Secondary Education Degrees

The middle and high school years are a time of tremendous intellectual and emotional growth. At this stage, students are ready for the more specialized subject area instruction that secondary teachers provide.

As a secondary education teacher, you can help shape the minds of high school students in the particular field of study you went to school for, such as math or English. Teachers in secondary education can even teach biology, chemistry, history or foreign languages. Those who teach secondary school usually have a talent for communicating with young people and embody a natural gift for motivating adolescents to achieve academic excellence.

Learn what it means to become a secondary education teacher, what curriculum and degree you should get based on licensing and other requirements and compare career outlooks and trends in the industry to see if this job is right for you. Below is a list (broken down by state) of all of the secondary education programs we could find, from over 1,700 accredited colleges and universities across the US. Use the quick search above to find the program of your dreams or browse degrees in this field or the grades and subjects you could teach in the menu just below the quick search.

Secondary Education Job Description

Secondary teachers deliver in-depth instruction to students in grades seven to twelve. They typically specialize in a subject area such as math, English, social studies or science. Secondary teachers are responsible for developing and delivering lesson plans, evaluating student achievement, maintaining classroom discipline and communicating student progress to parents and administrators. In addition, they may supervise extracurricular activities, coordinate field trips, and attend staff meetings and in-service training.

For most secondary teachers the schedule is a standard 10 months with two months of summer break. A few schools, though, are open year-round with shorter breaks interspersed throughout the year.

Curriculum for Secondary Education Programs

Core courses designed for your program in secondary education may include classes that are common to all subject areas that teachers require to help their students succeed. Prerequisites may be satisfied by the completion of a specific total of general education courses that are determined by your individual program. In addition, you will have courses that pertain to your major such as teaching science, mathematics, English and other areas of expertise. Your secondary education core courses may include some of the following:


Introduction to Teaching at the Secondary Level

Prospective teachers can learn the organization, selection and the appropriate use of materials that are the most effective in teaching adolescents. An overview of planning lessons, discipline, facilitating class discussions and other methodologies that are necessary for effectual teaching are presented. This course introduces the prospective teacher to the historical perspective of teaching secondary classes and how it has affected current trends in political and economic influences of teaching in America. Aspiring teachers may also discuss personal views and philosophies on the goals and objectives of teaching.

Principles of Learning in Secondary Education

Aspiring teachers may study discipline-specific ideologies that promote effective learning in collaboration, group communication and problem-solving skills. Research-based strategies are presented to assist teachers to reduce barriers to group socialization and effectively promote teamwork in their students with optimal participation and successful assimilation. The course also outlines the common behaviors that cause class disruption and the effective strategies that have been proven to restore a classroom to an organized and helpful learning environment. Research-based methodologies provide prospective teachers with critical thinking skills and valuable resources to maintain a successful classroom.

Psychology of Teaching in the Secondary Classroom

This course examines the brain of the adolescent and how perception of the environment facilitates learning and stimulates motivation. Cognition and language are explored as it pertains to the secondary school student. Prospective teachers may discover how adolescents construct language, mathematical knowledge and scientific thinking. Research and learning theories are presented for the design and evaluation of class curriculum for effectively identifying course objectives, the appropriate level of learners and the effectiveness of learning materials to develop successful strategies for teaching adolescents. Aspiring teachers use research-based psychological methodologies to evaluate the success of their lesson plans and assignments.

Language and Learning Instruction for Adolescents

This course examines theories of reading development for all prospective teachers and regardless of subject concentration. Teachers learn to evaluate the deficits in students' reading, language skills and writing content on an appropriate level. Aspiring teachers may be provided with methods to improve language comprehension, promote better communication and refer students with low language skills for remedial assistance or tutoring. In addition, this course may provide an insight into bilingual instruction and the integration of language, theories of reading development and teaching methods for teachers who instruct students with English as a second language.

Applying Learning Technologies to the Classroom Environment

Qualitative research has clearly shown that adolescents learn more effectively from multi-media driven information and learning technologies as an adjunct to classroom activities. This course presents the diverse learning styles that can be addressed by using software, video streams and other computer-based programs to provide a visual source of interactive learning. Due to home schooling, online virtual high schools and advances in special education, teaching is no longer confined to the classroom. In this course, aspiring teachers achieve a working knowledge of research-based learning technologies and the incorporation of key concepts into distance learning.


Secondary Education Degrees Online

Are you interested in earning an online degree in secondary education? Be prepared to choose a specialty.

Typically, you will choose one or two subject areas to specialize in. You will take advanced courses in this area in order to become qualified to teach the subject, along with your courses in educational psychology, curriculum development and lesson planning. Teachers at the secondary level specialize in subjects including (not limited to):

  • Mathematics
  • English
  • Social sciences
  • History
  • Science, like biology or chemistry
  • Special education

Thus, colleges and universities have developed a wide range of online secondary education programs in various specialties to meet the needs of both new and aspiring secondary teachers. Some of these programs can be completed in as little as 18 months. Others take longer.

