As one of the most personally rewarding careers working with children in the United States, teachers are given the tremendous responsibility of helping young leaders reach their fullest academic, social, and professional potential. Every year, thousands of students earn a teaching degree from accredited institutions to fulfill their calling of shaping the youthful minds of our country’s future generation. In fact, the National Center for Education Information (NCEI) reports that there are nearly 3.7 million teachers educating children in elementary and secondary schools in the United States alone. Earning a teaching degree can hold tremendous value in today’s market, especially since education is one of the very few fields where the demand for qualified candidates holds steady.

While changing education curriculum has created new exciting challenges, few achievements in life can measure up to the grin on a young child’s face when they are able to read their first word or solve their first algebraic problem. Therefore, education is a field that draws in undergraduates and professional career changers who are seeking the emotional rewards that come with motivating students to learn. Teaching degrees are a great choice for college students who enjoy working with children, have a lifelong love for learning, receive satisfaction from helping others learn, possess strong communication skills, and thrive in collaborative environments. At the top teaching colleges, you receive the training to educate our nation’s next generation of nurses, engineers, scientists, artists, doctors, musicians, politicians, and teachers!

Before choosing the right degree program that meets your career goals in education, it is important to be aware of the different kinds of teaching degrees available. At the undergraduate level, some students choose to start their college studies by earning an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) or Associate of Arts (A.A.) degree in education. While a two-year degree will provide a solid foundation in teaching and open opportunities as a teacher’s aide, a four-year bachelor’s degree will be required for obtaining licensure in any state. Whether at the early childhood, elementary, middle school, or secondary education level, a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or Bachelor of Science (B.S.) will be needed to have your own classroom.

Although not required in most states, more than half (52%) of the country’s public school teachers further their undergraduate education with a master’s degree or higher. Since students of teachers with advanced degrees generally do better on standardized tests, more educators are returning to graduate school to receive a Master of Science in Education (M.S.Ed.) or Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) degree from one of the top teaching colleges. Beyond the master’s level, teachers can also choose to pursue a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Education Specialist (Ed.S.) or Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in the specialty area of their choice. Not only will advanced degrees expand teacher’s content knowledge and teaching pedagogies, but it can also open up administrative roles in school settings, including Vice Principal or Principal.

How to Find the Top Teaching Degree Programs

If you are an aspiring or existing teacher, it is essential that you are aware of your options when it comes to getting your first teaching degree or advancing your teaching career with a graduate degree. Since all teaching degree programs are not created equal, our mission is to assist you in sorting through the thousands of options available nationwide and present you with the best teaching degree programs in a wide variety of specialty areas, including early childhood education, elementary education, special education, secondary education, and physical education. In your quest to become an educator of young minds, we will provide comprehensive resource guides for teachers and education majors to ensure you reach your dreams of making a difference in the lives of countless children.

Even at the top teaching colleges, students can end up unhappy with their degree choices if they do not spend enough time assessing their own learning needs and contemplating their best career decisions. When choosing between top teaching degree programs, it is important to consider various factors, including size, type, geographic location, tuition expenses, financial aid packages, major requirements, faculty credentials, extra-curricular activities, hands-on learning programs, and national ranking. Most of all, you should choose a program that has been fully accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) or a similar accreditation agency to ensure that you will be receiving a first-rate teaching curriculum.

Thanks to the rising trend of distance learning and remarkable advancements in educational technology, online teaching degrees have become extremely popular over recent years. As a result, you may want to also consider searching for top teaching degree programs that are available online or in a hybrid format the blends online coursework with face-to-face classroom instruction by using our list of the Top 10 Online Teaching Degree Programs. Online learning can provide valuable educational experiences for aspiring teachers who are working full-time, have work/family obligations, need flexibility, are unable to relocate, and/or simply thrive in an independent learning scenario with a self-paced schedule.

In order to help with your search for finding the top teaching degree programs, we will take this opportunity to introduce to you three of the most respected teaching colleges in the United States that offer top-notch degrees through accredited facilities. Each of the following three schools described below provide education majors with appropriate hands-on instruction, access to expert faculty members in the field, nationally accredited curriculum, outstanding rankings, and an overall reputation for high-quality teaching experiences.

Northern Illinois University: For more than five decades, the College of Education (COE) at Northern Illinois University has provided outstanding teaching degree programs that allow students to learn from preeminent faculty while engaging in challenging discourse on contemporary methods of education. Within the College’s six academic departments, students can pursue a teaching degree at the bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree levels with unique emphasis areas in Learning Behavior Specialist, Environmental Education, and Visual Disabilities. Since many of the programs include very few face-to-face meetings outside of the teaching practicum experiences, Northern Illinois University has been acclaimed for offering the #1 best online graduate education programs in the nation by the U.S. News and World Report.

