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2020 Best Colleges For A Bachelor’s In Teaching Degree

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Best Bachelor’s in Teaching

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What Are the Goals of a Bachelor’s Program in Teaching?

Earning a bachelor’s degree in teaching prepares students to obtain a K-12 teaching license. An education degree typically requires 120 credits, which most full-time students complete in four years. Curricula often include student teaching, a practicum, or an internship, during which students observe and assist a licensed educator in a classroom setting. Earning a bachelor’s in teaching can be ideal for individuals who enjoy working with children and explaining complicated concepts in easily digestible ways.

A degree in education often leads to a career as a K-12 educator. However, graduates can also pursue roles as guidance counselors, admissions counselors, instructional coordinators, librarians, and childcare directors. Some positions require additional education or experience.

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Bachelor’s programs in the field also prepare learners to pursue graduate studies in education-related areas. Many educational administration positions require at least a master’s degree. Doctorate-holders can become university professors, who often teach future educators and conduct research on learning and education.


WHAT KIND OF DEGREE DO YOU NEED TO BE A TEACHER?Teachers must have at least a bachelor’s degree and a state-issued license or certification. Teachers should also have an educational background in the subject area they intend to teach.
HOW CAN YOU SPECIALIZE A TEACHING DEGREE?Learners can pursue various types of teaching degrees, several of which focus on a specialized population. Students may specialize in an area such as early childhood education or elementary education.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO EARN A BACHELOR’S DEGREE FOR TEACHING?Most bachelor’s programs in teaching require 120 credits and take four years to complete. Students with AP credits or transferable college credits may be able to graduate sooner.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A TEACHING LICENSE AND A TEACHING CERTIFICATE?Educators must hold a state-issued teaching license to teach in public schools. Individuals receive teaching certificates from educational institutions after the completion of an academic program.

Top 10 Best Colleges for a Bachelor’s in Teaching Degree for 2020

Accreditation for Teaching Programs

Accreditation serves as quality assurance for educational programming. The two main types of accreditation in the United States are regional accreditation and national accreditation. Regional accreditation requires institutions to meet more rigorous standards than national accreditation, which typically applies to vocational or professional programs. Students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in teaching should only consider accredited schools and programs.

Accrediting agencies evaluate schools and programs based on set criteria. In addition to institutional accreditation, learners can look for field-specific accreditation of individual programs. The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation accredits teaching and education programs and provides a searchable database of nationally recognized programs.

2020 Best Colleges for a Bachelor’s in Teaching Degree

The list below includes the top 10 bachelor’s in teaching programs in the United States, with information about each program’s curriculum, concentration options, tuition costs, and admission requirements. Prospective teaching students can use this ranking to select a program that fits their academic and career goals.

Teacher Education Programs Ranking Methodology

Selection Criteria

For this ranking, we focused on four-year, public and private (non-profit) colleges and universities that offer multiple bachelor’s degrees in teaching. To be eligible for consideration on this ranking, each school had to be actively conferring degrees to students in each of its teacher education programs (at least five per program in the past year). Because of our focus on affordability, we also limited consideration to schools with an average annual net price below $30,000. Lastly, we created a minimum threshold for quality by only researching colleges with retention and graduation rates greater than 50% and admission rates below 85%.

Ranking Factors

Once we had our initial list of contenders, we ranked all the eligible programs in six categories:

  • Teaching Program Popularity: How many students earned their bachelor’s degree in teaching last year, and what did that represent as a percentage of the total graduating class? (Weighted 30%)
  • Breadth/Activity of Teaching Degree Programs: How many total teacher education programs does the school offer, and what is the average number of students who graduated from each program last year? (Weighted 10%)
  • Acceptance Rate: What percentage of applicants does the school admit each year? (Weighted 10%)
  • Graduation Rate: What percentage of undergraduates earn their degree within 150% of the expected timeframe? (Weighted 15%)
  • Retention Rate: What percentage of freshmen return to the school for their sophomore year? (Weighted 15%)
  • Net Price: What is the average annual cost of attending the school after adding together the price of tuition, fees, and room/board then subtracting the average financial aid package awarded to undergrads? (Weighted 20%)

Next, we crunched the numbers, scaled the scores so that the top program earned the maximum possible points, and assigned each school a total point value out of 100. Scroll down to see our results: a ranking of the 50 best, most affordable colleges for teaching degrees in the U.S.

50 Best Colleges for Teaching Degrees

  1. Purdue University-Main Campus

    West Lafayette, IN



    Among the top public colleges in Indiana, Purdue offers 17 bachelor's in teaching programs. Students can select from several majors offered through the College of Education as well as related degrees through other colleges. All programs lead to teaching licensure in Indiana.

