Frequently Asked Questions


About the Center for Urban Education

What is the Center for Urban Education?
The Center for Urban Education, located at UNC’s Denver Center at Lowry, offers a Bachelor of Arts degree and teacher training/licensure in

  • Early Childhood Education—In Colorado, this license is valid for work in infant centers, Head Start, pre-kindergarten, early childhood education centers and up through the primary grades to grade three in a variety of settings.
  • Elementary Education—Graduates are well equipped to handle all of the challenges of early child care centers as well as elementary education – from Kindergarten through grade six. The training includes a solid background in physical education, art, music and health as well as traditional elementary study in literacy, math, social studies and science. Additionally, all students gain the skills necessary to teach “English for Speakers of other Languages" and are prepared for an ESL licensure/endorsement as part of the program.
  • Special Education—In Colorado, this is teaching license is valid from kindergarten through age 21. The Center offers a generalist program that embodies various special needs issues and prepares students to teach in a variety of settings.

What’s different about the Center for Urban Education?
At the Center for Urban Education, practical and theoretical learning are combined. Our students are immersed in real-life school classroom settings throughout their time in the program—from their very first day with us until they complete the capstone student teaching experience. For Center for Urban Education students, that means that their diploma from the University of Northern Colorado also comes with four years of teacher apprenticeship experience. With these experiences, our graduates routinely report that the transition to full-time classroom teacher involves no surprises. They have seen much, done much and are ready to tackle the most demanding teaching challenges.

What do you mean by urban education?
The word “urban” connotes to us one thing: diversity. Center for Urban Education teacher candidates know they will encounter every variety of educational need and they will have exposure to a wide range of students. Center for Urban Education apprentices serve in an array of school settings and our courses are geared to prepare future teachers for any classroom environment. Their experiences are varied enough so that whatever school they eventually teach in—urban, suburban, rural, public or private—they will have had exposure to the kinds of challenges any teacher will face anywhere.

There are other “Centers for Urban Education." Are they connected or related to the UNC Center for Urban Education?
No. The University of Northern Colorado’s Center for Urban Education is unique and stands alone. There is a program with the same name at Metropolitan State University in downtown Denver, but it is not a teacher training program. There are many teacher training programs in Colorado, but UNC’s Center for Urban Education is the only one in Colorado that provides students with classroom-based experience from the first day to the last.

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Apprenticeships and Mentoring

What is the apprenticeship?
At the heart of the Center’s approach to graduating successful teachers is to prepare them thoroughly for the reality of the classroom. On the very first day of their college enrollment, they begin a paid on-the-job apprenticeship at a local urban elementary school. In the living laboratory of urban classrooms, Center apprentices typically spend four hours each day experiencing firsthand the challenges of teaching as well as the rewards. They learn to understand and deal with the potential barriers to learning that can incapacitate a less experienced teacher.

Are apprentices mentored?
Retired master teachers are paired with CUE students as mentors. Each mentor (essentially the instructor of the Apprenticeship curriculum/coursework) works with a cohort of six to eight students in individual and group sessions. They visit classrooms to oversee students’ progress at apprenticeship sites, and plan and convene group meetings where students can learn from, support and rely on each other. Mentors provide essential guidance needed by all teacher candidates in assessing their development in instructional skills and classroom management.

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Class Location, Schedules and Content

Where and when are Center for Urban Education classes taught?
All classes are taught at the convenient UNC Denver Center at Lowry (view the map/directions pdf). Elementary Education students attend classes in the afternoon after apprenticing in elementary school classrooms in the morning. Early Childhood Education and Special Education students work in classrooms during the day and attend evening classes at the Center.

What is the class schedule?
Classes are taught in five-week blocks, with four blocks each semester. During each five-week block, students take one 3-credit course, with class three days a week in three-hour sessions. This allows students to concentrate on learning one subject at a time rather than juggling numerous subjects (and the attendant homework, paper-writing and studying) simultaneously for the length of the semester. A fourth day is reserved for either one-credit teaching methods classes or 15-week courses.

What is the fifth day of the week used for?
Academic classes are taught for day students on Monday, Wednesday and Friday with methods and 15-week classes being offered on Tuesdays or Thursdays. The remaining “off” day is reserved for student support: workshops, advisements, tutoring and make-up classes. Evening classes take place Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, with Wednesday being student support day.

What are the class times?
Day students attend classes from 1 to 4 p.m. Evening classes run from 5 to 8 p.m.

What subjects are taught in academic classes?
A comprehensive array of diploma-required liberal arts courses are combined with practical methodology teacher training. Every course a student takes leads to licensure and university graduation. The Center’s structure is efficient; you don’t take classes that are irrelevant to your license or not required for your degree.
Are there extra-curricular learning opportunities?
The Center offers an array of extra-curricular workshops that provide added in-depth work on a variety of topics that you will need to be a good teacher. These sessions supplement the important topics covered in the course of study.

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Program Quality and Transferring Credits

How long has this Center been around?
The Center for Urban Education began in 2000 and has 9 classes of graduates teaching in school districts, charter and private schools throughout the area and the state.

Who are my classmates?
Center students come from throughout the Denver metropolitan area. All are focusing on teacher preparation and naturally share their experiences and knowledge in classes and cohort groups with mentors.

Does it take four years of full-time classes to earn the diploma/licensure?
For a high school graduate without any college credit work, four years is typical. Transferrable college credit may shorten the time spent at the Center but, remember the classroom apprenticeship of field-based experience is critical to the student teacher’s preparation and remains a priority in fulfilling the course of study.

Can students transfer in to the Center from other colleges?
Yes, many Center students start their college career in other institutions.

Are the Center’s course credits transferable to other colleges?

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Getting Started

What are the entrance criteria?
You must apply to the University of Northern Colorado, designating the Center for Urban Education as the place you wish to be. University admissions criteria are used to evaluate Center for Urban Education applicants in the same manner as all other applicants. The online application or a copy of the printed application spells out minimum requirements for admission. The application and helpful instructions are available at

What are the steps to apply?
The most productive step is to call the Center for Urban Education first and set up an appointment to talk about your education and career plans. All applicants will have an in-depth conversation with the Center for Urban Education staff. Because the program is unique and because the Center is small, it works best for applicants to have it fully explained and have all their questions answered before committing.

You can reach the Center at (303) 637-4336

What is a good time of year to apply?
The Center is open for information and visits year-round. The Center for Urban Education accepts applications at any time and enrolls students in the first semester (fall) or second semester (spring).

Feel free to check with the Center for Urban Education (303-637-4336) anytime throughout the year.

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Start This Fall

The Center for Urban Education’s 3 bachelor’s degree with licensure options. You can begin the program each Fall term.

The Center for Urban Education is located in the UNC Denver Center at Lowry, providing local access to UNC’s renowned teacher and childhood education programs.

  • Questions about our programs?:
  • For Early Childhood Education, please call 303-637-3070.
  • For Elementary Education, please call 303-637-4334.
  • For Special Education, please call 303-637-4336

CUE Director and Student Honored

The Education Center, a Denver non-profit organization, honored our Director and one of our amazing students at their 2015 awards.

Brandi Alexander and Rosanne Fulton - award winners
View the article on UNC News Central