Teaching Degree Guide


Updated January 8, 2024

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Teachers typically need a bachelor's degree, and they often focus on teaching specific populations and subjects.

When pursuing teaching degrees, prospective students need to consider many factors, including costs vs. benefits, career opportunities, and location. Aspiring teachers also need to think about their ideal student population or chosen specialization, and what degree level will help them achieve their ideal career.

This guide offers detailed resources to help you make informed decisions when earning a teaching degree. It explores teaching specialties, ranks the best programs, and helps prospective learners find the best online colleges. This guide also covers education-adjacent pathways, career options, and news.

Deciding to Pursue a Teaching Degree

TheBestSchools's teaching resources help students make the best decision for their unique situations. These include a list of considerations for aspiring teachers and information about education degrees. We also look beyond the training and provide teaching career information, including information about online teaching careers and state requirements for teachers.

What You Should Know Before Becoming a Teacher

What Is an Education Degree?

What Can You Do with an Education Degree?

Teaching Requirements By State

Selecting a Teaching Degree Program

Choosing the right school, teaching degree, and program takes time and research. TheBestSchools hopes to simplify the process of choosing a college and exploring college degree levels. We also offer rankings of the most popular online colleges and the best online teaching degrees, along with details on how to use our rankings.

Online study allows prospective teaching students to access programs across the country. Our resources simplify the selection process by highlighting what makes the nation's best programs stand out. We also provide information on how to improve your educational journey and postgraduate results.

How to Pick a College

Rankings: How to Use Them

Best Online Teaching Degrees

What Are the Different Types of Teaching Degrees?

Prospective teachers can pursue programs at every level, including associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees. Depending on chosen career pathway, enrollees can often also specialize their studies. Some concentrate on a particular subject area, while others specialize in population, like special education, early childhood education, or K-12 learners.

TheBestSchools offers rankings, information, and resource guides for all of these degree types, programs, and career paths. We delve into the different degree levels and types of degrees, comparing bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degrees, along with Ph.D and Ed.D. programs. We can help you identify what teaching degree to choose by matching your interests with the ideal career.

Associate Degrees in Teaching

Associate degrees in teaching offer graduates access to several educational and career options. Associate degree-holders can become childcare workers, preschool teachers, and teaching assistants. Some pursue teaching positions in private schools, while others continue into bachelor's programs.

TheBestSchools offers information and rankings for the best online associate degrees in early childhood education, associate degrees in education, and associate degrees in elementary education. Our resources cover what the programs entail, what their requirements are, and career prospects for graduates.


Early Childhood Education

Elementary Education

Bachelor's Degrees in Teaching

Public school teacher licensure requires at least a bachelor's degree, so most teachers hold one. Bachelor's degrees have many program options. Our program rankings cover the best online bachelor's in education, early childhood education, and elementary education degrees.

We also offer rankings for the best online bachelor's in English language learning, health education, and special education programs. With these resources, readers can find program details, options, and requirements, along with career information for bachelor's graduates.


Early Childhood Education

Elementary Education

English Language Learning (ELL)

Health Education

Special Education

Master's Degrees in Teaching | by Student Age

Graduate teaching students can focus their training on target disciplines or student age groups. These specializations help teachers develop different skill sets or subject expertise.

These resources offer insight into programs that focus on student population. In addition to the best online master's education degree programs, TheBestSchools ranks the best online master's in K-12 education, early childhood education, elementary education, secondary education, and higher education degrees. Readers can also find resources about how to earn a degree on a budget, such as our ranking of the most affordable master's in early childhood education programs.


Early Childhood Education

Elementary Education

Secondary Education

Higher Education

Master's Degrees in Teaching | by Subject

Teaching candidates can specialize by teachable subject. TheBestSchools offers resources for students focusing on specific disciplines. We offer rankings for the best online master's in reading, science education, math education, and English language learning programs.

We also explore specializations that focus on classroom type, such as our rankings of the best online master's in gifted education, special education, and online teaching degrees. These resources explore what these concentrations offer and how they can benefit teachers.


English Language Learning (ELL)

Gifted & Talented




Special Education

Doctoral Degrees in Teaching

At the doctoral level, teaching degrees offer similar specialization options as the lower levels, but in more detail. However, doctoral graduates typically pursue research, policy, and leadership careers rather than traditional teaching roles.

