Top Teaching &
Education Degree Programs
Comprehensive resources for aspiring teachers and education professionals

Teachers are the backbone of our society by educating our youth. They help form a strong educational foundation for students as they move out into the world and create their own careers and businesses. Teachers do incredible things in the classroom, but they also work in other capacities, such as those in special education, administration, curriculum planning and more. These individuals work together toward the shared goal of giving every child and young adult the education they deserve. Those who are interested in earning an education or teaching degree can find the information they need regarding programs, financial aid, credentialing and in-depth resources in our guides.

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Dr. Chester Goad
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Top Education & Teaching Programs: 2016

All institutions of higher learning recognize the importance of education – that’s why there are so many programs that lead to an education degree. To narrow down the wide range of options, we offer the following rankings, based on things that matter most: tuition, student-teacher ratio, graduation rate, number of programs available, and more.

Score Tuition Student/Teacher ratio Program count Graduation Rate
1 Wiregrass Georgia Technical College 99.66 13:1 24 92%
2 McDowell Technical Community College 99.60 8:1 N/A 85%
3 East Mississippi Community College 99.10 12:1 65 79%
4 Moultrie Technical College 98.99 14:1 13 97%
5 Central Georgia Technical College 98.74 15:1 47 79%
6 Hinds Community College 98.72 18:1 9 92%
7 Southern Regional Technical College 98.60 12:1 3 87%
8 Athens Technical College 98.60 13:1 6 78%
9 Augusta Technical College 98.48 14:1 6 80%
10 Pitt Community College 98.47 17:1 31 73%
11 James Sprunt Community College 98.28 14:1 1 94%
12 Arkansas Northeastern College 98.06 14:1 4 81%
13 Georgia Northwestern Technical College 98.03 19:1 24 92%
14 College of the Sequoias 98.03 30:1 1 73%
15 Columbus Technical College 97.96 18:1 10 85%
16 Savannah Technical College 97.68 17:1 1 83%
17 Rowan-Cabarrus Community College 97.62 11:1 N/A 69%
18 Itawamba Community College 97.53 19:1 4 79%
19 North Georgia Technical College 97.44 17:1 2 88%
20 University of Arkansas Community Hope – Texarkana 97.42 15:1 3 83%
21 Guilford Technical Community College 97.27 20:1 24 70%
22 Cerritos College 97.26 30:1 N/A 73%
23 Georgia Piedmont Technical College 97.25 17:1 40 83%
24 Rockingham Community College 97.16 11:1 N/A 63%
25 Southeastern Community College 97.13 14:1 N/A 72%
26 Piedmont Community College 97.09 10:1 5 57%
27 Randolph Community College 96.94 13:1 N/A 60%
28 North Arkansas College 96.93 16:1 6 74%
29 Stanly Community College 96.92 15:1 28 73%
30 Texas State Technical College-Waco 96.89 13:1 1 77%
31 Belmont College 96.71 11:1 1 86%
32 Riverside City College 96.69 27:1 N/A 71%
33 College of the Ouachitas 96.67 15:1 10 85%
34 Porterville College 96.64 27:1 N/A 80%
35 Beaufort County Community College 96.62 13:1 10 61%
