Taking a Closer Look at Online Montessori Training

Please note: We here at Montessori for Everyone do not offer online training. We sell printable materials for Montessori schools and homeschools. This post is an interview with two of the most well known online Montessori training centers, United Montessori Association and North American Montessori Center. Please visit their websites and contact them with any questions you may have about their programs.


johnshepard trudycoumoushepardRecently I was able to interview John and Trudy Shepard (left) of the United Montessori Association (UMA) and Dale Gausman (below) of the North American Montessori Center (NAMC). They answered my questions about online training with detail and care. I think this information is very helpful, especially if you are considering online training – and based on the emails I get, many of you are.

Montessori Online Training Q & A

Lori: What, if anything, makes online training appropriate for people seeking a Montessori career?

Dale Gausman of NAMC: Not only was Maria Montessori part of a movement to reform traditional ways of educating children, she understood the importance of educating teachers in new ways to support this transformation. “Teachers must be trained and schools transformed at the same time” – Maria Montessori, The Discovery of the Child

Online/distance training is a wonderful option for anyone who wishes to begin or enrich their Montessori career and cannot afford either the time or financial commitment that on site training requires. Since our inception in 1996, distance training has become an increasingly popular choice because it offers the benefits of flexibility and customization to meet the unique scheduling and educational needs of students.

John and Trudy Shepard of UMA: People who have commitments to family and work, or who live on a very limited income and/or live in a remote region of the world are being given the opportunity for a Montessori education. They are not simply exposed to it, but receive excellent training in the philosophy and materials presentations!

Besides the lives of children they influence, we see how they themselves change, having gone through an inner transformation of mind and spirit due to this marvelous (and often considered radical) way of looking at life and how one learns.

Lori: How does online training work?

namc_logoNAMC: As many of your readers know, Montessori is taught in three-year age groups, which is why we offer our diploma programs for ages 0-3, 3-6, 6-9 and 9-12. New students are welcome to enroll online, via fax, or mail. We process enrollments on a daily basis, so students may enroll anytime and begin their studies right away. As soon as an enrollment is received, it is processed and study materials are shipped directly via UPS courier expedited.

A typical NAMC student is a working parent – a very busy person! We realized from the beginning that distance education must be uniquely designed for student achievement and success. To that end, our diploma programs deliver manageable work schedules, quality training materials, effective and interactive communication between students and mentors, and straightforward, quantitative evaluation mechanisms.

UMA_logoUMA: Each student’s lesson plans center on unlimited one-to-one counsel from a senior staff evaluator – a seasoned, Master Montessorian. This personalized guidance helps students feel deeply connected with his/her course of study, and fully prepared for his/her career in Montessori education.

The student is assigned one primary and one co-evaluator. This provides consistency, a balanced perspective, and allows the student to establish a personal rapport. UMA evaluators are committed to each student’s success by offering individual encouragement and guidance. Students may also chose to have a UMA graduate as a mentor. They use Skype for face-to-face dialogue with their evaluators and mentors.

Lori: What kind of curriculum does your training center use?

NAMC: One unique feature to our programs compared to other Montessori training programs is the inclusion of full-color, professionally developed and designed curriculum albums. These manuals are excellent study guides for our students to learn the concepts and activities, and they become valuable lifelong classroom resources. NAMC now publishes more comprehensive, full-color Montessori albums than any other Montessori organization in the world. Each of our programs also includes a CD-ROM of printable items for classroom use and teacher record-keeping purposes.

UMA: Each student is provided a well-balanced core curriculum, based upon the original tenets of Dr. Montessori’s philosophy. The didactic material presentations are in-depth and involve hands-on participation.

All students receive UMA Teaching Manuals and unlimited viewing of the UMA Video Library as tutorials. Combined, the manuals and videos provide hundreds of Montessori material demonstrations, covering all the areas of the curriculum. The UMA Teacher’s Manuals also provide a liberal amount of master sheets for classroom use, booklets for classified nomenclature, and theme outlines for curriculum planning.

Lori: What process do the students go through to complete their work?

