A master's degree and teacher certification designed for working educators in urban schools.

The Urban Teaching Residency program is unique in the field of teacher education. With an emphasis on urban teaching, our program seeks candidates who are deeply committed to ending educational inequality, desire to make an excellent education a reality for all children, seek solid academic training and professional mentoring, and want to be part of a dynamic, top-tier university community.

Part of Penn GSE’s  Collaboratory for Teacher Education

What Sets Us Apart

 1-2 evenings per week for two years, in a hybrid format with online course options
  Executive format allows you to work while earning your master’s degree
 Tailored for educators in high-needs urban settings

About the Program

The Urban Teaching Residency program supports the development of working educators in Philadelphia, the surrounding areas, and across the country. Our program provides the solid academic training and professional mentoring necessary to create effective urban educators.

Application Deadline
Rolling until July 1, 2021
Entry term(s)
Course requirements
10 courses
Typical course load

Year 1 - Fall: 3 courses; Spring: 2 courses; Summer Session I: 1 course
Year 2 - Fall: 2 courses; Spring: 2 courses

Culminating experienceMaster’s capstone research thesis

Duration of program

  • 2 years (master’s + certification and master’s only)
  • 1 year (certification only)

Degrees and certifications offered

  • M.S.Ed. with Recommendation for Instructional I Certification (Grades PK-4; Grades 4-8; Grades 7-12), Special Education Certification, or Dual Certifications in Instructional I and Special Education
  • Certification Only – Instructional I, with or without Special Education
  • Special Education Certification (1-year duration; for PA certified teachers only)
  • M.S.Ed. in Education (no certification; hybrid online/in-person program)
  • Executive-Style
Programs for Working Professionals
Teacher Programs & Certifications

Designed for working professionals, the Urban Teaching Residency program is set around four core principles: unwavering focus on children; teacher inquiry and reflection; broad understanding of education; and commitment to equity and social justice. Our program offers two tracks: one with Pennsylvania certification (Every Teacher Certified) and one without (Urban Professionals).

Every Teacher Certified track
The Every Teacher Certified track is for teachers, support staff, or classroom aides in PreK-12 public, charter, or other high-needs schools. Students interested in this track should submit one of the following applications:

  • Urban Teaching Residency, Instructional Certification and M.S.Ed.
  • Urban Teaching Residency, Special Education Certification and M.S.Ed.
  • Urban Teaching Residency, Instructional Certification, Special Education Certification, and M.S.Ed.
  • Urban Teaching Residency, Instructional Certification
  • Urban Teaching Residency, Special Education Certification
  • Urban Teaching Residency, Instructional Certification and Special Education Certification

Urban Professionals track 
The Urban Professionals track is designed for teachers, researchers, educators, and community advocates who are interested in the distinct needs of children and families in high-needs contexts. Students interested in this track should submit an application to Urban Teaching Residency, M.S.Ed.

Program Highlights

Penn GSE offers an Ivy League environment that supports both practical knowledge building and high-quality research. Our alumni are recognized as some of the most influential education leaders, and our distinguished professors are pioneers in their fields.

Expert Faculty Committed to Equity in Education

Equity in education is the guiding principle of the Urban Teaching Residency program. Penn GSE renowned faculty members, in partnership with the School District of Philadelphia, wholeheartedly embrace equity in education and strive to work with our teacher-students to increase opportunities for urban students.

Experienced Mentors

Penn GSE Mentors are veteran urban educators who provide a crucial bridge between coursework learning and the classroom teaching experience. They provide individualized observation and one-on-one coaching to help students develop reflective and effective teaching practices.

Teacher Inquiry and Reflection

In keeping with the orientation of Penn’s Graduate School of Education, inquiry and reflection permeate the Urban Teaching Residency program. Reflection and inquiry are used to examine ways in which teachers and students become communities of learners within and beyond school walls.

Broad Understanding of Education

We are committed to a broad understanding of education. We also consider the less visible, but nonetheless powerful, forces that shape the education system within a wide variety of perspective courses. At all levels, we honor the controversies and disagreements that characterize civic engagement.

Focus on Children

For educators, a focus on the child is unswervingly central. We appreciate that there are many kinds of children, as there are many kinds of teachers. Just as there is no one way to teach, so is there no one way to learn. Within this diversity, however, we emphasize the centrality of student engagement in education and strong teacher-student relationships. While students are required to learn certain prescribed material, teachers (and schools) are obligated to hear children’s voices, and to enhance their interests, motivation, and participation.  

Urban Education in Global Contexts

As part of Penn GSE’s teacher education community, graduate students in good standing are invited to explore urban education in global contexts through our Urban Ed Abroad (UEA) program. Through critical reflection and ongoing explorations of problems of practice, Penn GSE students participate in an exchange of ideas with educators abroad. Students in the 2018-2019 UEA cohort explored schooling in regions in Southern Africa.


