Best Colleges For A Bachelor's In Teaching Degree in 2021

Updated November 14, 2022

This ranking looks at metrics like graduation rate and net price to determine the 50 best affordable teacher education programs in the United States. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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There are few jobs more rewarding than being a teacher. In fact, a recent study found that teachers are among the most satisfied in their work life. You get to educate young minds, help shape a future generation of learners, and connect with your students. 

And, there is plenty of opportunity for people with teaching degrees. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average high school teacher salary was $62,870 per year as off 2020, and the BLS projects a 3% to 4% growth for teachers over the next decade. 

If you want to pursue the field of education, getting a bachelor’s degree in teaching from one of the best colleges for teaching degrees can be your first step to starting your teaching career.

Jump to Program Rankings

Earning a bachelor’s degree in teaching from one of the top colleges for teaching degrees prepares you to obtain a K-12 teaching license. An education degree from an online college for teaching degrees 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 you’ll 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, you can also pursue roles as a guidance counselor, admissions counselor, instructional coordinator, librarian, and childcare director. Some positions require additional education or experience.

A bachelor's degree in computer programming prepares students for in-demand careers in the technology sector. Jobs in Software as a Service (SaaS) offer strong growth potential. Programmers who specialize in SaaS applications design code that works on multiple platforms. Some programmers specialize in fields like business, healthcare, or accounting.

Bachelor’s programs in the field also prepare you to pursue graduate studies in education-related areas. Many educational administration positions require at least a master’s degree. As a doctorate-holder, you can become a university professor who teaches future educators and conducts research on learning and education.

Methodology: Here's How We Rank Schools

At Best Value Schools, we help students of all ages get the best possible value for their education. When choosing the best schools and programs, we prioritize tuition rates, student debt, financial aid opportunities, graduation rates, and the availability of online programs. We source unbiased data from government and educational databases like the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for 6,374 schools across the U.S. We organize that data into five weighted categories to compile our school rankings.
Metric Data Used Percentage
Academic Quality Full-time faculty percentage, student-to-faculty ratio, student retention and graduation rates 25%
Affordability Tuition rates, median student debt, and financial aid 35%
Reputation Admission and enrollment rates 15%
Program Offerings Number of program options 10%
Online Enrollment Score Portion of learners taking at least one online course 15%
You can read more about our comprehensive evaluation process on our methodology page.

Top Online Programs

Figuring out where to apply? These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online degrees. Consider one of these accredited programs, and discover their value today.

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. You should also have an educational background in the subject area you 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. You 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. If you have AP credits or transferable college credits, you may be able to graduate sooner.

What is the difference between a teaching license and a teaching certifcate?

Educators must hold a state-issued teaching license to teach in public schools. You can receive teaching certificates from educational institutions after the completion of an academic program.

Degree Requirements

Degree and graduation requirements for a bachelor’s degree in teaching will vary depending on the school that you attend. That  said, there are standard requirements you can expect from a program like this. 

According to the Brookings Institute, education majors including those seeking their teaching degree have an average SAT score of 1060 out of 1600. As for GPA, studies have found that education majors have a higher than average grade point average. On average, these students have a GPA of 3.36.

To graduate, you can expect to take about 120 credits in order to graduate with a teaching degree. You may also have to complete student teaching requirements or other capstone projects to graduate with this degree.

Job Outlook & Salary

Your 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 teachers earned 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

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. If you’re pursuing a bachelor’s degree in teaching, you should only consider accredited schools and programs.

Accrediting agencies evaluate schools and programs based on set criteria. In addition to institutional accreditation, you 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.

Career Path for Teaching Degrees

While the obvious career path for you after earning your teaching degree is to become a teacher, there are actually quite a few other career paths that you can choose from if you earn this degree. 

You can opt to go into more specialized fields that fall under the teaching umbrella, like special education or early childhood education. You could also start a career as an education administrator, though this typically requires a master’s degree to pursue. 

Teaching degrees are also great starting points for school counseling or social work, though these will also require continuing education in order to specialize in these fields. 

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. If you’d like to become an educator in some specialties, you’ll 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, you 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.

Early Child Education Certification

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

Special Education Certificate

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

Middle Grade Certification

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

Related Degrees

While a teaching degree is a great way to get started in the education field, there are other related degrees that you can also pursue to specialize in different areas or to transition into another related career. These include:

If you’d like to be in the education field but may not want to teach in the classroom, consider a degree in education administration. A job as a principal or in another administrative role will often pay more than being a teacher, according to BLS, though growth in the field is slower, so there may be fewer opportunities available.

School counseling offers an opportunity to work in schools and help students without teaching in the classroom. The median salary is lower than that of the average high school teacher, though there is expected to be an 8% growth over the next decade, according to BLS, which is much higher than the national average.

Social workers often work with schools to help with students who have behavioral issues or may be dealing with trouble outside of school that is affecting their performance. Social workers make a similar salary as school counselors, and BLS expects a massive 13% growth in the field over the next decade, meaning there will be lots of opportunities to find work.

Courses in Teaching Degrees

A bachelor’s degree in teaching typically requires 120 credits and takes four years to complete. You will 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, you will gain practical teaching skills while assisting a licensed educator.

Each program features unique courses, concentrations, and practicum or student teaching requirements. You should select a program that aligns with your career aspirations. For instance, if you 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. You can learn about student behavior, classroom preparation, and disciplinary procedures and models. You’ll 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. You 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. You will explore topics including language acquisition in the classroom, vocabulary development, writing development, and classroom management for literacy instruction. You will also prepare to teach reading, language, and culture in the classroom.
Science Curriculum
This course helps you develop teaching and classroom leadership skills. Coursework covers the latest research, theories, and practices in science instruction. You will develop an understanding of barriers to learning and prepare to address such barriers. You will 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). You will 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. You will 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. You can begin to specialize as early as your 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 you 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 & Financial Aid for Teaching Students

Bright Futures Scholarship

  • Who 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: $250-$1,000
  • Deadline: Varies

Gates Millennium Scholars Program

  • Who 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: Varies
  • Deadline: Varies

Future Journalism Teacher Scholarships

  • Who 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
  • Deadline: July 15

Edward G. and Helen A. Borgen Elementary and Secondary Teacher Scholarships

  • Who Can Apply: The Edward G. and Helen A. Borgens Elementary Teacher Scholarship is a one-time preferred amount of up to $1,500 awarded to one student who is 25 years of age or older. Applicants must be studying to teach at the elementary school level and must have at least a 3.5 GPA, be at least a college sophomore, and attend or plan on attending an accredited college or university.
  • Amount: $1,500
  • Deadline: Varies

Minority Teachers of Illinois Scholarships

  • Who 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
  • Deadline: March 1

Financial Aid for Teaching Students

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

You 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. You must be enrolled in a TEACH-eligible program, and recipients must maintain a minimum 3.5 GPA throughout their studies.

Top 50 Best Colleges for a Bachelor's in Teaching Degree

  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.

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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AJ Dellinger


AJ Dellinger is a writer who covers education topics for Best Value Schools, Graduate School Hub, and Criminal Justice Degree Schools, among others. AJ’s work has also appeared in International Business Times, Newsweek, the Daily Dot, Digital Trends, the Classical, the Escapist, Salon, Business Insider, and others.

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