Master of Education: Alternative Education

The goal of the Alternative Education program is to prepare graduate students with the knowledge and skill base required to work with at-risk youth in non-traditional school settings. Teachers, social workers, counselors, and administrators in alternative settings, correctional settings, urban schools and regular education settings will find the Masters program to be an asset in their work and of value to the students they serve.

About the Program

The term 'alternative education' is used to describe education delivered outside of the traditional school setting. Alternative education programs began to develop in the late 60's and early 70's. Alternative education initiatives developed as parents, students and professionals in the field of education began to realize that new and varied approaches to education for students would better meet the needs of students. The alternative education movement grew exponentially during the 80's and 90's as a direct result of, and in response to, high dropout rates, truancy, school failure, substance abuse, juvenile delinquency and other factors. Alternative education continues to thrive as social problems including school violence and family dysfunction create new challenges for communities across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the nation.

The aim of alternative education is to provide students who did not thrive and succeed in the traditional school setting with another opportunity to receive an education. Most state adopted definitions of alternative education include components such as location, instructional methodology, and desired outcomes.

The program is designed to be completed in two years by taking two courses per semester including summers. The program may be completed earlier by taking additional courses beyond the two per semester, however, participants not completing within seven years may be required to repeat coursework.

Program Benefits

  • Nationally accredited through CAEP/NCATE
  • National Board for Professional Teaching Standards alignment
  • National Alternative Education Association exemplary practices alignment
  • Continuing Education toward PA Act 48 credits
  • Continuing Education toward conversion to Level II certification
  • Flexibility to pursue areas of interest (e.g. Teaching & Learning, Educational Leadership, Mental Health Counseling, Sports Studies, Instructional Technology, Early Childhood Education)
  • Low out of pocket expenses

Professional Preparation

Alternative Education professionals must be among the most highly skilled and innovative educators.  By completing the Master of Education in Alternative Education degree, you will be better prepared to:

  • Work with the most challenging of students in a school district or other setting.
  • Develop methods for working with students to create a safe and challenging learning
    environment that focuses on teaching and learning.
  • Provide school-wide leadership on at-risk student issues.
  • Develop and implement plans to meet student-learner needs.
  • Work with students across many academic and developmental levels by differentiating curriculum, assessment and instruction.
  • Understand the relationships between
    theories and practice in working with at-risk students.
  • Implement innovative curriculum approaches that address issues such as state standards.
  • Understand and work with specialized
    educational needs, emotional needs, and problems, motivational difficulties, learning style differences, disruptive behaviors, and conduct disorders.
  • Develop an effective program including best practices for your school.

Applying for PA Level II Instructional Certification

Lock Haven University M.Ed. programs in Teaching & Learning and Alternative Education include 2 courses to address the PDE requirement of 6 specific credit hours in the area of SAS.


The Master of Education Alternative Education Program is fully accredited through the Council for Accreditation of Education Programs (CAEP; formerly NCATE).  Lock Haven University is accredited by the Middle States Association.

National Board for Professional Teaching Standards alignment
The program is aligned with the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards core propositions. The program provides skill and knowledge sets indicative of an accomplished teacher.

Enrollment Requirements

Students must have an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher  be accepted into the Alternative Education Program.The program has been approved by Lock Haven University, The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education and the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Admissions and Application Process

To complete the admissions procedure, students must submit;

    1. An online application,
    2. Three letters of recommendation,
    3. A writing sample,
    4. Official college transcripts,
    5. A copy of PA teaching certification (Optional).

Lock Haven University Graduates do not have to request transcripts; the Office of Graduate Admissions will do this for you.

Writing Sample:
Review a pertinent scholarly journal article or report published in a recent professional journal.  Include the problem or issue, the author's viewpoint and supporting ideas. Also include your professional opinion in the final paragraphs of the essay. Your essay should not exceed 300 words. (You must submit a copy of the full text of the article along with your essay.)

Writing samples, letters of recommendation, statements of interest in principal certification and teaching certificate may be sent via email to or faxed to 570-484-2201.

The mailing address is:

Lock Haven University
Office of Admissions ATTN: Graduate
401 N Fairview St.
Lock Haven PA 17745

Enrollment Periods

Lock Haven University offers two enrollment periods: Fall and Spring Semesters. Students can enter the program during the summer sessions but will be officially enrolled in the following fall semester.

 Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and decisions are rendered after the receipt of all admissions documents.

Transfer Credits

Students may transfer up to nine credits of graduate work from an accredited institution toward the Elective Requirements of the Master of Education program.  All transfer credits must be approved in writing by the Program Coordinator.  Transfer Credit Approval forms are available on the Registrar's website.


Courses include a combination of theory and practice, with a focus upon building knowledge and skills that are relevant to the daily challenges of the classroom.   The curriculum allows for breadth and depth through this approach integrating an 18 credit core, 9 credit elective, 6 credit action research, and 3 credit field experience sequence.

Course Requirements and Elective Option

Core Requirements 18 credit hours

ALTE 600 Introduction: Inquiry & Educational Change

ALTE 604  Designing Assessments Using Performance Standards

ALTE 610 Helping Skills in Alternative Education (Classroom Environment Issues)

ALTE 615 Alternative Education: An Introduction to Theory & Practice

ALTE 616 Curriculum Issues in Alternative Education

ALTE 618 Understanding the Role of Cognition & Social Skills in the Classroom


ALTE 607  Projects, Readings, and Case Studies

ALTE 608 Education Reform

ALTE 611 Character Education

ALTE 617  Grant Writing

ALTE 648 Topics in Alternative Education

EDTL 602 Advanced Instructional Design & Development

EDTL 605 Critical Issues in Education

EDTL 606 Analysis of Teaching

EDTL 609 Classroom Management & Control

EDLD 607 Professional Development in Schools

EDLD 615  Supervision: Child Development Issues

EDLD 620 Leadership and Supervision

EDLD 625 Special Education Administration

EDLD 630 Leadership Skills for Curriculum Development

Additional Educational Leadership, Teaching and Learning, Instructional Technology, Early Childhood, Mental Health Counseling, Sports Studies, and Health Science elective courses are available. 

Action Research Sequence  6 credit hours

ALTE 692  Reflective Practice & Action Research I

ALTE 694  Reflective Practice & Action Research II

Advanced Field Experience   3 credit hours

TOTAL 36 credits

On-line Delivery

This program takes advantage of leading edge technology to deliver the curriculum. Streaming audio, streaming video, threaded discussion, journaling, real-time chat discussions, document sharing and other instructional methods make it possible to create active and engaged learning communities. The discussions are tremendously engaging and the opportunities for learners to explore areas of interest and bring findings back to classmates for discussion, input and feedback are highly valuable to the process.

In addition, techniques including scripting and live chat will be of tremendous value. As a supplement to the technology, we will also be able to structure assignments in a fashion that allows students to audio or video tape behaviors and mail the results to the instructor.

In addition to the individual work, group work can be accomplished in an online environment through document sharing, e-mail, threaded discussion and other capabilities. Teams will have the opportunity to work on projects such as matching curriculum to standards, writing a grant proposal, generating a model for an ideal alternative school based upon best practices, and developing simulations or role plays for social skills modeling.

The Master of Education in Alternative Education can be completed entirely via distance. Students will utilize online experience to participate in doing real projects in real alternative settings as a central and important part of their work.