The field of education is incredibly broad, and this is reflected in the various types of education degrees. Choosing your education degree has to start with determining what you want to do with your life. Do you want to be a tutor, teacher, college administrator, principal? And in what type of educational establishment? Public school teachers, for instance, require state licenses, which means passing a test as well. It would be nearly impossible to list every type of education degree available, not in the least because colleges and universities tend to give different names for the same type of degree.
So what do you do if you want to become a teacher, but don’t know which option to choose? Luckily, it is possible to divide the types of teaching degrees into grade levels, specialties, and subject areas to make it easier to understand them.
With the exception of adult education tutors, education careers start with a four year bachelor’s degree. After that, you can specialize as a teacher in a particular specialty, subject area, or grade. Plus, you may require a teaching license depending on where you want to work and which state you want to work in. This will always require a bachelor’s degree as a minimum. Let’s take a look at a broad overview of available teaching degrees.
#1 Early Childhood Education Degrees
If you choose an early childhood education degree, you will get to work with kids between two and five years old. You do not have to complete a degree that specializes in early childhood education. Rather, it is recommended that you complete this specialization so that you become aware of the different teaching methods that exist specifically for children of this age. It should be pointed out that there are now a number of states where the expectation is that teachers must have this degree, although it is still not a legal requirement. There are also certain programs in which you can specialize in areas, such as primary or pre-primary education. It is likely that you will have classes in human and educational development, as well as assessment classes, curriculum development, and teaching methodologies.
#2 Elementary Education Degrees
With an elementary education degree, you will receive multiple subject teacher training. You will be ready to teach classes in grades K-6 to K-8, with some programs focusing on that entire range, and others on a specific year. You will learn about different teaching techniques and methods specific to the subjects that children have to learn at those particular ages. These include science, reading, and mathematics. Your curriculum is likely to include courses in education technology, curriculum building, learning assessment, and child development.
#3 High School Education Degrees
In a high school education degree, you will take part in a single subject program. The emphasis is generally on kids in grades eight to 12. You will need to choose a major for you to teach in, such as art, music, history, physical education, science, math, geography, English, and so on. Once you have completed your major, you will be ready to take on a teaching job at the high school level. Just as with the other programs, your lessons will include things like curriculum development, educational technology, and teaching techniques and methods. Some schools also include courses in adolescent development. Usually, these degrees cover all K-12 grade levels.
#4 Educational Leadership Degrees
If you complete an educational leadership degree, it is likely that your career goal is to become a principal at some time, be that of a high school, middle school, or elementary school. Alternatively, you may want to be involved in college administration, perhaps even reaching the level of college president. Should your goal be to become a university president, then you certainly have to complete a degree in educational leadership, preferably at the master’s or even doctoral level. In pursuing this degree, you will learn about communication skills with students, parents, and other teachers, as well as gaining an understanding of what it means to manage a school.
#5 Bachelor of Science in Education
If you hold a bachelor’s degree in education, you will have learned about things, such as student psychology and classroom management. Effective teaching methods will also be part of this program. In general, this degree takes between four and five years, and you will end up with a BS (Bachelor of Science) in Education degree. You may also choose a major in a field of science like chemistry, biology, or physics. You can also pursue double majors in a specialized field, such as Spanish, history, or English literature.
#6 Master of Science in Education
If you really want to take your career to the next level, you will need to complete a master’s degree. This usually takes two years to complete, during which time you will learn about innovative teaching methods, incorporating new and emerging technology into the classroom, and more. This is a degree that will enable you to seriously advance your career, and many also obtain a promotion, teaching new courses in high school settings. Others who complete the master’s degree receive a promotion to an administrative task instead. In most cases, those who obtain a master’s degree are already employed as teachers, and it is their employer who pays for their education.
#7 Special Education Degrees
In a special education degree program, you will often have to choose a specialization in:
- Disability type
- Disability level
- Age range
During the program, you could, for instance, learn to work with children with a speech and language impairment, or with autism. Each school will have created this program differently, with some focusing specifically on low level learning disabilities for K-6 children only, for instance. Alternatively, there are programs that focus specifically on K-12. During this training, you will learn about classroom management and curriculum development, and also about evaluation and assessment of disabilities. Furthermore, you will learn about social interaction and behavior, while focusing on effective methods of communication so that the students with special needs, their parents/carers, and other educational staff can understand what their needs are.
These are the main choices you have when it comes to education degrees. It is very important that you consider what you hope to achieve with your degree before you choose a program. Because completing a degree requires a significant investment of both time and money, you have to make sure that you make the right choice for your needs and preferences.