TheBestSchools has resources covering the best online doctorates in education and online teaching, along with the best doctorates in counselor education, early childhood education, and higher education. These resources can help you choose the right degree level and program for your career interests.


Counselor Education

Early Childhood Education

Higher Education

Online Teaching

Educational Administration, Leadership, and Technology

The education field also offers options for professionals who don't want a teaching career. For example, our rankings cover the best online master's in educational administration, educational leadership, and educational technology programs. We also list the best online doctorates in educational administration, educational leadership, and educational technology.

While these degrees have some overlapping training with teacher programs, they prepare graduates for careers in educational policy and leadership rather than classroom instruction.

Master's in Educational Administration

Master's in Educational Leadership

Master's in Educational Technology

Doctorate in Educational Administration

Doctorate in Educational Leadership

Doctorate in Educational Technology

Educational Psychology and Curriculum and Instruction

Graduate students can pursue degrees that help them become more effective leaders in the educational world. These graduates can shape the policies, content, and teaching methods used in schools.

Our rankings of the best online doctorates in educational psychology, master's in curriculum and instruction, and doctorates in curriculum and instruction can help prospective students identify the top schools in these fields. While they are not teaching degrees, these programs can benefit current, former, and aspiring teachers.

Master's in Curriculum and Instruction

Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction

Doctorate in Educational Psychology

Paying for a Teaching Degree

Students often struggle to cover college costs and manage their college finances. They can pursue financial aid to lower their overall debts, which is why TheBestSchools offers student finance resources. These include information on finding college scholarships and accessing student loans.

Our resources can help you find details on how to save money, cover your tuition costs, and reduce education debt. You can also learn more about what to discuss with the financial services department at your schools.

TheBestSchools' College Finances Guide

How to Find Scholarships for College

What You Should Know About Student Loans

How Much Does College Really Cost?

Teaching Careers

With so many available education careers, TheBestSchools wants to ensure prospective students know their options. Our resources offer in-depth looks at careers in special education, education administrator, and instructional design.

They also cover the major teaching disciplines, such as English degree careers and history degree careers. You can learn about online teaching jobs and some of the best ways to make a teaching career switch.

Education Careers

School Administrator Careers

Careers with an English Degree

Careers with a History Degree

Careers as a Special Education Teacher

How To Get a Job Teaching Online

Helpful Guides and Resources for Teaching Students

In addition to program and degree information, TheBestSchools offers guides to topics that might help you understand the education industry. These pages cover details about topics like the history of online education and the hierarchy of professors.

History of Online Education

The Hierarchy of Professors, Explained

Latest News for Teaching Students

When news hits in the teaching profession, TheBestSchools wants you to be the first to hear about it. TheBestSchools' Magazine connects you with our latest publications on career news, including the state of education and teacher training.

Prospective, current, and former teaching degree students can learn about ongoing issues facing students and teachers through these resources. Consider bookmarking the page for quick and easy access to ensure you don't miss any future developments.

What You Should Know Before Becoming a Teacher

Teaching Accreditation - A Quick Guide

Institutional and programmatic accreditation assures students and employers that schools meet rigorous academic standards. Without an accredited degree, aspiring teachers may not qualify for financial aid, state licensure, or employment. Degrees should come from regionally accredited schools. Programmatic accreditation should come from organizations like the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.

All You Need to Know About Accreditation

Frequently Asked Questions

What Degree Is Needed To Be a Teacher?

Public school teachers need a license, which requires at least a bachelor's degree. Private schools do not require licensure and may hire graduates with associate degrees. Postsecondary teachers typically need doctorates.

What Is the Highest Teaching Degree?

The highest teaching degree is the Ph.D., which qualifies graduates to teach in colleges and universities. An Ed.D. is the highest education administration-specific degree available.

Is a Teaching Degree a BA or BS?

Both a BA and a BS degree can lead to teaching careers. In many cases, these degree types only differ by the electives they offer. Aspiring science or math teachers should earn a BS, while language arts or humanities teachers typically earn BAs.

Portrait of Doug Wintemute

Doug Wintemute

Doug Wintemute is a Toronto-based freelance writer with professional writing interests in higher learning and entertainment. He completed his BA and MA in English at York University, graduating summa cum laude and earning academic merit, research, and writing awards at both levels. Since 2014, he has contributed content and editorial work for award-winning digital trade publications, global SEO copywriting projects, and hugely popular online brands. He can be contacted through LinkedIn.

Header Image Credit: Maskot | Getty Images

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