Education Degree Programs: Certificates, Majors & Important Info You Need to Know
Gain the skills to become an educator with an Education degree program. Learn practical strategies for classroom instruction, assessment practices, professional growth and development, and more.
Are you considering a career in education? If so, you’re not alone. Every year, thousands of students in the United States apply for education and teaching programs.
With this number growing each year, it is clear that there is a demand for these programs as they offer students a chance to gain the skills and knowledge necessary for a successful career in teaching.
This article will explore the variety of education and teaching programs accessible to you, the skills they offer to teach you, and the potential job opportunities awaiting.
Let’s delve into what these unique offerings have in store for your future!
What are Education Degree Programs?
Education degree programs are designed for aspiring teachers who want to gain the skills and knowledge needed to teach in elementary, middle, or high school settings.
Higher education programs are designed for aspiring college administrators, instructors, curriculum developers, college advisors, and other related professions. These programs often include courses on curriculum development, educational theory, assessment strategies, classroom management techniques, and the legal aspects of teaching.
You can also take advantage of the unique opportunity to apply your knowledge and gain invaluable experience by teaching real classes with faculty support.
Education degree programs are available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, leading to a Certificate, BS degree, MS degree, or Doctorate. Additionally, some of these courses may qualify you for certification for teaching k-12th grade – which public or private schools often require.
Education degree programs offer a chance to understand the profession, develop the skills required to become an effective teacher, and prepare for licensure in your state.
Skills You'll Learn from Education Degree Programs
An education program prepares you for success by allowing you to practice and hone important abilities such as lesson planning, classroom management, assessment, and communication.
By applying these critical competencies in real-world settings, you can gain hands-on experience and valuable insights into the teaching profession.
Some of the top skills you’ll learn include:
- Curriculum development: Understanding how to create effective lesson plans and materials aligned with state standards.
- Classroom management: Learning how to create a positive classroom environment and effectively manage student behavior.
- Assessment techniques: Using various formative and summative assessment tools to measure student learning and progress.
- Pedagogy: Understanding the best practices and theories in teaching and how to apply them in the classroom.
- Technology integration: Knowing how to use technology in the classroom to enhance student learning and engagement.
One of the main benefits of completing an education degree program is that it prepares you for a rewarding career in teaching or the education field in general. By studying a program in the field of Teaching and Education, you’ll learn about the fundamentals of education and how to engage with students effectively.
Another benefit is that it allows you to gain hands-on experience working with students from diverse backgrounds. Through internships or other fieldwork experiences, you can apply what you have learned in the program directly to real-life situations.
Completing the degree provides an opportunity for personal growth and development as well. As you progress through your program, you build confidence and gain insight into your leadership style while developing problem-solving abilities as you encounter various challenges.
Exploring the Majors of Criminal Justice Degree Programs
Education and teaching is a broad field with endless opportunities to make an impact on the lives of students. From kindergarten to college, this field offers many specialized majors that can prepare you for a wide variety of careers.
Let’s look at some of the most common majors in Education and Teaching and what they offer!
The Child Development major is an excellent option for individuals who want to work with children from birth through adolescence. It focuses on researching and understanding how children learn and develop.
Students enrolled in this major will comprehensively understand child psychology and development and learn about child health and safety, family dynamics, and educational strategies for working with children.
An Education major prepares students for various occupations related to teaching or instructing. You’ll develop skills related to effective communication methods between students and teachers; lesson planning; classroom management; assessment practices; effective use of technology; diversity awareness; curriculum development; and more.
This major also provides an understanding of educational theories and processes so you can become adept at identifying learning challenges among your students while providing appropriate interventions when needed.
An Elementary Education major focuses on preparing graduates for careers as elementary school teachers who usually teach K-8 grade levels.
In this program, you learn about early childhood education theories and techniques for developing lesson plans that meet the needs of all learners, including those with special needs or disabilities.
