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Elementary Licensure Master's Degree

A master's degree in elementary education can qualify you for a teaching license, whether you're an aspiring teacher or someone with a non-education bachelor's degree seeking a career change. This article will show you degree program options, prerequisites, classes and the career outlook for teachers.

How Can I Earn an Elementary Education Licensure Master's Degree?

You can find many programs around the U.S. that are designed for students who hold a bachelor's degree in a major other than education or are, perhaps, non-licensed substitute teachers who want to complete elementary education credits to meet initial state licensure requirements. These programs are typically referred to as elementary education (K-8) master's degree programs with teaching licensure. You take courses and participate in a student teaching experience that brings you into a real elementary classroom to observe and practice teaching.

While student teaching requirements are mandatory to attain licensure in all states, you can find elementary licensure master's degree programs offered online. In these cases, you can usually find a local school where you can participate in your required student teaching session.

Admissions RequirementsCurrent teaching license, bachelor's degree (preferably in education or liberal arts)
Common ClassesClassroom diversity, childhood development, educational psychology, curriculum design
Master's Degree AdvantagesHigher salary, increased job availability
Median Salary (2018)$57,980 (Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)7% growth (Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Are There Any Prerequisites?

The requirements to be admitted to these programs depend on your current level of education. Most programs ask for a copy of your teachers' license, transcripts, letters of recommendation and passage of a skills test. Additionally, many programs look for applicants with an undergraduate degree, if not in education, in a liberal arts major like psychology, English, political science or math.

What Courses Could I Take?

The courses you take in an elementary teacher licensure master's degree program give you both foundational and advanced knowledge of how elementary students learn. You gain an understanding of classroom diversity, childhood development, educational psychology and curriculum design. Additionally, you learn how to teach various subjects to elementary school students, including math, science, reading, language and social studies. You're often required to take a course that discusses teaching special needs students.

Your student teaching experience takes place over one or two semesters, during which you spend full days in real classrooms with experienced teachers. The exact number of hours and parameters of your student teaching time depend on your state, your degree program and the school where you're teaching.

What Will My Career Be Like?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), each state's elementary teacher licensing requirements are unique, but a bachelor's degree is the minimum educational requirement to teach in public schools. The BLS further mentioned that some private schools don't require licensure, while some states require teachers to earn a master's degree within a period of time after gaining licensure. Licensure is typically granted by your state's board of education after passing a series of skills and assessment tests.

Additionally, voluntary professional certifications in elementary education subjects are available through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Job opportunities are highest in math, bilingual education and science in the western and southern states due to high enrollment, per the BLS. The BLS also reported that you can often earn a higher salary with certification, as well as with a master's degree.