What Do You Have to Major in to Become a Teacher?

Depending on the age and subject they wish to teach, aspiring teachers can choose from an array of education options to prepare them for employment. Explore undergraduate major options and find out about state licensing requirements for teachers. View article »

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  • 0:04 Choosing an Education Major
  • 1:56 Practical Experience
  • 2:18 Licensure Requirements

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Choosing an Education Major

If you are thinking about becoming a teacher, you have a variety of education options from which to choose. You may opt to major in educating students of a particular age, or you may major in the subject you wish to teach in the future. Let's take a closer look at the training options and requirements for aspiring teachers.

Though a bachelor's degree is required for teacher licensure or certification, no specific major is necessary to become a teacher. Many colleges and universities nevertheless offer bachelor's degree programs in different areas of education. Aspiring teachers can choose to major in the education of students at different levels, depending on their professional interests.

A major in early childhood education suits students intending to teach pre-kindergarten to third grade. This major teaches them to serve as a role model as well as an educator, since such teachers often play a vital role in the early development of children.

An elementary education major is designed for those interested in teaching students in kindergarten through the eighth grade. At this stage, education majors can specialize in a specific subject, including English, math, history, or science.

Aspiring teachers who want to work with older students specialize in secondary education, which ranges from sixth to twelfth grade. They can also choose a specific field to concentrate in, such as English literature, calculus, American history, or physics.

It's important to keep in mind that those who go on to teach college or university students have different educational requirements to meet. Postsecondary teachers need a master's or doctoral degree in the subject that they teach. As undergraduates, they should major in the subject in which they plan to pursue graduate education.

Practical Experience

A component that all education-specific majors include is student teaching, which usually occurs during senior year. These field experiences place student teachers in real classrooms with active students. Student teachers gain hands-on training under the supervision of certified teachers. Many states require teachers to complete student teaching to qualify for licensure.

Licensure Requirements

Teachers can teach different subjects at the preschool, elementary, secondary, and postsecondary levels, but they may need to be licensed before they can enter the field. A teaching license is required to teach at public schools, though it may not be necessary to teach at most private schools. State Boards of Education usually grant teacher licensure, and students should check their state's requirements before deciding on a major, since some majors include licensure preparation, while others may not.

It's clear that future teachers have a range of options available to them in college. Majors for teachers include early childhood education, elementary education, and secondary education. Postsecondary educators may focus their studies in a particular subject of interest.

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