Education and Teaching Degree Programs

Teaching has long been heralded as among the noblest of professions, but it’s also a complex field, and teachers have traditionally been thought of as overworked and underpaid. Times are changing, though, and as educators and their advocates work to ensure that the best teachers are adequately compensated for their expertise and passion, the field is becoming increasingly attractive. In this article, we’ll explore the various degree programs available in education as well as the job outlook for professionals entering the academic arena as well as those advancing in their careers.

Job Outlook for Careers in Education and Teaching

Job growth for careers in education and teaching is steady. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that these types of occupations are expected to grow by 9% in the decade between 2016 and 2026. That’s about as fast as average compared to all occupations. As enrollment increases in public and private schools and at both the secondary and postsecondary levels, the demand for teachers will grow. As the BLS correctly points out, though, budgetary constrictions (both locally and federally) could stifle this growth. Educators with advanced degrees and certificates will have the advantage for securing new jobs.

Associate’s Degrees in Education and Teaching: Overview

Associate’s degrees in education and teaching represent the lowest tier of professional education one can acquire in the field. Not everyone who chooses to pursue a career in education and teaching will begin their training with an associate’s degree. In fact, it’s more common for students to enroll in a baccalaureate program upon completion of their secondary education. Still, associates degrees in education can be a good place to start, especially for students who are still deciding on their desired career paths and want to give the field of education and teaching a try. Remember, credits earned in an associate’s degree program will often transfer to a bachelor’s degree program, so it’s not time wasted.

Associate’s Degrees in Education and Teaching: Curriculum

The curriculum for associates degrees in education and teaching will typically consist of two parts: a general education core and introductory education courses. The general education requirement will cover basic knowledge in areas such as history, mathematics, social sciences, and natural sciences, for instance. The introductory education portion of the curriculum will provide foundational training in the area of education and teaching and will usually vary depending on the education level students desire to teach such as early childhood education, elementary education, secondary education, etc. Below are some sample courses students can expect to take when they enroll in an associates degree program in education and teaching:

  • Introduction to the Teaching Profession
  • Survey of Mathematics
  • Growth and Development of Children
  • Composition and Rhetoric
  • Developmentally Appropriate Practices in Early Childhood Education
  • Elements of Biology
  • Foundations of Education
  • Introductory Psychology

Associate’s degrees in education and teaching usually require students to earn approximately 60 credit hours and take about two years to complete. Accelerated programs are often available, which may allow students to earn their degree in as little as a year, however. Alternatively, part-time programs enable students to study around their schedules and allow them to take more time to complete their degree requirements.

Associates degree programs in education and teaching are often stepping stones to baccalaureate programs in the field. These initial credentials can qualify students for some entry-level positions, though. Consider the following occupations for associate’s degree holders as well as their respective mean annual wages, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • Teacher Assistants: $26,260
  • Preschool Teachers: $28,990

Bachelor’s Degrees in Education and Teaching: Overview

Bachelor’s degrees are the most sought-after credential in the field of education and teaching because they open up the largest number of job opportunities. Bachelor’s degrees often lead to teacher licensure and qualify graduates to teach at the early education, elementary, middle, and high school levels. These degrees do require a significant time commitment, though; most take a minimum of four years of full-time study to complete. Students whose schedules do not permit this type of course load may find other options in accelerated bachelor’s degree programs or programs offered via distance education. Bachelor’s degree-holders in the field of education and teaching make significantly more per year than associates-degree holders. Consider the following job opportunities along with their respective salaries for those individuals with a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in education:

  • High School Teacher: $59,170
  • Middle School Teacher: $57,720
  • Special Education Teacher: $58,980
  • Career and Technical Education Teachers: $55,240

