A note from the author, Imed Bouchrika, PhD, career planning expert:
Having been a career planning expert for over a decade, I have always believed that a degree in education can lead to different career pathways replete with opportunities. For one, the National Center for Education Statistics reported the enrollment rate in education has seen a continuous decline for the last few decades (NCES, 2019), which means you will have fewer competitors vying for job positions in this field down the road. To help you in your effort to become an educator, I have analyzed government reports, statistics, and academic publications to give you key information about the different types of degrees in education. In this article, I will be tackling everything from the available specializations to typical application requirements to give you a more comprehensive perspective of this professional landscape and avoid unnecessary student stress down the road.
The dictionary definition of what is a degree in education describes it as the study of providing and receiving systematic instruction or teaching. As a study path, it integrates the historical, anthropological, sociological, and economic foundations of education and psychology as well as human growth.
You will be trained in a set of vital and transferable skills:
Teaching is more than just a profession for many. Some may even consider it a calling. And if you believe that you are called to make a difference in students' lives through each stage of their growth, earning an early childhood education online degree is one way to achieve such goals. By pursuing a degree in early childhood education--online or traditional--you can gain the knowledge and skills necessary to become an effective educator and positively impact the lives of young learners.
A degree in education helps you prepare for employment in schools and universities as a teacher, administrator, director, and other fulfilling occupations. There are possibilities for educators in public and private school systems from basic education to tertiary institutions. In fact, in the academic year 2017-2018 alone, there were 3.3 million full-time and part-time traditional public school teachers, about 206,000 public charter school teachers, and around 509,000 private school teachers (National Center for Education Statistics, 2020).
One of the common questions encountered when discussing this subject is what are the 4 types of degrees. Various degrees may also concentrate on early childhood education, health, physical education, primary, secondary, or secondary education. You can also focus on teaching a certain subject or area of expertise.
An education training also helps you construct programs, prepare lessons, target student learning skills, and build healthy and dynamic learning environments.
While programs may vary in scope and specialization, education degree tuition typically reflects the average costs in the state or country. Additionally, you can factor in books, accommodation, living expenses of studying out of state, and more.
Tuition and other fees for education majors will depend largely on the state, educational institution, and mode of instruction. In-state students typically pay less than out-of-state students in most public schools. On the other hand, private universities and other for-profit education institutions also have higher tuition costs (Powell & Kerr, 2020).
|Type of Degree||Total Tuition||Tuition Per Credit|
If you are passionate about education, a bachelor's degree in the field is a great opportunity to immerse yourself in the field in preparation for a future in teaching. You will be surrounded by future educators who have the same passion. Furthermore, you will establish connections and networks to help you in your career over the years.
You also need to hold at least a bachelor's degree if your career goal is to run an education institution with a large number of students. As such, many teachers continue their studies to a master's degree as attendance in advanced education programs is necessary for future administrative-level roles in education (Gwynedd Mercy University, n.d.).
Opportunities for a fruitful career abound for people with college degrees in education. Management and administrative posts are available to those who start as teachers. A degree in education enables you to possess the training and experience to help guide and teach learners at different stages of development, provided that your interests and expertise match those of the pupils. Educators design, deliver, and evaluate different types of teaching strategies from early childhood education to adult learning.
Each year, the demand for teachers worldwide increases as the next generation of learners enters their respective school systems. And the growing demand for continuing education among adults, especially those wanting to upgrade or learn new skills, means educators with different specializations are needed in various industries.
In fact, the world will need close to 69 million teachers for primary and secondary education by 2030 (UN News, 2016). That means you have many opportunities and career options in education after you earn your degree.
"Education systems are only as good as their teachers. Global progress will depend on whether there even is a teacher or a classroom in which to teach with a manageable number of children instead of 60, 70 or even more pupils," said Silvia Montoya, Director of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), the primary global source for statistics on education.
This is echoed by a 2016 report made by Stephanie Aragon for the Education Commission of the States. As recently as the late 2000s, there has been a decline in education degree programs' enrollment (Aragon, 2003).
In order to mitigate this trend and meet the demand for teachers, states are responding with various policies that aim to help future educators succeed. "State legislatures, legislative research offices and departments of education have and continue to examine their own teacher shortages by convening task forces and other working groups to explore the data and provide recommendations for policymakers," according to the researcher in her study titled "Teacher Shortages: What We Know. Education Commission of the States."
This means some states are actively improving opportunities for current and incoming teachers to thrive in their chosen careers. Aragon added, "though topics such as licensure reciprocity, teacher pensions, and professional development made the list of recommendations, the most common recommendations involved financial incentives, induction and mentoring, teacher leadership and marketing/outreach."
