The 3 Necessary Steps to Getting Your Teaching Degree

Becoming an educator begins, of course, with your own education. Whether you’re starting your pathway to becoming a teacher straight out of high school or are changing careers after many years of working in another field, to become a teacher, you need a degree from a college of education. Are you curious about what your journey might look like from applying to a college of education to getting your degree? Well, here’s a brief summary of what you can expect.

  1. The application stage.

Usually, university students apply to schools of education during their sophomore year and formally enroll in a bachelor-level teacher training program beginning in their third year, after completing other college course work. Requirements for enrolling in a college of education differ among colleges and universities and from state to state. You’ll need to see your advisor for details. In general, in order to receive admission to most colleges of education, you’ll need to meet these three requirements:

  1. You’ve completed your university’s General Education requirements (or the equivalent); you have an AA degree from an approved Community College, or transfer from another university.
  2. You have an overall GPA of 2.5 or above.
  3. You’ve successfully passed all three areas (Reading, Writing, and Mathematics) of the Praxis I Skills Test or its equivalent.

If you don’t meet all these requirements, don’t fret! In some cases, students who don’t meet a college of education admission requirement may be assigned an “education pending” status. After meeting all college admission requirements, students complete a “change of major” request to change from “education pending” to their intended major.

  1. Admission and enrollment.

Once you’ve been admitted to a college of education, the enrollment process will proceed with class selection. The course work for preparing to be a teacher involves two stages:

  1. Core courses: The core courses are the basic classes required for most college students before declaring a major and entering a specific field of study. These classes typically account for 30% to 40% of a bachelor’s degree.
  1. Teacher education courses: These courses focus on training you to be a teacher. At this point, you’ll select elementary or secondary education as your major and also choose your subject area.

When planning out your schedule, you’ll need to make sure you take all the classes required by each stage in addition to whatever electives you choose for your particular specialization.

Elementary education teachers must teach a variety of subjects but have an area of concentration for which they must have a specific number of credit hours. For example, an elementary education major with a concentration in reading might need at least 15 credit hours in reading courses. Other areas of concentration include art, language, literature, mathematics, music, physical education, science, social studies, English as a second language, or specific foreign languages. Secondary education majors include grades 7 through 12 and require a specific major for the area. The courses you take in the teacher education program are specifically designed to teach you everything you need to know before teaching.

  1. The necessary exams.

In addition, you must keep in mind that teachers must usually take and pass two Praxis exams in order to earn their degree and receive licensure.

  1. Praxis II: This exam is a more focused test that specifically tests your subject area knowledge. Passing this test certifies you to teach and designates that you are highly qualified to do so.
  2. Praxis III: This exam measures your performance as a new teacher in a classroom setting, mostly during the first year of teaching. It may include direct observation and structured interviews.

As long as you plan from the start, enrolling in a college of education and successfully garnering your teaching credentials will be easily achievable goals. Know your milestones, and plan your roadmap accordingly.

Readers, do you have anything to add?

Teachers, any tips for the next generation of teachers?

If you’re a future teacher, what are your concerns about getting your degree in education?

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