Prospective elementary school teachers follow a program of study the first two years which is essentially the same for all students. There is sufficient flexibility, however, for specialization in the various teaching options available.
One of the major attributes of the elementary education program at Montana State University is its extensive field-based component. This includes an early experience in the freshman year that is designed for students to observe and interview teachers and their students. Its emphasis is to clarify career directions and it is therefore required prior to all other professional coursework. Prior to student teaching, each student is required to take two practicum semesters. During these semesters the student spends four half-days for eight weeks in a teacher aide capacity while concurrently completing methods courses on campus. The final field-based experience is student teaching where students spend fourteen weeks in actual supervised teaching in a school setting.