Bachelor’s Degrees in Education and Teaching: Curriculum

The curriculum for bachelor’s degrees in education and teaching will vary depending upon the student’s specific career goals. For instance, someone who wants to teach preschool will take vastly different coursework from an individual who wants to teach at the high school or postsecondary level. Furthermore, students who want to specialize in a certain area of education or teaching, such as special education or English as a Second Language, can choose to customize their curriculum by electing a concentration or area of emphasis. Despite these differences, almost all bachelor’s in education and teaching programs include a core liberal arts component. This is similar to the general education requirements for an associates degree program. Below are some sample liberal arts courses students can expect to take during their first couple of years in a bachelor’s education and teaching program:

Sample Courses for Bachelor’s in Education and Teaching Programs: Liberal Arts Core

  • Survey of United States History
  • Human Growth and Development Across the Lifespan
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Mathematics for Educators
  • Principles of Communication
  • Health, Fitness, and Wellness

The remaining courses required for a bachelor’s degree in teaching and education will be education-specific courses. Generally, these classes will cover topics such as instructional methods, classroom management, educational theory, and subject-specific courses in content areas such as English, math, and social studies, for instance. This part of the curriculum will vary depending on the grade level the student wants to teach upon graduation, whether it be preschool, elementary, school, or middle and high school. Below are some sample course titles taken from actual bachelor’s programs for each of these teaching levels:

Sample Courses for Bachelor’s in Education and Teaching Programs: Early Childhood Education

  • Culture and Language in Teaching and Learning
  • Early Childhood Foundations and the Teaching Profession
  • Instructional Planning for Young Children
  • Infant/Toddler Curriculum and Environment
  • Language and Early Literacy Development
  • Assessment and Observation in Early Childhood
  • Child Guidance and Management in Early Childhood Education
  • Developmental Methods for Preschool Children with Exceptional Needs

Sample Courses for Bachelor’s in Education and Teaching Programs: Elementary Education

  • Elementary Reading Methods and Interventions
  • Elementary Social Studies Methods
  • Instructional Planning and Presentation in Elementary Education
  • Children’s Literature
  • Educational Philosophy for Elementary Teachers
  • Classroom Management for Elementary Teachers
  • Creating a Positive Classroom Climate
  • Current Research in Curriculum and Instruction
  • Creating and Managing Engaging Learning

 

Sample Courses for Bachelor’s in Education and Teaching Programs: Secondary Education (Middle and High School)

  • Middle and Secondary Curriculum and Assessment
  • Data-Driven Instructional Methods for Middle and Secondary Teachers
  • Educational Psychology
  • Reading and Writing in the Secondary School
  • Education for a Changing World
  • Instructional Strategies and Learning Communities for the Adolescent Learner
  • Adolescent Growth and Development
  • Special Methods Teaching in the Content Area.
  • Principles of American Education

 

Master’s Degrees in Education and Teaching: Overview

Master’s degrees in education and teaching are advanced degrees that allow students to delve deeper into the complexities of education and instruction as well as the specific subject or subjects they wish to teach (or already teach). There are different types of masters degrees in education and teaching available to teachers and prospective teachers depending upon their academic backgrounds and specific career interests. Thus, it’s important for students to examine program offerings carefully to be sure they select a master’s in education and teaching that will help them achieve their goals as an educator.

Generally speaking, there are two basic types of master’s degrees in education and teaching: a Master of Teaching and a Master of Education. Whereas a Master of Teaching program focuses more on the subject matter being taught (i.e. English, Biology, History, etc.), a Master of Education program emphasizes education itself, including theories of education and instructional practices, for instance. Despite these distinctions, there is a great deal of overlap as well. Master of Teaching programs will cover educational topics, for instance, and Master of Education programs often allow students to choose elective classes in their content area.

It is also important to note that some master’s degree programs are designed for practicing teachers who already hold a bachelor’s degree in education, while others target those students who come from an academic background outside of the field of education but who have a desire to teach. The latter types of programs may include more prerequisite and foundational courses in education and introductory teaching methods in order to bridge the gap. Master’s programs for practicing teachers, on the other hand, will allow students to specialize in a specific area of teaching or pursue endorsements that allow them to teach additional subjects or instruct certain populations of students such as gifted and talented students, for example.