NAMC: NAMC diploma program schedules are designed for a student time commitment of between one-half hour and one hour per day, five days per week. Each program is divided into three components, and each component has a series of written homework assignments generated from the course material we provide.

For the NAMC Infant/Toddler (0-3) and Preschool/Kindergarten (3-6) diploma programs, each component is 10 weeks long for a total of seven months. For the Lower Elementary (6-9) and Upper Elementary (9-12) diploma programs, each component is 3 months long, for a total of nine months. In keeping with Montessori philosophy, NAMC students who have more time to devote to study are allowed to work at an accelerated pace. Those who need to set up customized schedules for a longer duration are also accommodated and supported by the NAMC team.

UMA: Lessons are emailed in the form of Microsoft Word attachments and may be downloaded and printed up as hard copies for use in each student’s personal albums. Lessons include detailed essay notes, charts, and assignment templates for easy submission.

Each assignment is comprehensively evaluated for effort in research and thorough understanding of the Montessori philosophy, method, and application. Unsatisfactory work will be addressed and resubmitted. The “final” is an open-book review. (No exams.)

The most significant difference of the UMA Teacher Training curriculum is our focus on the inner preparation of the adult, along with a thorough understanding of the Montessori philosophy. Our training is comprehensive, requiring a serious commitment on the part of the student…and staff!

Lori: Do you require a practicum as part of the training requirements?

NAMC: We always encourage those students who do not already have an affiliation with a Montessori center to seek a volunteer internship. However, there are two reasons why we do not require a practicum at NAMC:

1. Many of our students earn income to support themselves and their families, and simply cannot stop working to student-teach on a volunteer basis.
2. We are very aware that few if any schools hire newly-graduated teachers to act as lead teachers in a Montessori classroom.

Indeed, Montessori described experience toward the perfection of the educator in a scientific way – with continual experimentation, observation and analysis being necessary parts of the process. The initial training of the Montessori educator provides an important foundation, but the perfection of any educator is not in the initial training, it is in the years following.

Almost every Montessori teacher starts her/his career working with an experienced Montessori guide. It is our opinion that this first year of employment under an experienced Montessori teacher will be the most profound learning experience a Montessori teacher enjoys. Such an arrangement is also of great benefit to the employer, as new Montessori teachers can be mentored in accordance with the unique values and mission of the Montessori school.

When you consider how many wonderful Montessori educators may potentially be excluded from the profession based on completing an unpaid practicum, we simply consider the price too high. Fortunately, many Montessori schools hold a similar view. This allows people to pursue their dream of becoming qualified Montessori educators by taking the training online and then working under a lead teacher for a year or years to come.

UMA: The reality is, there are not enough Montessori schools in the world for every student’s training, and therefore internship for everyone is not a possibility.

We offer distance learning to a significant segment of the world population that:

1. Have no access to a classroom site
2. Have family commitments that require time at home
3. Live on a limited income and need to work to provide for their families
4. Live in a remote region of the world

If a practicum was required:

1. It would be impossible to validate the quality of all schools offering a practicum site
2. Training center visits by UMA would be cost prohibitive.
3. A fee for licensing would be required in every state where a physical training site was established. Passing on that expense would make tuition no longer be affordable for our students.

Lori: What kind of certification does someone receive after they complete their training? Is it recognized by any official Montessori organizations or other educational boards or institutions?

NAMC: NAMC graduates receive a Montessori teaching diploma, which is recognized around the world by qualified Montessori educators. NAMC is a member in good standing with the National Association of Career Colleges, the Canadian Association of Young Children, and the International Association of Montessori Educators.

UMA: UMA is licensed by the State of Washington to provide Montessori Teacher Training and Certification, in the USA and worldwide, since 1988. Our graduates have had excellent success in securing employment, due to the global demand for well-trained Montessori educators.

UMA is also an approved educational institution by the US Department of Defense for the Military Spouse Career Advancement, and an approved provider for Independent and Public School Districts in the US, to train teachers for teacher certification in the Montessori method at the primary level.

Lori: As I mentioned at the beginning, some of the comments on Facebook were negative. Do you have any response to someone who might hold a negative view of online training, especially concerning the need for a practicum?

