How Can I Specialize a Teaching Degree?

With the changes in the education system throughout the United States over the past 10 years, teachers who are in the process of earning a teaching degree are encouraged to pursue specialization. Instead of a general education degree that can be applied to all students, classrooms and grades, degree specialization programs help a teacher focus on a certain student, grade or topic. One example of this is the need for reading teachers, as reported by CNN.

Historically, teachers would graduate with a Bachelors of Art or Science in Education. They could take certification exams to teach in a specific type of classroom, topic or grade level. Today, when a student enters college with the goal of earning a teaching degree, he or she is able to choose a focus area. Here we discuss a few of those options.

Resource: 50 Best Value Colleges for a Teaching Degree

Early Childhood Education

In an early childhood education program, future teachers are taught how to work with small children from toddlers in child care settings to school-age children in pre-K to grade two. Such programs are designed for teachers to learn the curriculum that will eventually get them certified to teach in a classroom. This curriculum should be part of the Interstate Teaching Assessment and Support Consortium teaching standards. With an early childhood education specialization, future teachers can find jobs teaching in Head Start Programs and preschool classes in a public or private setting.

Special Education

With a special education degree, a student can leave college and teach children with all types of disabilities. This might include children with a diagnosis of autism or ADHD or children with physical disabilities. Children who are in special education classes need more one-on-one attention and usually have an IEP, which describes the most effective teaching methods for the individual student.

Elementary Education

Future teachers in an elementary education program are preparing to teach classrooms from second through sixth grades. Programs for elementary education focus on subjects like early childhood psychology and child development, as well as classroom management and planning skills. Before being assigned a classroom, teachers must pass their state licensure exam and receive their teaching certificate.

Secondary Education

In a secondary education program, students have to enroll in a minor program to learn a secondary topic. This minor has to be in a topic that relates to secondary school like history, math, computer science or english. Secondary education courses provide future teachers with the knowledge they’ll need to teach grades seven through 12, which is middle school through high school. Future teachers will then need to earn licensure not only as a teacher, but also in the topic they have chosen.

The demand for teachers is high, especially in the areas of STEM and bilingual education. To earn a teaching degree that specializes in a certain career track, a student can obtain a degree like elementary, secondary or special education. They can also pursue options to further specialize their degree in order to fill one of these in-demand teaching positions.