Best Elementary Education Degrees

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Aristotle said that “All who have meditated on the art of governing mankind have been convinced that the fate of empires depends on the education of youth.”

If what he said is true, then teaching is a noble and necessary art indeed.

Today our schools employ three million teachers and rely on 27,000 programs in 2,000 separate institutions for training teachers. The demands on teachers are growing, and the need for highly-skilled and qualified teachers grows along with it.

And now there are great online options available too. Check out our Best Online Bachelor’s in Elementary Education!

Top 10 Best Elementary Education Degrees

Rank School Location
1 Purdue University West Lafayette, IN
2 Texas A & M University - College Station College Station, TX
3 Marshall University Huntington, WV
4 Louisiana Tech University Ruston, LA
5 The University of Texas at Arlington Arlington, TX
6 University of Wyoming Laramie, WY
7 University of Alaska Fairbanks Fairbanks, AK
8 CUNY Hunter College New York, NY
9 University of Houston Houston, TX
10 University of Southern Mississippi Hattiesburg, MS
Advertisement CollegeChoice.net is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Teachers today prepare 180 lessons a year in a variety of subjects and are with young people for seven hours a day. They are expected to prepare lessons, problem solve, deal individually, lead small groups, facilitate projects, grade papers, meet with parents, and remain positive in the face of opposition.

Not only do elementary teachers face these constant challenges, but within each lesson they must break down the day into smaller segments while managing, in some cases, 30 or more children. The emotional, physical, and mental demands to teach the young requires robust training and moral perseverance.

We have all experienced the good teachers and those . . . not so good. There are teachers that make an impact—who inspire, instruct, discipline, and accompany on the journey we call life. Parents know this when their son or daughter comes home reporting the fun they had in class, and the parent notices this was not mere entertainment, but meaningful learning instilled by a teacher who has mastered the craft.

In hopes to effectively train more teachers in response to the growing need, our colleges and universities are striving to meet the challenge. Many schools are strengthening student teaching, that is the mentor, supervisor, and teacher/candidate’s relationship in the training process because studies show it is perhaps the most vital component.

Others are increasing expectations with higher selection criteria. All are continuing to address which classes are most relevant for effective training and increasing research-based, data-driven, and tech-integrated training. With the help of various national organizations, many institutions are making strides to train smarter, better, and higher-skilled teachers.

The National Council for Teacher Quality 2016 Landscape in Teacher Preparation examined 875 traditional undergraduate elementary programs. Because the demands placed on elementary teachers to teach early reading, social studies, math, literature and more in a structured and loving learning environment, schools were rated in these key areas.

The NCTQ stressed the need for stronger early reading and math preparation, classroom management, and selection criteria for entering programs. Another organization striving to meet the challenge of preparing teachers for the 21st century is the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE).

The AACTE represents more than 800 postsecondary institutions with educator preparation programs dedicated to high-quality, evidence-based preparation that assures educators are ready to teach all learners.

They offer seven key questions to guide research into a program’s effectiveness. We have examined key findings from these institutions and compared Elementary Education programs around the nation.

If you feel called to teach and are looking for a program that will prepare you for the demands of the noble art, you need to choose wisely. At College Choice that is what we’re all about, helping you make a choice that will put you on the path to success.

There are many ways to evaluate teacher education programs: accreditation, testimony, relevant coursework, a strong student teaching experience, and affordability are critical factors. In narrowing down your options, we always recommend a visit to campus, conversations with students, staff, and if possible graduates that went through the program.

Our Top 35 Bachelor’s in Elementary Education ranking is rooted in three criteria scores: a school’s reputation score, calculated using selected categories of statistics from publicly available sources such as U.S. News & World Report, the National Center for Education Statistics, and college websites, an affordability rating using net price calculators, an average early salary (from payscale.com), and specific program ratings from the National Council for Teacher Quality 2016 ranking.

Rankings

See our rankings methodology page.

  1. Purdue University
    Location

    West Lafayette, IN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    “John Purdue believed that education was the flame that lit the world.” Purdue University’s College of Education offers undergraduate majors organized across six colleges with shared curriculum goals and jointly-appointed faculty. The current Dean Maryann Santos commented, “As part of a research-intensive institution, we value rigorous scholarship and discovery.” For undergrads in education who are interested in researching teaching and learning, the College provides the Undergraduate Research Training Program (URT). There is also an Honors Program and Study Abroad opportunities led by College of Education faculty, as well as the ability to complete student teaching in Honduras or Germany. A look at the Elementary Education program reveals relevant coursework and early and frequent field experiences, both vital to outstanding teacher preparation. Specifics of the program include four areas of focus: diversity, technology, field experience, and performance assessment. After completing required coursework and fieldwork, students are eligible for licensure in the State of Indiana. With 43 interstate licensing agreements, graduates will be able to teach almost anywhere in the country. Taken together, with a net price of $7460, an NCTQ rating in the 99th percentile, and an all-around excellent program and reputation, Purdue University ranks #1 on our list.