Source: Education Commission of the States
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that education degree jobs will continue to expand over the next few years. Salary ranges depending on different teaching degrees, qualifications, training, and the type of work. A Bachelor of Education (BEd) graduate should expect to earn an average of $54,000 annually.
Teaching assistants with credentials, such as certificates or a teaching associate degree earn less than teachers and other professionals who possess bachelor's degrees in education. However, in the same way, elementary, middle, and high school teachers all get similar incomes, school administrators claimed that they earned much greater pay on average.
|Public In-State||Public Out-of-State||Private|
|Doctoral Degree||$17000-$25000||$30000 - $40000||$41000 -$60000|
|*Values are estimates.|
Education programs are usually offered at different levels, ranging from certificate to Ph.D. degrees. Aside from degree programs, most institutions also offer specializations that allow students to focus on specific areas of expertise or subjects within different education degrees.
Average time to complete: 2 years
An associate in education degree program generally takes two years to complete. However, online education shortens the timeline considerably. The coursework typically includes subjects, such as psychology and classroom management. Students in an associate program are required to take a certain set of curriculum that includes training in the early childhood or elementary school levels.
Individuals who enjoy dealing with young children may find an associate in education degree suitable. For students interested in pursuing a career in education but are not sure whether to enroll in a four-year program, earning an associate degree might be a proactive first step.
Such programs will aid students who desire to become childcare workers, homeschool instructors, or substitute instructors. Associate degree holders may also continue their coursework to a bachelor's degree.
Entry-level jobs: preschool teacher, childcare worker, teacher assistant
Average time to complete: 4 years
A bachelor's degree in education prepares students for a career as educators. In addition to general education courses, most education degree types include specialty classes and practical requirements that are specifically designed to help students become teachers at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Bachelor's degrees in education also include a general education curriculum. In colleges or universities, discipline-specific coursework such as mathematics and science may be part of the degree program. Education programs provide a foundation for teaching knowledge and skills as well as courses that incorporate the liberal arts. The pedagogy and methods used in teaching such as competency-based education, cooperative learning, and the like are part of what is emphasized in most educational degrees.
College students study many of the same subjects during the first two years of school. Students will focus on specializing during the second half of their degree program, taking only the advanced subjects. Most bachelor's degrees in Education typically take four years to finish, with a prerequisite that entails about a year of internship to become a full-time teacher. Some states require a master's degree for those who wish to pursue certification.
Entry-level jobs: primary school teacher, secondary school teacher, special educational needs teacher
Average time to complete: 2 years
Two years of education coursework must be completed to get a master's degree in education, although students can obtain a master's degree in education more quickly through accelerated programs.
Many students who pursue master's degrees in education are either current teachers and administrators or in the process of obtaining such credentials. Advanced programs in education can help individuals develop their qualifications for positions in administration, enter counseling professions, or increase their teaching skills. In addition to traditional master's coursework, you may become a specialist in a variety of areas, including adult education and training, leading educational organizations, or teaching English as a second language.
Entry-level jobs: school principal, administrator, counselor, educational coordinator, corporate trainer, curriculum developer
Average time to complete: 3 years
The quality of graduate training varies greatly, yet each graduate with a Ph.D. degree in education is trained in specialized topics, skills, and soft skills to an unsurpassed degree. In addition, students learn to critically assess and evaluate programs, methods, and practices in the education system independently and as part of a team.
The multidisciplinary approach to the course gives students a detailed look at many social, political, historical, economic, and technical questions that affect education. Students get a thorough grasp of these topics from a variety of perspectives through research, teaching, and seminars. As insights of students get more comprehensive, they can study approaches to unique difficulties in various educational contexts. Also, each student inevitably produces novel scholarly literature from this educational experience and training.
Entry-level jobs: college or university administrator, provost, academic dean, professor, school superintendent
In the past few decades, most advanced degrees in education started focusing on specific areas of studies and expertise. As a result, there has been a departure from the multipurpose doctorate curriculum as more education professionals seek to become either a researcher or a practitioner, but not both.
Research by James W. Guthrie published in the Peabody Journal of Education notes that a combined research preparation and practitioner program cannot sufficiently provide enough academic training and capstone experience to fulfill both roles. (Guthrie, 2009)
That means, "if the comprehensive examinations or capstone requirements for research and practice are the same, program purposes, research preparation, and practitioner professional training have all been woefully compromised."
The research titled "The Case for a Modern Doctor of Education Degree (Ed.D.): Multipurpose Education Doctorates No Longer Appropriate" continues to explain that education professions have now evolved into multi-layered disciplines that warrant dedicated Ph.D. programs to produce competent practitioners. Modern research fields in education are equally complicated and dynamic. Research programs should focus on skills and training for future researchers.
