Close this search box.

Elementary Education Degrees: Your Path to a Rewarding Career in 2023

Discover everything you need to know about pursuing an Elementary Education degree. Learn about concentration, career paths, and how to maximize your education journey.

Elementary Education Degree

Picture yourself in a classroom surrounded by enthusiastic young minds eager to learn and grow.

As an elementary teacher, you possess the ability to shape the future of these students, motivating them to aspire to great things and follow their passions.

Pursuing an elementary education degree is the first step toward this gratifying profession. With the emergence of digital learning and innovative teaching techniques, there has never been a more thrilling moment to join this field.

So, scroll down to find out everything about elementary education degrees.

On This Page

What is an Elementary Education Degree?

An elementary education degree is a program designed to prepare individuals to become effective educators in primary schools, teaching children from kindergarten through fifth or sixth grade. It qualifies future teachers with essential expertise to develop captivating lesson plans, effectively manage classrooms, and nurture a supportive atmosphere for learning.

Elementary education holds significant importance in our society, as it establishes the groundwork for a child’s continuous learning and personal growth. A strong start in their education journey can have a lasting impact on their success in later years. 

By earning an education degree, you play a vital role in advancing the progress of upcoming generations, enabling them to achieve their utmost potential. You’ll also enjoy a stable career with a strong demand for qualified professionals, as well as the chance to explore diverse teaching methods and contribute to the continuous improvement of education standards.

What are the Elementary Education Degree Levels?

As you explore the world of elementary education degrees, you’ll find there are several levels to choose from, each tailored to specific career goals and aspirations. These degrees offer a range of opportunities, from gaining foundational knowledge to pursuing advanced research and leadership positions.

To help you understand the available options and make informed decisions about your education, let’s take a closer look at the various degree levels in elementary education.

Certificate in Elementary Education

A certificate in elementary education is a short-term program that provides foundational knowledge in teaching methods, child development, and classroom management. 

This program is ideal for individuals seeking an introduction to the field or looking to enhance their skills in specific areas. Certificate programs typically take less than a year to complete and may require 15-30 credit hours.

Entry requirements:

  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Possible completion of prerequisite courses

Associate in Elementary Education

An associate in elementary education is a two-year degree program that requires approximately 60 semester credits. This degree level covers essential topics in education, such as child development, teaching strategies, curriculum design, and general education courses.

Completing an AEE can help you secure entry-level positions in educational settings, like teaching assistants or paraprofessionals. Additionally, it can serve as a stepping stone toward a bachelor’s degree in elementary education.

Entry requirements:

  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Placement tests (such as SAT or ACT)

Bachelor in Elementary Education

A Bachelor in elementary education is a four-year undergraduate program requiring 120-semester credits. This degree level delves deeper into education theory, instructional techniques, and subject-specific content. In addition, most BEE programs include a student teaching component, allowing you to gain practical classroom experience.

With a BEE, you qualify for state licensure, which is required to become a certified elementary school teacher. This degree also opens doors to various career opportunities, including teaching, curriculum development, and educational leadership roles.

Entry requirements:

  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Placement tests (such as SAT or ACT)
  • Completion of prerequisite courses, if applicable

Master in Elementary Education

A Master’s in elementary education is a graduate-level program that takes around two years to complete and requires 30-60 credit hours. MEE programs focus on advanced teaching methods, curriculum design, assessment, and educational research. 

Earning an MEE can lead to increased job opportunities, higher salaries, and positions in educational leadership. Additionally, a master’s degree may be required for specific advanced roles, such as curriculum specialists or instructional coordinators.

Entry requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in elementary education or a related field
  • Teaching license or certification (may vary by program)
  • Minimum GPA requirements
  • GRE scores (may not be required for all programs)

Doctorate in Elementary Education (Ph.D. or Ed.D.)

A Doctorate in elementary education, either a Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy) or an Ed.D. (Doctor of Education), is the highest academic achievement in the field. These programs typically take 3-5 years to complete and require extensive research, coursework, and the completion of a dissertation or capstone project.

Pursuing a doctorate in Elementary Education can lead to careers in academia, research, or high-level administrative roles within school districts or educational organizations.

Entry requirements:

  • Master’s degree in Elementary Education or a related field
  • Teaching license or certification (may vary by program)
  • Minimum GPA requirements
  • GRE scores (may not be required for all programs)
  • A well-developed research proposal or statement of purpose


The entry requirements for an Elementary Education degree may vary depending on your university and state. However, here we have outlined the general qualifications that are frequently asked for.

What specialties and concentrations can you find in Elementary Education Degree programs?

It’s time to delve into the diverse specialties and concentrations that will empower you to maximize your impact as an educator. An elementary education degree offers various pathways to tailor your education and skills to meet the needs of the students you’ll serve. 

