Teacher Assistant Program (TAP)


Are you currently a teacher’s assistant? If so, you know what it takes to lead a K-6 classroom. In fact, you have probably thought about leading your own classroom one day. The fully online Teacher Assistant Program (TAP) at The University of Southern Mississippi is designed specifically to support you to achieve that goal.  It offers you a convenient pathway to earning a Bachelor of Science degree and becoming a certified teacher while continuing your job as a teacher assistant.

The online TAP program at Southern Miss meets the unique educational needs of teacher assistants who desire to advance their knowledge and skills and become exemplary, licensed teachers. Students enrolled in the TAP program have the opportunity to complete all or part of their coursework online with highly qualified and dedicated university faculty. The exciting and innovative curriculum includes opportunities to apply new knowledge and skills through clinical experiences that are completed while you are engaged in your day-to-day responsibilities as a teacher assistant.

Students enrolled in the TAP program at Southern Miss will major in Elementary Education. Graduates of the Elementary Education program are eligible to become certified teachers for grades K-6 with a reading endorsement and the choice of an endorsement in Math K-8, Math 9-12, Science, Social Studies, Foreign Language, or English.

Teacher Assistant Program (TAP) Eligibility Information

If you are employed as a full-time Teacher Assistant in a public or private school accredited by the State Department of Education in the state where the school district is located, you may qualify for our program. The following information is provided to clarify eligibility based on your employment:

  • Must be employed full-time as a Teacher Assistant in a general education, k-6 classroom at an approved school.
  • If you are employed as a Teacher Assistant in any setting other than a k-6 elementary education classroom, you are not eligible for TAP. Ineligible placements include, but are not limited to, special education, inclusion, middle school or high school, computer laboratory, library, physical education, music, and art. 
  • If you are employed as a Teacher Assistant in a state other than Mississippi, you will be responsible for verifying that your program of study meets your state’s licensure requirements.  Our programs are designed to meet licensure requirements in the State of Mississippi.  We do not guarantee to meet the licensure requirements of other states.  If you need assistance in verifying that your program of study meets your desired state’s licensure requirements, please contact Jennifer Wild.
  • USM teacher candidates in good academic standing who wish to transition between the TAP and traditional program may join either program at any time throughout their course of study as long as all program and university requirements are satisfied and departmental consent is granted.  Typically these decisions should be made before the university drop date.
  • Your principal or official designee must verify your employment as a full-time Teacher's Assistant in a k-6 classroom annually by sending a letter on school letterhead to Michelle Dawson at michelle.dawson@usm.edu.  The letter must contain the following information:  student id number, district name, academic year, and your position with grade placement.
  • Prior to being admitted, discuss your goals with your principal to obtain support and to clarify expectations for your clinical labs and student teaching experiences.