Master of Education in Initial Licensure LEAPs (Lutheran Education Alliance with Parochial Schools)
MED student working with a studentProgram Description

This program provides talented young adults the opportunity to explore teaching as a lifelong vocation while serving as apprentice teachers in urban and rural parochial schools. The program has three components: academic and teacher education course work, living in community with other LEAPS teachers while serving the teaching needs of parochial schools, and continued exploration and growth in spirituality and faith in the context of service and developing vocation.

LEAPS is a two-year program that prepares persons holding baccalaureate degrees in areas other than education (e.g., math, biology) to teach in elementary and secondary parochial schools. Applicants for this degree must have an undergraduate major that is 'licensable'. Transcript evaluations will be conducted on all applicants and if the licensure director determines any deficiencies in the content area, these courses will have to be completed with a 3.0 or better in each course prior to beginning classes for the M.Ed. Applicants for the Middle and High School teacher preparation programs must submit passing scores on the Praxis II exam(s) as part of the admission process.

Teacher candidate placement is in Lutheran, Catholic, and occasionally other Christian schools in urban and rural communities in Northern Indiana and Illinois. The program includes intensive graduate course work during the two-year period leading to qualification for initial Indiana certification as a teacher and a Master of Education degree from Valparaiso University, full-time teaching experience for two years with living stipend and onsite mentoring by experienced parochial school educators, community living experiences with other LEAPs teachers, opportunity for spiritual growth through shared prayer and involvement in local church communities, and benefits that include educational costs and summer housing at Valparaiso University during the two-year program.

Students in the program integrate graduate level course work with full-time teaching experiences. For each of the two summers. candidates live and study together at Valparaiso University. At the completion of each summer's training component, students serve as full-time teachers within a parochial school setting under the guidance of a local mentor. Teacher interns receive internship credits each fall and spring semester of their two year teaching placement. In addition, they take one 3-credit online course during each of these semesters via web access from their residence. During the school year, teacher interns live together in community, sharing the challenges and rewards of their beginning teaching experiences. Safe, low-cost community housing is provided in the vicinity of the teaching sites in Northern Indiana and Illinois.

As models within the elementary and secondary parochial systems, teacher interns are encouraged to develop their own personal spirituality and faith in the context of community. This important dimension of the program is facilitated through periodic retreats and contact with local church members from the various communities.


Required Core Courses

Professional Studies

33 credits

ED 504 Educational Psychology  2 cr
ED 506 School & Society 2 cr
ED 508 Technology as Pedagogy 2 cr
ED 617 Assessment & Management of the Learning Environment 3 cr
ED 618 Curriculum Design & Differentiation 2 cr
ED 621 Teaching of Religion 1 cr
ED 622 Living & Learning in Community 1 cr
ED 623 Mentoring I 0.5 cr
ED 624 Living & Learning in Community 1 cr
ED 625
Mentoring II 0.5 cr
ED 626-629   Internship in Education 10 cr
ED 651 Seminar: Efficacy in Professional Practice 0 cr
ED 652 Seminar: Research 1 cr
ED 670 Home, School, and Community Relationships 3 cr
SPED 540 Learning Exceptionalities 3 cr


Early/Middle Childhood Concentration**

15 cr

ED 510 Foundations in Emergent & Early Literacy 3 cr
ED 524 Methods of Teaching Mathematics in the Elementary School 3 cr
ED 529 Literacy in the Elementary School 3 cr
ED 530 Methods of Teaching Science & Social Studies in the Elementary School   3 cr
ED 565 Literacy in Socio-Cultural Contexts 3 cr

Early Adolescence & Adolescence/Young Adult (Middle & High School)**

14 cr  

ED 507 Media Education 3 cr
ED 560 Literacies in the Content Areas 3 cr
ED 575 Principles of Middle Level Education 3 cr
ED 589 Content Area Curriculum & Instructional Methods  6 cr
** One Methods course required for each licensure area


Living & Learning Together
Because a significant component of this academic program involves two years of service as an apprentice teacher, costs are minimal to the student. Students earn a stipend during their two years of teaching, and from this they assume their living and transportation costs. Because student teachers share housing, living expenses are generally modest. In addition, Valparaiso University provides educational benefits as well as housing during summer study on campus. Students assume incidental costs, including such things as textbook purchases, travel to and from campus, entrance and licensing examination fees, graduate activity fee ($183.00/semester), and applicable graduation fees.

Criteria for Admission
This program encourages talented seniors and college graduates from any field to apply for admission. Such graduates, however, should be interested in exploring teaching as a lifelong vocation and should be motivated by the desire to serve the teaching needs of church and society. Students with a background in the sciences, mathematics, and foreign languages are often in particular demand.


Applicants are expected to be able meet the rigorous demands of graduate study at Valparaiso University by presenting a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0, passing scores on the Praxis I Exam, and two strong letters of support from from faculty plus one letter of recommendation from a spiritual adviser. In addition, as part of a personal essay, applicants must articulate their reasons for wanting to enter the program, including how their goals are consistent with those of community living and spiritual development. There is also an interview with the LEAPs Admission Committee before formal acceptance.

By accepting a position in the program, students are committing themselves to two years of teaching in a parochial school system as well as to the overall goals of the program. Upon completion of the program, students must take the Indiana teaching certification exam and will then receive a master's degree. Although no further teaching is required, graduates are strongly encouraged to continue their vocation within a parochial school.

LEAPs Application Requirements

  • Valparaiso University Graduate Application & LEAPs Supplemental Application;
  • Official transcripts of all prior undergraduate and graduate coursework.  If you have received an undergraduate or graduate degree from Valparaiso University, you are not required to submit an official transcript from Valparaiso University;
  • 3 Letters of Recommendation (1 from a Spiritual Adviser);
  • Personal Essay (Specifics are indicated on the supplemental application for the LEAPs program);
  • Pre-Professional Skills Test (PPST) with following scores required: Math: 175, Reading: 176, Writing: 172;
  • Application Fee: $30.

For information regarding the LEAPs program, contact the Office of Graduate School at 219-464-5313.  For further information and application materials, contact the Office of Graduate School directly at 800-821-7685 or submit an inquiry.

Program Administration and Affiliations
This program is administered through the Office of Graduate School and Department of Education of Valparaiso University. Within the Department of Education, Dr. John Harrison, Ed.D., Assistant Professor, is the coordinator for the LEAPs Program in the Education Department.  Valparaiso University is a partner in teacher education with the United Consortium for Catholic Education (UCCE) based at Notre Dame University.

This program represents a Valparaiso University partnership with the Alliance for Catholic Education of the University of Notre Dame.

For more information about the Master of Education in Initial Licensure-LEAPs program
To learn more about the Master of Education in Initial Licensure-LEAPs, visit their department website at

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