    Purdue's College of Education offers majors in elementary education, social studies education, and special education, including an accelerated pathway in mild intervention P-12 that takes just three years to complete. Candidates can also select from several specialized teaching degrees, such as agricultural education, visual arts education, and Earth/space science education.

    Students with a bachelor's degree in another subject can undergo Purdue's transcript evaluation and credential assessment, which determines which requirements learners need to obtain teaching licensure.

  2. Heritage University

    Toppenish, WA



    A small private college located in Toppenish, Washington, Heritage ranks among the best colleges for teaching in the state. The school offers two bachelor's in education programs: a bachelor's in elementary STEM education offered through HU Innovate and a bachelor's in early childhood studies.

    The bachelor's in elementary education with a STEM emphasis includes an English language learners endorsement. Classes occur in the evenings on campus or online, making the program ideal for working students. The program spans four semesters, with the final semester dedicated to student teaching.

    The early childhood studies program prepares students to work with young children in a variety of educational settings. Students can choose between on-campus and online classes. The program does not lead to teaching licensure.

  3. University of Washington-Seattle Campus

    Seattle, WA



    Based in Seattle, UW's bachelor's in education, communities, and organizations explores education as it relates to areas like healthcare, business, youth development, and public policy reform. The program trains students to use education principles and practices to help communities and community organizations achieve their goals.

    The 67-credit curriculum comprises three main sections: a 25-credit core, a 15-credit capstone/internship, and 25 credits of electives. The program core covers topics including educational equity and diversity, human development, and community-based research practices. In addition to coursework, students can use electives to partake in volunteer, service learning, and study abroad opportunities.

    During the capstone/internship requirement, students spend 15 hours per week working with community organizations in fields such as youth development, advocacy, and community development.

  4. Berea College

    Berea, KY



    A private liberal arts college based in Kentucky, Berea provides each student with a generous Tuition Promise Scholarship that covers all tuition expenses for undergraduate education. The school offers a bachelor of arts in education studies with certification options in elementary education, middle grades mathematics, and middle grades sciences.

    Students can also pursue secondary education teacher certification in subjects including biology, chemistry, English, math, and social studies. Additionally, the school offers certifications in P-12 vocal and instrumental music and P-12 physical education and health. All certification candidates must complete an extensive student teaching experience during the program's final semester.

    All program tracks emphasize key competencies, including the implementation of developmentally appropriate learning experiences, continuous professional improvement, and ethical behavior.

  5. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

    Champaign, IL



    U of I offers one of the state's top bachelor's in teaching programs. The school's bachelor of science in elementary education prepares students to teach grades 1-6, meeting all requirements for licensure in Illinois.

    The 70-credit program includes general education theory courses and content area courses. Theory courses cover topics such as identity and difference in education, educational psychology, and language varieties/cultures and learning. Content courses cover topics in social studies, math, science, and reading.

    Students also complete multiple field experiences, including a four-credit observation course during the first and second year of the program. Later in the program, students complete a 12-credit student teaching experience, which meets state licensure requirements.

  6. University of California-Irvine

    Irvine, CA



    Ranked among the best colleges for teaching in California, UCI offers a bachelor of arts in education sciences that explores the role of education inside and outside of the classroom. The program centers on five core concepts: social structures and stratification, human development, learning, policymaking in education, and schools as organizations.

    Degree candidates complete at least one course focusing on each of the five core concepts, along with four foundational education courses and five upper-division education electives. Students must also complete at least 40 hours of fieldwork or research in an educational setting.

    UCI also hosts the CalTeach program, which focuses on K-12 STEM education. The program allows students to complete their bachelor's degree and earn a California teaching credential in four years of full-time study.

  7. University of Michigan-Dearborn

    Dearborn, MI



    Located about 12 miles from downtown Detroit, UM-Dearborn offers a bachelor of arts in educational studies that explores education outside of classroom teaching. The program emphasizes educational systems and student development, learning, and assessment, preparing graduates for positions with organizations that work with K-12 students in and out of schools.

    The curriculum focuses on three key areas: learners and learning, pedagogy, and educational systems. The 39-credit major includes courses such as constructivist education, cognitive/memory development in children, multiculturalism in schools and society, and teaching English as a second language.

    All candidates also complete a three-credit capstone course that requires them to identify, research, and describe a major education-related issue through a research paper.

  8. Michigan State University

    East Lansing, MI



    Among Michigan's best colleges for teaching, MSU offers a bachelor of arts in education that emphasizes elementary education and prepares students to teach subject areas in grades 6-8.

    Candidates choose from four majors: integrated science, language arts, mathematics, and social studies. Regardless of their major, all students complete a foundational planned program that includes courses in all major subjects as well as arts and kinesiology.

    MSU partners with a variety of educational institutions, allowing students to complete internships and student teaching experiences in classroom settings around Lansing, Detroit, and Grand Rapids. The school also maintains connections to several schools in the Chicago area.

