What You Should Know About This Degree
Elementary education is a bachelor’s-level entry field, meaning an undergraduate degree is the minimum requirement for obtaining a state-issued teaching license or certificate and qualifying for teaching jobs. Teachers must complete continuing education credits to maintain their credentials.
There are two types of master’s programs in elementary education – those that are designed for students who do not have a background in education and need to obtain their teaching credentials, and those that cater to students who already are licensed or certified teachers. Your educational and professional background will determine which kind of program you seek. Each state sets its own regulations for licensure or certification, so you want to make sure you select a program that meets your state’s requirements.
Keep in mind that in the U.S., public school teachers must have a teaching license or certificate, per their state’s regulations. Pursuing a program that does not lead to teaching credentials can limit your job opportunities to private, charter, and alternative schools.
Education programs typically require student teaching as part of their curriculum. Individuals who are employed as teachers may be able to complete these requirements at their current job. If you are not presently working in a school, be prepared to spend at least one term in a school setting.
Here are some questions to ask when researching Online Master’s in Elementary Education programs:
- Is this program CAEP-accredited? Programs that are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Education Preparation are widely recognized as meeting the highest standards for teacher education. Some states may require students to earn their degree from a CAEP-accredited program as a prerequisite for obtaining their teaching license or certificate. If this applies to you, be sure to choose a CAEP-accredited program.
- Does this program have in-person requirements? Experiential learning in a classroom setting is a common component of elementary education programs. Most programs require at least one term of student teaching, which happens during regular school hours. Find out when in the program you will complete this requirement so that you can make arrangements in your schedule.
Other steps you can take at this time include gathering your application materials, confirming application submission deadlines, and exploring your options for financing your graduate degree. If you are currently employed, find out if your employer offers any kind of tuition assistance benefits. Other options include applying for student loans, scholarships, and assistantships.