course Description

This is the second in a two-course sequence designed for prospective elementary school teachers. Concepts include elementary probability, data analysis, descriptive statistics, geometry of shapes in two and three dimensions, congruence and similarity, measurement, and geometric transformations, with an emphasis on problem solving and critical thinking. Prerequisite: MAT-150.

Course Description

Teacher candidates are introduced to the educational needs of students with mild to moderate disabilities and their families, including the definitions, characteristics, prevalence, causes and educational approaches to these disabilities and disorders. Teacher candidates will identify cognitive, linguistic, social and emotional patterns of learning and development for students with mild to moderate disabilities. Teacher candidates also survey the special education process involving the application of various laws and regulations. Practicum/field experience hours: 5. Fingerprint clearance not required.

Course Description

Teacher candidates examine how to teach foundational skills to develop proficient readers with the capacity to comprehend texts across a range of texts and disciplines. Teacher candidates build additional knowledge regarding print concepts, phonological awareness, phonics and word recognition, and fluency to promote early literacy and independent readers. The science surrounding reading instruction is explored and put into practice with this foundational knowledge. Practicum/field experience hours: 20. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisite: ELM-210 or ECS-125.

Course Description

In this writing intensive course, teacher candidates examine how to create environments that support individual and collaborative learning, and encourage students' positive social interaction, active engagement in learning, and self-motivation. Teacher candidates build foundational knowledge regarding the importance of establishing and maintaining positive collaborative relationships with families, school colleagues, and agencies in the larger community to promote the intellectual, social, emotional, physical growth, and well-being of children. Practicum/field experience hours: 5. Fingerprint clearance required.

Course Description

Teacher candidates examine a variety of instructional strategies to encourage students to develop a deep understanding of the major concepts and procedures that define number and operations, algebra, geometry, measurement and data, and probability. From this foundational knowledge, candidates select, adapt and use research-based methods, instructional strategies, and interventions to advance the mathematical abilities of students and have them apply their knowledge and abilities in meaningful ways. Practicum/field experience hours: 15. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisite: ELM-210.

Course Description

Teacher candidates develop strategies for literacy intervention and remediation to foster and support student autonomy in the classroom. Teacher candidates build knowledge and skills to plan literacy supports in all content areas, promote self-directed learning, and empower students to take control and set goals for their own learning outcomes. Language and literacy development is examined to inform intervention and remediation strategies and practices to support readers of varying ages and ability levels, including students with dyslexia and other reading disabilities. Practicum/field experience hours: 10. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisite: ELM-315.

Course Description

In this writing intensive course, teacher candidates study how to teach a diverse population of students by examining the foundations and dimensions of social justice in education, social constructs, privilege, prejudice, and oppression with the goal of becoming culturally competent educators.

Course Description

This course is a survey of the Arizona constitution and government. It meets the teacher certification requirement for Arizona government.

Course Description

In this course, teacher candidates examine the fundamentals of the legal, historical, and educational foundations of Structured English Immersion (SEI) and other instructional programs for English language learners. Theoretical principles of language acquisition and the role of culture in learning are examined. Methods of assessment are identified and analyzed. Teacher candidates identify strategies to promote English language development and improve student achievement. Through Universal Design for Learning they plan, deliver, and evaluate standards-based instruction for English language learners. Practicum/field experience hours: 15. Fingerprint clearance required.

Course Description

Teacher candidates will examine fundamental concepts of physical, life, earth and space sciences, and health education. Teacher candidates will build foundational knowledge on a variety of age-appropriate inquiry-based instructional strategies to teach science, to build student understanding of personal and social applications, to convey the nature of science, and student development for the practice of skills that contribute to good health. Practicum/field experience hours: 15. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisite: ELM-210.

Course Description

Teacher candidates will examine a variety of instructional strategies to encourage students to develop deep understanding of the major concepts and modes of inquiry from the integrated study of social studies and other related areas. Teacher candidates will build foundational knowledge on promoting elementary students' abilities to make informed decisions as citizens of a culturally diverse democratic society and interdependent world. Teacher candidates will integrate the content, functions and achievements of the performing and visual arts as primary media for communication, inquiry and engagement among elementary students. Practicum/field experience hours: 15. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisite: ELM-210.

Course Description

Teacher candidates will build foundational knowledge on how to use concepts from reading, language, and child development to teach reading, writing, speaking, viewing, listening, and thinking skills. Teacher candidates select, adapt and use research-based methods, instructional strategies, and interventions to individualize meaningful and challenging learning for students, with an emphasis on literacy. Practicum/field experience hours: 15. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisites: ELM-210 and (ELM-305 or ELM-315).

Course Description

Teacher candidates are engaged in the student teaching experience that includes practical classroom experiences, research, analysis, and teaching to support the creation of a Student Teaching Performance of Evaluation (STEP). Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisites: Successful completion of all courses in POS and content area; a 2.8 GPA; successful completion of NES or your state’s mandated content area exams; and approval and placement by the College of Education Office of Clinical Practice. All paperwork for student teaching must be submitted by the due date the semester prior to student teaching.



GCU Campus Student

Join Grand Canyon University’s vibrant and growing campus community, with daytime classes designed for traditional students. Immerse yourself in a full undergraduate experience, complete with curriculum designed within the context of our Christian worldview.

GCU Online Student

Pursue a next-generation education with an online degree from Grand Canyon University. Earn your degree with convenience and flexibility with online courses that let you study anytime, anywhere.

* Please note that this list may contain programs and courses not presently offered, as availability may vary depending on class size, enrollment and other contributing factors. If you are interested in a program or course listed herein please first contact your University Counselor for the most current information regarding availability.

* Please refer to the Academic Catalog for more information. Programs or courses subject to change.