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Bachelors in Education Programs

With a bachelor's degree in education, you could teach the leaders of tomorrow. A bachelor's degree takes an average of four years to complete, and can lead to a rewarding career teaching early childhood, elementary, middle or secondary school education. You could also further specialize by focusing on special education, music education, physical education or other paths.

Interested in learning the benefits of teaching, as well as the ins and outs of what exactly it takes to become an educator? Read on and find out if getting a bachelor's degree in education is the right choice for you!

Benefits of Becoming a Teacher

Teachers help children of all ages to learn and understand concepts of different subjects, and to help develop their students' critical thinking skills. Teachers can learn to effectively design curriculum, plan lessons and assign projects that target the learning abilities of their students. A bachelor's degree in education can provide you with the insights, science and knowledge to provide the best possible learning environments for your students.

As a teacher, you can experience the personal rewards of shaping and changing the lives of your students. With a unique autonomy as a professional, you can design and implement your curriculum according to your own style, personality and creativity. Teachers are lifelong learners and maintain a sense of openness and understanding throughout their lives. As a teacher, you may spend more time with your own family, have summer vacations and enjoy a stable salary.

Teaching children of all different cultural and social backgrounds requires a special insight, perception and proven methods of instruction. A bachelors in education can provide you with the knowledge, tools and methods to be an effective educator. In addition, your own family can benefit from your critical thinking skills and effectual approach to children.

Bachelor's Degree in Education Requirements

To apply for a bachelor's degree in education program, you may need the following:

  • Application for the specific school
  • A high school diploma or equivalent (transcripts may be requested to show your grades)
  • Minimum GPA of 2.5 (sometimes 3.0)
  • ACT/SAT scores that meet minimum skills requirements in reading, writing and math as set by the school
  • Personal statement or essay consisting of why you want to be a teacher
  • Letters of recommendation

Once admitted, you may be required to do an internship or complete teaching practicum hours to gain hands-on experience in a real classroom setting. Some schools may also require that you volunteer for at least 10 hours in a K-12 classroom. A teaching internship may help you get hired after graduation and form relationships with mentors in your field.

Most traditional colleges and universities require at least 120 credit hours to complete a bachelor's degree, which means it may take you around four years to graduate. Your undergraduate education may provide you with a broad liberal arts education in addition to a firm foundation in teaching practices and expertise.

Education Degree Types

Whether you want to become a school principal, college administrator or teacher, there are many degrees in education that can suit your career path. If you plan to teach in a public school, for example, you will need to pass certain courses. Here are the most common types of education degrees:

  • Early Childhood Education – Teachers in this specialty teach children between two and five years of age. Many states don't require this specific degree specialty to work in the field; however, it's recommended to do so to learn the teaching methods catered to this age group.
  • Elementary Education – Prepare you to teach in grade K-6, sometimes K-8, depending on the program, state and school. You will learn to teach multiple subjects, from math to reading and science as well as child development and curriculum building.
  • Secondary Education (high school) – Because high school teachers only cover one subject, you will teach grades 8-12 in the major you select to teach (English, science, physical education, history, music or art). In addition to the education you'd gain in an elementary specialty, you may also learn adolescent development. If you want to teach art or music, you may find a teacher education program that covers K-12.
  • Special Education – Unlike other degree types, special education programs focus on a specific grade, age range, disability level and disability type so that you can connect with students who have autism spectrum disorders or speech and language impairments. Most degrees offered are K-12 education programs.

Content and Pedagogy: The Two Main Aspects of Your Teacher Prep Program

As an undergraduate student, learning to become a teacher will involve education courses that cover both content and pedagogy. In other words, you will learn both what to teach and how to teach it.

  • Content Knowledge: Experts agree that deep content knowledge is a must for effective teaching. This knowledge includes the subject matter you will teach (mathematics, Spanish, biology, etc.) as well as the concepts and theories of teaching that subject matter. 
  • Pedagogy: This is the body of skills that teachers must develop to know how to teach. As an undergraduate, you will learn how to develop and deliver effective instruction to students in both individual and group settings. Learning how students best process and retain information is critical, as is the methodology for designing creative lessons that engage students and develop them into reflective, critical thinkers and problem solvers.