John Shepard from UMA: Let me respond to the concern of the need for a practicum or internship for students. There is no question that one cannot fully grasp the use of the hands-on, didactic materials outside of a properly prepared environment. We go to great length in emphasizing this to our students. That is why we encourage our students to find a nearby Montessori school or set up a Montessori environment in their home where they can apply what they are learning.

Regretfully, because of constraints like distance, time, and money, an internship is not a possibility for some. It is for these individuals that we provide a thorough on-line certification in Montessori education.

Think of the positive results to this. People who have commitments to family and work, who perhaps live on a very limited income and/or live in a remote region of the world are being given the opportunity for an excellent Montessori education.

Therefore, let us in the Montessori community not criticize or dismiss a program simply by our own self-centered biases or uninformed judgments. Rather, we should be discussing how we can help each other with the same goal in mind: to train adults who provide the child with opportunities for proper educational growth and awareness of the world.

Are we not making a clear statement to the rest of the world when we confine a Montessori education to adults who happen to live within a certain locale near a Montessori school or training center? And when schools or centers are located in predominately middle to upper middle class/wealthy neighborhoods, are we not saying something loud and clear to the rest of the world’s population?

The answers to these questions are clear and, in effect, we speak volumes when we don’t offer more affordable and useful alternatives to centrally located centers for learning. I don’t think that is the kind of narrow, inaccessible Montessori community we envision both here in the United States as well as abroad.

Lori: Strong words, John, and I can sense the strong feeling behind them. I haven’t ever considered how outsiders might view Montessori based on the limitations of physical training centers and schools. But more importantly, if some of us decide, after thorough investigation, that online training is not an option we would personally promote, how important it is to allow others the freedom to make their own decisions based on their circumstances rather than insisting on a “one size fits all” Montessori education.

Thank you, Dale, John, and Trudy for your insightful, helpful information! If you have any questions for them I’m sure they’d be glad to answer. You can also visit their websites for more information:

North American Montessori Center
United Montessori Association

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77 Responses to “Taking a Closer Look at Online Montessori Training”

  • steve said at October 28th, 2011 at 12:56 pm :

    My wife is a certified British Columbian Teacher (Canada) and we were wondering if the online Montessori training in question is recognized in Canada? Sorry if this is a dumb question

  • Lori Bourne said at October 28th, 2011 at 1:05 pm :

    Hi, Steve! There’s no across-the-board answer. It’s up to a specific school whether they will recognize a certain online training program or not. As of now, online programs are not certified by AMS or AMI in any country.

  • Jolie Zins said at January 11th, 2012 at 11:49 am :

    Is NAMC and UMA approved by The Montessori Foundation , IMC and AMS as being an accredited license provider?

  • Lori Bourne said at January 11th, 2012 at 12:40 pm :

    Hi, Jolie! That’s a good question and I don’t know the answer. You’ll need to contact NAMC and UMA (see links to their website in the post) and ask them.

  • Elizabeth Lanich said at January 17th, 2012 at 1:46 pm :

    I work in a Montessori preschool right now and want to become a Montessori Certified teacher. Your online program would be a great opportunity for me since I need to be certified by the 2012-2013 school year. I am a working mother of three and only work parttime. My husband and I both have lower incomes so money is an issue. Do you accept grants, scholarships, etc.? If you do, how do I go about applying? Any help you can give me in this matter would be appreciated.

  • Lori Bourne said at January 17th, 2012 at 2:27 pm :

    Hi, Elizabeth! I don’t run an online training program, I just blogged about two that are out there. You’ll need to contact NAMC and UMA directly (links to each site are in the post) to ask about grants and scholarships.

    Best of luck!

  • Liz said at January 18th, 2012 at 5:08 pm :

    Thank you for taking the time to blog about this! I wish there was albums or training for mum’s who are not necessarily interested in working in a Montessori school as a career but are interested in plenty of information about lessons and practical applications of Montessori methods in their homes. it can be hard finding a wealth of information about this and a Montessori Mum’s and Dad’s course would be great! If anyone knows any info about anything like that please post, it would be much appreciated! Many Thanks.

