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Secondary Education Degrees: A Comprehensive Exploration

Discover the ins and outs of secondary education degree programs, from choosing the right program to excelling in your future career.

Secondary Education Degree

Did you know that by pursuing a secondary education degree, you hold the key to unlocking the potential of future generations?

As a prospective secondary education teacher, you’ll shape the minds of young adults, helping them navigate the complexities of modern society. 

In this ever-evolving world, trends like gamification and technology integration are transforming the landscape of education degrees, making it an exciting field to dive into.


What is a Secondary Education Degree?

So, what exactly is a secondary education degree? In a nutshell, it’s a specialized college program that prepares you to become a teacher for middle and high school students (grades 6-12). But it’s more than just learning how to teach; it’s about becoming an expert in your subject area and discovering the best ways to inspire young minds.

As a future secondary education teacher, you’ll be at the forefront of the ever-evolving world of modern teaching. Exciting trends such as project-based learning, classroom mindfulness, and technology integration are revolutionizing how we teach and learn.

By obtaining a secondary education degree, you’ll be fully prepared to embrace these groundbreaking innovations and provide your students with unforgettable and meaningful learning experiences.

Secondary Education Degree Levels Explained

As you consider pursuing a secondary education degree, it’s essential to understand the various degree levels available. Each level offers different benefits and caters to different career goals.

Let’s explore these options and discover the perfect fit for you.

Certificate in Secondary Education

A certificate program typically takes less than a year to complete and is designed for individuals who want to gain a foundational understanding of secondary education or enhance their existing teaching skills.

Benefits: A certificate can be an excellent starting point for those looking to enter the teaching profession or experienced educators aiming to specialize in a particular subject area.

Entry Requirements: A high school diploma or GED is generally required to enroll in a certificate program, though specific prerequisites may vary depending on the institution.

Associate Degree in Secondary Education

An associate degree typically takes two years to complete and provides a more in-depth understanding of secondary education, including general education courses and foundational teaching methods.

Benefits: An associate degree can lead to opportunities as a paraprofessional, teacher’s aide, or tutor. It can also serve as a stepping stone towards a bachelor’s degree, with many credits transferring to a four-year program.

Entry Requirements: Prospective students must possess a high school diploma or GED and meet any additional admission criteria the institution sets.

Bachelor's Degree in Secondary Education

A bachelor’s degree in secondary education usually takes four years to complete and offers comprehensive training in both subject matter expertise and pedagogical techniques.

Benefits: With a bachelor’s degree, you’ll be qualified to teach in public and private schools, opening doors to a rewarding teaching career. This degree level also provides a solid foundation for pursuing advanced degrees or specialized certifications in the future.

Entry Requirements: Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED and often must meet minimum GPA and standardized test score requirements set by the institution.

Master's Degree in Secondary Education

A master’s degree in secondary education typically takes two years to complete and builds upon the foundation established in a bachelor’s program. It offers advanced coursework in teaching methodologies, educational research, and curriculum development.

Benefits: Earning a master’s degree can lead to higher-paying positions, increased job security, and opportunities for leadership roles within a school or district. Additionally, a master’s degree can enhance your teaching skills, helping you become a more effective educator.

Entry Requirements: Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree, often in education or a related field. Some programs may require a valid teaching license, relevant work experience, and minimum GPA requirements.

Doctorate in Secondary Education

A doctorate in secondary education is the highest level of academic achievement in the field, taking 3-5 years to complete. Doctoral programs typically focus on educational research, policy, and leadership.

Benefits: With a doctorate, you’ll be equipped to pursue careers in academia, educational administration, or policymaking. A doctoral degree also sets you apart as an expert in your field, opening doors to prestigious research and leadership opportunities.

Entry Requirements: Prospective students must hold a master’s degree in education or a related field, have a strong academic background, and potentially possess relevant professional experience. Some programs may also require a teaching license or other professional certifications.