Our curriculum is set around four core principles: unwavering focus on children; teacher inquiry and reflection; broad understanding of education; and commitment to equity and social justice. Our courses leverage inquiry, critical thinking, and problem solving to prepare our students to become skilled educators. For information on courses and requirements, visit the Urban Teaching Residency M.S.Ed. program in the University Catalog


In any of our master’s degree programs, students may choose one or two specializations.

  • Elementary Education
  • World Languages (K-12)
  • English (Middle Years)
  • English (Secondary)
  • Mathematics (Middle years)
  • Mathematics (Secondary)
  • Social Studies (Middle Years)
  • General Sciences
  • Biology
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Urban Education
  • Special Education K-12

Field Experiences  in the Urban Teaching Residency Program

For Every Teacher Certified students in the certification tracks, field experiences are at the heart of a Urban Teaching Residency education, and can be transformative to a beginning teacher.


For Every Teacher Certified students in our dual certification track, VAST LIFE (Vocational, Academic, Social, Transition, Life Skill, Independent, Functional Experiences) is a supervised, formally-evaluated fieldwork experience working with, planning for, and educating students with low incidence disabilities in the areas of domestic, transition, social, functional, community, and leisure skills. VAST LIFE participants are local high school students aged 14 to 19 and who qualify to take the PASA in the State of Pennsylvania. The lessons take place on Saturdays in our spring semester, and are based on theories of universal design and research-based educational practice. Read a feature story about VAST LIFE in Penn Today.

Note: If you are a parent or guardian interested in applying to VAST LIFE for your child, please visit our VAST LIFE application page or contact Dr. Heather Hopkins at hopkinsh@gse.upenn.edu


For Every Teacher Certified students in our PreK-4 certification track, the KIDS program (Keeping Instruction Developmentally Sound) is a supervised, formally evaluated fieldwork experience working with, and planning for, preschool children aged 3-4. Teachers are paired with KIDS participants to provide one-on-one support during Saturday lessons in our spring semester. Lessons are based on theories of universal design and research-based educational practice.


With our executive format schedule, working professionals can continue working in their schools while earning a master’s degree. Our courses meet in the evenings (1-2 evenings per week) and some weekends. Our master’s program can be completed in just two years.

Our Partners

Official Provider

Teach for America (TFA) Logo

in Philadelphia

The Urban Teaching Residency Program is an Official Provider of Teach For America in Philadelphia.

Our partners

  • School District of Philadelphia
  • Christina Seix Academy
  • Fellowship of Black Male Educators
  • Universal Charter Network
  • Americorps
  • Teachers Institute of Philadelphia
  • Racial Empowerment Collaborative
  • Philadelphia Writing Project
  • Nativity Prep School
  • Belmont Charter Schools

Field Experiences with VAST LIFE

Through the VAST LIFE program, students in Penn GSE's Urban Teaching Residency program experience hands-on learning in special education.

Our Faculty

Our expert faculty help our students discover the kind of educator they want to be, prepare them for their role as a teacher-leader, and help them explore ways to use their foundational experience to pursue a career outside of the classroom.

Penn GSE Faculty Lori Ann Noll
Associate Director, Urban Teaching Residency
Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania
Penn GSE Faculty Ed Brockenbrough
Associate Professor and Calvin Bland Fellow
Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
Penn GSE Faculty Janine Remillard
Ph.D., Michigan State University
Penn GSE Faculty Marsha Richardson
Senior Lecturer
Psy.D., Widener University
Penn GSE Faculty Charlotte E. Jacobs
Adjunct Assistant Professor
Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
Penn GSE Faculty Alesha Gayle
Senior Fellow
Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania

Program Leadership

Alesha Gayle

Lori Noll
Associate Director

Patrick Sexton
Executive Director, Teacher Education Programs

Alicia Montague-Keels

"Penn GSE’s Urban Teaching Residency immediately improved my teaching and prepared me for a career working in urban school districts."

Alicia Montague-Keels

Urban Teaching Residency Program M.S.Ed., 2016

Our Graduates

Alumni of the Urban Teaching Residency program are teacher-leaders in urban schools, who are committed to ending educational inequality and making an excellent education a reality for all children.

Alumni Careers

  • Chemistry Teacher, KIPP
  • Community Coordinator, Trenton Public Schools
  • English Teacher, Frankford High School
  • Mathematics Curriculum Developer, School District of Philadelphia
  • Principal, People for People Charter School
  • Researcher, University of Pennsylvania

Admissions & Financial Aid

Please visit our Admissions and Financial Aid pages for specific information on the application requirements, as well as information on tuition, fees, financial aid, scholarships, and fellowships.

Contact Information

Contact us if you have any questions about the program.

Office of Admissions and
Financial Aid

Graduate School of Education
University of Pennsylvania
3700 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 898-6415

Program Contact

Claudia Candido
Program Coordinator
(215) 746-4857


Please view information from our Admissions and Financial Aid Office for specific information on the cost of this program.

Most students in this program fund their degree through a combination of personal resources, employer benefits, and student loans.