We’ll explore a selection of popular concentrations, equipping you with valuable knowledge to guide your decisions about your career path.

Special Education

Are you eager to support children with distinct needs to achieve their greatest potential? Special education is the perfect concentration for you. As a special education teacher, you’ll collaborate with students facing cognitive, emotional, or physical challenges.

With your specialized training, you’ll create tailored learning plans that meet each student’s individual needs.


What could be more enchanting than witnessing a young child’s curiosity as they learn about their surroundings? If you’re drawn to teaching the littlest learners, a Pre-K/Kindergarten concentration is just the ticket.

You’ll learn the best methods for engaging young minds, encouraging creativity, and fostering a love for learning. You’ll lay a strong foundation for lifelong accomplishment by emphasizing these critical early years.

Curriculum and Instruction

Are you passionate about creating engaging lessons that inspire young minds? With a concentration in curriculum and instruction, you’ll learn the tools and techniques needed to develop effective, age-appropriate educational programs.

This concentration will enable you to evaluate and refine teaching methods, making sure that all students can succeed.

Classroom Teacher

Do you envision yourself as the leader of a lively classroom, guiding students through their educational journey? A classroom teacher concentration will prepare you to take on this essential role. You’ll become proficient in a range of teaching approaches and strategies designed to accommodate various learning styles.

By honing these skills, you’ll transform into the guiding light your students require, fostering a supportive and encouraging atmosphere where they can flourish.

ESL/Bilingual Education

In today’s interconnected world, the ability to communicate with individuals who speak different languages is becoming increasingly vital. If you want to help non-English speaking students succeed, an ESL/Bilingual Education concentration is for you. You’ll learn how to effectively teach English to students from diverse linguistic backgrounds and develop strategies to bridge the language gap in your classroom.

Courses & Curriculum in Elementary Education Degrees

As you forge ahead on becoming an elementary school teacher, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with the courses and curriculum that will set you up for triumph in the classroom.

Elementary education programs are designed to provide a comprehensive education encompassing a wide range of subjects.

Your education will be an incredible adventure, packed with fascinating classes designed to equip you with the necessary knowledge and skills to inspire young minds.

Here’s a glimpse of some typical classes you might encounter:

Child Development

In this class, you’ll explore the physical, cognitive, and socio-emotional growth of children from infancy to adolescence. Grasping these developmental milestones enables you to customize your teaching methods to address the distinct needs of your students.

Educational Psychology

Dive into the fascinating world of how children learn and process information. This course delves into learning and motivation theories, providing insights into crafting an engaging and efficient learning atmosphere.

Classroom Management

Maintaining a well-structured and organized classroom is crucial for student success. In this course, you’ll learn practical strategies for managing behavior, establishing routines, and creating a positive and supportive learning atmosphere.

Methods of Teaching

This course will cover various instructional methods and strategies, helping you find the best approach to teaching different subjects and catering to diverse learning styles. You’ll master lesson planning, evaluating student progress, and adjusting your instruction to cater to the requirements of all your students.

Literacy Instruction

Reading and writing are essential skills for elementary students. In this class, you’ll acquire the skills to teach literacy competently, encompassing phonics, comprehension, and writing methodologies.

Assessment and Evaluation

Discover how to assess student learning and evaluate the effectiveness of your teaching methods. This course will teach you the importance of formative and summative assessments and how to use assessment data to inform your instruction.

On-campus vs. Online Elementary Education Degrees

As you journey through elementary education degrees, you’ll come across diverse educational settings tailored to meet a range of individual needs and preferences.

We’ll delve into the differences between these choices and provide a helpful pros and cons list for each option. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be better prepared to select the path that best aligns with your lifestyle, goals, and aspirations.

On-campus Elementary Education Degrees

Being physically present in a classroom setting allows for hands-on experience and meaningful interactions with both students and educators. On-campus programs offer a comprehensive curriculum covering various teaching aspects, including lesson planning, classroom management, and child development.


Face-to-face interactions: Engage with professors and classmates in person, fostering a strong sense of community and providing valuable networking opportunities.

Access to campus resources: Get access to facilities like libraries, computer labs, and study spaces, as well as support services like academic advising and career counseling.

Structured schedule: A fixed class timetable helps maintain discipline and focus, ensuring you stay on track with your studies.

Hands-on experience: Many on-campus programs offer practicum experiences, allowing you to gain real-world teaching experience in local schools.


Limited flexibility: On-campus programs typically have a schedule that may not accommodate those with work or family commitments.

Commute and relocation: Attending classes in person may require a daily commute or even relocating closer to campus, potentially increasing living expenses.

