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GSE Instructor Handbook: Advising Students

Quality academic advising is critical to student retention, satisfaction, and success. Poor advising can lead to significant problems for the student and considerable time and stress for department staff trying to solve these problems.

To provide good advisement, faculty members should:

  • Encourage prospective students to attend a program informational session, or, when available, meet with a pre-admission advisor about application requirements.
  • Understand the academic program, the prescribed sequence of courses, and requirements for licensure
  • Understand the university’s requirements for a degree
  • Be available on a regularly scheduled basis to answer questions (keeping regular office hours)
  • Understand as much as you can about the student’s background and needs
  • Attend to the student’s professional dispositions as well as academic accomplishments
  • Provide students the means to make informed choices about pathways toward achieving their goals.

Advising students can be tricky in that GSE students come to PSU to complete a licensure program (teacher, administrator, counselor), pursue a master’s degree or, very often, both. However, students often run into trouble by confusing the two goals. Satisfying requirements for one will not necessarily meet the requirements of the other. The differences between the two types of programs are summarized on the Licensure vs. Degree chart.

Licensure Programs

Advisors should first understand that, in programs leading to licensure, the sequence of courses is carefully planned to comply with Oregon Administrative Rules (OARs) and national professional standards. Students may not always understand that Oregon Teacher Standards and Practices Commission (TSPC) reviews and approves our program with the implicit agreement that this is the program we will provide students. This agreement often does not leave much flexibility in the courses and field experiences that students must take unless comparable coursework has been taken at another institution and evidence is presented that similar standards have been met.

The Oregon Administrative Rules, Chapter 584 addresses the licensure of Oregon teachers and other education professionals (administrators, specialists, school counselors). Division 17 outlines the standards for program approval, including rules for practica, student teaching, and internships. Standards for the preparation of administrators, school psychologists, and school counselors, as well as teachers, are included in Division 17. Division 18 also has related rules for teacher licensure programs, including standards for knowledge, skills, abilities, and professional dispositions for each educator group.

Division 60 of Chapter 584 describes the requirements for an initial teaching license and for adding endorsements or authorizations to your license. Divisions 65, 70, and 80 address the requirements for special educators, school counselors, and administrators, respectively. Division 100 incorporates No Child Left Behind into state law and defines the “highly qualified teacher.”

An Oregon Teaching License

The Oregon Teaching License is the certificate that verifies the candidate has met the requirements set by the Oregon Teacher Standards and Practices Commission. There are several types of license. Most graduates of our teacher education programs apply for an Initial I Teaching License, which is good for three years and renewable twice. After at least five years of teaching experience, the completion of 45 graduate credit hours (quarters) that includes advanced coursework and the completion of a competency portfolio, a candidate may be awarded a Continuing Teaching License. This license is optional; the teacher instead can apply for an Initial II Teaching License, which can be renewed indefinitely. Teachers are required to earn either the Initial II or the Continuing Teaching License after their second renewal of the Initial I to maintain licensure in Oregon. 

A few candidates in our programs may hold a Basic License under the previous system of licensure. If so, they may be working toward a Standard License, roughly the equivalent of the current Continuing License.

The teaching license (initial or continuing) carries on it an authorization and an endorsement. The authorization specifies the level at which the individual is entitled to teach. Oregon has four overlapping authorizations: Early Childhood (age 3 through grade 4), Elementary (grades 3-8), Middle Level (grades 5-9) and High School (grades 7-12). Most program completers will qualify for two authorizations. Some endorsement areas, such as Special Educator, required paired authorizations: Early Childhood/Elementary, Elementary/Middle Level, or Middle Level/High School.

The endorsement tells which subject areas the individual is qualified to teach. Elementary teachers will have a multiple subjects endorsement, meaning they can teach reading, math, social studies, etc. in a self-contained elementary classroom. Secondary teachers will have an endorsement in specific subject areas such as English language arts, math, science, health, or Spanish. Those preparing to be specialists who have completed special endorsement programs will earn endorsements in reading, special education, school administration, or school counseling.

According to Oregon law, candidates for licensure must satisfy several test requirements, including measures of subject mastery, basic literacy and numeracy skills, and civil rights understanding. Basic Skills must be passed before entry into a licensure program. In endorsement programs for specialty areas (e.g., ESL, special education, reading specialist), the subject mastery test is usually taken near the end of the program. The GSE Licensure website has additional information about qualifying tests.

Licenses for Other Education Professionals

The Initial Administrator License is valid for all administrative assignments including superintendent. It is issued to eligible applicants who have completed an administrator preparation program and also hold a master’s degree. Like the Continuing License for teachers, the Continuing Administrator License is issued to an applicant who has had advanced preparation beyond the master’s degree and beyond the initial administrator preparation program. Unlike the Continuing License for teachers, the Continuing Administrator License is required. TSPC also gives initial and continuing licenses to school counselors, school psychologists, and school social workers.