Teachers with master’s degrees can expect to earn significantly more than their baccalaureate-level colleagues. Moreover, master’s degrees in teaching and education can qualify graduates for other high-paying positions in the field. For example, consider the following occupations along with their respective mean annual wages, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals: $94,390
  • Instructional Coordinators: $63,750
  • School and Career Counselors: $55,410

Master’s Degrees in Teaching and Education: Curriculum

The curriculum for master’s degrees in teaching and education can vary widely from one program to the next, depending heavily on what grade the program focuses on as well as any subject areas that are emphasized through the program. Below are some examples of concentrations and specialty areas one can choose from when selecting a master’s degree program in education and teaching.

Master’s Degrees in Teaching and Education: Sample Concentrations and Specialty Areas

  • Early Childhood Education
  • Science Education
  • Special Education
  • Curriculum and Instruction
  • Gifted and Talented Education
  • Educational Administration
  • STEM Education
  • Secondary Education
  • Arts Education
  • Higher Education
  • Music Education
  • Physical Education
  • Foreign Language Instruction
  • Online Learning and Teaching

 

In addition to sample specialty areas, we’re also listing some specific course titles taken from actual master’s degrees in teaching and education. Keep in mind that these are merely examples, and the specific courses you’ll take will depend on the type of master’s in education and teaching you choose to pursue.

Master’s Degrees in Education and Teaching: Sample Course Titles

  • Teaching and Learning in Diverse Classrooms
  • Teaching in the Middle School
  • Leadership for Social Justice
  • Educational Research for Master’s Students
  • Contemporary Educational Thought
  • Developing Character Through the Curriculum
  • Human Resources Administration in Education
  • Technology in Distance Education and e-Learning
  • Curriculum Development and Data Analysis
  • Online Learning and Development in the Workplace
  • Hardware and Software in Instructional Development
  • Program Planning and Assessment
  • Globalization in Higher Education
  • Best Practices for Student Success

 

Doctoral Degrees in Education and Teaching: Overview

Doctoral degrees in education and teaching represent the highest level of learning one can achieve in the field. These are typically three-year programs that require approximately 50-60 credit hours of coursework. Like bachelor’s and master’s offerings in education and teaching, there are several different types of doctoral programs in the field that one can pursue. Below, we list some of these options.

 

Doctoral Degrees in Education and Teaching: Sample Program Types

  • PhD in Education (numerous concentrations available)
  • EdD in Educational Leadership
  • EdD in Higher Education Administration
  • EdD in School Psychology
  • EdD in Educational Technology
  • EdD in Organizational Leadership
  • EdD in Teaching and Learning

Teachers with doctorate degrees can expect to earn more than those with a master’s or bachelor’s degree. Some of the highest paid doctoral degree-holders in the field of teaching and education are those who teach at the college level. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these professionals make approximately $76,000 per year.

Doctoral Degrees in Education and Teaching: Curriculum

The exact curriculum for doctoral programs in education and teaching will vary based on the type of doctoral degree the student pursues as well as any concentrations and/or specialty areas they choose to focus their studies in. Still, these courses tend to be highly rigorous and focus on current research in the field. Most courses will require students to either conduct or analyze educational research as well, for instance. For the purposes of illustration, we list some sample doctoral courses below. These are taken from actual programs that are currently accepting new students.

 

Doctoral Degrees in Education and Teaching: Sample Courses

  • Leading the Future of Education
  • Thinking Strategically About Education Reform
  • Innovation and the Diffusion of Learning Technologies
  • Leaders of Learning
  • Designing Instruction for e-Learning
  • Culture, Institutions, and Society
  • Introduction to Qualitative Research
  • Current Issues in Special Education Policy and Practice
  • Cognition, Learning, and Instruction: Childhood to Adolescence
  • Data Analysis in Educational Research
  • American Higher Education

 

In addition to completing challenging coursework, doctoral students in the field of education and teaching will also be asked to complete a research-based thesis and/or dissertation. They may also be asked to pass a comprehensive examination and/or present a final project.

 
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