Bachelor of Education Courses

All states require that teachers have a bachelor's degree, but requirements for general education courses are state-defined and are typically comprised of studies in science, sociology and psychology. Core educational courses generally focus on learning theories, research and assessment. However, your chosen degree concentration in the specific area of education that reflects your interest will define the major of your degree. Teachers may specialize in early childhood & elementary secondary, vocational training or special education.

Your core classes that lead to the completion of your degree in education may include some of the following:

  • Introduction to Education describes the historical, sociological and philosophical concepts that form the theory and objectives of effective learning
  • Human Development and Psychology examine how children and adolescents explore their world, learn concepts and form ideas
  • Teaching Methods to promote literacy focus on the cognitive development and how oral skills, language and information is processed by the brain
  • Learning Theories can provide prospective teachers with the ability to design and assess effective curriculum and assignments
  • Foundations and Assessment of Special Education helps aspiring teachers to identify learning disabilities and adapt programs and learning styles for children with special needs
  • Technology Courses may focus on multi-media for learning in the classroom and distance learning via the internet

Online Bachelor's in Education Programs

Online bachelor's degree programs in education are relatively rare, probably because they often require a student-teaching component in a brick-and-mortar school, which can be difficult to coordinate with an online institution that may be headquartered hundreds of miles away. If you're considering becoming a teacher, online programs should include a very strong student-teaching component.

Be sure to take into consideration the following: Does the school arrange student teaching sites for you, or is that responsibility left up to you?

If you've completed some work toward a bachelor's degree already, or if you've taken courses at a community college, do some of those credits transfer towards your bachelor's in education? Check on the status of your existing credits with any institution you are considering.

Before enrolling in an online education degree, you'll want to research the school's overall academic reputation to decide whether it's a good fit for you. If you know you learn best in a classroom setting, a traditional degree program might be a better fit. But if convenience is a priority, and you work well in situations that require you to be self-motivated, then an online BA in education studies might be up your alley.

Becoming a Teacher Online

An online bachelor's degree in education is a big commitment, often taking several years to complete and costing thousands of dollars. Make sure you know the reputation of the schools you're considering. Some things you should consider include:

FIND SCHOOLS

Teacher Certification or Licensure

In addition to your Bachelor of Education degree, all teachers are required to be certified or licensed through specific state-defined requirements. Core courses in the program will focus on the information and knowledge that you will need to pass the required licensure. Basically, your assessments show what you have learned.

After graduation, you will need to become certified in the state you wish to teach. Teacher certification requirements vary by state, but nearly all state requirements are covered by a well-rounded bachelor's degree in teaching. This includes your education courses, student teaching experience and passed state-mandated teaching exams.

Because each state has different requirements, you must become licensed in the state you wish to teach, and this license is usually not transferrable across states unless you have permanent or national licensure. If you move across states, you can provisionally transfer your license, but you will need to earn the new state's license. In some states, the process of transferring state certification is easier than others.

State licensure will allow you to teach in private or public schools. You may also need to pass a teaching exam, such as the PRAXIS, and national certification requirements before you can become licensed to teach in your state.

Teaching Licenses for Specific Subjects/Grades

If you plan to teach early childhood education, special education or secondary school, you may also need certification in the subject you wish to teach. Some states may also require you to renew your teaching credentials after one to three years. Additional requirements need to be met to apply for a permanent credential to continue teaching afterward, such as the National Board Certification. Earning your National Board Certification may enable you to transfer your certification between states easier and even access a higher salary.

Teacher License Renewal

Teaching is a profession that requires continuous learning to maintain your certification, and requirements depend on the state. Some states may require you to renew your license every two years whereas others may remain valid for five years. You may be required to take college courses to maintain your professional certificate or meet other renewal requirements, but many states will often apply these toward a Master's in Education degree.

There are many ways to obtain continuing education credits. In some districts, professional development offered as part of a teacher's contractual requirements will count toward the required hours a teacher must earn, but most teachers will need to look beyond their school's offerings to earn enough credits to recertify. In addition, many states have different requirements for the number of hours one must spend in subject-based courses versus English as Second language and/or Special Education content areas. A handy chart to see just how many hours – and in what areas – you will need is available here.

Among the continuing education options for teachers, one of the most convenient and popular choices is taking online courses. Some online courses are free, while others range from affordable to downright pricey. Other options for continuing education include on-site workshops, some of which are offered during the summer months when teachers tend to have more flexibility. Whatever professional development you decide upon, it's important to remember that the cost of these programs does not necessarily dictate value, so it's worth shopping around.

