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LSE Program of Study

LSE curriculum

The LSE program requires the completion of at least 45 credits. This includes:

  • ELP Professional Studies Core (16 credits)
  • LSE Foundational Courses (8 credits)
  • LSE Thematic Specialization (12 credits)
  • Electives (5 credits)
  • Culminating Experience: LSE Comprehensive Exam Course or Thesis (4 credits)

All LSE courses are offered in person, on campus, while ELP core courses can be taken a variety of formats including on campus, hybrid, and online. Most courses are offered in the evenings (4-6:30pm or 6:40-9:20pm) one night each week. Summer courses are offered both during the day and in the evening. Students typically take 2 courses during each quarter, selecting courses from the professional core, the LSE foundational courses, the LSE thematic specialization and electives. A master’s degree is typically completed within a period of two years, but some students choose to take more time to complete the degree. 

Community-based learning

Most ELP courses carry with them a requirement for 30 credit hours of community-based learning.  Specific requirements for community-based learning are set by the instructor. Community-based learning can be carried out in a variety of organizations and educational settings across the metropolitan region. LSE students with an interest in school and community gardens often volunteer or intern at the Learning Gardens Laboratory, assisting with classes for middle school students or with other projects. Other students volunteer in educational organizations or for nonprofit organizations. Students are advised to create a plan for their CBL hours that creates a variety of meaningful experiences that supports their future career goals. 

Internships/practicum: local, regional or international

Students also have the option of pursing an internship or practicum. Such internships must match the student’s interest, the content of the LSE program, and the host institution’s mission and needs. Internships are arranged on an individual basis by the student and must be approved by the student’s adviser. For international internships, all rules, regulations, policies, and procedures set by the International Studies Office of PSU must be followed. 

LSE program of study

ELP Professional Studies Core: (16 credits)

Students may complete the professional studies core at any point in their program.

  • ELP 511 Principles of Educational Research and Data Analysis I (4 credits)
  • ELP 520 Developmental Perspectives on Adult Learning (4 credits)
  • ELP 551 Social Foundations of Education (4 credits) OR ELP 554 Philosophy of Education (4 credits)
  • ELP 568 Educational Organization and Administration (4 credits)

LSE Foundational Courses (8 credits)

The following are LSE foundational courses. Every LSE student should plan to take ELP 550 in their first term of study, and ELP 517 in their second term of study. These courses are offered on Tuesdays, 4:00-6:30pm.

  • ELP 550 Advanced Leadership for Sustainability (4 credits) Fall
  • ELP 517 Ecological & Cultural Foundations of Learning (4 credits) Winter

LSE Thematic Specialization (12 credits)

Students each develop a unique plan of study with their adviser to include three additional courses from the LSE program offerings. Students may develop a program of study in one of the following areas:   

  • Garden-Based Education in Schools and Communities
  • Sustainability Education in Schools, Colleges, Community Organizations 

The following overview of LSE specialty areas serves as a guide to developing a program of study. This is not intended to be prescriptive, and courses can be taken from each category. Students should work with their adviser to choose courses that best meet their learning and career outcome goals.

Garden-Based Education in Schools and Communities:

  • ELP 519 Sustainability Education (4)
  • ELP 540 Urban Farm Education (4)
  • ELP 510 Permaculture and Whole Systems Design: Principles and Practices for Sustainable Systems (4)
  • ELP 510 Integrating STEM and Sustainability through Learning Gardens (4)
  • ELP 508 Sense of Place (1)

Sustainability Education in Schools, Colleges, and Community Organizations

  • ELP 548 Global Political Ecology (4)
  • ELP 519 Sustainability Education (4)
  • ELP 510 Theory and Practice of Sustainability (4)
  • ELP 510 Nonviolence and Gandhi’s Educational Philosophy (4)
  • ELP 524 Spiritual Leadership for Sustainable Change (4)
  • ELP 510 Permaculture and Whole Systems Design: Principles and Practices for Sustainable Systems (4)
  • ELP 508 Sense of Place (1)

Electives (5 credits)

Elective credits should be related to the student’s overall program and selected in collaboration with their adviser. Students may choose to take ELP 506 Special projects or ELP 509 Internship as electives, to work on a project of choice. Students may also enroll in graduate-level courses from within the Graduate School of Education or other departments at Portland State University. LSE students frequently choose electives from Conflict Resolution, Community Development, Geography, Environmental Science and Management, Women Studies, Gender, Race and Nation, or Urban Studies and Planning. 

Culminating Experience (4 credits) 

Candidates for the Master’s degree in LSE must select, in consultation with their adviser, one of the two culminating experiences: LSE Comprehensive Exam Course (Comps) or Thesis. The LSE Comprehensive Exam (Comps) is a course in which students develop a problem-based paper that focuses on one sustainability education issue, and demonstrates a satisfactory level of knowledge and skill related to LSE key learning areas. This course, ELP 506 LSE Comps, is taken as Pass/No Pass. Students should have completed a minimum of 35 credits, including the ELP Professional Core Studies, before enrolling in this course. The Comps course meets 4-6 times during the term to help guide students through the completion of their Comps paper.  Students give 
a presentation of their paper at the end of the course.

The thesis option requires enrollment in ELP 503 for a minimum of 4 credits (but usually requires more). The thesis is likely to require 4-5 quarters of work before the completion of the program. Thesis also requires the appointment of a thesis committee of at least 3 faculty members chosen by the student, two of who must be from ELP. Students who are opting to write a thesis should plan to include a research course as part of their program of study.