"No self-respecting doctoral program attuned to the production of modern education researchers can possibly layer multidisciplinary cognate knowledge, understanding of educational institutions, research immersion, data set understanding, comprehension of methods, and mentoring on top of a full professional curriculum and expect to cover the content in less than seven years," Guthrie added.
Average time to complete: About 1 year
Completing a certificate in education takes on average less than one year. A teaching assistant and classroom assistant training program assists undergraduate students in preparing to work with children and young learners. An undergraduate certificate in education may go along with a bachelor's degree, but only if certain requirements are met. For example, students majoring in mathematics or science could decide to include a teaching credential as part of their qualifications.
In addition to covering the same basic teaching knowledge and abilities, more expertise and specialization are available through graduate credentials. Students can get courses that enhance their career options, such as certifications in administration, online teaching, or curriculum and instruction.
Entry-level jobs: school social work, teacher’s assistant, private tutor
Education degree prerequisites and requirements vary depending on the state, country, and even type of higher education institutions. Additionally, certain specifications require education degree skills through coursework, internships, and job experience. However, most colleges and universities have the following admission and skill requirements:
Proof of Graduation and GPA
To be accepted into a bachelor's degree, you must have a high school diploma or a General Education Development (GED) certificate. Typically, colleges and universities do not need incoming education students to take any specific courses while in high school. However, they may be required to maintain a certain GPA, such as a 2.0 or better, to be unconditionally admitted.
SAT or ACT Score
Some candidates may additionally be required to submit test scores, such as the ACT or SAT as part of the application process. Although most institutions do not require a minimum score on these examinations, you may choose to retake the test if you scored lower than a combined score of 20 on the ACT and a combined score of 1000 on the SAT.
Because the students who take part in education career preparation programs usually work alongside children in a classroom setting, many programs require potential students to pass criminal and other background checks. In many states, background checks require a small fee. Also, it may take many weeks to complete, so make sure to allot some time in advance.
Some higher education institutions may require applicants to submit personal goal statements, a letter of recommendation, a list of references, and even partial coursework related to education or specialization.
Basic Technical Skills
Applicants should demonstrate adequate reading, math, and other relevant skills. These are usually shown through the ACT or SAT scores. Like any college degree programs, a big part of most curricula requires understanding course materials and readings, conducting research, and taking examinations.
A major component of a career in Education involves working with students, parents, and other professionals. While soft skills are honed and developed during the program, incoming students should already possess communication, teamwork, interpersonal skills, and time management skills. On top of that, most teachers will be leading a classroom, so leadership skills are necessary. And, to effectively understand different types of learners, cultural awareness is essential.
If you are thinking about enrolling in an education program soon, consider as many factors as possible. Many people look solely at the academic reputation of a school. However, look for programs that will cater to your career plans, financial capacity, and future opportunities.
Teaching programs vary greatly, as there are many degrees built around subjects or groups of students as well as age. For example, special education teachers can easily work with students from different grade levels in a single week, depending on the school district structure. As such, their coursework mostly involves child psychology, early education, and related subjects.
Additionally, many teachers desire the opportunity to dedicate themselves fully to their subject of study. In most states, additional coursework and examinations are required to certify teaching specializations. If you want to add such specializations, you can do so after you have already become a teacher. Or you can take specialized study tracks while taking your education program. Some specializations include early childhood education, elementary education, STEM education, secondary education, or higher education.
Students should research the accreditation status of the colleges and universities they are considering when choosing a school. Schools can be accredited on a national or regional level, affecting financial aid, transfer options, and overall educational standards. Regional accreditation is usually preferred for education degree programs.
Programmatic accreditation is also available to individual departments and programs. The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) designates the accrediting bodies for education programs. For example, accrediting bodies such as the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs may grant accreditation to specialized graduate programs in school counseling.
For those who can manage the additional expense, getting an education degree might prove to be a smart investment. However, many students do not have the money to pay tuition upfront. More than 84% of all college students received some type of financial help, according to research conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). There are various financial aid alternatives for helping you pay for college, including federal student loans, scholarships, and grants.
Source: National Center for Education Statistics
Federal Financial Aid Programs
Private Scholarships for Education Majors
More than fulfilling your passion for teaching, a career in education is a rewarding one. There are degrees of education and flexible study programs that will lead you to a bachelor's degree. After graduation, you can choose to take a position educating students in a typical classroom setting or take corporate training positions. If you decide to upgrade your skills, more opportunities can open up, such as school administration, corporate training, and counseling.
Education is a versatile degree with different types of education degrees offered. Students often take courses in related programs, such as psychology, sociology, and STEM. That means you can specialize and become an expert in teaching certain subjects. Due to the need for more teachers in both public and private industries, there are numerous financial aid and scholarship options for both bachelor and advanced degrees.