Teaching Degrees: What Kinds of Degrees Are Available in Education?

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Prospective educators can pursue teaching degrees at all levels. However, more advanced degrees lead to higher pay. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, teachers with a doctorate earn an average base salary of $70,960, while teachers with just a bachelor’s degree earn $50,920. Keep reading to learn more about types of education degrees.

Most states require at least a bachelor’s degree to meet certification requirements for teaching K-12. Teaching certificates usually remain valid for 4-5 years, and some states require continuing education hours. For example, teachers in Missouri need 30 hours of professional development every four years to maintain their certification. Read below to learn more about requirements for the four teaching degree types.

Associate Degree in Teaching and Education

Teaching certificates for public K-12 schools require at least a bachelor’s degree, but some schools hire teaching assistants with just an associate degree. Some private schools also hire teachers with only an associate degree. While many aspiring teachers enroll in bachelor’s programs, some students choose to earn an associate degree at an affordable community college and transfer it to a four-year university.

Other learners, such as homeschool teachers and Bible study leaders, also benefit from earning an associate teaching degree. Additionally, teaching aides and substitute teachers can improve their abilities with formal education that covers more information than a certificate program.

An associate degree requires at least 60 credits and typically takes full-time students two years to complete. Community colleges and certain four-year schools offer associate degrees in teaching and education.

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Bachelor’s Degree in Teaching and Education

This standard teaching degree typically takes four years to complete and requires about 120 credits. Many schools offer flexible learning formats, like online and accelerated degrees, so some students may complete a bachelor’s degree in just three years.

Bachelor’s degrees in teaching and education prepare graduates for certification. Even online programs require some in-person requirements, like a semester of student teaching and practicum hours. Enrollees learn how to make lesson plans, effectively communicate with students, and apply learning theories to the practice. While an associate degree in this topic covers similar subjects, a bachelor’s degree goes more in depth.

Additionally, a bachelor’s degree in teaching and education allows students to select a teaching concentration. Some learners seek certification in multiple subjects, such as math and science or art and music. Most education programs also allow students to focus their studies on teaching a specific age group, like young children.

Master’s Degree in Teaching and Education

While most school districts hire teachers with just a bachelor’s degree, many schools offer higher salaries to instructors with a master’s degree in education. This degree requires 36-54 credits and takes full-time learners about two years to complete. Online learning options allow working students to keep their full-time job while completing their degree.

Master’s in education courses cover topics like curriculum and instruction, educational leadership, and teaching methods. Graduate students must also complete a thesis or capstone project. Like undergraduate degrees in education, most master’s programs allow students to choose a specific age group and subject concentration.

Master’s program enrollees learn applicable skills and dive deeper into topics covered in a bachelor’s program. Most master’s degrees in education do not require a related bachelor’s degree.

Doctoral Degree in Teaching and Education

A doctoral degree in teaching and education requires 90-120 credits and takes learners 5-7 years to complete. Educators typically pursue two types of postgraduate degrees in the subject. A doctor of education best suits teachers who want to work in administrative leadership roles. A doctor of philosophy in education, which focuses more on research and theories, is ideal for aspiring college professors. In fact, most colleges and universities only hire full-time professors with doctorates.

While earning a doctorate in education, learners hone their research skills and fill industry knowledge gaps surrounding instructional methods and curriculum design. Professors with doctorates often earn more than teachers with master’s degrees. According to PayScale data from September 2020, professionals with a doctorate in education earn an average salary of $85,193, while teachers with a master of education earn an average salary of $59,129 as of February 2021.

Certificate in Teaching and Education

Rather than earning an entire education degree in a specific teaching subject, some students take alternate routes to becoming teachers. Many schools offer state-approved certificates in teaching and education that allow enrollees to instruct in public schools. Current teachers who want to switch subjects or individuals with a master’s degree in an unrelated subject who wish to transition to lecturing often pursue teaching and education certificates.

  • How does a certificate differ from a degree?

    Think of a teaching certificate as an add-on for professionals with a bachelor’s degree in a field unrelated to education. State-approved certificate programs require a bachelor’s degree and student teaching hours. Certification in teaching and education programs prepare learners to earn state teaching certificates.

  • Why would someone with a degree choose a certificate program?

    Individuals with a bachelor’s or master’s degree in a subject unrelated to education can fulfill state licensure requirements through a certificate program. Current teachers who want to earn additional certification for teaching a specific age group or subject can also supplement their credentials with a certificate.

  • Who is qualified to participate in a certificate program?

    Individuals who already possess a bachelor’s degree may participate in a certificate program. Even applicants with a bachelor’s degree in an unrelated subject may qualify. Most states require at least a bachelor’s degree to earn state licensure. Competitive certificate programs may only admit learners with a set minimum GPA.

  • What kind of salary or career boost might a certificate provide?

    School districts often provide raises to teachers with additional training and hours. In fact, teachers with just a bachelor’s degree often experience a lower raise cap than professionals with more advanced education. Certificates also allow recipients to switch teaching age groups and subjects entirely or begin their teaching careers.

  • Can I study for a certificate online?

    Yes. Many schools offer fully online certificates. Most schools publish information about online programs on their websites. Prospective students can learn more information by contacting a school’s admissions counselor.


Accreditation

Before selecting an education program, prospective enrollees should ensure it possesses accreditation. Schools and programs with accreditation receive quality assessments from a third-party agency, like the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. The U.S. Department of Education’s Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions features a complete list of accredited teaching programs.

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