Teacher education has been part of the higher education system in Norway since 1975. Teachers in kindergartens and primary and secondary education are educated at universities and university colleges. The old General Teacher Education program (240 credits) for years 1-10, qualifying teachers in 5-6 different subjects, was terminated in 2010 when two new differentiated four-year programs for years 1–7 and years 5–10 were introduced.
From 2017, the differentiated four-year programs for years 1–7 and years 5–10 are going to be replaced by five years integrated master programs, differentiated in the same way.
Institutions, levels, and models of training
Most of the teacher education is provided by 17 higher education institutions, of which two are private university colleges, the remainder is public universities or university colleges. The number of campuses is however larger (approximately 28).
Kindergarten Teacher Education is a three-year bachelor program, offered by 13 universities and university colleges. This program educates teacher candidates for Kindergartens/ early childhood education.
Teacher candidates for primary and secondary school are provided through the following six types of teacher education programs:
- Primary and Lower Secondary Teacher Education for Years 1–7 (5 years master, level)
- Primary and Lower Secondary Teacher Education for Years 5–10 (5 years, master level)
- Integrated teacher education master’s degree for Years 8–13 (5 years, master level)
- Postgraduate programmes in educational theory and practice for subject teachers (Qualification as a teacher is obtained in combination with an academic degree (in performing arts, academic subjects or with vocational basis) from a higher education institution (HEI) (1 year) (PPE)
- Teacher education in practical and aesthetic subjects (From 2021, 5 years, master level)
- Vocational teacher education (3 years, bachelor level)
Only the type 4 education program is a consecutive model for teacher education; it is a program built on an independent academic or vocational education program. As for the other five types, all are concurrent models: subjects, pedagogy, and didactics are integrated elements.
The admission requirements to all teacher education programs and types used to be equal to those valid for higher education in general: the so-called Higher Education Entrance Qualification. From 2005, admission criteria for all ITEs, except Kindergarten Teacher Education, were made more rigorous. The special requirements were: minimum a grade 3 (Scale 1-6 where 6 is the best grade) in maths and Norwegian and 35 school points from upper secondary school (This equals Grade Point Average 3,5. From autumn 2016, the requirements are again sharpened: students wanting to be admitted to a teacher education program of types 1, 2, or 3 will need a grade of a minimum of 4 in the common core subject of maths.
Admission requirements for type 4 education are different. For applicants with a vocational background or a background in performing art, practical or aesthetic subjects, admission requires a bachelor's degree. Applicants with a background in academic school subjects must have a master's degree.
Curriculum, level of specialization, and learning outcomes
All types of initial teacher education (ITE) programs are regulated on a national level by so-called "framework plans", which are national regulations given by the Ministry. Framework plans describe the structure and content of the education programs and the candidates' intended learning outcomes, all on a very superior and general level. Also, the higher education teacher institutions themselves, through The National Association for Teacher Education (NATE), are responsible for national guidelines for each type of teacher education program, down to specific subjects. The regulations and guidelines must be operationalized in more detail in the individual programs by the individual teacher education institutions.
Teacher education types and their properties
There are six types of teacher education programs that qualify for a position as a school teacher – see overview above. All programs for school teachers qualify for teaching at more than one level.
Types 1 and 2 are considered the standard education programs for teachers working in compulsory education (primary and lower secondary).
Kindergarten Teacher Education (180 credits) qualifies for being managers and pedagogical leaders in Kindergartens. The program is an integrated, professionally orientated, and research-based kindergarten teacher education, by the Kindergarten Act and the Framework Plan for the Content and Tasks of Kindergartens.
The program structure ensures progression in a comprehensive vocational course of study. The program comprises six areas of knowledge as well as specialization and a bachelor thesis. Each area of knowledge must be profession-orientated, and it should integrate relevant educational, professional, and didactic knowledge adapted to the kindergartens’ different learning areas.
Pedagogy is a central and connective subject incorporated into each area of knowledge, and it should have particular responsibility for ensuring progression and for making the course of study profession-orientated. The students must have at least 100 days of supervised, evaluated, and varied practice. At least ninety-five days should be spent in a kindergarten, and five days should focus on the transition between kindergarten and school.
Type 1: Primary and Lower Secondary Teacher Education for Years 1–7 (5 years, master level) comprise the following elements: three or four school subjects, of which at least one must have a scope of 60 credits, while the others must have a scope of at least 30 credits. Mathematics 30 credits and Norwegian 30 credits are mandatory, additional school subjects are optional. Also, comes the mandatory subject of Pedagogy and Pupil-related Skills 60 credits. In the 4th year of studies, one school subject may be replaced by a 30 credit subject relevant for work in schools. Supervised, evaluated and varied teaching practice must be an integrated part of all the subject studies. The scope of the teaching practice must be at least 110 days spread throughout at least four years: at least 80 days during the first three years of study, and at least 30 days during the last two years of study.
The master thesis should make up at least 30 credits. It should be profession-orientated and practice-based. There is a choice between four subject areas for the master thesis: School subjects, "beginner education" (in reading, writing, and maths), pedagogy, and special needs education. Master theses in school subjects should be firmly rooted in the subject and subject didactics and may also include elements from pedagogy and special needs education. A master theses in "beginner education" should be firmly rooted in a school subject, subject didactics and pedagogy, and/or special needs education. Master theses in pedagogy or special needs education should be linked to a school subject.
