High School Teaching Degrees

Interested in becoming a high school teacher? You'll need a degree in secondary education. This comprehensive guide walks you through the steps and requirements of earning that degree.

High School Teacher Requirements

The high school teacher requirements are relatively the same across the country. You must:

  1. Earn a bachelor's degree in education or secondary education with a concentration or minor in the subject you wish to teach (or a bachelor's in your subject field and minor in education)
  2. Obtain certification/licensure by passing the required state examinations (if you wish to teach in a public school)
  3. Pass a content-specific licensure exam, based on the subject you plan to teach.

If you're interested in teaching at the high school level, you are more likely to succeed if you:

  • Are patient and understanding, but feel comfortable acting authoritatively toward your students
  • Know how to convey information about your subject area effectively
  • Are committed to your lessons and your students' success
  • Can adapt to new methods, curriculum, and classroom technologies as education techniques evolve

Secondary Education Degree Programs

Secondary education degrees are available at both the bachelor's and master's degree levels. They are also available in both traditional on-campus and online formats. Admission requirements to secondary education degree programs vary by school, but requirements for bachelor's and master's programs may include:

  • Reference letters
  • Prerequisite courses
  • Minimum GPA scores of 3.0
  • Exams such as the SAT and ACT for bachelor's degree seekers and the GRE for master's degree seekers

A bachelor's degree usually takes four years to attain, and a master's degree in secondary education takes an additional two or three years. Accreditation of any program is essential for obtaining certification in secondary education.

Secondary Education Major

A bachelor's in secondary education degree program will develop your expertise of a particular subject and prepare you for a career of teaching it to high schoolers. This program consists of between 120-140 credit hours and a student-teaching component.

As a secondary education major, you'll take core academic courses, and complete a comprehensive study of the education process and field. In this degree program, you can learn about:

  • The history, theory, and philosophy of education
  • Classroom management
  • Pedagogical methodologies
  • How to develop a syllabus
  • Integration of technology

Master's in Secondary Education

A master's in secondary education expands upon what you learned in your undergraduate courses. In your grad program, you will conduct more research, gain more real-world experience, and review more advanced topics in education. Some common courses include:

  • Adolescent Psychology
  • Language and Culture
  • Diagnostic Assessment
  • Scholarship and professional development

The program typically requires 36 credits, typically completed in three to four full-time semesters.

Secondary Education Degree Online

Online bachelor's degrees in secondary education are uncommon, but there are many master's degree programs in secondary education available online. With an online option, you can complete your secondary education degree on your own time, at your own pace. While the majority of the courses will be completed entirely online, student-teaching work must still be done in-person. This type of program can take just as long as its traditional counterpart.

Master's in Secondary Education Online

An online master's in secondary education offers you flexibility and accessibility to your coursework. Credit hour requirements will be the same as a traditional, on-campus master's program. It will also feature the same classes as on-campus programs, usually substituting classroom interaction with discussion boards. If mandated, a student-teaching component would require you to work in a school for a semester, though a seminar could act as a replacement.

How to Become a High School Teacher

A high school teacher, instructs students in a specific subject, such as a branch of mathematics, history, art, or language studies.

Over the course of your secondary education degree program, you will participate in a student-teaching opportunity at a local high school to gain experience. After you complete your degree, you must pass state certification exams prior to gaining your teaching credential. Typically, you do not need a master's to teach high school, although some states may require you to earn a master's after several years of teaching. Obtaining this advanced degree may also help bolster your earning potential.

Let's take a look at a few subject specific high school teacher requirements.

How to Become a High School English Teacher

An English teacher educates teenagers in advanced reading, writing, vocabulary, and literature. Becoming a high school English teacher entails earning a bachelor's degree in English, or in education with an English endorsement. You then must pass the required state certification exams, which typically include an English-specific content knowledge test.

How to Become a High School History Teacher

Aside from going over the usual names, places, and events of a historical era, a high school history teacher takes a deeper look into history and helps students analyze the past to determine historical and modern impacts. Aspiring history teachers, depending on their state, are required to major in either education or history. Those opting for an undergrad degree in education would need to minor in history or take a diversity of history classes. Either way, a teacher preparation program is a necessary component.

After completion of your degree or preparation program, you must take the certification exams required by your state, which may consist of a basic content knowledge exam and a history-specific exam.

How to Become a High School Art Teacher

A high school art teacher works with students by fostering technical skills and the use of imagination and self-expression in the creation of visual artworks, in addition to teaching art history. You'll typically engage in artistic mediums such as drawing, painting, and crafts. Prior to entering this career, you must have completed a bachelor's degree program, concentrating in art. You will then be required to complete the state-mandated certification exams before you can enter the field.

How to Become a High School Math Teacher

High school math teachers educate students in fundamental arithmetic, algebra, trigonometry, and other sublevels of mathematics. To become a high school math teacher, teachers typically earn a bachelor's degree in education with a specialty in mathematics. The next step is to become certified by passing the required state exam(s), including a math-specific exam.

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