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

Exploring Specialties and Concentrations in Secondary Education Degree Programs

The beauty of secondary education lies in its diversity. As you delve into the realm of secondary education degrees, you’ll encounter a colorful spectrum of specialties and concentrations to pick from.

By focusing on a specific subject, you’ll not only become an expert in your chosen field but also contribute to shaping the future of education in that discipline.

Take a closer look at some popular concentrations within secondary education degree programs.

Biology Education

Biology education prepares future teachers to impart the wonders of the natural world to their students. From genetics to ecosystems, this concentration equips aspiring educators with the knowledge and skills necessary to teach biology effectively in middle and high school settings.

Benefits: Pursuing a concentration in biology education allows you to combine your passion for the life sciences with a fulfilling career in teaching. You’ll be prepared to engage students in hands-on learning experiences, fostering a love for biology that can lead to careers in research, medicine, and environmental conservation.

Business Education

Business education concentrations are designed to prepare future teachers to instruct students in various aspects of business, such as marketing, finance, and entrepreneurship. This specialty provides a strong foundation in business principles and best practices, along with practical teaching methodologies.

Benefits: As a business education teacher, you’ll have the opportunity to motivate the future business leaders, innovators, and finance wizards of tomorrow. Your expertise will help students develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills, ultimately empowering them to navigate the world of business and contribute to the global economy.

Chemistry Education

Chemistry education centers on providing prospective teachers with the know-how and techniques required to unveil the captivating realm of chemistry to their students. This concentration emphasizes both the theoretical and practical aspects of chemistry, as well as effective teaching techniques.

Benefits: Pursuing a concentration in chemistry education enables you to share your passion for this scientific discipline with young minds. Encouraging your students to love chemistry can help them pursue successful careers in various fields like research, healthcare, and engineering.

General Science Education

General science education is designed for future teachers who wish to provide students with a well-rounded understanding of multiple scientific disciplines. This specialty covers physics, chemistry, biology, earth science, and astronomy, emphasizing effective teaching methodologies.

Benefits: As a science teacher, you inspire students to be curious and explore the wonders of science. Your comprehensive approach to science education will help students develop a solid foundation in various scientific fields, opening doors to numerous career opportunities.

Mathematics Education

Mathematics education concentrations focus on preparing future teachers to instruct students in the intricacies of mathematics, from basic arithmetic to advanced calculus. This specialty emphasizes subject matter expertise and innovative teaching strategies that engage learners at all levels.

Benefits: As a math teacher, you help students succeed in a subject that’s important for careers in engineering, computer science, and finance. Your proficiency in mathematics education will enable students to hone their critical thinking and problem-solving talents, making them valuable contenders in the competitive job landscape.

Courses & Curriculum in Secondary Education Degrees

Designed to cover every aspect of teaching and learning, the curriculum paves the way for a thriving career in the classroom. 

The courses listed below offer just a taste of the comprehensive and dynamic curriculum that awaits you in a secondary education degree program.

Educational Psychology

Uncover the intricate workings of the human mind as it relates to learning in educational psychology. You’ll explore the cognitive, emotional, and social dimensions of learning, empowering you to design customized teaching methods that resonate with your student’s individual needs and inclinations.

Adolescent Learning and Development

By examining adolescent learning and development, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the distinct challenges young learners encounter during this vital phase of their lives. Grasping the physical, cognitive, and social changes that transpire throughout adolescence will enable you to better guide and support your students as they navigate adulthood.

Classroom Management

Master the art of classroom management, the cornerstone of a thriving learning environment. You’ll learn strategies to cultivate a positive, inclusive, captivating environment that inspires student involvement. Learn to maintain discipline, handle conflicts, and promote student collaboration to create a harmonious classroom setting.

Teaching Methods

Equip yourself with diverse teaching techniques by exploring various instructional approaches in this course. From classic lectures to hands-on projects, you’ll build an adaptable teaching toolkit that caters to the unique learning styles of your students and keeps them engaged throughout the educational process.