  2. Texas A & M University - College Station
    Location

    College Station, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Texas A & M University is home to over 64,000 students and countless opportunities to develop talents for just about any career or calling. It is an especially first-rate place to become a teacher. TAMU is a leader in training teachers in many fields, including bilingual education, math, and science. The College of Education & Human Development fulfills the University’s mission to be “dedicated to the discovery, development, communication, and application of knowledge” by offering 19 undergraduate degree programs and seven minors through four academic departments. Responsible for the preparation of teachers, the Teaching, Learning and Culture department places “high value on collaboration, diversity, critical thinking, creativity, democratic governance and global leadership.” This collaboration happens in real time and in the real world if you are preparing to teach. The Elementary Education degree, called the EC-Grade 6 Generalist Certification Program trains teachers through coursework and a “heavily field-based program.” The program is enhanced by the Cultural Diversity requirement for all students, and opportunities for teaching in over 20 faculty-developed international experiences is available. With a respected reputation, an average early salary of $58,500, a NCTQ rating in the 99th percentile, and a net price of $13,700 Texas A & M belongs at the top of the list.

  3. Marshall University
    Location

    Huntington, WV

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The oldest department of Marshall University is the College of Education and Professional Development. Founded as a normal school in 1867, COEPD has been training teachers for well over a century. The School now offers over 20 degrees with 11 special centers with 70 dedicated and experienced faculty to over 3000 students. There are three traditional elementary education degrees: Early Childhood Education, Early Education PreK-K, and Elementary Education K-6. All education degrees include coursework and field experience. Elementary Education candidates spend up to 600 hours during their program of study. Also important is the outstanding early reading training at Marshall, a critically important area of preparation highlighted by research at the NCTQ. Incidentally, the NCTQ scored Marshall’s Elementary Education program in the 98th percentile. In addition to a quality program at MU, there are numerous centers which aim to advance collaboration in service to the the community of learners in West Virginia and those training to educate the youth. To name a few of these outstanding centers: the Appalachian Studies Association, Autism Training Center, COE Research & Policy Center, HEART Tutoring Program, June Harless Center for Rural Education Research and Development, MU Child Development Academy, MU Early Education Center, and MU Early Education Outreach Program.

  4. Louisiana Tech University
    Location

    Ruston, LA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The College of Education at Louisiana Tech University has a tradition of excellence. The C of E is the largest at LTU and is “committed to being a leader in education; a catalyst for learning, research, and action.” The C of E also provides professional development programs and opportunities for teachers, students and administrators. Teachers benefit from SciTec’s NASA Resource Center and the Idea Place center and museum. At-risk students have the Louisiana GEAR Up program, and administrators learn from events such Law Day to stay updated and informed on important legal concerns. The Elementary Education degree at LTU is nationally recognized by the Association for Childhood Education International (ACEI). There are three programs in Elementary Education: Early Childhood Pre-K-3, Elementary Education 1-5, and Elementary Special Education. All the programs consist of 120-130 credit hours and field work in local schools with mentor teachers. When the program is completed, students are given additional help and resources to pass the PRAXIS exam required for state licensure through LTU’s College of Education PRAXIS Academy. With a net price of $8,905 and average early salary of $53,900, the investment also makes good financial sense.

  5. The University of Texas at Arlington
    Location

    Arlington, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The College of Education (CoEd) fits right into The University of Texas at Arlington’s Strategic Plan 2020 mission “to be a global leader of excellence in the education sciences.” The estimated $63 million in economic impact is commendable, and if trends remain, growth will be significant in the coming years. Teacher training at UTA is rooted in evidence-based instruction, outstanding educational supports, and sound leadership. All instruction, programs, services, and staff are guided by the Partners for the Future initiative. This focuses on “fostering critical, creative thinkers” through three core areas: Professionalism, Knowledge, and Leadership. All of these enterprises equates to a reputation of training teachers who understand what it takes in our society to be successful. The CoEd offers Elementary Education Bilingual and ESL for Pre-K-6 and the Middle-Level Education Program which consists of three tracks: 4-8 English Language Arts and Reading and Social Studies, 4-8 Math and Science, and 4-8 Generalist. Since the net price is $11,742 and the average early salary is $60,600 the return on investment is amazing. Combined with a solid reputation and NCTQ ranking of the 97th percentile, this top-ranked elementary education program deserves a high ranking.

