K-12 Education Degrees & Schools

Teaching children and playing a part in their education can be a very rewarding career. Individuals who pursue K-12 education degrees have a wide selection of options available to them. Learn more about the various degrees in K-12 education and the possible careers they may bring.

K-12 education programs allow a student the opportunity to earn a degree and qualify for licensure to teach grades kindergarten through high school. Offered in bachelor, master and doctoral degree programs, K-12 education involves the study of elementary education, middle school education and secondary education. Let’s learn a little about each field and degree level.

Programs That May Be Currently Accepting Applicants

Bachelors Degrees in K-12 Education

A typical program for someone wanting initial licensure as an elementary school teacher is the bachelor degree in elementary education. Black Hills State University has a 4-year program that includes general education courses, field work in an elementary classroom setting and major-related courses like computer-based technology and learning; k-8 math methods; introduction to literacy assessment & remediation; and students with exceptionalities. Elementary education programs may offer minors in areas like physical education, reading, middle school, early childhood or library media.

An option for the student wanting to work grades 4-8 is the bachelor degree in middle school education. Also four years in duration, California University of Pennsylvania’s program includes general education courses, field experiences in the classroom and a student teaching experience in the last semester. Students taking the middle school major have courses like elementary topics in math; special education foundations and collaborations; supporting English language learners in the classroom; and math, reading, social studies or language arts methods, assessments and intervention in the 4-8 classroom.

Most Important Skills to Teach K-12 Students

Able to inspire students to learn and study.
Expert Knowledge
Subject matter expert on the area of study you are teaching.
Public Speaking
Able to speak concisely to keep students interested.

Majors and Specialties of K-12 Education

The middle education major also offers areas of specialization like mathematics, science, social studies, English and reading. Although areas of specialization may also be taken with the elementary education major, they are more common in middle and secondary education programs. Students are generally required to take concentrations at this grade level.

The bachelor degree in secondary education prepares students for licensure as high school teachers. Some programs offer areas of concentration like art, biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics and English, among others. Students in this program take pedagogy and liberal arts courses as well as courses related to their areas of specialization. The student also completes a student teaching experience in a high school classroom. In addition to being eligible for initial licensure as a K-12 teacher, each of these programs allow students to earn certifications in specific subject areas.

Masters Degrees in K-12 Education

K-12 education programs are also very prevalent at the master degree level. Master degree programs are generally chosen by K-12 teachers who want to add additional certifications to their credentials or by students that have a non-teaching bachelor degree and want to become teachers. Individuals who have bachelor degrees in teaching and are already teaching often have an advantage because they can complete their student teaching segment while on the job.

A master degree elementary education program might include courses in instructional technology; health and wellness; college-level mathematics; literacy development; biology; intro to behavior analysis; and teaching and assessment in various subject areas. Master degree programs usually take two years to complete beyond the bachelor degree level. They may also require the student to complete a research-based thesis, although some programs offer a non-thesis option.

Consider an Accredited Online Master of Education or MAT program:

Earn your Master of Arts in Teaching and teaching credential online from top-ranked USC Rossier School of Education. A Bachelor’s degree is required to apply. Learn more.

Doctorate Degrees in K-12 Education

Students who want the highest level of education can complete a K-12 education doctoral degree program. Individuals who pursue doctoral degrees usually want careers in management or administration rather than teaching. An example of a K-12 doctoral program can be found here. This Doctor of Education in K-12 Educational Leadership offers concentrations in school system leadership, pupil personnel services or instructional technology. Doctoral degree programs are often offered online or on a part-time basis to allow students to earn the degree while continuing to work and/or teach. Students in this program complete course work and dissertations. Research is also a large part of doctorate programs.

Online Degrees in K-12 Education

Various K-12 education programs are offered online. Because student teaching is such an important part of an initial licensure program, online programs are more often offered at the master degree level than the undergraduate level. However, there are online bachelor degree programs in K-12 education such as the one offered at Liberty University.

K-12 Teacher Education Careers

Graduates of K-12 education programs may have many employment opportunities. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that elementary, middle school and kindergarten teachers overall can expect an employment growth of twelve percent between 2012 and 2022, with the best opportunities in urban and rural areas.

As of May 2014, elementary school teachers earned average annual wages of $54,120 while secondary education teachers earned $56,310 and middle school teachers earned $54,940. Factors that can affect earnings are geographic location and number of certifications.