A K-12 education major is designed for those wishing to teach children from kindergarten through 12th grade—this type of major covers topics such as classroom management, curriculum development, and educational theory.
You will gain knowledge of pedagogy, research methods, and assessment techniques used in elementary school classrooms throughout the United States.
The secondary education major is designed for those who wish to teach grades 6-12. This major focuses on educating teenagers and young adults on math, science, literature, history, geography, economics, and more.
You will learn about lesson planning techniques and the appropriate use of technology in the classroom. You will also gain an awareness of adolescent psychology better to understand teenage students’ needs and learning styles.
Majoring in higher education is an excellent choice for those who want to pursue a career in education beyond the K-12 level. This degree prepares you for leadership roles in higher education institutions such as colleges and universities.
The program allows you to seek new possibilities or develop your career in postsecondary settings, regardless of your interests in administration, teaching, student services, or other areas of higher education.
If you choose Higher Education, you can also specialize in your degree to gain the necessary experience in one or more of the following areas:
- College administration – ideal for those seeking to assume leadership roles, such as college president, provost, or dean.
- College teaching is well-suited for students who aspire to become professors or lecturers at universities and colleges.
- Student affairs – a field that involves working closely with students outside the classroom, providing services in areas like housing, counseling, and student activities.
What does the course curriculum look like in Education Degree Programs?
The course curriculum in education degree programs varies depending on the school and the program, but most curricula include a combination of core classes, electives, and specialized courses.
These curriculums provide an invaluable foundation in education through coursework, hands-on learning, and independent projects.
We will explore the typical course curriculum for education degree programs, including examples of some core classes students will take.
Educational Leadership Course
This course explores the notion of instructional leadership and investigates techniques for managing change in educational environments, providing best practices to bolster collaborative decision-making.
Through this journey, you will critically analyze your current knowledge base, competencies, and authority to self-improve while elevating your self-awareness through reflection.
Child & Adolescent Development Course
This course takes an in-depth look at human growth and development from conception to adolescence. You will be able to investigate physical, psychosocial, and cognitive aspects of growth and advancement through both theoretical analyses as well as practical applications.
Furthermore, you will also discuss the influence that family dynamics and society have on a person’s development, along with cultural and moralistic disparities.
Teaching and Learning in the Elementary Classroom Course
In this course, you will become acquainted with the approaches to instruction and assessment and learn about theories that support learning and motivation.
You’ll also explore children’s physical, social, emotional, and cognitive characteristics, develop methods of designing instruction to meet various learner needs, and gain insight into an educator’s professional code of ethical conduct.
Classroom Management Course
Classroom Management in Secondary Education delves into proven techniques for enhancing student success and creating a stimulating learning atmosphere. Discussions involve:
- Forming strong connections with young learners.
- Nurturing diverse cultures within the classroom.
- Motivating students to be productive members of the school community.
- Collaborating successfully with families and guardians.
- Keeping students safe while at school.
Classroom and Behavioral Management Techniques for Students with Diverse Needs Course
Through this course, participants will learn classroom management techniques and individual interventions based on behavioral, cognitive, affective, social, and ecological theories. Focusing primarily on applied behavior analysis (ABA), this program will provide best practices in data collection, program selection implementation, and data analysis.
You will also gain a deeper understanding of positive behaviors through effective management techniques tailored to meet the needs of students with diverse learning styles.
Higher Education Laws and Regulations Course
This course will provide valuable insight into the complexities of postsecondary education laws in America.
Through an examination of legal structures, principles, and case law, you’ll gain a greater understanding of the competing interests, rights, and responsibilities between state/federal governments, institutions plus faculty staff, and students who are part of higher education settings.
Education Degree Programs: Career Outlook, Salary Potential & Positions
With various paths available within an education degree program field ranging from elementary school teacher to postsecondary instructor, there is tremendous potential for growth and many career advancement options. The future looks bright indeed!
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs in education and teaching are expected to grow by 7% from 2021 to 2031 – faster than the average for all occupations.
