Love Secondary Education? Explore Degree Programs at Every Level

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by All Star Staff

two college students talking while taking a break outside on a college campus
two college students talking while taking a break outside on a college campus

Whether you’re a seasoned secondary teacher looking to advance your career or a recent graduate whose own high school diploma has yet to collect dust, there is a secondary education program designed just for you.

With on-campus and online programs that range in scope and intensity, you are sure to find one that will successfully prepare you for the secondary education career you’re after.

Bachelor’s Degrees

For those of you who have already decided on an educational track right out of high school, entering your undergraduate education with a clear view of your career goals can put you leaps and bounds ahead of your peers. There are many different undergraduate secondary education programs for prospective secondary teachers, so choosing the right one for you is important.

Both Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees are available. Depending on your goals, you’ll want to choose one that best fits with the types of classes you anticipate teaching.

For instance, prospective English teachers can pursue a Bachelor of Arts in English for Secondary Teachers while prospective math teachers should opt for a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics for Secondary Teachers.

Secondary Teacher Certification

The quickest way to start your middle or high school teaching career is to earn an undergraduate degree and then get your secondary teacher certification in your state.

Luckily, nearly all secondary education degree programs are catered toward meeting certification requirements in their respective states, so you may only need to take an exam in order to become licensed if you plan to teach in the same area where you attend school.

The type of certificate you pursue will depend on the age group you plan to teach. Some states offer a generalist certificate for middle school teachers (grades 5 – 8), but require high school teachers (grades 9 – 12) to specialize in particular subjects.

Others require subject-area endorsement for all people seeking secondary teacher certification (grades 6 – 12). Today, more and more states require each certified teacher to hold a master’s degree or work toward one within the first few years of teaching.

Check with your state Department of Education to find out what’s required in your area.

Master’s Degrees

With more states requiring teachers to hold master’s degrees, secondary education programs for working adults are becoming more common. And, with the benefits of earning a higher income and/or taking on a leadership position, getting your master’s in secondary education has never been a better idea.

The two most common types of master’s degrees for secondary teachers are the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) degree and the Master of Education (MEd) degree. Both programs normally include all courses necessary for certification in that state, but some do not, so make sure you check with the school before enrolling.

MAT programs often focus in specialized areas such as curriculum development or educational psychology, while MEd in Secondary Education programs usually provide a broader perspective. They often take about two years to complete and include an additional student-teaching component.

Educational Specialist Degrees

In the past, most secondary classroom teachers had little use for an Educational Specialist degree (EdS); however, as more teachers earn master’s degrees, completing this next step on the education continuum is becoming a way for teachers to stand out.

An EdS usually requires 30 to 45 credit hours of work beyond a master’s degree and leads toward advanced certification in areas such as school psychology, special education or administration. If you are interested in pursuing a highly specialized position, this secondary education degree may be for you.

Doctoral Degrees

Getting a doctorate in Secondary Education can set you up for leadership positions in the nation’s best secondary schools. Most doctoral students pursue university teaching positions; however, some prefer to pursue research roles or top-level administrative positions in secondary schools and school districts.

  • A Doctor of Education (EdD) degree is more of an applied practice degree that focuses on leadership and pedagogy. EdD candidates often specialize in areas such as teaching and learning, leadership, administration, or curriculum development.
  • On the other hand, a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree is more of an academic degree that emphasizes theoretical research and understanding. Researchers often prefer this degree. Most doctoral secondary education programs require completion of 15 post-master’s level classes, an exam and a dissertation.

Continuing Education

If you already have the secondary education degree you want but are interested in increasing your knowledge and improving your teaching, a variety of continuing education options are available to you.

Continuing education classes are often offered through colleges and universities online or in the evenings and on weekends.

Both simple courses and multi-course programs are available to help you increase your skills so you can take a secondary education program that leads toward an additional certification endorsement or simply gain insight into teaching specific subjects or age-groups.

Make sure you find out if your school district reimburses tuition costs or offers teacher perks for completing continuing education courses while employed there.

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