An aspiring teacher may consider several types of degree programs. Students may earn a bachelor's degree in education or, if teaching at the secondary school level is a goal, a major in the subject they wish to teach. Trained teachers may also enroll in a master's degree program in the field. Some programs are offered entirely online, with the exception of a student teaching practicum. Others are offered in a hybrid format that requires both online and in-person coursework, as well as a student teaching experience.
Courses in a teacher education program generally cover classroom management, teaching theory, child and adolescent development and current research issues in education. Students majoring in a subject such as English or science will take courses in those subjects and study how to teach them as well. Aspiring teachers must complete a supervised student teaching experience in a school.
Bachelor's Degree Program Options
Individuals aspiring to be kindergarten, elementary or secondary school teachers will find a Bachelor of Arts in Education, Bachelor of Science in Education or Bachelor of Education available online. These programs provide foundational instruction, and they are designed to meet minimum requirements for teacher certification. Students may also decide to major in the specific topic in which they intend to teach, such as English, math or science.
Degree programs cover a variety of topics related to education, such as contemporary pedagogic theories and principles, curriculum trends and the use of modern technology in the classroom. Online programs train students to impart knowledge, motivate students, assess progress, assign homework, administer exams and prepare students for advancement to the next grade.
Program Information and Requirements
A bachelor's degree program takes about four years to complete. Fully online programs and hybrid programs, which combine an on-campus and online curriculum, are available. Some programs may require students to complete general education requirements on campus.
Courses at the bachelor's degree level are comprised of general education requirements, as well as introductory and advanced courses specific to the education major. In addition to coursework, aspiring teachers must fulfill student teaching hours to qualify for a teaching license.
Contemporary Research Trends in Instruction and Curriculum
Students analyze contemporary instructional approaches used by elementary and high school teachers. Some special topics of interest include critical thinking and information retention in math and science, memory and metacognition, study skills and human cognition process.
Modern Technology and Teaching
This course explores current uses of modern technology in the classroom, and its effect on teaching students educational goals. Students look at how technology can affect the learning process. Focus is placed on instructional media, interactive multimedia formats and presentation skills.
Maintaining Classroom Attention
This course looks at curriculum development, learning assessment and inclusive instruction in the classroom. Students focus on selection of appropriate teaching materials, preparation of lesson plans and analysis of student assessment.
In addition to formal education, all states require public school teachers to be licensed. Typically, secondary school teachers hold a bachelor's degree in the subject in which they teach (www.bls.gov). According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for high school teachers was expected to increase by 6% from 2014 to 2024 (www.bls.gov) and by 6% for K-elementary school teachers for the same time period. The same source attributed the rising job prospects to rising enrollments and lower student-teacher ratios (www.bls.gov).
In 2015, the BLS noted that the average salary for kindergarten teachers was $54,510; for elementary teachers, $54,890; for middle school teachers, $58,760; and for high school teachers, $60,440. While a bachelor's degree is considered sufficient, an increasing number of students continue his or her education at the master's level, which typically gives them an edge with employers.
Online bachelor's holders may choose to enter into the workforce or continue their education through a master's degree program. Master's degree programs provide students with advanced theoretical knowledge in educational leadership. Students also conduct advanced research in education and school reform.
Online programs for aspiring teachers include courses that focus on curriculum design, classroom management and instructional techniques, as well as the opportunity to apply these principles in a school setting during a student teaching experience. Graduates are ready to pursue licensure so they can work as public school teachers.