Johns Hopkins University: Although just established in 2007, the School of Education (SOE) at Johns Hopkins University has quickly grown into being a national leader in the education field through its transformative research and teaching innovation. With a vibrant community of scholars and around 1,200 students annually, the School is well-known for having more federally funded research than any other graduate school of education in the United States. Currently ranked as the nation’s #1 best graduate education school by the U.S. News and World Report, JHU offers master’s and doctoral degrees as well as graduate certificate programs focused on today’s most pressing needs in P-12 school systems. Students can also pursue a Master of Science in Education (M.S.Ed.) or Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) fully online.

Vanderbilt University: Within the heart of downtown Nashville, the Peabody College of Education and Human Development is home to five unique academic departments, nationally recognized research centers, and the largest undergraduate major at Vanderbilt University. As an open-minded innovative environment with a low student-to-faculty ratio, the College awards accredited bachelor’s, master’s, educational specialist, and Ph.D. degrees with personalized attention. With rankings in the top 10 for education policy, school psychology, educational administration, elementary education, secondary education, special education, and more, Peabody is recognized as the country’s 2nd best graduate education school by the U.S. News and World Report for preparing leaders. Peabody also ranks third in the amount of funded research in the past three consecutive years, with an average of $22.2 million each year!

Careers and Salaries for Individuals with Teaching Degrees

Although the prices for tuition at public institutions nationwide has risen around 40 percent since 2001 and many students fear accumulating mountains of student loan debt that will need to be repaid upon graduation, it is still worth the investment to receive a teaching degree in today’s current job market. For new certified teachers with a bachelor’s degree in education, the national average starting teacher salary is currently around $35,672. That being said, the National Center for Education Statistics reports that the estimated average annual salary of all teachers in public elementary and secondary schools is $56,383. As with any other profession, average annual wages tend to increase with a teacher’s added experience and education levels, so advanced teaching degrees can lead to many lucrative career opportunities.

Average annual salaries for teachers can vary significantly based on their chosen specialty area and work environment, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. Elementary school teachers in grades 1-6 typically earn a mean annual wage of $56,320, while kindergarten teachers make slightly less with an average salary of $52,840 and preschool teachers bring home significantly less at just $31,420 each year. Special education teachers at all grade levels also have a mean salary of $54,920 per year. Among the highest paid in the teaching profession are secondary school teachers in grades 7-12 who can earn a mean annual wage of $58,260 and post-secondary teachers working in colleges who have an average yearly salary of $65,630. Of course, advanced teaching degrees leading to school administrative roles can bring even higher annual salaries surpassing the $130,000 mark too.

Therefore, not only do teaching degrees lead to career opportunities that represent long-term job stability with relatively pleasing annual average salaries, but they also prepare you for job openings in an in-demand expanding field. Even though our nation’s economy is still struggling to beat the lasting effects of the recent recession, teacher shortages are still very common in many locations throughout the United States. By 2020, it is estimated that there will need to be 440,000 more qualified certified teachers to serve the academic needs of the latest growing brood of children between the ages of 4 and 18 years old. Employment of teachers is expected to grow at the overall fast rate of 13% before 2022, thus providing a general consensus that our school systems need more great teachers.

Due to the increasing trends in immigration leading to a rising enrollment of bilingual students, there is a very large demand for teachers to earn a degree in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESOL) to educate our nation’s English language learners. Furthermore, specialized teachers who have chosen a specialty teaching area in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics (STEM) will have extremely promising job prospects. Since over 600,000 children in the public school system have been diagnosed with a physical, learning, behavioral, or developmental disability, special education teachers are also in demand to meet the unique needs of these learning challenges. Graduates with teaching degrees can expect to find the highest percentage of job openings in high-needs schools in the South and West, especially those in urban or rural areas where at least 30% of students are living below the poverty line.

Overall, more than 200,000 new teachers enter classrooms across the United States each fall to start the challenging career choice of inspiring young learners to do their best daily. Since studies have proven that an exceptional teacher can impart a year’s worth of learning in half that time, teaching is an extremely rewarding profession that has the possibility of positively impacting the lives of numerous young people. Using the excellent quality resources found within this website, you will have the knowledge needed to make sound career decisions on choosing the top teaching colleges that will help you fulfill your mission of becoming an expert in the education field.