Teaching Degrees: Full Guide

Understanding Teaching Degrees

Depending on your unique situation, the exact type of education you may need in order to become a teacher, may vary. Below we are reviewing all of the degree program options you can get and discuss pros and cons of each.

So, what programs are available for you, first, they can be taught at different levels:

Undergraduate
  • Associate’s Degrees
  • Bachelor’s Degrees
Graduate
  • Master’s Degrees
  • Doctoral Degrees

Undergraduate Degrees in Education

While most undergraduate teacher preparation programs are delivered in traditional ways — on campus and in a classroom setting-more and more colleges and universities are making parts of programs, and even entire undergraduate programs, available online. 

Are you seeking an associate’s or bachelor’s degree? Many adults are finding a growing number of program options available through e-learning, allowing them to maintain their work and family responsibilities while continuing their education. Learn more about the programs available that can meet your particular needs. And get information, tools and tips for pursuing an undergraduate degree by reviewing the links below.

Are you a new adult learner beginning your college studies, a returning student after years of inactivity or a recent student ready to continue your undergraduate studies through e-learning? Join the increasing number of adult students continuing their education. Based upon your circumstance, we have paths for you within the Electronic Campus.

Completing your undergraduate degree will open up new opportunities for you to further you career, to prepare for a career change, or to pursue graduate study at a later date. Here are some tips you should consider as you begin your search:

  1. Have a good understanding of what the degree requirements are and how long the program might take to complete based upon the amount of coursework your schedule will permit. This will be based, in large part, on whether you plan to study full-time or part-time. Are you committing yourself to a long-term program when you are looking for a short-term solution? Consider alternatives that move you towards a higher degree, e.g., assessment of prior learning and credit-based certificate programs in your skill areas. These can be real time shortcuts for you.
  2. Be realistic is assessing your work and family situation and the time commitments you must make to pursue and to be successful in your studies.
  3. Research the support services available to you at work, home and at the college or university of your choice (we can help with the latter with the tools in the Electronic Campus, including Campus Tours and specialized information and services for adult learners noted below).
  4. Know where you stand academically BEFORE making a formal commitment. If you have accumulated credits from other institutions, have those evaluated, at least informally, by your institution of choice. Credits may be too “old,” or not meet specific requirements, or may not be transferable for some other reason. Many  states have transfer credit programs and planners to assist you in this important activity.
  5. Know what your financial commitments will be over the time you plan to study (beyond just tuition and including books, materials, technology, etc.) and plan accordingly. Financial assistance, depending on your situation, might be available. Links are listed below.

Graduate Degrees in Education

A growing number of working professionals are opting to pursue graduate study online. Graduate study online provides the quality and flexibility working professionals need to balance work, family, and other obligations. Moreover, the number of colleges and universities offering graduate programs online is increasing. 

Are you looking to continue your education and build on your hard-earned bachelor’s degree? Do you want (or need) to pursue graduate study to continue in you chosen career? Are looking to enhance your opportunities for promotion or career advancement? Graduate study, particularly for working adults, may be the answer. 

It is available in convenient and flexible formats to allow you to work and study simultaneously. We have information on courses and programs, both via e-learning and through traditional on-campus study, to help you continue your education. Follow the links below for tools and tips to guide you into graduate study, and use our search tools to find the right college and program for your needs.

A graduate degree has become, for many working professionals, a necessity. While historically a full-time, campus-based and multi-year experience, graduate education has evolved and now serves a huge number of working professionals who are combining full-time work with part-time graduate study. 

Many colleges and universities are responding to the increased demand for these flexible programs by offering complete online graduate programs that have no residential or on-campus requirements (although you may opt to take courses on campus as many students do in a “blended” program). The number of programs is increasing as are the number of disciplines. 

Master’s degree programs and post-baccalaureate certificate programs are numerous. Doctoral programs are also emerging, although most still require some form of residency. If you are looking to pursue graduate study, your options are plentiful.

Many of the “rules” governing undergraduate education do not apply or are applied in different ways in graduate study. Few if any legitimate graduate programs award credit for life experience (although some requirements may be satisfied by your knowledge in a particular area). Transfer credits are typically limited at the graduate level, not permitting students to “bundle” credits from multiple institutions towards a degree. Financial assistance is available but in a more limited fashion.

Here are some tips you should consider as you begin your search for the best graduate teaching program to meet your needs:

