One of the historical references which needs clarification for the modern reader is teacher certification. There were third, second and first grade certificates, and the state certificate, referred to as the life certificate.
The third grade certificate was good for one year in the county where it was issued. The state certificate was valid for life.
The state certificate took two and a half years of study at Ferris. First and second grade certificates took two semesters with an additional class in solid and spherical geometry for the first grade.
For the third grade certificate, Ferris students took spelling, elementary grammar, composition, U.S. civil government, state civil government, intermediate arithmetic, mental arithmetic and psychology for the first semester; and intermediate grammar, U.S. history, physiology, elementary geography, orthography, current events and pedagogy (methods) in the second semester.
The Ferris faculty of 1905
For the second year of the first and second grade certificate programs, advanced courses in the first year programs were offered. But for the second grade certificates the courses were offered as electives. Additional courses included physics, botany, general history, and algebra. Plane geometry was offered additionally for the first grade certificate.
For their fifth semester, life certificate candidates took solid and spherical geometry, literature, geology, advanced chemistry, and Latin. The 1903-04 catalog urged:
"Of late years, the requirements have become more and more rigid. In many respects this is as it should be. To meet these increased demands, however, the teachers have found it necessary to make the most of every available moment, finding it profitable to spend even the weeks of vacation in the Ferris Institute."
And, the catalog said: The mission of Ferris Institute "has been, its mission ever will be, to give the teachers of Michigan a broader view of life, to give to them an enthusiasm for their work, to give them an uplift that will enable them to carry to the boys and girls of our State that which will make for manhood, for character, for happiness."
One of Ferris' more innovative programs in the early part of the century involved teaching women how to teach kindergarten. The school also offered kindergarten classes for youngsters at which the teachers practiced their methods.