While the concentration areas may vary, there are several common components among online secondary education programs including:

  • Courses are delivered via the Internet and supplemented with other Web-based programs such as email, video chats and virtual classrooms
  • Some coursework, such as student assessment and secondary teaching methodology, is common to all specialty areas

How can you tell if a secondary education degree online is high quality? Look for programs accredited by the leading accrediting body for secondary education degrees, the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), or programs affiliated with a professional organization serving your specialty area.

Find Secondary Education Programs by Degree Level

You can begin your career in secondary education with as little as a bachelor's degree, but many teachers continue on to obtain a graduate degree in their field for more job opportunities or higher pay. If you have a degree in another field and wish to now teach in your expertise, an alternative teacher certification may be right for you. Degree programs by level include:

Online Secondary Education Degrees to Consider

With many online programs to choose from, some popular options include the following:

  • Jones International University in Centennial, Colorado, offers online secondary education programs in a variety of specialties, including instructional technology, English as a Second Language and educational leadership. These programs are suitable for current and aspiring teachers.
  • Walden University in Minneapolis also offers online secondary education programs for both current and aspiring teachers. Available concentration areas include adolescent literacy and technology, special education and teacher leadership. There is even a specialization just for educators in the middle (fifth through eighth) grades.
  • Kaplan University offers an online Master of Arts in teaching for aspiring fifth through twelfth-grade teachers that leads to initial certification. There is also a Master of Science in education for current secondary teachers. Other specializations are available in secondary math, science, literacy and instructional technology.

Secondary Ed Licensing and Teaching Requirements

No matter where you live, you will need a license or state certification to be a secondary teacher in a public school. A license may not be required to teach in a private secondary school. Specific licensing and certification requirements vary from state to state, but basic requirements include a bachelor's degree from an approved teacher education program, a passing grade on a competency test, and a student teaching internship. For those with a bachelor's degree in a field other than education, states offer alternative means of licensing. After you attain initial teacher certification, expect to do regular professional development to maintain an active license.


Secondary Education Career Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts secondary teacher employment will grow at 8% between 2016 and 2026, which is just about the average for all occupations (2017). Job prospects vary depending on your geographic location and specialty area.

A study by the American Association for Employment in Education reports that demand will be high for math, science, special education and bilingual education teachers, while there is expected to be a surplus of social studies and physical education teachers (2016). Head to the south and the west, where student enrollment is growing, for the most job opportunities.

According to the Bureau for Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for high school teachers in May 2016 was $58,030 (2017). Secondary teachers can earn additional income by supervising or coaching extracurricular activities, earning a master's in education or advanced certification or becoming an administrator. Expect a smaller salary if you teach in a public school.

Secondary Education Trends

Over the years, learning spaces have shifted as technology is more and more integrated into classrooms. The concept of learning anywhere at anytime is increasing in focus each day and offering new opportunities for learning and global collaboration.

Online learning is a growing education system that leverages technology and is expected to increase in access in mainstream schools across the world in the coming years. Blended learning, which is a mix of face-to-face instruction and web-based learning, also continues to change instructional models by providing data-driven instruction in real-time and opening new possibilities for students to learn.

Technology has also allowed teachers to learn professional development on the go rather than attend seminars for educators. The shift in educator roles in next-gen learning models has required shifts in professional development models as well, so teachers are learning online and participating in hands-on workshops.

Mobile learning for students and adults is also a trend in education, as personal devices are everywhere and provide anytime access to learning opportunities. This field is growing faster than ever on a global level, and mobile learning requires bite-sized pieces of knowledge before moving onto the next stage or level or learning. Online discussion forums and interactive multimedia experiences are expected to be enhanced with more interactions as well.

Secondary Teachers Using Technology in the Classroom

It is no secret that adolescents love technology, and many are extremely immersed in social media and communication. Today's high school classrooms are filled with technology and teachers are finding that computers and multi-media are a huge help in keeping their students engaged and motivated. According to USA Today, bringing technology into the classroom has reduced time constraints and has provided avenues for students to take advantage of learning online.

Teachers can use technology in the classroom to help middle or high school students learn in a variety of ways, including:

  • Virtual or online learning
  • Full-time online schools
  • Blended learning opportunities
  • Educational, web-based resources
  • Digital resources, such as electronic grade books, learning games and digital portfolios

If you want to learn more about pursuing a career in secondary education, use our directory of school listings to request information about programs that accept students in your area. Be sure to compare and request information from multiple programs to make sure you choose one that will help you achieve your goals.

Useful Resources