Types of Education Degrees
Teaching degrees come in all shapes and sizes. While every degree shares common characteristics, teaching programs are tailored to specific age groups and academic subjects. There are also teachers with different levels of educational attainment, from teaching certificates all the way up to doctoral degrees. The type of degree you choose will also have a large impact on how much your education costs. For example, an associate degree is cheaper than a bachelor’s degree since you pay for half as many credits.
Students who have earned a bachelor’s degree in a field other than education can opt for a post-baccalaureate certificate in education. The courses will focus on subjects such as curriculum design, instruction, and educational psychology. These courses prepare students to become teachers in public school settings.
- High School Math Teacher
- High School Science Teacher
- Associate Degree
Two-year associate degree programs meet the requirements for paraprofessionals. Many associate degree programs also fulfill requirements for a bachelor’s degree, such as general education courses.
- Teaching Assistant
- Substitute Teacher
- Bachelor's Degree
Students earning bachelor’s degrees take classes in classroom management, lesson plans, and curriculum design. They are also required to complete practice teaching sessions, some as long as one school year. Bachelor’s degree students can focus on elementary-age students, middle and high school students, or students with special needs.
- Elementary Teacher
- High School Math Teacher
- Master’s Degree
Many teachers pursue a master’s degree to complete continuing education requirements, to specialize in a particular subject, or to add additional certifications to their teaching license. Prospective teachers who earned a degree in another discipline may also pursue a master’s in teaching to complete the licensing requirements in their state.
- Administrative Supervisor
- Doctorate Degree
Doctorate degrees focus on hands-on projects and research activities, looking at best teaching practices and practical applications of educational theory. Students earning doctoral degrees will also need to complete a dissertation in a specialized research area.
- College Professor
Education Degree Concentrations
Education is not a one-size-fits-all degree. Prospective teachers can choose to concentrate in particular subjects or age groups, or they can choose from more specialized areas such as education research or school administration. It is important to note that the area of concentration can determine your eligibility for certain scholarships. Many organizations offer scholarships for certain education majors to help schools find highly qualified teaching candidates. For example, schools offering scholarships for special education majors hope to attract teachers to work with their special-needs students.
- Early Childhood Education: Early childhood education programs prepare teachers to work with children from preschool through the third grade. An associate degree may qualify teachers for preschool programs, though a four-year degree is needed for public school programs. Teachers learn how to help students build the literacy, math, and social skills necessary for success throughout their education.
- Math Education: School systems across the country have a need for more math teachers. Competition can be fierce to attract these mathematics specialists, not only among school systems but also from private industry. Math teachers can teach at the elementary, secondary, or post-secondary level. Math education students become qualified to teach anything from basic arithmetic to college-level calculus.
- School Administration: Teachers hoping to continue their careers as principals or school administrators must complete administrator certification courses that are available at the master’s level. Most teachers seeking administrator licensure have worked as teachers for several years.
- Special Education: Special education teachers work with students who have a variety of developmental or physical disabilities. They also develop individual educational plans for each student and teach core academic classes. Special education teachers often have strict reporting requirements, and must possess patience and a love for special-needs children.
How Much Does an Education Degree Cost?
The cost of earning a degree in education varies and depends on the type of school chosen and how long students take to complete the degree. Tuition makes up the bulk of the cost, although some schools charge more than others. For example, it is cheaper to fulfill general education requirements at a community college than at a four-year university. According to College Board, the average cost of a degree from a public four-year school is less than a third of the cost of a private four-year school. Students must also factor in room and board, transportation, and books in the total cost of a degree program.
Financing Your Education Degree
Students entering the education field have many options available to finance their education, including scholarships for teaching. Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) starts the process for receiving state or federal grants, loans, publicly funded teaching scholarships, or work-study awards. With the federal TEACH Grant, students promise to teach in a high-need subject, such as science and math, at a low-income school in exchange for funds. Many states, professional organizations, retired teacher associations, and colleges offer scholarships for education majors in the hope of attracting new talent to schools. If students do require loans, several federal loan programs offer loan forgiveness or debt cancellation after teachers complete a minimum service requirement. If loans must be taken out, it is best to prioritize low-interest government loans over private loans, which accrue interest while you are still in school.
Types of Scholarships
Many scholarships for education majors seek to reward high-performing students and recruit them to the profession. Other scholarship programs look to reward work outside the classroom, offering awards to talented athletes, musicians, or artists. Special interests, family work connections, or community involvement can all help students win scholarship awards. It is important to cast a wide net when seeking scholarships or grants to ensure students defray as much of their college costs as possible. Teaching scholarships may be merit-based or need-based, and deadlines will vary.