Where Will I be Able to Teach After I Get my Bachelor's in Education?

Each state has its own set of certification requirements that allow you to be a teacher. Check and compare each state's requirements on how teaching licenses can be applied before you select a school to attend. When choosing between schools, ask about the certification process for the state(s) you want to teach in after you complete your Bachelor of Education. Many states have "reciprocity agreements" with other states, which means that if you are certified to teach in State #1, then State #2 will allow you to teach there as well, without having to go through another certification process. The school and the state's Department of Education can give you more information on this.

This conversation can also help you determine what focus or degree is best. If you want to work with young kids, maybe you need a Bachelor of Science in elementary education. If you want to work in administration or with all ages, you might look for a BA in education studies. Check to see what your state requires so you can choose from colleges that offer teaching degrees that fit your goals.

Costs and Funding for Your Bachelor's in Education Degree

According to the most recent figures released by the National Center for Education Statistics, four-year bachelor's degree programs range from $8,309 for public, in-state tuition to $27,963 for tuition at private, for-profit institutions. These numbers do not include room and board, which typically run about $10,000 annually.

Luckily, there are many scholarship and financial aid opportunities for bachelor's in education students. Here are just a few:

  • FAFSA: This is the gold standard and first stop in your search for financial aid. This federal financial aid tool will get you started in your quest for grants, scholarships, loans and work-study benefits.
  • Loan Forgiveness Programs: There are several programs that "forgive" or eliminate student loan debt for teachers under certain conditions. Although these programs vary, most require teachers to work a minimum of five years in high-need subjects (such as math and science) and serve low-income students.
  • Private scholarship options: These are also available if you know where to look! Our database has an extensive selection of searchable scholarships with a specific emphasis on education majors.

Tips to Find a Bachelor's in Education Program

There are many factors you will want to consider when searching for the best bachelor's in education program. Among the first may be location – are you willing to make a move to attend the school of your dreams, or do you need to find something close to home?  Do you want to look for a traditional school where most of your classes will be on campus, or is an online option more your style? Keep in mind that online programs have similar acceptance rates to traditional schools.

You also want to make sure your chosen program, whether online or traditional, is accredited, a distinction given to colleges and universities that maintain certain quality standards. The U.S. Department of Education maintains a searchable database of accredited schools here.

You will then need to research the graduation and job placement rates of the program, the quality of the teaching faculty, as well as the practicum experience (student teaching policies) of its students. Most schools maintain websites that offer this information, as well as features that make their programs unique.

Once you've found a school that appears to be a good fit, reach out to the admissions office. Many schools offer on-campus informational sessions, and some even feature online webinars, where prospective students can ask questions and learn more about the school.

The Outlook for Teachers with a Bachelor's in Education

Job growth among teachers is good. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment for high school teachers is expected to increase by 8% from 2016-2026. Most teaching jobs across grade levels are expected to increase around the same rate (7-8 percent), with the need for preschool teachers expected to increase the most at 10% by 2026 (BLS, 2017).

Teacher's pay varies by grade level, subject area and degree level. Jobs for teachers with a bachelor's in education commonly include:

After you have successfully completed a bachelor's degree in your specialized area and have taken your licensure, you can pursue a limitless array of opportunities. Teachers work in all areas of public schools that include pre-school, elementary, secondary and in administrative roles such as a principal, academic advisor and school counselor positions. Teachers can also elect to take advantage of other opportunities at private or public schools such as:

  • Montessori schools or Phoenix Children's Academy
  • Vocational and occupation programs that focus on a special skill
  • Curriculum design and evaluation specialist
  • Program assessment and accountability specialist
  • Charter schools for the gifted or for special needs
  • Specialize as a math, science, technology or language teacher
  • Vocational teacher in post-secondary education for high school or adult students

The job growth for teachers at all levels is expected to increase at about the national level over the coming years. The BLS projects 1.9 million teaching job openings by 2024, with preschool teachers expecting the highest projected job growth (2017). According to a US News article, investing in preschool teachers now by giving them higher wages is a hot topic right now. Most preschool teachers are paid lower salaries, which is why many teachers begin their careers in early childhood education and work their way up into other grade levels as they earn bachelor's degrees (2018). Investing in early childhood teachers now, thus, becomes a way to invest in the future of our country and our children.  

Learn more about earning your bachelor's in education by requesting information from the schools on this page!