What Degrees Do Science Teachers Need to Earn?

Find out about the degree programs that would qualify you to teach science in middle or high school. Get information about online study, licensing requirements and voluntary certification programs. Schools offering Teaching - Math & Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Requirements Do I Need to Teach Science?

A baccalaureate degree in science education is sufficient for teaching science, according to the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). While each state has individual requirements, most states accept the bachelor's degree as a prerequisite for a teaching license (www.bls.gov). If you've already decided to become a science teacher, you must then decide what science area you want to teach.

The type of science that interests you the most will influence your choice of bachelor's degree program. If you'd like to teach science at the elementary school level, you might enroll in a program that deals with all sciences as a whole. Alternatively, if you'd like to teach in a high school, you might wish to find a science education program that deals mainly with a particular science area, like biology, chemistry or physics. Online study may not be available, due to the need for lab work and student teaching practica; however, many universities have on-campus offerings of these programs.

RequirementsTo teach, a bachelor's degree is required, though the degree program may vary depending on which level and type of science you want to teach
ConcentrationGenerally, you will choose to specialize in chemistry, biology, physics, or earth sciences
LicensureAll states require teachers to be licensed by states; either a traditional or alternative license is acceptable
Voluntary CertificationYou can seek certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) in 25 different areas

What Can I Study?

Educational programs for teaching middle and high school students expect you to choose a concentration in a subject you want to study, such as math, English or social studies. Middle and high school sciences generally fall under four categories: Earth and space science (also called environmental science), biology, physics and chemistry.

You'll begin your studies with general requirements and continue with a combination of psychology, education and science courses. You'll study instructional techniques, field trip coordination, classroom planning, adolescent development, lab learning and leadership skills.

Chemistry courses study molecules, atoms and organic compounds; biology teaches you human anatomy, botany and the genetics of plants and animals. Physics courses instruct you on the natural laws and astronomy, while earth sciences study rocks, weather, minerals, fossils and geographic phenomena.

How Do I Get Licensed?

Every state requires science teachers to be certified or licensed by that state. The BLS reports that these credentials require you to complete classroom teaching internships, during which you'll be supervised. These observational requirements provide the state's licensing board with proof of your skills. You'll also need to pass an exam that tests your science knowledge.

If you already work as a professional in a scientific field or if you've decided after graduation that you want to teach, an alternative license could work for you. In some cases, you could get an alternative license before you qualify for a traditional license, on the basis that you'll meet those requirements within a certain time frame. These licenses are granted in high-demand areas, such as low-income schools, and in certain subjects known to have teacher shortages, such as math and science.

What Else Can Help Me?

If you're interested in proving your teaching standards and knowledge to future employers, consider an additional voluntary certification. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) offers 25 certifications for teachers in all subjects, including science (www.nbpts.org). This certification is valid for ten years and tests you on specific science knowledge; the NBPTS offers a science certification for teaching early adolescents and one for teaching adolescents and young adults.

You may also wish to seek out government financial aid. The Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) grant is offered by the federal government, and is given to prospective teachers of high-demand subjects. As of 2011, the grant covers as much as $4,000 of your yearly tuition (www.studnetaid.ed.gov). If you receive this grant, you agree to complete four years of teaching at a low-income school (as identified by the U. S. Department of Education). If you're interested in this grant, talk to your school's financial aid office about applying.

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:

  • 1. Degree Options:
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  • Walden University

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