  • Lori Bourne said at January 18th, 2012 at 5:16 pm :

    Hi, Liz! There are many moms and dads who take the two courses I mentioned, and I hear this one mentioned a lot as a good option for parents as well: Montessori Marketplace Teacher Training.

  • Anu said at February 17th, 2012 at 10:41 am :

    Hi,I am not for US but am here for my kids treatment and would have to stay at least for another 6 months.I wanted to know can I apply for any online courses ,as I am looking to a career in elementary teaching .

  • Lori Bourne said at February 17th, 2012 at 6:13 pm :

    Hi, Anu! Please contact either (or both) of the training centers we link to in this blog post to inquire about how to apply for their courses.


  • Megan Gish said at April 15th, 2012 at 6:41 am :

    Wow, these are all GREAT responses…just what i needed! I have my Montessori Assistant Teacher credential and I taught Montessori for three wonderful years (as head teacher actually, long story, but I am thankful for the experience as head teacher!).

    Then I moved and taught Gymnastics for another three years but so badly wanted to get back into the classroom. I got married last year and just as I was looking into furthering my Montessori education, my husband and I got military orders to Guam. To my knowledge there is ONE Montessori school here on the island and I am e-mailing with them about volunteering.

    Meanwhile, an online-option is looking like it is my only option to continue my teacher education and both NAMC & UMA look like great options for me. Because I am a spouse of active duty military I am eligible for a MYCAA scholarship that would cover all my costs for my Montessori education and UMA accepts that sort of financial aide which is awesome!

    On the other hand, NAMC offers college credits along with its diploma which is also a temping route to take. We plan on settling back down in California after we get out of the military and to my knowledge both schools would look good on my resume as I apply to schools in California. I guess I will need to contact both schools and see. Although, both seem about neck and neck as far as recognition and reputation. Such a tough decision when the two schools are talked so highly of!

    Any other differences or similarities between NAMC and UMA would be helpful. I know it seems through reading these responses that NAMC has more colorful and detailed materials? Would love to hear a little more from students at either school! Thanks so much for blogging about this topic, it has been EXACTLY what is in my head!

  • Lori Bourne said at April 15th, 2012 at 6:53 am :

    Hi, Megan! So glad you found this post and it was helpful. I think a good route to take would be to talk to both training centers to get more info and to Google them and see what people are saying about them. Hope that helps and best of luck!

  • A.Anthony James said at July 2nd, 2012 at 12:01 am :

    I would like to do Montessori online -6 Month course-Please send the course fees- I am Physically
    Handicapped.I met with an accident and lost my right leg -right leg above knee amputation.I worked in USA for Carnival Cruise Lines,Miami,Fl,USA.Please help me to enrol in online Montessori course.

  • Lori Bourne said at July 2nd, 2012 at 5:26 am :

    Hi! I do not offer Montessori training. I wrote this post about two different online training centers. You can find the link to each of them in the above blog post. Please contact each place directly for information about fees, enrollment, etc. Thanks!

  • Nisha said at August 10th, 2012 at 3:25 am :

    I’m very confused about theses online courses. I’m a mother of a child. My son is 2 years old and I’m start looking for a Montessori to enroll him. since my husband lost his job now we can’t afford any. So I start opening a my own Montessori at home. When I start checking on these online courses I found this web site. I have some questions to ask and here are they.

    1)How do I enroll to this course?
    2)Do I get a certificate end of this course?
    3)Is it recognized to go abroad?(me and my husband planning to go abroad)
    4)How much is the course fee?
    5)How do I pay?
    6)I’m not very familiar with English therefore is it possible me to manage this?
    7)I live in Sri Lanka at end of the course how can I get my certificate?
    8)Do I need any qualification to do this course?

    Thank you,

  • Lori Bourne said at August 10th, 2012 at 6:02 am :

    Hi! As I said in the comment right before yours, I do not offer online training. I simply blogged about two places that do. Please contact them (their websites are linked to in the post) with all of your questions.