The median salary for education programs is around $60k annually, with some positions paying significantly higher, according to BLS.
Let’s look at the top careers you can pursue with an education or teaching program, along with their salary potential.
Top Jobs you can get with an Education degree:
Kindergarten and Elementary School Teacher
An elementary school teacher creates lesson plans and teaches academic subjects, such as math, science, reading, and social studies, to kindergarten through fifth-grade children.
They also teach essential life skills like responsibility and critical thinking.
$61,350 per year
Middle School Teacher
Middle school teachers typically specialize in a specific area; they may teach sixth through eighth-grade students English language arts or mathematics.
Middle school teachers are responsible for engaging students and helping them become more knowledgeable and self-sufficient learners.
$61,320 per year
High School Teacher
High school teachers typically specialize in a specific teaching area; they may teach English language arts or mathematics to students in ninth through twelfth grade.
High school teachers help prepare students for postsecondary education and ultimately, successful careers after graduation.
$61,820 per year
Special Education Teacher
Special Education Teachers work with students with special needs due to physical challenges or learning disabilities like dyslexia or autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
They create individualized educational plans that meet each student’s unique needs and help them reach their goals based on their abilities.
$61,820 per year
School and Career Counselors (Elementary, Middle, High School counselors or College Advisors)
Career counselors help people plan their career paths by researching potential occupations related to their skill set and interests, as well as developing strategies to achieve those goals.
They often act as mentors and coaches who offer guidance during the process of exploring career options.
$60,510 per year
Postsecondary teachers, also known as professors or faculty members, have specialization in an extensive range of academic topics.
At universities and colleges, these experts are divided up into departments based on their field of study, including history, science, or business. Depending on their expertise, a professor might teach one course within the designated department or multiple classes.
$79,640 per year
PhD or Doctorate
Preschool teachers have the unique role of caring for and educating our youngest learners under five years old and not yet enrolled in kindergarten.
With a focus on language, motor, and social development, these educators help to set children up for success as they begin their academic journey.
$30,210 per year
Elementary, Middle, and High School Principal
School principals are responsible for all facets of running a school, from managing staff to maintaining a secure and productive learning atmosphere.
They have the important task of administering curriculums around elementary, middle, and upper-level schools while ensuring daytime operations run smoothly.
$98,420 per year
Postsecondary Education Administrators (Provost of Academic Deans)
Postsecondary education administrators are the backbone of colleges and universities, managing student services, academics, and faculty research.
The responsibilities of these professionals vary depending on their departments; for example, they may be responsible for admissions or a registrar’s office.
$96,910 per year
*Please be advised that the average salary provided by the BLS may deviate significantly from state to state and occupation to occupation, depending on various factors.
Important info you need to know
If you aspire to become a teacher, the first step is obtaining certification in your state. This type of certification may vary depending on the location and can be referred to as a teaching certificate, license, or credential.
Becoming certified or licensed as a teacher requires specific qualifications, and each state has its own set of rules. Fortunately, several programs are available to help you achieve the certifications or licensures necessary for teaching in your particular state – some by completing the degree program itself, while others provide alternative pathways to meet those requirements.
Before enrolling for your degree, you need to verify with your state if your college of choice and degree program is accredited to meet your state’s requirements for a teaching license or certification.
After completing your degree, you can take a state exam and meet other criteria set by each state board of education to obtain your certificate. This may be a lengthy process and may vary significantly from state to state.
So, to become a certified teacher, you typically need to follow these steps:
- Complete a bachelor’s degree in education or a related field.
- Pass a state-approved teacher preparation program.
- Complete student teaching or internship experience.
- Pass a state-administered certification exam.
- Apply for state certification or licensure.
- Meet any continuing education requirements to maintain certification or licensure.
Popular colleges with Education Degree Programs
There are many excellent colleges and universities offering high-quality programs for those looking to pursue a career in Education & Teaching. From prestigious Ivy League schools to smaller liberal arts institutions, the choices available for students interested in this field of study are vast.