  6. University of Wyoming
    Location

    Laramie, WY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The University of Wyoming has been providing young men and women a quality education since 1886. Recognizing the need to train teachers for our diverse and globalized society, the University created the Wyoming Teacher Education Program (WTEP). Providing an Elementary Education degree with a choice of four concentrations and the potential to add an endorsement is attractive. Concentrations include Interdisciplinary Early Childhood, Creative Arts, International Education Studies/American Cultural Diversity, and Environmental Studies. Coupled with a net price of $12,148 and a great reputation, University of Wyoming demands consideration if you’re called to teach. The program is 120 credit-hours with courses in general university studies and professional studies such as content pedagogy. Lastly, something important to consider when choosing a school’s teacher program is the school’s philosophy of field experience. Most programs have this as a component, but digging a little deeper reveals the quality. For example, at UW the College ensures that students are assigned to master teachers in districts designated as Professional Learning Communities, or PLC's. Sheer hours are necessary but not sufficient for student teaching success. Time musts be combined with strategic and quality placement. When considering all the angles, UW’s Elementary Education program stacks up as one of the best in the nation.

  7. University of Alaska Fairbanks
    Location

    Fairbanks, AK

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The University of Alaska Fairbanks enrolls 10,000 students, mostly from Alaska. Due to the unique cultural, linguistic, historical and geographic features of Alaska, the education and training of teachers is honed for helping local communities. Having excellent relationships with local schools and partnerships for mentor teachers gives students the best training that Alaska offers. For an affordable net price of $8,741, a high score of the 99th percentile from NCTQ, and an average early salary of $42,700, the UAF degree is respected and valuable. Specific program details include four components: general UAF core course such as Native Cultures of Alaska, specific courses designed for elementary educators such as Child Psychology, integrated courses and fieldwork in preparation for the capstone year-long internship, and the capstone itself that pairs candidates with proven mentor teachers. All these components fulfill the requirements of the Alaska Teacher Standards for Preparing Culturally Responsive Teachers as well as standards set by the Association for Childhood Education International (ACEI) and the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).

  8. CUNY Hunter College
    Location

    New York, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Founded in 1870 and serving more than 23,000 students, CUNY Hunter College knows how to educate. Continuing Hunter’s reputation for quality in all endeavors, the School of Education offers numerous degrees. Since all students in any education field are required to fulfill requirements for a liberal arts or sciences major in addition to the specific education training requirements, graduates are indeed knowledgeable. These high academic expectations make the Hunter College School of Education vision of training “deeply thoughtful, knowledgeable and highly effective teachers” reality. To meet the ever-present demand for effective elementary teachers, the School of Education offers two elementary options: Early Childhood Education (PreK-2) and The Quality Urban Elementary School Teacher (QUEST) program (grades 1-6). Both programs lead to certification as a teacher in New York. In the critical area of student teaching, Hunter ranks high. According to NCTQ the program provides regularly spaced intervals of observation, clearly communicates to school districts the desired characteristics of cooperating teachers, and asserts its critical role in selection of cooperating teachers. For a net price of $10,944 and an average early salary coming in at $46,900, students will be pleased with the return on investment.

  9. University of Houston
    Location

    Houston, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The diverse and growing city of Houston requires highly trained and professional educators. The College of Education at the University of Houston meets the challenge, and the Dean of the College, Robert H. McPherson is leading the way. He was recently invited by the Council of Academic Deans from the Research Education Institution to help promote high standards for educator preparation. The University’s education of teachers is gaining national attention. One unique idea, especially if you are a student in Houston considering teaching, is Teach Forward Houston. This program is a partnership between the Houston Independent School District and University of Houston to bring students back into the classroom upon their college graduation. The motivation is free tuition in exchange for teaching four years in the HISD after graduation. At U of H, students seeking to teach elementary school earn a B.S. in Teaching & Learning and then receive certification through the Teacher Education Program in Early Childhood generalist, EC Bilingual Generalist, EC-12 Special Education, English, Language Arts, Reading 4-8, Math 4-8, Social Studies/ History 4-8, or Science 4-8. In 2007, the Program was honored as the Distinguished Program in Teacher Education by the Association of Teacher Educators.

  10. University of Southern Mississippi
    Location

    Hattiesburg, MS

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The University of Southern Mississippi has been training teachers for over 100 years. This breadth of experience gives students studying to be educators at USM a distinct advantage. All the education programs are accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). Students in the College of Education abide by the Education Code of Ethics and the Standards for Professional Practices. Since Southern Mississippi is known for the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection, one of North America’s leading research centers in children’s literature, students who choose to earn an Elementary Education degree benefit from more than just classes. Nationally recognized by the Association for Childhood Education International (ACEI), and ranked high by the NCTQ, the undergraduate Elementary Education degree is top-notch. Those who complete the requirements (and licensure) are qualified to teach K-6 and can be endorsed in one content area and a reading endorsement for Mississippi. To earn an additional endorsement requires 21 hours in either English, Social Studies, Foreign Language, Math, or Science. Like many other programs, a student teaching experience is the capstone, and at Southern Mississippi, students spend a minimum of 30 hours in observation and practicum experiences before their 16 weeks of student teaching. choose to earn an Elementary Education degree benefit from more than just classes.

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