36 Cape Fear Community College 96.61 13:1 2 59%
37 Northwest Mississippi Community College 96.60 23:1 18 77%
38 South Arkansas Community College 96.55 14:1 2 68%
39 Tulsa Community College 96.53 17:1 21 67%
40 Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College 96.50 18:1 6 60%
41 Southeast Arkansas College 96.36 14:1 2 81%
42 El Paso Community College 96.17 26:1 8 64%
43 Western Nebraska Community College 95.99 15:1 9 58%
44 Dodge City Community College 95.94 12:1 1 56%
45 Fayetteville Technical Community College 95.93 20:1 37 59%
46 Owensboro Community and Technical College 95.90 13:1 21 71%
47 Gwinnett Technical College 95.81 20:1 1 68%
48 Northeast Community College 95.58 17:1 17 64%
49 Houston Community College 95.54 22:1 6 77%
50 Norco College 95.50 34:1 N/A 63%
Score Tuition Student/Teacher ratio Program count Graduation Rate
1 Berea College 99.69 10:1 N/A 100%
2 University of Wyoming 99.51 15:1 10 70%
3 Murray State University 99.37 16:1 16 86%
4 World Mission University 99.33 7:1 5 92%
5 Baptist Bible College & Seminary of Pennsylvania 99.33 9:1 10 97%
6 Houghton College 98.94 11:1 N/A 95%
7 University of Idaho 98.53 17:1 23 76%
8 Geneva College 98.48 13:1 3 100%
9 University of Central Florida 98.34 31:1 33 72%
10 North Carolina Central University 98.33 15:1 13 80%
11 Virginia State University 98.28 14:1 N/A 96%
12 Mississippi State University 98.27 19:1 12 78%
13 Westminster College 98.25 10:1 N/A 96%
14 Creighton University 98.19 11:1 9 96%
15 Saint Vincent College 98.18 12:1 N/A 100%
16 Augustana College 98.02 10:1 1 96%
17 University of Florida 97.97 21:1 52 89%
18 Duquesne University 97.92 13:1 18 95%
19 Roberts Wesleyan College 97.86 13:1 9 97%
20 Doane College-Crete 97.79 12:1 N/A 99%
21 Saint Ambrose University 97.76 11:1 2 91%
22 Mercyhurst University 97.73 13:1 3 96%
23 University of Kentucky 97.73 18:1 3 84%
24 Salem College 97.67 11:1 2 93%
25 West Virginia Wesleyan College 97.59 13:1 N/A 99%
26 Oklahoma State University-Main Campus 97.57 20:1 27 73%
27 St Catherine University 97.55 11:1 1 90%
28 Hood College 97.53 11:1 N/A 98%
29 Saint John Fisher College 97.50 12:1 3 94%
30 Sam Houston State University 97.46 21:1 12 82%
31 University of Mount Union 97.44 13:1 1 96%
32 University of Louisville 97.42 12:1 7 74%
33 Western Carolina University 97.39 16:1 18 66%
34 SUNY College at Oswego 97.34 18:1 7 73%
35 Andrews University 97.34 9:1 15 86%
36 SUNY College at Plattsburgh 97.31 16:1 2 69%
37 Westminster College 97.26 9:1 1 90%
38 Temple University 97.26 14:1 7 74%
39 Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale 97.25 12:1 39 85%
40 Grand View University 97.21 13:1 N/A 98%
41 Mississippi Valley State University 97.16 14:1 N/A 92%
42 Arkansas Tech University 97.16 20:1 11 74%
43 Bethel College-Indiana 97.13 12:1 3 85%
44 William Woods University 97.13 10:1 7 91%
45 University of Central Missouri 97.06 18:1 22 70%
46 Mid-Atlantic Christian University 97.04 12:1 4 97%
47 Siena College 96.98 11:1 N/A 93%
48 Voorhees College 96.96 10:1 N/A 96%
49 Northwestern Oklahoma State University 96.95 14:1 11 81%
50 Freed-Hardeman University 96.89 14:1 6 94%