Educational Assessment

Delve into the world of educational assessment, where you’ll learn how to measure student progress and make data-driven instructional decisions effectively. You’ll explore various assessment types, including formative and summative evaluations, and develop strategies to design and implement meaningful assessments that enhance student learning.

On-campus vs. Online Secondary Education Degrees: Finding the Perfect Fit

Deciding between an on-campus or online program can be a challenging decision for someone seeking a secondary education degree.

Rest assured; we are here to help you navigate the essential differences between these two educational routes, empowering you to confidently make a well-informed decision that aligns with your aspirations and requirements.

Each option offers its unique set of advantages and challenges, but which one is the perfect fit for you?

On-campus Secondary Education Degree Programs

Opting for an on-campus program immerses you in the classic college experience, where you attend classes in person and engage directly with professors and peers. On-campus degrees offer the benefits of a lively learning atmosphere and easy access to campus facilities.


  • Immersive learning experience: On-campus programs offer face-to-face interaction with professors and fellow students, providing a dynamic and collaborative learning environment.
  • Networking opportunities: Being on campus allows you to build strong connections with peers and educators, fostering lasting professional relationships.
  • Resource availability: Students pursuing on-campus degrees can take advantage of a wide array of resources, including libraries, computer labs, and study areas, which can elevate their learning experience.
  • Extra-curricular activities: On-campus programs present a diverse selection of clubs, organizations, and events that can enhance your college journey and help you acquire valuable life skills.


  • Less flexibility: On-campus programs usually follow a fixed schedule, which may not be ideal for students who need flexibility in their lives.
  • Increased expenses: Enrolling in an on-campus program might lead to extra costs, such as accommodations, meal plans, and commuting.

Online Secondary Education Degree Programs

Opting for an online program involves a contemporary approach to education, with course content available through digital channels that enable you to study from the cozy confines of your home.


  • Adaptability: Online programs provide increased flexibility, permitting students to study at their preferred pace and on their own timetable, which is particularly suitable for working individuals or those with family obligations.
  • Lower costs: Online programs can be more cost-effective, as they often eliminate expenses related to housing, meal plans, and transportation.
  • Geographic accessibility: Online degree programs are accessible from anywhere with an internet connection, removing geographic barriers to education.
  • Self-paced learning: Online courses enable students to learn at their speed, catering to diverse learning styles and personal commitments.


  • Limited networking opportunities: While online students can connect with peers and professors virtually, they may miss out on the face-to-face interaction and networking opportunities that come with on-campus programs.
  • Limited resource accessibility: While online students can utilize digital resources, they might not enjoy the same degree of access to physical resources like libraries and dedicated study spaces.
  • Requires self-discipline: Success in an online program relies heavily on self-motivation and time management skills, which may be challenging for some students.

What to consider when choosing a Secondary Education Degree?

As you weigh the pros and cons of various secondary education degree programs, it’s important to recognize that the perfect fit for you may differ from others. Your unique aspirations, learning style, and lifestyle can all impact your decision.

Remember, investing time and effort into researching and comparing programs will ultimately lead to a more fulfilling and successful educational experience.

1. Accreditation

Confirm that your chosen program is accredited by a reputable accrediting organization. This ensures that the program meets high-quality standards and that your degree will be valued by future employers and educational institutions.

2. Faculty Expertise

Investigate the backgrounds and qualifications of the faculty members teaching the courses. Interaction with skilled and well-informed instructors can enrich your learning experience and offer essential insights into secondary education.

3. Course Offerings

Examine the program’s curriculum and course offerings. Make sure the program provides courses that align with your interests and career goals. In addition, look for a variety of electives that allow you to explore niche areas and broaden your knowledge.

4. Hands-On Experience

eek programs that provide ample opportunities for practical experiences, such as student teaching, internships, or fieldwork. Hands-on experiences can help you develop essential skills and gain real-world insights into the profession.

5. Support Services

Consider the support services the institution offers, such as academic advising, career counseling, and tutoring resources. These services can help you navigate your educational journey and prepare for a successful career in secondary education.