  9. Oklahoma State University-Main Campus

    Stillwater, OK



    A major public research college based in Stillwater, OSU offers a bachelor of science in elementary education that features several opportunities for experiential learning and student teaching. Education majors can also choose from several related minors, including coaching science, creativity studies, learning and motivation, pre-counseling, and special education.

    Students build hands-on experience through work with OSU's Reading and Mathematics Center, tutoring and devising learning plans for K-8 students. OSU also allows students to teach abroad during an optional 15-week international internship in Costa Rica or Mexico.

    OSU participates in the Excellence in Collaborative and Experiential Learning (ExCEL) Program, which enables education majors to gain professional experience through work with the Stillwater Public Schools system. Pairing students with expert teachers, ExCEL participants spend three full days each week student teaching in Stillwater classrooms.

  10. North Carolina State University at Raleigh

    Raleigh, NC



    Home to one of North Carolina's top teaching degrees, NCSU offers a bachelor of science in elementary education that emphasizes STEM education. The program prepares graduates for initial teaching licensure for grades K-6. Starting junior year, the program uses a cohort format that encourages student collaboration.

    Candidates complete courses covering major topics in literacy foundations, social studies, engineering, diversity, and special education. The program also includes a 27-credit STEM specialization that features courses like calculus for elementary teachers, design thinking, and conceptual physics for elementary teachers.

    Education majors begin field placements during their sophomore year. During senior year, all students participate in a year-long teaching placement that builds professional experience and applies program learning to real-life education practice.

Career and Salary Outlook for Teaching Graduates

An educator’s earning potential depends on factors including geographic location, experience, and job title. Overall, K-12 teachers benefit from a stable income and projected job growth. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), high school teachersearned a median annual salary of $61,660 in 2019, and the BLS projects high school teaching positions to increase 4% from 2018 to 2028. The BLS reports that kindergarten and elementary teachers earned a median annual salary of $59,420 in 2019 and middle school teachers earned a median salary of $59,660.

The BLS projects a 3% job growth for both elementary and middle school teachers from 2018 to 2028. Salary potential often corresponds with the area’s cost of living. According to data from the BLS, teachers in New York, California, Massachusetts, the District of Columbia, and Connecticut earn the highest annual mean salaries.

Additionally, teachers at private schools often earn higher salaries than educators at public schools. Experience also impacts earning potential. According to PayScale data, entry-level teachers with less than one year of experience earn an average annual salary of $44,151, while educators with 10-19 years of experience earn an average salary of $53,587 per year. Individuals with a bachelor’s in teaching can also pursue roles outside of K-12 education. Graduates may work in childcare facilities or as curriculum specialists or private tutors.

Less than $39,020$59,670More than $97,900

Source: BLS

Less than $40,540$61,660More than $99,660

Source: BLS

Certifications and Licensure for Teachers

Public school teachers must hold licensure and may need a teaching certification. Licensure and certification requirements vary by state. However, most states require candidates to hold a bachelor’s degree in education or a related discipline, have completed a certain number of student teaching hours, and have passed a licensing exam such as the Praxis. Educators in some specialities need a master’s degree.

Many states maintain reciprocity agreements, which allow licensed teachers to easily obtain credentials in another participating state. However, some transfer agreements only offer a provisional license and require teachers to obtain licensure in the new state within a set time period.

In addition to earning licensure, teachers can obtain certification to teach a certain subject or work with a specific population. Common certifications include early childhood, elementary, middle grades, and special education. The requirements for obtaining these credentials also vary by state but may overlap with licensing requirements.


An early childhood education certification qualifies teachers to work with young children from birth through third grade. Professionals often teach in childcare centers and public schools.


A special education certification prepares teachers to work with children who have special needs or disabilities. The educators typically teach students from kindergarten through 12th grade.


A middle grades certification qualifies teachers to work with students from grades five through nine. Generalists and teachers who specialize in a subject can pursue this certification.

Courses in Teaching Programs

A bachelor’s degree in teaching typically requires 120 credits and takes four years to complete. Learners develop the skills necessary to design courses, teach specific subjects, work with a particular population, and assess and evaluate students. Curricula often include student teaching experiences or opportunities to work as a teaching assistant. During experiential components, learners gain practical teaching skills while assisting a licensed educator.

Each program features unique courses, concentrations, and practicum or student teaching requirements. Prospective students should select a program that aligns with their career aspirations. For instance, learners who want to work with students who have disabilities can consider programs with a concentration in special education. Below are a few courses common to many bachelor’s programs in teaching.

Classroom Management

This course teaches students how to manage classrooms effectively. Students learn about student behavior, classroom preparation, and disciplinary procedures and models. Learners explore theories and best practices behind establishing classroom expectations and fostering productive learning environments.