Search Education & Teaching Programs Near You

When choosing the proper teaching program or education degree, there are numerous factors to consider. Does the school prepare a student to become licensed in the state in which they really want to work? How much does the degree cost? Where is the school located? This search tool can help students narrow down their options by some of the most important criteria, and thus be instrumental in preparing that all-important ‘short list’ of best potential teaching and education degree programs.

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Education & Teaching Resource Center

Interested in becoming a teacher? This is where you do your homework. The following education and teaching guides are designed to help aspiring educators get an informed start on their future career.

Explore Education & Teaching Degree Paths

When someone thinks of a teacher, they likely see a person standing at the front of a crowded classroom, chalk in hand, lecturing about the subject. But that is just one small glimpse into the world of education. From early childhood education to special education to instructional coordinators and principals or superintendents, there are numerous jobs available for those who are ready and willing to put in the work to get there. It all begins with choosing the right degree path, then planning out further study in order to advance up the ladder in one’s chosen field.

The following flowchart can help students see which programs might be right for them, as well as what it will take to get to the degree level and position they hope to obtain.

Do you prefer to
work in a classroom environment?
yes
no
Do you prefer to teach life and social skills more than academic subjects?
yes
no
Is a career with an emphasis on management and leadership important to you?
yes
Would you like having the opportunity to teach students of all ages?
yes
no
Would you prefer to teach one subject, instead of all subjects?
yes
no
Are you interested in studying childhood from sociological and scientific perspectives?
yes
no

The special education teacher is a crucial component in ensuring that all students, regardless of disability or other needs, receive the education they deserve. Special education teachers might work with a wide range of students, from those who have mild learning differences to those with physical and mental disabilities across the spectrum. Their work in the classroom is not only about teaching, but about encouragement and acceptance as well.

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Those who want to make a difference in the young lives of their students can find what they need with an early childhood education degree. This prepares students to work closely with children at the various stages of their early education, where they can spot early problems, intervene quickly, help children get into the rhythm of a typical school day, and teach them the foundation of what they will need to know to be successful in the coming years.

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As students get older, they learn to question authority, struggle to find their own path, and grapple with the more challenging academic subjects that can lead them to a college education. Graduates of secondary education programs are prepared to teach students in grades seven through twelve, including those who might need additional help or guidance.

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In elementary school, students study the various foundations of the major subjects they will master throughout the coming years. They also begin to form opinions about school, family, friends, and the world in general. At this impressionable age, many students look to their teachers to set an example. An elementary education degree prepares graduates to teach students in grades one through six.

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Those who want to run the schools, write the programs, approve the curriculum, and deal with the public and the parents might be more satisfied with a degree in education administration. Depending upon the concentration, this degree prepares graduates to move into a variety of positions, including instructional coordinator, principal, superintendent and more.

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This program introduces students to the various developmental milestones for children, as well as how to foster that development. Graduates are prepared to work with students of all ages, but especially those younger children who are developing lifelong habits; catching problems with development at an early stage can help lead to a fulfilling life and successful school career.

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Hmm…maybe a different career path is for you.

In-Depth: Salary & Job Growth for Teachers

The job opportunities for teachers are growing at a slow and steady pace, with higher demand expected to rural and urban areas. The following charts offer an overview of teacher salaries and job growth across the nation.

Average National Salaries for Education Careers
Employment & Job Growth in Education
  • Lowest 10 Percent Salary, 2015
  • Median Salary, 2015
  • Highest 10 Percent Salary, 2015
  • Employment, 2014
  • Projected Employment, 2024
  • Projected Job Growth, 2014-2024
$16,886
$20,321
$30,742
Childcare Workers
As the benefits of early childhood education are recognized by more parents, more parents are expected to put their children in early childhood care programs. In addition, childcare is usually a must for working parents.
1,260,600
1,329,900 5%
$19,130
$28,570
$51,990
Preschool Teachers
Early childhood development can be fostered by the proper education at an early age. As the need for early childhood education continues to rise, so does the demand for preschool teachers.
441,000
470,600 7%
$33,940
$51,640
$79,960
Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers
Student enrollment at the kindergarten and elementary school levels is expected to rise in the coming years. In addition, teachers reaching retirement age will pave the way for new hires.
1,517,400
1,605,200 6%
$37,350
$55,860
$87,060
Middle School Teachers
Regular enrollment is expected to drive the increase of jobs at this level, as well as the retirement of longtime teachers. Job opportunities are expected to be better in rural and urban areas.
627,500
664,200 6%
$37,800
$57,200
$91,190
High School Teachers
Many schools report trouble with finding teachers to serve in the STEM areas, English, and special education. Those areas will be a primary driver of job growth. Those in urban and rural areas might see a distinct hiring advantage.
961,600
1,017,500 6%
$37,410
$56,800
$90,260
Special Education Teachers
Jobs are growing fastest at the preschool level (9 percent), where students need early intervention in order to enhance their development. Those who have experience working with students with learning disabilities and speech or language impairments might see the best opportunities.
491,100
522,000 6%
$17,920
$24,900
$38,000
Teacher Assistants
The increase in average classroom size will likely spur demand for more teacher assistants. Those who have some experience with special education students might see better opportunities.
1,234,100
1,312,800 6%
$59,070
$90,410
$131,310
Elementary, Middle and High School Principals
As more students are enrolled, more schools might be necessary to accommodate them; each of them will need a principal. In recent years, the best job opportunities have been found in the southern and western states.
240,000
254,000 6%
$35,950
$62,270
$97,770
Instructional Coordinators
As schools work on improving curriculums, evaluating student progress and addressing teacher effectiveness, more instructional coordinators will be needed to focus on design and implementation of curriculums, accountability measures and mentoring for teachers.
151,100
161,600 7%

