How to Major in Education
As an Education Major, you could build toward a career as a classroom teacher, guidance counselor, special education expert, district administrator, university professor and much more. Majoring in education can open the door to a wide range of career prospects. Read on to find out what you can expect as an Education Major.
The education major is among the most popular college degree programs both because it provides a clear pathway to a career in education, and because it is extremely versatile. Be aware that if you are interested in becoming a public school classroom teacher for grades K-12, you will need to earn a bachelor’s degree from a recognized teaching education program in order to sit for your state license. Moreover, some states or school districts may also require public school classroom teachers to hold an advanced degree. If you wish to teach at the post-secondary level, you must earn an advanced degree.
As you pursue a major in education, think about the setting and subject area where you wish to apply your skills, as well as the age group you wish to work with. This should help you find the best area of focus in your education major.
If you’re ready to earn this degree at one of the most prestigious schools in the world, get started with a look at the Most Influential Schools in Education.
Or read on to find out what you can expect as an education major.
5 Reasons to Major in Education
1.Education majors are always in demand.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that rising enrollment in elementary, middle, and high schools across the U.S. will increase the demand for teachers at every level of compulsory education over the next decade. The BLS does warn though that this demand will vary by region. As an aspiring educator, take stock of the career opportunities in your community and region.
2.Education majors have plenty of opportunities for upward mobility.
As an educator, you can go as far as your highest degree allows. If you’re looking for entry-level work in the field, an associate’s degree could help you get your foot in the door. You can continue on to a bachelor’s degree (and sit for your state license) if you wish to become a classroom teacher; earn a master’s degree to become a principal, administrator, or post-secondary instructor; and ultimately earn a PhD if you wish to become a full professor.
3.Education majors enjoy job security and strong benefits.
Once hired as a public school teacher, you’ll begin on your path toward tenure. Tenure provides you with inbuilt job protection against unfounded dismissal or dismissal based on budget cuts. Moreover, teachers are represented by a powerful labor union, which creates a strong negotiating position for fair pay, health coverage, retirement benefits and, of course, summers off!
4.Education majors make a positive difference in the lives of students and families.
Career prospects aside, the vast majority of educators enter into this profession because it’s the best way to make a direct and positive impact on others. Whether you hope to help young learners read, give struggling students hope for a better future, provide adult learners with practical skills, or produce innovations in online education, majoring in education can give you the tools to create opportunity for others.
5.5. Education majors are influential.
Education allows us to reach our fullest potential, to seize opportunity, to better our own lives. Leaders in education have a profound influence on the students whose lives they touch—both those who work one-on-one in the classroom to forge tomorrow’s leaders and those who produce the innovations and ideas that impact the lives of thousands. Today, top influencers in education are focusing their efforts on the theory of multiple intelligences, examining critical race theory and its relation to education debt in America, the modern small schools movement, and much more.
What Kinds of Education Degrees Are There?
The type and level of education degree you earn will connect directly to your eligibility for certain professional opportunities. For instance, in order to sit for your public school teaching license, most states require that you have earned at least a bachelor’s degree with an approved teaching education program. In order to teach at the post-secondary level, you would need to earn an advanced degree:
- Associate of Education: The associate level degree in education will typically require 1 to 2 years for completion. This foundational degree can create entry-level opportunities in pre-school education, teaching assistance, or as part of a private education company. It can also give you an affordable head-start on your bachelor’s degree.
- Bachelor of Education: The bachelor’s degree in education is among the most popular four-year college majors. This is because the bachelor’s degree is the basic threshold for becoming licensed to teach at a public school in most states. Your bachelor’s degree will provide foundational education in teaching theories, instructional methodologies, and developmental psychology. Many education majors also choose a minor, or a double major, in a subject area where they plan to teach. Therefore, an aspiring history teacher may pursue a double major in education and history. Some education programs may allow you to combine pursuit of your bachelor’s and master’s degrees into a single 5-year program. Find out if the education department at your college offers this option.
- Master of Education: While a bachelor’s degree is required to earn your teaching license in most states, many schools and districts may actually require you to have earned a master’s degree in order to qualify for classroom teaching. This is not true everywhere, but earning a master’s in education will significantly expand your employment opportunities. This 2-year degree can also provide a pathway for professional advancement into a leadership role at the departmental level or as a principal or administrator. As noted above, you may be able to complete this program in less time if your school provides a combination bachelor’s and master’s degree program. If you are already employed as an educator, your school or district may be willing to help pay for your master’s degree.
- PhD in Education: The doctoral is a terminal degree in education, and will typically require between 3 and 5 years for completion. This degree is recommended if you are interested in working as a professional researcher or pursuing a professorship in teaching and education.
*Note: Many, but not all, degree programs offer the choice between Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees. Likewise, many, but not all, advanced degree programs offer a choice between Master of Arts, and Master of Science degrees. In most cases, the primary difference is the diversity of course offerings. “Science” degree courses will focus almost entirely on the major discipline, with a deep dive into a specific concentration, including laboratory, clinical or practicum experience. An “Arts” degree will provide a more well-rounded curriculum which includes both core/concentration courses and a selection of humanities and electives. The type of degree you choose will depend both on your school’s offerings and your career/educational goals. Moreover, there are sometimes numerous variations in the way that colleges name and categorize majors. The degree types identified here above are some of the common naming variations, but may not be all-encompassing.
Thinking of a graduate degree in education? Check out What Can I Do With a Master’s Degree in Education? for more information on obtaining a graduate degree in this field.
What Are Some Popular Education Concentrations?
Your “concentration” refers to a specific area of focus within your major. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) provides a complete listing of college programs and courses (Classification for Instructional Programs), as sourced from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). According to IPEDS, the following are among the most popular education concentrations:
- Curriculum and Instruction
- Educational Administration and Supervision
- Educational/Instructional Media Design
- Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research
- Early Childhood Education and Testing
- Special Education and Teaching
- Student Counseling and Personnel Services
- Teacher Education and Professional Development
- Adult Literacy Tutor/Instructor
What Courses Will I Take as an Education Major?
Your concentration will determine many of the courses you’ll take as an education major. Depending on your focus, you may take a larger number of courses in a particular area such as subject-specific pedagogy, counseling courses, or educational leadership courses. Likewise, most education majors are required to take a number of requisite courses on foundational topics such as instructional planning and early childhood development. Beyond that, the following are among the common subjects that you’ll likely study on the way to an education degree:
- Introduction to Instructional Design
- Adult Learning Theories
- Teaching for Cognitive Growth
- Project-Based Learning
- Science and Engineering Programs for Teachers
- Foundations of Positive Psychology
- Learning to Teach Online
- Literacy Education
What Can I Do With a Major in Education?
Naturally, majoring in education is the starting point if you wish to teach in the classroom. But it’s also the logical starting place if you hope to become a guidance counselor, high school principal, or college professor, as well as a good place to launch a career in educational technology, online teaching, college consulting, and much more. Your education major can lead to a wide range of career opportunities, including these top jobs:
- High School Teachers
- Middle School Teachers
- Career and Technical Education Teachers
- Postsecondary Teachers
- Special Education Teachers
- Teacher Assistants
- Preschool Teachers
- Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers
Thinking of a graduate degree in education? Check out What Can I Do With a Master’s Degree in Education? for more information on obtaining a graduate degree in this field.***
Check out The Most Influential Schools in Education and get started on your path to an Education degree.