A teaching degree is the clearest path to a career in education. So what are the requirements for starting and completing an education degree?
Requirements for starting an education degree
The requirements for starting a bachelor’s degree in education are pretty basic. You just need to have reasonably good high school grades and acceptable college entrance exam scores. If your high school transcripts and your marks on the SAT or ACT are good enough to get you into university, they’re good enough that you can declare a major in education.
Getting into a Masters in education is a little different. Most universities have different undergraduate GPA requirements for admission into each of their Master’s programs. Moreover, graduate education degrees seldom look at past SAT or ACT scores, and usually don’t require a GRE score.
But you shouldn’t worry too much about meeting the requirements. Generally, Master’s programs in education will accept students with any kind of undergrad degree– you don’t need to have an undergrad in education. And the GPA requirements are are usually similar to the average requirements for other Master’s programs at the school.
Coursework requirements for completing an undergraduate education degree
You will be expected to complete certain kinds of classes no matter which education degree you choose to enter (elementary education, science education, language arts, etc…). To complete your Bachelor’s in education, you’ll be required to take a range of courses on developmental psychology, learning theory, and classroom pedagogy.
Every content area has additional coursework requirements too. For example, if you’re looking to get licensed as a social studies teacher, you may need to take a certain amount of credits in university-level humanities classes.
Most state licensing boards give social studies teachers a lot of choice in exactly which humanities classes they take, provided they take enough credits. Other content area licenses have stricter degree coursework requirements. A licensed art teacher would need to take coursework specifically in art, a licensed science teacher might need a certain number of biology courses and a certain number of physics courses… you get the idea.
Coursework requirements for completing a graduate education degree
Courses in your content area are pretty easy to include in your degree plan as an undergraduate. However, at the Master’s level, completing all the required content area coursework can be a struggle in some cases.
Say you want to get licensed to teach math, but you didn’t major or minor in math as an undergrad. You might need to take a full year (or more!) of math classes before you can start the regular education classes in your degree program.
Because of this, it’s not uncommon for a Master’s degree in education to take more than two years– I’ve worked with students who wound up spending 3, even 3 and a half years getting a graduate education degree in a subject they hadn’t previously studied.
So at the graduate level, it’s definitely best to know the required coursework before you enroll– make sure you know whether your Masters will take two years or more than two. And consider getting licensed in a content area you took a lot of classes in as an undergrad.
Fieldwork requirements for completing an education degree
Every education degree requires some kind of fieldwork before graduation and licensure. Fieldwork requirements vary at different universities. But all education degrees require some kind of student teaching experience– a period ranging from eight weeks to several months, in which you assume most or all of the responsibilities of a full teacher..
Classroom observation– visiting schools to watch professional teachers in action– is another common fieldwork requirement. In some cases, your degree program may require you to do some some volunteer work as a classroom aide as well.