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook (2015)

During the 2011-2012 school term, 56 percent of public school teachers had a master’s degree or higher. In private schools, 43 percent of teachers had a master’s or higher.

Top 10 Advantages to an Education Degree

Those who pursue a career in education tend to have a passion for learning and strong motivations to improve the lives of their students. Here are some of the biggest reasons why a teaching degree can be an excellent choice for those who fit this description.

01
Make an impact with students

Every person who has ever attended school has that one favorite teacher that they will always remember fondly, and some credit their success in life to the lessons taught by that special instructor. Changing lives for the better might be one of the greatest rewards of all.

 

Surveys in the U.S. have ranked teachers just behind military occupations as the most important jobs for contributing to society’s well-being.

02
Moving up in the world

The world of teaching offers numerous opportunities for advancement. Many administrators began their careers as teachers and worked their way through a variety of grades before pursuing administrative degrees, eventually earning the promotion to the front office.

 
03
Loan forgiveness opportunities

With today’s high tuition rates, going to college can be tough. Teachers who want to eliminate student debt can do so through loan forgiveness programs. These programs often require teachers to work for a time in underprivileged areas; in addition to the money savings, these teachers might find that they hone their skills and find a greater calling through working with disadvantaged youth.

 
04
Working in a high-demand profession

Teachers are in high demand; the only catch is finding where that demand might be. Teachers who are willing to move in order to find the best jobs might find that they have numerous options available to them. A good teacher with an excellent track record will likely be able to find opportunities throughout their career.

 
05
Special grant and scholarship opportunities

Institutions all across the nation recognize the value of a good teacher; that’s why there are numerous scholarships and grants available to those who want to pursue education degrees but don’t quite have enough financial means to get there.

 
06
Watch dreams come true

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see that uncertain English student become a broadcaster on a nationwide network? How about encouraging that top-notch history student, only to read their best-selling book a decade later? Teachers can foster big dreams, and give students what it takes to make those dreams a reality.

 

Studies of high-poverty schools have found that the primary factor in student motivation and achievement is the school, and more importantly, the teacher.

07
See the direct results of your labor

For many teachers, seeing their students develop and learn can happen in a single semester. The look on a child’s face when they figure out how to do a math problem or the smile of delight when a struggling student finally notches their first solid “A” on a test can be exhilarating, for both the student and the teacher.

 
08
Excellent job security

Once a teacher has been in the workforce for a while and has learned the ropes, they can rest assured that their job is safe. Even if budget cuts come along and their job must be downsized, chances are there will always be another school district looking for great teachers to fill their empty spaces.

 
09
Summer vacations, every year

Many teachers love the fact of a long, relaxing vacation – usually at least a month, possibly more – that happens right in the height of summer, when they can explore other parts of the world or simply stay at home and catch up on their reading.

 
10
Become a powerful safety net for youth

Some students face serious life challenges at a tender age. For them, school is a haven where they can learn, grow and dream. In a situation like this, teachers become the disciplinarians, motivators, counselors, and friends that students need in order to break free of the things that are holding them back.

A Closer Look: Teacher Shortages in America

For quite some time, concerns about a nationwide teacher shortage has been getting national news coverage. Some states, such as Arizona and Oklahoma, have seen the shortage reach emergency proportions – to the point where the states simply don’t have enough teachers to run the schools. For instance, some schools have open positions with zero applicants, an indication that graduates from teaching programs are headed for greener pastures in other parts of the nation.

