Secondary Education Degrees

Secondary education degree programs provide preparation for middle and high school teachers. Learn about the degrees available and the licensure requirements for teaching in secondary schools. Schools offering Education Administration degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Degree Options Are Available in Secondary Education?

If you want to earn a degree in secondary education, you can start with an associate's or bachelor's degree program. Secondary education associate's degree programs are usually designed to transfer to a 4-year university to complete state-mandated training requirements. These pre-teaching programs cover your general education requirements and introduce you to basic teaching courses focused on middle and secondary school students.

A bachelor's degree is often the minimal requirement for state licensure, and programs in secondary education often allow you to specialize in a particular subject, such as English, math, science, languages or special education. You'll gain general teaching knowledge before exploring teaching methods in your chosen subject. You'll also participate in a field experience, observing teachers in the classroom and assisting them with tutoring, grading and lesson preparation. There is also usually an unpaid student teaching component at the end of your bachelor's degree program that satisfies experience requirements necessary to earn your teaching license. Common topics covered during a secondary education undergraduate program include:

  • Technology and education
  • Special needs teaching
  • Teaching secondary school math
  • Human development
  • Teaching writing for secondary school

Undergraduate Course TopicsHuman development, teaching writing, special needs teaching, technology and education, teaching secondary level math
Graudate Course TopicsBusiness education, instructional design, current teaching issues, teaching at-risk children, instructional research
Online AvailabilitySome degrees can be completed online
LicensureRequirements vary by state and career goals; teaching in the classroom will typically require licensure however.

Will I Need a Graduate Degree?

Some states require a master's degree to earn or maintain a teaching license. Master's degree programs are commonly offered in secondary education. Courses focus on advanced secondary education theories and research. Some programs provide you with the opportunity to obtain licensure during the course of the program, if you haven't already earned it. If you're currently a secondary school teacher, some master's programs offer training for advancement into academic leadership positions.

Once you enroll in a secondary education master's degree program, you might be able to specialize in a specific subject, such as physical education or instructional technology. If you choose to earn your licensure while enrolled in a program, you'll need to complete a teaching field experience. Master's degree programs typically end in a final exam, project or thesis. Typical topics that a program covers include:

  • Current teaching issues
  • Instructional design
  • Teaching at-risk children
  • Instructional research
  • Student evaluation methods
  • Business education

Are There Online Options?

Several schools offer online secondary education programs at bachelor's or master's degree levels. Additionally, if you enroll in a pre-teaching associate degree program, many schools provide general education classes online. Internet-based programs give you access to streaming and recorded video lectures and allow you to communicate with instructors and classmates through chat, message boards or e-mail. Bachelor's and master's programs might require you to participate in teaching assistantships and internships at the campus or an affiliated school.

What Are the Licensure Requirements?

If you hold an associate's degree in secondary education, you can work as a teacher's assistant. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), some schools, such as those aimed at low-income children, might require you to take a state assessment test and submit to a background check, though licensure is not normally required ( The BLS stated that teacher's assistants earned a mean annual salary of $26,550 as of May 2015. .

If you wish to work as a high school teacher in a public school, you must earn at least a bachelor's degree in the field you want to teach in, complete education training and have preparatory teaching experience to earn your teaching license. Some states require that you earn a master's degree before applying for licensure, though many offer provisions that allow you to complete a graduate program within a specified time period to keep your license active. You don't need state licensure to work at a private school. May 2015 data provided by the BLS showed that high school teachers earned a mean salary of $60,440.

Certain master's degree programs prepare you for administrative positions in secondary education, such as principal or vice principal. According to the BLS, states often regulate school administration licensure separate from teaching certification, though you might need to hold both. Some positions could require you to earn a doctoral degree, though specific educational requirements are mandated by a school or district. The BLS stated that elementary and secondary school education administrators made a mean salary of $92,940 per year as of May 2015.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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