Do You Need a Master's Degree to Teach High School?

Aside from parents, teachers may be the most important people to a child's development and adolescent learning. Training requirements for teachers vary by state and type of school. Most private schools have fewer educational restrictions for teachers than public schools. Aspiring teachers should check with their state school board for degree, licensure and experience requirements. View article »

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  • 0:03 Do You Need a Master's Degree?
  • 1:13 General Education Requirements
  • 1:46 State Licensing Requirements

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Video Transcript

Do You Need a Master's Degree?

While master's degrees may be helpful in obtaining work as a high school teacher, it is not required in all states. In general, the minimum requirement for this teaching position is a bachelor's degree in education and proper state licensing. Educational requirements for teachers vary from state to state and depend on the type of school. Some states require high school teachers without a master's degree to earn one after certification. However, few demand a master's degree before a teaching license may be obtained. In most instances, special education teachers must have specialized graduate-level training in areas such as psychology, childhood development, or learning disorders.

Principals of public high schools typically need a master's or doctoral degree in education or school administration; most states also require candidates to have substantial previous teaching experience. Due to the managerial nature of the position, successful principals have a background in communications and leadership. Many schools offer graduate degree programs for high school principals that concentrate on school finance, curriculum development, multicultural education, or psychology.

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  • Teacher Education, Multiple Levels
  • Teaching, Adults
  • Teaching, Elementary
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  • Teaching, Kindergarten and Preschool
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  • Teaching, Young Children

General Education Requirements

Most states require teaching candidates to hold at least a bachelor's degree to work in public secondary educational institutions. Typically, teachers should hold a degree in the field of education, preferably with a concentration or minor in the subject they wish to teach. One example is a Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) with a minor in English.

Provisional accommodations may be made for graduates without a degree in education, but teachers may be required to return to school to complete a teaching program or set of courses within a specified timeframe after receiving an alternate teaching license.

State Licensing Requirements

Many states offer reciprocal licensing, which allows teachers to transfer one state's license to another state. Retesting for certification or licensure is not required until the previous license has expired, though most states have continuing education requirements for licensure renewal.

Teacher shortages have prompted the increase of alternative licensing options in several states, granting conditional licensure to teachers. Most of these options require additional education, experience, or testing before a permanent license can be earned.

The minimum education needed to become a high school teacher is a bachelor's degree in education with a concentration in the subject you wish to teach, though some states and positions may require the completion of a graduate program. Potential teachers will also need to be licensed by the state. For more details on the requirements, check with the state in which you're interested in teaching.

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