  1. Graduate education IS different from your undergraduate experience, and you should know this going into your search. First and foremost, you will focus in-depth in a particular subject or discipline at the master’s level (indeed even more so if you are pursuing a doctoral program). 
  2. So be sure the discipline you are interested in is one you wish to study in depth. Know that more will be will be expected of you, both in writing and speaking, and that the motivation for succeeding must come from within — you will not be coerced to keep up with others as you might have at the undergraduate level.
  3. What kind of graduate program are you looking for? There are many to choose from, including traditional research-based programs and the emerging (and quite popular for online degrees) “professional” graduate programs that are more practice oriented and focus on working professionals seeking graduate degrees. 
  4. Each program is carefully structured to meet the needs of a specific audience and is usually delivered in intense formats, including weekends, supplemented by e-learning and internship-type activities. 
  5. Research the requirements of the program thoroughly. Is it a thesis, non-thesis or optional (your choice) degree program? If thesis only, be aware of the requirements for completing this major research activity.
  6. Know the program requirements! How many credits must be earned to complete the degree, how much time do you have to complete your degree program (some institutions place limits on the number of years you have to complete requirements) and what specific coursework is required? Is there a suggested or required internship or a residency (on-campus) learning experience required?
  7. Be realistic about the time commitment that will be required to undertake graduate coursework and completing your degree program. Make sure you have or can make the necessary time available to get the most out of your graduate program. The old adage you will get out of it what you put in it is very true in graduate education.
  8. What requirements must you satisfy to enter the program, particularly if your undergraduate degree is in a different field? Many graduate programs require you to have completed a common set of courses; others allow you to enter from any undergraduate major. This is particularly important for considering any prerequisite work or requirements that need to be met.
  9. Graduate education is a collegial experience. Mentoring and advising are important dimensions to any graduate study, and you should be aware of the faculty you will work with and the mentoring/advising that is available. This is particularly important in e-learning programs where you will not have the benefit of direct and regular interaction with faculty on campus.
  10. What support services are provided by the offering college or university? This is particularly important in e-learning programs where access to needed library resources and services, testing procedures, submission of coursework, and access to various graduate services is essential to a successful learning experience.
  11. What financial support might be available to you to support your graduate efforts? You should check for financial support through your employer (e.g., employee tuition reimbursement program), local, regional and national scholarships, etc.
  12. Finally, enjoy the graduate experience. While it is a lot of work, it is also very rewarding.

Certificate Teaching Degrees & Programs

Certificate programs, typically post-baccalaureate level learning activities, have increased in popularity over the past few years. Certificate programs, offered in both credit and non-credit formats, are typically designed to recognize learning in a specialized area, often a skill or set of skills recognized in an industry. A growing number of these specialized certificates are available online. Learn more about these programs and those available in the SREB states at the expanded Electronic Campus.

Is your employer suggesting (or demanding) you acquire a specialized certificate to maintain and expand your skills? Certificate programs, both credit and non-credit, have grown in popularity during the past decade. There are arrays of programs from multiple providers. For tools and tips on where to find certificate programs and the providers and benefits of certificates, follow the links below.

What is a certificate program?

A certificate program is typically a post-baccalaureate award, not a degree, available for completing a series of courses of in-depth study in a specific area. Certificate programs are designed to provide you with the most up-to-date skills, practices, and information that your employer might require or that you seek to enter or move up in a particular field. Often a certificate program will certify practice in some professions.

Most certificate programs are designed by practicing professionals or specialists in their fields and are designed for intense short-term study. Because many individuals seeking certificate programs need to balance work and study, online delivery permits flexible scheduling and convenience for both you and your employer.

For most adult learners, certificate programs have become a popular means for demonstrating skills and knowledge in a specific subject or discipline. Technology certifications are now quite common and have become, in some work situations, the equivalent of a degree for entry.

There is a growing use by adults of post-baccalaureate credit certificate programs as a “bridge” to graduate education. Many adult learners use the courses and credits earned in a certificate program as a path towards a graduate degree. It is a good strategy and a good reason for considering earning credit for any certificate program you consider.

Many undergraduate and graduate students are now enrolling in certificate programs to complement the degree they are seeking. These certificates, earned for additional credit courses, have become popular in the past decade in such areas Gerontology and Women’s Studies.

How long does a certificate program take to complete?

This can vary widely based upon the kind of certification program, number of credits required, and whether the program is a “stand alone” activity or being taken in parallel with another degree program. Like all areas of study, specifics vary with each certificate, but on the average a college or university certificate will be 18-21 credit hours. Non-credit certificate programs are typically shorter in duration and are more skill-oriented.

How do I know a certificate is valid?

There is no single body that approves or “accredits” certificate programs. The validity is often determined by one of two factors: the “value” of the certificate in the marketplace and/or the accredited status of the college or university providing the certificate. Since certificates may be awarded by non-academic providers (usually non-credit), the acceptance of the certificate in the job market is critical. The recent explosion of information technology (IT) certificates is a great example of a non-credit certificate that many employers now place great value on. A growing number of colleges and universities offer non-credit certificates.

For credit-bearing certificates issued by colleges and universities, check to be sure that the institution is accredited by a recognized accrediting body, particularly regional accrediting bodies. Often credits earned in these certificate programs are transferable or may be used to meet degree requirements. This is particularly true in post-baccalaureate and post-graduate certificates.

What can I get a certificate in?

The options are literally too lengthy to list. Certificates are available in most all professional areas and in some fairly esoteric areas ranging from Coding Insurance Forms in the health professions to Homeland Security.

Where can I get a certificate? 

For non-credit certificate programs, check with your Human Resources officer to determine the acceptance and benefits for a certificate. They should also be able to inform you of available non-credit programs in your discipline or work area.