Online Elementary Education Degrees

Many reputable institutions offer online programs designed to provide you with the knowledge and skills necessary to become a successful elementary school teacher. With an online degree, you can pursue your passion for teaching, all while enjoying the flexibility and convenience of online learning.


Flexibility: Online programs often allow you to complete coursework at your own pace, providing the freedom to balance your studies with work or family obligations.

No commute or relocation: Learning from the comfort of your home eliminates the need for commuting or relocating, saving time and money.

Broader program options: Online degrees enable you to choose from a wider range of programs and institutions, regardless of your geographic location.

Technology proficiency: Engaging with online learning platforms can help you develop valuable technology skills that are increasingly important in today's digital age.


Limited face-to-face interaction: Online programs offer fewer opportunities for in-person engagement with instructors and peers, potentially making it harder to build a network or receive personalized support.

Self-discipline required: The flexibility of online programs demands a high level of self-discipline to stay on track and complete assignments on time.

Access to resources: While many online programs provide digital resources, you may miss out on some of the benefits and facilities available to on-campus students.

What to consider when choosing an Elementary Education Degree?

It’s time to dive deeper into what you should consider when selecting the right elementary education program for you. With so many options available, making an informed decision can seem daunting.

But fear not! We’ve compiled a list of actionable tips to help you navigate this crucial decision-making process and set you on the path to becoming the educator you’ve always envisioned.

1. Accreditation

Ensuring that your chosen program is accredited is essential. Accreditation serves as a stamp of approval, guaranteeing that the program meets or exceeds established academic standards. Graduating from an accredited program can enhance your job prospects and ensure employers and other educational institutions recognize your degree.

2. Financial Aid and Scholarships

College tuition can be a substantial investment, so exploring financial aid options and scholarships is paramount. Research the availability of financial assistance, such as grants, loans, work-study programs, and any scholarships specific to your chosen institution or program.

3. Faculty Expertise

Investigate the credentials and experience of the faculty members teaching your courses. Choose a program with professors who are experts in their field and have relevant practical experience, as they can provide valuable insights and real-world examples to enhance your learning.

4. Student Support Services

Look for programs that offer comprehensive student support services, such as academic advising, career counseling, and tutoring. These resources can significantly impact your academic success and overall experience.

5. Alumni Network and Job Placement

A strong alumni network and job placement services can be instrumental in securing employment after graduation. Investigate the program’s connections with local school districts, job placement rates, and any resources available to support your job search.

What can you do with an Elementary Education Degree?

Did you know that, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, it is projected that by 2025 there will be 3,609 thousand elementary school teachers in the United States? 

Armed with an elementary education degree, you’re joining a vast community of professionals who share a common goal: shaping the minds of future generations

But what does that mean career and salary-wise?

Career Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for elementary school teachers is projected to grow 4% from 2021 to 2031, about as fast as the average for all occupations. This growth is primarily attributed to rising student enrollments and the need to replace retiring teachers.

Salary Potential

Regarding salary, the BLS reports that the median annual wage for elementary school teachers, excluding special education, was $61,400 in May 2021. 

Remember that salaries can vary depending on geographic location, years of experience, and the specific school district. As you gain experience and further your education with additional certifications or advanced degrees, you may see increased earning potential and opportunities for career advancement.

To teach at public schools, as an educator, you must hold a valid teaching license or certification that corresponds to your designated grade level. The requirements for obtaining a license vary but typically include the following:

  • a bachelor’s degree with a minimum GPA, 
  • an accredited student teaching program, 
  • a clear background check, 
  • and passing certification exams.

Check for state-specific guidelines and any further inquiries.

Elementary Education Degree Jobs

Elementary School Teacher

As an elementary teacher, you’ll instruct children in grades K-6, covering subjects like math, reading, and science. You’ll create engaging lesson plans, assess student progress, and help them develop essential life skills, such as critical thinking and problem-solving.

Average Salary - Job Positions

Average Salary

$61,350 per year

College Degree Type Needed For Job Position

Degree Level


Instructional Coordinator

In this role, you’ll collaborate with educators and administrators to enhance school curricula. Your focus will be on ensuring teaching methods and materials are current, effective, and meet educational standards.

Average Salary - Job Positions

Average Salary

$63,740 per year

College Degree Type Needed For Job Position

Degree Level


Special Education Teacher

Special education teachers work closely with students who have various learning, emotional, or physical disabilities. They create tailored Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) for each student, adapt the general education curriculum for accessibility, and offer additional support to help students overcome challenges.

Average Salary - Job Positions

Average Salary

$61,820 per year

College Degree Type Needed For Job Position

Degree Level


*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.