6. Affordability

Consider the program’s cost and available financial aid options. Seek out scholarships, grants, or work-study opportunities to help reduce the expenses of earning your degree.

7. Graduate Outcomes

Research the success of the program’s graduates in terms of job placement rates, starting salaries, and advancement opportunities. This information can provide insight into the potential return on investment for your education.

8. Campus Culture

Consider the campus culture and environment when choosing an on-campus program. Visit the campus, if possible, to get a feel for the atmosphere, student life, and overall vibe to ensure it aligns with your preferences and expectations.

What can you do with a Secondary Education Degree?

Are you aware of the shortage of teachers in the United States, particularly in STEM fields and special education? This has resulted in high demand for qualified individuals with secondary education degrees in these areas. 

By obtaining such a degree, you can contribute significantly to addressing these shortages while also making a difference in the lives of young learners.

Career Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for high school teachers are projected to grow at a steady rate in the coming years.

As per their estimation, there will be a 5% increase in the employment of high school teachers between 2021 and 2031, which is in line with the average growth rate for all professions.

Salary Potential

The BLS also reports that the median annual wage for high school teachers is quite competitive. High school teachers had a median yearly salary of $61,820 in May 2021, according to the BLS report.

Salaries can vary depending on factors such as location, years of experience, and the specific subject taught.

Top Job Position with a Secondary Education Degree:

High School Teacher

High school teachers educate students in grades 9 through 12, specializing in a specific subject area. They create lesson plans, deliver lectures, and assess students’ progress while supporting and guiding their academic and personal growth.

Average Salary - Job Positions

Average Salary

$61,820 per year

College Degree Type Needed For Job Position

Degree Level


Middle School Teacher

Middle school teachers work with students in grades 6 through 8, often covering multiple subjects or specializing in one area. They develop engaging lesson plans, foster a positive learning environment, and help students transition from elementary to high school.

Average Salary - Job Positions

Average Salary

$61,320 per year

College Degree Type Needed For Job Position

Degree Level


Special Education Teacher

Special education teachers cater to students with a wide range of learning, mental, emotional, or physical disabilities. They create individualized education programs (IEPs) tailored to each student’s needs and collaborate with parents, school staff, and other professionals to ensure students’ success.

Average Salary - Job Positions

Average Salary

$61,820 per year

College Degree Type Needed For Job Position

Degree Level


Instructional Coordinator

Instructional coordinators oversee school curricula and teaching standards. They work with educators to develop and implement instructional materials, assess the effectiveness of teaching methods, and provide training to improve teachers’ skills.

Average Salary - Job Positions

Average Salary

$63,740 per year

College Degree Type Needed For Job Position

Degree Level


School Counselor

School counselors support students’ academic, career, and personal development. They help students set realistic goals, cope with challenges, and navigate the complexities of school life. They also work closely with teachers, administrators, and parents to ensure students’ well-being and success.

Average Salary - Job Positions

Average Salary

$60,510 per year

College Degree Type Needed For Job Position

Degree Level


*Please be advised that the average salary provided by BLS may deviate significantly from state to state and 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 are accredited to meet your state 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:

  1. Complete a bachelor’s degree in education or a related field.
  2. Pass a state-approved teacher preparation program.
  3. Complete student teaching or internship experience.
  4. Pass a state-administered certification exam.
  5. Apply for state certification or licensure.
  6. Meet any continuing education requirements to maintain certification or licensure.

Popular Colleges with Secondary Education Degree Programs

As you consider pursuing a secondary education degree, it’s essential to find a college or university that offers a robust program to help you achieve your goals. 

We’ve handpicked five of the most renowned colleges in the United States that excel in providing top-notch secondary education degree programs.

University of Maryland - College Park

The University of Maryland – College Park is a prestigious public research institution known for its exceptional secondary education program. Students here benefit from a comprehensive curriculum, expert faculty, and numerous opportunities for hands-on experiences in local schools.

Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt University, a distinguished private research university in Nashville, Tennessee, offers a highly-regarded secondary education program. Known for its small class sizes, personalized attention, and commitment to excellence, Vanderbilt prepares aspiring teachers to become leaders in their field.

New York University

New York University (NYU), located in the heart of New York City, boasts an impressive secondary education program within its renowned Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. NYU’s program emphasizes multiculturalism and social justice, preparing educators to thrive in diverse learning environments.

The College of New Jersey

The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) features a strong secondary education program with a focus on content mastery and pedagogical expertise. TCNJ’s close-knit community and commitment to student success make it an excellent choice for those pursuing a career in teaching.

University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

The University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, a top public research university, offers an outstanding secondary education program through its School of Education. With a rigorous curriculum, dedicated faculty, and ample opportunities for practical experience, students at this esteemed institution receive a well-rounded education that prepares them for success in the teaching profession.

Featured Colleges

FAQ about Secondary Education Degree Programs

To prepare for a career in secondary education, start by researching degree programs and choosing a specialty or concentration that aligns with your interests. Complete the necessary coursework and gain practical experience through internships or student teaching opportunities.

Furthermore, become familiar with the certification or licensure criteria in your state and complete the necessary exams. Network with professionals in the field and attend conferences or workshops to stay current on educational trends and best practices.

In a secondary education degree program, you’ll develop essential skills like lesson planning, classroom management, and instructional strategies.

In addition, you’ll build expertise in your chosen subject, enhance your communication and relationship-building abilities, and learn how to modify your teaching approaches to suit various learning styles and needs.

Secondary education programs also emphasize critical thinking, problem-solving, and assessment skills.

Yes, there are various scholarships, grants, and financial aid options available for students pursuing secondary education degrees. You can explore federal and state financial aid programs, scholarships offered by educational institutions and professional organizations, and private grants from foundations or businesses. 

To check your eligibility for federal financial aid, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

By earning a secondary education degree, you can pursue a profession as a teacher in middle or high schools, focusing on your preferred subject.

Additionally, you may explore roles in curriculum development, educational consulting, or administration.

Some degree holders also opt to work in unconventional educational environments, such as cultural institutions, nonprofit groups, or tutoring services.

Respected secondary education degree programs have accreditation from recognized agencies, like the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) or regional accrediting organizations. This accreditation confirms that the program adheres to high standards and that your degree will be acknowledged by potential employers and educational institutions.

Yes, even if you hold a bachelor’s degree in a different subject, you can still pursue a secondary education degree.

Many colleges and universities provide alternative certification options or master’s programs in secondary education tailored for individuals with a bachelor’s degree in another field.

Alternative job opportunities for individuals with a degree in secondary education include instructional coordinators, education consultants, and curriculum developers.

You may also consider roles in educational administration, such as school principal or district-level positions.

Other options include working as an educational content writer, tutor, or community outreach role within nonprofit organizations or government agencies.

A reputable secondary education degree program should prepare you for state licensure exams by providing comprehensive coursework and practical experience in your chosen subject area.

To confirm that your program fulfills state requirements, make sure it has accreditation from a reputable agency and consult your state’s Department of Education for any extra prerequisites or guidelines.


  • A secondary education degree program prepares you to teach middle and high school students by equipping them with the knowledge, skills, and experience necessary to excel in your chosen subject area.
  • Secondary education degrees offer a variety of specializations and concentrations, preparing students to teach subjects like business, chemistry, general science, and mathematics. 
  • Choosing between on-campus and online secondary education degree programs depends on factors such as access to resources, flexibility, and personal preferences, with each option having pros and cons. 
  • When selecting the right secondary education degree program, consider accreditation, faculty expertise, affordability, and program length. 
  • According to trusted government sites, a secondary education degree can open up various career opportunities as middle or high school teachers in traditional and non-traditional educational settings, with a positive career outlook and salary potential.

Join the ranks of dedicated educators and ignite a passion for learning in the next generation.

Discover the perfect secondary education degree program for you!

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