Bachelor of Education

Bachelor of education or BEd degrees are completed either as a first or subsequent degree and serve as a pathway to becoming a certified teacher. In other words, the bachelor of education degree is designed as a step to teacher licensure. This means that prior to entering a BEd program candidates should already have some idea of the level and subject at which they would eventually like to teach (e.g., middle school social studies or high school mathematics).

Candidates may enter bachelor of education degrees at two different points. First, there are a small number of students who graduate from high school with the intent of eventually becoming school teachers. For students who wish to teach at the elementary level, it is sometimes possible to enroll directly into an education program leading to certification. These programs usually have the same credit requirements and are the same length of a regular bachelor’s degree.  The more common path (and for most middle and high school teachers, the only path) is to complete a bachelor of education degree as a second or subsequent degree. BEds completed after obtaining at least a bachelor’s degree require fewer credits and are typically designed to be completed in one to two years of full-time study.

What are the Degree Requirements?

Depending on one’s chosen level (e.g., elementary, middle or high school teaching), subject specialization (e.g., mathematics, English or art), and educational specialization (e.g., special education or guidance), one’s course work will vary considerably. Teaching mathematics requires a specific set of skills that are notably different than the teaching techniques one might use to teach music, art, physical education or biology. For this reason, all BEd students complete a combination of courses that provide them with expertise in their level and subject area. However, there are some common courses that address broader concerns in education. Most BEd programs require candidates to complete courses in foundations of education (these courses typically focus on the philosophy and history of education), instructional design or curriculum design, assessment and evaluation, and professional development.

What is the Internship or Teacher Practicum?

The most important part of any BEd program is the internship, which is also known as the teacher practicum. This is the time teacher candidates spend in an actual classroom working under the supervision of a seasoned teacher. Ideally, teacher candidates do not simply end up working as teacher helpers (e.g., cleaning up art supplies or helping students who are lagging behind) but rather play a central role in the planning, implementation and assessment of the curriculum. Depending the program, the practicum may last anywhere from a few weeks to an entire semester. Indeed, the ideal teacher practicum puts the teacher candidate in the shoes of a full-time classroom teacher but does so in a setting where they can be observed by a seasoned classroom teacher who can provide feedback on everything from curriculum design to classroom management. The teacher practicum is often a make-or-break experience. While some teacher candidates discover that they love being in the classroom and leave their practicum eager to enter their own classroom in the near future, others teacher candidates discover that teaching is simply not an appropriate career path and drop out of their education program during or following their practicum experience.

What are the Areas of Specialization?

Candidates are expected to enter a BEd program with an area or areas of specialization already in mind (e.g., elementary education or high school science), since it structures one’s career options. For example, if a teacher candidate specializes in elementary education but later decides to pursue work as a high school physical education teacher, it will be impossible without additional coursework and certification.

What kind of Careers in Education are Available?

A BEd is specifically designed as a pathway into teaching profession. Depending on the level and state, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, projects an approximately 12% growth rate in the education field between now and 2022.  Since full-time permanent teaching jobs can be difficult to find, some recent graduates first work as a supply teacher or teachers aid and also many complete a master of arts in teaching or master of education degree.  While completing a graduate degree is not a requirement, it does impact one’s entry-level salary since teachers’ salaries typically reflect both years experience and education. The highest paid teachers are usually those with over twenty years of teaching experience and a graduate degree.

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