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Office of Postsecondary and Higher Education

L. Jill Hans
Deputy Secretary for Postsecondary and Higher Education

The Office of Postsecondary and Higher Education (OPHE) participates in long-range planning for higher education in Pennsylvania; consults with the State Board of Education on the development of regulations to assure quality postsecondary and higher education programs;  oversees the authorization of degree-granting institutions and the licensure of career and trade schools; oversees the certification of teachers; coordinates the approval of academic programs as required; coordinates approval of institutions to process veterans benefits and provides direction and coordination for adult basic and literacy education.

To meet federal and state reporting requirements, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) collects education data on students three times a year.  Students attending postsecondary institutions may opt-out of Pennsylvania-mandated data collections by completing the Postsecondary Data Collection Opt-Out Form.  

Bureau of Postsecondary and Adult Education

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Postsecondary Education

The Bureau of Postsecondary and Adult Education includes the Division of Higher and Career Education, the Division of Adult Education and the Division of Veterans/Military Education as well as the Institute for Law Enforcement Education. 

The Bureau manages the postsecondary reporting requirements mandated by state law, including the English Fluency Act, Gift Disclosure Act, Sexual Violence Education, and Uniform Crime Reporting.

The Bureau processes requests from out-of-state degree-granting institutions seeking authorization by the Pennsylvania Department of Education to offer courses or degree programs via distance education to Pennsylvania residents.

Division of Higher & Career Education

The Division of Higher and Career Education assists postsecondary institutions in Pennsylvania with offering degree programs as well as help new institutions form.   For more information call (717) 783-8228 or email RA-COLLUNIVSEMINFO@pa.gov.

The Division of Higher and Career Education also licenses and regulates private, postsecondary career and trade schools in Pennsylvania.  Most of the schools offer certificate or diploma programs though some are authorized to grant specialized associate degrees.  For more information, call (717) 783-8228 or email ra-pls@pa.gov.

Division of Adult Education

The Division of Adult Education directs and administers adult basic education and literacy programs throughout the Commonwealth; administers the Commonwealth Secondary School Diploma and general Educational DevelopmentĀ® (GED) programs; and coordinates federal and state adult basic and literacy education grant programs. For more information, call (717) 787-5532 or email ra-able@pa.gov.

Veteran's EducationDivision of Veterans/Military Education

The Division of Veterans/Military Education approves postsecondary schools, apprenticeship/on-the-job training and licensure/certification examinations so that eligible veterans, reservists and dependents can use their G.I. Bill benefits.  For more information, call (717) 787-2414 or email RA-VetEd@pa.gov.

Bureau of School Leadership and Teacher Quality

The Bureau of School Leadership and Teacher Quality reviews and approves educator preparation programs at over 90 public and private colleges and universities and alternative teacher preparation programs in the Commonwealth. Regulations and standards for educator preparation programs require they provide rigorous and research-based instruction and clinical experiences that will prepare candidates to be effective in their professional roles as Pennsylvania education providers.

Program approval by this office assures graduates and prospective employers that the knowledge and skills learned in the completed program of study result in student learning and growth in Pennsylvania's schools. Programs are reviewed to establish that initial standards are met by new programs and then every seven years full review and approval of all programs in an institution is required for the continuing operation of each program.

The bureau provides technical assistance and training to institutions of higher education and to candidates for certification who desire clarification and interpretation of regulations and guidelines that affect program approval. Staff also compile data from program providers, and prepare an official report for the federal government.

For detailed information please visit Highly Qualified Teacher Requirements.

The Bureau reviews and approves educator specialist, instructional, supervisory, administrative and temporary professional licenses for use in public and private schools grades pre-kindergarten through twelve. The Bureau reviews preliminary education requirements for individuals applying to nursing, public librarian and funeral director programs. A full list of the certificates and certification requirements may be viewed on the PDE website under Teachers and Teacher Certifications.

In December 2011 the division launched a new, online Teachers Information Management Systems (TIMS) application to facilitate the certification process. User Guides, general information and access to this program may be viewed by selecting the TIMS link on the Certifications page or by navigating to www.PA-TIMS.com.