Assessment of Children

This introductory course explores assessment strategies used to evaluate and improve student learning, particularly in young children. Coursework covers assessment practices, developmental screenings, and standardized tests. Learners may also prepare to assess students with special needs and those from various cultural and linguistic backgrounds.

Literacy Instruction

This class provides an overview of basic instructional techniques, language acquisition and development, learning theory, and approaches to literacy instruction. Students explore topics including language acquisition in the classroom, vocabulary development, writing development, and classroom management for literacy instruction. Learners also prepare to teach reading, language, and culture in the classroom.

Science Curriculum

This course helps students develop teaching and classroom leadership skills. Coursework covers the latest research, theories, and practices in science instruction. Students develop an understanding of barriers to learning and prepare to address such barriers. Students learn how to promote scientific reasoning and motivate students to learn the subject matter.

Teaching English as a Second Language

This course provides an overview of teaching English as a second language (ESL). Learners study the basic principles of listening, reading, speaking, and writing. This course includes a historical survey of the ESL teaching discipline, and students explore instructional materials and strategies for encouraging language learning among ESL students. Students gain an understanding of theories related to language learning and acquisition and prepare to apply those theories in classroom settings.

Specializations in Teaching

Education students often specialize in teaching a specific student population or subject matter. Prospective teachers can begin to specialize as early as their bachelor’s studies. Some institutions offer separate education majors, each focused on a specific area. Common specializations for teaching students include elementary education, biology education, special education, English education, and social studies education. Other schools allow learners to minor in a teaching subject or student population. In addition to coursework, students pursuing a specialization must typically complete student teaching in their focus area.

Learners in teaching bachelor’s programs often choose from specializations including early childhood education, middle school core subjects, language arts education, mathematics education, and bicultural-bilingual studies.

Scholarships for Teaching Students

Many organizations offer scholarships for students pursuing a bachelor’s in teaching. Some scholarships are reserved for learners who are part of certain populations, such as minority students or first-generation college students. Other scholarships are based on financial need or academic merit. Below are a few scholarships available to learners pursuing a teaching degree.BRIGHT FUTURES SCHOLARSHIPWho Can Apply: This scholarship supports students enrolled part time or full time in an early childhood education program. Applicants must be attending an accredited U.S. institution and must have a minimum 2.5 GPA and experience working with children age six or younger.
Amount: $200-$500
GATES MILLENNIUM SCHOLARS PROGRAMWho Can Apply: African American, Indian American, Asian Pacific Islander American, and Hispanic American students can apply for this scholarship. Applicants must be pursuing an undergraduate degree in any discipline.
Amount: $12,785
FUTURE JOURNALISM TEACHER SCHOLARSHIPSWho Can Apply: These scholarships support education students who intend to teach scholastic journalism. Candidates must be either an undergraduate junior or senior or a master’s student in a teaching program that prepares them to teach at the secondary level.
Amount: $1,000
EDWARD G. AND HELEN A. BORGEN ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY TEACHER SCHOLARSHIPSWho Can Apply: Candidates must be at least 25 years old and must be at least a college sophomore. Applicants must be studying to teach at the elementary or secondary level and must have a minimum 3.5 GPA.
Amount: $1,500
MINORITY TEACHERS OF ILLINOIS SCHOLARSHIPSWho Can Apply: Candidates must be minority students and residents of Illinois. Learners must be enrolled in or accepted to a program that prepares students to teach preschool, elementary, or secondary school in Illinois.
Amount: Up to $5,000 per year

Financial Aid for Teaching Students

Teaching students can apply for funding options including scholarships, grants, loans, and work-study programs. Students should complete the FAFSA form to determine which types of federal aid they are eligible to receive. Teaching students may qualify for subsidized or unsubsidized loans. For subsidized loans, the Education Department pays interest on the loan while students are enrolled at least part time. Unsubsidized loans begin accruing interest immediately, with students bearing the entire responsibility for paying interest.

Teaching students can also apply for the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) grant. The TEACH grant awards up to $4,000 per year to students who plan to teach in a high-need subject or a low-income area. Candidates must be enrolled in a TEACH-eligible program, and recipients must maintain a minimum 3.5 GPA throughout their studies.


Tuition costs and structures vary by institution. Many schools charge higher tuition rates for out-of-state students. For example, Purdue University charges out-of-state learners nearly triple the rate that in-state students pay for the same number of credits. Tuition for international students can be even more costly. Some states maintain agreements that allow residents to pay discounted tuition rates at schools in participating states. Additionally, some online programs charge the same flat tuition rate for all students, regardless of residency.

Residency requirements vary by school and state. However, to qualify for in-state status, students must typically have lived in the state for at least one year prior to enrollment or registration.

Learn More…

How Can I Specialize a Teaching Degree?
Five Non-Teaching Jobs in Secondary Ed
Affordable Master’s K-12 Teaching Online Degree Programs

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