What Kinds of Teaching and Education Specializations Are There?

Are you ready to find your fit?

A teacher’s tasks may include helping young children build basic literacy skills or preparing high school seniors for college and the workforce. Educators can pursue specializations to train for niche career paths.

Common specializations for teaching degree-seekers include elementary education, which trains students for positions in elementary schools, and secondary education, which prepares students to teach in middle schools and high schools. Each specialization offers focused coursework that meets licensure and endorsement requirements.

Teaching majors can also specialize in a subject area, such as language arts, math, social studies, or science. Other education degree-seekers focus on special education, educational administration, or early childhood education. This guide explores teaching and education specializations to help learners choose the best path for their teaching career.


  • What is teacher specialization?

    Teachers can specialize in a grade level, subject, or other educational area. Specializations prepare educators for focused teaching careers.

  • How do I choose a teaching specialization?

    Education majors often select a specialization during their undergraduate studies. After taking foundational courses, teaching degree-seekers may choose a specialization such as elementary education or special education.

  • What is subject specialization?

    Subject specializations qualify educators to teach a particular topic. For example, a math specialization prepares individuals to teach mathematics at the middle school or high school level.

  • Can a teacher teach any subject?

    Teachers at the secondary level need subject-specific training. Educators must often obtain an endorsement in their teaching subject.

Why Choose a Teaching and Education Specialty?

Individuals who choose a career in teaching may educate students with special needs, develop curricula, or teach high school classes. This section introduces some of the many personal and professional benefits of pursuing a teaching specialty.

Focused Training
Students earning an education specialty receive focused training to prepare for a specific career path. For example, learners can pursue specialties to prepare for careers as elementary school teachers or special education teachers.
Individuals who take specialized courses during their teaching degree often qualify to add endorsements to their teaching license. Each state sets unique requirements for endorsements.
Career Specialization
Earning a teaching specialty can help current educators secure specialized roles, such as instructional coordinator, preschool director, and principal. Educators may also pursue a subject specialization to qualify for jobs teaching certain topics, such as science and math.
Advancement Opportunities
Earning a specialization often leads to career advancement for educators. For example, an instruction and curriculum specialty can qualify teachers for leadership positions in the classroom or in school administration.
Increased Earning Potential
Some specializations and degrees correlate with higher earning potential. For example, educators can earn a master’s in educational leadership to qualify for administrative roles, such as school principal. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, principals earn a median salary of $96,400 per year.

Teaching and Education

Teaching and Education Specializations

Teaching degree-seekers can choose from various specializations. Also known as a concentration or track, specializations prepare learners for teaching careers in certain areas of the field.

Aspiring educators can specialize in a particular grade level or subject. Education majors can also focus on an area such as special education, curriculum and instruction, or assessment and measurement. Other students specialize in educational administration to prepare for leadership positions.

This section introduces common specializations for students pursuing an education degree. Additional specializations for education majors include educational leadership, higher education administration, and educational technology.

Elementary Education

Learners pursuing an elementary education specialty prepare to teach kindergarten through fifth grade. Elementary education degree-seekers learn how to educate young students in core subjects including math, reading, and writing. Learners take courses in literacy acquisition, elementary assessment, and lesson planning.

Elementary education coursework also emphasizes methods for supporting students through social and emotional learning. Degree-seekers learn how to create supportive, inclusive classroom environments. Graduates often pursue a teaching license with an elementary education endorsement.

Secondary Education

Specializing in secondary education prepares learners to become middle school and high school teachers. Degree-seekers complete education coursework and classes in their teaching area. Secondary education curricula typically includes courses in instructional strategies, classroom management, and assessment.

Learners also study an area such as math, science, history, or English. Graduates generally pursue an endorsement and teach a specific subject. Most secondary education programs feature a student-teaching experience, during which learners fulfill licensure requirements and receive hands-on classroom training.

Special Education

Special education students prepare to teach students with disabilities. Learners study research-based strategies for educating students with mental, behavioral, and developmental disabilities.

Curricula typically prepare learners to teach core subjects, create inclusive classroom environments, and educate diverse students. Many programs include a student-teaching experience, classroom observation, and training in diagnostic assessment and behavior management. Degree-seekers may also take specialized courses for teaching students with autism.

Curriculum and Instruction

Current educators often pursue a curriculum and instruction specialization to advance their skills or secure administrative roles, such as instructional coordinator. Degree-seekers study instructional techniques, curriculum design and implementation, and educational leadership.

Coursework introduces learners to educational research in instruction and curriculum development. Degree-seekers also examine best practices for assessing student learning, reviewing educational materials, and implementing curricula. Some programs incorporate a student-teaching experience.

Assessment and Measurement

Students who specialize in assessment and measurement develop strong research and analytical skills. Learners explore statistical analysis in education, research design, and educational measurement. Coursework in quantitative and qualitative analysis trains learners to design and conduct educational research.

Degree-seekers also examine testing procedures and validity analysis. Theoretical courses explore approaches to educational assessment and measurement. Graduates often work in educational program evaluation, learning outcome assessment, and large-scale testing.

Best Online Master's in Assessment and Measurement Degrees

Online College Resources

Most Affordable Online Business Degrees 2021

Most Affordable Online Business Degrees 2021

May 28, 2021   |   CollegeChoice Staff

Earning an online business degree can lead to a variety of new career opportunities. Here, we list this year's most affordable online business degree programs.

Best Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Mechanical Engineering

Best Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Mechanical Engineering

April 26, 2021   |   CollegeChoice Staff

Mechanical engineers design items such as car parts and electrical wiring. These online engineering degrees can give you the tools to thrive in this industry.