For new teachers, the shortage can mean more job opportunities, but only if the graduate is willing to move for a great job, willing to take positions in urban or rural areas, and okay with working in a subject area that might be different from the one they trained for during college. It also helps to go into the job with eyes wide open: Many teachers have found that those first few years are much more difficult than they imagined, and become disillusioned enough to seek employment outside the profession.

States with High Teacher Shortages

There are a few states that have a much tougher time with teacher shortages than others. Though the reasons for the shortages are varied, most of these states are now reaching a dire situation. Areas with high teacher shortages — in no particular order — include:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Oklahoma

Keys to Keeping Teachers: Rural vs. Urban Schools

Sometimes the shortage of teachers is worse in one geographic area than in another. For instance, teachers can expect to see better job opportunities in rural and urban areas. Here’s why these locations are seeing a decrease in the number of teachers:

Rural

In most school districts, larger or more affluent schools get the lion’s share of funding, while rural schools tend to struggle to get by from one year to the next. This lack of funding can mean lower pay and less classroom support, including fewer supplies. Many teachers deal with these issues only until they find a better-paying and better-supported position in a neighboring district.

Urban

Teachers in urban areas usually face the same problems as those in rural areas: a lack of supplies and support as well as lower pay. However, they may also face the added issue of ‘difficult’ or ‘rough’ schools. Many inner-city schools face serious problems with crime, truancy and the like, which can make teachers feel as though they do more disciplining than teaching.

The average turnover rate for all teachers in the nation is 17 percent. In urban school districts, the turnover rate rises to 20 percent,
according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Subjects in Need of Teachers

In schools all across the nation, the shortage of teachers for special education is nothing new. But there are other areas that are sorely lacking as well. Teachers who want to hit the ground running upon graduation might look to an education degree with an emphasis on the following subjects, so they are better prepared to jump into schools that need their expertise the most.

Subject Area Shortages in Elementary & Secondary Schools (2014-2015)

2014-2015 Shortages for Elementary/Secondary Schools

The majority of states in the U.S. are in need of teachers for the following subjects

Source: Teacher Shortage Area Nationwide Listing, Department of Education (2016)

From Chalkboard to Keyboard: Online Teaching Degrees

Online learning is an excellent way for aspiring teachers to get the education they need in order to educate others. Since most teaching programs require a certain amount of supervised instruction, online education degree programs tend to be in a hybrid format: Students take most of their courses online, but fulfill their in-person obligations at a local school.

Those who pursue an online education degree program might find that it enhances their understanding and appreciation of technology in the classroom, and might encourage them to create their own online opportunities for students once they have a classroom of their own.

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Advice from the Field: Expert Interview

Signs of a teacher shortage are everywhere now. What is the implication of the shortage for those who are just graduating and starting their teaching career? 

There are three shortages at play currently in the education profession. First, there’s the shortage of new grads for hard to fill STEM positions. Second, there’s the issue of graduates from universities who aren’t willing to move to where the jobs are.  Often, the issue is supply and demand, but it’s supply and demand relative to certain locations. Finally, there’s a shortage of new teachers who stick it out.  The requirements for teaching positions have become much more rigorous, and it takes someone truly committed to the field to stay. 

Is there a particular subject area, educational level, or job in the education field that is most promising for graduates today?

There’s always a need for teachers who are certified or endorsed in STEM areas (science, technology, engineering, and math).  There’s a shortage in the areas of foreign language and ESL or ELL (English as a second language or English language learner) endorsed teachers as well.  Special education is a field with great turnover.  The burnout rate for teaching students with disabilities is very high due to additional paperwork, feeling unsupported, or emotionally drained, but for people with the right background and outlook, it can be very rewarding.

Anything else you might like to add about working as a teacher? 

People who are interested in education often have tunnel vision when it comes to what sort of position they might like to fulfill their interest in teaching.  For example, most immediately look toward public education, but there are private or parochial schools, classical or Montessori schools and more.  Additionally, teachers are often considered for jobs with publishers, accrediting agencies, state or government jobs, and various teaching organizations or associations, museums, and more.  I would strongly encourage anyone interested in teaching and learning to consider looking not only for traditional positions but to keep their eyes and ears open outside school settings as well.