What Kinds of Degrees Are Available in Teaching and Education?

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Teaching and education degrees prepare learners to create lesson plans, deliver lectures, and develop instructional materials. Degree-seekers learn to assess student progress and help students achieve academic success.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects education, training, and library occupations to grow 5% from 2018 to 2028. When it comes to teaching degree salary, the BLS reports that high school teachers earned a median annual salary of $60,320 in 2018. For individuals with a teaching degree, salary potential varies based on education level and experience.

Associate Degree in Teaching and Education

An associate degree in teaching and education typically requires 60 credits, which most students complete in two years. Associate-level curricula in the field usually comprise about 40 general education credits and 20 major credits. Education coursework typically explores principles of education, learning theory, classroom management, and psychology of childhood.

Most associate programs do not lead to state licensure or certification. While associate degree-holders cannot qualify for jobs that require state licensure, individuals can pursue other positions immediately after graduation. With a two-year teaching and education degree, graduates can work as home school teachers, private school teachers, Bible study teachers, teaching aides, and substitute teachers. Those who plan to teach in public schools should continue to a four-year program after earning their associate degree.

Bachelor’s Degree in Teaching and Education

A bachelor’s degree in teaching and education typically requires 120 credits, and full-time students usually graduate in four years. Graduates can transfer their associate degree to a four-year school and earn their bachelor’s in two additional years.

Education departments typically offer majors in focus areas, such as elementary education, early childhood education, middle school education, and special education. Education students often specialize in a specific subject, such as social science, history, English, math, or biology. Learners often choose elective courses in their subject area.

Most bachelor’s degrees in education meet requirements for state licensure, including student teaching hours. Potential careers for graduates with a bachelor’s in education include K-12 teacher, K-12 curriculum coordinator, and special education teacher.

Master’s Degree in Teaching and Education

A master’s degree in education requires 30 credits and typically takes 1-2 years to complete. Graduate options for education students include master’s degrees in curriculum and instruction, teaching, and educational leadership.

A master’s degree can lead to career advancement for educators. For example, graduates with a master of education often become school principals. Some master’s programs help students transition to teaching from a different field. Learners with no teaching experience can pursue a master of arts in teaching to gain the skills and specialized knowledge they need to teach a specific subject or grade level.

Professionals with a master’s degree in teaching and education often become school principals, district superintendents, curriculum designers, and education policy analysts.

Doctoral Degree in Teaching and Education

Learners pursuing a doctoral degree in teaching and education earn either a doctor of education (Ed.D.) or a doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) in education. An Ed.D. program is ideal for individuals who plan to pursue educational leadership roles, while a Ph.D. program prepares learners for careers in academia.

Ed.D. programs typically include practice-based curricula. Students learn to leverage research to implement practical solutions that affect change in educational organizations and institutions. Ph.D. program curricula prepare students to conduct research and teach at the postsecondary level.

Doctoral programs typically require four to six years. Ph.D. students often take courses in education policy and program evaluation, applied data analysis, qualitative research, and learning and management. Ed.D. programs may include coursework in educational leadership and public relations, supervision of instruction, and school finance and management.

Certificate in Teaching and Education

Most certificates in teaching and education are available at the graduate level and require 12-15 credits. Unlike state certifications, certificates are typically available from schools and private organizations and are not sufficient to qualify holders to practice. State certification generally requires a bachelor’s degree and a certain number of student teaching hours.

Graduate certificates in education often provide expertise in a specialized teaching area. Certificate programs usually take less than a year to complete. Educators can earn certificates in areas such as college teaching, educational leadership, instructional design, and educational technology.

Students with a master’s degree in an unrelated field, such as biology or fine arts, may obtain a certificate in teaching to qualify for a lecturer position at a community college. Certificate programs can also help educators gain specific skills, such as designing online learning environments.

How does a certificate differ from a degree?

Certificate programs require specialized coursework in a certain area, while degrees are more comprehensive and include both general education courses and major classes. Certificate programs generally require 12-15 credits and often take less than one year to complete. Degrees require 30-120 credits and can take 1-7 years to obtain. Teachers cannot substitute a certificate for a degree, but certificates can lead to additional career opportunities.

Why would someone who has a degree choose a certificate program?

Certificate programs often help educators gain new skills, develop competencies in a specialization area, or transition to a new field. For example, a teacher who wants to become a curriculum coordinator or designer may earn a certificate in educational technology or curriculum and instruction. Similarly, an educator who wants to advance to administrative or executive positions may pursue a certificate in educational leadership.

Who is qualified to participate in a certificate program?

Most certificate programs in the field are designed for students who hold a bachelor’s degree and who are eligible to take graduate-level courses. Applicants to certificate programs do not usually need to submit standardized test scores, such as GRE or GMAT scores. However, applicants must typically hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and may need to meet GPA requirements.

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

A certificate can lead to career advancement in the form of a promotion or additional job opportunities. For example, a certificate in educational leadership may qualify educators to pursue high-level positions such as museum education coordinator and community education manager. A certificate cannot take the place of state licensure or certification. Some positions, such as school principal and district superintendent, require state licensure.

Additional Accreditation and Licensing to Consider in Teaching and Education

Beyond the school-wide accreditation offered, what other accrediting organizations may be available for a teaching and education program?

In addition to regional accreditation, students can look for accreditation from a field-specific agency. These specialized accreditors evaluate education programs and departments. The most well-known accrediting agency in the field is the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation, which holds recognition from the U.S. Department of Education and accredits undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs. The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education also awards accreditation to teaching and education programs.

Once a teaching or education degree has been attained, what additional licensing may be available?

Teachers must hold state licensure or certification to teach in their grade level or specialty area. Individuals can obtain state certifications in areas including early childhood education, elementary education, and special education. Candidates for licensure or certification must hold a bachelor’s degree, meet student teaching or supervised practicum requirements, and pass an exam. Many states also require principals to have a license. Candidates for this credential must typically hold a master’s degree, meet teaching requirements, and pass an exam. Licensure and certification requirements vary by state.

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