  • maryam said at September 30th, 2012 at 6:24 pm :

    hello i live in califonia and i want to work in montessori i have to get montessori courses please tell me what should i do to get online courses?

  • Lori Bourne said at September 30th, 2012 at 7:10 pm :

    Hi, Maryam! Please look in the blog post for the websites of the two training centers I interviewed. We at Montessori for Everyone do not offer training, so you’ll have to contact them for more info.

  • Karen Allen said at November 29th, 2012 at 11:22 am :

    One new option out there to receive Montessori training online (with a 4 week on site intensive) that *IS* MACTE accredited is the new training by Age Of Montessori. It’s very deep, and works well for working parents, etc. The main instructor, Mary Ellen Maunz, worked under/with Madame Caspari, who was trained directly by and was friends with Maria Montessori. The overall price (not including text books) for the course is about $5700 in American. Students from literally all over the world are taking the course! It’s worth checking into!

  • nehal said at February 23rd, 2013 at 11:17 pm :

    can i do on line monteseri courses

  • Lori Bourne said at February 24th, 2013 at 7:54 am :

    Sure, anyone can apply to take an online course. Please contact one of the two training centers mentioned in this post (I do not offer Montessori training) for more information.

  • Bushr zheer said at April 8th, 2013 at 8:14 am :

    I am running a well reputed montessori school and a trained montessori directress,how can i start training of teacher and get affiliation to yours montessori.It will be pleasure to get diploma from yours side.Kindly tell me the rules.

  • Lori Bourne said at April 8th, 2013 at 8:40 am :

    Hi! We do not offer online training here at Montessori for Everyone. However, in this blog post, I link to two different training centers that you can contact regarding their information.

  • Ruchika said at May 1st, 2013 at 7:23 pm :

    hello Lori ,
    first of all thankx for making this blog ,it is indeed very useful ,but honestly i m sort of confused again which course to join NAMC or UMA …both are kind of equally similar (fees wise too)but i m not able to find which one has has ltl more value ….PLEASE HELP ME REGD THIS QUERY .

    one more thing will it be possible for me to get enroll through any of these courses and work as volunteer in any montessori school by showing that i have enrolled so i can get the vision of practical too.

    have you or any body heard about CERDS if yes please give me some information about it too .

  • Lori Bourne said at May 1st, 2013 at 7:40 pm :

    Hi, so glad you found us! I’m sorry, I have not taken either course so I can’t give a recommendation to you. That’s really a decision you have to make on your own, but either way would be fine.

    You’ll have to ask the training centers about coordinating it with a volunteer or intern position. I don’t know how they do that. I have not heard of CERDS.

    It sounds like you need to talk to someone at each training center, ask them your questions, and then base your decision on the information you receive.

  • Marc said at May 27th, 2013 at 9:58 am :

    Please understand that many employers will not hire persons without a MACTE credential. In Maryland, at least, it is illegal for a school to call itself “Montessori” if its teachers are not MACTE certified. There are good reasons for this, as neither NAMC nor UMA require teachers to perform an internship or even adequately assess that they have learned anything. Students in these two institutions basically study albums at their own pace without working in a group; it is a lonely experience.

    Please understand that there are options for MACTE programs that are mostly conducted online. I know of three, and think they are all good.
    1) The Center for Guided Montessori Studies
    2) Montessori Live
    3) Age of Montessori

    Many more are coming all the time – do your research before you end up with a certificate that makes it difficult to obtain a job.

  • Carolyn said at July 13th, 2013 at 8:55 pm :

    I am currently enrolled at NAMC for their infant toddler program. I have to say the binders they provide are beautiful and full of information. I have had the pleasure of being the ECE in a Toddler Montessori classroom in Canada for the past seven years. I have had a great deal of experience in using the Montessori method and this program ties everything together for me. In Canada, there is an option to take your NAMC diploma to a MACTE accredited school such as TMI and have them look over your assignments. They then take you experience into account and can possible accredit your diploma. You may be required to complete a few more courses, but if online training works for you, and being MACTE accredited is important, this may be an option.