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Step 2: Choose a Teaching Degree & Focus

Step 2: Choose a Teaching Degree & Focus

Jill Hare | Teaching

Choosing a School for Teacher Education

You must hold a bachelor’s degree. to become a teacher. Check with your state, however, as some states now require a Master’s degree. Depending on the state you want to teach in, you may need a minor or major in the field of Education.

If you plan on teaching grades 6-12, a bachelor’s degree in the subject you wish to teach in mandatory.

You must complete an accredited program that fulfills student teaching requirements with a certain number of hours in the classroom.

Colleges that charge $20,000 per year and more do exist, but they are the exception. In 2005-2006, the average in-state full-time tuition and fees per year for an undergraduate at a four-year public university was $5,206. (Source: National Center for Education Statistics, Higher Education General Information Survey.) Typically, community colleges cost less and private schools cost more.

Types of Schools

Most postsecondary schools can be described as public or private, two-year or four-year.

Public institutions are state supported. Private for-profit institutions are businesses. Private not-for-profit institutions are independent — for instance, the school might have been established by a church or through local community donations rather than by the state government.

Four-year institutions offer bachelor’s degrees, and some offer advanced degrees. Two-year institutions offer associate’s degrees. Less-than-two-year institutions offer training and award certificates of completion.

College – A four-year college grants bachelor’s degrees (Bachelor of Arts; Bachelor of Science). Some colleges also award master’s degrees.

University – A university grants bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and sometimes includes a professional school such as a law school or medical school. Universities tend to be larger than colleges, focus more on scholarly or scientific research, and might have larger class sizes.

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Community college – A public two-year college granting associate’s degrees and sometimes certificates in particular technical (career-related) subjects. Some students start their postsecondary education at a community college and then transfer to a four-year school, either because a community college tends to be cheaper than a four-year college, or because admissions standards at community colleges are often less stringent than at four-year schools.

Junior college – Similar to a community college, except that a junior college is usually a private school.

Career school, technical school, or vocational/trade school- These terms are often used interchangeably. May be public or private, two-year or less-than-two-year. Career schools offer courses that are designed to prepare students for specific careers, from welding to cosmetology to medical imaging, etc. The difference between technical schools and trade schools is that technical schools teach the science behind the occupation, while trade schools focus on hands-on application of skills needed to do the job. Last updated/reviewed October 30, 2006

Distance Learning

Lots of schools are experimenting with distance learning—whereby students access lectures or course materials via the Internet or through other electronic media rather than in person. Whether a distance learning course or degree is right for you is a matter of personal preference. You should note that not every distance learning course or degree is accredited and/or eligible for federal student aid. To find out whether you can receive federal student aid for your program, check with your school’s financial aid professional.

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