Type 2: Primary and Lower Secondary Teacher Education for Years 5–10 (5 years, master level) comprise the following elements: two or three school subjects, of which two must have a scope of 60 credits, while the third one must have a scope of at least 30 credits. All school subjects are optional. Also, comes the mandatory subject of Pedagogy and Pupil-related Skills 60 credits. In the 4th year of studies, one school subject may be replaced by a 30 credit subject relevant for work in schools. teaching practice must be an integrated part of all the subject studies, conditions as in type 1.
The master thesis should make up at least 30 credits. It should be profession-orientated and practice-based. There is a choice between three subject areas for the master thesis: School subjects, pedagogy, and special needs education. Master theses in school subjects should be firmly rooted in the subject and subject didactics and may also include elements from pedagogy and special needs education. Master theses in pedagogy or special needs education should be linked to a school subject.
Type 3: Integrated teacher education master’s degree for Years 8–13 (5 years' master level) consists of two school subjects. The scope of the two are as follows: School subject 1 – at least 160 credits in a subject qualifying for teaching at Years 8 – 13. School subject 2 – at least 60 credits. The mandatory "profession subject" is 60 credits, and contains pedagogy and subject didactics relevant for the student's two school subjects. The students must have at least 100 days of supervised, evaluated, and varied teaching practice. Candidates produce a master's thesis in their chosen school subject 1.
Type 4: Postgraduate programs in educational theory and practice for subject teachers (PPE) (60 credits) qualifies for the teaching profession in combination with an academic degree (in performing arts, practical or aesthetic subjects academic subjects or with vocational basis) from a higher education institution. This program consists of 30 credits pedagogy and 30 credits subject didactics. 60 days of teaching practice.
Type 5: Teacher education in practical and aesthetic subjects (5 years at master level) is new from 2021 on, replacing a subject teacher education in these kinds of subjects at bachelor level. This program consists roughly of 120 – 150 credits in the student's chosen practical and/or aesthetic subjects including subject didactics, one or two other school subjects or special needs education, and at least 60 credits of "profession subject" including pedagogy, scientific methods, and the philosophy of science, and bachelor's thesis. The students gave some choices as to how many credits he or she would like to "spend" on each of the school subjects. Students must have at least 100 days of supervised and evaluated teaching practice, in school, and (if desired/relevant) in one of the music and performing art schools (Kulturskolen), which provides extracurricular music and art programs for children and youth after school.
Type 6: Vocational teacher education (180 credits) This education program consists of two main elements: "Profession subject" (60 credits) common to all students, which includes pedagogy and didactics of the profession, and Vocational subject 120 credits, which prepares for teaching the relevant courses in upper secondary school. The scope of the practice training for these students, is 130 days, whereof 70 days teaching in school and 60 practice in work life. Teaching and work-life practice must be supervised, evaluated and varied, and take place in all three years of the program. These teachers already have full trade or craft qualifications.
Sami language and Norwegian Sign Language are official languages in Norway, and the student teachers can choose both of these languages as a school subject in initial teacher education.
The Sami University College in Kautokeino municipality, Troms and Finnmark county, has programs of types 1 and 2, primary and lower secondary teacher education for the years 1–7, and ditto for years 5–10, as well as Kindergarten Teacher Education In these programs,s the Sami language and Duodji (the traditional crafts of the Sami people) are compulsory, and all subjects are taught in the Sami language. The graduates from these programs are qualified to teach both in Norwegian and Sami mother-tongue schools. Sami students from Finland who follow these programs are automatically qualified to teach in Finnish schools - provided the course in Norwegian is replaced by one in Finnish. The college also receives Sami students from Sweden.
See chapter 9.4
Qualifications, evaluation, and certificates
All student teachers are formally evaluated continuously throughout the study program: their practical teaching skills, subject knowledge, and pedagogical knowledge. Furthermore, they also undergo a suitability assessment during the education. All students passing one of the types of initial teacher education are qualified teachers. There is no other kind of certification of new teachers in Norway.
Required teacher qualifications for different school levels
To obtain a permanent position as a teacher in Norway, candidates must meet the qualification requirements as described in the Education Act and associated regulations. Having the appropriate teacher education is a primary requirement. If no applicant satisfies the qualification requirements, a temporary appointment may be made. Such temporary appointments must last no longer than July 31. In the 2020/2021 academic year 4.7 % of persons working in teaching positions in primary and lower secondary schools were unqualified.
In addition to the qualification requirement of having the necessary teacher education, teaching staff must have relevant qualifications in the subjects that they teach. How many relevant credits are required for teaching depends on years and the subject? This type of regulation was new to the Education Act in 2014, and in a transitional period lasting until 2025, these requirements will not apply to teachers who received their degree before 2014.
Years 1-7: To teach Norwegian, Sami, Norwegian Sign Language, mathematics, or English, the teacher must have at least 30 credits that are considered relevant to the subject. No credits are required to teach other subjects for Types 1 and 2 teachers. Teachers of other types must have 30 credits in all of their teaching subjects
Years 8-10: To teach Norwegian, Sami, Norwegian Sign Language, mathematics, or English, the teacher must have 60 credits that are considered relevant to the subject. For most other subjects, the requirement is 30 credits.
For Years 11–13, 60 credits are required to teach most subjects.
Alternative training pathways
All main types of teacher education (pre-primary, general, vocational) are offered through decentralized study programs. Course contents are identical with the ordinary programs, but follow a different organizational plan, allowing the student to have a part-time job. Decentralized programs therefore often have a longer duration.
Also, many institutions offer flexible teacher programs including the use of ICT. Institutions with programs in teacher education also provide in-service training and post-graduate courses for teachers.