Popular Colleges with Elementary Education Degree Programs

Embarking on your journey to earn an elementary education degree is an exciting endeavor, and choosing the right college can make all the difference.

To help you find the perfect fit, we’ve compiled a list of five outstanding U.S. colleges renowned for their Elementary education degree programs. Each institution offers unique advantages and opportunities, so let’s take a closer look at what they have to offer.

University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

The University of Michigan – Ann Arbor is a top-tier public research university. Its School of Education offers a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education, which prepares students to teach in grades K-8. This comprehensive program covers essential subjects like literacy, math, science, and social studies while offering a choice of specialized concentrations.

University of Minnesota

The University of Minnesota’s College of Education and Human Development provides a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education Foundations. This program emphasizes a strong foundation in educational theory, classroom management, and instructional strategies. Students can also choose to pursue additional endorsements or licensure in areas such as early childhood education or special education.

University of Florida

The University of Florida’s College of Education offers a Bachelor of Arts in Education with a specialization in Elementary Education. This program combines rigorous coursework, innovative teaching methods, and practical experience through internships and student teaching.

Graduates of the program are eligible for Florida Professional Teaching Certification in grades K-6.

Boston College

Boston College’s Lynch School of Education and Human Development offers a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education. This program is rooted in Jesuit educational traditions, emphasizing the development of the whole person and a commitment to social justice. Students can also pursue dual degrees or certifications in areas like special education, applied psychology, or educational leadership.

University of Maryland - College Park

The University of Maryland – College Park’s College of Education provides a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education. The program focuses on creating culturally responsive teachers and offers a variety of specialization options, including STEM education, language, and literacy, or early childhood education. Students gain hands-on experience through field placements and student teaching in diverse settings.

Featured Colleges

FAQ about Elementary Education Degree Programs

To work as an elementary school teacher, you must secure a teaching license or certification specific to your state. Every state has unique requirements for licensing, but most demand completion of an accredited teacher preparation program, successful passage of exams like the Praxis tests, and a background check.

Some states also require a period of supervised teaching experience, known as student teaching, before granting full certification.

A BA in Elementary Education usually has a stronger focus on liberal arts and humanities, while a BS emphasizes subjects such as math, science, and technology. BA programs often include more courses in history, literature, and foreign languages, while BS programs may have additional coursework in areas like STEM education or data analysis.

Both degrees prepare students for teaching careers in elementary education.

Most elementary education degree programs require a period of hands-on experience, often in the form of student teaching or internships. Student teaching typically involves working under the supervision of a licensed teacher, where you’ll plan and deliver lessons, assess student performance, and manage classroom activities.

When choosing an elementary education degree program, seek accreditation from organizations like the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) or the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)

Regional accreditation is crucial, too, as it guarantees your degree’s recognition by other institutions and potential employers.

Yes, various financial aid options are available for students pursuing an elementary education degree. Financial aid options for students pursuing an elementary education degree can vary from federal and state grants, loans, and work-study programs to scholarships. 

Some schools even offer their own financial assistance programs, like merit-based scholarships or need-based grants.

To prepare for teacher certification exams, like the Praxis tests, familiarize yourself with the content and format of the exams. Many test preparation resources are available, including study guides, practice tests, and online courses. 

Additionally, your elementary education degree program may offer test preparation support or resources to help you succeed.

Yes, you can teach in a different state with your elementary education degree, but you may need to meet additional requirements or obtain a new teaching license for that specific state. 

Many states have reciprocity agreements, making transferring your teaching credentials easier. 

However, you should research the specific requirements for the state you want to teach to ensure a smooth transition.

Yes, there are many professional development opportunities for elementary school teachers. Teachers can attend workshops, conferences, and training sessions to stay current on educational best practices and research.

Additionally, many schools and districts offer ongoing professional development opportunities for their teachers. Pursuing a master’s or doctoral degree in education can open doors for career growth, allowing you to move into roles like curriculum specialist or school administrator.


  • An elementary education degree prepares you to teach in elementary schools, covering subjects like math, science, language arts, and teaching strategies.
  • You can get an associate’s degree, a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Elementary Education, a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Elementary Education, a Master’s, and a Doctorate.
  • Before applying, there are various things to consider: Accreditation, course offerings, on-campus vs. online programs, financial aid, hands-on experiences, and student support services.
  • There is positive growth, with opportunities in teaching, school administration, curriculum development, and more.
  • The median annual wage for elementary school teachers was $61,350 (as of 2021).

Inspire the next generation of learners – kick-start your teaching journey with an Elementary Education Degree!

Editorial Disclaimer

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.

Explore More Degrees & Majors

Nursing Degrees

Computer Science Degree

Marketing Degree

Fire Science Degree

Forestry Degree

Biochemistry Degree

Scroll to Top