With renowned faculty and state-of-the-art facilities, these schools offer a comprehensive look at educational theory coupled with practical experience that will prepare any student for success in their chosen profession.
Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard is one of the most prestigious universities in the world. It offers a wide range of education degree programs at undergraduate and graduate levels with renowned faculty and excellent resources.
Founded in 1891, Stanford has become one of the US’s leading research institutions for education degree programs. Students have access to top-notch instruction from experienced professors and exclusive research opportunities that are not available anywhere else.
Yale’s School of Education is among the best educational establishments for students pursuing a career in teaching or education administration. With close ties to local schools and organizations, students can gain invaluable experience while studying at this Ivy League school in New Haven, Connecticut.
Offering one of the oldest degree programs in education and teaching studies, Princeton’s department provides an array of courses focusing on different aspects of pedagogy, such as curriculum development and social justice issues within schooling systems today.
As a leader among urban colleges nationwide, Columbia offers its students unique opportunities through its Teacher Preparation Program, which integrates graduate classes with fieldwork in New York City’s public schools.
University of California (UCLA)
The University of California, Los Angeles, is an excellent choice for students pursuing a career in education and teaching. Its faculty includes some of the most accomplished scholars in their respective disciplines, and its proximity to both Hollywood and Silicon Valley allows students access to numerous resources.
What you need to know about Accreditation
Programmatic accreditation ensures students obtain a quality education in their desired field of study. Rather than reviewing the institution as a whole, programmatic organizations evaluate individual programs or offerings to guarantee they align with established standards and provide an adequate level of instruction within the specialty area.
*Our website proudly displays a reputable list of colleges and universities, all accredited by either renowned regional associations or highly respected national agencies that have been acknowledged by the US Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
FAQ about Education Degree Programs
Requirements for teachers vary by state; however, certification or licensing requirements generally involve a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in the field as well as extra courses in teaching methods and educational theories suited to their particular area of concentration (e.g., English Language Arts).
In addition, potential applicants may need to demonstrate prior experience, complete face-to-face hours, and pass background checks to be considered.
Online/Hybrid options are becoming more popular due to the economic climate and other factors impacting traditional brick-and-mortar universities and colleges.
Some Universities now offer 100% online degrees, while others have more blended learning models where students learn both online and attend classes at physical campuses when possible throughout their course of study.
Internship opportunities may be available depending on the school and the type of program chosen. It is best to speak with a school adviser to determine the possibilities.
Yes. There are often opportunities to move into leadership positions, such as department head or school administrator, after gaining several years of classroom teaching experience.
No, you don’t need a teaching license to be an adjunct instructor at a college. Becoming an adjunct professor requires minimum qualifications, such as a master’s degree in the field of your choice and prior teaching experience. This could be something like teaching assistant work during graduate education.
If you’d like to teach at the undergraduate level, a master’s is required; however, if you wish to teach students who are undertaking postgraduate studies, then you must possess a doctorate.
It is important to research specific college requirements before applying for an adjunct instructor position.
Depending on the state, the typical requirements for teaching at a college include the following:
- Having either a master’s degree in teaching or an area related to what is being taught.
- Completing additional teacher training courses.
- Passing any applicable state certification tests.
Some states also require that teachers have years of professional experience in relevant fields before they can teach at postsecondary institutions.
A degree in Education and Teaching can be your ticket to success, arming you with the knowledge and experience required for a flourishing career as an educator. With the right program, you can cultivate your skills to make meaningful contributions to students’ lives – all while achieving personal career aspirations.
Now is the ideal moment to embark on a career in Education and Teaching – with job opportunities projected to expand rapidly.
Start your journey today and make a positive impact on the future!
The College Compass is reader-supported and committed to maintaining complete editorial independence. All views expressed are solely ours and are not influenced by any external party. We may include affiliate links in the article, which helps us earn a small commission to support our work. We always have a link to the source for any data or information we include. Learn more about our editorial practices.