More information about Oregon licensure can be found at the TSPC website and the GSE Licensure website.

Advising Students for Licensure/Endorsement

1. Prior to or at the beginning of the licensure or endorsement program, the advisor or cohort leader should discuss the students’ program of study that lists all of the required courses and field experiences required for PSU to recommend candidates for licensure or an endorsement. Both the student and advisor sign the form after it has been discussed.

2. If all prerequisite courses or qualifying tests have not been taken, some programs may offer the student a conditional admission. Basic Skills testing is required before admission. The advisor should stress to the student how important it is to quickly fulfill the prerequisite requirement(s) and remove the condition from his or her admission status.

3. The term before students complete their coursework, a review of the student’s status should occur. The department assistant can run a course history (from Banner or Datamaster) to verify that the required courses have been taken and acceptable grades received. A “Program Completer” is defined as a student that has completed:

  1. All coursework/credits (Includes having planned program of study completed, all pre-requisites completed, all licensure grades posted on official transcripts, and all official transcripts on file.)
  2. All practicum and student teaching (Includes having all forms /evaluations completed and on file.)
  3. All work samples (Includes having all forms/evaluations completed and on file.)
  4. All tests of basic skills and subject content passed (includes having all scores on file.)
  5. In addition, if this is the candidate’s first ever Oregon license, he or she will need to have successfully completed instruction (in their program or through a workshop) in civil rights and discrimination. Beginning September 1, 2010, students must receive a passing score on the Civil Rights and Equity in the Educational Environment exam.

4. When the candidate has completed all requirements, she or he must contact the Office of Licensure in ED 603 and complete the necessary paperwork. Licensure instructions can be found at the GSE licensure website. The licensure website has instructions for applying for an endorsement or added authorization as well as for an initial license. The website also has the necessary forms to apply for licensure and checklists of required steps. The Director of Licensure also is willing to make class presentations on the licensure process.

Urge students to apply for licensure soon after completing their requirements. If program completers apply for licensure more than three years after completion of their program, they will have to apply under the rules in effect at the time of application. The rules, standards, and our programs change over time.  Also advise them to keep all correspondence from TSPC. Those letters will specify the renewal requirements.

Degree Programs

It is equally important for the advisor to understand the university’s requirements for a master’s degree. The GSE awards more master’s degrees than any other unit on campus and is among the top 40 producers of education master’s degrees in the country. [1] While some students come to PSU only for a master’s degree, most combine their master’s degree with their work toward licensure. Students often confuse the requirements for licensure with the requirements for a degree. The Licensure vs. Degree chart outlines the different requirements of the two goals.

Advising Students for the Master’s Degree

As outlined in the Licensure vs. Degree chart, a different set of requirements exists for completion of the Master’s degree. In some GSE programs, requirements for the Master’s degree are included within the licensure program, while in other programs, some additional coursework and a master’s project or thesis are required. Almost all master’s degrees in education require satisfactory completion of 45 graduate credit hours (quarter). (The Counselor Education master’s degree is the exception, requiring 72 graduate credit hours.)

Important things to remember about a master’s program are:

  • The time between the first course taken in a master’s program and application for graduation can be no more than seven years. This is the most frequent problem for students; emphasize this point in your conversations with students.
  • Only graduate level courses (500 and 600 level) can be used.
  • No 808 courses and only 6 credits of 810 courses can be used.
  • No more than 15 credits of coursework prior to admission can be used (including transfer credits).
  • Student teaching cannot be used toward the master’s degree (because it exceeds the limit on nonacademic credits).
    • GO-7, Request for Change of Status: This form is only necessary for students granted a departmental conditional admission. Its purpose is to change a student’s admission status from conditional to regular status, once the requirements for admission have been satisfied (e.g., taking a prerequisite class, raising their GPA). A conditional status must be removed before the student applies for graduation.
    • GO-17M, Masters Recommendation for the Degree: The department must submit this form—signed by the adviser and department chair—to the Office of Graduate Studies upon completion of all final evaluation procedures, such as the master’s project or thesis. Students should never handle the GO-17M form themselves.
    • GO-19M, Request for Change of Major (Masters Level): This form is used by a currently enrolled master's degree student in good standing who wishes to transfer to a different master's degree within the same program (e.g., MA to MS) or to a master's degree program in another discipline (e.g., Special Education to Curriculum & Instruction) or to add a graduate certificate or second master’s degree.
    • GO-21, Proposed Transfer Credit: This form is required whenever transfer credit is requested. The student should complete the form as early as possible in their program so he or she will have sufficient time to complete any additional course work that may be necessary if the credits are not accepted. No transfer credits can be graded P/NP. Very strict rules apply to those credits that can be approved as transfer credits, especially credits from another institution. If a student inquires about whether specific credits for another institution would be eligible for use in a master’s degree, it would be best to check with Graduate Studies.
  • Application for degree is made through Office of Graduate Studies. Their website has several forms to move the process along. 

General guidelines for graduate degrees include:

  • Master degrees require 45 credits (except for Counselor Education which requires 72 credits for a masters)
  • Has only graduate level courses
  • Core classes required for the master’s degree
  • Only courses that have received a B- grade or above (a grade of C must receive specific written approval of the department)
  • No more than 6 credits of Pass/No Pass courses
  • No 808 classes
  • No courses more than 7 years old.

Instructions to students can be found on the Office of Graduate Studies website at

Student Complaints and Appeals

The primary route for a student to appeal an administrative rule or decision is through the petition process. A Graduate Petition and the instructions for completion can be downloaded from the forms page on the Office of Graduate Studies (OGS).

Most common reasons to petition include:

  • Extending a deadline (one year) to complete an Incomplete grade
  • Correcting a registration error (wrong class or wrong section)
  • Extending the time limit (7 years) for completing the master’s degree
  • Extending the deadline for withdrawing from a course
  • Extending the allowable number of preadmission credits (15 cr.)

(Other reasons for a petition may exist.)

The advisor must review all petitions before they are sent to the department chair for signature. Make sure the student has:

  • Clearly and concisely stated the reasons the petition should be approved, including a description of relevant extenuating circumstances.
  • Attached all relevant documentation and supporting statement from the department chair. Have the student refer to the complete instructions on the OGS website.

The department chair must not only sign the petition, but attach a supporting statement as well. In the GSE, the Associate Dean for Academics must also review and sign the petition before it is sent to the Office of Graduate Studies.

Registering for Classes

Students can find their courses and register online via the PSU class schedule. Instructions and links for online registration can be found at the registration website. Students are responsible for ensuring accurate registration.

Late registration policies you and your advisees should be aware of:

  • Instructor approval is required for all courses added after the first week of term.
  • Students cannot enroll in a course after the second week of term, except by petition.

The third policy affects students’ financial aid:

  • Financial aid awards will be frozen at the end of the second week, and if a student has not registered by that time, they will not be able to add that tuition funding to their financial aid after the second week.

Several GSE classes are offered at both the 400 (undergraduate) and 500 (graduate) level. Instructors should carefully review their class rosters to ensure students are registered for the correct section (undergraduate or graduate). If you notice a student is on the wrong roster, tell the student to change their registration immediately. A section change past the third week will require a Deadline Appeals petition. If the error is not noticed until the time the instructor is awarding grades, enter an X grade (no basis for grade) because there is no basis for assigning a grade for a graduate student on an undergraduate roster or vice versa. Also notify the student immediately that they were registered for the wrong level, were awarded an X grade, and need to submit a petition to change the registration.

Upholding Behavior and Performance Standards

If your advisee has problems, either in regard to academic performance or professional behaviors, you will become part of the plan to address those concerns. Achieving a failing grade or a grade point average below 3.0, either cumulatively or for the term, may result in a student being placed on academic probation or dismissed from the program. (Policies regarding dismissal vary by program.) Unethical or unprofessional behavior in class or in the field will also result in disciplinary action.

As stated in the Behavior and Performance Guidelines, students are responsible for knowing and complying with all regulations and procedures required by the University, the GSE, and their profession’s codes of ethics. The GSE makes its expectations known in its student conduct code, student handbooks, and other informational materials. In no case will a regulation be waived or an exception granted because of ignorance of the regulation.

A quick reference to the Behavior and Performance Guidelines outlines the expectation and steps taken when a problem occurs. Your role as advisor is to:

  • Clarify the expectations to students who are beginning to struggle.
  • Alert the department chair when you are aware of either an academic or behavior problem with the student you advise. Do not wait until the issue becomes serious; notify your program coordinator or chair when you see early signs of potential problems.
  • Request a performance review from the chair when the student exhibits behavior that violates ethical or legal standards, interferes with others’ opportunity to learn, or otherwise reflects a lack of judgment.
  • Participate in a review panel or conference with the student when disciplinary action or a plan of assistance is created.
  • Inform the student of the appeal process when the student is unhappy with the decision that is made.

In an appeal, the student should first talk with the department chair, who may (or may not) appoint a hearing committee. Then, if not satisfied, the student should appeal to the Dean or Associate Dean. Final appeal may be made in writing to the Office of Student Affairs.



1. Eduventures (2008). Common indicators for schools of education, Part II: Characteristics and benchmarks for schools of education. Boston, MA: Collaborative research report, Catalog No. 02SOECR0508. [back]